And this taxing was first made
Or "this was the first enrolment, or taxing" in the Jewish nation; for there was another afterwards, when Judas the Galilean arose, and drew many after him, ( Acts 5:38 ) .
When Cyrenius was governor of Syria;
or "of Cyrenius" "governor of Syria"; that is, it was the first that he was, concerned in; who not now, but afterwards was governor of Syria; and because he had been so before Luke wrote this history, and this being a title of honour, and what might distinguish him from others of that name, it is given him; for as Tertullian says F3, Sentius Saturninus was now governor of Syria, when Cyrenius was sent into Judea, to make this register, or taxing; and which is manifestly distinguished from that, which was made during his being governor of Syria, when Archelaus was banished from Judea, ten or eleven years after Herod's death; which Josephus F4 gives an account of, and Luke refers to, in ( Acts 5:37 ) . Moreover, the words will bear to be rendered thus, "and this tax, or enrolment, was made before Cyrenius was governor of Syria"; (prwth) , being used for (protera) , as in ( John 1:15 John 1:30 ) . This Cyrenius is the same whom the Romans call Quirinius, and Quirinus; a governor of Syria had great power in Judea, to which it was annexed, when Cyrenius was governor there. It is reported of R. Gamaliel, that he went to take a licence, (ayrwob Nwmghm) , "from a governor of Syria" F5; i.e. to intercalate the year: and Syria was in many things like to the land of Judea, particularly as to tithes, and the keeping of the seventh year F6.
F3 Contr. Marcion, l. 4. c. 19.
F4 Antiqu. l. 18. c. 1.
F5 Misn. Ediot. c. 7. sect. 7.
F6 T. Bab. Gittin. fol. 8. 1.