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villages, some commanding site was consecrated to blood.
The Jews, though required by Deut. xvii. 13, to inflict capital punishment so publicly that “all the people shall hear and fear,” were yet forbidden by the spirit of Numb. xv. 35, and i Kings xxi. 13, to inflict it within the city, see Acts vii. 58, and the Romans also preferred to crucify their malefactors “without the gate." Accordingly Christ was led from the governor's palace, which was the celebrated fort of Antonia, and situated a few rods north of the temple, to Golgotha, “the skull,"called the skull partly on account of its shape, partly because it was strowed with the bones of malefactors crucified upon it. Although without the city, as is evident from Heb. xii. 12, it was not far without, as is evident from John xix. 20. Its distance from the fort of Antonia, or the governor's palace, where Christ stood trial, was in the shortest course about four hundred yards, and this may have been the distance which he walked to crucifixion, notwithstanding the current belief about the “via dolorosa.” Being near the walls, and being, moreover, an eminence, the spot was very publicly exposed. It was easy, therefore, for the priests to gaze at the suspended Messiah without defiling themselves by ascending the hill, see Matt. xxvii. 41, Mark xv. 32; for the Galilean women likewise to behold him “afar off," see Matt. xxvii. 55, Mark xv. 40, Luke xxiii. 49; and for “many of the Jews," to read the title of his accusation, even while standing on the walls of the city.
There were also two public roads, one from Bethlehem, and one from Joppa, which met by the side of the mountain in its immediate neighborhood, and so travellers from the west would necessarily “pass by," and might revile the executed sufferer ; see Matt. xxvii. 39; Mark xv. 29. From this publicity and also from the barrenness of Golgotha, it was a very eligible spot for executions; yet, above all others, disgraceful. To be crucified there, was as repugnant to a prisoner's feelings, as in England to be hung at Tyburn. But Christ “sought disgrace.”
Having now attended to the construction of the cross, we
* The traditions in Palestine with regard to minute particulars of sacred scenes, such as the cavity for the cross-tree, the stone of unction, &c. are well understood to be fabulous: but the general belief with regard to the location of Calvary, Mount Moriah, the Temple, and Fort Antonia, is founded on rational evidence. A reply to the objections of Dr. Clarke, Dr. Richardson, Rosenmueller and others, will be found in Calmet's Dictionary, Art. Golgotha. VOL. 1.
will turn to the mode, particularly the Roman mode, of applying it. Its application to our Saviour is the best authenticated case which we have on record, and yet in this were several irregularities. He was tried before the Sanhedrim in the night, but the Gemara expressly declares, “a trial must be conducted in presence of the sun.” He was crucified on the very day connected with that night, but the Mishna says, “pecuniary causes are finished on the day of their commencement; capital causes on the same day for absolution, but not until the day following for condemnation.” It was customary to defer the execution of a malefactor more than one day after his capture.
Suetonius in Tiber. cap. 25, says that a law was made, during the reign of Tiberius, by which the execution was deferred ten days after the sentence. The words of the Gemara in relation to Christ are,* " before his execution for forty days a crier had proclaimed publicly, Jesus is to be led forth to be slain with stones, because using deceits he has turned away not only single Israelites, but also whole cities from the worship of the true God. Nevertheless if any one know any thing for preserving his life, let him produce it. Finding however nothing in his favor, they executed him.” But the Evangelists teach that his capture, his first and second trial before Caiaphas, then before Pilate, his intervening examination by Herod, and his final punishment, were tumultuously crowded into a space less than fourteen hours, and he was affixed to the cross at noon, whereas the Jewish law required a delay until some hours after. Another irregularity is discovered in the scourging of Jesus. This cruelty, by rule, followed the condemnation, but the procurator, from a mistaken policy of working on the pity of the Jews, so that they might release the sufferer, caused the operation to precede the sentence.t
Among the preparatory measures regularly preceding the affixion, and designed to augment either the ignominy or the pain of it, was the subjecting of the prisoner to the tauntings and buffoonery of a mob.
See these words quoted in Hoffman's Processus Crim. Synedrii magni adversus Salvatorem.
+ That Jesus was scourged, previously to his condemnation, is evident from John xix. 1–16. Some have supposed from Matt. xxvii. 26 ; Mark xv. 15, that he was also scourged subsequently. There is no need, however, of this supposition, and no impropriety in it.
It was not at all uncommon for an ancient populace, when they had obtained possession of an unfortunate man, malefactor or not, to sport with his sensibilities. Even the Athenians did it. Paulus quotes an instance of the Persians, who annually, while celebrating a particular seast, called in one of their prisoners under sentence of death, seated him on a kingly throne, clothed him with the garments of a king, assembled around him in an attitude of mock-humility, and made the obeisance of subjects to him. Having done this, they arrayed him in his own garments, and, immediately after scourging, executed him. Similar amusement is recorded by Philo, to have been taken at Alexandria, when Herod Agrippa first visited that city with the title of king, and the citizens were filled with indignation, that a Jew should be honored with such a title. “There was," says the historian,* “one Carabas, a sort of distracted fellow, that in all seasons of the year went naked about the streets. He was somewhat between a madman and a fool, the common jest of boys and other idle people. This wretch the Alexandrians brought into the theatre, and placed on a lofty seat, that he might be conspicuous to all; then they put a thing made of paper on his head for a crown; the rest of his body they covered with a mat, instead of a robe; and for a sceptre one put into his hand a little piece of a reed, which he had just taken up from the earth. Having thus given him a mimic 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 toward him, some to pay their homage to him, others to ask justice of him, and some to know his will and pleasure concerning affairs of state. The multitude vociferated in loud and confused acclamations, maris, maris,' that being, as they say, the Syriac word for lord,' and thus intimated whom they designed to ridicule by all this mock show; for Herod Agrippa was a Syrian, and newly appointed king of a large country in Syria.”
A very similar spirit the Romans seem to have exercised toward Christ; regarding him, Paulus thinks, as a halfinsane pretender to an office which he would not know how to manage, as the promulgator of a new, wild, unintelligible religion. More than a hundred of the soldiers collected
See this quotation in Paulus, Com. Drit. Th. s. 732, 733,
around him in the palace court of Pilate,* and there displayed their ingenuity in heaping ridicule on him as the Jewish king, and through him on the hated nation. Their first step was to decorate his head. It was usual to crown a monarch, especially on festive occasions, with a garland of roses; the soldiers feigned that this pretender's trial was a festivé occasion, and that thorns would constitute an appropriate garland. “As the rose,” says Muller, “is regarded the queen among flowers, so the thorn, being the armor of the rose, is regarded the most rigid and acute anong briers.” The crown was not composed of mere prickles collected together, but of a stalk or shrub, braided so as to fit the head and armed all over with sharp points. Hasselquist, speaking of the naba, or nabka of the Arabians, and stating its claims to be regarded as the substance of this crown, says, “it was very fit for the purpose, for it has many small and sharp spines which are well adapted to give pain. The cr might easily be made of these sost, round and pliable branches." The next movement of the jesting soldiers was, to strip the prisoner of his tunic and outer garment, for the purpose of arraying him in the mock habiliments of royalty. To be deprived of the outer garment, or cloak as it is called in Matt. v. 40, was deemed by the orientals a peculiar disgrace. A punishment equal to that of the foulest insult or injury is prescribed in the Talmud for any one who shall inflict this disgrace. When it had been inflicted on Christ, he was arrayed in the common scarlet or crimson military robe, made of woollen cloth, fastened about the breast and neck by loops, and extending down to the knees. This was his regal robe; an ordinary club or cane was substituted for the golden sceptre of monarchs, and he then received the fashionable salutation of subjects, “ All hail to you," “ Long life to you,” “God bless you,” “ King of the Jews.” Finding that they do not succeed in vexing him, they became themselves vexed, and suddenly change their play and derision into abuse and violence. They load him with those very insults which were deemed by the orientals the most
* Matt. xxvii. 27, and Mark xv. 16 state, that “ the whole band " assem. bled. The band contained according to Wahl, on an average, from 130 to 200 soldiers. It is not necessary, however, to interpret the word " whole," in its fullest extent, for we cannot suppose, that the fort of Antonia would be entirely deserted by its guard, particularly by a Roman guard. The style of the Evangelists allows us to restrict the meaning of the word, and to con, sider it as denoting " a great proportion,” “ a majority.”
degrading. Compare Matt. xxvii. 26–30 and parallel passages, with the Jewish Talmud, as quoted by Gill on these passages.
Next to the mockery followed the castigation of the prisoner. This was an almost indispensable preparative for the agonies of his death. It was given at the outset, so that it should be felt through the whole succession of cruelties, as poison in the fountain tinctures the whole stream. The instrument employed was sometimes the rod, but more generally the scourge. Thus Livy, lib. xxxiii. 36, inforins us of slaves, “who, after they had been whipped or scourged, were suspended on crosses ;” and Philo (in Flac.) says, that “after the criminals were mangled and torn with scourges in the theatres, they were fastened to the wood.” At the siege of Jerusalem “great numbers of the Jews were crucified,” according to Jos. de Bel, Jud. lib. 5, c. 2, " after they had been abusively whipped and had suffered every wanton cruelty.” The rods used in flagellation were made of iron or wood, and when of wood, were often covered with spines. The scourges were sometimes called “scorpions,” by the Latins “horribilia.” They were composed of thongs, with sharp pieces of iron or other metal "inserted and involved” in the braid. Eustathius and Apuleius specify the smallest bones of sheep and other animals, as supplying the place of metal, and "filling the whips” of the flagellants, and from other authority we learn, that the bones were often wrought into the shape of dice.* The backs of candidates for the cross were exposed naked to the striking of the scourge, and were sometimes penetrated by a single blow. In most instances, the candidates fainted, in many, died under the barbarous operation.
The Jewish law respecting the scourge, limited the number of lashes to forty, and the executioners dreading to exceed this limit, and choosing to be on the safe side, usually inflicted but thirty-nine. See Deut. xxv. 2, 3; 2 Cor. xi. 24. The Romans however were not thus restricted, and they often multiplied the blows to a most savage extent. It was the scourge in distinction from the rod which the Roman governor applied to Jesus; and as he applied it for the purpose of drawing from the Jews commiseration toward their prisoner, so he had liberty to continue it until he should
* Tholuck Com. zum Evan. John, s. 326.