John Lightfoot's Commentary on the Gospels
1. When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:
[When the morning was come, &c.] Let us trace a little the proceedings of this council:--
I. They spend the night in judging on a capital cause, which is expressly forbid by their own canon: They handle capital causes in the day time, and finish them by day. Money matters indeed that were begun by day might be ended in the night, which is asserted in that place; but capital causes were only to be handled by day: but here, in sitting upon the life and death of our Saviour, there is need of night and darkness. This judgment is begun in the night, and carried on all the night through in a manner.
II. This night was the evening of a feast day, namely, of the first day of the paschal week, at what time they were also forbid to sit in judgment: "They do not judge on a feast day." How the lawyers are divided on this point, I will not trouble you now with recounting. This very canon is sufficient ground for scruple, which we leave to them to clear, who, through rancour and hatred towards Christ, seem to slight and trample under feet their own canons.
III. When it was morning. This was the time of saying their phylacteries, namely, from the first daylight to the third hour...Another business that you had in hand (effectually to destroy Jesus), either robbed you of your prayers, or robbed your prayers of charity.
IV. Now appears, the first feast day of the Passover, when they used to present themselves in the Temple and offer their gifts, Exodus 23:15. But when and how was this performed by them today? They take heed of going into the judgment (or Praetor's) hall, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Chagigah, or Passover: but you will scarce find what time they allowed today for that purpose; nor indeed was it lawful for them to eat any thing on that day; it being provided by a canon, "That when the council shall have adjudged any one to die, let them not taste any thing that day."
[Took counsel to put him to death.] Let that be considered; "Cases of money are heard in the daytime, and may be determined in the night. Capital causes are tried in the day, and finished in the day. Judgment in cases of money is passed the same day, whether it be for fining or acquitting. Judgment in capital causes is passed the same day, if it be for acquitting: but if it be for condemning, it is passed the day after." The reason of this difference is given by the Gemarists; whom see. The reason of the latter is thus expressed: Blessed is the judge who leaveneth his judgment: that is, as the Gloss, "who delays his judgment, and lets it rest all night, that he may sift out the truth."
The difference between hear and determine is greater than the reader may perhaps think at first sight. By the word hear they signify the whole process of the trial, the examining of the plaintiff and defendant, and of the witnesses, the taking the votes of the council, and the entering of them by the scribes: determine signifies only the passing of judgment, or giving a definitive sentence. You may better perceive the difference from the Glossary on Babyl. Sanhedrin: in the text this is decried, Let them not judge on the eve of the sabbath, nor on the eve of a feast day; which is also repeated in other places. The reason of the prohibition is this, namely, that the trials which were begun on the eve of the sabbath, or a feast day, should not be finished on the sabbath or feast day. "Which indeed (saith the Gloss), is observed in pecuniary trials, and care is taken that there be no writing" (for it is forbid to write so much as a letter on the sabbath): "but in capital causes it takes not place upon that account; for the votes of those that acquitted or condemned were written the day before."
You see in the history of the gospel, 1. The trial concerning our Saviour's life, was not despatched at one and the same sitting. 2. And that too on a feast-day.
5. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
[Hanged himself.] Strangulatus est, was strangled: namely, by the devil, who had now been in him three days together. The words of Peter, Acts 1:18, do not suffer me to understand this of hanging himself. Falling headlong he burst asunder in the midst. Interpreters take a great deal of pains to make these words agree with his hanging himself; but indeed all will not do. I know the word is commonly applied to a man's hanging himself, but not to exclude some other way of strangling. And I cannot but take the story (with good leave of antiquity) in this sense: After Judas had thrown down the money, the price of his treason, in the Temple, and was now returning again to his mates, the devil, who dwelt in him, caught him up on high, strangled him, and threw him down headlong; so that dashing upon the ground, he burst in the midst, and his guts issued out, and the devil went out in so horrid an exit. This certainly agrees very well with the words of Peter now mentioned, and also with those that follow, "This was known to all that dwelt at Jerusalem." It agrees also very well with the deserts of the wicked wretch, and with the title of Iscariot. The wickedness he had committed was above all example, and the punishment he suffered was beyond all precedent. There had been many instances of persons who had hanged themselves; this would not so much have stirred up the people of Jerusalem to take notice of it, as such a strangling and throwing down headlong, which we suppose horrible above measure, and singular beyond example. See what we have said at the tenth chapter concerning the word Iscariot.
9. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the 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;
[That which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet.] How much this place hath troubled interpreters, let the famous Beza, instead of many others, declare: "This knot hath hampered all the most ancient interpreters, in that the testimony here is taken out of Zechariah, and not from Jeremiah; so that it seem plainly to have been a failing of memory, as Augustine supposes in his third book, 'De consensu evagelistarum,' chapter the seventh; as also Eusebius in the twentieth book of demonstration. But if any one had rather impute this error to the transcribers, or (as I rather suppose) to the unskillfulness of some person, who put in the name of Jeremiah, when the evangelist had writ only, as he often doth in other places, by the prophet, yet we must confess that this error hath long since crept into the Holy Scriptures, as Jerome expressly affirms," &c.
But (with the leave of so great men) I do not only deny that so much as one letter is spurious, or crept in without the knowledge of the evangelist, but I do confidently assert that Matthew wrote Jeremy, as we read it, and that it was very readily understood and received by his countrymen. We will transcribe the following monument of antiquity out of the Talmudists, and then let the reader judge: "A tradition of the Rabbins. This is the order of the prophets. The Book of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the twelve." And a little after: "But since Isaiah was before both Jeremiah and Ezekiel, he ought to have been set before them: but since the Book of Kings ends with destruction, and all Jeremiah is about destruction, and since Ezekiel begins with destruction and ends with comfort; and all Isaiah is about comfort, they joined destruction with destruction, and comfort with comfort": that is, they placed these books together which treat of destruction, and those together which treat of comfort.
You have this tradition quoted by David Kimchi in his preface to Jeremiah. Whence it is very plain that Jeremiah of old had the first place among the prophets: and hereby he comes to be mentioned above all the rest, Matthew 16:14, because he stood first in the volume of the prophets, therefore he is first named. When, therefore, Matthew produceth a text of Zechariah under the name of Jeremy, he only cites the words of the volume of the prophets under his name who stood first in the volume of the prophets. Of which sort is that also of our Saviour, Luke 24:44; "All things must be fulfilled, which are written of me in the Law, and the Prophets, and the Psalms." "In the Psalms"; that is, in the Book of Hagiographa, in which the Psalms were placed first.
16. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.
[Barabbas.] Bar Abba, a very usual name in the Talmudists: "R. Samuel Barabba, and R. Nathan Barabba." Abba Bar Abba, In the Jerusalem dialect it is very often uttered Bar Ba: "Simeon Bar Ba." "R. Chaijah Bar Ba." This brings to my mind what Josephus relates to have been done in the besieging of the city, When huge stones were thrown against the city by the Roman slings, some persons sitting in the towers gave the citizens warning by a sign to take heed, crying out in the vulgar dialect, 'The Son cometh,' that is, Bar Ba. The Son of man indeed then came in the glory of his justice and his vengeance, as he had often foretold, to destroy that most wicked and profligate nation.
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.
[Have thou nothing to do with that just man.] "When king Sapores went about to afflict Rabbah, his mother sent to him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that Jew," &c.
26. Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
[When he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.] Such was the custom of the Romans towards those that were to be crucified: Whom after he had beaten with whips, he crucified. And a little after, To be whipped before the judgment seat, and to be nailed to the cross.
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!
[A reed in his right hand.] See those fictions in Tanchum [fol. 59. 4.], concerning an angel that appeared in the shape of Solomon: In whose hand there was a reed: and whom they struck with a reed.
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.
[Led him away to crucify him.] These things are delivered in Sanhedrim, of one that is guilty of stoning: "If there be no defence found for him, they lead him out to be stoned, and a crier went before, saying aloud thus, 'N. the son of N. comes out to be stoned, because he hath done so and so. The witnesses against him are N. and N.: whosoever can bring any thing in his defence, let him come forth and produce it.'" On which thus the Gemara of Babylon: "The tradition is, that on the evening of the Passover Jesus was hanged, and that a crier went before him for forty days making this proclamation, 'This man comes forth to be stoned, because he dealt in sorceries, and persuaded and seduced Israel; whosoever knows of any defence for him, let him come forth and produce it': but no defence could be found, therefore they hanged him on the evening of the Passover. Ulla saith, His case seemed not to admit of any defence, since he was a seducer, and of such God hath said, 'Thou shalt not spare him, neither shalt thou conceal him,'" Deuteronomy 13:8.
They led him that was to be stoned out of the city, Acts 7:58: so also him that was to be crucified: "The place of stoning was without the three camps; for at Jerusalem there were three camps," (namely, God's, the Levites', and the people's, as it was in the encamping in the wilderness:) "and in every city also where there was a council," (namely, of twenty-three,) "the place of stoning was without the city. For all cities that have walls bear a resemblance to the camp of Israel."
Because Jesus was judged at a heathen tribunal, therefore a death is inflicted on him not usual with the Jewish council, namely, crucifixion. In several things the circumstances and actions belonging to his death differed from the custom of the Jews in putting persons to death.
1. They never judge two on the same day. But here, besides Christ, are two thieves judged.
2. They never carried one that was to be hanged to hanging till near sunset: They stay till near sunset, and then they pass sentence, and execute him. And the reason is given by the Glosser; "They do not perfect his judgment, nor hang him in the morning, lest they should neglect his burial, and happen to forget themselves," and the malefactor should hang till after sunset; "but near sunsetting, so that they may bury him out of hand." But Christ was sentenced to death before noon; and at noon was nailed to the cross. For,
3. They first put the condemned person to death, and then hanged him upon a tree: but the custom of the (Roman) empire is first to hang them, and then to put them to death.
4. They did not openly lament for those that were led forth to be put to death; but for Jesus they did, Luke 23:27,28. The reason of this difference is not to be sought from the kind of the death, but from the persons: They did not bewail for a person led out to execution, but they lamented inwardly in their hearts. You will wonder at the reason which the Gloss thus gives you: "They did not openly bewail him, upon this account, that his being vilified" [when nobody openly lamented him] "might help to atone for him; but they sorrowed for him in their hearts; for this did not tend to his honour, nor lessen the atonement." Those were better instructed, who lamented for Christ both as to the thing and person.
33. And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull,
[Golgotha.] Beza pretends that this is written amiss for Golgoltha, when yet it is found thus written in all copies. But the good man censures amiss; since such a leaving out of letters in many Syriac words is very usual: you have this word thus written without the second [l], by the Samaritan interpreter, in the first chapter of Numbers.
34. They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.
[They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall.] "To those that were to be executed they gave a grain of myrrh infused in wine to drink, that their understanding might be disturbed," (that is, that they might lose their senses); "as it is said, 'Give strong drink to them that are ready to die, and wine to those that are of a sorrowful heart,' &c. And the tradition is, That some women of quality in Jerusalem allowed this freely of their own cost," &c.
But it makes a scruple that in Matthew it is vinegar with gall; in Mark wine mingled with myrrh. If wine, why is it called vinegar? If wine mingled with myrrh, why gall? Ans. The words of Mark seem to relate to the custom of the nation; those of Matthew, to the thing as it was really acted. I understand Mark thus, They gave him, according to the custom of the nation, that cup which used to be given to those that were led to execution; but (as Matthew has it) not the usual mixture; namely, wine and frankincense, or myrrh; but for the greater mockery, and out of more bitter rancour, vinegar and gall. So that we may suppose this cup not to have been prepared by those honourable women, compassionating those that were to die, but on purpose by the scribes, and the other persecutors of Christ, studying to heap upon him all kind of ignominy and vexation. In this cup they afterward dipped a sponge, as may be supposed: see the 48th verse.
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.
[Parted my garments.] Of stoning, we have this account; "When he is now four cubits from the place of stoning, they strip him of his clothes; and if it be a man, they hang a cloth before him; if a woman, both before and behind. These are the words of R. Juda: but the wise say, A man is stoned naked, a woman not naked." So that it is plain enough he was crucified naked.
38. Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.
[Two thieves.] See, in Josephus, who they were that, at that time, were called thieves, and how much trouble and pains the governors of Judea were at to restrain and root out this cursed sort of men: "One Simon, straggling about with the robbers with whom he associated, burnt the palaces in Jericho." "[Felix] having caught the chief robber Eleazar, who for twenty years had wasted the country with fire and sword, sent him to Rome, and many others with him." "Another kind of robbers sprang up in Jerusalem, called sicarii, who slew men in the day time, and in the midst of the city," &c.
There is a rule set down, and the art shewed, of discovering and apprehending robbers: "Go to the victualling-houses at the fourth hour" (the Gloss, "That was the hour of eating, and they went all to the victualling-houses to eat"); "and if you see there a man drinking wine, and holding the cup in his hand, and sleeping, &c., he is a thief; lay hold on him," &c.
Among the monsters of the Jewish routs, preceding the destruction of the city, the multitude of robbers, and the horrible slaughters committed by them, deservedly claim the first consideration; which, next to the just vengeance of God against that most wicked nation, you may justly ascribe to divers originals.
1. It is no wonder, if that nation abounded beyond measure with a vagabond, dissolute, and lewd sort of young men; since, by means of polygamy, and the divorces of their wives at pleasure, and the nation's unspeakable addictedness to lasciviousness and whoredoms, there could not but continually spring up bastards, and an offspring born only to beggary or rapine, as wanting both sustenance and ingenuous education.
2. The foolish and sinful indulgence of the council could not but nurse up all kind of broods of wicked men, while they scarce ever put any one to death, though never so wicked, as being an Israelite; who must not by any means be touched.
3. The opposition of the Zealots to the Roman yoke made them study only to mischief the Romans, and do all the mischief they could to those Jews that submitted to them.
4. The governors of Judea did often, out of policy, indulge a licentiousness to such kind of rapines, that they might humble that people they so much hated, and which was continually subject to insurrections, by beating them, as it were, with their own clubs; and sometimes getting a share in the booty. Thus Josephus concerning Florus: "He spoiled all the people, and he did in effect proclaim, that all might go out in the country to rob, that he might receive a share in the spoils." And thus a sword, that first came out of their own bowels, was sheathed in them.
39. And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,
[Wagging their heads.] To shake the head, with the Rabbins, signifies irreverence and lightness.
46. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
[Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani.] I. All the rout indeed and force of hell was let loose at that time against Christ, without either bridle or chain: he calls it himself, the power of darkness, Luke 22:53. God who had foretold of old, that the serpent should bruise the heel of the promised seed, and now that time is come, had slackened the devil's chain, which, in regard of men, the Divine Providence used to hold in his hand; so that all the power and all the rancour of hell might, freely and without restraint, assault Christ; and that all that malice that was in the devil against the whole elect of God, summed up and gathered together into one head, might at one stroke and onset be brandished against Christ without measure.
II. Our most blessed Saviour, therefore, feeling such torments as either hell itself, or the instruments of hell, men conspiring together in villainy and cruelty, could pour out upon him, cries out, under the sharpness of the present providence, "My God! my God! why hast thou delivered me up and left me to such assaults, such bitternesses, and such merciless hands?" The Talmudists bring in Esther using such an ejaculation, which is also cited in the Gloss on Joma: "Esther stood in the inner court of the palace. R. Levi saith, When she was now just come up to the idol-temple, the divine glory departed from her: therefore she said, Eli, Eli, lamma azabhtani."
47,49. Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.
[This man calleth for Elias. Let us see whether Elias will come to save him.] That Christ here used the Syriac dialect, is plain from the word sabachthani: but the word Eli, Eli, is not so properly Syriac: and hence arose the error and misconstruction of the standers by. In Syriac he should have said, Mari, Mari: but Eli was strange to a Syrian ear: this deceived the standers-by, who, having heard more than enough of the apparitions of Elias from the Jewish fables, and being deceived by the double meaning of the word, supposed that Christ was tainted with the same folly and mistake, and called out to Elias for help; which it was no strange thing for that deluded people to expect.
51. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
[The veil of the Temple was rent in twain, &c.] Let us hear what the Fathers of the Traditions say concerning this catapetasm or veil: "The wall of the pronaon was five cubits, the pronaon itself eleven. The wall of the Temple was six, the Temple forty. The taraxis one cubit, and the entrance, twenty." What taraxis means, Maimonides will tell you; "In the first Temple there was a wall one cubit thick, separating the Holy from the Holy of Holies; but when they built the second Temple, it was doubted whether the thickness of that wall should be accounted to belong to the measure of the Holy, or to the measure of the Holy of Holies. Wherefore they made the Holy of Holies twenty cubits complete, and the Holy forty cubits complete; and they left a void cubit between the Holy and the Holy of Holies, but they did not build any wall there in the second Temple: only they made two hangings, one contiguous to the Holy of Holies, and the other to the Holy; between which there was a void cubit, according to the thickness of the wall that was in the first Temple; in which there was but one catapetasm [or veil] only."
"The high priest [on the day of atonement] goes forward in the Temple, till he comes to the two hangings that divide the Holy from the Holy of Holies, between which there was a cubit. R. Josi saith, There was but one hanging there; as it is said, 'And the hanging shall separate [to, or] between the Holy and the Holy of Holies.'" On which words thus the Gemara of Babylon: "R. Josi saith rightly to the Rabbins, and the Rabbins to thee: for he speaks of the tabernacle, and they, of the second Temple; in which since there was not a partition-wall, as there was in the first Temple, there was some doubt made of its holiness, namely, whether it should belong to the outward part of the Temple or to the inward; whereupon they made two hangings."
While, therefore, their minds were troubled about this affair, not knowing whether they should hang the veil at the Temple, or at the inmost recess of it, and whether the void space between of a cubit thick should belong to this or that; they called the place itself by the Greek word taraxis, that is, trouble, as Aruch plainly affirms, and they hung up two veils, that they might be sure to offend neither against this part nor that.
You will wonder, therefore, that Matthew doth not say veils, in the plural; or perhaps you will think that only one of these two veils was rent, not both. But it was enough for the evangelists Matthew and Mark, who speak of this miracle, to have shewed that that fence between, which hindered seeing into the Holy of Holies, and going into it, was cleft and broken. This is it they mean, not being solicitous in explaining particulars, but contented to have declared the thing itself. Perhaps the priest, who offered the incense that evening, was in the Temple at the very moment when this miracle happened: and when he went out amazed to the people, and should tell them, The veil of the Temple is rent it would easily be understood of a passage broken into the Holy of Holies by some astonishing and miraculous rending of the hangings. Compare Hebrews 10:19,20.
When the high priest went into the inmost recess of the Temple on the day of atonement, he went in by the south side of the outward hanging, and the north side of the inner. But now both are rent in the very middle, and that from the top to the bottom.
52. And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
[And many bodies of saints which slept arose.] You can hardly impute the rending of the hangings to the earthquake, but it must be ascribed rather to another peculiar miracle; since it is more proper for an earthquake to break hard things than soft, and to rend rocks rather than curtains. Rocks were rent by it in those places where sepulchres had been built, so that now the gates of the resurrection were thrown open, the bonds of the grave were unloosed, and the bodies of dead men were made ready, as it were, for their rising again when Christ, the firstfruits, was raised. The Jews had a fancy that the kingdom of the Messias would begin with the resurrection of the dead, as we have noted before; vainly indeed, as to their sense of it; but not without some truth, as to the thing itself: for from the resurrection of Christ the glorious epoch of the kingdom of God took its beginning, as we said before (which he himself also signifieth in those words Matthew 26:29); and when he arose, not a few others arose with him. What they thought of the resurrection that was to be in the days of Messias, besides those things which we have already mentioned, you may see and smile at in this one example: "R. Jeremiah commanded, 'When you bury me, put shoes on my feet, and give me a staff in my hand, and lay me on one side; that when the Messias comes I may be ready.'"
54. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
[Truly this was the Son of God.] That is, "This was indeed the Messias." Howsoever the Jews deny the Son of God in that sense in which we own it, that is, as the second Person in the Holy Trinity, yet they acknowledge the Messias for the Son of God (not indeed by nature, but by adoption and deputation; see Matthew 26:63), from those places, 1 Chronicles 17:13; Psalm 2:12, 89:26,27, and such-like. The centurion had learned this from the people by conversing among them, and, seeing the miracles which accompanied the death of Christ, acknowledged him to be the Messias of whom he had heard so many and great things spoken by the Jews. In Luke we have these words spoken by him, "Certainly this was a righteous man": which, I suppose, were not the same with these words before us; but that both they and these were spoken by him, "Certainly this was a righteous man: truly this was the Messias, the Son of God." Such are the words of Nathanael, John 1:49, "Thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel." Peter, when he declared that "Christ was the Son of the living God," Matthew 16:16, spoke this in a more sublime sense than the Jews either owned or knew; as we have said at that place.
56. Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.
[Mary Magdalene.] That Magdalene was the same with Mary the sister of Lazarus Baronius proves at large; whom see. It is confirmed enough from this very place; for if Mary Magdalene was not the same with Mary the sister of Lazarus, then either Mary the sister of Lazarus was not present at the crucifixion of Christ, and at his burial, or else she is passed over in silence by the evangelists; both which are improbable. Whence she was called Magdalene, doth not so plainly appear; whether from Magdala, a town on the lake of Gennesaret, or from the word which signifies a plaiting or curling of the hair, a thing usual with harlots. Let us see what is spoken by the Talmudists concerning Mary Magdala, who, they say, was mother of Ben Satda:
"They stoned the son of Satda in Lydda, and they hanged him up on the evening of the Passover. Now this son of Satda was son of Pandira. Indeed, Rabh Chasda said, 'The husband [of his mother] was Satda; her husband was Pandira; her husband was Papus the son of Juda: but yet I say his mother was Satda, namely, Mary, the plaiter of women's hair; as they say in Pombeditha, she departed from her husband.'" These words are also repeated in Schabath: "Rabh Bibai, at a time when the angel of death was with him, said to his officer, Go, bring me Mary the plaiter of women's hair. He went and brought to him Mary, the plaiter of young men's hair," &c. The Gloss; "The angel of death reckoned up to him what he had done before: for this story of Mary, the plaiter of women's hair, was under the second Temple, for she was the mother of N., as it is said in Schabath." See the Gloss there at the place before quoted.
"There are some who find a fly in their cup, and take it out and will not drink; such was Papus Ben Judas, who locked the door upon his wife, and went out." Where the Glosser says thus; "Papus Ben Juda was the husband of Mary, the plaiter of women's hair; and when he went out of his house into the street, he locked his door upon his wife, that she might not speak with anybody; which, indeed, he ought not to have done: and hence sprang a difference between them, and she broke out into adulteries."
I pronounce 'Ben Satda,' not that I am ignorant that it is called 'Ben Stada' by very learned men. The reason of our thus pronouncing it we fetch from hence, that we find he was called Ben Sutdah by the Jerusalem Talmudists; to which the word Satda more agrees than Stada. By the like agreement of sounds they call the same town both Magdala, and Mugdala, as we have observed elsewhere.
As they contumeliously reflect upon the Lord Jesus under the name of Ben Satda, so there is a shrewd suspicion that, under the name of Mary Magdala, they also cast reproach upon Mary Magdalene. The title which they gave their Mary is so like this of ours, that you may with good reason doubt whether she was called Magdalene from the town Magdala, or from that word of the Talmudists, a plaiter of hair. We leave it to the learned to decide.
[Joses.] Josi; a very usual name in the Talmudists: "Five were called Be R. Josi, Ismael, Lazar, Menahem, Chelpatha, Abdimus." Also, "R. Jose Ben R. Chaninah," &c. One may well inquire why this Mary is called the mother of 'James and Joses,' and not also of 'Judas and Simon,' as Mark 6:3.
58. He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.
[Begged the body of Jesus.] It was not lawful to suffer a man to hang all night upon a tree, Deuteronomy 21:23: nay, nor to lie all night unburied: "Whosoever suffers a dead body to lie all night unburied violates a negative precept. But they that were put to death by the council were not to be buried in the sepulchres of their fathers; but two burying-places were appointed by the council, one for those that were slain by the sword and strangled, the other for those that were stoned [who also were hanged] and burnt." There, according to the custom, Jesus should have been buried, had not Joseph, with a pious boldness, begged of Pilate that he might be more honourably interred: which the fathers of the council, out of spite to him, would hardly have permitted, if they had been asked; and yet they did not use to deny the honour of a funeral to those whom they had put to death, if the meanness of the common burial would have been a disgrace to their family. As to the dead person himself, they thought it would be better for him to be treated dishonourably after death, and to be neither lamented nor buried; for this vilifying of him they fancied amounted to some atonement for him; as we have seen before. And yet, to avoid the disgrace of his family, they used, at the request of it, to allow the honour of a funeral.
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