Luke 1:62
And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.
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(62) They made signs to his father.—It seems probable—almost, indeed, certain—from this, that Zacharias was deprived of the power of hearing as well as speech, and had passed into the condition of one who was naturally a deaf mute.

1:57-66 In these verses we have an account of the birth of John the Baptist, and the great joy among all the relations of the family. He shall be called Johanan, or Gracious, because he shall bring in the gospel of Christ, wherein God's grace shines most bright. Zacharias recovered his speech. Unbelief closed his mouth, and believing opened it again: he believers, therefore he speaks. When God opens our lips, our mouths must show forth his praise; and better be without speech, than not use it in praising God. It is said, The hand of the Lord was working with John. God has ways of working on children in their infancy, which we cannot account for. We should observe the dealings of God, and wait the event.There is none of thy kindred ... - The Jewish tribes and families were kept distinct. To do this, and to avoid confusion in their genealogical tables, they probably gave only those names which were found among their ancestors. Another reason for this, common to all people, is the respect which is felt for honored parents and ancestors. 62. made signs—showing he was deaf, as well as dumb.Ver. 62,63. It was the parents’ place, the father’s especially, to give children their names. Zacharias was dumb as yet, they therefore made signs to him; he by writing declareth that his name was

John, that is, he was so named already by the angel, therefore there was to be no further dispute about it. The friends marvel at the consent of both the parents in the case, declining all the names of their kindred.

And they made signs to his father,.... Who was deaf, as well as dumb; otherwise there would have been no occasion to have signs made to him: and so the word used, in Luke 1:20 signifies both deaf and dumb. These signs were made by hands or head; for such used to be made to a dumb man. According to the canon (q), a dumb man nods, and "and is nodded", or "beckoned to": and which beckoning one of the commentators (r) says, is a sign which is expressed either by the hands or head. Such a method as these took with Zacharias, about the name of his son, is directed to in case of a father's deafness, in relation to knowing who is his firstborn; (s).

"father that is dumb, they search or examine him in the way they search for divorces; if he makes signs, or writes, that this is his firstborn, lo! this takes the double portion.

How he would have him called; by what name, Zacharias or John; and they were right in applying to him, to whom it most properly belonged, to give a name to his child,

(q) Misn. Gittin, c. 5. sect 7. (r) Bartenora in ib. (s) Maimon. Hitch. Nechalot, c. 2. sect. 15, & 4. 1.

And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.
Luke 1:62 f. Ἐνένευον] They conveyed by signs to him the question (τό, see Krüger, ad Xen. Anab. iv. 4. 17; Kühner, II. p. 138), how (τί = τί ὄνομα, comp. Aesch. Ag. 1205) he perchance (ἄν, see Winer, p. 275 [E. T. 386]) would wish that the child (αὐτό, see the critical remarks) should be named. The making signs does not presuppose deafness and dumbness (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, Jansen, Maldonatus, Lightfoot, Grotius, Wolf, and others, including Ewald), against which may be urged Luke 1:20; nor is it to be explained by the fact, that we are inclined to communicate by means of signs with dumb people as with deaf people (Bengel, Michaelis, Paulus, Olshausen, de Wette), which can only be arbitrarily applied to Zacharias, since he had only been dumb for a short time and people had previously been accustomed to speak with him. Probably it was only from the wish to spare the mother that the decision of the father, who had all along been listening to the discussion, was called for not aloud, but by signs.

αἰτήσας] ὁμοίως διὰ νεύματος, Euthymius Zigabenus.

πινακίδιον] probably a little tablet covered with wax. Tertullian, de idolol. 23 : “Zacharias loquitur in stylo, auditur in cera.”

ἔγραψε λέγων] scripsit haec verba. Comp. 2 Kings 10:6; 1Ma 8:31; 1Ma 11:57. A Hebraism (לֵאמֹר). On the same usage in the Syriac, see Gesenius in Rosenmüller’s Rep. I. p. 135. An example from Josephus is found in Kypke, I. p. 211; Krebs, p. 98. The return of speech does not occur till Luke 1:64. Comp. Luke 1:20; Luke 1:13.

Ἰωάννης ἐστὶ τ. ὄν. αὐτοῦ] Shortly and categorically, in the consciousness of what had been already divinely determined: יוחנן שמו. “Non tam jubet, quam jussum divinum indicat,” Bengel.

ἐθαύμ.] because Zacharias agreed with Elizabeth in a name foreign to the family.

Luke 1:62. ἐνένευον (here only in N. T.): they made signs, which seems to imply that Zechariah is supposed to be deaf as well as dumb. Various suggestions have been made to evade this conclusion; e.g., that men are very apt to treat a dumb person as if he were also deaf (Bengel, De Wette, Godet); that they communicated by signs instead of by speech to spare the feelings of Elizabeth, whose judgment was being appealed from (Meyer); that a sign was all that was needed, Zechariah having heard all that was said (Bleek, J. Weiss, Hahn).—τὸ before the clause following—τί ἂν θέλοι, viewed as a substantive, is very appropriate in a case where the question was not spoken but signalled.—ἂν θέλοι: the optative with ἂν, implies diverse possibilities; found in Lk.’s writings only in N. T.

62. made signs] The discussion whether Zacharias was deaf as well as mute is a very unimportant one, but the narrative certainly seems to imply that he was.

Luke 1:62. Ἐνένευον, they made signs) To one dumb it is more convenient, that he should see persons making signs, than that he should hear them speaking, inasmuch as he is not able to reply to them by word of mouth. It is not probable that Zacharias was also deaf.—τὸ) The article is here demonstrative.

Luke 1:62They made signs (ἐνένευον)

Imperfect tense. While the colloquy between Elizabeth and her friends was going on, they were consulting Zacharias by signs.

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