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Visit to

at this

age, Jesus went up with his parents at the fes

tival to Jerusalem ;c but on their return, after

the customary residence of seven days, they had advanced a full day's journey without discovering that the youth was not to be found in the whole caravan, or long train of pilgrims, which probably comprised all the religious inhabitants of the populous northern provinces. In the utmost anxiety they returned to Jerusalem, and, after three days,d found Him in one of the chambers, within the precincts of the Temple, set apart for public instruction. In these schools the wisest and most respected of the Rabbis, or teachers, were accustomed to hold their sittings, which were open to all who were desirous of knowledge. Jesus was seated, as the scholars usually were; and at his familiarity with the Law, and the depth and subtilty of his questions, the learned men were in the utmost astonishment: the phrase may, perhaps, bear the stronger sense—they were “ in an ecstasy of admiration.” This incident is strictly in accordance with Jewish usage. The more promising youths were encouraged to the early development and display of their acquaintance with the Sacred Writings, and the institutes of the country. Josephus, the historian, relates, that in his early youth he was an object of wonder for his precocious knowledge, with the Wise Men, who took delight in examining and developing his proficiency in the subtler questions of the Law. Whether the impression of the transcendent promise of Jesus was as deep and lasting as it was vivid, we have no information ; for without reluctance, with no more than a brief and mys

c Luke ii. 41, 52.

Galilee, returned the second, and d According to Grotius, they had found him the third : in loc. advanced one day's journey towards




terious intimation that public instruction was the business imposed upon him by his Father, he returned with his parents to his remote and undistinguished home. The Law, in this, as in all such cases, harmonising with the eternal instincts of nature, had placed the relation of child and parent on the simplest and soundest principles. The authority of the parent was unlimited, while his power of inflicting punishment on the person, or injuring the fortunes of the child by disinheritance, was controlled; and while the child, on the one hand, was bound to obedience by the strongest sanctions, on the other the duty of maintaining and instructing his offspring was as rigidly enforced upon the father. The youth then returned to the usual subjection to his parents; and, for nearly eighteen years longer, we have no knowledge that Jesus was distinguished among the inhabitants of Nazareth, except by his exemplary piety, and by his engaging demeanour and conduct, which acquired him the general good-will. The Law, as some suppose, prescribed the period of thirty years for the assumption of the most important functions; and it was not till he had arrived at this age that Jesus again emerged from his obscurity; nor does it appear improbable that John had previously commenced his public career at the same period in his life.

During these thirty years most important revolutions had taken place in the public administration Political Reof affairs in Judæa, and a deep and sullen during the

preceding change had been slowly working in the popular period. mind. The stirring events which had rapidly succeeded


e or entering on his thirtieth year. day which had commenced was inAccording to the Jewish mode of com- cluded in the calculation. Light. putation, the year, the week, or the foot. VOL. I.






Reign of

each other, were such as no doubt might entirely obliterate any transient impressions made by the marvellous circumstances which attended the birth of Jesus, if indeed they had obtained greater publicity than we are inclined to suppose. As the period approached, in which the new Teacher was to publish his mild and benignant faith, the nation, wounded in their pride, galled by oppression, infuriated by the promulgation of fierce and turbulent doctrines more congenial to their temper, became less and less fit to receive any but a warlike and

conquering Messiah. The reign of Archelaus,

or rather the interregnum, while he awaited the ratification of his kingly powers from Rome, had commenced with a bloody tumult, in which the royal soldiery had attempted to repress the insurrectionary spirit of the populace. The Passover had been interrupted—an unprecedented and ill-omened event!—and the nation, assembled from all quarters, had been constrained to disperse without the completion of the sacred ceremony. After the tyrannical reign of Archelaus as ethnarch, for more than nine years, he had been banished Reduction to into Gaul, and Judæa was reduced to a Roman province. province, under a governor (procurator) of the equestrian order, who was subordinate to the President of Syria. But the first Roman governors, having taken up their residence in Herod’s magnificent city on the coast, Cæsarea, the municipal government of Jerusalem

had apparently fallen into the hands of the

native authorities. The Sanhedrin of seventyone, composed of the chief priests and men learned in the Law, from a court of judicature, to which their functions were chiefly confined, while the executive was

a Roman


f Hist. of the Jews, ii. 96.




administered by the kings, had become a kind of senate. Pontius Pilate, the first of the Roman governors, who, if he did not afilict the capital with the spectacle of a resident foreign ruler, seems to have visited it more frequently, was the first who introduced into the city the “idolatrous” standards of Rome, and had attempted to suspend certain bucklers, bearing an image of the emperor, in the palace of Herod. In his time, the Sanhedrin seems to have been recognised as a sort of representative council of the nation. But the proud and unruly people could not disguise from itself the humiliating consciousness that it was reduced to a state of foreign servitude. Throughout the country The publithe publicans, the farmers or collectors of the cans. tribute to Rome, a burden not less vexatious in its amounth and mode of collection than offensive to their feelings, were openly exercising their office. The chief priest was perpetually displaced at the order of the Roman prefect, by what might be jealous or systematic policy, but which had all the appearance of capricious and insulting violence. They looked abroad, but without hope. The country had, without any advantage, suffered all the evils of insurrectionary anarchy. At the period between the death of Herod and the tions. accession of his sons, adventurers of all classes had taken up arms, and some of the lowest, shepherds and slaves, whether hoping to strike in with the popular feeling, and if successful at first, to throw the whole nation on their side, had not scrupled to assume the title and ensigns of


8 Hist, of the Jews, ii. 120.

42. • About this period Syria and

i There

were twenty-eight, says Judæa petitioned for a remission of Josephus, from the time of Herod to tribute, which was described as in- the burning of the Temple by Titus.. tolerably oppressive. Tac. Ann. ii. Ant. xx. 8.



Book I.

Judas the

royalty. These commotions had been suppressed; but the external appearance of peace was a fallacious evidence of the real state of public feeling. The religious sects which had long divided the nation, those of the Pharisees and Sadducees, no longer restrained by the strong hand of power, renewed their conflicts: sometimes one party, sometimes the other, obtained the high priesthood, and predominated in the Sanhedrin ; while from the former had sprung up a new faction, in whose tenets the stern sense of national degradation which rankled in the hearts of so many, found vent and expression. The sect of Judas the Gaulonite, or as he was called,

the Galilean, may be considered the lineal in

heritors of that mingled spirit of national independence and of religious enthusiasm, which had in early days won the glorious triumph of freedom from the Syro-Grecian kings, and had maintained a stern though secret resistance to the later Asmoneans, and to the Idumean dynasty. Just before the death of Herod, it had induced the six thousand Pharisees to refuse the oath of allegiance to the king and to his imperial protector, and had probably been the secret incitement in the other acts of resistance to the royal authority. Judas the Galilean openly proclaimed the unlawfulness, the impiety of God's people submitting to a foreign yoke, and thus acknowledging the subordination of the Jewish theocracy to the empire of Rome. The payment of tribute which began to be enforced on the deposition of Archelaus, according to his tenets, was not merely a base renunciation of their liberties, but a sin against their God. To the doctrines of this bold and eloquent man, which had been propagated with dangerous rapidity and success, frequent allusions are found in the Gospels.


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