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Verses 41-47

Luke 2:41-47. Now his parents went to Jerusalem at the passover As it was usual for those families to do that were remarkably religious, though only the adult males were, by the law, obliged to appear before the Lord on that occasion. And when he was twelve years old And so, according to the Jewish maxims, came under the yoke of the law; they went up to Jerusalem, &c. And thought it proper to take him with them, to celebrate that glorious deliverance which God had so many ages before wrought for his people, when he brought them out of Egypt; the memory of which was carefully to be transmitted to every succeeding generation. And when they had fulfilled the days Eight days in all, one the passover, and seven the days of unleavened bread: as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind Being engaged with the sacred ordinances of the festival, and the religious conversation attending it. And Joseph and his mother knew not of it It appears, they supposed that he had set out with some of his relations, or acquaintance, and was in the company Εν τη συνοδια , a word that properly means, a company of travellers. As at the three great festivals, not only all the men that were able, but many women likewise, usually attended “the celebration at Jerusalem, they were wont, for their greater security against the attacks of robbers on the road, to travel in large companies. All who came, not only from the same city, but from the same canton or district, made one company. They carried necessaries along with them, and tents for their lodging at night. Sometimes in hot weather, they travelled all night and rested in the day. This is nearly the manner of travelling in the East to this hour. Such companies they now call caravans; and in several places have got houses fitted up for their reception, called caravanseries. This account of their manner of travelling furnishes a ready answer to the question, How could Joseph and Mary make a day’s journey without discovering, before night, that Jesus was not in the company? In the daytime, we may reasonably presume, that the travellers would, as occasion, business, or inclination led them, mingle with different parties of their friends and acquaintance; but that in the evening, when they were about to encamp, every one would join the family to which he belonged. As Jesus did not appear when it was growing late, his parents first sought him where they supposed he would most probably be, among his relations and acquaintances, and, not finding him, returned to Jerusalem;” in the utmost anxiety, to try if they could learn what was become of him. After three days That is, on the morrow after their arrival, which was the third day from their leaving the city, they found him, to their great joy, in one of the chambers of the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors Who, at certain seasons, and particularly in time of the great festivals, taught there publicly. It appears there were no less than three assemblies of the doctors, who had apartments in the temple. In these it was customary to propose doubts concerning the meaning of the precepts of the law, and the traditions of the elders, which was generally done by way of question. It is certainly a great injury to the character of our blessed Redeemer to represent this story, whether in pictures or words, as if Christ went up into the seats of the doctors, and there disputed with them. Nothing is said by the evangelist of his disputing, but only of his asking some questions and answering others; which was a very usual thing in these assemblies, and indeed the very end of them; for they were principally designed for catechetical examination and instruction of young people; always conducted, no doubt, with the utmost modesty and decorum. And if Jesus were, with others, at the feet of these teachers, (where learners generally sat,) he might be said to be in the midst of them, as they sat on benches of a semi-circular form raised above their hearers and disciples. See Lightfoot, Drusius, and Doddridge. And all that heard him were astonished The word εξι σταντο , here rendered were astonished, and εξεπλαγησαν , in the next verse, are much more forcible expressions than the words whereby we translate them. They import, that they were in a transport of astonishment, and struck with admiration. As our Lord himself hath told us that, on this occasion, he was employed on his Father’s business, it is probable that, in these his answers and objections, he modestly insinuated corrections of the errors wherewith the Jewish teachers had now greatly disfigured religion. If we recollect that the school learning of the Jews was at this time at its highest pitch, and that our Lord, at the age of twelve years, was superior to the greatest doctors which the Jews could boast of, there will appear very just grounds for the admiration here mentioned.

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