To present him to the Lord.--This, as the next verse shows, was only done according to the law of Exodus 13:2, when the firstborn child was a son. It was obviously a witness of the idea of the priesthood of the firstborn--a survival of the idea in practice, even after the functions of that priesthood had been superseded by the priesthood of the sons of Aaron. The firstborn of every house had still a dedicated life, and was to think of himself as consecrated to special duties. Comp. Hebrews 12:23 as giving the expansion of the thought to the whole company of those who are the "firstborn," as they are also the "firstfruits" of humanity (James 1:18). As a formal expression of the obligation thus devolving on them, they had to be redeemed by the payment of five shekels to the actual Aaronic priesthood (Numbers 18:15).
according to the law of Moses, in Leviticus 12:1.
were accomplished; which for a son were forty days: the seven first days after she gave birth she was unclean; and then she continued three and thirty days in the blood of her purifying, which made forty; see Leviticus 12:2 but though the time of her purifying was upon the fortieth day, yet it was not till the day following that she came to the temple with her offering: for so runs the Jewish canon (w),
"a new mother does not bring her offering on the fortieth day for a male, nor on the eightieth day for a female, but after her sun is set: and she brings her offering on the morrow, which is the forty first for a male, and the eighty first for a female: and this is the day of which it is said, Leviticus 12:6 and "when the days of her purifying are fulfilled for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring", &c.
And this was the time when they, Joseph and Mary, brought him, the child Jesus, to Jerusalem, and to the temple there, to present him to the Lord, to the priest his representative; and which was done in the eastern gate, called the gate of Nicanor: (x) for here,
"they made women, suspected of adultery, to drink, and purified new mothers, and cleansed the lepers.
And here Mary appeared with her firstborn son, the true Messiah; and this was the first time of his coming into his temple, as was foretold, Malachi 3:1.
(w) Maimon. Hilch Mechosre Cappara, c. 1. sect. 5. (x) Misn. Sota, c. 1. sect. 5.