Luke 1:39
And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;
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(39) The hill country . . . a city of Juda.—The description is too vague to be identified with any certainty. The form of the proper noun is the same as that in “Bethlehem, of the land of Juda,” in Matthew 2:6. The city may have been one of those assigned to the priests within the limits of the tribe of Judah, and if so, it is interesting to think of the Virgin as undertaking a journey which brought her not far from the very spot in which she was to give birth to the divine Child. No city of the name of Juda is known, but there is a Juttah in Joshua 15:55; Joshua 21:16, in the neighbourhood of Maon and the Judæan Carmel, and therefore in the “hill country,” which may possibly be that which is here referred to.

Luke 1:39-45. Mary arose in those days — That is, soon after the time that she had received the extraordinary message mentioned above; and went into the hill-country — Where Elisabeth dwelt, although it was at least seventy miles distant from Nazareth. It is probable she was eager to know the certainty of her cousin’s pregnancy, which the angel had mentioned, to show her the possibility of her own. Into a city of Juda — Probably Hebron, which belonged to the house of Aaron, and was situated in Judea, the mountains of which, running from south to north, gave the name of the hill-country to a part of it. And saluted Elisabeth — Immediately on her entering Zacharias’s house: and she no sooner spake than the child in the womb of Elisabeth leaped, as transported with joy, as if sensible of the approach of Him whose forerunner he was appointed to be. And the holy woman Elisabeth was so enlightened by the extraordinary influence of the Holy Ghost, that she instantly knew her cousin Mary had conceived with child of the Messiah, and therefore saluted her by the grand title of, the mother of my Lord. Being also in a divine and prophetic ecstasy, she uttered things which had an evident relation to the particulars of Mary’s interview with the angel; things, therefore, which she could only know by revelation; so that she astonished Mary exceedingly, and exalted her faith beyond every doubt. And she spake with a loud voice — Such as testified the greatness of the emotion of her mind; and said, Blessed art thou among women — The same salutation wherewith Gabriel had addressed Mary; and blessed is the fruit of thy womb — Alluding probably to the child’s being the promised seed in whom all the families of the earth were to be blessed, and who for that reason was blessed himself. Psalm 72:17. And whence is this, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? — If Elisabeth had not been extraordinarily inspired, she could not so much as have suspected that Mary was to be the mother of the Messiah; but this being revealed to her, she was greatly struck with the honour that was done her, and expressed her sense thereof by asking, in a rapture of astonishment, how it came to be conferred upon her. As if she had said, “How have I deserved this honour, that the mother of the Messiah, my Lord and Saviour, should deign to visit me?” And blessed is she that believed — Here Elisabeth plainly commends the faith and humility which Mary had expressed, when the angel assured her that she should become pregnant in her virgin state; contrary to the behaviour of Zacharias, who, it seems, had informed Elisabeth by writing of all that had happened, or she might come to the knowledge of it by revelation. For there shall be a performance of those things, &c. — Dr. Campbell reads this clause in connection with the preceding, thus: Happy is she who believed that the things which the Lord hath promised her shall be performed; understanding the latter clause to be the object of Mary’s faith: and for this reading he assigns solid reasons. Indeed, it is the reading of the margin.

1:39-56 It is very good for those who have the work of grace begun in their souls, to communicate one to another. On Mary's arrival, Elisabeth was conscious of the approach of her who was to be the mother of the great Redeemer. At the same time she was filled with the Holy Ghost, and under his influence declared that Mary and her expected child were most blessed and happy, as peculiarly honoured of and dear to the Most High God. Mary, animated by Elisabeth's address, and being also under the influence of the Holy Ghost, broke out into joy, admiration, and gratitude. She knew herself to be a sinner who needed a Saviour, and that she could no otherwise rejoice in God than as interested in his salvation through the promised Messiah. Those who see their need of Christ, and are desirous of righteousness and life in him, he fills with good things, with the best things; and they are abundantly satisfied with the blessings he gives. He will satisfy the desires of the poor in spirit who long for spiritual blessings, while the self-sufficient shall be sent empty away.And Mary arose - The word "arose" here is equivalent to "setting out," or starting on a journey.

The hill country - The region in the vicinity of Jerusalem, commonly called the hill country of Judea.

City of Juda - What city is meant is not known. Some have supposed it to be Jerusalem, others Hebron; but all is conjecture. It was probably a Levitical city, and the residence of Zechariah when he was not employed in the temple.

Lu 1:39-56. Visit of Mary to Elisabeth.

39. hill country—the mountainous tract running along the middle of Judea, from north to south [Webster and Wilkinson].

with haste—transported with the announcement to herself and with the tidings, now first made known to her, of Elisabeth's condition.

a city of Juda—probably Hebron (see Jos 20:7; 21:11).

Ver. 39,40. Many think that this city where this Zacharias lived was Hebron, before called Kirjatharba, Joshua 14:15, for that was a city in the mountainous part of Judah, one of the cities of refuge, and belonging to the priests, Joshua 20:7; but whether it was so or not cannot be certainly determined. She probably went not only to rejoice with Elisabeth her kinswoman, but also to strengthen her own faith as to the revelation which she had received, finding that true which the angel had told her concerning her cousin Elisabeth.

And Mary arose in those days,.... The Ethiopic version renders it, "in that day"; directly, immediately, as soon as the angel was gone from her; partly to know the truth of things, and to make use of the sign which had been given her, for the further confirmation of her faith, which was very right and proper for her to do; and partly to converse with Elisabeth about the great things which God had done for each of them, and to praise his name together: "and went into the hill country with haste"; the same which is called the country of the hills, and the hills, and the mountains, in Joshua 10:40 where the Septuagint use the same word as here: the land of Judea was divided into three parts, "the mountain", or hill country, the champaign country, and the valley (b): from Betboron to Emmaus is "the hill country"; from Emmaus to Lud, or Lydda, is the champaign country; and from Lydda to the sea, the valley (c). This place is frequently called, in the Jewish writings (d), the king's mountain, or the royal mountain, and is said to be very full of cities: ten thousand cities, they say (e), were in the king's mountain, and a thousand of them belonged to R. Eleazer ben Harsum: yea, they say (f), that king Jannai had sixty myriads of cities in the mountain of the king. The Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions render it, "went to the mountain", to this mountain, and which is called the mountain, or, as we read it, the hill country of Judah, Joshua 21:11 on which Hebron was situated; and seems to be the city next mentioned: into a city of Judah; for that was given to the children of Aaron and so may reasonably be thought to be the city where Zacharias dwelt, and not Jerusalem, which was in the tribe of Benjamin. Hebron was a city peculiar to the priests; whereas Jerusalem was not; and it was in the hill country of Judea; it was remarkable for the goodness of its stones. It is said (g).

"you have no stones in all the land of Israel harder than at Hebron; hence they buried the dead there.

(b) Misn. Sheviith, c. 9. sect. 2. Maimon & Bartenora in ib. (c) T. Hieros. Sheviith, fol. 38. 4. (d) Targum in Jud. iv. 5. T. Hieros. Avoda Zara, fol. 44. 4. (e) T. Hieros. Taanioth, fol. 69. 1.((f) T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 57. 1.((g) T. Bab. Sota, fol. 34. 2. & Cetnbot, fol. 112. 1.

{4} And Mary arose in those days, and went into the {m} hill country with haste, into a {n} city of Juda;

(4) Elisabeth being many months pregnant with John, and Mary being pregnant with Christ, do rejoice for each other by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

(m) Which is on the south side of Jerusalem.

(n) That is to say, Hebron: which was in times past called Kirjatharba: which was one of the towns that were given to the Levites in the tribe of Judah, and is said to be in the mountains of Judah; Jos 14:15; 21:11.

Luke 1:39. The angel’s communication, Luke 1:36, occasions Mary to make a journey to Elizabeth, and that with haste (μετὰ σπουδῆς, comp. Mark 6:25; Exodus 12:11; Herod, iii. 4, iv. 5); for how much must her heart have now urged her to the interchange of the deepest feelings with the friend who, in like manner, was so highly favoured! Thus it is not merely “ne negligeret signum,” etc., Grotius. From Elizabeth she receives the confirmation of that which the angel had announced to her concerning Elizabeth. But before her departure the great promise of Luke 1:35 is already fulfilled to herself. With extraordinary delicacy the promised conception is not related in its realization (comp., on the other hand, Luke 1:24), and the veil of the unparalleled marvel is not attempted to be raised; but Luke 1:41-44 and the whole triumph of Mary, Luke 1:46 ff., presuppose that she appears before Elizabeth already as the mother of the Messiah, bearing Him in her womb. She herself is only made certain of the miracle, which has already occurred in her case, by the inspired communication which at once meets her from the mouth of her friend. Bengel is singularly arbitrary in transferring the conception, which in any case lies between Luke 1:38-39, to the moment when the child leaped in the womb of Elizabeth, which he concludes from γάρ in Luke 1:44.

εἰς τὴν ὀρεινήν] into the mountain-region

κατʼ ἐξοχήν, Aristot. H. A. v. 28; Jdt 1:6; Jdt 2:22; Jdt 4:7, al.; Plin. H. N. v. 14. The mountainous country in the tribe of Judah is meant. See Robinson, Pal. II. p. 422 ff., III. p. 188 ff.

εἰς πόλιν Ἰούδα] into a city of the tribe of Judah. Luke does not give any more precise definition, and therefore it is to be assumed that he himself had no more precise knowledge. Jerusalem, the capital, is certainly not meant (in opposition to Ambrose, Beda, Camerarius); which is clear, not indeed from the want of the article (comp. Luke 2:4; Luke 2:11; Bornemann in loc.), but from the unprecedented designation itself (in 2 Chronicles 25:28 the reading is very doubtful, see the LXX.), and from the εἰς τὴν ὀρείνην [less] appropriate to Jerusalem. It may have been the priestly city of Hebron, Joshua 21:11 (Baronius, Beza, Grotius, Lightfoot, Wolf, Rosenmüller, and others); but that it is meant as a matter of course under the “city of Judah” (see Ewald, p. 182), is not to be assumed, because in that case πόλιν could not dispense with the article (to the well-known city of Judah). Others (Valesius, Epp. 669; Reland, Pal. p. 870; Wetstein, Paulus, Kuinoel, Crome, Beitr. p. 45, et al.; comp. also Robinson, Pal. III. p. 193, and Ritter, Erdk. XV. p. 641) have regarded Juda as itself the name of the city: holding that it was the priestly city יוּטָה or יֻטָּה (Joshua 21:16; Joshua 15:55; comp. Robinson, II. p. 417), so that the name is wrongly written. We should have to refer this inaccuracy to Luke himself; but the whole hypothesis is an unnecessary makeshift.

Luke 1:39-45. Mary visits Elizabeth.

39–45. The Visit of Mary to Elizabeth

39. in those days] Rather, these. Probably within a month of the Annunciation.

went into the hill country] Palestine west of the Jordan lies in four parallel lines of very different formation. 1. The coast. 2. The Shephçlah, or maritime plain, broken only by the spur of Carmel. 3. The Har or Hill country,—the mass of low rounded hills which formed the main part of the Roman provinces of Judaea and Samaria south of the intervening plain of Esdraelon, and of Galilee north of it; and 4. The Ghôr or deep dint of the Jordan Valley. See Deuteronomy 1:7, “in the plain (Arabah), in the hills (Har), in the vale (Shephçlah), and in the south (Negeb), and by the sea side (Chooph hayyâm).” (Joshua 9:1; Jdg 5:17.) The specific meaning of ‘hill country’ is the elevated district of Judah, Benjamin and Ephraim. (Genesis 14:10; Numbers 13:29; Joshua 9:1; Joshua 10:40; Joshua 11:16.)

with haste] The same notion of haste is involved in the aorist participle ‘anastasa’ rising up. As a betrothed virgin she would live without seeing her future husband. When however a few weeks sufficed to shew her condition, the female friends about her would be sure to make it known to Joseph. Then would occur the enquiries and suspicions, so agonising to a pure maiden, which are alluded to by St Matthew (Matthew 1:18-25). After the dream which vindicated her innocence we can understand the “haste” with which she would fly to the sympathy of her holy and aged kinswoman and seek for peace in the seclusion of the priestly home. Nothing but the peculiarity of her condition could have permitted the violation of Jewish custom involved in the journey of a betrothed virgin. But for the incidents recorded by St Matthew we should be wholly unable to account for this expression. Its naturalness under the circumstances is an undesigned coincidence.

into a city of Juda] Similarly, Nazareth is described as “a city of Galilee.” The name of the city is not given. Had the home of Zacharias been at Hebron it would probably have been mentioned. Reland (Palest. p. 870) ingeniously conjectures that we should read Jutta, which was in the hill country (Joshua 15:55) and was one of the cities of Judah which were assigned to the priests (ib. Luke 21:9; Luke 21:16). We can hardly venture to alter the reading, but as Juttah was only a large village (Euseb. Onomast. s. v.) and is not mentioned in 1 Chronicles 6:57-59 it may have been the home of Zacharias, and the actual name may easily have been omitted as obscure. Tradition names Ain Karim. ‘Judah’ is here used for Judaea (Matthew 2:6).

Luke 1:39. Ἀναστᾶσα, having arisen) The angel had given her the suggestion [occasion] which led her to go, Luke 1:36.—[ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ταύταις, in those days) of the sixth month, Luke 1:26; Luke 1:36.—V. g.]—μετὰ σπουδῆς) Σπουδὴ, and its derivatives and compounds, often in the LXX. denote haste, בהלה.—εἰς πόλιν Ἰούδα, to a city of Juda) Luke does not specify the name of this city of the priests in the hill country, but from Joshua 21:11, we know it was Hebron; but he specifically sets down the name of the tribe, Juda. Here then it was, we may, not without good reason, conjecture, that the conception of Jesus Christ took place. [The haste of the holy virgin, just now noticed, is in consonance with this view.—Harm. p. 42.] Comp. Kohlreiff. in Jes. 30; and concerning the nativity of Jesus Christ in the land of Canaan, p. 96. Moreover, there were most remarkable motions and emotions in Elisabeth, and her infant in the womb, and in Mary, Luke 1:41-42 : also the particle γὰρ, for, in Luke 1:44, has an altogether peculiar weight, expressing the reason why, at this particular point of time, Elisabeth first proclaims Mary to be the mother of her Lord [Luke 1:43]. Of so great moment, in truth, is the conception, that, if it had happened at Nazareth, He would have been called a Nazarene for that reason, rather than on account of His parents dwelling there. But this fact of their dwelling there is given as the one and only cause of that surname which He bore [ch. Luke 4:16; Luke 4:24]. As it is, the Lord, both with reference to His mother and progenitors, and with reference to the places alike where He was conceived as well as born, was sprung from Juda.

Verse 39. - Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste. Between the annunciation and this journey of Mary to visit her cousin Elisabeth, we must interpose the events narrated in St. Matthew's Gospel, viz. the natural suspicion of her betrothed future husband, Joseph. his action in the matter; and then the dream of Joseph, in which her innocence was vindicated. As we believe that St. Luke's story here was derived from Mary's own narrative, we can understand well that these details, related by St. Matthew, were scarcely touched upon, and the mother would hurry on to the real points of interest in that eventful past of hers. The hill country here alluded to is the elevated district of Judah, Benjamin, and Mount Ephraim, in contradistinction to the low maritime plain on the east - the old Philistia. Into a city of Juda. There is no such city known as "Juda." Some have supposed that the text is corrupt here, and that for "Yuda" we should read "Jutta," which, according to Joshua 15:55, was a priestly city in the hill country. There is a rabbinical tradition in the Talmud which places the residence of Zacharias at Hebron. It is very probable that Hebron, the great priestly city, is here signified. Luke 1:39
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