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Verse 4

The chief priests - By the chief priests here are meant not only the high priest and his deputy, but. also the heads or chiefs of the 24 classes into which David had divided the sacerdotal families, 1 Chronicles 23:6; 1 Chronicles 24:0; 2 Chronicles 8:14; Ezra 8:24.

Scribes - By the scribes, in the New Testament, are meant learned men; men skilled in the law, or the lawyers of the nation. They kept the records of the Courts of justice, the registers of the synagogues, wrote articles of contract and sale, bills of divorce, etc. They were also called lawyers, Matthew 22:35, and doctor’s of the law, Luke 5:17. They were called scribes. from the fact of their writing the public records. They were not, however, a religious sect, but might be either Pharisees or Sadducees. By the chief priests and scribes here mentioned is denoted the Sanhedrin or great council of the nation. This was composed of 72 men, who had the charge of the civil and religious affairs of the Jews. On this occasion Herod, in alarm, called them together, professedly to make inquiry respecting the birth of the Messiah.

Demanded of them - Inquired, or asked of them. As they were the learned men of the nation, and as it was their business to study and explain the Old Testament, they were presumed to know what the prophecies had declared on that point. His object was to ascertain from prophecy where he was born, that he might put him to death, and thus calm the anxieties of his own mind. He seems not to have had any doubt about the time when he would be born. He was satisfied that the time had come.

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