Luke 1:57-66. Now Elisabeth’s full time came Exactly according to the prediction of the angel; that she should be delivered Though this child was conceived in the womb by a miracle, he continued in the womb according to the ordinary course of nature, as did our Saviour also. Promised mercies are to be expected when the full time for them is come, and not before. And her neighbours and cousins rejoiced with her Having heard that the Lord, in so illustrious and remarkable a manner, had magnified his mercy to her, they came together to testify their joy, and sincerely congratulated her on the happy occasion. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child According to the appointment in the law: not before that day, because the mother was considered as unclean seven days, Leviticus 12:1-2; and so was the child, by touching her, and therefore was not then fit to be admitted into covenant: moreover, till that time he was weak, and could not well endure the pain of circumcision. And they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father The law did not enjoin that the child should have his name given him at circumcision; but it was customary to do it then, because at the institution of the rite, God changed the names of Abraham and Sarah, Genesis 17:5; Genesis 17:16. And his mother said, Not so; but he shall be called John In this she might be influenced by revelation; or Zacharias might have explained the whole affair to her in writing. They said, There is none of thy kindred None of the relations of thy family that is called by this name; and therefore, if he may not have his father’s name, yet let him have the name of some of his kindred, who will consider it as a token of respect to have such a child named from them. And they made signs to his father, &c. Wishing to know his mind in the matter, for it was properly his office to name the child. From their inquiring of him by signs, we may conclude with certainty he was deaf as well as dumb. He asked for a writing-table Πινακιδιον , either a tablet, or little book. The ancients frequently wrote on a thin board, smeared over with wax. And he wrote, His name is John The name which the angel had commanded him to give the child; a name very proper for him who was to be the first preacher of the kingdom of grace, and who was to point out him from whose fulness we receive grace for grace, John 1:16. See note on Luke 1:13. And his mouth was opened immediately He had no sooner done writing than he recovered his speech; the angel’s prediction being then fully accomplished. Accordingly, with an audible, articulate voice, he praised God in holy raptures, to the astonishment of all present. And fear That is, a religious awe and fear of offending God; came on all that dwelt round about them; and all these sayings (or rather things, as τα πηματα here signifies, and as it frequently does elsewhere) were noised abroad, &c. Being very extraordinary events, they were much talked of in that country, and people formed many conjectures concerning the child. And the hand of the Lord was with him Here, by the hand of the Lord, we are not to understand the spirit of prophecy, which is frequently the meaning of the expression in the book of Ezekiel; but that he was remarkable, even from his infancy, for the qualities both of his body and mind; and was favoured in an eminent degree with the grace, protection, and blessing of God. It is of importance to observe here, that the extraordinary circumstances above mentioned, namely, “the appearing of the angel to Zacharias in the temple; Zacharias’s dumbness; Elisabeth’s pregnancy when past the age of child-bearing; and the restoration of Zacharias’s speech on the day of his son’s circumcision; were all wisely ordered by Providence to accompany the conception and birth of John, that he, who was the Messiah’s forerunner, might not seem an obscure and ordinary man, but one that was the peculiar object of the decrees and counsels of heaven. He was introduced into the world in this magnificent manner, that the attention of his countrymen being awakened, and high expectations of him raised, he might execute the duties of his ministry with greater advantage, and effectually prepare the people for receiving the Messiah, who was soon to appear in person.” Macknight.
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