And as they spoke to the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came on them,…
was an officer of a sort which Luke mentions in the plural in his Gospel (Luke 22:4), and is several times mentioned in the Old Testament, as in Jeremiah 20:1. This officer, with his subordinates, had charge of the Levites, especially of those who kept the night watch in the temple. A hint at the forms and ceremonies which accompanied his duties may be obtained, perhaps, from Psalm 134, in which vers. 1 and 2 are supposed to be the address of these strategoi, or captains or archons of the temple, and ver. 3 the response of the Levite watchers. The talmudical name for this captain appears to have been the "man of the mountain of the house [of the Lord]," and he is frequently mentioned in ancient Jewish writings. A little quotation will show a part of his duties: "The man of the mount of the house [or temple] used to make his rounds among the several watches, with burning torches before him. If he found any of the watch not standing on his feet, he said to him, 'Peace be to thee.' But if he observed one asleep, he struck him with his staff, and then was at liberty to set on fire his garments. And when he was asked by others, 'What is the noise in the court?' he answered, 'the cry of a lazy Levite, whose clothes have been burned, because he slept on guard.' Rabbi Eliezer ben Jacob said, 'Once they found my mother's brother asleep, and burned his garment.'" It is most probable that this custom is alluded to in Revelation 16:15, "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked" etc. An official of corresponding power, but, of course, different duties, has charge of the temple enclosure in Jerusalem to-day. He is the "Sheikh of the Sanctuary"; and in addressing him the proper form is" Ya Sheikh," or "O Elder."
(Prof. I. H. Hall.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,