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2 (And this taxing was first! 3 And all went to be taxed, made when Cyrenius was gov- every one into his own city. ernor of Syria.) though not an independent kingdom this enrolling was made, and might (see on Matt. 2:1), yet it was not therefore be called by the title which taxed by the Romans; the tribute is implied in the language of Luke collected in the country was paid for We know from the testimony of Jothe support of Herod's government. sephus, the Jewish historian, that SaThe design of Augustus, probably, turninus, previously to this time, had was, to ascertain the amount of popu- an associate in his office, named Volation in this appendage to his em- lumnius, and that Josephus applies pire. The census thus ordered might the same title both to Saturninus and perhaps be aflerwards employed as a to Volumnius. Now, we have only basis, to some extent, for taxation, to suppose that Volumnius had been should the government of the coun-called away from this office, and that try undergo a change. Some years Cyrenius, who, it is also known, had after, when Judea was reduced to the become a distinguished man, had been form of a Roman province, a tax was associated with Saturninus in the levied; and it occasioned much com- government of Syria. But why motion among the Jews. See Acts should Cyrenius, the assistant, be 5: 37. But the present enrolling named, rather than Saturninus, the seems to have been quietly submit- | real governor? Because when, ten ted to.
years after, at the banishment of 2. This taring; this enrolling of Archelaus from Judea, Judea was rethe inhabitants. || Was first made, duced to the form of a Roman prov&c. There is an historical difficulty ince, this same Cyrenius became in this statement of the evangelist, governor of Syria, and was employed the entire removal of which requires in levying a tax on the province - a more accurate information of those measure which excited great indigtimes than has been handed down to nation among the people. The simius. Luke is here speaking of a de- larity of these two events, namely, the cree which was issued a short time census and the taxing, would natubefore the birth of Christ. Yet he rally lead to the associating of them seems to say, that the enrolling which both with the same man, even though this decree enjoined was performed Cyrenius was merely an assistant of when Cyrenius was governor of Saturninus when the first enrolling Syria. Now, it is the testimony of was made. Nor is it improbable that authentic history, that Cyrenius did this enrolling was performed under not become governor of Syria till his superintendence, rather than unJesus was about ten years of age. It der that of Saturninus. is also known that, at the time of our | It should also be observed, as someLord's birth, the governor of Syria what confirming the view just prewas Saturninus. He was succeeded sented, that a literal rendering of the by Quintus Varus, and Varus was passage would be this : “ This enrolsucceeded by Cyrenius, or, according ment was the first while Cyrenius to his Roman name, Quirinus. How was governor of Syria.” Thus it then does Luke say, that the enrol- seems to be distinguished from the ling was performed when Cyrenius census and taxation which took place was governor of Syria? Several ex- ten years afterwards, under Cyrenius, planations have been proposed, the and to which, probably, allusion is most satisfactory of which appears to made in Acts 5 : 37. be the following: It is probable that 3. All; that is, all the Jews. || To Cyrenius was associated in office be taxed; or, in accordance with what with Saturninus at the time when / is stated on v. 1, to enrol their names.
4 And Joseph also went upl 6 And so it was, that while from Galilee, out of the city of they were there, the days were Nazareth, into Judea, unto the accomplished that she should be city of David, which is called delivered. Bethlehem (because he was of 7 And she brought forth her the house and lineage of Da-first-born son, and wrapped him vid),
in swaddling-clothes, and laid 5 To be taxed with Mary his him in a manger; because there espoused wife, being great with was no room for them in the child.
|| Into his oron city. It was custom- inherited what property belonged to ary, among the Jews, to be enrolled the family. She and her husband according to tribes and families. being of the family of David, they Hence there was a propriety in each both went to the same town to regisone's repairing to the town which heter their names. regarded as his paternal residence, or 7. First-born son. See on Matt. the place where some distinguished 1: 25. || Wrapped him in swaddling ancestor was born, from whom he clothes; that is, swathed him. It was was in the habit of tracing his de- customary to swathe new-born in. scent.
fants with bandages, so as to prevent 4. Galilee. Nazareth. Judea. See distortion of the limbs. || In a manon Matt. 2: 22, 23. || City of David ; ger. Some consider the word transthe town of David's birth and early lated manger as signifying stable, or a residence. Compare 1 Sam. 16: 1, small shed or hovel connected with 11–13. Bethlehem. See on Matt. the house, and as indicating the apart2:1. ll of the house and lineage, &c.; ment in which the mother of Jesus, of the family and from the line of as well as the infant, was accommoDavid.
dated. The current opinion is, that 5. With Mary. It is doubtful the word manger means really a crib whether the sacred writer meant to intended for cattle to eat from. There say that Joseph went up (v. 4) with are not sufficient reasons for departMary, to register his name, that is, ing from this current opinion. Not went up accompanied by her; or only in this verse, but also in vs. 12 that Joseph went up to enrol his name and 16, the manger seems to be menwith Mary, that is, to have both their tioned particularly as employed for names enrolled. The language will placing the infant, just as a cradle admit either construction. It is most would be mentioned as containing a commonly thought, however, that babe. There is sufficient evidence, Luke intended to represent Mary as also, that in early times mangers were also going to give in her name. The employed in the East for the use of enrolling of the names of females horses, &c. || There was no room for was not usual among the Jews, unless them in the inn. The same reason in the case of those females who had that led Joseph and Mary to Bethle. come into the possession of an inher-hem, led many others at the same itance by reason of their fathers' dy- time to this place; and many would ing without sons. In that case, the of course seek accommodations at daughters inherited the property; and the public house. Bethlehem was they were required to marry within not a town of sufficient importance the tribe to which their father be to have several such establishments; longed. See Num. 36: 5–9. From and thus there was not opportunity to this circumstance it is concluded that select a suitable place for Mary's Mary had no brothers, and that she temporary residence. In many of
8 And there were in the in the field, keeping watch over same country shepherds abiding their flock by night. the public houses of the East, travels near Bethlehem. Caves, in Eastern lers and their beasts were all accom- | parts of the world, both natural and modated under the same roof; the artificial, were on various occasions space was partitioned off, the beasts resorted to; and it is supposed that, having their appropriate place, and by the bounty of the benevolent and the travellers theirs. Other public wealthy, some might be furnished houses were differently arranged, so with a few conveniences for travel. as to be better adapted for the accom- lers. In such a cave it has been modation of travellers and strangers, supposed that Mary found a manger without being specially fitted for the in which to lay her infant. But the animals; yet, doubtless, this second tradition was, probably, like many sort would not be destitute of a place other stories, devised to make the for beasts. The inn at Bethlehem was account more acceptable; it being probably of this second kind; and, as thought somewhat romantic and dig. it was now filled with company, the nified that Jesus should be born in a only alternative was, that Mary should cave. The story has a heathen air repair to that part of the establish- about it, and probably originated ment which was usually appropriated from some of the stories of heathen to the cattle. Unsuitable, however, Greeks and Romans. as such a place was, we yet must not judge of this account by our feelings REFLECTIONS. 1. In how remarkrespecting stables among ourselves. able a manner did God cause ancient Tents and houses were, at that time, prophecy to be fulfilled! The Mes. frequently so arranged as to give the siah was to be born in Bethlehem ; domestic beasts a lodging under the see Micah 5:2. But, in all human same roof with the members of the probability, after the announcement family ; and the servants particularly to Mary, related by Luke (1 : 26, &c.), often lodged in the very same apart. he would be born in Nazareth. God, ments with the cattle. The domestic however, had so arranged the course beasts were also often objects of much of events that the ancient prediction endearment; so that it was by no would be literally fulfilled. Compare means so repulsive to their feelings | Matt. 2:1-6. to be in the midst of cattle, by night 2. The condition of Joseph and or by day, as it would be to ours. Mary, and of Jesus at the time of his Nor does it necessarily follow, from birth, shows how unnecessary to true the brief account of Luke, that the excellence, and to dignity in the sight mother of Jesus was treated with en- of God, is earthly greatness. The tire neglect, and was not at all fa- highest worth of character, and the vored with such conveniences and fullest enjoyment of the divine favor, attendants as humanity, to say the may be possessed by those whose exleast, would prompt. But, making ternal circumstances are repulsive. all the abatements from the meanness Let us not place our affections on of these accommodations that we can, wealth, on fine houses, and furniture, there would undoubtedly have been and dress; but let us seek, as the one made, in some way, more suitable pro- thing supremely worthy of our purvision, had Joseph and Mary been suit, the honor which cometh from among the wealthy and the honored God, and which will advance us to of the earth.
heavenly glory. Compare Luke 16 : It may be well to mention here, 20, 22. i Sam. 16: 7.1 Cor. 1: 27that, from very early times, a tradition 29. Col. 3 : 2. has been handed down that Joseph and Mary repaired to a cave, and that 8. The same country; the same reJesus was born in a cave, either in or gion, or district of country. ll Keep
9 And lo, the angel of the day, in the city of David, a SaLord came upon them, and the viour, which is Christ the Lord. glory of the Lord shone round 12 And this shall be a sign about them; and they were sore unto you; Ye shall find the babe afraid.
wrapped in swaddling-clothes, 10 And the angel said unto lying in a manger. them, Fear not: for, behold, I | 13 And suddenly there was bring you good tidings of great with the angel a multitude of
joy, which shall be to all peo- the heavenly host praising God, ple.
and saying, 11 For unto you is born this 14 Glory to God in the highing watch by night; keeping the was suitable to accompany an angelic night-watches. The employment of visitant; a splendor which indicated the shepherds required them to be that Jehovah was peculiarly near, abroad in the fields by night as well either personally or by the agency as by day. They were doubtless in of the angel. Sore afraid ; greatly the habit of taking their turns of terrified. Feelings of terror would watching and sleeping; so that, du- naturally be excited by such an apring the whole night, some of the pearance. Compare Judges 6 : 22 company would be awake. The 13 : 22. Dan. 10:7,8. .. shepherds were probably provided 10. To all people. More properly, with tents or huts.
to all the people, that is, to the whole 9. The angel. More properly, an Jewish nation. This nation was ex. angel. Cume upon them; suddenly pecting the Messiah. The news of appeared to them. || The glory of the his having come would be « good Lord. God is represented as sur-tidings.” But while this event would rounded with splendor, an unspeaka- be a cause of joy to the Jewish nably bright effulgence. Compare Rev. tion, as being a fulfilment of promises 21 : 23. 22: 5. Ps. 104: 2. When made to them, and an accomplishing he is spoken of as appearing to men, of their long-cherished expectations, it he is sometimes represented as com- was the purpose of God, that ultimateing with that brightness. Comparely every nation on earth should enjoy Ex. 24 : 16, 17. 40 : 34. See also the benefits of the Messiah's reign. Acts 9: 3. 22: 6. Thus, in connec-1 11. The city of David. See on v. tion with the visit of the angel, there 4. Compare Matt. 2: 5. '|| Christ the was such a splendor as indicated the Lord; Messiah, the Lord; or, the presence of the Lord; so that the Lord Messiah. The word Messiah Lord might be said to have come means primarily anointed one ; and as down in his glory. Angels them- the ceremony of anointing was used selves also, and glorified saints, are in designating kings among the Jews, described as appearing surrounded the word was applied to kings. The with a celestial splendor. Compare King whose birth was now announced, Rev. 18:1. Luke 9: 31. It should was also to have a most extensive doo also be observed, that the name of minion. He was to be “ Lord of all;" God is sometimes employed in the Acts 10: 36. He was to be “ head Scriptures in order to give intensity over all things to the church;" Eph. to an expression. In conformity with 1:22. He was to be “ King of kings this remark, the phrase glory of the and Lord of lords;" Rev. 19: 16. Lord may be a very strong expression 13. Heavenly host; angels, the for a very brilliant glory or splendor ; heavenly company. Compare Heb. such a splendor as must be referred 12: 22. to the Lord as its author, and such as 14. Glory; praise. In the high
est, and on earth peace, good / wondered at those things which will toward men.
were told them by the shepherds. 15 And it came to pass, as 19 But Mary kept all these the angels were gone away from things, and pondered them in them into heaven, the shepherds her heart. said one to another, Let us now 20 And the shepherds rego even unto Bethlehem, and turned, glorifying and praising see this thing which is come to God for all the things that they pass, which the Lord hath made had heard and seen, as it was known unto us.
told unto them. 16 And they came with haste, 21. And when eight days and found Mary and Joseph, were accomplished for the cirand the babe lying in a manger. cumcising of the child, his name
17 And when they had seen was called JESUS, which was it, they made known abroad the so named of the angel before he
cerning this child.
22 And when the days of her 18 And all they that heard it, purification according to the law
est; on high, in the high heavens ;11:12. Luke 15: 7, 10. What power or, in accordance with a manner of could the most exalted earthly greatspeaking prevalent at that time, the ness, or enjoyment, have in calling highest, the third heaven. See 2 Cor. forth from angels expressions of ad12:2. The word heuren was applied miration and delight? Let us, like to the region above the surface of the angels, prize heavenly good. earth. The region of the air was called the first, or lowest heaven;
19. Kept; laid up in mind. the region which the heavenly bodies 21. Eight days, &c. See Gen. 17 appear to occupy, the second ; and 12. Compare Luke 1: 59. || His the region beyond the visible firma name was called JESUS, &c. Comment, was called the highest, or third pare 1: 31. and Matt. 1: 21. heaven, as being the abode of God,
22. According to the law of Moses. of angels, and of the spirits of the See Lev. 12: 4. || To present him to just. || Peace. This word, in the the Lord. The first-bors
the Lord. The first-born males among Scriptures, conveys very often the
the Israelites, both of man and of teast, general idea of happiness, good of were claimed by the Lord as specially every sort, particularly spiritual good. I his, to be devoted to his service. This The birth of the Messiah was a pledge
Tan was a pledge arrangement had a particular referof true bliss to be enjoyed on earth. ence to the fact, that when the Israel. || Good will ; the favor of God. The ites were about being delivered from amount of the angels' doxology is, Egypt, the first-born among the will now bless the earth. God is providence of God, as a punishment propitious to men.
on Pharaoh and his people. The
tribe of Levi was afterwards specially REFLECTION. How deep an inter- set apart as the Lord's property, for est did angels manifest in the coming attending to the religious service of of Jesus Christ! And can we put the nation; and this tribe was thus too high an estimate on the blessings set apart instead of the first-born of the gospel, or too ardently seek males of all the people. Still, howthose blessings ? Compare 1 Pet.ever, in order to keep in mind the