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17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by TM Jere J, P: 4709
B. V. Æ. 5. my the prophet, saying,
18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and Bethlehem, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her 13. children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
m Jer. xxxi.
Joseph returns from Egypt.
J. P. 4711. 19 9 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the B. V. Æ. 3. Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,
Egypt. . 20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel : for they are dead which sought the young child's life 39.
21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.
22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judæa in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither 40: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee :
rative ; but, altogether they form a cloud of witnesses, abundantly sufficient to overbalance the negative evidence attempted to be drawn from the silence of Josephus.
38 'ATO duetoog kai karwrépw. Sir Norton Knatchbull, in his Annotations on difficult Texts, has endeavoured to prove that it is not necessary to suppose, from these words, that Herod killed all the children in Bethlehem who had completed, but those only who had just begun their second year, or who had just ended their first year. The Hebrew expression would have been O'N 12, filius duorum annorum. P. 6. Cambridge, 8vo. edit. 1693.
30 Mr. Mann conjectures that Antipater, who was the heir apparent to the crown of Herod, when Christ was born, was one of the principal advisers of the massacre at Bethlehem. He had already procured the death of his two elder brothers, to prepare his way to the succession. His alarm would be as great as that of his father, when he heard that a king of the Jews was born. As this Antipater was executed only five days before Herod died, both might be referred to in the words of the angel —“They are dead which sought the young child's life.” The very same words are applied to Moses, under similar circumstances, Exod. iv. 19. Vide Doddridge's Family Expositor, 8vo. edit. vol. i. p. 86.
49 The reign of Archelaus commenced inauspiciouly; for, after the death of Herod, before he could leave the kingdom to obtain the confirmation of his father's will from the emperor at Rome, the Jews behaved themselves so tumultuously in the temple, in consequence of his having refused them some demands, that this king ordered his soldiers to attack them, on which occasion upwards of
J. P. 4711. 23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth : B.V. Æ. 3. that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene 41.
LUKE ii. 40. 40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom : and the grace of God was upon
History of Christ at the age of twelve years
42 LUKE ii. 41, to the end. J. P. 1720. 41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem "every year at the B. V. Æ. 7.
feast of the Passover. Jerusalem. n Deut. xvi. 1.
3000 were slain. It was, probably, from his knowledge of this circumstance, and a general apprehension of the cruelty of the character of Archelaus, that Joseph was afraid to return to his own country.
+ St. Matthew seems in this passage to apply as it were in a collective sense all the prophecies in the Old Testament that refer to the abject and low condition in which the Messiah should appear. Nazareth, whither Christ was now conducted, was the most contemned part of the Holy Land, agreeing well with that prediction—" He was despised and rejected of men.”—“The Evangelist," says Lightfoot, " does not quote one prophet, (to proèv õlà tūv II pogntūv) but all. All the prophets do teach the vile and abject condition of Christ; but none that his condition should be out of Nazareth. Christ seems destined to that abject place, to fulfil in a general sense these prophecies.” This seems to be the best interpretation of the passage ; preferable to those which represent St. Matthew as playing upon the words yx, and 71. Vide Lightfoot. Heb. et Talm. Exerc. vol. ii. p. 112.
42 The canons of the Jewish law required parents to instruct their children in their intended trade at twelve years of age. It is probable, therefore, that this also was the period when they began to comply with the law, Exod. xxxiv, 23. which required all the male children to present themselves at Jerusalem three times every year. As the Jews were accustomed to go up in (ovvodais, Heb. ann,) "caravans,” in parties composed of great numbers, it cannot excite surprise that the Holy Child Jesus was not at first missed by Joseph and Mary. They found him, Lightfoot attempts to prove, in the hall, or room adjacent to that of the Sanhedrim, proposing and answering questions, as the Jewish youths were permitted to do, to the doctors of the law. There were in the temple, 1. The great Sanhedrim in the room Gazith, consisting of seventy-one members, with the “nasi,” or prince, or president, at their head; and the father of the court, the “ Ab beth den" on his right hand.-II. Twenty-three judges in the gate of the court of Israel.-III. Twenty-three judges in the gate of the court of the Gentiles. Sanhedr. cap. xi, hal. 2. In each of these it was permitted to ask questions concerning the law. Instances are given in Lightfoot, from Hieros. Taa
42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to 12:11720. Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.
nith, fol. 674. R. Gamaliel said to a disciple, “ To-morrow, in the consistory, do thou come forth and question me on this matter." There was often a full audience of many people (a).
The brief narrative of the Evangelist, which confines itself to the simple statement of facts, without either detail or embellishment, ought not to prevent us from considering the very peculiar circumstances in which the “ Glory of the second temple” appeared in the house of his heavenly Father. He had now arrived at that age when the Jews were accustomed to instruct their children more fully in the arts of life, and the knowledge of their religion. At this period Christ shewed himself to be perfectly versed in the Mosaic law. Two remarkable circumstances now occurred : the death of Hillel, the most eminent of the Jewish expounders of the law, and the banishment of Archelaus. By the first event the Sanhedrim was deprived of its greatest ornament; by the second the power was more evidently shewn to be in the hands of the Romans ; and another more decisive proof was afforded to the people that the sceptre was departing. 18 it not probable that the appearance of our Lord in the temple, and his conversation there, might have been designed to prove to the doctors that there was one among them more learned than Hillel; and that one also, by his well known pedigree from the direct line of David, was the heir to the long lost, and now vacant throne of Israel? At his first appearance as an infant in the temple, the spirit of prophecy revived ;-at his present appearance he shewed himself to be worthy of the homage of his people, as the learned successor of their most learned instructor, and as their lawful sovereign, the heir to the crown of David.
The conversation of Jesus must have made a deep impression upon the minds of all that heard it; and must not only have excited the attention, but the curiosity, and admiration of the Sanhedrim. That the object of our Lord's sitting among the doctors was something more than hearing or asking questions concerning the difficulties of the Jewish law, is evidently implied in his answer to the expostulation of his mother, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business ?" or, as it may be translated, “Wist ye not that I must be in the house of God my Father ?" The Messiah did come merely to excite the amazement, or to gratify the curiosity of the Jews. He came to impress some lesson upon them, suitable to the peculiar circumstances of the moment, and in accordance with, or to the furtherance of, his divine mission.
Lightfoot has shewn the probability that Hillel had died some short time before our Lord visited the temple at this period. Should his opinion be erroneous, there might have been assembled round our Lord, when he conversed with the Jewish doctors, Hillel and Shammai, the two most celebrated Rabbis of the Jews; R. Judah and R. Joshua, the two sons of Bethira ; Jonathan Ben Uzziel, the author of the Chaldee paraphrase; and R. Jochanan ben Zacchai.
(a) See Lightfoot, Heb. and Talm. Exerc. in Luke, vol. ii. p. 396-7. Lightfoot thinks it is not impossible that our Lord had found admission into the very Sanhedrim, a circumstance of rare occurrence, permitted only in extraordinary
J. P. 4720.
43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.
44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.
45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.
47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
48 And when they saw him, they were amazed : and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist
ye not that I must be about my Father's business? 50° And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.
51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and * stature, and in favour with God and man.
* Or, age.
MATT. iii. 1-13. MARK i. 249. LUKE iii. 1-19.
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tibe- Luke iii. I. rius Cæsar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judæa, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituræa and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene,
Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the Luke iii. 2.
Before these distinguished men our Lord displayed that knowledge of the law which overwhelmed them with astonishment and admiration (6).
(6) Doddridge, Fam. Expositor, translates the word lisavro, “they were in a transport of admiration." 'Eğioravro, obstupescebant, mirabantur. Verþum égiornji de quacunque animi commotione vehementiori, imprimis etiam de admiratione summâ usurpatur. Rosenmuller in loc.
Matt. iii. I.
word of God came unto John 43 the son of Zacha- The wilder. rias in the wilderness.
ness of Judæs. In those days came o John the Baptist, preach- o Mark i. 4. ing in the wilderness of Judæa.
p John did baptize in the wilderness 4*,
Mark i. *
Luke iii. 1.
43 The spirit of prophecy came upon Jobn when he was thirty years of age: this was the time appointed in the law for the commencement of their ministry by the Priests and Levites. He preached in the desert, where the greatest multitudes passed ;-he wore a garment of camel's hair, the most coarse and common garment, similar to that worn by the prophets of old, to express his contempt for the vanities and ostentations of life. His food was the spontaneous produce of the country, shewing his self-denial, and the subjection of all his appetites ;—his days were passed in the wilderness, far removed from the world, preparing and preaching the way of the Lord. He avoided wine and strong drink, like a Nazarite, being separated and holy to the Lord, Numb. vi. 2, 3. He was to others the example of all that he taught. Whether the locusts he ate were the animals so called, prepared in the manner usual among the Jews, or whether it was a peculiar herb growing about that country, (which seems more probable,) is uncertain. Many have conjectured that the wild honey, the μέλι άγριον, ought to be read μελιαγρίαν, which they imagine to be likewise a species of herb, indigenous in Judæa. Witsius, however, considers this opinion as quite unfounded (a).
Had a Messenger of a different character been chosen as the forerunner of the Messiah, the Jews would have been confirmed in their preconceived ideas of a temporal prince; but the austerity of the Baptist's habits, his seclusion from the world, and his contempt of all its pleasures and distinctions, were in direct opposition to all those opinions, and ought to have contradicted them. Had he been the ambassador of any worldly sovereign he must have been invested with all the external splendour and pomp which he was appointed to represent;-but as the ambassador of a spiritual Lord, and a spiritual kingdom, all these things were laid aside ;-his robe of state was of camel's hair,—the luxuries of his table were the honey of the wilderness, -and the message that he brought from his sovereign was an invitation to repentance and faith.
44 The desert in which St. John preached was not a barren and desolate wilderness (6). According to Lightfoot, he first taught in the wilderness near Hebron (c), but afterwards removed towards Jordan, probably near Jericho; a tract of country which was wild and desert, yet having in it several large cities. Jericho itself contained twelve thousand men, of the courses of the priests; and the road from Jerusalem to that city, and to Peræa, especially near the time of the passover, was frequented by great multitudes, about which time, it is supposed, John began his ministry. The country was very convenient for food, and its
(a) On the locusts eaten by John, see a curious criticism in verse, by Dr. Byrom, of Manchester-Byrom's Poems, in Chalmers's edition of the poets, p. 231, vol. xv. (6) “ Fuit enim in desertis, hoc est ruri, procul publicis scholis, procul aulê, procul Hierosolymâ, procul seducentium in frequentibus urbibus voluptatum lenociniis.” Witsius Miscell. Sacr. de vità Johannis Bapt.
(c) Lightfoot, chorog. dec. to Mark, Works, vol. iii. p. 294. distin. tinguishes between the wilderness of Juda, and that of Judæa.