And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem.—The words do not imply that He intentionally stayed behind. If we deal with the history on its human side, the probable course of things was this:—The Passover Feast lasted seven days; on each of those days, after the first, we may well believe the “child Jesus” was seeking wisdom to do His Father’s work at the hands of the appointed teachers who “sat in Moses’ chair.” This had become habitual. He went, as usual, when the Feast was over; but Joseph and Mary, instead of seeking Him there, took for granted that He had started with the other boys of the same age who had come from Nazareth. He was therefore left in the strange city by Himself, finding shelter for the night, probably, in the house where Joseph and Mary had lodged during the feast, and spending the day, as before, in drinking in the wondrous things of God’s Law, and asking questions which showed that He demanded more than traditional or conventional explanations. His question, “Wist ye not . . .?” implies that they ought to have known where He would be.
Joseph and his mother knew not of it.—The better MSS. read, his parents, the alteration having probably been made in the received text on the same ground as that in Luke 2:33.Exodus 12:15; Leviticus 23:5-6.
tarried behind … Joseph and his mother knew not—Accustomed to the discretion and obedience of the lad [Olshausen], they might be thrown off their guard.
as they returned; at the time when they were going from Jerusalem home again:
the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; being desirous of hearing the discourses of the doctors about the sense of the Scriptures, the meaning of the laws, and the traditions of the elders, and of conversing with them:
and Joseph, and his mother, knew not of it; of his intention to tarry longer, nor of his design in so doing: he did not ask leave of them, since his stay was about an affair of his heavenly Father's; and therefore this action of Christ is not to be drawn into an example, or precedent for children, to act without consulting, or asking leave of their parents. They had no notion at all of his staying behind them, nor any suspicion of it; nor did they miss him for a considerable time; which might be owing to the large numbers that went in company together, so that they could not tell but that he was in the crowd, though they did not see him; or to the men and women travelling in separate companies, as is thought; so that Joseph might think he was with Mary, and Mary might conclude he was with Joseph, till they came to the end of their first day's journey, when they came together, and then missed him.And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Luke 2:43 f. Τὰς ἡμέρας] the well-known seven days of festival, Exodus 12:15; Leviticus 23:6 f.; Deuteronomy 16:2.
How it happened that the parents knew nothing of the staying behind of their son, is not expressly narrated by Luke. The charge, however, of negligent carelessness (Schuderoff in the Magaz. von Festpred. III. p. 63 ff., and in his Jahrb. X. 1, p. 7 ff.; Olshausen) is unwarranted, as νομίσαντες δέ αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ συνοδίᾳ εἶναι presupposes a circumstance unknown to us, which might justify that want of knowledge. In the case of Jesus it was an irresistible impulse towards the things of God, which carried Him away to postpone His parents to the satisfaction of this instinct, mightily stimulated as it was on this His first sojourn in Jerusalem,—a momentary premature breaking forth of that, which was the principle decidedly expressed and followed out by Him in manhood (Mark 3:32 f.).
συνοδία] company sharing the journey. See Kypke, I. p. 220 f. The inhabitants of one or more places together formed a caravan; Strabo uses the word also of such a company (iv. p. 204, xi. p. 528).
ἀνεζήτουν] when they assembled together to pass the night.Luke 2:43. τελειωσάντων τ. ἡ. This naturally means that they stayed all the time of the feast, seven days. This was not absolutely incumbent; some went home after the first two days, but such people as Joseph and Mary would do their duty thoroughly.—ὑπέμεινεν, tarried behind, not so much intentionally (Hahn) as by involuntary preoccupation—His nature rather than His will the cause (Acts 17:14).43. fulfilled the days] Exodus 12:15.
the child Jesus] Rather, “the boy Jesus” (ὁ παῖς). St Luke seems purposely to have narrated something about the Saviour at every stage of His earthly existence as babe (Luke 2:16), little child (Luke 2:40), boy, and man.
tarried behind] Among the countless throngs of Jews who flocked to the Passover—nearly three millions according to Josephus (Antt. VI. 9. 3)—nothing would be easier than to lose sight of one young boy in the thronged streets, or among the thousands of booths outside the city walls. Indeed it is an incident which to this day often occurs at Jerusalem in similar cases. It should be also remembered that at the age of 12 an Eastern boy is far more mature than is the case with Northern nations, and that at that age a far wider liberty was allowed him.
Joseph and his mother] The true reading is probably His parents, א, B, D, L.
knew not of it] The fact is very interesting as shewing the naturalness and unconstraint in which our Lord was trained.Luke 2:43. [Τελειωσάντων, when they had completed (fulfilled). It is not always profitable to be satisfied with what is trite and customary.—V. g.—ὑπέμεινεν, tarried behind) We may presume, on chronological grounds, that this happened on a Sunday. Thus then we have the prelude to the subsequent celebration of the Lord’s day.—Harm., p. 58.]—Ἰησοῦς ὁ ταῖς, the boy Jesus) Luke describes in successive order, καθεξῆς [as he promises in his preface, ch. Luke 1:3], Jesus as the fruit of the womb, ch. Luke 1:42; as the babe, ch. Luke 2:12; the child, Luke 2:40; the boy, in this ver.; the man (ἀνὴρ προφήτης, a man that was a prophet), ch. Luke 24:19, with which comp. John 1:30. His full stature was not manifested at once, as in the case of the First-formed Man; but He hallowed by participation all the successive steps of human life. Old age (alone) was unsuitable to Him.—καὶ οὐκ ἔγνω, and did not know) Jdg 14:6; Jdg 14:9 (the Antitype to Samson, who told not his father and mother the first of the mighty acts he did in the Spirit). [Jesus might have informed them of the fact by a single word; but it was becoming that His wisdom should be proved demonstratively in their absence. For thus He showed, that He was not indebted to them for the wisdom which He had: comp. Luke 2:50. He gave satisfactory proof thereby, that it was not they, but Himself, who was fully adequate to direct Himself, and that His subjection to them, Luke 2:51, is of the freest kind.—V. g.]Verse 43. - And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the Child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem. The feast lasted seven days. Now, a boy in the East, twelve years old, is usually far more advanced than is ever the case in our Northern nations, where development is much slower. We may well suppose that the Boy was left much to himself during these days of the feast. It requires no stress of imagination to picture him absorbed in the temple and all that was to be seen and learned there. It was, doubtless, his first visit since infancy to the glorious house. Slowly, surely, had he been growing up into the consciousness of what he was and whence he came: may we not in all reverence assume that his self-recognition first really burst forth from the depths of his childhood's unconsciousness in that solemn week spent in the storied temple courts? When Joseph and Mary and their friends, as was usual after the seven days, commenced their return journey, the Boy, instead of joining this homeward-bound company of pilgrims, went as usual to the temple and the great teachers there, wholly absorbed in the new light which was breaking in upon him. There they found him. Strange that they should have for so long searched in other places. Had they only called to mind the sacred secret of the Child, surely they would have gone at once to the temple; was it not, after all, his earthly home, that holy house of his Father in Jerusalem?
Not necessarily the whole seven days of the festival. With the third day commenced the so-called half-holidays, when it was lawful to return home.
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