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Verse 4. The Chief Priests. By the chief priests here are meant not only the high priest and his deputy, but also the heads or chiefs of the twenty-four classes into which David had divided the sacerdotal families, 1 Ch 23:6; 24:1; 2 Ch 8:14; 36:14; Ezr 8:24.


Scribes. By the scribes, in the New Testament, are meant learned men, men skilled in the law, and members of the great council. They were probably the learned men, or the lawyers of the nation. They kept the records of the court of justice, the registers of the synagogues, wrote their articles of contract and sale, their bills of divorce, &c. They were also called lawyers, Mt 22:35, and doctors of the law, Lu 5:17. They were called scribes from the fact of their writing the public records. They were not, however, a religious sect, but might be either Pharisees or Sadducees. By the chief priests and scribes here mentioned, is denoted the sanhedrim, or great council of the nation. This was composed of seventy-two men, who had the charge of the civil and religious affairs of the Jews. On this occasion, Herod, in alarm, called them together, professedly to make inquiry respecting the birth of the Messiah.

Demanded of them. Inquired, or asked of them. As they were the learned men of the nation, and as it was their business to study and explain the Old Testament, they were presumed to know what the prophecies had declared on that point. His object was to ascertain from prophecy where he was born, that he might strike an effectual blow. He seems not to have had any doubt about the time when he should be born. He was satisfied that the time had come.

{f} "gathered" Ps 2:2.

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