beginning at the eldest
8:9 beginning at the eldest. It was the tradition that, in an execution by stoning, the oldest should cast the first stone, and so on. Thus, in this case, the eldest accuser was the first to be convicted—by the divine accusing finger—that he also had broken God’s law and thus deserved to die. Only Jesus had the right, therefore, to stone her, but He also had the right to forgive her (Luke 5:23-24), and did so—evidently because He knew she was repentant (John 2:25).