Near the end of the reign of Herod the Great, King of Luke i. 5-22. Judea, an angel was sent by God to Zacharias, an aged priest of the course of Abia, whilst ministering in the Holy JPlace, to announce to him the birth of a son, who should be the forerunner of the Messiah.
The chronological value of this statement has "been already considered in the essay on the date of the Lord's birth.
Some of the fathers supposed that Zacharias was the high priest, and that the services in which he was engaged were those of the great day of atonement, upon the 10th of Tisri.1 But there is no ground for this. Zacharias is called only a priest, not high-priest, and was a member of one of the twenty-four courses, which the high-priest was not. He was also chosen by lot to burn incense upon the golden altar in the Holy Place; but the high-priest's duties upon this day, as at other times, were all prescribed by law, and could not be given him by lot. Besides, the latter must 1 So Chrysostom, Ambrose; see Williams' Nativ., 23.
reside at Jerusalem, but the residence of Zacharias was in some neighboring city.1