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According to the institution of the Jewish religion, there could be only one high priest at a time, that minister being typical of the one mediator between God and man; but according to a note in Mr. Valpy's Greek Testament, “ It was usual with the high priests at this time to have a senior, who had discharged that office, as coadjutor. Annas therefore was now the coadjutor of Càiaphas, his son-in-law, the reinging high priest; and on account of his age, rank, and consequence in the state, is named first. This was the reason that when our Lord was apprehended, he was first taken to the house of Annas, who sent him bound to Caiaphas, the high priest.”
III.-4. “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” The roads which led to the Jewish cities of refuge were required to be kept good, that the slayer might flee to them without impediment. The Rabbis inform us, among other circumstances, that at every cross road was set up an inscription, asylum, asylum. Upon which Hottinger remarks, that it was probably in allusion to this custom that John the Baptist is described as the voice of one crying, &c.—Burder's Oriental Customs, vol. ii. page 325.
III.-12. “Then came also publicans to be baptized.” From this quotation, as well as from the history of Levi, or Matthew, (Luke v. 29.) and of Zaccheus (Luke xix, 2.) it appears that the publicans or tax-gatherers were frequently, at least if not always, Jews; which, as the country was then under a Roman government, and the taxes were paid to the Romans, was a circumstance not to be expected. That it was the truth however of the case, appears from a short passage of Josephus, De Bell. lib. ii. c. 14. sect. 45. Florus not restraining these practices by his authority, the chief men of the Jews, among whom was John the publican, not knowing well what course to take, wait upon Florus, and give him eight talents of silver to stop the building.”—Paley's Evidences of Christianity.
“ But, IV.16. “He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath-day, and stood up for to read." They who are acquainted with the Jewish literature, know that the five books of Moses having long ago been divided in such a man. ner, that by reading a section of them every sabbath, the whole is gone through in the space of a year. He that read in the synagogue was obliged to stand upright, and not suffered so much as to lean against a wall.-Lamy.
The portions selected out of the prophetical writings are termed Haphtoroth. When Antiochus Epiphanes conquered the Jews, about the year 163 before the Christan æra, he prohibited the public reading of the law in the synagogues on pain of death. The Jews, in order that they might not be wholly deprived of the word of God, selected from other parts of the Sacred Writings, fifty-four portions, which were termed Haphtoras, from a word signifying, he dismissed, let loose, opened,--for though the law was dismissed from their synagogues, and was closed to them by the edict of this persecuting king, yet the prophetic writings, not being under the interdict, were left open : and therefore they used them in place of the others.-See Horne's Introd. vol. iii. p. 244.
IV.-17. “ When he had opened the book.” The sacred books were written antiently on skins of vellum sewed together, as Josephus asserts (Antiq. xii. ii. 11.) who adds, that the Hebrew copy of the law which was sent from Jerusalem to Ptolemy to be translated into Greek, was in letters of gold, upon skins of vellum wonderfully thin and fine; and that the suture, or conjunction of the several skins, was so artful as to be scarcely discoverable. And that the sacred books, thus written, were rolled up into volumes, like the modern Pentateuchs used in the Jewish synagogues, appears from this passage
of St. Luke: The Greek word translated—he opened, is allowed to imply-he unfolded, or unrolled the volume. Kennicott.
- 1V.-20. " "And he gave it again to the minister." For the maintenance of good order, there were in every synagogue certain officers whose business it was to see that all the duties of religion were decently performed therein. These were, 1st. The ruler of the synagogue (Luke xiii. 14. Mark v. 22.) It appears from Acts xiii. 15. collated with Mark v. 22. and John vi. 59. that there were several of these rulers in a synagogue. They regulated all its concerns, and gave permission to persons to preach. They were always men advanced in age, and respectable for their learning and probity. The Jews termed them Hacamim, that is, sages, or wise men, and they possessed considerable influence and authority. 2nd. An officer whose province it was to offer up public prayers to God for the whole congregation : hence he was called Sheliach Zibbor, or the angel of the church, because, as their messenger, he spoke to God for them. Hence also, in Rev. ii. 3. the ministers of the Asiatic churches were termed angels. 3rd. The Chazan appears to have been a different officer from the Sheliach Zibbor, and inferior to him in dignity. He seems to have been the person, who in Luke iv. 20. is termed the minister, and who had the charge of the sacred books. Horne's Introd. vol. iii. p. 242.
VI.l. “ On the second sabbath after the first.” The exact translation of the Greek word is, the first after the second.-L'Enfant.
The second prime sabbath, concerning which commentators have been so much divided, was the first sabbath after the second day of the paschal week: for the second day of the paschal week was the high day on which the Jews were required to offer the wave sheaf of the barley harvest; and from which they were to begin to reckon the seven weeks till Pentecost. -Valpy's Greek Testament.
VI.-12. “And continued all night in prayer to God.” It is literally, In the prayer of God: the phrase is singular heaven, therefore, may signify, to lose one's dominion and precedency. Similar expressions are found in Greek and Latin authors : Cicero says of Pompey, ex astris decidisse.
X.-20. "Your names are written in heaven." i. e. In the book of life. This alludes to the custom of enrolling the names of those who are made free of a city. The phrase signifies,-their being approved and accepted of God, on account of their sincere love of truth and practice of virtue.Ostervald.
XI. 5. 6. “ Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, friend, lend me three loaves,” &c. The eastern journeys are often performed in the night, on account of the great heat of the day. This is the time in which the caravans chiefly travel : the circumstance therefore of the arrival of a friend at midnight is very probable. It was usual with the Jews to borrow bread of one another; and certain rules are laid down when and upon what condition this is to be done : as, for instance, sabbath-day. “So said Hillel, let not a woman lend bread to a friend till she has fixed the price, lest wheat should be dearer, and they should be found coming into the practice of usury." What was lent could not be demanded again under thirty days.-See Burder's Oriental Customs, vol. ii. page 331 and 332.
XI.-7. “My children are with me in bed." That is, in bed in the same room. Sir John Chardin observes, it is usual in the East for the whole family to sleep in the same chamber on different beds or mattresses laid on the floor.
XI.—44. “Ye are as graves which appear not.” The graves of the poor were oftentimes so neglected, that if the stones by which they were marked, happened to fall, they were not set up again, by which means the
graves did not appear, and the men that walked over them were not aware of them.-See Horne, vol. iii. page 511.
XI.-52. Key of knowledge.” It is said that authority to explain the laws and the prophets, was given among the Jews by the delivery of a key; and of one Rabbi Samuel we read, that after his death they put his key and his tablets into his coffin, because he did not deserve to have a son to whoin he might leave the ensigns of his office. If the Jews really had such a custom in our Saviour's time, the expression, the key of knowledge, may seem a beautiful reference to it.Burder's Oriental Customs, vol. i. page 310. - XII.-24. “Consider the ravens.” Aristotle, Pliny, and other naturalists, tell us that the young ravens are deserted by the mother bird as soon as they are hatched; which circumstance renders our Saviour's reference to them very appropriate and beautiful.--Valpy's Greek Testament.
XII. 35. 36. “Let your loins be girded about," &c. This is spoken in allusion to the customs of the east, where autiently great entertainments were made in the evening, and so prolonged to the latest hours : on such occasions, servants shewed their faithfulness by watching, and keeping their lamps burning, and their loins girded, that they might be ready to open the door to their master at his first knock: Ostervald.
XII. 39. “ What hour the thief would come.” The coming of Christ is compared to the coming of a thief, not in respect of theft, but of the sudden surprise. Cicero says, Non enim res tota loti rei necesse est similis sit; sed ad ipsum, ad quod conferetur, similitudinem habeat, oportet. i. e. It is not necessary that there should be a perfect resemblance of one thing in all respects to another ; but it is necessary that a thing should bear a likeness to that with which it is compared. -See Horne's Introduction, vol. ii. page 622.-The above remark may be applied to passages of a similar nature.
XII.-54. When ye see a cloud rise out of the west.” The Greek article should have been translated here, and the