And Zacharias said unto the angel, whereby shall I know
&c.] Notwithstanding such an appearance of an angel to him, which in those times was not so usual, and this in the holy place; and the things themselves which were told him, and these as the return of prayer; yet he distrusted, and wanted a sign, whereby he might know the truth of them, as the Jews were generally desirous of, and as the father of them was; who expressed himself in much such language, on a certain occasion, as this his son did; see ( Genesis 15:8 ) .
For I am an old man;
at least sixty years of age; for with the Jews, sixty years were reckoned, (hnqzl) , "for old age" F23; and a man of these years, was accounted an old man: and the Jewish Rabbins observe F24, that the word for old age in ( Job 30:2 ) is by "gematry, sixty"; that is, the letters of the word, numerically make so much. The Mahometan writers, as before observed on ( Luke 1:7 ) make him to be ninety nine years of age: he was not discharged from service; the Levites were at fifty, but not the priests; blemishes, as the Jewish writers say F25, made them unfit for service, but years did not: and even the law concerning the Levites, they say F26, only respected the time they carried the sanctuary from place to place, and not future generations; and that they are disqualified neither by blemishes, nor by years, only by voice, for singing of the song; but then they might be among the porters; so that they were not on that account laid aside from all service:
and my wife well stricken in years.
The Mahometan writers, as before, say, she was "eighty nine"; a like objection Abraham made, though he afterwards got over it, and was strong in faith, giving glory to God, believing in his power and faithfulness; see ( Genesis 17:17 ) .
F23 Misn. Abot, c. 5. sect. 21. & Maimon. in ib.
F24 R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 24. 2.
F25 T. Bab. Cholin, fol. 24. 1.
F26 Maimon. Hilch. Cele Hamikdash, c. 3. sect. 8.