Images de page
[blocks in formation]

prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;

10 And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appoint ed me.

11 And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying. Art thon the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.

12 And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.

13 Then said Pilate unto him, 'Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?

14 And he answered him to never a word: insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.

15% Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.

16 And they had then a notable prisoner whom they called


17 Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?

18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.

• Zech. 11. 12. 13-b Or, whom they bought of the chiluren of Israel. Mark 15. Luke 21 John 13-1 John 13.37. 1 Tim. 6.13.- Ch 26.63. John 19.9FCA John 19 10 -g Mark 15.6 Luke 23. 17. John 15.39.

came nigh to that place where God manifested his glory be tween the cherubim, over the mercy-seat in the most holy place. It is from this idea that the phrase to draw nigh to God is taken, which is so frequently used in the Sacred Writings.

Because it is the price of blood] "What hypocrites! as one justly exclaims, to adjudge an innocent man to death, and break the eternal laws of justice and mercy without scruple, and to be at the same time, so very nice in their attention to a ceremonial direction of the law of Moses! Thus it is that the devil often deludes many, even among the priests, by a false and superstitious tenderness of conscience in things in different, while calumny, envy, oppression of the innocent, and a conformity to the world, give them no manner of trou ble or disturbance." See Quesnel.

7. To bury strangers in] Tons Evois, the strangers, probably meaning, as some learned men conjecture, the Jewish strangers who might have come to Jerusalem, either to worship, or on some other business, and died there during their stay. See here, the very money for which the blessed Jesus was sold, becomes subservient to the purpose of mercy and kindness! The bodies of strangers have a place of rest in the field, purchased by the price at which his life was valued, and the souls of strangers and foreigners have a place of rest and refuge in his blood, which was shed as a ransom price for the salvation of the whole world.

& The field of blood] In vain do the wicked attempt to conceal themselves; God makes them instrumental in discovering their own wickedness. Judas, by returning the mo ney, and the priests, by laying it out, raise to themselves an eternal monument, the one of his treachery, the others of their prefidiousness, and both of the innocence of Jesus Christ. As long as the Jewish polity continued, it might be said, this is the field that was bought from the potter with the money which Judas got from the high priests for betraying his Master: which he, in deep compunction of spirit brought back to them, and they bought this ground for a burial-place for strangers: for as it was the price of the blood of an innocent man, they did not think proper to let it rest in the treasury of the temple where the traitor had thrown it, who afterward, in despair, went and hanged himself. What a standing proof must this have been of the innocence of Christ, and of their perfidy! 9. Jeremy the prophet] The words quoted here are not found in the prophet Jeremiah, but in Zech. xi. 13. But St. Jerom says, that a Hebrew of the sect of the Nazarenes showed him this prophecy in a Hebrew apocryphal copy of Jeremiah; but probably they were inserted there, only to countenance the quotation here.

One of Colbert's, a MS. of the eleventh century, has Zayaptov, Zechariah, so has the later Syriac in the margin, and a copy of the Arabic quoted by Bengel. In a very elegant and correct MS. of the Vulgate, in my possession, written in the fourteenth century, Zachariam is in the margin, and Jere miam in the text, but the former is written by a later hand. Jeremiah is wasting in two MSS., the Syriac, later Persic, two of the Ilala, and in some other Latin copies. It is very likely that the original reading was dia rov Toorov, and the name of no prophet mentioned. This is the more likely, as Matthew often omits the name of the prophet in his quotations. See chap. i. 22. ii. 5, 15. xiii. 35. xxi. 4. Bengel approves of

the omission.

It was an ancient enstom among the Jews, says Dr. Light foot, to divide the Old Testament into three parts, the first beginning with the Law was called THE LAW: the second be ginning with the Psalms was called THE PSALMS: the third beginning with the prophet in question was called JEREMIAH: thus then the writings of Zechariah, and the other prophets being included in that division that began with Jeremiah, all quotations from it would go under the name of this prophet. If this be admitted, it solves the difficulty at once. Dr. Lightfoot quotes Baba Bathra,and Rabbi David Kimchi's preface to the prophet Jeremiah, as his authorities; and insists that the

wife warned in a dream.

19 (When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.)

20h But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.

21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas 22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.

23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. 24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, 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.

25 Then answered all the people, and said, k His blood be on us, and on our children.

26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

27 Ther, the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the

h Mark 15. 11. Luke 23.18. John 18.40. Acts 3. 14.-i Deu 21. 6-k Deu. 19. 10. Josh 2 19.1 Kiner 22. 2 Sam. 1 16. Acis 5.29-1 Isa. 53.5. Mark 15. 15. Luke 23. 16, 24, 25. John 19.1, 16-in Mark 15.16. John 19.2.

word Jeremiah is perfectly correct as standing at the head of that division from which the evangelist quoted, and which gave its denomination to all the rest.

11. Before the Governor] My old MS. English Bible translates nyc, eyr, check justyse, Presedent. Art thou the king of the Jews? The Jews had undoubtedly delivered him to Pilate as one who was rising up against the imperial authority, and assuming the regal office. See on ver. 2. 12. He answered nothing.] An answer to such accusations was not necessary, they sufficiently confuted themselves.

15. Marvelled greatly.] Silence under calumny manifests the utmost magnanimity. The chief priests did not admire this because it confounded them; but Pilate, who had no interest to serve by it, was deeply affected. This very silence was predicted, Isa. liii. 7.

15 The governor was wont to release] Whence this custom originated among the Jews is not known.-Probably it was introduced by the Romans themselves, or by Pilate, merely to oblige the Jews, by showing them this public token of respect; but if it originated with him, he must have had the authority of Augustus; for the Roman laws never gave such discretionary power to any governor.

16. A notable prisoner-Barabbas] This person had, a short time before, raised an insurrection in Jerusalem, in which it appears, from Mark xv. 7. some lives were lost. In some MSS. and in the Armenian and Syriac Hieros., this man has the surname of Jesus. Professor Birch has discovered this reading in a Vatican MS. written in 949, and numbered 354, in which is a marginal note which has been attributed to Anastasius, Bp. of Antioch, and to Chrysostom, which asserts, that in the most ancient MSS. the passage was as follows: Τινα θελετε από των όνω απολύσω υμιν, ΓΝ τον Βαραββάν, η Γ Tov deyoμevov XN; Which of the two do ye wish me to release unto you, Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ? as Jesus or Joshua was a very common name among the Jews, and as the name of the father was often joined to that of the son, as Simon Barjonah, Simon, son of Jonah; so it is probable it was the case here, Jesus Barabbas, Jesus son ol ́Alba, or Abbiah. If this name were originally written as above, which I am inclined to believe, the general omission of JESUS in the MSS. may be accounted for, from the over zealous scrupulosity of Christian copyists, who were unwilling that a murderer should, in the same verse, be honoured with the name of the Reedemer of the world. See Birch in New Test. 18. For envy] Aca plavov, through malice. Then it was his business, as an upright judge, to have dispersed this mob, and immediately released Jesus.

Seeing malice is capable of putting even Christ himself to death, how careful should we be, not to let the least spark of it harbour in our breast. Let it be remembered that mulice as often originates from envy as it does from anger.

19. I have suffered many things-in a dream] There is no doubt but God had appeared unto this woman, testifying the innocence of Christ, and showing the evils which should pursue Pilate, if this innocent blood should be shed by his authority. See on ver. 2.

20. Ask Barabbas] Who had raised an insurrection and committed murder-and to destroy Jesus, whose voice was never heard in their streets, and who had, during the space of three years and a half, gone about unweariedly from village to village, instructing the ignorant, healing the diseased, and raising the dead.

21. They said, Barabbas.] What a fickle crowd! A little before they all hailed him as the Son of David, and acknow ledged him as a gift from God; now they prefer a murderer to him! But this it appears they did at the instigation of the chief priests. We see here how dangerous wicked priests are in the church of Christ: when pastors are corrupt, they are capable of inducing their flock to prefer Barabbas to Jesus, the world to God, and the pleasures of sense to the sal vation of their souls. The invidious epithet which a certain statesman gave to the people at large, was, in its utmost lati

[blocks in formation]

common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of sol diers. 23 And they stripped him, and b put on him a scarlet robe. 29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, king of the Jews!

30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.

a Or, governor's house-b Luke 23.11.- Psa 60. 19. Isa, 53 3 Tes.50.6, Ch.26. 67.-e (sa 53.7-f Num. 15.35. 1 Kings 21.13. Acts 7.56. Heb. 13.12.

tude, applicable to these Jews,-they were a SWINISH MULTI


22. What shall I do then with Jesus?] Showing hereby, that it was his wish to release hin.

23. What evil hath he done ?] Pilate plainly saw that there was nothing laid to his charge, for which, consistently with the Roman laws, he could condemn him.

But they cried out the more] What strange fury and injustice! They could not answer Pilate's question, What evil hath he done? He had done none, and they knew he had done none; but they are determined on his death.

24. Pilate-took water and washed his hands] Thus sig. nifying his innocence. It was a custom among the Hebrews, Greeks, and Latins, to wash the hands in token of innocence, and to show that they were pure from any imputed guilt. In case of an undiscovered murder, the elders of that city which was nearest to the place where the dead body was found. were required by the law, Deut. xxi 1-10. to wash their hands over the victim which was offered to expiate the crime, and make thus public protestation of their own innocence. David says, I will wash my hands in innocence, so shall I compass thine altar, Psal. xxvi. 6. As Pilate knew Christ was innocent, he should have prevented his death: he had the armed force at his command, and should have dispersed this infamous mob. Had he been charged with countenancing a seditious person, he could have easily cleared himself, had the matter been brought before the emperor. He therefore was inexcusable.

25. His blood be on us, and on our children.] If this man be innocent, and we put him to death as a guilty person, may the punishment due to such a crime be visited upon us, and upon our children after us! What a dreadful impreca. tion! and how literally fulfilled! The notes on chap. xxiv. will show how they fell victims to their own imprecation, be ing visited with a series of calamities unexampled in the his tory of the world. They were visited with the same kind of punishment; for the Romans crucified them in such num. bers when Jerusalem was taken, that there was found a defi. ciency of crosses for the condeinned, and of places for the crosses. Their children or descendants have had the same curse entailed upon them, and continue to this day a proof of the innocence of Christ, the truth of his religion, and of the justice of God.

and sent to be crucified.

31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.

32 And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross. 33 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha that is to say, a place of a skull,

34 They gave him vinegar to drink, mingled with gall and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.

Mark 15.21 Luke 23.26,-h Mark 13. 22 Luke 23. 33. John 19. 17.-i Psa. 21. See Verac 48.

or bear's foot. This, however, is a prickly plant, though nothing like thorns, in the common meaning of that word. Many Christians have gone astray in inagnifying the suffer ings of Christ from this circumstance; and painters, the worst of all commentators, frequently represent Christ with a crown of long thorns, which one standing by is striking into his head with a stick. These representations engender ideas both false and absurd.

There is a passage produced from Philo by Dr. Lardner, which casts much light on these indignities offered to our blessed Lord. "Caligula, the successor of Tiberius, gave Agrippa the tetrarchy of his uncle Philip, with the right of wearing a dia. dem or crown. When he came to Alexandria, on his way to his tetrarchate, the inhabitants of that place, filled with envy at the thoughts of a Jew having the title of king, showed their indignation in the following way. They brought one Carabas (a sort of an idiot) into the theatre; and having placed him on a lofty seat, that he might be seen by all, they put a diadem upon his head, made of the herb byblos, (the ancient papyrus, or paper flag :) his body they covered with a mat or carpet, instead of a royal cloak. One seeing a piece of reed, rarupoy, (the stem probably of the aforesaid herb) lying on the ground, picked it up, and put it in his hand in place of a sceptre. Ha ving thus given him a mock royal dress, several young fellows, with poles on their shoulders, came and stood on each side of him as his guards. Then there came people, soine to pay their homage to him, some to ask justice, and some to consult him on affairs of state: and the crowd that stood round about, made a confused noise, crying Mario, that being, as they say, the Syriac word for LORD: thereby showing, that they intended to ridicule Agrippa, who was a Syrian." See Puno, Flace. p. 970. and Dr. Lardner, Works, vol. I. p. 159. There is the most remarkable coincidence between this ac count and that given by the evangelists; and the conjecture concerning the acanthus, will probably find no inconsidera ble support from the byblos and papyrus of Philo. This plant, Pliny says, grows to ten cubits long in the stem; and the flowers were used ad deos coronandos, for CROWNING THE GODS. See Hist. Nat. lib. xiii. c. 11.

The reflections of pious Quesnel on these insults offered to our blessed Lord are worthy of serious attention. "Let the crown of thorns make those Christians blush, who throw away so much time, pains, and money, in beautifying and adorning a sinful head. Let the world do what it will to render the roy. alty and mysteries of Christ contemptible, it is my glory to the world despises; and my redemption, to go unto God through the merits of him who was crowned with thorns." 30. And they spit upon him] "Let us pay our adoration," says the same pious writer, "and humble ourselves in silence at the sight of a spectacle which faith alone renders credible, and which our senses would hardly endure. Jesus Christ, in this condition, preaches to the kings of the earth this truth: that their sceptres are but reeds, with which themselves shall be smitten, bruised and crushed at his tribunal, if they do not use them here to the advancement of his kingdom."

26. Scourged Jesus] This is allowed to have been a very severe punishment of itself among the Romans, the flesh being generally cut by the whips used for this purpose; so the poet-serve a King thus debased; my salvation, to adore that which Horribili SECTERE flagello. "To be cut by the horrible whip." HOR Sat. 1. 3. 119. And sometimes, it seems, they were whipped to death. See the same poet, Sat. I. 2. 41. Ille FLA GELLIS AD MORTEM Casus. See also HORAT. Epod. od. iv. v. 11. It has been thought that Pilate might have spared this additional cruelty of whipping; but it appears that it was a common custom to scourge those criminals which were to be crucified; (see Josephus De Bello, lib. ii. c. 25.) and lenity in Christ's case is not to be allowed: he must take all the misery in full tale.

Delivered him to be crucified.] Tacitus, the Roman historian, tentions the death of Christ in very remarkable terms: Nero-quæsitissimus pœnis affecit, quos-vulgus CHRISTI ANOS appellabat. Auctor nominis ejus CHRISTUS, qui Tiberio imperitante, per Procuratorem Pontium Pilatum sup plicio affectus erat.-"Nero put those who commonly went by the name of Christians to the most exquisite tortures. The author of this name was CHRIST, who was capitally punished in the reign of TIBERIUS by PONTIUS PILATE the PROCU

32. A man of Cyrene-him they compelled to bear his cross.] In John, chap. xix. 16, 17. we are told Christ himself bore the Cross, and this, it is likely, he did for a part of the way; but being exhausted with the scourging and other cruel usage which he had received, he was found incapable of bearing it alone; therefore they obliged Simon, not, I think, to bear it entirely, but to assist Christ by bearing a part of it. It was a constant practice among the Romans, to oblige criminals to bear their cross to the place of execution; insomuch that Plu tarch makes use of it as an illustration of the misery of vice. 27. The common hall] Or, prætorium. Called so from the "Every kind of wickedness produces its own particular torprætor, a principal magistrate among the Romans, whose bu- ment, just as every malefactor, when he is brought forth to siness it was to administer justice in the absence of the consul.execution, carries his own cross." See Lardner's Credib. This place might be termed in English the court-house, or Vol. I. p. 160.


common hall.

28. Stripped him] Took off his mantle, or upper garment. A scarlet robe] Or, according to Mark and John, a purple robe, such as emperors and kings wore.

29. A crown of thorns] Erepavov et akavow. It does not appear that this crown was intended to be an instrument of punishment or torture to his head, but rather, to render him ridiculous; for which cause also they put a reed in his hand, by way of sceptre, and bowed their knees, pretending to do him homage. The crown was not probably of thorns, in our sense of the word: there are eminently fearned men, who think that the crown was formed of the herb acanthus: and Bishop Pearce and Michaelis are of this opinion. Maik, chap. xv. 17. and John, chap. xix. 5. term it separw axavðivov, which may very well be translated an acanthine crown, er wreath formied out of the branches of the herb acanthus,

33. A place called Golgotha] From the Hebrew baba of golgoleth, a skull, probably so called from the many skulls of those who had suffered crucifixion and other capital punishments, scattered up and down in the place. It is the same as Calvary, Calvarià, i. e. calvi capitis area, the place of bare skulls. Some think the place was thus called, because it was in the form of a human skull. It is likely that it was the place of public execution, similar to the Gemonia Scala at Rome.

34. They gave him vinegar-mingled with gall] Perhaps the word xon, commonly translated gall, signifies no more than bitters of any kind. It was a common custom to administer a stupifying potion compounded of sour wine, which is the same as vinegar, from the French vinaigre, frankincense, and myrrh, to condemned persons; to help to alleviate their sufferings, or so disturb their intellect, that they might nu

[blocks in formation]

35° And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

36 And sitting down, they watched him there;

over the cross.

38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on
the right hand, and another on the left.

39 And f they that passed by, reviled him, wagging their

40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildcome down from the cross. 37 And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS est it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

a Mars 15 23. Luke 1 34. John 19.21.-b Psa 22 18-c Verse 54.- Mark 15.26. Luke 23. Jan 19 19.

e laa. 53. 12. Mark 15 27. Luke 23.22, 33. John 1918-f Paa 22.7.& 109. 25. Mark 15 29 Luke 23.25-g Ch.96 61. John 2. 19-h Ch.26.63.

be sensible of them. The rabbins say, that they put a grain man swimming, or praying with his arms extended. The of frankincense into a cup of strong wine; and they ground punishment of the cross was inflicted among the ancient this on Prov. xxxi. 6. Give strong drink unto him that is Hindoos from time immemorial for various species of theft; ready to perish, i. e. who is condemned to death. Some per- see Halhead's Code of Gentoo Laws, p. 248, and was common son, out of kindness, appears to have administered this to our among the Syrians, Egyptians, Persians, Africans, Greeks, blessed Lord; but he, as in all other cases, determining to en- and Romans; it is also still in use among the Chinese, who dure the fulness of pain, refused to take what was thus offered do not nail, but tie the criminal to it. It was probably the to him, choosing to tread the wine-press alone. Instead of Romans who introduced it among the Jews, Before they be came subject to the Romans, they used hanging or gibbeting, ofos, vinegar, several excellent MSS. and Versions have otvor, rine; but as sour wine is said to have been a general drink but not the cross. This punishment was the most dreadful of the common people, and Roman soldiers, it being the same of all others, both for the shame and pain of it: and so scanas vinegar, it is of little consequence which reading is here dalous, that it was inflicted as the last mark of detestation, adopted. This custoin of giving stupifying potions to con- upon the vilest of the people. It was the punishment of robGive bers and murderers, provided they were slaves; but if they demned malefactors, is alluded to in Prov. xxxi. 6. strong drink, p sheker, inebriating drink, to him who is were free, it was thought too infamous a punishment for such, ready to PERISH; and wine to him who is BITTER of soul-be- let their crimes be what they might. cause he is just going to suffer the punishment of death. And See thus the rabbins, as we have seen above, understand it. Lightfoot and Schoettgen. Michaelis offers an ingenious exposition of this place. "Immediately after Christ was fastened to the cross, they gave him, according to Matt. xxviii. 31. vinegar mingled with gull; but according to Mark xv. 23. they offered him toine mingled with myrrh. That St. Mark's account is the right one, is probable from this circumstance, that Christ refused to drink what was offered him, as appears from both evangelists. Wine mix ed with myrrh was given to malefactors at the place of execution, to intoxicate them, and make them less sensible to pain. Christ, therefore, with great propriety, refused the aid of such remedies. But if vinegar was offered to him, which was taken merely to assuage thirst. there could be no reason for his rejecting it. Besides, he tasted it before he rejected it: and therefore he must have found it different from that which, if offered to him, he was ready to receive. To solve this difculty, we must suppose that the words used in the Hebrew Gospel of St. Matthew, were such as agreed with the account given by St. Mark, and at the same time were capable of the construction which was put on them by St. Matthew's Greek translator. Suppose St. Matthew wrote N N (chaleea bemireera) which signifies sweet wine with bitters, or sweet wine and myrrh, as we find it in Mark; and Matthew's translator overlooked the yod in n (chaleea) he took it for (chala) which signifies vinegar; and bitter, he translated by xoàn, as it is often used in the Septuagint. Nay, St. Matthew may have written & and have still meant to express sweet teine; if so, the difference only consisted in the points; for the same word which, when pronounced chalé, signifies sweet, denotes vinegar as soon as it is pronounced chala."

The body of the criminal was fastened to the upright beam
by nailing or tying the feet to it, and on the transverse piece
by nailing and sometimes tying the hands to it. As the hands
and feet are the grand instruments of motion, they are pro-
vided with a greater quantity of nerves: and the nerves in
those places, especially the hands, are peculiarly sensible.
Now as the nerves are the instruments of all sensation or
feeling, wounds in the parts where they abound, must be pe
culiarly painful; especially when inflicted with such rude
instruments as large nails, forced through the places by the
violence of a hammer; thus tearing asunder the nervous
fibrillæ, delicate tendons, and small bones of those parts.
This punishment will appear dreadful enough, when it is
considered, that the person was permitted to hang (the whole
weight of his body being borne up by his nailed hands and
the projecting piece which passed between the thighs) till he
perished through agony and lack of food. Some, we are in-
formed, have lived three whole days in this state. It is true
that, in some cases, there was a kind of mercy shown to the
sufferer, which will appear sufficiently horrid, when it is
known that it consisted in breaking the bones of their legs
and thighs to pieces with a large hammer, in order to put
them the sooner out of pain! Such a coup de grace as this,
could only spring from those tender mercies of the wicked,
which God represents as cruelty itself. Some were permit
ted to hang on the cross, till eaten up by birds of prey, which
often began to tear them before life was extinct. Horace al-
ludes to this punishment, and from what he says, it seems to
have been inflicted on slaves, &c. not on trifling occasions,
but for the most horrible crimes.

Si quis eum servum, patinam qui tollere jussus
Semesos pisces tepidumque ligurrierit jus,
In CRUCE Suffigat:-HOR. Satir. 1. i. s. 3. v. 80.
If a poor slave who takes away your plate,
Lick the warm sauce, or half cold fragments eat,
Yet should you crucify the wretch.-FRANCIS.
Non hominem occidi: non pasces in CRUCE CORVOS.
have not committed murder: Then thou shalt not be nailed
to the cross, to feed the ravens." HOR. Epist. 1. i. e. 16. v. 48.


The anguish occasioned by crucifixion, was so intense, that crucio, (a cruce) among the Romans, was the common word by which they expressed suffering and torment in general.

With this conjecture Dr. Marsh (Michaelis's translator) is not satisfied; and therefore finds a Chaldee word for ouVOS, wine, which may easily be mistaken for one that denotes oos, vinegar; and likewise a Chaldee word which signifies cuvova, (myrrh) which may be easily mistaken for one that denotes xon (gall.) "Now," says he, "on (chamar) or Non (chamera) really denotes orvos, (wine) and yon (chamets) or NSD (chametsa) really denotes ofos, (vinegar.) Again, N (mura) really signifies cuupra, (myrrh) and (murera) really signifles xoλn, (gall) If, then, we suppose that the original Chaldee text was No (chamera haleet And parted his garments, casting lots] These were the bemura) wine mingled with myrrh, which is not at all im probable, as it is the reading of the Syriac version, at Mark Roman soldiers, who had crucified him: and it appears from xv. 23. it might easily have been mistaken for on this circumstance, that in those ancient times, the spoils of (chametsa haleet bemurera) vinegar mingled with gall." the criminal were claimed by the executioners, as they are This is a more ingenious conjecture than that of Michaelis. to the present day. It appears that they divided a part, and See Marsh's notes to Michaelis, Vol. III. part 2d. p. 127, 128. cast lots for the rest: viz. for his seamless coat, John xix. But as that kind of sour wine, which was used by the Roman 23, 24. soldiers and common people, appears to have been termed LOL, and vinegar (vin aigre) is sour wine, it is not difficult to reconcile the two accounts in what is most material to the facts here recorded.

35. And they crucified him] Crucifixion properly means the act of nailing or tying to a cross. The cross was made of two beams, either crossing at the top, at right angles, like a T, or in the middle of their length like an X. There was besides a piece on the centre of the transverse beam, to which the accusation or statement of the crime of the culprit was attached, and a piece of wood which projected from the middle, on which the person sat, as on a sort of saddle: and by which the whole body was supported. Tertullian mentions this particularly: Nobis, says he, tota cruz imputatur, cum an. tenna scilicet sua, et cum illo SEDILIS excessu. Advers. Nationes, lib. ii. Justin Martyr, in his dialogue with Trypho the Jew, gives precisely the same description of the cross; and it is worthy of observation, that both he and Tertullian flourished before the punishment of the cross had been aboished. The cross on which our Lord suffered was of the former kind; being thus represented in all old monuments, coins and crosses. St. Jerom compares it to a bird flying, a

That it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by the prophet, saying, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.] The whole of this quotation should be omitted, as making no part originally of the genuine text of this evangelist. It is omitted by almost every MS. of worth and importance, by almost all the Versions, and the most reputable of the primitive Fathers, who have written or commented on the place. The words are plainly an interpolation, borrowed from John xix. 24. in which place they will be properly noticed.

36. They watched him.] To prevent his disciples or relatives from taking away the body, or affording any relief to the sufferer.

37. His accusation] It was a common custom to affix a la bel to the cross, giving a statement of the crime for which the person suffered. This is still the case in China, when a person is crucified. Sometimes a person was employed to carry this before the criminal, while going to the place of punishment.

It is with much propriety, that Matthew calls this aria, ac. cusation; for it was false that ever Christ pretended to be 135 KING OF THE JEWs, in the sense the inscription held forth:

[blocks in formation]

41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,

42 He saved others: himself he cannot save. If he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.

43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him for he said, I am the Son of God.

a Psa. 22.8. Wis1.2. 16, 17, 18.-b Mark 15.2. Luke 23.39.

he was accused of this, but there was no proof of the accusation; however it was affixed to the cross. From John xix. 21. we find that the Jews wished this to be a little altered: Write, said they, that HE said, I am king of the Jews thus endeavouring by the addition of a vile lie, to counter ance their own conduct, in putting him to death. But this Pilate refused to do. Both Luke, chap. xxiii. 38. and John, chap. xix. 20. say, that this accusation was written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. In those three languages, we may conceive the label to stand thus, according to the account given by St. John; the Hebrew being the mired dialect then spoken.

In Hebrew-Eẞpa 51:

ישוע נצריא מלכא ויהודיא

In Greek -Ελληνίςι:

In Latin-Popa 51:

IESUS NAZARENUS REX IUDAEORUM It is only necessary to observe, that all the letters both of the Greek and Roman alphabets, were those now called square or uncial, similar to those above.

38. Two thieves] Angat, robbers, or cut-throats: men who had committed robbery and murder; for it does not appear that persons were crucified for robbery only. Thus was our Lord numbered (his name enrolled, placed as it were in the death warrant) with transgressors, according to the prophetic declaration, Isa. liii. 12. and the Jews placed him between these two, perhaps to intimate that he was the worst felon of the three.

39. Wagging their heads] In token of contempt. 40. Thou that destroyest] Who didst pretend that thou couldst have destroyed the temple, and built it up again in three days-This malicious torturing of our Lord's words, has been noticed before. Cruelty is obliged to take refuge in kies, in order to vindicate its infainous proceedings.

If thou be the Son of God] Or rather, Ytos rou Ocov, a son of God, i. e. a peculiar favourite of the Most High; not 'O YLOS TOV OεON, THE son of God. "It is not to be conceived," says a learned man, "that every passenger who was going to the city, had a competent knowledge of Christ's supernatural conception by the Holy Spirit, or an adequate comprehension of his character as the Messiah and (kar' εžoxŋv,) THE SON OF GOD. There is not a single passage, where Jesus is designed to be pointed out as the MESSIAH, THE SON OF GOD, where the article is omitted: nor, on the other hand, is this designation ever specified without the article, thus, O Yos rov Ocov. See chap. xvi. 16. xxvi, 63. xxviii. 19."

41. Chief priests-scribes and elders] To these, several ancient MSS. and Versions add, xai Papioatov, and Phari sees. But though the authority for this reading is respectable, yet it does not appear that the Pharisees joined in with the others in the condemnation of our Lord. Probably his discourses and parables, related in some of the preceding chap-¡ tera, which were spoken directly to them, had so far convinced them, that they would at least have no hand in putting him to death. All the infamy of this seems to fall upon the PRIESTS, scribes, and elders.

42. He saved others; himself he cannot sare] Or, Cannot he save himself? Several MSS. read this with the mark of interrogation as above; and this makes the sarcasm still more keen.

A high-priest who designs to destroy the temple of God; a saviour who saves not himself; and the Son of God crucified; these are the contradictions which give offence to Jews and libertines. But a high priest who dispels the types and shadows, only that he may disclose the substance of religion, and become the minister of a heavenly sanctuary; a sa. viour who dies only to be the victim of salvation; and the Son of God who confines his power within the bounds of the cross, to establish the righteousness of faith: this is what a Christian adores, this is the foundation of his hope, and the fountain of his present comfort and final blessedness. See Quesnel.

We will believe him] Instead of avre, him, many excellent MSS. have en' avre, IN him; this is a reading which Gries bach and other eminent critics have adopted.

43. If he will have him] Or, if he delight in him-ci Oeλet auToy. The verbs Ocλw, and c0X, are used by the Septuagint in more than forty places for the Hebrew pp chaphets, which signifles, earnestly to desire, or delight in. Now as this is a quotation from Psal. xxii. 9. He trusted on the Lord, that he would deliver him; let him deliver him, yen ki chaphets bo) for he HATH DELIGHTED IN HIM: 07 Ocλei avrov, Sept. This will sufficiently vindicate the above translation; as the evangelist quotes the words from that version, with the simple change of &, if, for ori, because.

44. The thieves also cast the same in his teeth.] That is, one of the robbers; for one, we find, was a penitent, Luke

The wonderful darkness.

44 The thieves also which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.

45 Now from the sixth hour, there was darkness over all the land, unto the ninth hour.

46 And about the ninth hour, d Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, * My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

e Amos 9.9. Mark 15.33. Luke 23.44.-d Heb.5.7.-e Pa. 22 1.

xxiii. 39, 40. See this form of expression accounted for, on chap. xxvi. 8. 45. There was darkness over all the land] I am of opinion, that rara ny yn does not mean all the world, but only the land of Judea. So the word is used chap. xxiv. 30. Luke iv. 25, and in other places. Several eminent critics are of this opinion: Beza defends this meaning of the word, and translates the Greek super universum REGIONEM, over the whole COUNTRY. Besides, it is evident that the evangelists speak of things that happened in Judea, the place of their residence. It is plain enough there was a darkness in Jerusalem, and over all Judea; and probably over all the people among whom Christ had for more than three years preached the everlasting Gospel; and that this darkness was supernatu ral, is evident from this, that it happened during the poss over, which was celebrated only at the full moon, a time in which it was impossible for the sun to be eclipsed. But many suppose the darkness was over the whole world, and think there is sufficient evidence of this in ancient authors. PHLE GON and THALLUS, who flourished in the beginning of the se cond century, are supposed to speak of this. The former says, "In the fourth year of the 202d Olympiad, there was an extraordinary eclipse of the sun: at the sixth hour, the day was turned into dark night, so that the stars in heaven were seen; and there was an earthquake in Bithynia, which overthrew many houses in the city of Nice." This is the substance of what Phlegon is reputed to have said on this subject:-but, 1. All the authors who quote him differ, and often very materially, in what they say was found in him. 2. Phlegon says nothing of Judea what he says is, that in such an Olympiad (some say the 102d, others the 2021) there was an eclipse in Bithynia, and an earthquake at Nice. 3. Phlegon does not say, that the earthquake hap pened at the time of the eclipse. 4. Phlegon does not intimate that this darkness was extraordinary, or that the eclipse happened at the full of the moon, or that it lasted three hours. These circumstances could not have been omitted by him, if he had known them. 5. Phlegon speaks merely of an ordinary, though perhaps total eclipse of the sun, and cannot mean the darkness mentioned by the evangelists. 6. Phlegon speaks of an eclipse that happened in some year of the 1028 or 2024 Olympiad; and therefore little stress can be laid on what he says, as applying to this event.

The quotation from THALLUS, made by AFRICANIUS, found in the Chronicle of SYNCELLUS, of the eighth century, is al lowed by eminent critics to be of little importance. This speaks, "of a darkness over all the world, and an earthquake which threw down many houses in Judea and in other parts of the earth." It may be necessary to observe, that THALLUS is quoted by several of the ancient ecclesiastical writers, for other matters, but never for this: and that the time in which he lived is so very uncertain, that Dr. Lardner supposes there is room to think, he lived rather before than after Christ.

DIONYSIUS the Areopagite, is supposed to have mentioned this event in the most decided manner; for being at Heliopo lis in Egypt with his friend Apollophanes, when our Saviour suffered, they there saw a wonderful eclipse of the sun, where upon Dionysins said to his friend, "Either God himself suf fers, or sympathises with the sufferer." It is enough to say of this man, that all the writings attributed to him are known to be spurious, and are proved to be forgeries of the fifth or sixth century. Whoever desires to see more on this subject, may consult Dr. Lardner, (vol. vii. page 371. edit. 1788.) a man whose naine should never be mentioned but with respect, notwithstanding the peculiarities of his religious creed; who has done more in the service of divine revelation than most divines in Christendom; and who has raised a monument to the perpetuity of the Christian religion, which all the infidels in creation shall never be able to pull down or deface. This miraculous darkness should have caused the enemies of Christ to understand, that he was the light of the world, and that because they did not walk in it, it was now taken away from


46. My God, my God, rhy hast thou forsaken me?! These words are quoted by our Lord from Psal. xxii. 1. they are of very great importance, and should be carefully considered. Some suppose "that the divinity had now departed from Christ, and that his human nature was left unsupported to bear the punishment due to men for their sins." But this is by no means to be admitted, as it would deprive his sacrifice of its infinite merit, and consequently leave the sin of the world without an atonement. Take deity away from any re deeming act of Christ, and redemption is ruined. Others ima gine, that our Lord spoke these words to the Jews only, to prove to them that he was the Messiah. "The Jews," say they, "believed this psalm to speak of the Messiah: they quoted the eighth verse of it against Christ-le trusted in God that he would deliver him, let him deliver him, seeing he de

They ofer him vinegar.


47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.


48 And straightway one of them ran and took a sponge, and Alled if with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.

49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.

50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost

a Pim (4 21. Mark 15. 35. Luke 21.33. Johu 19. 20-b Mark 15. 37. Lake

lightst in him. (See this chap. ver. 43.) To which our Lord Immediately answers, My God! my God! &c. Thus show ing that he was the person of whom the Psalmist prophesied." I have doubts concerning the propriety of this interpretation.

It has been asked, What language is it that our Lord spoke? Eli, E'li, lama subachthani, some say it is Hebrew-others Syrier. I say, as the evangelists quote it, it is neither. St. Matthew comes nearest the Hebrew, unzip na Eli, E'i, lama azabthani, in the words HA HIM, Aapa caẞaxari, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani. And St. Mark comes nearest the Syriac, chap. xv. 43. LAN Leel word und Alohi, Alohi, I'mono shebachtheni, in the words EX, Eloi, dappa sadaxtarı, Eloi, Eloi, lamma sabachthani. It is worthy of note, that a Hebrew Ms. of the twelfth century, instead of 12217 azabthani, forsaken me, reads "now shechachthani, PORGOTTEN TRE. This word makes a very good sense, and comes nearer to the subachthani of the evangelists. It may be observed also, thai the words, Why hast thou FORGOTTEN me? are often used by David and others, in tunes of oppression and distress. See Psal. xlii. 9.

Some have taken occasion from these words, to depreciate the character of our blessed Lord. "They are unworthy," say they, "of a man who suffers, conscious of his innocence, and argue imbecility, impatience, and despair." This is by no means fairly deducible from the passage. However, some think that the words, as they stand in the Hebrew and Syriac, are capable of a translation which destroys all objections, and obviates every difficulty. The particle lamah, may be translated to what to whom-to what kind or sort-to what purpose or profit: Gen. xxv. 32. xxxii. 29. xxxiii. 15. Job ix. 29. Jer. vi. 20. xx. 18. Amos v. 18. and the verb y ázab sig. nifies to leave to deposit-to commit to the care of. See Gen. xxxix. 6. Job xxxix. 11. Psal. x. 14. and Jer. xlix. 11. The words taken in this way, might be thus translated: My God! my God! to what sort of persons hast thou left me? The words thus understood are rather to be referred to the wicked Jews, than to our Lord, and are an exclamation indicative of the obstinate wickedness of his crucifiers, who steeled their hearts against every operation of the Spirit and power of God. her Ling. Brit. Reform. by B. Martin, p. 36.

Through the whole of the Sacred Writings, God is represented as doing those things, which, in the course of his providence, be only permits to be done; therefore, the words, to thom hast thou left or given me up, are only a form of expression for, “How astonishing is the wickedness of those persons into whose hands I am fallen! If this interpretation be admitted, it will free this celebrated passage froin touch embarrassment, and make it speak a sense cousistent with itself, and with the dignity of the Son of God.

The words of St. Mark, chap. xv. 34. agree pretty nearly with this translation of the Hebrew: Ets rue EykaTidores; To what (sort of persons, understood] hast thou left me? A litera! translation of the passage in the Syriac Testament, gives a similar sense: Ad quid dereliquisti me? "To what hast they abandoned me? And an ancient copy of the old Itala version, a Latin translation before the time of St. Jerom, ren. ders the words thus: Quare me in opprobrium dedisti? Why hast thou abandoned me to reproach ?"

[ocr errors]

It may be objected, that this can never agree with the ivari, Ay, of Matthew. To this it is answered, izari must have the same meaning as is 7-as the translation of lama; and that if the meaning be at all different, we must follow that evangelist who expresses most literally the meaning of the original: and let it be observed, that the Septuagint often translated by ivarí, instead of eis rt, which evidently proves that it often had the same meaning. Of this criticism I say, Valet quod valet, Let it pass for no more than it is worth: the subjret is difficult:-but whatever may be thought of the above de of interpretation, one thing is certain, viz. That the words could not be used by our Lord, in the sense in which thy are generally understood. This is sufficiently evident; for the well knew why he was come unto that hour; nor could heba forsaken of God, in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. The Deity however, might restrain so much of its consolatory support, as to leave the human nature fully sensible of all its sufferings; so that the consolations might not take off any part of the keen edge of his passion; and this was necessary to make his sufferings meritorious. And it is probable, that this is all that is intended by our Lord's quotation from the twenty-second Psalm. Taken in this view, the words convey an unexceptionable sense, even in the common translation.

47. This man calleth for Elias] Probably these were hellemistic Jews, who did not fully understand the meaning of our Lord's words. Elijah was daily expected to appear as the fore.

[ocr errors]

He gives up the ghost. 51 And behold the vail of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened: and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,

53 And 4 came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that

e Fixo 31. 2 Chron. 3, 14 Mark 15.39. Luke 23, 45.-4 Ch.26.53. Acta 10.41.e Ver.35. Mark 15 39 Luke 23.47.

runner of the Messiah; whose arrival, under the character o amighty prince, was generally supposed to be at hand through out the East. See Mal. iii. 23. Matt. ii. 2-4. xvii. 10–12.

48. Took a sponge] This being the most convenient way to reach a liquid to his mouth, tied it on a reed, that they might be able to reach his lips with it. This reed, as we leara from St. John, was a stalk of hyssop, which, in that country, must have grown to a considerable magnitude. This appears also to have been done in mercy, to alleviate his sufferings. See ver. 31.

49. After this verse, BCL, and five others add, another taking a spear, pierced his side, and there came out blood and water. Several of the Fathers add the same words here: they appear, however, to be an interpolation from John xix. 34.

50. Yielded up the ghost.] Apпke тo пvevμa, he dismissed the spirit. He himself willingly gave up that life which it was impossible for man to take away. It is not said that he hung on the cross till he died through pain and agony; nor is it said that his bones were broken, the sooner to put him out of pain, and to hasten his death: but that himself dismissed the soul, that he might thus become, not a forced sacrifice, but a freewill offering for sin

Now, as our English word ghost, from the Anglo-Saxon, gare, gast, an inmate, inhabitant, guest, (a casual visitant) also a spirit, is now restricted among us to the latter meaning, always signifying the immortal spirit or soul of man, the guest of the body; and as giving up the spirit, ghost, or soul, is an act not proper to man, though commending it to God, in our last moments, is both an act of faith and piety; and as giving up the ghost, i. e. dismissing his spirit from his body, is attributed to Jesus Christ, to whom alone it is proper, therefore object against its use in every other case.

Every man since the fall, has not only been liable to death, but has deserted it; as all have forfeited their lives because of sin. Jesus Christ, as born immaculate, and having never sinned, had not forfeited his life; and therefore may be considered as naturally and properly immortal. No man, says he, taketh it, my life, from me, but I lay it down of myself; I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; therefore doth the Father love me, because I lay down my life that I might take it again, John x. 17, 18. Hence we rightly translate Matt. xxvii. 50. apηke To Tvεvμa, he gave up the ghost; i. e. he dismissed his spirit, that he might die for the sin of the world. The evangelist St. John (xix. 30.) makes use of an expression to the same import, which we translate in the same way: rapedaKE TO TVεvja, he delivered up his spirit. We translate Mark xv. 37. and Luke xxiii. 46. he gave up the ghost, but not correctly, because the word in both these places is very different-cenνevos, he breathed his last, or expired; though in the latter place, Luke xxiii. 46. there is an equivalent expression-O Father, into thy hands, Tapatioṛpaι тоπνevрa pov, I commit my spirit; i. e. I place my soul in thy hand: proving that the act was his own; that no man could take his life away from him; that he did not die by the perfidy of his disciple, or the malice of the Jews, but by his own free act. Thus HE LAID DOWN his life for the sheep. Of Ananias and Sapphira, Acts v. 5, 10. and of Herod, Acts xii. 23. our translation says they gave up the ghost; but the word in both places is effe, which simply means to breathe out, to expire, or die: but in no case, either by the Septuagint in the Old, or any of the sacred writers in the New Testament, is apnes To пvεvμa, or maрedwxe To пvevμa, he dismissed his spirit, or delivered up his spirit, spoken of any person but Christ. Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, &c. breathed their last; Ananias, Sapphira, and Herod, expired; but none, Jesus Christ excepted, gave up the ghost, dismissed or delivered up his own spirit, and was consequently free among the dead. Of the patriarchs, &c. the Septuagint use the word exλcexwv, failing; or Karenavσer, he ceased, or rested.

51. The vail of the temple was rent] That is, the vail which separated the holy place where the priests ministered, from the holy of holies, into which the high-priest only entered, and that once a year, to make a general expiation for the sins of the people. This rending of the vail was emblematical, and pointed out, that the separation between Jews and Gentiles was now abolished, and that the privilege of the high-priest was now communicated to all mankind: ALL might henceforth have access to the throne of grace, through the one great atonement and mediator, the Lord Jesus. See this beau tifully illustrated in Heb. x. 19, 20, 21, 22.

52. And the graves were opened] By the earthquake; and many bodies of saints which slept, i. e. were dead, sleep being a common expression for death in the Scriptures.

53. And came out of the graves after his resurrection] Not BEFORE, as some have thought, for Christ was himself the FIRST FRUITS of them who slept, 1 Cor. xx. 20. The grater

« PrécédentContinuer »