And the Jews marvelled
Both at the matter, and manner of his doctrine; it was such, as never man spake; his words were so gracious, and there were such truth and evidence in them, and they were delivered with such power and authority, that they were astonished at them:
saying, how knoweth this man letters?
or "the Scriptures", as the Arabic and Persic versions render it; which are called "holy letters", ( 2 Timothy 3:15 ) ; according to which, the sense is, that they were surprised at his knowledge of the Scriptures, that he should be conversant with them, and be able to interpret them, and give the sense and meaning of them, in so full and clear a manner, as he did: or else the sense is, how came this man to be such a learned man? whence has he this wisdom, and all this learning which he shows? as in ( Matthew 13:54 ) . So a learned man is in ( Isaiah 29:11 ) , said to be one that (rpoh edwy) , (epistamenov grammata) , "knows letters", as the Septuagint there translate the Hebrew text; but how Christ should know them, or be a learned man,
having never learned,
was surprising to them: that is, he had not had a liberal education, but was brought up to a trade; he was not trained up at the feet of any of their Rabbins, in any of their universities, or schools of learning; and in which they were certainly right. Modern Jews pretend to say he had a master, whom they sometimes call Elchanan F15, but most commonly they make him to be R. Joshua ben Perachiah F16: with whom they say, he fled into Alexandria in Egypt, for fear of Jannai the king: and one of their writers F17, on this account, charges the evangelist with a falsehood: but who are we to believe, the Jews who lived at the same time with Jesus, and knew his education and manner of life, or those that have lived ages since?
F15 Toldos Jesu, p. 5.
F16 Juchasin, fol. 159. 1. Ganz Tzemach David, par. 1, fol. 21. 1. & 24.
F17 R. Isaac Chizzuk Emuna, par. 2. c. 46. p. 435.