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At the present juncture, however, the Census proceeded no farther than the first act of the enrollment of persons in the Roman registers, (called tabule in Latin, and aπoуpapa in Greek.) And to these registers Tertullian, and the early Fathers, often appeal for evidence of the lineal descent of JESUS from David, as foretold of CHRIST. For Herod sent his trusty minister, Nicholas of Damascus, to Rome; who, by his address and presents, found means to undeceive and mollify the emperor, by stating the matter truly. Augustus, therefore, was reconciled to Herod, and stopped the assessment or taxing, (aжоτιμησις or απογραφη,) and punished Sylleus with death, for this and other misdemeanors, as we collect from Josephus, Ant. XVI. 9, 4, x. 8, 9.
Although the Census was now suspended, it was afterwards carried into effect, upon the deposal and banishment of Archelaus, the son and successor of Herod, for mal-administration, by Augustus, upon the complaint of the Jews, weary of the tyranny of Herod's family, and requesting that Judea might be made a Roman province. Upon that occasion, the trusty Cyrenius was sent again, as president of Syria, with an armed force, to confiscate the property of Archelaus, and to complete the Census; which was submitted to by the nation, now, without hesitation, as formerly they had submitted to the enrollment, principally by the advice and authority of Joazar, the high priest, whose sister, the second Mariamne, Herod had married, some time before his appointment. Joazar, indeed, was deposed on Herod's death, by Archelaus, as inimical to his interest; and, therefore, he again recommended the measure of the assessment, with a view, perhaps, to his own restoration, in which he was not disappointed, for Cyrenius made him high priest again; though soon after he was obliged to depose him, on account of the odium he had incurred, as a partizan of the Romans, when the insurrection of Judas of Galilee broke out, in "the days of the taxing," Acts v. 37, in which, though "Judas
γραψασθαι, μετα του πατρος και της μητρος, επι Κυρηνιου. Julian. apud Cyril. Lib. VI. p. 213, ed. Spanhem.
Εν τῳ λγ Ηρωδου Κυρήνιος, απο της συγκλητου βουλης απεσταλμενος εις την Ιουδαιαν απογραφας εποιησατο των ουσιων και των οικητηρων. Euseb. Hist. Eccl.
Sed et census, constat, actos sub Augusto, nunc in Judea, per Sentium Saturninum : apud quas genus ejus (CHRISTI) inquirere potuissent. Tertullian de Carne Christi, et advers. Marcion. Here Tertullian ascribes to the principal, Saturninus, what was done by the deputy, Cyrenius.
was slain, and his adherents dispersed," of whom the chief was Sadok, a Pharisee, yet his principles took root among "the zealots," as they called themselves; namely, that payment of tribute to the Romans, was downright slavery, and unlawful in itself, as repugnant to the theocracy, since GOD was their only king. Hence, the doubt expressed by the tax gatherers in Galilee, whether JESUS, as the reputed CHRIST, or true king of Israel, would pay the Roman tax; which he did, by a miracle; and the insidious question proposed to CHRIST afterwards, by the Pharisees and Herodians conjointly, "whether it was lawful, or not, to pay tribute to Cæsar?" which he evaded with such admirable address, and retorted on the hypocritical proposers.
The establishment of the assessment, or taxing, afterwards, which was necessary to complete the Roman Census, when Archelaus was deposed and banished, and his property confiscated, is stated by the Evangelist in the following parenthetical remark, which may be more correctly written, and rendered thus:
(Αυτη ή απογραφη πρωτη εγενετο ἡγεμονεύοντος της Συρίας Κυρηνιου.)
("The taxing itself was first made while Cyrenius was president of Syria.")
In all the printed editions the first word is aspirated, avrn, "this," as if it were the feminine of oúroç. But this materially injures the sense, as if the enrollment decreed in the first verse, was the same as this taxing in the second; whereas there was an interval of eleven years, as we have seen, between the two. But in the most ancient manuscripts, written in uncials, or in capitals, without points or accents, the word is ambiguous; and may also be unaspirated, avrn, self," the feminine of auroç. And both occur together in this same chapter, where the Evangelist, speaking of Anna the prophetess, says και αύτη, αυτη τη ώρα επιστασα, And this [woman] coming in at the instant itself," or at" the self same hour," &c. Luke ii. 38, where the phraseology is precisely the same; and repeatedly occurs elsewhere. Nor can it justly be objected, that the singular, anоγραφη, assessment," or taxing," is used in a different sense from the plural, anоyрapai, " Registers," or " Tables:" a similar
Among OUR LORD's disciples was "Simon the Zealot," Luke vi. 15, Acts i. 13.
distinction was noticed before, between avaroλn," the rising" of a star, and avaroλai, "the east," Matt. ii. 1, 2. See Vol. I. p. 73.
The ordinal #wrn, "first," is here understood adverbially *, and connected with the verb εγενετο, 66 was made," or took effect +," signifying that the taxing itself first took effect, or was carried into execution, under the presidency of Cyrenius, or Quirinius; which had been suspended from the time of his procuratorship.
By this easy and obvious emendation and construction, the Evangelist is critically reconciled with the varying accounts of Josephus, Justin Martyr, and Tertullian; and an historical difficulty, satisfactorily solved, which has hitherto set criticism at defiance. See Lardner's elaborate dissertation on the subject, considerably longer than Luke's whole Gospel, which offers only a choice of difficulties to the reader. Vol. I. p. 248-329.
VISITS OF THE JEWISH SHEPHERDS, AND OF THE
These are classed together, because they probably originated from a divine annunciation to both at the same time, to render homage to the New Born MESSIAH; who was destined, indeed, to be" a light to lighten the Gentiles, and a glory to his people Israel."
On the night of the Nativity, as some pious shepherds near Bethlehem were keeping watch over their flocks by night, in the field, Lo, an Angel of THE LORD [suddenly] came upon them, and a glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the Angel said unto them, Be not afraid, for lo, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all the people [of Israel:] for unto you, is born this day, in [Bethlehem,] the city of David, a SAVIOUR, which is CHRIST THE LORD. And this shall be a sign unto you: ye shall find the Babe swathed, lying in the manger [of the inn.] And sud
That ρwn cannot be understood as an adjective, connected with anoуpaon, as rendered by Campbell, Newcome, Wakefield, "this first register," appears from the want of the article, as in the usual form, αύτη ή αναστασις ἡ πρώτη. This is "the first resurrection,” Rev. xx. 5, as acutely observed by Middleton. On the Greek Article, p. 304, 305.
+ The verb yivopai bears this sense in several places, Matt. v. 18, vi. 10, xviii. 19, xxii. 42, 1 Cor. xv. 54, &c. See Campbell's Note.
denly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising GOD and saying, Glory in the highest [heavens] to GOD: and on earth peace, good will toward men
"And it came to pass, as the angels were departing from them into the heaven, [or sky,] the shepherds said to each other, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing that hath been done, which THE LORD hath made known unto us. And they went, with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in the manger," Luke ii. 8-16.
Bethlehem, about six miles south of Jerusalem, is seated on the utmost ridge of a hill, stretching east and west, in a happy soil, and most delicate prospect. At the east side of the city is shewn a grotto, hewn out of the living rock, which was em
The concise and simple sublimity of this circumstantial and picturesque narrative, in which nothing is redundant, nothing deficient, is above all praise. It furnishes a perfect model of historical composition. Here the whole solemn scene is, in a manner, represented to our view, by the liveliness and natural grandeur of the description. We see the terror of the shepherds accounted for, by the suddenness and the manner of the angel's approach, &πεorn, "he came upon them," by surprise, and the effect of this apparition is expressed, by one of those oriental amplifications, too bold and forcible for the tameness of European language, εφοβήθησαν φοβον μεγαν, they were afraid with great fear," or, as rendered in the English Bible," they were sore afraid." And then, after the angel had done speaking, the sudden manifestation of the celestial choir, (which might have amazed the shepherds too much, and distracted their attention before,) completes the grandeur of the scene; ending with that inimitable doxology of "Glory to GOD," for this gracious dispensation of divine love, or good will to mankind ; in which "God's mercy, and his truth or justice, met together" in unison; "His righteousness and the peace of fallen man, which seemed to be at variance, kissed each other," in token of the fondest reconciliation, by the all-sufficient atonement of CHRIST, coming flesh," to die for our sakes, and in our stead! A mystery, worthy to be celebrated by the tongues of angels and men, in and throughout the universe.
Its consummate excellence, indeed, will more strikingly appear, by comparison with the following paraphrase of the eloquent Bossuet, under the equal disadvantage of a literal translation:
"Some shepherds, who passed the night with their flocks in the fields adjacent, saw, at the same time, an angel who affrighted them, at first, by a very extraordinary light, with which he environed them; but he reassured them incontinently, by informing them of the news which was the occasion of this prodigy. He even told them by what marks they might know THE SAVIOUR that was born to them. And, at that instant, they heard in the air, a concert of many voices, like that of the angel, celebrating the glory of GoD in the heavens, and the peace which he had now given to men upon earth." La vie de Jesus Christ. Tom. I. p. 28. Paris, 1757.
This is full as long as the original, and independently of its tameness and insipidity, omitting the angel's speech entirely, it omits several of the most important and characteristic circumstances; as the mode of the angel's appearance, the true Israelites who were to be saved, the reference to Micah's prophecy of Bethlehem, as the birth place of the MESSIAH, &c.
ployed for a stable at that time, and on the south side you descend, by three steps, into a lesser grotto, on the west side of which is a manger, hewn out in a concave, about two feet high from the floor, and a little way hollowed within, wherein they say that our new-born SAVIOUR was laid by the Virgin. In the bottom of this manger, and just in the middle, a round serpentine is set, to denote the place where he lay. On the opposite side of the grotto there is a bench in the rocks, not unlike an altar, where the Magi of the east, that were conducted hither by the star, disposed, as they say, of their presents. The empress Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, erected a magnificent temple here, called St. Mary's of Bethlehem, now gone to decay. See Sandys, p. 136-141, who gives drawings of the temple, &c.
II. This same "glory of THE LORD," or miraculous light, which "shone round about the shepherds," and was therefore probably of a globular form, and of considerable diameter, might have appeared on the same night, and at the same time, to some pious Magi* of the Parthian empire, diminished, at the distance of several hundred miles, to the size of a star, or uncommonly bright meteor, and rising in its ascent from the shepherds, in the south-west quarter of the horizon, an unusual region, which must have strongly attracted their notice, and excited
• The Magi (Mayou), signifying in Persic " Diviners," were the established priesthood of the Persian, or Parthian empire; persons of the highest rank and consequence in the Their original founder, in times very remote, even before Abraham's days, in the time of Nahor, (see Vol. II. p. 51,) is supposed to have been the first Zerdusht, or ZoroThe second of that name afterwards, and the great reformer of the Magian religion, flourished in the reign of Gushtasp, or Darius Hystaspes, and is represented by the Persian historians as having been a servant, or disciple, of one of the Jewish prophets, supposed to be Elijah, but most probably Daniel. Abulfaragi relates, (what has much the air of a legend, invented after Christianity,) that he instructed the Persians concerning the manifestation of CHRIST THE LORD; ordering them to bring Him gifts, and foretelling that, in the last times, a virgin should conceive a child without the knowledge of man, and that at his birth a star should shine, in the midst of which should be sen the figure of the virgin: "My sons," said he, "ye shall perceive its rising before all other nations; as somm, therefore, as ye shall see the star, go, follow its direction, adore Him, offer Him your gifts, since this is He, THE ORACLE, who created the heavens," p. 54. And he represents them afterwards, p. 70, as telling Herod that a person, formerly of great name among them, in a book that he left, warned them of the future birth of a heavenly child in Palestine; that the sign of his appearance should be an extraordinary star, and that when they saw it, they should follow its guidance to the place of its residence, and offer it gifts, gold, and myrrh, and frankincense, and adore him, and then return home, lest some grievous calamity should befal them.