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MATTHEW OF WESTMINSTER The flowers of history, especially such as relate to the affairs of Britain. Vol. I. B.C. 4004 to A.D. 1066.

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MATTHEW OF WESTMINSTER
The flowers of history, especially such as relate to the affairs of Britain. Vol. I. B.C. 4004 to A.D. 1066.
page 123



in every country, and the number of heads in every city. He also commanded that every one should come from all the suburban towns and villages and boroughs to his own city, from which he derived his origin, and that each should bring a piece of money for himself, which should be of the value of ten sesterces, and should have an image of Cessar and the inscription of his name. And as Judaea appeared to be in the very centre of our earth, the order was that this taxing should be begun there. Now this taxing was first made when Cyrinus was governor of Syria, or else it may1 be called "first," because it was the first that took place after the entrance of Cyrinus on his government, or it may be called " first," as being universal and the greatest ever made by Augustus, because no such is said to have been made either before or since. Joseph, therefore, went up from Nazareth to Bethlehem, because he was of the family of David, in order to give in his name with Mary, his wife, who was great with child. And when she was there she brought forth her first-born son (nor did she ever bring forth any one after him), and she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, between an ox and an ass, which Joseph had, as it happened, brought With respect to the difficulty which our chronicler here endeavours to explain, I probably cannot do better than quote the note given in Doyley and Mant's Bible (Luke ii. 2), condensed from Paley, Prideaux, and Dr. Hammond :— " A difficulty has arisen respecting these words, from the circumstance of its appearing, from other historical records, that Cyrenras was not made governor of Syria till ten or twelve years after the birth of Christ, and that at the beginning of his government an assessment was made in Judaea. In order to meet this difficulty, it is to be stated that the words in the original admit of being translated ' This was the first assessment (or enrolment) of Cyrenius, the governor of Syria/ Thus we may suppose that the assessment now spoken of, was made under the superintendence of Cyrenius, who was afterwards the governor of Syria; and that as he was subsequently well known by this title of governor of Syria, he is here by anticipation called by that title. It should be observed that the assessment here mentioned, is expressly said to be that * first made/ an expression which clearly has reference to a second assessment, that is, to the asaess ment mentioned in history, about twelve years afterwards, when Cyrenins was actual governor. An important confirmation of this mode of explaining the difficulty is, that Josephus mentions the tact of the whole Jewish nation having taken an oath to be faithful to Cesar, about the time of Christ's birth. And this may be the occasion of the very assessment or enrolment of which we read in this verse."


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