on Acts 8 :33
In his humiliation, his judgment was taken away - He who was the fountain of judgment and justice had no justice shown him (mercy he needed not) in his humiliation; viz. that time in which he emptied himself, and appeared in the form of a servant.
Who shall declare his generation - Την γενεαν αυτου: Answering to the Hebrew דורו doro, which Bp. Lowth understands as implying his manner of life. It was the custom among the Jews, when they were taking away any criminal from judgment to execution, to call out and inquire whether there was any person who could appear in behalf of the character of the criminal - whether there was any who, from intimate acquaintance with his manner of life, could say any thing in his favor? This circumstance I have noticed before, and it has been particularly remarked in the case of Stephen: see at Acts 7:60. In our Lord's case, this benevolent inquiry does not appear to have been made; and perhaps to this breach of justice, as well as of custom, the prophet refers; and this shows how minutely the conduct of those bad men was known seven hundred years before it took place. God can foreknow what he pleases, and can do what he pleases; and all the operations of his infinite mind are just and right. Some think that, who shall declare his generation? refers to his eternal Sonship; others, to his miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit, in the womb of the virgin; others, to the multitudinous progeny of spiritual children which should be born unto God, in consequence of his passion and meritorious death. Perhaps the first, which refers to the usual custom in behalf of the criminal, is the best and most natural sense.
on Acts 8 :33
In his humiliation - This varies from the Hebrew, but is copied exactly from the Septuagint, showing that he was reading the Septuagint. The Hebrew text is: "He was taken from prison and from judgment." The word rendered "prison" denotes any kind of "detention," or even "oppression." It does not mean, as with us, to be confined "in" a prison or jail, but may mean "custody," and be applied to the detention or custody of the Saviour when his hands were bound, and he was led to be tried. See the notes on Matthew 27:2. It is not known why the Septuagint thus translated the expression "he was taken from prison," etc., by "in his humiliation," etc. The word "from prison" may mean, as has been remarked, however, from "oppression," and this does not differ materially from "humiliation"; and in this sense the Septuagint understood it. The "meaning" of the expression in the Septuagint and the Acts is clear. It denotes that in his state of oppression and calamity; when he was destitute of protectors and friends; when at the lowest state of humiliation, and therefore most the object of pity, "in addition to that," justice was denied him; his judgment - a just sentence - was taken away, or withheld, and he was delivered to be put to death. His deep humiliation and friendless state was "followed" by an unjust and cruel condemnation, when no one would stand forth to plead his cause. Every circumstance thus goes to deepen the view of his sufferings.
His judgment - Justice, a just sentence, was denied him, and he was cruelly condemned.
And who shall declare his generation? - The word "generation" used here properly denotes "posterity"; then "an age" of mankind, comprehending about 30 years, as we speak of this and the next generation; then it denotes "the men" of a particular age or time. Very various interpretations have been given of this expression. Lowth translates it, "His manner of life who would declare?" referring, as he supposes, to the fact that when a prisoner was condemned and led to execution, it was customary for a proclamation to be made by a crier in these words, "Whoever knows anything about his innocence, let him come and declare it." This passage is taken from the Gemara of Babylon (Kennicott, as quoted by Lowth). The same Gemara of Babylon on this passage adds, "that before the death of Jesus, this proclamation was made 40 days; but no defense could be found" - a manifest falsehood, and a story strikingly illustrative of the character of the Jewish writings.
The Gemara was written some time after Christ, perhaps not far from the year 180 (Lardner), and is a collection of commentaries on the traditional laws of the Jews. That this custom existed is very probable; but it is certain that no such thing was done on the trial of the Saviour. The Chaldee paraphrase translates the passage in Isaiah, "He shall collect our captivity from infirmities and vengeance; and who can declare what wonderful things shall be done for us in his days?" Others have referred this question to his Deity, or his divine "generation"; intimating that no one could explain the mystery of his eternal generation. But the word in the Scriptures has no such signification; and such a sense would not suit the connection (see Calvin in loco.) Others have referred it to "his own spiritual posterity," his disciples, his family; "the number of his friends and followers who could enumerate?" (Calvin, Beza, etc.) Another sense which the word has is to denote the "people" of any particular age or time (Matthew 11:16; Matthew 23:36; Luke 16:8, etc.); and it has been supposed that the question here means, "Who can describe the character and wickedness of the generation when he shall live - the enormous crime of that age, in putting him to death?" On this passage, see the notes on Isaiah 53:8. Perhaps, after all that has been written on this passage, the simple idea is, "Who shall stand up for him, declaring who he is? Who will appear for him? Who will vindicate him?" meaning that all would forsake him, and that there would be none to "declare really who he was."
For his life ... - The Hebrew is, "For he was cut off from the land of the living"; that is he was put to death. The expression used in the Acts was taken from the Septuagint, and means substantially the same as the Hebrew.
on Acts 8 :33