04.04.04 Lk. 2:25-35 Jerusalem
SIMEON EXPRESSES JOY OF THE BIRTH
25 There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple complex. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said:
29 Now, Master,
You can dismiss Your slave in peace,
as You promised.
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation.
31 You have prepared it
in the presence of all peoples—
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and glory to Your people Israel.
33 His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about Him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and told His mother Mary: “Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed — 35 and a sword will pierce your own soul — that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
Luke carefully wrote the poetic words of Simeon, noting that he praised God for the salvation that was come to all people. His phrase echoed Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, 52:10, and Psalm 98:3. He did not say that he had seen the messiah, but rather, thanked God for the opportunity to see divine salvation come to Israel. He was one of many priests, but one who apparently was not among the leading Pharisees and certainly not a Sadducee. Many of the older priests like Simeon and Levites, had seen the civil war of the Hasmonean brothers, Aristobulus and Hyrcanus; the invasion of the Romans; experienced the three horrific years of turmoil with the rise of Herod the Great to power; the Parthian invasion; and numerous Zealot riots and rebellions. They had heard of the many rumors of messianic figures, and were in fact, expecting to meet Him. But when Simeon saw the infant Jesus, he immediately knew in his heart of hearts that this Babe was the Anticipated One. This is evidenced by the words of Luke who described him in verse 25 as righteous, devout, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
So who was Simeon? Some scholars believe that he was the son of Hillel, as Hillel and his son may have been alive and in ministry at this time. Furthermore, when Hillel died, Rabban Simeon became the Sanhedrin president during the reign of Herod the Great. It is noteworthy to mention that Rabban Simeon had a son by the name of Gamaliel who was a staunch Pharisee, and scholars believe it was this Gamaliel who was the teacher of a Saul – later known as the Apostle Paul. Paul’s teacher, Gamaliel, died eighteen years before the destruction of the temple and his son, also named Simeon, perished in the destruction.
“For my eyes have seen your salvation.” Simeon beheld the Holy Child and knew what he was about to say, even though it was a play on words. The word salvation in Hebrew is yeshuah with a letter “h,” but as a personal name, the letter “h” is dropped. Hence, the name of Jesus in Hebrew is Yeshua. The play on words like this is called a mnemonic, which is a memory device for the listeners. In essence, Simeon had the same vision as Zechariah had – a vision to see the “Consolation of Israel,” the long awaited messiah.
Simeon glorified God for he had seen the Lord’s salvation. His blessing unquestionably stirred controversy in the rabbinic community. What could have gone through his mind knowing that it was inappropriate to give a blessing to a child born out of wedlock? No decent priest or Levite would have done that. Clearly this was a divine observation and inspiration.
In the Old Testament era, when a saint died, his soul went to Paradise, a/k/a the Bosom of Abraham, but not to heaven. So when the elderly Simeon died, he most certainly told the ancient prophets and patriarchs in Abraham’s Bosom, “I saw Him. I saw the One whom you prophesied.” There must have been great joy and excitement!
“And a sword will pierce your own soul.” What a marvelous gift God brought into the life of Mary and Joseph; what a privilege to have been the parents of the Christ child. Yet these prophetic words pointed to the day Mary would stand at the foot of the cross and see in horror her beloved Son die an agonizing death. The emotional meaning of the phrase is intensified in that the Greek word for sword is the large Thracian broadsword. At this point Simeon functioned as a prophet; he not only confirmed what was told to Mary previously but also prophesied that her child would be bring her great sorrow – which occurred at His crucifixion.
Finally, whenever anyone wanted to present an offering or dedication to the Lord, they did so at the Nicanor Gate that was located between the Court of the Women and the Sanctuary. This is described in the video by Rev. Gary Byers.
Video Insert >
04.04.04.V The Nicanor Gate of the Temple. Professor Gary Byers discusses two gospel events that occurred at the Nicanor Gate: the dedication of Jesus (04.04.04) and the presentation of the woman caught in adultery (11.02.16). (20:45)
. See also Hebrews 1:1-14.
. Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 3:40, 46. It should be noted that Annas and his corrupt family, that included his son-in-law Caiaphas, occupied the position of presidency of the Sanhedrin from the years 6 through 43 (see Appendix 1). These men did not have the religious and moral values as did Rabbi Hillel and his sons.
. Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 3:40, 196; 2:31; Tabory. “The Passover Eve Ceremony – An Historical Outline.” 39.
. Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 1:35-36.
. Fruchtenbaum, Life of the Messiah. Tape 2, Side B; Barclay, “Matthew.” 1:13.
. When Jesus died, He went to the Bosom of Abraham and “took the captives captive.” Prior to the sacrifice of Jesus, the sins of the Old Testament saints were covered, but not removed. They could not enter heaven with covered sins, but only after the sins were removed by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. Some thirty three years later they would meet Jesus.
. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:276. A Thracian broadsword was an instrument of war developed around 400 B.C to cut and pierce, a/k/a a rhomphaia.