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A.M. 4037. A.D. 33.
In this chapter we have,
(1,) The remainder of Christ’s trial before Pilate, John 19:1-15 .
(2,) His condemnation and crucifixion between two thieves, John 19:16-18 .
(3,) His title in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, fixed by Pilate on the cross, John 19:19-22 .
(4,) The parting of his garments, John 19:23 , John 19:24 .
(5,) His recommendation of his aged mother to the care of John, John 19:25-27 .
(6,) Their offering him vinegar to drink, John 19:28 , John 19:29 .
(7,) His dying triumph over death, John 19:30 .
(8,) The piercing of his side with a spear, John 19:31-37 .
(9,) The burial of his body by Joseph and Nicodemus, John 19:38-42 .
John 19:1-3. Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him The Romans usually scourged the criminals whom they condemned to be crucified, which was the reason why Pilate ordered our Lord to be scourged before he delivered him up to suffer that punishment. See note on Matthew 27:26. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns Intending thereby to add cruelty to scorn. See on Matthew 27:29. They put on him a purple robe Or, a purple mantle, as Dr. Campbell renders ιματιο πορφυρουν . It is called, Matthew 27:28, a scarlet cloak, χλαμυδα κοκκινην . “The names denoting the colour of the garment, ought to be understood with all the latitude common in familiar conversation. This cloak, in strictness, may have been neither purple nor scarlet, and yet have had so much of each, as would naturally lead one to give it one of these names, and another the other.” And they smote him with their hands Matthew says, They took a reed which they had put into his right hand, and smote him on the head. And Mark also says, They smote him on the head with a reed. It seems some smote him with a reed on his head, laying their blows upon the thorns, and driving the prickles thereof into his temples. And others smote him with their hands on his cheeks, or some other part of his body. See note on Matthew 27:29-30; Mark 15:19.
John 19:4-7 . Pilate went forth again Although he had given sentence that it should be as the Jews desired, and had delivered Jesus to the soldiers, to be scourged and crucified, he thought, if he were shown to the people in the condition in which he now was, covered with blood and wounds through the scourges, spit upon, crowned with thorns, &c., they might yet relent and let him go. And that the impression might be stronger, he went out himself and spoke to them, saying, Behold, I bring him forth, &c. Though I have sentenced him to die, and have scourged him as one that is to be crucified, I bring him forth to you this once, that I may testify to you again how fully I am persuaded of his innocence, and that you may have an opportunity to save his life. Upon this Jesus appeared on the pavement, having his face, hair, and shoulders all clotted with blood, and the purple robe bedaubed with spittle: when Pilate said, Behold the man! But all was to no purpose. The priests, whose rage and malice had extinguished, not only the sentiments of justice and feelings of pity natural to the human heart, but that love which countrymen usually bear to one another, no sooner saw Jesus than, fearing, perhaps, lest the fickle populace might relent, they cried out with all their might, Crucify him! Crucify him! Pilate saith, Take ye him and crucify him He seems to have uttered these words in anger, vexed at finding the chief priests and rulers thus obstinately bent on the destruction of a person from whom they had nothing to fear that was dangerous either to the church or state. But they refused this offer also, perhaps “thinking it dishonourable to receive permission to punish one who had been more than once publicly declared innocent by his judge. Besides, they considered with themselves that the governor afterward might have called it sedition, as the permission had been extorted from him. Wherefore they told him, that though none of the things alleged against the prisoner were true, he had committed such a crime in the presence of the council itself, as by their law ( Lev 24:16 ) deserved the most ignominious death. He had spoken blasphemy, calling himself the Son of God, a title which no mortal could assume without the highest degree of guilt. And therefore, said they, since by our law blasphemy merits death, and though Cesar is our ruler, he governs us by our own laws, you ought by all means to crucify this blasphemer.” It is evident they must have understood our Lord as using the title, Son of God, in the highest sense, otherwise they could not have accounted his applying it to himself blasphemy.
John 19:8-12 . When Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid He before feared to shed innocent blood, and now he became more afraid than ever to take his life; suspecting, probably, that the account which he heard of him might be true, and that he might be a divine person. For doubtless he had heard of some of the many miracles which Jesus had performed, and now, it seems, began to think that perhaps what had been currently reported was true, and that he really had performed the wonderful works ascribed to him. For it is very well known, that the religion which the governor professed directed him to acknowledge the existence of demi-gods and heroes, or men descended from the gods. Nay, the heathen believed that their gods themselves sometimes appeared on earth, in the form of men, Acts 14:11-12. Pilate, therefore, went again into the judgment-hall Being resolved to act cautiously; and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? That is, From whom art thou descended? or what is this divine original which thou art charged with claiming? But Jesus Knowing that his innocence was already apparent, even to the conviction of Pilate’s conscience; gave him no answer To that question. Indeed, Pilate’s ordering, or allowing such cruelties to be inflicted on a person he knew to be innocent, rendered him unworthy of an answer. Then saith Pilate Marvelling at his silence, and being displeased with it; Speakest thou not unto me? Dost thou make me no reply, and not so much as speak to me in such a circumstance as this, in which thy life is so evidently concerned? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee To adjudge thee to that terrible death; and have power to release thee If I please, notwithstanding all the clamourous demands of thine enemies? Jesus answered With great calmness and mildness; Thou couldest have no power at all against me For I have done nothing to expose myself to the power of any magistrate; except it were given thee In an extraordinary way; from above From the God of heaven, whose providence I acknowledge in all these events. Some have thought that the word ανωθεν , from above, refers to the situation of the temple, which stood much higher than the pretorium: and that it is as if Jesus had said, I know that whatever thou dost against me, is only in consequence of the sentence passed in yonder court held above, so that their guilt is greater than thine. But though this would very well account for the connection of the latter part of this verse, “I cannot think,” says Dr. Doddridge, “it altogether just; for had Providence permitted Pilate to seize Christ as one dangerous to Cesar’s dignity, he would have had as much power of putting him to death as he now had. It is therefore much more reasonable to suppose it refers to the permission of God’s providence.” Therefore he that delivered me unto thee Namely, the Jewish high-priest, with his council, having far greater opportunities of being acquainted with God and his law than thou hast, and knowing, also, that I have done nothing amiss; hath the greater sin Is more blameable than thou art. And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him That is, he was still further satisfied of the injustice of the prosecution, and of the innocence of Jesus, so that he endeavoured even more than before to have him released. For the reader will observe, that this was not the first attempt of Pilate to release Jesus. This evangelist himself tells us, (John 18:39,) that he had once before offered to release him. And the answer of the priests on this occasion corresponds thereto. They cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Cesar’s friend That is, thou art not faithful to the emperor; by which they insinuated that they would accuse him to his master, if he did not do his duty. This argument was weighty, and shook Pilate’s resolution to the foundation. He was frightened at the very thought of being accused to Tiberius, who in matters of government, as Tacitus and Suetonius testify, was apt to suspect the worst, and always punished the least crimes relative thereto with death. Whosoever maketh himself a king Or rather, maketh, or calleth himself king, speaketh against Cesar. So Dr. Campbell reads the clause, observing, “the sentence is true, when βασιλεα [the word here used] is rendered king, but not when rendered a king. Judea, at that time, together with Syria, to which it was annexed, made a province of the empire. Nothing is more certain than that whoever in Judea called himself king, in the sense wherein the word was commonly understood, opposed Cesar. But it did not therefore hold, that whosoever called himself a king, opposed Cesar. For if the kingdom to which he laid claim was without the bounds of the Roman empire, the title in nowise interfered with the rights of the emperor.”
John 19:13-15. When Pilate heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth Brought him out of the palace a second time; and sat down in the judgment-seat On the tribunal which was then erected without the palace; in a place that was called, in Greek, λιθοστρωτον , the Pavement So called on account of a beautiful piece of Mosaic work, with which the floor was adorned; but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha Or, the high place, because it stood on an eminence; so that the judge, being seated there, might be heard and seen by a considerable number of people. And it was the preparation of the passover Or, of the paschal sabbath. The word παρασκευη , [here rendered preparation, ] in the New Testament, denotes always, in my opinion, says Dr. Campbell, “the day before the sabbath, and not the day which preceded any other festival, unless that festival fell on the sabbath. My reasons for this opinion are, 1st, This explanation coincides exactly with the definition which Mark gives of that word, (Mark 15:42,) It was the preparation, that is, the eve of the sabbath. 2d, The word occurs six times in the New Testament, and, in all these places, confessedly means the sixth day of the week, answering to our Friday, and consequently the day before the Jewish sabbath, or Saturday. 3d, The preparation of all things necessary the day before the sabbath was expressly commanded in the law, Exodus 16:5; Exodus 16:23. There was nothing analogous to this enjoined in preparation for the other feasts.” And about the sixth hour Or rather, the third hour: for as there is no reason to think that John computed time in a manner different from that used by the other evangelists; “as six o’clock, (according to the Roman computation,) or soon after sunrise, must have been much too early for all the events to have occurred that morning which preceded our Lord’s crucifixion; as Mark has expressly mentioned the third hour, or nine o’clock, for the time of that event, to which the accounts of the other evangelists accord; and as the sixth hour, or noon, (according to the Jewish computation,) would be too late to agree with the parallel scriptures; so it seems the most easy way of solving the difficulty, to suppose that [ ζ ] sixth, instead of [ γ ] third, was inserted by some of the early transcribers of this gospel. The mistake would be very easily fallen into; and in a few places it is necessary to allow that something of this kind has happened. Indeed some manuscripts read the third hour.” Scott. See this point more fully explained and defended in the note on Mark 15:25. And he saith unto the Jews Who were present in vast numbers; Behold your king Pointing to Jesus as he now appeared in the mock pomp of royalty, wearing the purple robe and crown of thorns, and with his hands manacled. It seems he spoke thus, either in ridicule of the national expectation, or, which is more probable, to show the Jews how vain the fears were which they pretended to entertain about the emperor’s authority in Judea, the person who was the occasion of them, showing, in the whole of his deportment, a temper of mind no ways consonant to the ambition which they branded him with. But they cried out With indignation and disdain; Away with him, &c. See on Luke 23:18-25. Pilate saith, shall I crucify your king? According to most commentators, Pilate said this, mocking him. But it is more agreeable to his general behaviour in this affair to suppose, that he spoke it with a view to move the populace, who he knew had once held Jesus in great esteem as the Messiah. For John tells us (John 19:12,) that he now sought to release him. The chief priests answered, We have no king but Cesar “In this reply they publicly renounced their hope of a Messiah, which the whole economy of their religion had been calculated to cherish: and likewise they acknowledged publicly their subjection to the Romans; and by so doing condemned themselves when they afterward rebelled.”
John 19:16-18. Then delivered he him Having now laid aside all thoughts of saving Jesus, Pilate gave him up to the will of his enemies, and commanded the soldiers to prepare for his execution. And they took Jesus, and led him away After they had insulted and abused him, as is related Matthew 27:27-31; Mark 15:16-20, where see the notes. And he, bearing his cross Not the whole cross, (for that was too large and heavy,) but the transverse beam of it, to which his hands were afterward fastened. This part they used to make the person carry who was to be executed. Went forth Out of the city, to a place which it seems lay on the western side of Jerusalem, but a little without the boundaries of it; unto a place called a place of the scull The place of execution had this name given it from the criminals’ bones which lay scattered there. See note on Matthew 27:33. Golgotha is a Syriac word, and signifies a scull, or head. Here some of Christ’s friends offered him a stupifying potion, with a view, probably, to render him insensible of the ignominy and pain of his punishment. See note on Matthew 27:33-34. And two other with him, on either side one See note on Luke 23:32-33.
John 19:19-22. And Pilate wrote a title, &c. The governor, as usual, put a title or writing on the cross, signifying the crime for which Jesus was condemned. This writing probably was in black characters on a whitened board. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS Here, as Bengelius has observed, John gives us the very words ordered to be written by Pilate, (and without doubt the same in the three languages,) although the other evangelists do not express them at large. This title then read many of the Jews Who came up to the feast of the passover; for the place was nigh to the city Lying but just without the gates; and, that the inscription might be generally understood, it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin So that it might easily be read by Jews, Romans, and most other foreigners. It was written in Latin, for the majesty of the Roman empire; in Greek, for the information of the Hellenists, who spoke that language, and came in great numbers to the feast; and, in Hebrew, because it was the language of the nation. The inscription set up in the temple, to prohibit strangers from coming within those sacred limits, was written in all these three languages. It is remarkable, that, by the influence of Providence, the cross of Christ bore an inscription in the languages of those nations which were soon to be subdued to the faith of it; for not only the Jewish religion was to give place to it, but likewise the Grecian learning, and the Roman strength. Then said the chief priests, Write not, The King of the Jews, &c. “When the priests read this title, they were exceedingly displeased; because, as it represented the crime for which Jesus was condemned, it intimated that he had been acknowledged for the Messiah. Besides, being placed over the head of one who was dying by the most infamous punishment, it implied that all who attempted to deliver the Jews should come to the same end. Wherefore, the faith and hope of the nation being thus publicly ridiculed, the priests thought themselves highly affronted, and came to Pilate in great concern, begging that the writing might be altered. But he, having intended the affront, because they had constrained him to crucify Jesus, contrary both to his judgment and inclination, would not hear them, but rejected their application with some warmth, and with that inflexibility which historians represent as part of his character.” Macknight.
John 19:23-24. Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus That is, erected the cross with him upon it; they took his garments, and made four parts, &c. Because four soldiers only are mentioned in the division of the clothes, it does not follow that only four were present at the crucifixion. Since, if soldiers were necessary at all, a great number must have been present to keep off the crowds which usually press to see such spectacles as near as they can. From Matthew 27:54, it appears that the soldiers who assisted at the crucifixion were commanded by a centurion. It is therefore more than probable that the whole band, which Matthew tells us expressly was gathered together to scourge Jesus, (John 19:27,) was present at his execution, especially as two others suffered at the same time. The four soldiers who parted his garments, and cast lots for his vesture, were the four who nailed him to the cross, (each of them fixing a limb,) and who, it seems, for this service had a right to the crucified person’s clothes. That the scripture might be fulfilled, &c. That is, all this was done agreeably to an ancient prophecy, wherein these circumstances of the Messiah’s sufferings were mentioned, to show that he was to be crucified naked; and consequently, that he was to suffer a most ignominious, as well as a most painful death. The reader will observe that the words here referred to, they parted my garments among them, &c., are quoted from the 22d Psalm, where they seem to be spoken of David. But the fact is, that no circumstance of David’s life bore any resemblance to this prediction, or to several other passages in this Psalm. So that, in this portion of Scripture, as also in some others, the prophet seems to have been thrown into a preternatural ecstasy, wherein, personating the Messiah, he spoke barely what the Spirit dictated, without any regard to himself. These things therefore the soldiers did Though with the utmost freedom as to themselves, yet by the secret disposal of Providence, which led them to act in a remarkable correspondence to the divine oracle.
John 19:25-27. Now While Jesus, hanging on the cross, suffered all manner of insults and sorrows; there stood by the cross his mother “Neither her own danger, nor the sadness of the spectacle, nor the reproaches and insults of the people, could restrain her from performing the last office of duty and tenderness to her divine son on the cross. Grotius justly observes, that it was a noble instance of fortitude and zeal. Now a sword (according to Simeon’s prophecy, Luk 2:35 ) struck through her tender heart, and pierced her very soul; and perhaps the extremity of her sorrows might so overwhelm her spirits, as to render her incapable of attending the sepulchre, which we do not find that she did. Nor do we, indeed, meet with any thing after this in the sacred story concerning her, or in early antiquity: except that she continued among the disciples after our Lord’s ascension, which Luke observes, Acts 1:14.”
And his mother’s sister, &c. See note on Matthew 27:55-56. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved Jesus was now in the depth of his own sufferings, yet when he saw his mother and her companions, their grief greatly affected him, particularly the distress of his mother. Therefore, though he was almost at the point of death, he spake a few words, in which he expressed his most affectionate regard to her. He saith, Woman, behold thy son Meaning John. His words were intended to assure her that that disciple whom he loved would, for the sake of that love, supply the place of a son to her after he was gone; and therefore he desired her to consider him as such, and expect from him all the duty of a son. And Besides expressing great filial affection toward his mother, he gave the beloved disciple also a token of his high esteem. He saith to him, Behold thy mother To whom thou art now to perform the part of a son in my place; thus singling him out as that disciple on whom he could most depend to fulfil that duty, and thereby conferring upon him a peculiar honour. And from that hour That is, from the time of our Lord’s death; that disciple took her unto his own home And maintained her; Joseph, her husband, it seems, being dead. Thus, in the midst of the heaviest sufferings that ever human nature sustained, Jesus demonstrated a divine strength of benevolence. Even when his own distress was at the highest pitch, his friends had such a share of his concern, that their happiness for a while interrupted the feelings of his pains, and engrossed his thoughts.
John 19:28-30. After this After what is related above; and after other events recorded by the other evangelists, such as the three hours supernatural darkness, and the doleful exclamation of Jesus, Eloi, Eloi, &c., of which see notes on Matthew 27:46-47; Mark 15:34; Jesus, knowing that all things All the grievous and terrible sufferings he had to endure; were now upon the point of being accomplished And being parched with a violent drought: that the scripture might be fulfilled Where the Messiah is described as crying out, My tongue cleaveth to my jaws, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink, (Psalms 22:15; Psalms 69:21,) to show that he endured all that had been foretold concerning him; saith, I thirst. Now there was set As usual on such occasions; a vessel full of vinegar Near the cross: as vinegar and water was the common drink of the Roman soldiers, perhaps this vinegar was set here for their use. And they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop That is, a stalk of hyssop; and put it to his mouth In a contemptuous manner. See note on Matthew 27:48. “There must have been some plant in Judea of the lowest class of trees, or shrubs, which was either a species of hyssop, or had a strong resemblance to what the Greeks called υσσωπος ; inasmuch as the Hellenist Jews always distinguished it by that name. It is said of Solomon, (1 Kings 4:33,) that he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall. Now they did not reckon among trees any plants but such as had durable and woody stalks, see note on Matthew 6:30. That their hyssop was of this kind, is evident also from the uses of sprinkling, to which it is in many cases appointed by the law to be applied.” Campbell. When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished The predictions of the prophets that respect my personal ministry are all fulfilled. The important work of man’s redemption is accomplished. The demands of the law, and of divine justice, are satisfied, and my sufferings are now at an end. It appears from Matthew, Mark, and Luke, that in speaking these words he cried with an exceeding loud voice; probably to show that his strength was not exhausted, but that he was about to give up his life of his own accord. Having thus shouted, he addressed his Father, with a tone of voice proper in prayer; saying, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit, and then bowed his head, and gave up the ghost Leaving us the best pattern of a recommendatory prayer in the article of death. See note on Matthew 27:50; Luke 23:46.
John 19:31-37. That the bodies should not remain on the cross It was customary among the Romans to let the bodies of persons who had been executed continue on the crosses, or stakes, till they were devoured by birds or beasts of prey. But the law of Moses expressly prohibited the Jews from suffering the bodies of those who were hanged to remain all night on the trees, Deuteronomy 21:22; for that reason, as well as because the sabbath was at hand, which would have been profaned by their remaining, especially as that sabbath was a day of peculiar solemnity, being the second day of the feast of unleavened bread, (from whence they reckoned the weeks to pentecost,) and also the day for presenting and offering the sheaf of new corn; therefore, the Jews besought Pilate that the legs of the three crucified persons might be broken, to hasten their death; and Pilate consented, and gave the order they desired. Then came the soldiers
Who guarded the execution; and brake the legs of the first Malefactor, or of him that hung nearest the place where they had been sitting; and then, passing by Jesus, who hung in the middle, they went and brake the legs of the other, who was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, perceiving that he was dead already They did not take the trouble of breaking his legs; but one of the soldiers Had so much boldness and inhumanity that, with a spear, which he had in his hand, he pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water Real blood and real water; the spear having pierced both the pericardium and heart, the water issuing from the former and the blood from the latter; a wound which must inevitably have killed him, had he been living when it was given, and which consequently put it out of all doubt that he was really dead, before he was taken down from the cross; a point of infinite importance to be ascertained. For the grand evidence of Christ’s mission is his resurrection, which implies the certainty of his death. On that account, crucifixion might have seemed, on a slight view, a less proper execution than some others, such as beheading, burning, and the like; but this wound, which pierced his heart, would effectually exclude all pretences of his having been taken down alive by his friends; and hence, false and malicious as his enemies were, we do not find that they ever had recourse to such an evasion. Accordingly, as it was of such importance to mankind to be ascertained of the truth of Christ’s death, the evangelist here, in speaking of it, attests this circumstance, which demonstrates it, as being a thing which he himself saw; saying, And he that saw it bare record, &c., and he knoweth By the most certain testimony of his senses; that he saith true And he makes this declaration that you, whoever you are, into whose hands this history may come, may believe And may be confirmed in your adherence to that gospel which is established on the death and resurrection of Christ. Of the mystical meaning of the blood and water which issued out of the side of Christ, see the note on 1 John 5:6. For these things were done Or were permitted to be done, in the course of divine providence, however inconsiderable they may appear, that the scripture should be fulfilled That is, Jesus’s legs were not broken, that the passage, (Exodus 12:46,) Neither shall ye break a bone thereof, might be fulfilled. “These words were primarily spoken of the paschal lamb, whose bones were not to be broken, that it might be a fit representation of the Messiah, typified by this sacrifice; and who, though he was to suffer a violent death, was to have none of his bones broken, because he was to rise from the dead on the third day. Wherefore, as the scripture which speaks of the type has necessarily a reference to the antitype, the evangelist had good reason to interpret what is there said of the paschal lamb, as prophetical of this circumstance of our Lord’s death. And the rather, as by so doing he makes his readers sensible it was not owing to accident that the soldiers treated Christ’s body otherwise than they treated the bodies of those who were crucified with him. It happened by the direction of God, who had always determined that Christ should rise from the dead, and that his mission should be fully demonstrated by the evidence of miracles and prophecies united. John observes also, that Christ’s side was pierced with a spear, because another scripture ( Zec 12:10 ) had said They shall look on him whom they have pierced;” that is, they who have occasioned his sufferings by their sins, (and who has not?) shall either look upon him in this world with penitential sorrow, or with terror when he cometh in the clouds of heaven, Revelation 1:7.
John 19:38-39. Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly Because he durst not openly profess his faith in him; for fear of the Jews And their rulers, who were so strongly prejudiced against him. This man, acknowledging Christ even when his chosen disciples forsook him, besought Pilate that he might take away the body To preserve it from future insults, and to bury it in a decent and respectful manner. And Pilate gave him leave As soon as he was assured by the centurion who guarded the execution that Jesus was actually dead. He came, therefore Being thus authorized by Pilate; and took the body of Jesus That is, took it down from the cross, with proper assistance. And there came also Nicodemus Another member of the sanhedrim, of whom repeated mention has been made in the preceding narrative; who at the first At the beginning of Christ’s public ministry; came to Jesus by night See John 3:1-2; and being now grown more courageous than before, and to testify his great regard for Jesus, he brought with him a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight According to Josephus, great quantities of spices were wont to be used by the Jews for embalming a dead body, when they intended to show marks of respect to the deceased. Eighty pounds of spices were used at the funeral of Gamaliel the elder. See notes on Matthew 27:57-60; Mark 15:42-46.
John 19:40. Then To prepare for his interment; they took the body of Jesus Without regarding the reproach to which it might expose them; and wound it in linen clothes Wrapped it in a great many folds of linen; with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury Or rather, to embalm, for the proper meaning of the verb ενταφιαζειν , here used, is not to bury, but to embalm, as Dr. Campbell proves in a note on the words; showing that the verb ενταφιαζειν , and the noun ενταφιασμος , are used in the New Testament only in relation to the embalming of the body of our Lord; the word used for to bury, being invariably θαπτειν , which accords perfectly with the use made of the same words by the LXX. See Genesis 50:2; Genesis 50:5, where the import of both words, and the distinction between them, is exemplified. It seems Joseph and Nicodemus intended to embalm our Lord’s body in a more exact manner as soon as the sabbath was over; hoping that, in the mean time, the spices lying near the body might preserve it from all taint of corruption. “Those who have written upon the manners and customs of the Jews tell us, that they sometimes embalmed their dead with an aromatic mixture of myrrh, aloes, and other gums or spices, which they rubbed on the body, more or less profusely, according to their circumstances and their regard for the dead. After anointing the body, they covered it with a shroud, or winding-sheet, then wrapped a napkin round its head and face, others say, round the forehead only; because the Egyptian mummies are observed to have it so; last of all, they swathed the shroud round the body as tightly as possible, with proper bandages made of linen. At other times, they covered the whole body in a heap of spices, as is said of Asa, 2 Chronicles 16:14. From the quantity of myrrh and aloes made use of by Joseph and Nicodemus, it would appear that the office performed by them to their Master was of this latter kind; for they had not time to embalm him properly.” They seem, however, to have done all that was usual in such circumstances to persons of wealth and distinction, which, as well as the sepulchre itself, agreed to Isaiah’s prophecy, Isaiah 53:9.
John 19:41-42. Now in the place where he was crucified In the same tract of land; there was a garden But the cross did not stand in the garden; and in the garden a sepulchre Which happened very commodiously for his immediate interment. By the circumstance of the sepulchre’s being “nigh to the place where Jesus was crucified, and consequently nigh to Jerusalem, all the cavils are prevented, which might otherwise have been occasioned, in case the body had been removed farther off. Moreover, it is observed that the sepulchre was a new one, wherein never any man had been laid. This plainly proves that it could be no other than Jesus who arose; and cuts off all suspicion that he was raised by touching the bones of some prophet who had been buried there, as happened to the corpse which touched the bones of Elisha, 2 Kings 13:21. Further, the evangelists take notice that it was a sepulchre hewn out of a rock, to show that there was no passage by which the disciples could get into it, but the one at which the guards were placed, Matthew 27:60; and, consequently, that it was not in their power to steal away the body, while the guards remained there performing their duty.” Macknight. There laid they Jesus, because of the Jews’ preparation That is, they chose the rather to lay him in that sepulchre, which was nigh, because it was the day before the sabbath, which also was drawing to an end, so they had no time to carry him far. “The boldness of Joseph, and even of Nicodemus himself, deserves our notice on such an occasion. They are not ashamed of the infamy of the cross, but come with all holy reverence and affection to take down those sacred remains of Jesus; nor did they think the finest linen or the choicest spices too valuable on such an occasion. But who can describe their consternation and distress, when they saw him who they trusted should have delivered Israel, a cold and bloody corpse in their arms; and left him in the sepulchre of Joseph, whom they expected to have seen on the throne of David. We leave, for the present, his enemies in triumph, and his friends in tears, till his resurrection; which soon confounded the rage of the former, and revived the hopes of the latter; hopes which must otherwise have been for ever entombed under that stone with which they now covered him. But happy and comfortable is the thought, that this his transient visit to the grave has (as it were) left a perfume in the bed of dust, and reconciled the believer to dwelling a while in the place where the Lord lay.” Doddridge.
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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on John 19". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany