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of Contents | Chapter 8
The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah
FROM THE MANGER IN BETHLEHEM TO THE BAPTISM IN
THE PURIFICATION OF THE VIRGIN AND THE
PRESENTATION IN THE TEMPLE
(St. Luke ii. 21-38.)
FOREMOST amongst those who, wondering, had heard what the
shepherds told, was she whom most it concerned, who laid it up deepest in her
heart, and brought to it treasured stores of memory. It was the Mother of
Jesus. These many months, all connected with this Child could never have been
far away form her thoughts. And now that He was hers yet not hers - belonged,
yet did not seem to belong, to her - He would be the more dear to her
Mother-heart for what made Him so near, and yet parted Him so far from her. And
upon all His history seemed to lie such wondrous light, that she could only see
the path behind, so far as she had trodden it; while upon that on which she was
to move, was such dazzling brightness, that she could scare look upon the
present, and dared not gaze towards the future.
At the very outset of this history, and increasingly in its
course, the question meets us, how, if the Angelic message to the Virgin was a
reality, and her motherhood so supernatural, she could have been apparently so
ignorant of what was to come - nay, so often have even misunderstood it?
Strange, that she should have 'pondered in her heart' the shepherd's account;
stranger, that afterwards she should have wondered at His lingering in the
Temple among Israel's teachers; strangest, that, at the very first of His
miracles, a mother's fond pride should have so harshly broken in upon the
Divine melody of His work, by striking a keynote so different from that, to
which His life had been set; or that afterwards, in the height of his activity,
loving fears, if not doubts, should have prompted her to interrupt, what
evidently she had not as yet comprehended in the fulness of its meaning. Might
we not rather have expected, that the Virgin-Mother from the inception of this
Child's life would have understood, that He was truly the Son of God? The
question, like so many others, requires only to be clearly stated, to find its
emphatic answer. For, had it been so His history, His human life, of which
every step is of such importance to mankind, would not have been possible.
Apart from all thoughts of the deeper necessity, both as regarded His Mission
and all the salvation of the world, of a true human development of gradual
consciousness and personal life, Christ could not, in any true sense, have been
subject to His Parents, if they had fully understood that He was Divine; nor
could He, in that case, have been watched, as He 'grew in wisdom and in favour
with God and men.' Such knowledge would have broken the bond of His Humanity to
ours, by severing that which bound Him as a child to His mother. We could not
have become His brethren, had He not been truly the Virgin's Son. The mystery
of the Incarnation would have been needless and fruitless, had His humanity not
been subject to all its right and ordinary conditions. And, applying the same
principle more widely, we can thus, in some measure, understand why the mystery
of His Divinity had to be kept while He was on earth. Had it been otherwise,
the thought of His Divinity would have proved so all-absorbing, as to render
impossible that of His Humanity, with all its lessons. The Son of God Most
High, Whom they worshipped, could never have been the loving Man, with Whom
they could hold such close converse. The bond which bound the Master to His
disciples - the Son of Man to humanity - would have been dissolved; His
teaching as a Man, the Incarnation, and the Tabernacling among men, in place of
the former Old Testament Revelation from heaven, would have become wholly
impossible. In short, one, and that the distinctive New Testament, element in
our salvation would have been taken away. At the beginning of His life He would
have anticipated the lessons of its end - nay, not those of His Death only, but
of His Resurrection and Ascension, and of the coming of the Holy Ghost.
In all this we have only been taking the subjective, not the
objective, view of the question; considered the earthward, not the heavenward,
aspect of His life. The latter, though very real, lies beyond our present
horizon. Not so the question as to the development of the Virgin-Mother's
spiritual knowledge. Assuming her to have occupied, in the fullest sense, the
standpoint of Jewish Messianic expectancy, and remembering, also, that she was
so 'highly favoured' of God, still, there was not as yet anything, nor could
there be for many years, to lead her beyond what might be called the utmost
height of Jewish belief. On the contrary, there was much connected with His
true Humanity to keep her back. For narrow as, to our retrospective thinking,
the boundary-line seems between Jewish belief and that in the hypostatic union
of the two Natures, the passage from the one to the other represented such
tremendous mental revolution, as to imply direct Divine teaching.1
An illustrative instance will prove this better than argument. We read, in a
commentary on the opening words of Gen. xv. 18,2
that when God made the covenant with Abram, He 'revealed to him both this Olam
(dispensation) and the Olam to come,' which latter expression is
correctly explained as referring to the days of the Messiah. Jewish tradition,
therefore, here asserts exactly what Jesus stated in these words: 'Your father
Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it, and was glad.'3
Yet we know what storm of indignation the enunciation of it called forth among
1. 1 Cor. xii. 3.
2. Ber. R. 44, ed. Warsh. p. 81 b.
3. St. John viii. 56.
Thus it was, that every event connected with the Messianic
manifestation of Jesus would come to the Virgin-Mother as a fresh discovery and
a new surprise. Each event, as it took place, stood isolated in her mind; not
as part of a whole which she would anticipate, nor as only one link in a chain;
but as something quite by itself. She knew the beginning, and she knew the end;
but she knew not the path which led from the one to the other; and each step in
it was a new revelation. Hence it was, that she so carefully treasured in her
heart every new fact,4
piecing each to the other, till she could read from it the great mystery that
He, Whom Incarnate she had borne, was, indeed, the Son of the living God. And
as it was natural, so it was well that it should be so. For, thus only could
she truly, because self-unconsciously, as a Jewish woman and mother, fulfil all
the requirements of the Law, alike as regarded herself and her Child.
4. St. Luke ii. 19, 51.
The first of these was Circumcision, representing voluntary
subjection to the conditions of the Law, and acceptance of the obligations, but
also of the privileges, of the Covenant between God and Abraham and his seed.
Any attempt to show the deep significance of such a rite in the case of Jesus,
could only weaken the impression which the fact itself conveys. The ceremony
took place, as in all ordinary circumstances, on the eight day, when the Child
received the Angel-given name Jeshua (Jesus). Two other legal ordinances
still remained to be observed. The firstborn son of every household was,
according to the Law, to be 'redeemed' of the priest at the price of five
shekels of the Sanctuary.5
Rabbinic casuistry here added many needless, and even repulsive, details. The
following, however, are of practical interest. The earliest period of
presentation was thirty-one days after birth so as to make the legal month
quite complete. The child must have been the firstborn of his mother (according
to some writers, of his father also);6
neither father nor mother7
must be of Levitic descent; and the child must be free from all such bodily
blemishes as would have disqualified him for the priesthood - or, as it was
expressed: 'the firstborn for the priesthood.' It was a thing much dreaded,
that the child should die before his redemption; but if his father died in the
interval, the child had to redeem himself when of age. As the Rabbinic law
expressly states, that the shekels were to be of 'Tyrian weight,'8
the value of the 'redemption money' would amount to about ten or twelve
shillings. The redemption could be made from any priest, and attendance in the
Temple was not requisite. It was otherwise with the 'purification' of the
Rabbinic law fixed this at forty-one days after the birth of a son, and eighty-one
after that of a daughter,10
so as to make the Biblical terms quite complete.11
But it might take place any time later - notably, when attendance on any of the
great feasts brought a family to Jerusalem. Thus, we read of cases when a
mother would offer several sacrifices of purification at the same time.12
But, indeed, the woman was not required to be personally present at all, when
her offering was presented, or, rather (as we shall see), provided for - say,
by the representatives of the laity, who daily took part in the services for
the various districts from which they came. This also is specially provided for
in the Tulmud.13
But mothers who were within convenient distance of the Temple, and especially
the more earnest among them, would naturally attend personally in the Temple;14
and in such cases, when practicable, the redemption of the firstborn, and the
purification of his mother, would be combined. Such was undoubtedly the case
with the Virgin-Mother and her Son.
5. Numb. xviii. 16.
6. So Lundius, Jüd. Alterth. p.621, and Buxtorf, Lex. Talmud. p. 1699.
But I am bound to say, that this seems contrary to the sayings of the Rabbis.
7. This disposes of the idea, that the Virgin-Mother was of direct Aaronic or Levitic descent.
8. Bechor viii. 7.
9. Lev. xii.
Farrar is mistaken in supposing, that the 'thirty-three days' were counted
'after the circumcision.' The idea must have arisen from a misunderstanding of
the English version of Lev. xii. 4. There was no connection between the time of
the circumcision of the child, and that of the purification of his mother. In certain circumstances circumcision might have to be delayed for days, in case
of sickness, till recovery. It is equally a mistake to suppose, that a Jewish mother could not leave the house till after the forty days of her purification.
11. Comp. Sifra, ed. Weiss, p. 59 a and b; Maimonides, Yad haChaz. Hal.Mechusre Capp., ed. Amst., vol. iii. p. 255 a and b.
12. Comp. Kerith. i. 7.
13. Jer. Sheq. 50 b.
14. There is no ground whatever for the objection which Rabbi Löw (Lebensalter, p.
112) raises against the account of St. Luke. Jewish documents only prove, that a mother need not personally attend in the Temple; not that they did
not do so, when attendance was possible. The contrary impression is conveyed to us by Jewish notices.
For this twofold purpose the Holy Family went up to the Temple,
when the prescribed days were completed.15
The ceremony at the redemption of a firstborn son was, no doubt, more simple
than that at present in use. It consisted of the formal presentation of the
child to the priest, accompanied by two short 'benedictions,' the one for the
law of redemption money was paid.16
Most solemn, as in such a place, and remembering its symbolic significance as
the expression of God's claim over each family in Israel, must this rite have
15. The expression tou kaqarismou autwn
cannot refer to the Purification of the Virgin and her Babe (Farrar), nor to that of the Virgin and Joseph (Meyer), because neither the Babe nor Joseph needed, nor were they included in, the purification. It can only refer to 'their' (i.e. the Jews') purification. But this does not imply any Romish inferences (Sepp, Leben Jesu, ii. 1, p. 131) as to the superhuman
condition or origin of the Blessed Virgin; on the contrary, the offering of the sin-offering points in the other direction.
16. Comp. the rubric and the prayers in Maimonides, Yad haChaz. Hilch. Biccur. xi. 5.
As regards the rite at the purification of the mother, the
scantiness of information has led to serious misstatements. Any comparison with
our modern 'churching' of women17
is inapplicable, since the latter consists of thanksgiving, and the former
primarily of a sin-offering for the Levitical defilement symbolically attaching
to the beginning of life, and a burnt-offering, that marked the restoration of
communion with God. Besides, as already stated, the sacrifice for purification
might be brought in the absence of the mother. Similar mistakes prevail as to
the rubric. It is not case, as generally stated, that the woman was sprinkled
with blood, and then pronounced clean by the priest, or that prayers were
offered on the occasion.18
The service simply consisted of the statutory sacrifice. This was what, in
ecclesiastical language, was termed an offering oleh veyored, that is,
'ascending and descending,' according to the means of the offerer. The
sin-offering was, in all cases, a turtle-dove or a young pigeon. But, while the
more wealthy brought a lamb for a burnt-offering the poor might substitute for
it a turtle-dove, or a young pigeon.19
The rubric directed that the neck of the sin-offering was to be broken, but the
head not wholly severed; that some of the blood should be sprinkled at the
south-western angle of the altar,20
below the red line,21
which ran round the middle of the altar, and that the rest should be poured out
at the base of the altar. The whole of the flesh belonged to the priests, and
had to be eaten within the enclosure of the Sanctuary. The rubric for the
burnt-offering of a turtle-dove or a young pigeon was somewhat more intricate.22
The substitution of the latter for a young lamb was expressly designated 'the
poor's offering.' And rightly so, since, while a lamb would probably cost about
three shillings, the average value of a pair of turtle-doves, for both the
sin-and burnt-offering, would be about eightpence,23
and on one occasion fell so low as twopence. The Temple-price of the meat-and
drink-offerings was fixed once a month; and special officials instructed the
intending offerers, and provided them with what was needed.24
There was also a special 'superintendent of turtle-doves and pigeons,' required
for certain purifications, and the holder of that office is mentioned with
praise in the Mishnah.25
Much, indeed, depended upon his uprightness. For, at any rate as regarded those
who brought the poor's offering, the purchasers of pigeons or turtle-doves
would, as a rule, have to deal with him. In the Court of the Women there were
thirteen trumpet-shaped chests for pecuniary contributions, called 'trumpets.'26
Into the third of these they who brought the poor's offering, like the
Virgin-Mother, were to drop the price of the sacrifices which were needed for
As we infer,28 the
superintending priest must have been stationed here, alike to inform the
offerer of the price of the turtle-doves, and to see that all was in order.
For, the offerer of the poor's offering would not require to deal directly with
the sacrificing priest. At a certain time in the day this third chest was
opened, and half of its contents applied to burnt, the other half to
sin-offerings. Thus sacrifices were provided for a corresponding number of
those who were to be purified, without either shaming the poor, needlessly
disclosing the character of impurity, or causing unnecessary bustle and work.
Though this mode of procedure could, of course, not be obligatory, it would, no
doubt, be that generally followed.
17. So Dr. Geikie.
18. So Dr. Geikie, taking his account from Herzog's Real-Encykl. The mistake
about the mother being sprinkled with sacrificial blood originated with
Lightfoot (Horæ Hebr. on St. Luke ii. 22). Later writers have followed the
lead. Tamid v. 6, quoted by Lightfoot, refers only to the cleansing of the
leper. The 'prayers' supposed to be spoken, and the pronouncing clean by the priests, are the embellishments of later writers, for which Lightfoot is not responsible.
19. According to Sifra (Par. Tazria, Per. iv. 3): 'Whenever the sin-offering is changed, it
precedes [as on ordinary occasions] the burnt-offering; but when the
burnt-offering is changed [as on this occasion], it precedes the sin-offering.'
20. But this precise spot was not matter of absolute necessity (Seb. vi. 2). Directions are given as to the manner in which the priest was to perform the sacrificial act.
21. Kinnim i. 1. If the sin-offering was a four-footed animal, the blood was sprinkled above
the red line.
22. Sebach. vi. 5.
23. Comp. Kerith. i. 7.
24. Sheq. iv. 9.
25. Sheq. v. 1.
26. Comp. St. Matt. vi. 2. See 'The Temple and its Services,' & c. pp. 26, 27.
27. Comp. Shekal. vi. 5, the Commentaries, and Jer. Shek. 50 b.
28. Tosepht. Sheq. iii. 2.
We can now, in imagination, follow the Virgin-Mother in the
Temple.29 Her child
had been given up to the Lord, and received back from Him. She had entered the
Court of the Women, probably by the 'Gate of the Women,'30
on the north side, and deposited the price of her sacrifices in Trumpet No. 3,
which was close to the raised dais or gallery where the women worshipped, apart
from the men. And now the sound of the organ, which announced throughout the
vast Temple-buildings that the incense was about to be kindled on the Golden
Altar, summoned those who were to be purified. The chief of the ministrant
lay-representatives of Israel on duty (the so-called 'station-men') ranged
those, who presented themselves before the Lord as offerers of special
sacrifices, within the wickets on either side the great Nicanor Gate, at the
top of the fifteen steps which led up from the Court of the Women to that of
Israel. It was, as if they were to be brought nearest to the Sanctuary; as if
theirs were to be specially the 'prayers' that rose in the cloud of incense
from the Golden Altar; as if for them specially the sacrifices were laid on the
Altar of Burnt-offering; as if theirs was a larger share of the benediction
which, spoken by the lips of the priests, seemed like Jehovah's answer to the
prayers of the people; theirs especially the expression of joy symbolised in
the drink-offering, and the hymn of praise whose Tris-Hagion filled the
Temple. From where they stood they could see it all,31
share in it, rejoice in it. And now the general service was over, and only
those remained who brought special sacrifices, or who lingered near them that
had such, or whose loved abode was ever in the Temple. The
purification-service, with such unspoken prayer and praise as would be the
outcome of a grateful heart,32
was soon ended, and they who had shared in it were Levitically clean. Now all
stain was removed, and, as the Law put it, they might again partake of sacred
29. According to Dr. Geikie, 'the Golden Gate at the head of the long flight of steps that
led to the valley of the Kedron opened into the Court of the Women.' But there was no Golden Gate, neither was there any flight of steps into the valley of the Kedron, while between the Court of the Women and any outer gate (such as could
have led into Kedron), the Court of the Gentiles and a colonnade must have
30. Or else, 'the gate of the firstlings.' Comp. generally, 'The Temple, its Ministry and Services.'
31. This they could not have done from the elevated platform on which they commonly worshipped.
32. This is stated by the Rabbis to have been the object of the burnt-offering. That
suggested for the sin-offering is too ridiculous to mention. The language used about the burnt-offering reminds us of that in the exhortation in the office for the 'Churching of Women:' 'that she might be stirred up to give thanks to Almighty God, Who has delivered her from the pains and perils of childbirth (hrlwy ylbxm hlych#), which is matter of miracle.' (Comp. Hottingerus, Juris Hebr.
Leges, ed. Tiguri, p. 233.)
And in such sacred offering, better than any of which priest's
family had ever partaken, was the Virgin-Mother immediately to share. It has
been observed, that by the side of every humiliation connected with the
Humanity of the Messiah, the glory of His Divinity was also made to shine
forth. The coincidences are manifestly undesigned on the part of the Evangelic
writers, and hence all the more striking. Thus, if he was born of the humble
Maiden of Nazareth, an Angel announced His birth; if the Infant-Saviour was
cradled in a manger, the shining host of heaven hymned His Advent. And so
afterwards - if He hungered and was tempted in the wilderness, Angels
ministered to Him, even as an Angel strengthened Him in the agony of the
garden. If He submitted to baptism, the Voice and vision from heaven attested
His Sonship; if enemies threatened. He could miraculously pass through them; if
the Jews assailed, there was the Voice of God to glorify Him; if He was nailed
to the cross, the sun draped his brightness, and earth quaked; if He was laid
in the tomb, Angels kept its watches, and heralded His rising. And so, when now
the Mother of Jesus, in her humbleness, could only bring the 'poor's offering,'
the witness to the greatness of Him Whom she had borne was not wanting. A
'eucharistic offering' - so to speak - was brought, the record of which is the
more precious that Rabbinic writings make no allusion to the existence of the
party, whose representatives we here meet. Yet they were the true outcome of
the spirit of the Old Testament, and, as such, at this time, the special
recipients of the 'Spirit' of the Old Testament.
The 'parents' of Jesus had brought Him into the Temple for
presentation and redemption, when they were met by one, whose venerable figure
must have been well known in the city and the Sanctuary. Simeon combined the
three characteristics of Old Testament piety: 'Justice,' as regarded his
relation and bearing to God and man;33
'fear of God,'34
in opposition to the boastful self-righteousness of Pharisaism; and, above all,
longing expectancy of the near fulfilment of the great promises, and
that in their spiritual import as 'the Consolation of Israel.'35
The Holy Spirit was upon him; and by that same Spirit36
the gracious Divine answer to his heart's longing had been communicated him.
And now it was as had been promised him. Coming 'in the Spirit' into the
Temple, just as His parents were bringing the Infant Jesus, he took Him into
his arms, and burst into rapt thanksgiving. Now, indeed, had God fulfilled His
word. He was not to see death, till he had seen the Lord's Christ. Now did his
Lord 'dismiss' him 'in peace'37
- release him38
in blessed comfort from work and watch - since he had actually seen that
salvation,39 so long
preparing for a waiting weary world: a glorious light, Whose rising would light
up heathen darkness, and be the outshining glory around Israel's mission. With
this Infant in his arms, it was as if he stood on the mountain-height of
prophetic vision, and watched the golden beams of sunrise far away over the
isles of the Gentiles, and then gathering their full glow over his own beloved
land and people. There was nothing Judiac - quite the contrary: only what was
of the Old Testament - in what he first said.40
33. Comp. Josephus, Ant. xii. 2. 5.
34. The expression eulabhV,
unquestionably refers to 'fear of God.' Comp. Delitzsch, Hebr. Br. pp. 191, 192; and Grimm, Clavis N. T. p. 180 b.
35. The expression hmxn 'consolation,' for the great Messianic hope - whence the Messianic title of Menachem - is of very frequent occurrence (so in the Targum on Isaiah and Jeremiah, and in many Rabbinical passages). Curiously enough, it is several times put into the mouth of a Simeon (Chag. 16 b;
Macc. 5 b; Shev. 34 a) - although, of course, not the one
mentioned by St. Luke. The suggestion, that the latter was the son of the great Hillel and the father of Gamaliel, St. Paul's teacher, though not impossible as
regards time, is unsupported, though it does seem strange that the Mishnah has nothing to say about him: 'lo niscar bamishnah.'
36. The mention of the 'Holy Spirit,' as speaking to individuals, is frequent in
Rabbinic writings. This, of course, does not imply their belief in the
Personality of the Holy Spirit (comp. Bemidb. R. 15; 20; Midr. on Ruth ii. 9; Yalkut, vol. i. pp. 221 b and 265 d).
37. The Talmud (Ber.last page) has a curious conceit, to the effect that, in taking leave of a person, one ought to say: 'Go to peace,' not 'in peace' (Mwl#l, not Mwl#b), the former having been said by Jethro to Moses (Ex. iv. 18), on which he prospered; the latter by David to Absalom (2 Sam. xv. 9), on which he perished. On the other hand, on taking leave of a dead friend, we are to say 'Go in peace,' according to Gen. xv.15, and not 'Go to peace.'
38. The expression apoluein, absolvere,
liberare, demittere, is most graphic. It corresponds to the Hebrew r+p, which is also used of death; as in regard to Simeon the Just, Menach. 109 b;
comp. Ber. 17 a; Targum on Cant. i. 7.
39. Godet seems to strain the meaning of swthrion, when he renders it by the neuter of the adjective. It is frequently used in the
LXX. for h(w#y.
40. St. Luke ii. 29-32.
But his unexpected appearance, the more unexpected deed and
words, and that most unexpected form in which what was said of the Infant Christ
was presented to their minds, filled the hearts of His parents with wonderment.
And it was, as if their silent wonderment had been an unspoken question, to
which the answer now came in words of blessing from the aged watcher. Mystic
they seemed, yet prophetic. But now it was the personal, or rather the Judaic,
aspect which, in broken utterances, was set before the Virgin-Mother - as if
the whole history of the Christ upon earth were passing in rapid vision before
Simeon. That Infant, now again in the Virgin-Mother's arms: It was to be a
stone of decision; a foundation and corner-stone,41
for fall or for uprising; a sign spoken against; the sword of deep personal
sorrow would pierce the Mother's heart; and so to the terrible end, when the
veil of externalism which had so long covered the hearts of Israel's leaders
would be rent, and the deep evil of their thoughts42
laid bare. Such, as regarded Israel, was the history of Jesus, from His Baptism
to the Cross; and such is still the history of Jesus, as ever present to the
heart of the believing, loving Church.
41. Is. viii. 14.
42. dialogismoV, generally used in an evil
Nor was Simeon's the only hymn of praise on that day. A special
interest attaches to her who, coming that very moment, responded in praise to
God43 for the
pledge she saw of the near redemption. A kind of mystery seems to invest this
Anna (Channah). A widow, whose early desolateness had been followed by a
long life of solitary mourning; one of those in whose home the tribal genealogy
had been preserved.44 We infer from this, and from the fact
that it was that of a tribe which had not returned to Palestine, that
hers was a family of some distinction. Curiously enough, the tribe of Asher
alone is celebrated in tradition for the beauty of its women, and their fitness
to be wedded to High-Priest or King.45
43. The verb anqomologeisqai may mean
responsive praise, or simply praise (hrwh) which in this case, however, would equally be 'in response' to that of Simeon, whether responsive in form or not.
44. The whole subject of 'genealogies' is briefly, but well treated by Hamburger,
Real Encykl., section ii. pp. 291 &c. It is a pity, that Hamburger
so often treats his subject from a Judaeo-apologetic standpoint.
45. Bar. R. 71, ed. Warsh.p. 131 b end; 99. p. 179 a, lines 13 and 12 from bottom.
But Anna had better claim to distinction than family-descent,
or long, faithful memory of brief home-joys. These many years she had spent in
and spent in fasting and prayer - yet not of that self-righteous,
self-satisfied kind which was of the essence of popular religion. Nor, as to
the Pharisees around, was it the Synagogue which was her constant and loved
resort; but the Temple, with its symbolic and unspoken worship, which Rabbinic
self-assertion and rationalism were rapidly superseding, and for whose
services, indeed, Rabbinism could find no real basis. Nor yet were 'fasting and
prayer' to her the all-in-all of religion, sufficient in themselves; sufficient
also before God. Deepest in her soul was longing waiting for the 'redemption'
promised, and now surely nigh. To her widowed heart the great hope of Israel
appeared not so much, as to Simeon, in the light of 'consolation,' as rather in
that of 'redemption.' The seemingly hopeless exile of her own tribe, the
political state of Judæa, the condition - social, moral, and religious - of her
own Jerusalem: all kindled in her, as in those who were like-minded, deep,
earnest longing for the time of promised 'redemption.' No place so suited to
such an one as the Temple, with its services, the only thing free, pure,
undefiled, and pointing forward and upward; no occupation so befitting as
'fasting and prayer.' And, blessed be God, there were others, perhaps many
such, in Jerusalem. Though Rabbinic tradition ignored them, they were the salt
which preserved the mass from festering corruption. To her as the
representative, the example, friend, and adviser of such, was it granted as
prophetess to recognise Him, Whose Advent had been the burden of Simeon's
praise. And, day by day, to those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem, would
she speak of Him Whom her eyes had seen, though it must be in whispers and with
bated breath. For they were in the city of Herod, and the stronghold of
46. It is scarcely necessary to discuss the curious suggestion, that Anna actually lived
in the Temple. No one, least of all a woman, permanently resided in the Temple, though the High Priest had chambers there.
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