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Jamieson Commentary on Luke 1:39-56

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, 1871)

Lu 1:39-56. Visit of Mary to Elisabeth.

39. hill country—the mountainous tract running along the middle of Judea, from north to south [Webster and Wilkinson].

with haste—transported with the announcement to herself and with the tidings, now first made known to her, of Elisabeth's condition.

a city of Juda—probably Hebron (see Jos 20:7; 21:11).

40. saluted Elisabeth—now returned from her seclusion (Lu 1:24).

41. babe leaped—From Lu 1:44 it is plain that this maternal sensation was something extraordinary—a sympathetic emotion of the unconscious babe, at the presence of the mother of his Lord.

42-44. What beautiful superiority to envy have we here! High as was the distinction conferred upon herself, Elisabeth loses sight of it altogether, in presence of one more honored still; upon whom, with her unborn Babe, in an ecstasy of inspiration, she pronounces a benediction, feeling it to be a wonder unaccountable that "the mother of her Lord should come to her." "Turn this as we will, we shall never be able to see the propriety of calling an unborn child "Lord," but by supposing Elisabeth, like the prophets of old, enlightened to perceive the Messiah's Divine nature" [Olshausen].

43. "The mother of my Lord"—but not "My Lady" (compare Lu 20:42; Joh 20:28)" [Bengel].

45. An additional benediction on the Virgin for her implicit faith, in tacit and delicate contrast with her own husband.

for—rather, as in the Margin, "that."

46-55. A magnificent canticle, in which the strain of Hannah's ancient song, in like circumstances, is caught up, and just slightly modified and sublimed. Is it unnatural to suppose that the spirit of the blessed Virgin had been drawn beforehand into mysterious sympathy with the ideas and the tone of this hymn, so that when the life and fire of inspiration penetrated her whole soul it spontaneously swept the chorus of this song, enriching the Hymnal of the Church with that spirit-stirring canticle which has resounded ever since from its temple walls? In both songs, those holy women, filled with wonder to behold "the proud, the mighty, the rich," passed by, and, in their persons the lowliest chosen to usher in the greatest events, sing of this as no capricious movement, but a great law of the kingdom of God, by which He delights to "put down the mighty from their seats and exalt them of low degree." In both songs the strain dies away on Christ; in Hannah's under the name of "Jehovah's King"—to whom, through all His line, from David onwards to Himself, He will "give strength"; His "Anointed," whose horn He will exalt (1Sa 2:10); in the Virgin's song, it is as the "Help" promised to Israel by all the prophets.

My soul … my spirit—"all that is within me" (Ps 103:1).

47. my Saviour—Mary, poor heart, never dreamt, we see, of her own "immaculate conception"—in the offensive language of the Romanists—any more than of her own immaculate life.

54. holpen—Compare Ps 89:19, "I have laid help on One that is mighty."

55. As he spake to our fathers—The sense requires this clause to be read as a parenthesis. (Compare Mic 7:20; Ps 98:3).

for ever—the perpetuity of Messiah's kingdom, as expressly promised by the angel (Lu 1:33).

56. abode with her about three months—What an honored roof was that which, for such a period, overarched these cousins! and yet not a trace of it is now to be seen, while the progeny of those two women—the one but the honored pioneer of the other—have made the world new.

returned to her own house—at Nazareth, after which took place what is recorded in Mt 1:18-25.

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