Many people have a presupposition that the wedding of Cana would have involved such a large number of people that all of the wine, miraculously made, would have been consumed during the remaining days of the event.

The text runs as follows:

Now when the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the groom, and said to him, 'Every man serves the good wine first, and when the guests are drunk, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.' (John 2:9, 10)

Based upon the size of the containers, commentators point out that the total wine created would be around 180 gallons. That is the equivalent of about 900 bottles. That's a lot of wine for a small wedding. However, it may not have been extravagant for a larger gathering. According to Jewish tradition, how large were weddings in Bible times?

The useful hermeneutical nature of being able to answer this question can be found in answering other questions like this one.


1 Answer 1


Not just about the size of the gathering, the length of the wedding feast was significant.

A reference is seen in Judges 14:12, the wedding feast of Samson last 7 days

12 “Let me tell you a riddle,” Samson said to them. “If you can give me the answer within the seven days of the feast, I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes.

Consider a master of the banquet was hired for organising the feast (John 2:8), it indicated the host was rich and the guests shouldn't be small. People by then could drink wine as water, assuming each could drink half a gallon per day, using your number 180 gallons, it could serve 360 people a day, or 50 people for the duration of the 7 days feast. So if the wine ran out during the feast, the number of guest could have a hundred, which was justified to a rich family.

The master of the banquet taste the wine that turned from water and said “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” (John 2:10 NIV). So we can imagine, it was the good wine serving first to anesthetized the tasting of the guest, then saving money to serve the cheaper wine afterward. What a genius!

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    I agree with @VincentWong's estimate of between 50-100. Also we need not think of them all being there at the same time, especially if the wedding celebration involved a seven-day feast. I'd also add the the author of the story says the jars were there "for the rites of purification" rather than for holding wine. Jesus may be thought of as going far beyond in the original quantity as well as quality of wine. Finally, the "master" of the feast need not have been specially hired. He could have been a relative, such as wealthy uncle. Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 18:07
  • Indeed. Or maybe more. The size of the house would be a factor in limiting out of the area visitors. Large estates during that period of time, at least those mentioned in secular literature were costly. Jesus' father, as a carpenter, likely made around 50 denarii a day. So, if the wedding family was in a similar socio-economic bracket a large estate being owned by one of the extended family members is not out of the question. See forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/…
    – Jess
    Commented Jan 12, 2023 at 16:51

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