John 5:5

And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.

And a certain man was there,.... At Bethesda's pool, in one of the five porches, or cloisters, that belonged to it:

which had an infirmity thirty and eight years; what his infirmity was, is not said; he was one of the weak, or impotent folk, for so he is called, John 5:7. Some think his distemper was the palsy, and though he had had this infirmity so many years, it is not certain that he had waited so long in this place for a cure; though it may be, for that he had attended some time, is clear from John 5:7. Nor indeed can it be known how long there had been such a preternatural motion in this pool, and such a miraculous virtue in the water; some have thought, that it began at the repairing of the sheep gate by Eliashib, in Nehemiah's time; so Tremellius and Junius, on Nehemiah 3:1; and others have thought, that it had been some few years before the birth of Christ, and about the time that this man was first taken with his disorder. Tertullian says {u}, that there was in Judea a medicinal lake, before Christ's time; and that the pool of Bethsaida (it should be Bethesda) was useful in curing the diseases of the Israelites; but ceased from yielding any benefit, when the name of the Lord was blasphemed by them, through their rage and fury, and continuance in it {w}; but in what year it began, and the precise time it ceased, he says not. The Persic version here adds, "and was reduced to such a state that he could not move".

{u} De Anima, c. 50.
{w} Adv. Judaeos, c. 13.