Luke 1:23
And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) The days of his ministration.—The word used for “ministration” conveys, like the ministering spirits” of Hebrews 1:14, the idea of liturgical service. The “days” were, according to the usual order of the Temple, from Sabbath to Sabbath (2Kings 11:5).

Luke 1:23-25. As soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished — Though he was both deaf and dumb, he was still able to burn incense, and perform the other duties of his office. He therefore continued at the temple till the time of his ministration was ended; when he returned to his house; which is generally supposed to have been at Hebron, a city of the priests, about twenty miles from Jerusalem. See on Luke 1:39. And after these days — Probably very soon after; his wife Elisabeth conceived — According to the prediction of the angel; and hid herself five months — Retired from company, that she might have the more leisure to meditate on the wonderful goodness of God toward her and her husband, and might praise him for it, and rejoice therein. Or, as some think, she kept herself retired, and avoided seeing company, that she might conceal her pregnancy for a while, lest she should expose herself to ridicule by speaking of it before she knew certainly that it was a reality. Saying, Thus hath the Lord dealt with me — Hath miraculously interposed, and done this great work for me; in the days wherein he looked upon me — In his own good time, in which he hath had respect to me, to take away my reproach — Namely, barrenness, which was a great reproach among the Jews. To which may be added, “that a branch of the family of Aaron should fail, would be looked upon as a particular calamity, and might be interpreted as a judgment; and so much the rather, considering the many promises God had made to increase the families of his obedient people.” Thus Dr. Doddridge, who takes occasion here to observe further, “that, considering how the whole Jewish polity was interwoven with those acts of religion which were to be performed by the priests alone, it might seem wonderful that no provision at all should be made for entailing the priesthood on any other family, if that of Aaron should happen to be extinct. Leaving this contingency unprovided for, was, in effect, putting the whole credit of the Jewish religion upon the perpetual continuance of the male branches of that family; an issue on which no man of Moses’s prudence, nor indeed of common sense, would have rested his legislation, if he had not been truly conscious of its divine origin, especially after two of Aaron’s four sons had been cut off in one day, for a rash act in the execution of their office, as soon as they were initiated into it, and died without any children, Numbers 3:4.1:5-25 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.As soon as the days of his ministration ... - As soon as he had fulfilled the duties of the week. It might have been supposed that the extraordinary occurrence in the temple, together with his own calamity, would have induced him at once to leave this place and return home; but his duty was in the temple. His piety prompted him to remain there in the service of God. He was not unfitted for burning incense by his dumbness, and it was not proper for him to leave his post. It is the duty of ministers of religion to remain at their work until they are unfitted for it, and unable to serve God in their profession. Then they must retire. But until that time, he that for trifling causes forsakes his post is guilty of unfaithfulness to his Master. 22. speechless—dumb, and deaf also (see Lu 1:62). See Poole on "Luke 1:21" And it came to pass, that as soon as the days of his ministration,.... In the order of the course, which might be three, four, five, or six days, according to the number of the heads of the house of their fathers in the course; See Gill on Luke 1:5.

were accomplished: for though he was deaf and dumb, he was not hereby disqualified for service. Deafness and dumbness excused persons from various duties (s) but did not disqualify priests: a Levite, if he had lost his voice, was disqualified, but not a priest; (t) the reason was this, because it was one part of the work of the Levites to sing, and therefore could not perform it without a voice; but such was the work of the priests, that though deaf and dumb, they could discharge it; as cleansing the altar, trimming the lamps, carrying the parts to the altar, laying them upon it, and burning them, or offering any sacrifice, burning incense, &c. which was the business of Zacharias; which when he had fulfilled, he departed to his own house; which was not at Jerusalem, but in the hill country, in a city of Judah there; see Luke 1:39.

(s) Misn. Trumot, c. 1. sect. 1, 2. Chagiga, c. 1. sect. 1.((t) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Cholin, c. 1. sect. 6.

And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Luke 1:23-25. Returns home. The week of service over, Zechariah went back to his own house.—λειτουργίας: in Biblical Greek used in reference to priestly service; elsewhere of public service rendered by a citizen at his own expense or of any sort of service.23. the days of his ministration] They lasted from the evening of one Sabbath to the morning of the next. 2 Kings 11:5.Luke 1:23. Εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ, to his own house) An abbreviated form of expression: the city, in which Zacharias dwelt, requiring to be understood. Comp. Luke 1:39. So also Luke 1:56. The house of Zacharias is put in antithesis to the temple of the Lord: see Luke 1:9.Ministration (λειτουργίας)

From λεῖτος, belonging to the people, public, and ἔργον, a work. Hence service of the state in a public office. Trench observes that "when the Christian Church was forming its terminology, which it did partly by shaping new words, and partly by elevating old ones to higher than their previous uses, of the latter it more readily adopted those before employed in civil and political life, than such as had played their part in religious matters." Hence it adopted this word, already in use in the Septuagint, as the constant word for performing priestly and ministerial functions; and so in the New Testament of the ministry of the apostles, prophets, and teachers.

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