This account of something that was beyond the reach of thy perception We [now] reveal unto thee:30
for thou wert not with them when they drew lots as to which of them should be Mary's guardian,31
and thou wert not with them when they contended [about it] with one another.
This parenthetic passage, addressed to the Prophet, is meant to stress the fact that the story of Mary, as narrated in the Qur'an, is a direct outcome of revelation and, therefore, inherently true in spite of all the differences between this account and that given in the scriptures regarded by the Christians as authentic (Muhammad 'Abduh in Manar III, 301 f.).
See note  above. The phrase rendered above as "they drew lots" reads literally, "they cast their reeds" - obviously a reference to an ancient Semitic custom, perhaps similar to the divination by means of blunt arrows practiced by the pre-Islamic Arabs and comprehensively described in Lane III, 1247. The pronoun "they" relates to the priests, of whom Zachariah was one.