|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:5-25 The father and mother of John the Baptist were sinners as all are, and were justified and saved in the same way as others; but they were eminent for piety and integrity. They had no children, and it could not be expected that Elisabeth should have any in her old age. While Zacharias was burning incense in the temple, the whole multitude of the people were praying without. All the prayers we offer up to God, are acceptable and successful only by Christ's intercession in the temple of God above. We cannot expect an interest therein if we do not pray, and pray with our spirits, and are not earnest in prayer. Nor can we expect that the best of our prayers should gain acceptance, and bring an answer of peace, but through the mediation of Christ, who ever lives, making intercession. The prayers Zacharias often made, received an answer of peace. Prayers of faith are filed in heaven, and are not forgotten. Prayers made when we were young and entering into the world, may be answered when we are old and going out of the world. Mercies are doubly sweet that are given in answer to prayer. Zacharias shall have a son in his old age, who shall be instrumental in the conversion of many souls to God, and preparing them to receive the gospel of Christ. He shall go before Him with courage, zeal, holiness, and a mind dead to earthly interests and pleasures. The disobedient and rebellious would be brought back to the wisdom of their righteous forefathers, or rather, brought to attend to the wisdom of that Just One who was coming among them. Zacharias heard all that the angel said; but his unbelief spake. In striking him dumb, God dealt justly with him, because he had objected against God's word. We may admire the patience of God towards us. God dealt kindly with him, for thus he prevented his speaking any more distrustful, unbelieving words. Thus also God confirmed his faith. If by the rebukes we are under for our sin, we are brought to give the more credit to the word of God, we have no reason to complain. Even real believers are apt to dishonour God by unbelief; and their mouths are stopped in silence and confusion, when otherwise they would have been praising God with joy and gratitude. In God's gracious dealings with us we ought to observe his gracious regards to us. He has looked on us with compassion and favour, and therefore has thus dealt with us.
Verse 7. - And they had no child. This, as is well known, was a heavy calamity in a Hebrew home. In the childless house there was no hope of the long looked-for Messiah being born in it. It was not unfrequently looked on as a mark of the Divine displeasure, possibly as the punishment of some grave sin.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And they had no child,.... Son or daughter: and which was accounted a great infelicity: but this was not owing to the judgment of God upon them for any sins they had been guilty of, as the above character of them shows: and it had been the case of some righteous pairs before them for a great while, as Abraham and Sarah, Manoah, and his wile, Elkanah and Hannah:
because that Elizabeth was barren; so that it was peculiarly her case, and not Zacharias's: and though God had promised the people of Israel that there should be no male nor female barren among them, Deuteronomy 7:14 yet there were instances and exceptions to this general rule, as before mentioned, when it was the pleasure of God to make himself known, and magnify his power in the extraordinary conception and birth of any person; and therefore, though barrenness was reckoned a reproach to a person, there was, in this case, a particular hand of God, to answer a special purpose: the signs of sterility are, according to the Jews (b), when a woman had not breasts as other women have, her voice gross, so that it could not be discerned, whether it was a man's or a woman's, &c,
and they both were now well stricken in years; which made the conception and birth of John the more extraordinary, and even miraculous, and so the belief of it the more difficult; see Genesis 17:17 It may be literally rendered, "they had proceeded", or had far advanced "in their days": it is an "Hebraism", and answers to, in Genesis 18:11 where the Septuagint render it by the same phrase as here. The Mahometan writers Beidavi and Jallallo'din say (c) that Zacharias was "ninety nine" years of age, and his wife "eighty nine",
(b) T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 80. 2. Maimon. & Bartenora. in Misn. Yebamot, c. 1. sect. 1. & Maimon. Hilch. Ishot, c. 2. sect. 6. (c) In Koran, c. 3.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
7. So with Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Elkanah and Hannah, Manoah and his wife.
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