It has been supposed that Mary remained at Nazareth several weeks before visiting Elisabeth, and that during this period the events related by Matthew (i. 18-25) occurred.4 But with this, Luke's statement, (i. 39,) that "she went with haste into the hill-country," is inconsistent; for going with haste cannot refer merely to the rapidity of the journey after it was begun, but to the fact that she made no delay in commencing it. Hug refers to a traditionary law that virgins should not travel, and that therefore Joseph must previously have taken her home as his wife.
1 See Protevangelium Jacobi, ch. ii.
2 See Baronius, who affirms that no one should doubt respecting the reality of this miracle. In refutation, Stanley, 439.
3 Porter, ii. 361. Stewart, 445. 4 Ebrard, Alford.
Alford says that " as a betrothed virgin she could not travel," but cites no authority. But if any such law were at this time in force, which is very doubtful, Mary may have journeyed in company with friends, or under the special protection of a servant, or with a body of neighbors going up to the Passover. That no unmarried female could journey even to visit her friends is incredible. "The incidental mention of women and children in the great assemblies gathered around Jesus is true to Oriental life, strange as it may appear to those who read so much about female seclusion in the East. In the great gatherings of this day, at funerals, weddings, feasts, and fairs, women and children often constitute the largest portion of the assemblies."1 Ebrard's supposition (222) that Mary continued at Nazareth till certain suspicious women, the pronuboe, informed Joseph of her condition, and that then God made known to him what had occurred, has nothing in its favor. As little basis has the supposition that she told Joseph of the visit of the angel.2 The narrative plainly implies that Mary, without communicating to him, or any one else, what had taken place, departed immediately to seek Elisabeth.3 That under the peculiar circumstances in which she was placed she should greatly desire to see Elisabeth, was natural, and it is most improbable that she should wait several weeks, when all this time she could have no communication with Joseph except through these pronubee. The whole narrative shows that neither Elisabeth nor Mary rashly forestalled God's action. Both, full of faith, waited in quietness and silence till He should reveal in His own way what He had done. Perhaps the expression, (Luke i. 56) " she returned to her own house," as rov Olkov avr^s, may imply that she had not yet been taken to the house of Joseph.
The distance from Nazareth to Jerusalem is abouteighty miles,1 and if Zacharias lived at Hebron seventeen miles south of Jerusalem, the whole journey would occupy four or five days. Several routes were open to Mary. The most direct was by Nam and Endor, and through Samaria and southward by Bethel. If for any cause Samaria was to be avoided, the Jordan could be crossed near Scythopolis, and the way followed through Perea along its eastern bank. This was the common route with the Jews in their journeyings to the feast, if they wished specially to avoid Samaria. Still a third way was by Dor on the sea-coast, passing through Lydda, and thence over the mountains of Ephraim.