Luke 4:17

17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

Luke 4:17 Meaning and Commentary

Luke 4:17

And there was delivered unto him
By the "Chazan", or minister, to whom he gave it again, ( Luke 4:20 ) , for the "Chazan" of the synagogue, was, (vmv) , "the minister" F18; one part of whose business was, to deliver the book of the law to, and take it from him that read: when an high priest read, the method taken was this {s};

``the "Chazan", or minister of the synagogue, took the book of the law, and gave it to the ruler of the synagogue, and the ruler of the synagogue gave it to the "Sagan", and the "Sagan" gave it to the high priest, and the high priest stood and received, and read standing.''

The same method was observed, when a king read in the book of the law F20; but when a common priest, or an inferior person read, so much ceremony was not used, as to hand the book from one to another: the manner in their synagogues and schools, was this F21;

``the "Chazan" brought out the book of the law, and the priest read, and after him a Levite; then the "Chazan" of the synagogue brought the book of the law down, to the head of the captivity, and all the people stood; and he took the book of the law into his hands, and "stood and read" in it; and the heads of the schools stood with him, and the head of the university of Sofa interpreted it; and returned the book of the law to the "Chazan", and he returned it to the chest.''

That part of the sacred volume which was delivered unto Jesus at this time, was

the book of the prophet Esaias;
it is very likely, that the lesson out of the prophets for that day, was to be read out of the prophecy of Isaiah; and it seems probable, that it was the single book of Isaiah, or that prophecy rolled up by itself, in one volume, that was delivered to Christ; as the law was divided, into five parts, each fifth part was sometimes in a book, or volume by itself: hence a fifth part of the law, is by the Jews interpreted F23, (rpo) , "a book" of the law, in which there is but one fifth part; so might the prophets be in separate and distinct books, and it as if they sometimes were, by the following account F24 a man may

``join together the law, the prophets, and the holy writings, as one, the words of R. Meir. R. Juda says, the law by itself, the prophets by themselves, and the holy writings by themselves; and the wise men say, each by themselves (i.e. each book by itself;) and says R. Judah, it happened to Baithus ben Zunin, that he had eight prophets joined together as one; and there are that say, that he had not, but, (wmue ynpb dxa dxa) , "every one by itself."''

And when he had opened the book;
or unrolled it, for books formerly were written in rolls of paper and parchment; and in this form, is the book of the law with the Jews, in their synagogues, to this day:

``all books, they say F25, are rolled from the beginning to the end of them, but the book of the law is rolled to the middle of it, and a pillar, or column, is made for it here and there; says R. Eliezer with R. Zadok, so the writers of books in Jerusalem made their books: the Rabbins teach, that they do not make the book of the law its length, more than its circumference, nor its circumference more than its length.''

Such a roll, or volume, of the prophet Isaiah, Christ unrolled, till he came to the place he intended to read: it is a rule with the Jews

F26 that

``they do not unroll the book of the law in the congregation, because of the glory of the congregation.''

It may therefore be asked, whether Christ did not break this rule, since he unrolled the book that was given him, publicly in the synagogue? To which it may be replied, that it was lawful to unroll the book of the prophets, which was what Christ did, but not the law; for so runs another of their rules, F1

``they skip in the prophets, but not in the law, because, (Mybrb aybn Nyllwgv) , "that they unroll a prophet publicly", but they do not unroll the law publicly.''

Christ having thus unrolled the volume of the prophet Isaiah, which was put into his hands by the "Chazan", or minister,

he found the place where it was written;
as is expressed in the following verse, and which is to be seen in ( Isaiah 61:1 ) , and which was either the lesson of the day, or what Christ particularly sought for, and looked out; or was providentially directed to, as what was pertinent to himself, and proper to read and insist on at this time; for it was not by chance that he hit on this place, and read it, but it was according to purpose, and with design. Before the reading of the prophets, a blessing used to be said, which was in this form F2;

``blessed art thou, O Lord our God, the king of the world, Who hath chosen the good prophets, and art well pleased with their words, which are said in truth; blessed art thou, O Lord, who hast chosen the law, Moses his servant, and Israel his people, and the prophets of truth and righteousness.''

Whether this was delivered by Christ, is not certain; however, he read the following passage.

F18 Jarchi & Battenora in Misn. Sota, c. 7. sect. 7. & Yoma, c. 7. 1.
F19 Misn. Yoma, c. 7. sect. 1. Maimon. Yom Haccippurim, c. 3. sect. 10.
F20 Misn. Sota, c. 7. sect. 8.
F21 Juchasin, fol. 123. 1.
F23 Gloss. in T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 27. 1.
F24 T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 13. 2. & Massechet Sopherim, c. 3. sect 1, 5.
F25 T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 14. 1.
F26 T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 70. 1. Maimon. Hilch, Tephilla, c. 12. sect. 23.
F1 Massecheth Sepherim, c. 11. sect. 2.
F2 Seder Tephillot, fol. 127. 2. Ed. Basil.

Luke 4:17 In-Context

15 He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read,
17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.