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The Jews imprecate the Punishment of Christ's Death upon
MATT. xxvii. 24, 25. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, Mat. xxvii.24. but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person; see ye to it.
Then answered all the people, and said, His Mat. xxvii.25. blood be on us, and on our children".
Pilate releases Barabbas, and delivers Christ to be crucified.
24, 25. JOHN xix. 1-16.
And he released unto them him that for sedi- Lukexxiii.25. tion and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired.
Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged John xix. I. bim; and when he had scourged him, he delivered Jesus to their will, to be crucified '8.
Mark xv. 15. Lukexxiit.25. Mat. xxvii.26.
17 The guilt of condemning our Lord must almost entirely rest upon the unhappy nation whom he had designed to save, (John xix. 11.) Pilate made five successive efforts to deliver Jesus from their inveterate hatred, and was induced, at last, unwillingly to yield him up, from the apprehension of his own personal safety. He was afraid, that, if he did not comply with the violent and clamorous importunities of the Jewish rulers, there would be a commotion among the people, who were seditiously inclined, and were assembled at this time in great numbers, from all parts of Judæa, for the celebration of the Passover. In all probability Pilate was not provided with sufficient force to ensure perfect tranquillity on these great festivals: their very solemnity would be considered as the best guarantee for the observance of propriety and good conduct.
ON MARK Xv. 25. AND JOHN xix. 14-16. This is one of those passages in which the Evangelists are suppposed to be inconsistent. St. Mark says, chap. xv. 25. " It was the third hour, and they crucified him:" St. John tells us, “ It was about the sixth hour; and Pilate
Mat. xxvii.27. * Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus, Jerusalem. Mark xv. 16 and led him away
s John xix. 1.
delivered him to be crucified,” John xix. 14–16. Various modes have been adopted to reconcile these apparent differences. One, and that the most usual, and at all times the most objectionable, is the supposition of a false reading. It is urged, that in ancient times, all numbers were written in manuscripts, not at length, but with numeral letters, it was easy for I, three, to be taken for s, sixi of this opinion are Griesbach, in his elaborate edition of the New Testament, Semler, Rosenmüller, Doddridge, Whitby, Bengel, Cocceius, Beza, Erasmus, and by far the greater part of the most eminent critics. Besides the Codex Bezæ; and the Codex Stephani (of the eighth century,) there are four other manuscripts, which read spirn, the third, in John xix. 14. as well as the Alexandrian Chronicle, which professes to cite accurate manuscripts—even the autography of St. John himself. Such also is the opinion of Severus Antiochenus, Ammonius, and some others, cited by Theophylact on the passage; to whom must be added Nonnus, a Greek poet of Panopolis, in Egypt, who flourished in the fifth century, and wrote a poetical paraphrase on the Gospel of St. John, and who also found spirn in the manuscript used by him (a).
Others have supposed, that the Evangelists have adopted different methods of calculation. Notwithstanding the authorities above adduced, they observe that none of the ancient translators read "the third hour" in John : they there fore solve the difficulty (imperfectly it must be confessed) by considering the day as divided into four parts, answering to the four watches of the night. These coincided with the hours of three, six, nine, or twelve; or, in our way of reckoning, nine, twelve, three, and six, which also suited the solemn times of sacrifice and prayer in the temple. In cases, they argue, in which the Jews did not think it of consequence to ascertain the time with great accuracy, they did not regard the intermediate hours, but only those more noted divisions which happened to come nearest the time of the event spoken of. Adopting this method of reconciliation, Dr. Campbell remarks, that Mark says, “it was the third hour," from which we have reason to conclude that the third hour was past. John says, It was about the sixth hour," from which he thinks it probable that the sixth hour was not yet come. On this supposition, though the Evangelists may, by a fastidious reader, be accused of want of precision in res gard to dates, they will not, by any judicious and candid critie, be charged with falsehood or misrepresentation. Who would accuse two modern historians of contradicting each other, because, in relating an event which had happened between ten and eleven in the forenoon, one had said it was past nine o'clock the other that it was drawing towards noon (b)?
There is, however, in fact, no real difference between the Evangelists: and this is fully shewn by the admirable reasoning both of Dr. Townson and Pilkington. If we review the whole of the transaction which took place at the crucifixion, and endeavour to assign their respective periods to each, it will be found that St. John calculated his time by the Roman or Asiatic method, from mid-night to mid-day, and from mid-day to mid-night. If we allow the sixth hour, mentioned by St. John, to mean the sixth hour in the morning, it will
(a) Vide Horne's Introduct.
(6) Campbell, on John xix. 14.
Jerusalem. * Or, the governor's house.
into the common-hall,
Mat.xxvii.27. called Prætorium; and they call together the Mark xv. 16. whole band
suit the place in which it stands admirably well, which the third hour would not.
The night was divided into twelve hours, or four equal watches. Of the latter division we have several traces in the Gospel. St. Mark thus enumerates them : οψε η μεσονυκτίου, ή άλεκτροφωνίας, η πρωϊ, Mark xiii. 25; the cock crowing was from twelve to three, and the last from three to six.
The six o'clock of St. John was the end of the apwi. Let us examine the division of time from the beginning of the al extpopwvia, (cock-crowing,) to the end of the (opwi,) last watch. The apprehension in the garden appears to have been made about ten o'clock on Thursday night, and Jesus was then led away to Annas. About eleven he was sent to Caiaphas. About midnight Peter denied him the first time, at the first cock-crowing. Soon after midnight he was condemned by the High Priest, &c. after that he was abused by the officers and servants, and Peter denied him a second time. About three in the morning, i. e. at the second cock crowing, Peter denied him the third time. About four, " as soon as it was day,” the Sanhedrim met; and in a little time they again condemned him. About five, “ when it was early," they led him away to Pilate; and, “ about the sixth (Roman) hour," i.e. between six and nine o'clock in the morning, (for when mention is made of a Roman watch hour, viz. the third, sixth, ninth, or twelfth, it often includes the whole space of time contained in that watch,) Pilate gave the final sentence against Jesus : and, in consequence thereof, they led Jesus away, and crucified him “at the third (Jewish) hour,” i.e. about nine o'clock in the morning, or between that time and the commencement of the next watch.
The events that happened between his being first taken before Pilate, and his final condemnation by the Roman governor would occupy about two hours and a half; many things favoured, and many demanded expedition.
If Caiaphas did not send to Herod and Pilate when our Lord was first brought prisoner to his house, he would probably dispatch messengers to them as soon as he was condemned in the council. To the former, to request he would watch over his Galilean subjects, lest they should make a disturbance in favour of Jesus; and to Pilate, (who gave the soldiers to assist in the apprehension of Christ,) to acquaint him with their intention of bringing the prisoner before him. As this was the time of the passover, when a great concourse of a mutinous nation was assembled at Jerusalem and its adjoining villages, it was the duty of Pilate and Herod to exert the utmost vigilance, even without the occurrence of any unusual event. The rulers of Judæa might, perhaps, at this time have been alarmed at the intelligence of the acclamations of the people, some days before. It cannot therefore excite surprise, that on such an occasion as this, Pilate, and quickly after him Herod, was early up, and ready to receive the Jewish rulers as soon as they appeared. The first time they continued but a little while with Pilate; for when he was told that Jesus belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he forthwith sent our Saviour to him. Herod and Pilate came but seldom to Jerusalem, and on these occasions they were, in all probability, accommodated in the Herodian palace, which was very extensive, and consisted of two spacious and distinct buildings. Josephus in conseqnence calls it not a palace, but palaces. This
Matt. xxvii. 27.
superb edifice, as well as the tower Antonia, which was a palace and tower together, stood near the temple, and communicated with it. Little time therefore being lost in removing from place to place, (the High Priest being also lodged near the temple,) the first examination before Pilate, and the interview with Herod, might come within such compass, as that our Lord might be remanded to Pilate by five in the morning, at which time it was broad day-light.
There was a great 'eagerness for a speedy determination on one side, and a necessity for it on the other. The Jewish rulers, jealous of delay, and of a variable multitude, pressed on while circumstances favoured. Pilate well knew the seditious spirit of the nation, restless under a foreign yoke, and rendered confident by their great increase of numbers in consequence of the passover. He twice interrogated Jesus in the Pretorium, with the sound of their outcry, as it were, in his ears; and found it requisite to determine speedily whether he would appease them by compliance, or repel them by force, which on the present occasion would not have been expedient. This brings us, then, either to the sixth hour in the morning, or to the sixth hour of mid-day. But the latter construction corresponds neither with the other Evangelists, nor upon the whole with St. John himself, John xviii. 28. the detail of whose narrative conveys no idea of so much time.
We come to the same conclusion by a calculation of the time mentioned by the other Evangelists. The hour of crucifixion is given by St. Mark, chap. xv. 25. whose testimony is confirmed by those of St. Matthew and St. Luke. It was the third hour, or nine in the morning. Let us consider, first, from this giver hour, by a retrograde calculation, what time the procession from the Prætorium to Mount Calvary, and the act of crucifying our Lord, probably occupied; secondly, before this procession began, what time he was detained in the Prætorium after Pilate had delivered him to be crucified; and, thirdly, how long the sentence of death was delayed after Pilate sat down on the tribunal.
1. Although Mount Calvary was near to the city, the procession must have been slow. Christ was weakened by his agony in the garden, and by the pain and loss of blood he sustained from the cruel scourging, and from the insulting mockery of the soldiers. It was usual for the people to ill treat the criminals who went to crucifixion. He himself carried his cross to the gate of the city, and although it was there laid on Simon the Cyrenian, he had still farther to go, and an eminence to ascend. To this procession, and the necessary preparations for the crucifixion, we cannot allot less than an hour, and this brings us to eight in the morning
2. Before he was led forth, the two robbers were to be condemned; for in cases where no appeal lay to the emperor, or Roman senate, the examination for atrocious offences was little more than nominal; and the speedy sentence of the judge was followed by the immediate punishment of the criminal.
Probably, while our Saviour's trial was pending, these malefactors were brought from the prison to the hall, where the soldiers kept guard, that they might be in readiness. In this place, perhaps, the penitent thief might have witnessed the deportment of Jesus, while he was scourged and insulted by the Roman soldiers ; and might have conceived that sense of his meekness, holiness, and majesty, which prepared him for the grace of a perfect confession of faith,
And they stripped him, and they put on him a Matt
. xxvii. scarlet robe 9 a purple robe,
And when they had platted a crown of thorns, Mat.xxvii, 29.
John xix. 2.
upon the cross. To the time employed in the trying, condemning, and scourging of these men, (according to the Roman law,) may we not reckon another full hour? In the meanwhile Christ was guarded by the soldiers ; into whose hands therefore he was delivered at seven, or rather earlier.
3. When Pilate had taken his seat on the tribunal, to pronounce sentence of death on Christ, he was interrupted by the message of his wife; still hesitating - he again expostulated with the Jews, and declared the innocence of Jesus. and, when he could prevail nothing, he washed his hands before the multitude, and then decreed his condemnation. These various particulars might altogether occupy about another hour, and they bring us again to the same point within half an hour of six. Here then the computations meet, whether we reckon on from the Proi, or back from the third hour : by either account, Pilate“ sat down in the judgment seat” between six and seven in the morning,
The conjecture of Grotius, adopted by Dr. Randolph, and other learned men, is very ingenious; but is unsupported by authorities. The Jews, he observes, divided the day into four quarters, as they did the night; each consisting of three hours; and, whatever was done within the space of one of these quarters, might be reckoned to the hour at which the quarter began, or at which it ended. The second quarter began at the third hour, about which time it was supposed our Lord was condemned, and it ended at twelve ; about which time he was crucified. St. John mentions the time of his condemnation, St. Mark of his crucifixion. St. John distinguishes the beginning of the second quarter of the day by its latest term, the sixth hour; and St. Mark the conclusion of it, by its earliest term, the third hour. But this hypothesis appears much too forced to be tenable.
19 There is no greater difference between the meaning of the words KÓKKIVNY and Troppúpoūv, than there is if one English reader should say a red robe, and another a reddish robe; or than if one French author should use the word rouge, and another rougeatre.-Pilkington, notes to sect. 442.
20 Thorns were the first produce of the earth after the fall of man, and they were worn by our Lord, as a part of his punishment. They were the first fruits of the curse, and were appropriately placed on the head of the sacred victim.
Bishop Pearce and Michaelis are of opinion that the crown of thorns was not intended to be an instrument of punishment or torture to his head, but rather to render our Lord an object of ridicule ; for which cause they also put a reed in his hand, by way of sceptre, and bowed their knees, pretending to do him homage; and that the crown was not probably of thorns, in our sense of the word. Mark xv. 17. and John xix. 5, term it orégavov årávālvov, which might be translated an “acanthine crown," or wreath formed out of the branches of the herb acanthus, or bear's foot. This is a prickly plant, though not like thorny ones, in the common meaning of that word.
Some are of opinion that the plant was similar to that which we call holly: