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gladness, and many shall rejoice at sight of the Lord, and shall drink his birth.

neither wine nor strong drink; 15 For he shall be great in the and he shall be filled with the

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of John were such, that not only his forbidden;, or, in other words, that parents, but many others, had occasion the prohibition extends to intoxicating to rejoice that he had been born ; in drinks, and to those which are liable to other words, that he lived. His per- become such. The word rendered strong sonal labors, in preaching repentance drink is sikera, (oixega) from which and inducing men to break off their some derive the word cider. sins by righteousness, were highly ben- think that by this name was meant a eficial. Šis testimony concerning the liquor made of dates, the fruit of the Messiah was productive of joy and con- palm tree, a drink much used in the East. solation to men. Therefore should But I see no reason for confining the they rejoice. The meaning of the whole term to this signification. The word is verse may be thus expressed :—Thou Hebrew, shecher, and has been retained shalt rejoice, and many others also shall by the Seventy interpreters in those rejoice, in this thy son ; for he shall not passages where the law of the Nazaonly be a blessing to you, but a bless- rites is laid down, and in the rules to ing to mankind, to the world at large. be observed by the priests, when it

15. Great in the sight of the Lord. should be their turn to officiate in the That is, truly eminent. Many are temple. The Hebrew root signifies to great in the sight of men, who lack the inebriate or make drunk. All fermented moral qualities of true greatness. Such liquors, therefore, as being capable of men, however much applauded by their producing this effect, were understood fellows, cannot be accounted great when as implied in the term. Strong drink measured by the rule of righteousness. is not the meaning. It might be imBut such is the rule according to which possible by words to define intelligibly God judges the comparative greatness the precise degree of strength forbidof men; and by the same rule our Lord den, or for judges to ascertain the transhas instructed us to judge. i Sam. gression. For this reason, the proper xvi. 7; John vii. 24. According to this subject of positive law is kinds, not rule, John was great in the sight of the degrees in quality, whereof no standard Lord and of good men. He was virtu- can be assigned. For this reason, all ons himself, and he labored to make liquors, however weak, which had unothers virtuous. He did not hesitate dergone fermentation, were understood to rebuke iniquity even when decorated to be prohibited, both to the Nazarites with royal trappings; but, at the hazard and to the priests during the week and even the sacrifice of his life, bore wherein they officiated in the temple."a steady, and unflinching testimony Campbell. In the foregoing note is sugagainst all unrighteousness and ungod- gested the true principle of temperance. liness. These traits in his character It is idle to distinguish between different are noticed in the remainder of this an- intoxicating drinks, as strong or weak, nunciation, and fully developed in his hurtful or innocent, dangerous or safe. character, as recorded in the scriptures. The only safe course is to abstain T Wine nor strong drink. Wine is well utterly from any and all drinks which understood to have been the juice of the can intoxicate. Every prudent man grape ; though many of the filthy and will observe this rule as closely as if he poisonous compounds, which now pass were bound by the law of the Nazarite. under that name, are destitute entirely If he depart from it, he does so at his of grape-juice. By the strong drink, peril,-afearful peril. A remark of some understand distilled liquors ; but Lightfoot deserves notice, for its quaintothers deny that the Jews understood ness, and for the hint it suggests, even the process of distilling, and suppose though we do not admit the truth of fermented liquors to be intended. Pure his supposition. “Whilst I a little wine, before fermentation, is not intoxi- more narrowly consider that severe cating ; but by fermentation acquires interdiction, by which the Nazarite was this quality. Hence it is supposed forbidden the total use of the vine, not that, by the prohibition against wine and only that he should not drink of the strong drink, wine both new and old is | wine, but not so much as taste of the Holy Ghost, even from his mo- | Israel shall he turn to the Lord ther's womb.

their God. 16 And many of the children of 17 And he shall go before him grape, not the pulp nor stone of the enopion autou, (ivórioV AUTOU,) here grape, no, not the bark of the vine ; I rendered before him, is to be undercannot but call to mind, whether the stood like the similar phrases in verse vine might not be the tree in paradise, 15, and Luke xii. 6, I do not deny. But that had been forbidden to Adam, by the full force of the verb proeleusetai the tasting of which he sinned. The (rposlevoetai) is by no means exJewish doctors positively affirm this pressed by the common translation, he without any scruple.” One thing may shall go. This word conveys the idea be regarded as certain: that, since the of going before, or preceding, some days of Noah, scarcely any one cause other person or thing, in point of time has produced more sin and misery on or place. Besides this text, it occurs earth, than the use of wine and other in Matt. xxvi. 39 ; Mark vi. 33 ; xiv. intoxicating drinks. I Filled with the 35 ; Luke xxii. 47; Acts xii. 10; XX. 5, Holy Ghost, &c. That is, shall be un- 13; 2 Cor. ix. 5; in all which cases, it der the special influence of a spirit of has this meaning; and its use by the holiness, even from his birth. The LXX. is the same. Hence, as is well event fully confirmed the prediction. observed by Wakefield, "the proper From his earliest years, he practised purport of the beginning of this verse righteousness, and labored with untir- is not at all conveyed in our version, ing energy and zeal to persuade others and scarcely can be without a circumloto do likewise. He was a chosen ser-cution. To be before God means here, vant, appointed and fitted for a special as in ver. 15, and 19, to be in the charduty; and the divine spirit guided and acter of a divine teacher or messenger; sustained him in its performance. and in this character, John was to go

16. The character of John having before some other person.”. And that been described in the former verse, in this other person was the Lord Jesus this and the succeeding his office and Christ appears evident from Malachi iv. the results of his ministry are denoted. 5, 6, to which this verse has a strongly1 Children of Israel. One of the com- marked resemblance, compared with mon names of the Jews ; so designated Matt. xi. 10–14; xvii. 10-13. The on account of their descent from Jacob, sense of the whole phrase seems to otherwise called Israel, in distinction me to be this: “He shall go before from the other posterity of Abraham. (the Messiah) in the sight of God, Shall he turn, &c. That is, by preach in the spirit and power of Elias ;" or, ing, repentance, by warning them of he shall go before, that is, precede, their danger, and persuading them to the Messiah as his appointed herald or forsake their sins and to produce the precursor, before him, that is, before fruits of righteousness. The manner or in the sight of the Lord God, ver. in which he performed his task may be 16, in the spirit and porer of Elias. seen in Luke iii. 1-18. Similar forms on the whole, it may be concluded, of speech occur in Acts iii. 26; xxvi. that, notwithstanding the word him 13, 20; 1 Thess. i. 9.

does not refer to Jesus, yet there is an 17. Go before him. " That is, shall allusion to him as the Messiah whom go before God, or in his sight. As in John was to precede. And, on the verse 6, it is said that they were right- other hand, though the word him uneous before God; so verse 15; so Luke doubtedly does refer to the Lord God, it xii. 6. No reference is probably made does not follow that Jesus is that Lord to Christ.- Livermore. If by this be God; because John is announced as the intended simply that the conduct of precursor, not of him, (that is, of God,) John should be inanifest in the sight but of some other person, in his sight of God, or that his steps should be or by his direction. To this long note, guided by him, I think the full mean- I will add only one remark: let the ing of the phrase is not exhibited ; nor common translation be regarded as perdo I believe that a direct and pointed fectly correct ; let him mean Jesus, and allusion to the Lord Jesus Christ can at the same time refer to God or stand be properly excluded. That the phrase in the place of God; still it will not in the spirit and power of Elias, to angel, Whereby shall I know this ? turn the hearts of the fathers to the for I am an old man, and my wife children, and the disobedient to the well stricken in years. wisdom of the just ; to make ready 19 And the angel answering, a people prepared for the Lord. said unto him, I am Gabriel, that

seem

18 And Zacharias said unto the stand in the presence of God; and follow that the Son is identical with principle of Christianity,-a spirit of the Father. Coming in his name and universal love. When men shall love by his authority, to execute his work, God with the whole heart, and shall it would be agreeable to Scripture usage love each other fervently and univerto speak of his precursor as going be- sally, the hearts of fathers and children fore God, inasmuch as he was the rep- shall be turned together and united resentative of God. Similar figures of effectually; and such love is inculspeech occur, Exo. xvi. 8; Acts v. 4. cated and required by the gospel, to On the same principle are founded the which John called the attention of his declaration of our Lord, John xii. 44, brethren. 1 And the disobedient, &c. 45, and his argument, John X. 30–33. “ And, by the wisdom of the righteous, 1 In the spirit and power of Elias. to render the disobedient a people wellPossessing a personal character and en- disposed for the Lord.”--Campbell. dowed with powers, resembling those in the same rendering, substantially, of Elijah the prophet. John does not Pearce and others agree. According to

to have exercised miraculous either version, the general idea is suffipowers, like Elijah. But in arousing ciently obvious. By the sacred writers, men from the lethargy of sin, exciting holiness is called wisdom; and inithem to repentance, and bearing an open quity, folly. By giving heed to the and manlý testimony against iniquity, precepts of wisdom and obeying them, wherever it existed and by whomever thus forsaking sin and practising rightpractised, there was a striking simi- eousness, men would be prepared to larity between the two. To this simi- enter that kingdom of the Lord which larity the succeeding words refer. See is "righteousness, and peace, and joy note on Matt. xi. 14. I To turn the in the Holy Ghost.” Rom. xiv. 17. hearts of the fathers to the children. It was the office of John thus to prepare The language of the prophet, to which men for the Lord, or dispose them to this is similar, is somewhat more full: receive him gladly. Accordingly he “he shall turn the heart of the fathers commenced his ministry by exhorting to the children, and the heart of the to reformation and to the breaking off children to the fathers.” Mal. iv. 6. of sin by righteousness, in view of the These words have been variously inter- speedy approach of the Lord. Matt. preted. Some prefer to translate, “to iii. 2; Luke iii. 2–18. turn the hearts of the fathers with the 18. Whereby shall I know this ? &c. children ;” and thus to understand a The promised blessing appeared so imgeneral turning from evil. Others sup- probable, and so inconsistent with the pose particular allusion is made to the ordinary course of nature, that Zachadiscordant sects among the Jews, who rias doubted, and desired some evicherished a violent antipathy towards dence of the fact. He evidently had each other ; and understand a general not prayed in faith for offspring , perreconciliation among them to be pre- haps he had only lamented his misfordicted. Others, again, imagine the Jews tune, while engaged in the devotions of are denoted by the fathers, and the Gen- the temple ; at the least, he staggered tiles, by the children; and understand at the promise, when made, and exthat the enmity between them should pressed doubts of its fulfilment, as did be overcome, and they should together Sarah of old, Gen. xviii. 10–15. For embrace the gospel.' There may be his slowness of heart to believe, the somewhat of truth in each of these sign which he demanded became a pun. interpretations. But, in my judgment, ishment to him, verse 20. we shall apprehend the meaning with 19. I am Gabriel. To remove the sufficient accuracy, without going into doubt of Zacharias, the angel first anparticular details, by supposing the al nounced himself as a divine messenger, lusion to be to the grand fundamental and therefore entitled to implicit credit ; am sent to speak unto thee, and to the day that these things shall be shew thee these glad tidings. performed, because thou believest

20 And behold, thou shalt be not my words, which shall be fuldumb, and not able to speak, until filled in their season. and then, verse 20, foretold an event mond suggests, that, from this phrase, which should be at once a confirmation we should understand that Zacharias of the truth he had uttered, and a pun- was both dumb and deaf; inasmuch as ishment for unbelief. Gabriel signifies his friends questioned him by signs, “God is my strength, or, man of God, ver. 62, and as a portion of this versé or, strength of God, or, my strong God."' would otherwise appear superfluous. --Cruden. This angel is mentioned by But the word siopao, (olwauw,) here name, Dan. viii. 16; ix. 21. See note used, is not the same which is ordinaon verse 11. I That stand in the pres- rily translated dumb, nor does it seem ence of God. The figure is taken from to indicate inability to speak. It ocearthly courts, in which admission to curs seldom in the New Testament; the presence of royalty, and the privi- uniformly signifies to be silent, or to lege of rendering personal services to refrain from speaking; and is in no the ruler, are accounted highly hon- other case rendered as in the text. See orable ; inasmuch as free access is al- Matt. xx. 31 ; xxvi. 63; Mark iii. 4; lowed only to such as have the confi- | iv. 39; ix. 34 ; x. 48; xiv. 61 ; Luke dence of the sovereign, and none but xviii. 39 ; xix. 40; Acts xviii. 9. The those whose loyalty is well approved meaning of the phrase is, thou shalt be are permitted io minister about his silent, and not able to speak. There is person. To stand in the presence of no superfluity, as the two members of God, therefore, indicates that the indi- the sentence express different ideas; vidual was a faithful and trusty servant the first, that he should be silent, and of God. 1 And am sent, &c. It is the second, that his silence should be represented as one of the peculiar em- occasioned by a miraculous deprivation ployments of angels, to convey mes of the power of speech. Until the sages of kindness from God to men, or day, &c. That is, until the birth of to execute his gracious purposes con- the child ; not until all the other precerning them,-thus ministering to the dictions were fulfilled. A part being heirs of salvation. Heb. i. 14. The put for the whole, the birth of John, on same idea is suggested, Matt. xviii. 10. which the remainder depended, and inIt is certain that men are enabled to deed that which chiefly staggered the assist each other in acquiring knowl-f faith of Zacharias, is represented as a edge and practising righteousness; and complete fulfilment of the prediction. I see nothing unreasonable in the sup- Accordingly, we find the father speakposition, that angels may be thus em-ing with freedom and glorifying God ployed on extraordinary occasions. In for his grace, ver. 64, when the son was regard to their willingness to perform only eight days old. 1 Because thou this service, the following remark of believest not. This inability to speak Barnes deserves notice ; and, for its is represented both as a sign that the general sentiment, it is worthy to be prediction should be accomplished, and written in letters of gold: “Holiness as a penalty of unbelief. To disbelieve is the same as benevolence; and holy the word of God, when communicated beings seek and love opportunities to by an authorized messenger, is unido good to their fellow-creatures. In formly represented in the scriptures as the eye of holy beings, all God's crea- criminal. And if all who thus disbetures are parts of one great family; lieve, because they think the blessing and whenever they can do them good, is too rich for God to bestow, or bethey rejoice in the opportunity, at any cause they regard its bestowment as sacrifice.” 4 Glad tidings. To wit, inprobable or impossible, are not literthat his desire for offspring should be ally dumb, they are, at the least, incagratified, and that his son should be so pable of praising God according to his much more eminent, and virtuous, and excellent greatness, and their lips are useful, than he could ever have antici- silent in regard to his richest mercies. pated.

21. Marvelled that he tarried so long. 20. Thou shalt be dumb, &c. Ham- It was not usual for the priest to re21 And the people waited for 24 And after those days his wife Zacharias, and marvelled that he Elisabeth conceived, and hid hertarried so long in the temple. self five months, saying,

22 And when he came out, he 25 Thus hath the Lord dealt could not speak unto them: and with me in the days wherein he they perceived that he had seen a looked on me, to take away my revision in the temple ; for he beck- proach among men. oned unto them, and remained 26 And in the sixth month the speechless.

angel Gabriel was sent from God 23 And it came to pass, that as unto a city of Galilee, named Nazsoon as the days of his ministration areth, were accomplished, he departed to 27 To a virgin espoused to a his own house.

man whose name was Joseph, of

main in the sanctuary, while offering make ourselves serviceable to men, incense, more than half an hour. Zach- while we obey and glorify God. arias seems to have remained longer, 24. Hid herself. Some have imaginon this occasion, insomuch that the ed that she confined herself absolutely people were amazed. It may be, they to the house, lest she should accidentfeared also that some harm had befallen ally contract any legal uncleanness by him; for not only was he absent an walking abroad. A more probable inunusual time, but probably he was mo- terpretation is, that she lived in retiretionless in presence of the angel, so ment, or did not appear in public. She that no sound proceeded from the bells would not proclaim the blessing, preon his garment, to indicate his safety. maturely, but cherished the promise in See Exo. xxviii. 33–35.

her own heart. 22. They perceived, &c. Either, his

25. Reproach. Among the Jews, an inability to speak was regarded as suffi- abundant posterity was regarded as a cient evidence that he had witnessed token of divine favor, as is evident from a supernatural appearance, or it occa- many places in the Old Testament. sioned suspicions which were confirmed For example, Gen. xxii. 17; Ps. cxxvii. when they questioned bim. | Vision. 3—5. On the other hand, unfruitfulness Literally, sight, or perhaps rather a or barrenness was considered an indicathing seen, or an object of sight. But, tion of divine displeasure, and a subject in the New Testament, it uniformly de- of reproach. See Gen. XXX. 2, 23; notes a supernatural appearance. This 1 Sam. i. 6. To this kind of reproach, word occurs only in Luke xxiv. 23; the text refers ; it had been taken away, Acts xxvi. 19; 2 Cor. xii. 1. 1 Beck- by anticipation, in that promise of posoned. Made signs with the hand ; the terity, which the angel made. meaning is not limited to the peculiar 26. In the sixth month. That is, motion generally denominated beckon about six months subsequently to the ing.

appearance of Gabriel to Zacharias. 23. Days of his ministration. That a Galilee. See note on Matt. ii. 22. is, the week during which the class of 1 Nazareth. See note on Matt. ii. 23. priests to which he belonged served, in 27. To a virgin, &c. See note on Matt. their turn, at the temple. See note on i. 13. | House of David. Family of ver. 5. I Were accomplished, he de- David ; posterity of David. Joseph was parted, &c. Notwithstanding this vis- of this family. Luke ii. 4. So also was itation, by which he was deprived of Mary. See note on Matt. i. 2—16. It speech for a season, Zacharias did not is supposed by some commentators, and desert his post of duty, until discharged apparently with good reason, that the in due course. His example is worthy reference here is specially to Mary ; and of imitation. Slight discouragements they propose a different arrangement of should never make us remiss in the the language, thus : "to a virgin of the performance of duty. And even though house of David, espoused to a man disabled in one form, we may still do whose name was Joseph ; and the virgood in some other; if we cannot labor gin's name was Mary." As Jesus is so in word, we may labor in deed, and thus emphatically denominated the “son of

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