Luke 4:17 MEANING

Luke 4:17
(17) The book of the prophet Esaias.--The Law--i.e., the Pentateuch--was commonly written on one long roll. The other books, in like manner--singly or combined, according to their length--were written on rolls of parchment, and were unrolled from the cylinder to which they were fastened. Here, it is clear, Isaiah formed a roll by itself. It is a natural inference from the fact that it was given to Him, that it contained the prophetic lesson for the day. In the calendar of modern Jews, the lessons from Isaiah run parallel with those from Deuteronomy. The chapter which He read stands as the second lesson for the day of Atonement. We cannot prove that the existing order obtained in the time of our Lord's ministry, but everything in Judaism rests mainly on old traditions; and there is therefore nothing extravagant in the belief that it was on the day of Atonement that the great Atoner thus struck what was the key-note of His whole work.

When he had opened the book.--Better, when He had unrolled.

Verse 17. - And there was delivered unto him the Book of the Prophet Esaias. In the sabbath service there were two lessons read. The first was always taken from the Pentateuch (the Law). The five books of Moses were written on parchment, (usually) between two rollers, and the day's lesson was left unrolled for the reader's convenience. The Prophets were on single rollers, no special portion being left open. It has been suggested that the great and famous Messianic passage read by our Lord was the lesson for the day. This is quite uncertain; indeed, it is more probable that Jesus, when the roll of Isaiah was handed to him by the ruler of the synagogue, specially selected the section containing this passage.

4:14-30 Christ taught in their synagogues, their places of public worship, where they met to read, expound, and apply the word, to pray and praise. All the gifts and graces of the Spirit were upon him and on him, without measure. By Christ, sinners may be loosed from the bonds of guilt, and by his Spirit and grace from the bondage of corruption. He came by the word of his gospel, to bring light to those that sat in the dark, and by the power of his grace, to give sight to those that were blind. And he preached the acceptable year of the Lord. Let sinners attend to the Saviour's invitation when liberty is thus proclaimed. Christ's name was Wonderful; in nothing was he more so than in the word of his grace, and the power that went along with it. We may well wonder that he should speak such words of grace to such graceless wretches as mankind. Some prejudice often furnishes an objection against the humbling doctrine of the cross; and while it is the word of God that stirs up men's enmity, they will blame the conduct or manner of the speaker. The doctrine of God's sovereignty, his right to do his will, provokes proud men. They will not seek his favour in his own way; and are angry when others have the favours they neglect. Still is Jesus rejected by multitudes who hear the same message from his words. While they crucify him afresh by their sins, may we honour him as the Son of God, the Saviour of men, and seek to show we do so by our obedience.And there was delivered unto him,.... By the "Chazan", or minister, to whom he gave it again, Luke 4:20, for the "Chazan" of the synagogue, was, "the minister" (r); one part of whose business was, to deliver the book of the law to, and take it from him that read: when an high priest read, the method taken was this (s);

"the "Chazan", or minister of the synagogue, took the book of the law, and gave it to the ruler of the synagogue, and the ruler of the synagogue gave it to the "Sagan", and the "Sagan" gave it to the high priest, and the high priest stood and received, and read standing.''

The same method was observed, when a king read in the book of the law (t); but when a common priest, or an inferior person read, so much ceremony was not used, as to hand the book from one to another: the manner in their synagogues and schools, was this (u);

"the "Chazan" brought out the book of the law, and the priest read, and after him a Levite; then the "Chazan" of the synagogue brought the book of the law down, to the head of the captivity, and all the people stood; and he took the book of the law into his hands, and "stood and read" in it; and the heads of the schools stood with him, and the head of the university of Sofa interpreted it; and returned the book of the law to the "Chazan", and he returned it to the chest.''

That part of the sacred volume which was delivered unto Jesus at this time, was

the book of the prophet Esaias; it is very likely, that the lesson out of the prophets for that day, was to be read out of the prophecy of Isaiah; and it seems probable, that it was the single book of Isaiah, or that prophecy rolled up by itself, in one volume, that was delivered to Christ; as the law was divided, into five parts, each fifth part was sometimes in a book, or volume by itself: hence a fifth part of the law, is by the Jews interpreted (w), "a book" of the law, in which there is but one fifth part; so might the prophets be in separate and distinct books, and it as if they sometimes were, by the following account (x) a man may

"join together the law, the prophets, and the holy writings, as one, the words of R. Meir. R. Juda says, the law by itself, the prophets by themselves, and the holy writings by themselves; and the wise men say, each by themselves (i.e. each book by itself;) and says R. Judah, it happened to Baithus ben Zunin, that he had eight prophets joined together as one; and there are that say, that he had not, but, , "every one by itself."''

And when he had opened the book; or unrolled it, for books formerly were written in rolls of paper and parchment; and in this form, is the book of the law with the Jews, in their synagogues, to this day:

"all books, they say (y), are rolled from the beginning to the end of them, but the book of the law is rolled to the middle of it, and a pillar, or column, is made for it here and there; says R. Eliezer with R. Zadok, so the writers of books in Jerusalem made their books: the Rabbins teach, that they do not make the book of the law its length, more than its circumference, nor its circumference more than its length.''

Such a roll, or volume, of the prophet Isaiah, Christ unrolled, till he came to the place he intended to read: it is a rule with the Jews (z) that

"they do not unroll the book of the law in the congregation, because of the glory of the congregation.''

It may therefore be asked, whether Christ did not break this rule, since he unrolled the book that was given him, publicly in the synagogue? To which it may be replied, that it was lawful to unroll the book of the prophets, which was what Christ did, but not the law; for so runs another of their rules, (a).

"they skip in the prophets, but not in the law, because, , "that they unroll a prophet publicly", but they do not unroll the law publicly.''

Christ having thus unrolled the volume of the prophet Isaiah, which was put into his hands by the "Chazan", or minister,


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