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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Matthew 27

 

 

Introduction

CHAPTER 27

Matthew 27:2. αὐτόν] after παρέδ. has very important evidence both for and against it, being just as liable to be inserted as a very common supplement as to be omitted on account of its superfluous character, a character likely to be ascribed to it all the more that it is wanting also in Mark 15:1. Deleted by Lachm. and Tisch. 8.

ποντίῳ πιλ.] B L א, 33, 102, vss. Or. have simply πιλάτῳ; but the full form of the name is to be preferred all the more that the parallel passages have only πιλάτ.

Matthew 27:3. παραδιδούς] Lachm.: παραδούς, following only B L 33, 259, vss. (?). The aorist would more readily occur to the transcribers, since the betrayal had already taken place.

Matthew 27:4. ἀθῷον] δίκαιον, although recommended by Griesb. and Schulz, has too little evidence in its favour, and should be regarded as an early exegetical correction with a view to render the expression more forcible; comp. Matthew 23:35.

ὄψει] Scholz, Lachm., Tisch.: ὄψῃ, in accordance with decisive evidence.

Matthew 27:5. Instead of ἐν τῷ ναῷ, Tisch. 8 has εἰς τὸν ναόν. Exegetical emendation, against which there is a preponderance of evidence.

Matthew 27:9. ἱερεμίου] The omission of the prophet’s name in 33, 157, Syr. Pers. and Codd. in Aug., as well as the reading ζαχαρίου in 22, Syr.p in the margin, is due to the fact that the quotation is not found in Jeremiah.

Matthew 27:11. ἔστη] B C L א, 1, 33, Or.: ἐστάθη. So Lachm. and Tisch. 8. Exegetical emendation with a view to greater precision.

Matthew 27:16-17. βαραββᾶν] Fritzsche: ἰησοῦν βαραββᾶν. So Origenint. several min. Aram. Syr.jer., and early scholiasts. Advocated above all by Fritzsche in the Litt. Blatt z. allgem. Kirchenzeit. 1843, p. 538 f., in opposition to Lachm. ed. maj. p. xxxvii. f., with which latter critic Tisch. agrees. For my own part, I look upon the reading ἰησοῦν βαραββᾶν as the original one, for I am utterly at a loss to see how, ἰησοῦν should have found its way into the text (in answer to Holtzmann, who supposes that it was from Acts 4:36 through a blunder of the transcriber, and in answer to Tisch. 8, who with Tregelles traces it to an abbreviation of the name ιησοῦν ( ιν), in which case it is supposed that υ΄ινιν came to be substituted for υ΄ιν); and because to take away the sacred name from the robber would seem very natural and all the more justifiable that it is likewise omitted in Matthew 27:20 f., 26, and by the other evangelists, not to mention that, from a similar feeling of reverence, it would seem to have been suppressed in the tradition current in the apostolic age. Comp. also Rinck, Lucubr. crit. p. 285, de Wette, Ewald, Bleek, Keim, Weizsäcker. The view that ἰησοῦν has been adopted from the Gospel of the Hebrews (Tisch.) is a very questionable inference from the statement of Jerome, that instead of βαραββ. that Gospel had substituted filium magistri eorum. It would be just as warrantable to quote the same authority in favour of the originality of the reading ἰησοῦν βαραββ.

Matthew 27:22. αὐτῷ (Elz., Scholz) after λέγουσι has been deleted in accordance with preponderating evidence.

Matthew 27:24. The reading κατέναντι (Lachm.) is supported only by the insufficient evidence of B D comp. Matthew 21:2.

τοῦ δικαίου τούτου] The words τοῦ δικσαίου are wanting in B D 102, Cant. 27 :Verc. Mm. Chrys. Or.int. They are placed after τούτου in A, while δ reads τοῦ τούτου δικαίου. Lachm. inserts them after τούτου, but in brackets; Tisch. deletes them, and that correctly. They are to be regarded as a gloss (suggested by the reading δίκαιου, Matthew 27:4), written on the margin at first, and afterwards, when incorporated in the text, conjoined in some instances with τοῦ αἵματος (as in Matthew 27:4) and in others with τοῦ αἵματος; hence so many different ways of arranging the words.

Matthew 27:28. ἐκδύσαντες] B D ** א 157, Cant. 27 :Verc. Colb. Corb. 2, Lachm.: ἐνδύσαντες. Correctly; ἐνδύς. was not understood, and was accordingly altered.(31) Comp. on 2 Corinthians 5:3. In what follows we should, with Lachm. and Tisch., restore the arrangement χλαμ. κοκκ. περίεθ. αὐτῷ, in accordance with important evidence.

Matthew 27:29. ἐπὶ τὴν δεξιάν] As the reading ἐν τῇ δεξιᾷ (approved by Griesb., adopted by Fritzsche, Lachm., Tisch.) has such important evidence as that of A B D L N א, min. vss. Fathers in its favour, and the one in the Received text might so easily originate in a mechanical conforming with ἐπὶ τὴν κεφ. (for which Tisch., in opposition to a preponderance of MS. evidence, substitutes ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς), we cannot but regard ἐν τῇ δεξιᾷ as having the best claim to originality.

Matthew 27:33. Elz. has ὅς ἐστι λεγόμενος κρανίου τόπος. So also Scholz. There is a multiplicity of readings here. Fritzsche, Rinck (comp. also Griesb.) have simply ἐστι κρανίου τόπος, while Lachm. and Tisch. read ἐστιν κρανίου τόπος λεγδμενος. The balance of evidence is decidedly in favour of regarding the neuter as genuine; it was changed to the masculine to suit τόπον and τόπος. Further, λεγόμενος is wanting only in D, min. Copt. Sahid. Arm. Vulg. It., where its omission may probably have been resorted to as a means of getting rid of a difficult construction, while the readings λεγόμενον, μεθερμηνευόμενος, μεθερμηνευόμενον (Mark 15:22), καλούμενον (Luke 23:33), are also to be regarded as exegetical variations. We ought therefore to retain the λεγόμενος, and in the order in which it is taken by Lachm. and Tisch., on the authority of B L א, min. Ath. Its earlier position in Elz. is probably due to ἐστι λεγόμ. (comp. ἔστι μεθερμ., Mark 15:22) being sometimes taken together.

Matthew 27:34. ὅξος] Lachm. and Tisch. 8 : οἷνον, which is supported by evidence so important, viz. B D K L π* א, min. vss. and Fathers, that we must regard ὄξος as derived from Psalms 68:22. The word οἷνον was allowed to remain in Mark 15:23 because the gall did not happen to be mentioned there; and this being the case, the alteration, in conformity with Psalms 68. as above, would not so readily suggest itself.

Matthew 27:35. After κλῆρον Elz. inserts: ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ τοῦ προφήτου· διεμερίσαντο τὰ ἱμάτιά μου ἑαυτοῖς, καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν ἱματισμόν μου ἔλαβον κλῆρον. Against decisive evidence; supplement from John 19:24.

Matthew 27:40. κατάβηθι] Lachm. and Tisch. 8 : καὶ κατάβ., following A D א, min. Syr.jer. Cant. 27 :Verc. Colp. Clar. Cyr. The καί has been added for the purpose of connecting the two clauses together.

Matthew 27:41. After πρεσβυτέρων, Matth., Fritzsche insert καὶ φαρισαίων, for which there is important though not preponderant evidence. Those chief adversaries of Jesus were by way of gloss mentioned on the margin, but subsequently the words crept into the text, being sometimes found along with, and sometimes substituted for, πρεσβυτέρων (as in D, min. Cant. 27 :Verc. Colb. Clar. Corb. 2, Gat. Cassiod.).

Matthew 27:42. εἰ βασιλ.] Fritzsche and Tisch. read simply βασιλ., following B D L א, 33, 102, Sahid. Correctly; εἰ is a supplementary addition from Matthew 27:40, its insertion in D, min. vss. Eus. before πέποιθεν below being likewise traceable to the same source.

πιστεύσομεν] Lachm.: πιστεύομεν, only in accordance with A, Vulg. 27 :Verc. Colb. Or.int., but correctly notwithstanding. By way of gloss the present was replaced sometimes by the future (Elz.) and sometimes by the subjunctive πιστεύσωμεν. Tisch. 8 adopts the latter.

ἐπʼ αὐτῷ] The witnesses are divided between αὐτῷ (Elz., Lachm.), ἐπʼ αὐτῷ (Griesb., Tisch. 7), and ἐπʼ αὐτόν (Fritzsche, Tisch, 8). The reading ἐπʼ αὐτῷ (E F G H K M S U V δ π, min.) should te preferred, inasmuch as this expression not only occurs nowhere else in Matthew, but is a somewhat rare one generally.

Matthew 27:44. For αὐτόν, Elz. has αὐτῷ, against decisive MS. authority. Emendation in conformity with the construction ὀνειδίζειν τινί τι.

Matthew 27:46. The MSS. present very considerable variety as regards the spelling of the Hebrew words. Lachm.: ἠλί ἠλί λημὰ σαβακθανί. Tisch. 8 : ἡλεὶ ἡλεὶ λιμὰ σαβαχθανί. The latter is the best attested.

Matthew 27:49. ἄλλος δὲ λαβὼν λόγχην ἔνυξεν αὐτοῦ τὴν πλευρὰν, καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ὕδωρ καὶ αἷμα, supported though it be by B C L U γ א, min. vss. Chrys., is clearly an irrelevant interpolation (after αὐτόν) borrowed from John 19:34. Yet this interpolation occasioned the error condemned by Clem. 5:1311, that Christ’s side was pierced before He expired.

Matthew 27:52. ἠγέρθη] B D G L א, min. Or. Eus.: ἠγέρθησαν. So Fritzsche, Lachm., Tisch. But how readily would the whole surroundings of the passage suggest the plural to the mechanical transcribers!

Matthew 27:54. γενόμενα] Lachm. and Tisch.: γίνομενα, following B D, min. Vulg. It. Or. (who, however, has γενόμενα as well). The aorist might have originated as readily in a failure to appreciate the difference of meaning as in a comparison of the present passage with Luke 23:47 f.

Matthew 27:56. For ἰωσῆ, Tisch. 8 has ἰωσήφ, following D* L א, vss. Or. Eus. Emendation suggested by the assumption that the mother of Jesus must have been intended (comp. on Matthew 13:55); hence * א enumerates the three Marys thus: ΄αρ. τοῦ ἰακώβου καὶ ΄αρ. ἰωσήφ καὶ ΄αρ. τῶν υἱῶν ζεβ.

Matthew 27:57. ἐμαθήτενσε] Lachm. and Tisch. 8 : ἐμαθητεύθη, following C D א and two min. Altered in accordance with Matthew 13:52.

Matthew 27:64. Elz. inserts νύκτος after αὐτοῦ, against decisive evidence; borrowed from Matthew 28:13. The δέ again, which Elz. has after ἔφη, Matthew 27:65, is an interpolation for sake of connection, and is wanting in very important witnesses (not, however, in A C D א).


Verse 1

Matthew 27:1 By the time the Sanhedrim met, as it now did, in full sederunt ( πάντες, comp. Matthew 26:59), for the purpose of consulting as to how they were now to give effect to the verdict of Matthew 26:66, it was well on in the morning (after cock-crowing, Matthew 26:74).

ὥστε] they consulted before going further (comp. on Matthew 22:15) as to what the consequence might be (comp. on Matthew 24:24) if they carried out their intention of putting Him to death, in other words, if they were likewise to give effect to the verdict already agreed upon: ἔνοχος θανάτου ἐστί.


Verse 2

Matthew 27:2 δήσαντες] The shackles which had been put upon. Jesus at the time of His arrest (Matthew 26:50, comp. with John 18:12), and which He still wore when He was led away from Annas to Caiaphas (John 18:24), would seem, from what is here stated, to have been either wholly or partially removed during the trial. With the view of His being securely conducted to the residence of the procurator, they take the precaution to put their prisoner in chains again. It is not expressly affirmed, either by Matthew or Mark, that the ἀπήγαγον was the work of the members of the Sanhedrim in pleno (as generally supposed, Weiss and Keim also sharing in the opinion); and, indeed, it is scarcely probable that they would have so far incurred the risk of a popular tumult (comp. Matthew 26:5). The statement in Luke 23:1 is unquestionably the product of a later tradition. As for Matthew and Mark, they seem to assume that merely a deputation accompanied the prisoner, though doubtless it would be large enough to be in keeping with the importance of the occasion. Comp. also on Matthew 27:3.

παρέδωκαν αὐτὸν ποντίῳ, κ. τ. λ.] For after Judaea became a Roman province (from the time that King Archelaus was dethroned, 759 U.C.), the Sanhedrim had lost the jus gladii. Comp. on John 18:31. On Pontius Pilate, the fifth procurator of Judaea, who was successor to Valerius Gratus, and who, after holding office for ten years (from A.D. 26 onwards), was summoned to Rome at the instance of Vitellius, then governor of Syria, to answer to certain charges made against him, and then (according to Euseb. ii. 7) banished to Vienne, where he is said to have committed suicide, see Ewald, Gesch. Chr. p. 87 ff.; Leyrer in Herzog’s Encykl. XI. p. 663 ff.; Gerlach, d. Röm. Statthalter in Syr. u. Jud. p. 53 ff.; Hausrath, Zeitgesch. I. p. 312 ff. For certain Christian legends regarding His death, consult Tischendorf’s Evang. Apocr. p. 426 ff. Caesarea was the place where the procurators usually resided (Acts 23:23 f., Matthew 24:27, Matthew 25:1); but, as it was the Passover season, Pilate was in Jerusalem (to be ready, in fact, to quell any disturbance that might arise, comp. on Matthew 26:5), where he lived in the praetorium (see on Matthew 27:27).

τῷ ἡγεμόνι] principi. The more precise designation would have been τῷ ἐπιτρόπῳ, procuratori. Comp. Joseph. Antt. xviii. 3. 1 : πιλάτος δὲ τῆς ἰουδαίας ἡγεμών. On the comprehensive sense in which ἡγεμών is frequently used, see Krebs, Obss. p. 61 ff.


Verse 3

Matthew 27:3 τότε] as Jesus was being led away to the procurator. From this Judas saw that his Master had been condemned (Matthew 26:66), for otherwise He would not have been thus taken before Pilate.

παραδιδοὺς αὐτόν] His betrayer, Matthew 26:25; Matthew 26:48.

μεταμεληθεὶς, κ. τ. λ.] cannot be said to favour the view that Judas was animated by a good intention (see on Matthew 24:16, Remark 2), though it no doubt serves to show he neither contemplated nor expected so serious a result. It is possible that, looking to the innocence of Jesus, and remembering how often before He had succeeded in disarming His enemies, the traitor may have cherished the hope that the issue would prove harmless. Now: “vellet, si posset, factum infectum reddere,” Bengel. Such was his repentance, but it was not of a godly nature (2 Corinthians 7:9 f.), for it led to despair.

ἀπέστρεψε] he returned them (Matthew 26:52; Thuc. v. 75, viii. 108; Xen. Anab. ii. 6. 3, al), i.e. he took them back (Genesis 43:21; Judges 11:13; Jeremiah 28:3), Heb. הֵשִׁיב

τοῖς ἀρχ. κ. τ. πρεσβ.] from which it is to be inferred that Matthew did not look upon this as a full meeting of the Sanhedrim (Matthew 27:2).


Verse 4

Matthew 27:4 μαρτον παραδούς] see on Matthew 26:12.

αἷμα ἀθῷον] εἰς τὸ χυθῆναι, Euthymius Zigabenus; comp. Deuteronomy 27:25; 1 Maccabees 1:37; 2 Maccabees 1:8; Phalar. ep. 40; Heliod. viii. 10.

τί πρὸς ἡμᾶς] sc. ἐστι; what is it as regards us? i.e. what matters it to us? we are in no way called upon to concern ourselves about what thou hast done. Comp. John 21:22 f.; the words are also frequently used in this sense by Greek authors.

σὺ ὄψῃ] Thou wilt see to it thyself, thou wilt have to consider for thyself what is now to be done by thee; comp. Matthew 27:24; Acts 18:15; 1 Samuel 25:17; 4 Maccabees 9:1. “Impii in facto consortes, post factum deserunt,” Bengel.


Verse 5

Matthew 27:5 ἐν τῷ ναῷ] is to be taken neither in the sense of near the temple (Kypke), nor as referring to the room, Gasith, in which the Sanhedrim held its sittings (Grotius), nor as equivalent to ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ (Fritzsche, Olshausen, Bleek); but, in accordance with the regular use of ναός (see on Matthew 4:5) and the only possible meaning of ἐν, we must interpret thus: he flung down the money in the temple proper, i.e. in the holy place where the priests were to be found. Judas in his despair had ventured within that place which none but priests were permitted to enter.

ἀπήγξατο] he strangled himself. Hom. Od. xix. 230; Herod. vii. 232; Xen. Cyrop. iii. 1. 14; Hier. vii. 13; Aesch. Suppl. 400; Ael. V. H. v. 3. There is no reason why the statement in Acts 1:18 should compel us to take ἀπάγχομαι as denoting, in a figurative sense, an awakening of the conscience (Grotius, Perizonius, Hammond, Heinsius), for although ἄγχειν is sometimes so used by classical authors (Dem. 406, 5; and see the expositors, ad Thom. Mag. p. 8), such a meaning would be inadmissible here, where we have no qualifying term, and where the style is that of a plain historical narrative (comp. 2 Samuel 17:23; Tobit 3:10). With a view to reconcile what is here said with Acts 1:18, it is usual to assume that the traitor first hanged himself, and then fell down headlong, Matthew being supposed to furnish the first, and Luke the second half of the statement (Kuinoel, Fritzsche, Olshausen, Kaeuffer, Paulus, Ebrard, Baumgarten

Crusius). But such a way of parcelling out this statement, besides being arbitrary in itself, is quite inadmissible, all the more so that it is by no means clear from Acts 1:18 that suicide had been committed. Now as suicide was regarded by the Jews with the utmost abhorrence, it would for that very reason have occupied a prominent place in the narrative instead of being passed over in silence. It has been attempted to account for the absence of any express mention of suicide, by supposing that the historian assumed his readers to be familiar with the fact. But if one thing forbids such an explanation more than another, it is the highly rhetorical character of the passage in the Acts just referred to, which, rhetorical though it be, records, for example, the circumstance of the purchase of the field with all the historical fidelity of Matthew himself, the only difference being that Luke’s mode of representing the matter is almost poetical in its character (in opposition to Strauss, Zeller, de Wette, Ewald, Bleek, Pressensé, Paret, Keim, all of whom concur with Paulus in assuming, in opposition to Matthew, that Judas bought the field himself). Comp. on Acts 1:18. In Matthew 27:5 and Acts 1:18, we have two different accounts of the fate of the betrayer, from which nothing further is to be gathered by way of historical fact than that he came to a violent end. In the course of subsequent tradition, however, this violent death came to be represented sometimes as suicide by means of hanging (Matthew, Ignatius, ad Philipp. interpol. 4), at a later stage again as a fall resulting in the bursting of the bowels, or at a later period still as the consequence of his having been crushed by a carriage when the body was in a fearfully swollen condition (Papias as quoted by Oecumenius, ad Act. l.c., and by Apollinaris in Routh’s reliquiae sacr. p. 9, 23 ff.; also in Cramer’s Catena, p. 231; Overbeck in Hilgenfeld’s Zeitschr. 1867, p. 39 ff.; Anger, Synops. p. 233). There is no other way of accounting for so many diverse traditions regarding this matter, but by supposing that nothing was known as to how the death actually took place. Be this as it may, we cannot entertain the view that Judas sunk into obscurity, and so disappeared from history, but that meanwhile the Christian legends regarding him were elaborated out of certain predictions and typical characters (Strauss, Keim, Scholten) found in Scripture (in such passages as Psalms 109:8; Psalms 69:25); such a view being inadmissible, because it takes no account of what is common to all the New Testament accounts, the fact, namely, that Judas died a violent death, and that very soon after the betrayal; and further, because the supposed predictions (Psalms 69, 109, 20) and typical characters (such as Ahithophel, 2 Samuel 15:30 ff; 2 Samuel 17:23; Antiochus, 2 Maccabees 9:5 ff.) did not help to create such stories regarding the traitor’s death, but it would be nearer the truth to say that they were subsequently taken advantage of by critics to account for the stories after they had originated.


Verse 6

Matthew 27:6 οὐκ ἔξεστι] “argumento ducto ex Deuteronomy 23:18, Sanhedr. f. 112,” Wetstein.

τιμὴ αἵματος] the price of blood, which is supposed to have been shed.

κορβ.] τὸν ἱερὸν θησαυρόν, καλεῖται δὲ κορβανᾶς, Josephus, Bell. ii. 9. 4.


Verse 7

Matthew 27:7 f. ἠγόρασαν] It is not said that they did so immediately; but the purchase took place shortly after, according to Acts 1:18.

τὸν ἀγρὸν τοῦ κεραμ.] the field of the potter, the field which had previously belonged to some well-known potter. Whether the latter had used the field for the purpose of digging clay, it is impossible to determine.

εἰς ταφὴν τ. ξένοις] as a burying-place for the strangers, namely, such foreign Jews (proselytes included) as happened to die when on a visit to Jerusalem; not Gentiles (Paulus), who, had they been intended, would have been indicated more specifically.

διό] because it had been bought with the τιμὴ αἵματος above (Matthew 27:6).

ἀγρὸς αἵματος] חֲקַל דְּמָא, Acts 1:18, where, however, the name is traced to a different origin. On the place which in accordance with tradition is still pointed out as the field here referred to, see Robinson, II. p. 178 ff.; Tobler, Topogr.


Verse 9

Matthew 27:9 f. τότε] when they bought this field for the thirty pieces of money.

The passage here quoted is a very free adaptation of Zechariah 11:12-13,(32) ἱερεμίου being simply a slip of the memory (comp. Augustine, de cons. ev. iii. 8, and recently Keil himself, following Calvin and the Fathers), such, however, as might readily enough occur through a reminiscence of Jeremiah 18:2. Considering that in the original Hebrew the resemblance of this latter passage to Zechariah, as above, is sufficiently close to warrant the typical mode of interpretation (Credner, Beitr. II. p. 152 f.), it is arbitrary to maintain, in the somewhat uncritical fashion of Rupert, Lyra, Maldonatus, Jansen, Clericus, Friedlieb, that ἱερεμίου is spurious; or, on the other hand, to resort, as Origen, Euthymius Zigabenus, Kuinoel, Ewald have done, to the idea of some lost production of Jeremiah’s, or of some oral utterance that had never been committed to writing (see, above all, Calovius, who in support of this view lays great stress on ῥηθέν). As for the statement of Jerome, that he had seen the passage in a copy of Jeremiah belonging to some person at Nazareth, there can be no doubt that what he saw was an interpolation, for he also is one of those who ascribe the citation in question to Zechariah. No less arbitrary is the conjecture of Eusebius, Dem. ev. x. 4, that the Jews may have deleted the passage from Jeremiah; for though it reappears again in a certain Arabic work (Bengel, Appar. crit. p. 142), and in a Sahidic and a Coptic lectionary (see Michaelis, Bibl. IV. p. 208 ff.; Briefwechs. III. pp. 63, 89; Einleit. I. p. 264), it does so simply as an interpolation from our present passage. See Paulus, exeget. Handb. III. p. 615 ff.

According to the historical sense of Zechariah, as above, the prophet, acting in Jehovah’s name, resigns his office of shepherd over Ephraim to Ephraim’s own ruin; and having requested his wages, consisting of 30 shekels of silver, to be paid him, he casts the money, as being God’s property, into the treasury of the temple. “And they weighed for my wages thirty pieces of silver. Then Jehovah said to me: Cast it into the treasury, that handsome (ironically) sum of which they have thought me worthy! So I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them into the treasury that was in God’s house,” Ewald, Proph.; Bleek in the Stud. u. Krit. 1852, p. 279 ff. For we ought to read אֶל־הַיּוֹצָר, into the treasury (equivalent, as Kimchi explains, to אל האוצר, and as is actually the reading of two MSS. in Kennicott), and not אֶל־הַיּוֹצֵר, to the potter, as Matthew, in fact, also read and understood the words, though such a meaning is entirely foreign to the context in Zechariah. Comp. Hitzig, kl. Proph. p. 374. The expositors of Zechariah, who take היוֹצר in the sense of potter, have had recourse to many an unfounded and sometimes singular hypothesis. For specimens of these, see also Hengstenberg’s Christol. III. 1, p. 457 ff.; Hofmann, Weissag. u. Erf. II p. 128 f.; Lange, L. J. II. p. 1494 f.; Steinmeyer, p. 105 f.; Haupt, alttest. Citate, p. 272 ff.

ἔλαβον] in Zechaiah and LXX. is the first person singular, here it is the third person plural. The liberty thus used with the terms of the quotation may be supposed to be warranted by the concluding words: καθὰ συνέταξέ μοι κύριος. Neither the original Hebrew nor the LXX. countenances the supposition that the evangelist erroneously took ἔλαβον to be third person plural, like ἔδωκαν immediately following (in opposition to Hilgenfeld).

τὰ τριάκοντα ἀργύρ.] meaning, according to the typical reference in Matthew, the thirty shekels brought back by Judas.

τὴν τιμὴν, κ. τ. λ.] In apposition with τὰ τριάκ. ἀργ. The words correspond more with the Hebrew than with the LXX., though in this instance too a slight liberty is taken with them, inasmuch as for אֲשֶׁר יָקַרְתִּי we have once more (comp. on ἔλαβον) the third person plural ὃν ἐτιμήσαντο, and for מֵעֲלֵיהֶם the explanatory rendering ἀπὸ υἱῶν ἰσραήλ. The passage then is to be rendered as follows: And they took the thirty pieces of silver—the value of the highly valued One, on whom they put their own price (middle, ἐτι΄ήσαντο) at the instance of sons of Israel, i.e. the price of the priceless One, whose market value they fixed for themselves upon an occasion furnished by sons of Israel. The expression υἱῶν ἰσραήλ is the plural of category (Matthew 2:20), and is regarded as finding its historical antitype in Judas, who, Matthew 26:14 f., undertakes and carries through the shameful transaction there referred to,—he a son of Israel negotiates the sale of the Messiah of the people of Israel. In addition to what has just been observed, we would direct attention to the following details:—(1) τοῦ τετιμημένου is intended to represent the Hebrew word הַיְקָר (pretii); but the evangelist has evidently read הַיָקָר (cari, aestumati), which he refers to Jesus as being the highly valued One κατʼ ἐξοχήν; nor must we fail to notice here the remarkable collocation: pretium pretiosi, i.e. τὴν ὠνὴν τοῦ παντίμου χριστοῦ, Euthymius Zigabenus; comp. Theophylact, also Ewald. That distinguished personage, whose worth as such cannot in fact be estimated by any mere money standard ( τιμή), they have actually valued ( ἐτιμήσαντο) at thirty shekels! To take the τοῦ τετιμημ. merely in the sense of ὃν ἐτιμής. (of the valued one, him whom they have valued), as the majority of expositors do (including even yet de Wette, Lange, and Hofmann, Weissag. u. Erf. II. p. 130), instead of expressing the idea in a more forcible manner, would simply produce, especially after τ. τιμήν, a tautological redundancy. (2) The subject of ἐτιμήσαντο is the same as that of ἔλαβον, namely, the high priests; nor is the verb to be taken in the sense of estimating highly, as in the case of τετιμημ., but in that of valuing, putting a price upon, the sense in which it is used in Isaiah 55:2, and very frequently by classical writers, and in which the Hebrew יָקַרְתִּי is intended to be understood. (3) ἀπὸ υἱῶν ἰσρ., which is a more definite rendering of the מעליהם of the original, must necessarily be connected, like its corresponding Hebrew expression, with ἐτι΄ήσαντο, and not with ἔλαβον (Fritzsche, Hilgenfeld), nor with τοῦ τετι΄η΄. (which de Wette considers possible), and be understood as denoting origin, i.e. as denoting, in our present passage, the occasion brought about by some one (comp. also Bleek) in connection with which the ἐτι΄ήσαντο took place; “ ἀπό de eo ponitur, quod praebet occasionem vel opportunitatem, ut aliquid fieri possit,” Stallbaum, ad Plat. Rep. p. 549 A comp. Kühner, II. 1, p. 396; similarly xi. 19; see also Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 194. They were indebted to the sons of Israel (Judas, see above) for that which suggested and led to the ἐτι΄ήσαντο. We cannot approve of the course which some adopt of supplying τινές: equivalent to οἱ ἰσραηλῖται (Euthymius Zigabenus), or “qui sunt ex filiis Israel” (Beza, Grotius, Maldonatus, Paulus, Kuinoel, Ewald, de Wette, Grimm, Anger), thus making ἀπὸ υἱῶν ἰσρ. the subject of ἐτιμής. In that case, the ordinary ἐκ (comp. Buttmann, Neut. Gr. p. 138 [E. T. 158]) would have been used (as in Matthew 23:34; John 16:17, al.), and instead of υἱῶν we should have had τῶν υἱῶν, inasmuch as the whole community would be intended to which the τινές are supposed to belong. Comp. also 1 Maccabees 7:33, 3 Maccabees 1:8, where, though ἀπό is the preposition used, the article is conjoined with the substantive following. The absence of the article here is likewise unfavourable to the views of Hofmann, Weissag. u. Erf. II. p. 131, who, taking ἀπό to mean on the part of, interprets thus: “What Caiaphas and Judas did ( ἐτιμήσαντο), was done indirectly by the whole nation.” To explain ἀπό as others have done, by assuming the idea of purchase in connection with it (Castalio: “quem licitati emerunt ab Israelitis,” comp. Erasmus, Luther, Vatablus, Jansen, Lange), is not only arbitrary, inasmuch as the idea involved in ἐτιμήσαντο does not justify the supposed pregnant force of ἀπό (Buttmann, p. 276 [E. T. 322]), but is incompatible with the מעל of the original. No less inconsistent with the original is the explanation of Baumgarten-Crusius: “whom they had valued from among the children of Israel,” that is to say, “which they had fixed as the price of one of the children of Israel.” In that case, again, we should have required the article along with υἱῶν; and, besides, what a poor designation of the Messiah would be the result of such an interpretation! With an equal disregard of the terms of the passage, Linder maintains, in the Stud. u. Krit. 1859, p. 513, that ἀπό is equivalent to τινὰ ἐκ: as an Israelite (whom they treated like a slave); and to the same effect is the explanation of Steinmeyer, p. 107: whom they have valued in the name of the nation. Neither the simple ἀπό nor the anarthrous υἱῶν ἰσρ. admits of being so understood, although Hilgenfeld is also of opinion that our passage meant to describe the betrayal as an act for which the whole body of the Jewish people was to be held responsible. Matthew 27:10. καὶ ἔδωκαν αὐτὰ εἰς τὸν ἀγρὸν τοῦ κερα΄.] Zech., as above, וְוַישְׁלִךְ אוֹתוֹ בֵּית יְהֹוָה אֶל הַיּוֹצֵר. But, inasmuch as the important matter here was the purchase of the potter’s field, Matthew leaves בית יהוה entirely out of view, takes יוֹצֵר in the sense of potter (see, on the other hand, on Matthew 27:9 above), and, in order that אֶל הַיּוֹצֵר may fully harmonize with a typical and prophetic view of the passage, he paraphrases the words thus: εἰς τὸν ἀγρὸν τοῦ κεραμέως, where εἰς is intended to express the destined object of the thing: for the purpose of acquiring the field belonging to the potter.

καθὰ συνέταξέ μοι κύριος] corresponds to Zechariah’s וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה אֵלַי, Matthew 27:13, the words employed by the prophet when he asserts that in casting the shekels into the treasury of the temple he did so in obedience to the command of God. In accordance with the typical reference ascribed to the passage by Matthew, the words “according to that which the Lord commanded me” are so applied as to express the idea that the using of the traitor’s reward for the purpose of buying the potter’s field was simply giving effect to the decree of Him from whom the prophet had received the command in question. That which God had commissioned the prophet ( μοι) to do with the thirty pieces of silver is done in the antitypical fulfilment of the prophecy by the high priests, who thus carry out the divine decree above referred to. καθά, just as (Xen. Mem. iv. 6. 5; Polyb. iii. 107. 10; Lucian, Cont. 24; Diod. Sic. i. 36; in classical Greek καθάπερ is usually employed), occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It is quite possible that the words used in the Hebrew original of Matthew were בַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר or בַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה, which in the LXX. are likewise rendered by καθὰ συνέταξε, Exodus 9:12; Exodus 40:25; Numbers 8:3.


Verse 11

Matthew 27:11 f. Continuation, after the episode in Matthew 27:3-10, of the narrative introduced at Matthew 27:2. The accusation preferred by the Jews, though not expressly mentioned, may readily be inferred from the procurator’s question. See Luke 23:2. In appearing before Pilate, they craftily give prominence to the political aspect of the Messianic pretensions of Jesus.

σὺ λέγεις] There is nothing ambiguous in such a reply (which was not so framed that it might be taken either as an affirmative or as equivalent to ἐγὼ μὲν τοῦτο οὐ λέγω, σὺ δὲ λέγεις, Theophylact), but such a decided affirmative as the terms of the question: Art thou, etc., were calculated to elicit, John 18:37. Comp. Matthew 26:64.

οὐδὲν ἀπεκρ.] Comp. on Matthew 26:62. The calm and dignified silence of the true king.


Verse 14

Matthew 27:14 πρὸς οὐδὲ ἓν ῥῆμα] intensifying the force of the expression: to not even a single word, i.e. to not even a single inquisitorial interrogative. The silence mentioned in Matthew 27:12; Matthew 27:14 comes in after the examination reported in John 18:37.

ὥστε θαυμάζειν] convinced as he was of the innocence of Jesus, he was all the more at a loss to understand the forbearance with which He maintained such sublime silence.


Verse 15

Matthew 27:15 κατὰ ἑορτήν] on the occasion of the feast, i.e. during the feast-time (Kühner, II. 1, p. 412; Winer, p. 374 [E. T. 500]); that the Passover is here meant is evident from the context.

As there is no allusion to this custom anywhere else (for an account of which, however, see Bynaeus, de morte Chr. III. p. 97 ff.), nothing whatever is known as to when it originated. But whether we date the custom back to the Maccabaean age or to an earlier period still (Ewald, Gesch. Chr. p. 570), or regard it as having been introduced(33) for the first time by the Romans (Grotius, Schleiermacher, Friedlieb) for the purpose of conciliating the Jews, we cannot fail to see in it a reference to that which is intended to be set forth by the Passover (sparing mercy), and applicable most probably to the 14th of Nisan (comp. on John 18:24; John 18:39).


Verse 16

Matthew 27:16 εἶχον] The subject is to be found in ἡγεμών, Matthew 27:15, that is to say: the procurator and his soldiers; for, like Jesus, Barabbas had also to be examined before Pilate before his case could be finally disposed of. He was lying in the prison in the praetorium awaiting execution, after having received sentence of death.

Concerning this robber and murderer Jesus Barabbas (see the critical remarks), nothing further is known. The name Barabbas occurs very frequently even in the Talmud; Lightfoot, p. 489. There is the less reason, therefore, for thinking, with Olshausen, that the characteristic significance of the name בַּר אַבָּא, father’s son (i.e. probably the son of a Rabbi, Matthew 23:9), in close proximity with the person of Jesus, is an illustration of the saying: “Ludit in humanis divina potentia rebus.” Still it is possible that the accidental similarity in the name Jesus (see the critical remarks) may have helped to suggest to Pilate the release of Barabbas as an alternative, though, after all, the circumstance that the latter was a most notorious criminal undoubtedly swayed him most. For the baser the criminal, the less would Pilate expect them to demand his release. “But they would sooner have asked the devil himself to be liberated,” Luther’s gloss.


Verse 17

Matthew 27:17 οὖν] In accordance with the custom referred to, and as it so happened that at that moment there lay under sentence of death (Matthew 27:15-16) a noted criminal called Jesus Barabbas, Pilate got the multitude that was collected outside gathered together, and then asked them to choose between Jesus Barabbas and Jesus who was called the Messiah.

αὐτῶν] refers not to the members of the Sanhedrim, but to the ὄχλος, Matthew 27:15. See Matthew 27:20.


Verse 18

Matthew 27:18 γάρ] Had he not been aware, etc., he would not have thus attempted to effect the release of Jesus.

παρέδωκαν] The subject of the verb is, of course, the members of the Sanhedrim (Matthew 27:2), whose dominant selfishness was too conspicuous in itself, as well as from the animus that characterized their behaviour, to escape his notice. They were jealous of the importance and influence of Jesus; διά denotes the motive which animated them: because of envy; see Winer, p. 372 [E. T. 497]. This was the causa remotior.


Verse 19

Matthew 27:19 Before, Pilate had submitted the question of Matthew 27:17 to the consideration of the people by way of sounding them. Now, he seats himself upon the tribunal (upon the λιθόστρωτον, John 19:13) for the purpose of hearing the decision of the multitude, and of thereafter pronouncing sentence. But while he is sitting on the tribunal, and before he had time again to address his question to the multitude, his wife sends, etc. This particular is peculiar to Matthew; whereas the sending to Herod, and that before the proposal about the release, occurs only in Luke (Matthew 23:6 ff.); and as for John, he omits both those circumstances altogether, though, on the whole, his account of the trial before Pilate is much more detailed than the concise narrative of Matthew, and that without any want of harmony being found between the two evangelists.

γυνὴ αὐτοῦ] for since the time of Augustus it was customary for Roman governors to take their wives with them into the provinces Tacit. Ann. iii. 33 f. According to tradition, the name of Pilate’s wife was Procla, or Claudia Procula (see Evang. Nicod. ii., and thereon Thilo, p. 522 ff.). In the Greek church she has been canonised.

λέγουσα] through her messengers, Matthew 22:16, Matthew 11:2.

μηδέν σοι κ. τ. δικ. ἐκ.] comp. Matthew 8:29; John 2:4. She was afraid that a judgment from the gods would be the consequence if he had anything to do with the death of Jesu.

πολλὰ γὰρ ἔπαθον, κ. τ. λ.] This alarming dream is to be accounted for on the understanding that the governor’s wife, who in the Evang. Nicod. is described, and it may be correctly, as θεοσεβής and ἰουδαΐζουσα (see Tischendorf, Pilati circa Christum judic. etc. ex actis Pilat. 1855, p. 16 f.), may have heard of Jesus, may even have seen Him and felt a lively interest in Him, and may have been informed of His arrest as well as of the jeopardy in which His life was placed. There is nothing to show that Matthew intended us to regard this incident as a special divine interposition. There is the less reason for relegating it to the domain of legend (Strauss, Ewald, Scholten, Volkmar, Keim).

σήμερον] during the part of the night belonging to the current day.

κατʼ ὄναρ] see on Matthew 1:20. It was a terrible morning-dream.


Verse 20

Matthew 27:20 The question of Matthew 27:17 is still under the consideration of the assembled crowd; and while Pilate, who had mounted the tribunal for the purpose of hearing their decision, is occupied with the messengers from his wife, the members of the Sanhedrim take advantage of this interruption to persuade the people, etc.

ἵνα] purpose of ἔπεισαν. ὅπως is likewise used with πείθειν by Greek authors. See Schoem. ad Plut. Cleom. p. 192.


Verse 21

Matthew 27:21 ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ, κ. τ. λ.] The governor, having from his tribunal overheard this parleying of the members of the Sanhedrim with the people, now replies to it by once more demanding of the latter, with a view to a final decision: which of the two, etc. He thus puts a stop to the officious conduct of the hierarchs, and resumes his attitude of waiting for the answer of the crowd.


Verse 22

Matthew 27:22 τί οὖν ποιήσω ἰησοῦν;] What, then (if Barabbas is to be released), am I to do with Jesus, how shall I dispose of him? On this use of the double accusative with ποιεῖν, in the sense of doing good or evil to any one, comp. Kühner, II. 1, p. 277; Wunder, ad Soph. Phil. 684—. σταυρωθήτω] οὐ λέγουσι· φονευθήτω, ἀλλὰ σταυρωθήτω, ἵνα καὶ τὸ εἶδος τοῦ θανάτου κακοῦρχον (as a rebel) ἀπελέγχῃ αὐτόν, Euthymius Zigabenus. Doubtless it was also at the instigation of the hierarchs that they demanded this particular form of punishment.


Verse 23

Matthew 27:23 τί γάρ] does not presuppose a “non faciam,” or some such phrase (Grotius, Maldonatus, Fritzsche), but γάρ denotes an inference from the existing state of matters, and throws the whole emphasis upon τί: quid ergo. See on John 9:30 and 1 Corinthians 11:22.

Chrysostom appropriately points out how ἀνάνδρως καὶ σφόδρα μαλακῶς Pilate behaved.


Verse 24

Matthew 27:24 The circumstance of Pilate’s washing his hands, which Strauss and Keim regard as legendary, is also peculiar to Matthew.

ὅτι οὐδὲν ὠφελεῖ] that it was all of no avail, John 12:19. “Desperatum est hoc praejudicium practicum,” Bengel.

ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον θόρυβος γίνεται] that the tumult is only aggravated thereby.

ἀπενίψατο τὰς χεῖρας] he washed his hands, to show that he was no party to the execution thus insisted upon. This ceremony was a piece of Jewish symbolism (Deuteronomy 21:6 f.; Joseph. Antt. iv. 8. 16; Sota viii. 6); and as Pilate understood its significance, he would hope by having recourse to it to make himself the more intelligible to Jews. It is possible that what led the governor to conform to this Jewish custom was the analogy between it and similar practices observed by Gentiles after a murder has been committed (Herod, i. 35; Virg. Aen. ii. 719 f.; Soph, Aj. 654, and Schneidewin thereon; Wetstein on our passage), more particularly as it was also customary for Gentile judges before pronouncing sentence to protest, and that “ πρὸς τὸν ἥλιον” (Constitt. Ap. ii. 52. 1; Evang. Nicod. ix.), that they were innocent of the blood of the person about to be condemned; see Thilo, ad Cod. Apocr. I. p. 573 f.; Heberle in the Stud. u. Krit. 1856, p. 859 ff.

ἀπὸ τοῦ αἵματος] a Greek author would have used the genitive merely (Maetzner, ad Lycurg. 79). The construction with ἀπό is a Hebraism ( נקי מדם, 2 Samuel 3:27), founded on the idea of removing to a distance. Comp. Hist. Susann. 46, and καθαρὸς ἀπό, Acts 20:26.

ὑμεῖς ὄψ.] See on Matthew 27:4.


Verse 25

Matthew 27:25 ἐφʼ ἡμᾶς, κ. τ. λ.] Defiant and vindictive cry, in the hurry of which ( τοιαύτη γὰρ ὁρμὴ κ. πονηρὰ ἐπιθυμία, Chrysostom) the verb is left to be understood (Matthew 23:35). Comp. 2 Samuel 1:16, and see on Acts 18:6. From what we know of such wild outbursts of popular fanaticism, there is no ground for supposing (Strauss; comp. also Keim, Scholten, Volkmar) that the language only represents the matter as seen from the standpoint of Christians, by whom the destruction of the Jews had come to be regarded as a judgment for putting Jesus to death. And as for their wicked imprecations on their own heads, they were only in accordance with the decrees of the divine nemesis, and therefore are to be regarded in the light of unconscious prophecy.


Verse 26

Matthew 27:26 φραγελλώσας] a late word adopted from the Latin, and used for μαστιγοῦν. Comp. John 2:15; see “Wetstein. It was the practice among the Romans to scourge the culprit (with cords or thongs of leather) before crucifying him (Liv. xxxiii. 36; Curt. vii. 11. 28; Valer. Max. i. 7, Joseph. Bell. v. 11. 1, al.; Heyne, Opusc. III. p. 184 f.; Keim, III. p. 390 f.). According to the more detailed narrative of John 19:1 ff., Pilate, after this scourging was over, and while the soldiers were mocking Him, made a final attempt to have Jesus set at liberty. According to Luke 23:16, the governor contemplated ultimate scourging immediately after the examination before Herod,—a circumstance which neither prevents us from supposing that he subsequently carried out his intention (in opposition to Strauss), nor justifies the interpretation of our passage given by Paulus: whom He had previously scourged (with a view to His being liberated).

παρέδωκεν] namely, to the Roman soldiers, Matthew 27:27. These latter were entrusted with the task of seeing the execution carried out.


Verse 27

Matthew 27:27 εἰς τὸ πραιτώριον] It would appear, then, that the scourging had taken place outside, in front of the praetorium, beside the tribunal. This coincides with Mark 15:16, ἔσω τῆς αὐλῆς, which merely defines the locality more precisely. The πραιτώριον was the official residence, the palace of the governor, it being commonly supposed (so also Ewald, Gesch. Chr. p. 53, and Keim, III. p. 359 ff.) that Herod’s palace, situated in the higher part of the city, was used for this purpose. But, inasmuch as this latter building would have to be reserved for the accommodation of Herod himself whenever he had occasion to go to Jerusalem, and with what is said at Luke 23:7 before us, it is more likely that the palace in question was a different and special one connected with fort Antonia, in which the σπεῖρα (comp. Acts 21:31-33) was quartered. Comp. also Weiss on Mark 15:16.

οἱ στρατιῶται τοῦ ἡγεμ.] who were on duty as the procurator’s orderlies.

ἐπʼ αὐτόν] about Him; comp. Mark 5:21, not adversus eum (Fritzsche, de Wette); for they were merely to make sport of Him.

τὴν σπεῖραν] the cohort, which was quartered at Jerusalem in the garrison of the praetorium (in Caesarea there were five cohorts stationed). Comp. on John 18:3. The expression: the whole cohort, is to be understood in its popular, and not in a strictly literal sense; the στρατιῶται, to whose charge Jesus had been committed, and who only formed part of the cohort, invited all their comrades to join them who happened to be in barracks at the time.


Verse 28

Matthew 27:28 ἐνδύσαντες (see the critical remarks) is to be explained by the fact that previous to the scourging all His clothes had been pulled off (Acts 16:22; Dionys. Hal. ix. 596). They accordingly put on His under garments again, and instead of the upper robes ( τὰ ἱμάτια, Matthew 27:31) they arrayed Him in a red sagum, the ordinary military cloak (Plut. Sert. 14; Philop. 9, 11), for the purpose, however, of ridiculing His pretensions to the dignity of king; for kings and emperors likewise wore the χλαμύς, the only difference being that in their case the garment was longer and of a finer texture. Plut. Demetr. 41 f.; Mor. p. 186 C, al. On this military cloak, which was first used by the Macedonians, see Hermann, Privatalterth. § xxi. 20; Friedlieb, p. 118. According to the other evangelists, the cloak made use of on this occasion was of a purple colour; but Matthew would intend scarlet (Hebrews 9:19; Revelation 17:3; Numbers 4:8; Plut. Fab. xv.) to be taken as at least conveying the idea of purple.


Verse 29

Matthew 27:29 f. ἐξ ἀκανθῶν] belongs to πλέξαντες. What is meant is something made by twisting together young flexible thorns so as to represent the royal diadem. The object was not to produce suffering, but to excite ridicule; so that while we cannot altogether dissociate the idea of something painful from this crown of thorns, we must not conceive of it as covered with prickles which were intentionally thrust into the flesh. Michaelis adopts the rendering Bärenklau ( ἄκανθος); but this is incompatible with the ἀκάνθινον of Mark 15:17, which adjective is never used with reference to the plant just mentioned. Besides, this latter was a plant that was highly prized (for which reason it was often used for ornamental purposes in pieces of sculpture and on the capitals of Corinthian pillars), and therefore would be but ill suited for a caricature. It is impossible to determine what species of thorn it was (possibly the so-called spina Christi?; see Tobler, Denkbl. pp. 113, 179).

καὶ κάλαμον] ἔθηκαν] being understood, the connection with ἐπέθηκαν is zeugmatic.

Observe the imperfects ἐνέπαιζον and ἔτυπτον as indicating the continuous character of the proceeding.


Verse 31

Matthew 27:31 καὶ ἐνέδυσαν αὐτὸν τὰ ἱμάτ. αὐτοῦ] His upper garments, for which they had substituted the sagum. This is in no way at variance with ἐνδύσαντες, Matthew 27:28.

We are to understand that as the crown of thorns had now served its purpose, it was also taken off at the same time.


Verse 32

Matthew 27:32 ἐξερχόμενοι] because the law required that all executions should take place outside the city. Numbers 15:35 f.; 1 Kings 11:13; Acts 7:58; Lightfoot and Grotius on our passage.

On the question as to whether this Simon of Cyrene, a place in Libya Pentapolitana, thickly peopled with Jews, resided statedly in Jerusalem (Acts 6:9), or was only there on a visit (Acts 2:10), see below. It was usual to compel the person who was to be executed to carry his own cross (see on Matthew 10:38, and Keim, p. 397 f.);(34) to this the case of Jesus was no exception, John 19:17. This statement of John does not exclude what is here said with regard to Simon and the cross, nor does it pretend to deny it (Keim), but it simply passes it over in silence, recording merely the main point in question,—the fact, namely, that Jesus had to carry His own cross (though there is nothing to prevent the supposition that He may have broken down under the burden before reaching the scene of the crucifixion).

That with such a large crowd following (Luke 23:27) they should notwithstanding compel a foreigner who happened to be going toward the city (Mark, Luke) to carry the cross the rest of the way, is a circumstance sufficiently accounted for by the infamy that attached to that odious thing. Possibly Simon was a slave. To suppose that he was one of Jesus’ followers, and that for this reason he had been pressed into the service (Grotius, Kuinoel), is altogether arbitrary, for, according to the text, the determining circumstance lies in the fact that he was ἄνθρωπον κυρηναῖον. A foreigner coming from Cyrene would not be considered too respectable a person to be employed in such degrading work. That Simon, however, became a Christian, and that perhaps in consequence of his thus carrying the cross and being present at the crucifixion, is a legitimate inference from Mark 15:21 compared with Romans 16:13.

ἠγγάρ.] See on Matthew 5:41. ἵνα] mentions the object for which this was done.


Verse 33

Matthew 27:33 γολγοθᾶ, Chald. גֻּלְגָלְתָא, Heb. גֻּלְגֹלֶת meaning a skull. Jerome and most other expositors (including Luther, Fritzsche, Strauss, Tholuck, Friedlieb) derive the name from the circumstance that, as this was a place for executing criminals, it abounded with skulls (which, however, are not to be conceived of as lying unburied); while Cyrill, Jerome, Calovius, Reland, Bengel, Paulus, Lücke, de Wette, Ewald, Bleek, Volkmar, Keim, Weiss, on the other hand, trace the name to the shape of the hill.(35) The latter view, which is also that of Thenius (in Ilgen’s Zeitschr. f. Theol. 1842, 4, p. 1 ff.) and Furer (in Schenkel’s Lex. II. p. 506), ought to be preferred, because the name means nothing more than simply a skull (not hill of skulls, valley of skulls, and such like, as though the plural (skulls) had been used). A similar practice of giving to places, according to their shape, such names, as Kopf, Scheitel (comp. the hills called κεφαλαί in Strabo, xvii. 3, p. 835), Stirn, and the like, is not uncommon among ourselves—(Germans).

ἐστι κρανίου τόπος λεγόμενος] which, i.e. which Aramaic term denotes ( ἐστί) a so-called ( λεγόμ., Kühner, II. 1, p. 232) place of a skull, Lat.: quod calvariae quem dicunt locum significat. It was probably a round, bare hill. But where it stood it is utterly impossible to determine, although it may be regarded as certain (in opposition to Raumer, Schubert, Krafft, Lange, Furer) that it was not the place within the city (the so-called Mount Calvary), which subsequently to the time of Constantine had been excavated under the impression that it was so,—a point, however, which Ritter, Erdk. XVI. 1, p. 427 ff., leaves somewhat doubtful. See Robinson, Paläst. II. p. 270 ff., and his neuere Forsch. 1857, p. 332 ff. In answer to Robinson, consult Schaffter, d. ächte Lage d. heil. Grabes, 1849. But see in general, Tobler, Golgatha, seine Kirchen und Klöster, 1851; Fallmerayer in the Abh. d. Baier. Akad. 1852, VI. p. 641 ff.; Ewald, Jahrb. II. p. 118 ff., VI. p. 84 ff.; Arnold in Herzog’s Encykl. V. p. 307 ff.; Keim, III. p. 404 ff.


Verse 34

Matthew 27:34 The Jews were in the habit of giving the criminal a stupefying drink before nailing him to the cross. Sanhedr. vi. See Wetstein, ad Marc. xv. 23; Doughtaeus, Anal. II. p. 42. This drink consisted of wine (see the critical remarks) mixed with gall, according to Matthew; with myrrh, according to Mark. χολή admits of no other meaning than that of gall, and on no account must it be made to bear the sense of myrrh or wormwood(36) (Beza, Grotius, Paulus, Langen, Steinmeyer, Keim). The tradition about the gall, which unquestionably belongs to a later period, originated in the LXX. rendering of Psalms 68:23; people wished to make out that there was maltreatment in the very drink that was offered.

γευσά΄ενος] According to Matthew, then, Jesus rejected the potion because the taste of gall made it undrinkable. A later view than that embodied in Mark 15:23, from which passage it would appear that Jesus does not even taste the drink, but declines it altogether, because He has no desire to be stupefied before death.


Verse 35

Matthew 27:35 σταυρώσαντες] The cross consisted of the upright post and the horizontal beam (called by Justin and Tertullian: antenna), the former usually projecting some distance beyond the latter (as was also the case, according to the tradition of the early church, with the cross of Jesus, see Friedlieb, p. 130 ff.; Langen, p. 321 ff.). As a rule, it was first of all set up, and then the person to be crucified was hoisted on to it with his body resting upon a peg ( πῆγμα) that passed between his legs ( ἐφʼ ἐποχοῦνται οἱ σταυρούμενοι, Justin, c. Tryph. 91; Iren. Haer. ii. 24. 4), after which the hands were nailed to the cross-beam. Paulus (see his Komment., exeg. Handb., and Skizzen aus m. Bildungsgesch. 1839, p. 146 ff.), following Clericus on John 20:27 and Dathe on Psalms 22:7, firmly maintains that the feet were not nailed as well;(37) an opinion which is likewise held more or less decidedly by Lücke, Fritzsche, Ammon, Baumgarten-Crusius, Winer, de pedum in cruce affixione, 1845; Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 447. In answer to Paulus, see Hug in the Freib. Zeitschr. III. p. 167 ff., and V. p. 102 ff., VII. p. 153 ff.; Gutacht. II. p. 174; and especially Bähr in Heydenreich and Hüffell’s Zeitschr. 1830, 2, p. 308 ff., and in Tholuck’s liter. Anz. 1835, Nos. 1–6. For the history of this dispute, see Tholuck’s liter. Anz. 1834, Nos. 53–55, and Langen, p. 312 ff. That the feet were usually nailed, and that the case of Jesus was no exception to the general rule, may be regarded as beyond doubt, and that for the following reasons: (1) Because nothing can be more evident than that Plautus, Mostell. ii. 1. 13 (“ego dabo ei talentum, primus qui in crucem excucurrerit, sed ea lege, ut offigantur bis pedes, bis brachia”), presupposes that to nail the feet as well as the hands was the ordinary practice, and that he intends the bis to point to something of an exceptional character; (2) because Justin, c. Tryph. 97, expressly maintains (comp. Apol. I. 35), and that in a polemical treatise, at a time when crucifixion was still in vogue, that the feet of Jesus were pierced with nails, and treats the circumstance as a fulfilment of Psalms 22:17, without the slightest hint that in this there was any departure from the usual custom; (3) because Tertullian (c. Marc. iii. 19), in whose day also crucifixion was universally practised (Constantine having been the first to abolish it), agrees with Justin in seeing Psalms 22:17 verified in Christ, and would hardly have said, with reference to the piercing of our Lord’s hands and feet: “quae proprie atrocitas crucis est” unless it had been generally understood that the feet were nailed as well; (4) because Lucian, Prometh. 2 (where, moreover, it is not crucifying in the proper sense of the word that is alluded to), and Lucan, Phars. vi. 547 (“insertum manibus chalybem”), furnish nothing but arguments a silentio, which have the less weight that these passages do not pretend to give a full account of the matter; (5) because we nowhere find in ancient literature any distinct mention of a case in which the feet hung loose or were merely tied to the cross, for Xen. Ephesians 4:2 merely informs us that the binding of the hands and the feet was a practice peculiar to the Egyptians; (6) and lastly, because in Luke 24:39 f. itself the piercing of the feet is taken for granted, for only by means of the pierced hands and feet was Christ to be identified (His corporeality was also to be proved, but that was to be done by the handling which followed). It is probable that each foot was nailed separately.(38) The most plausible arguments in addition to the above against the view that the feet were nailed are: (1) what is said in John 20:25 (see Lücke, II. p. 798), where, however, the absence of any mention of the feet on the part of Thomas entirely accord with is natural sense of propriety. He assumes the Lord, who had been seen by his fellow-disciples, to be standing before him; and so, with a view to identification, he wishes to feel the prints of the nails in his hands and the wound in His side, those being the marks that could then be most conveniently got at; and that is enough. To have stooped down to examine the feet as well would have been going rather far, would have seemed somewhat indecent, somewhat undignified, nay, we should say that the introduction of such a feature into the narrative would have had an apocryphal air; (2) the fact that while Socrates, H. E. i. 17, speaks of the Empress Helena, who found the cross, as having also discovered τους ἥλους οἳ ταῖς χερσὶ τοῦ χριστοῦ κατὰ τὸν σταυρὸν ἐνεπάγησαν, he makes no mention of the nails for the feet. But, according to the context, the nails for the hands are to be understood as forming merely a part of what was discovered along with the cross, as forming a portion, that is, of what the empress gave as a present to her son. This passage, however, has all the less force as an argument against the supposition that the feet were nailed, that Ambrose, Or. de obitu Theodos. § 47, while also stating that two nails belonging to the cross that was discovered were presented to Constantine, clearly indicates at the same time that they were the nails for the feet (“ferro pedum”). It would appear, then, that two nails were presented to Constantine, but opinion was divided as to whether they were those for the feet or those for the hands, there being also a third view, to the effect that the two pairs were presented together (Rufinus, H. E. ii. 8; Theodoret, H. E. i. 17). This diversity of opinion bears, however, a united testimony, not against, but in favour of the practice of nailing the feet, and that a testimony belonging to a time when there were many still living who had a vivid recollection of the days when crucifixion was quite common.

διεμερίσαντο τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ] The criminal when affixed to the cross was absolutely naked (Artemid. ii. 58; Lipsius, de cruce, ii. 7), and his clothes fell, as a perquisite, to the executioners (Wetstein on our passage). The supposition that there was a cloth for covering the loins has at least no early testimony to support it. See Thilo, ad Evang. Nicod. x. p. 582 f.

βάλλοντες κλῆρον] more precisely in John 19:23 f. Whether this was done by means of dice or by putting the lots into something or other (a helmet) and then shaking them out (comp. on Acts 1:26), it is impossible to say.


Verse 37

Matthew 27:37 Whether it was customary to have a tablet ( σανίς) put over the cross containing a statement of the crime ( τὴν αἰτίαν αὐτοῦ) for which the offender was being executed, we have no means of knowing. According to Dio Cass. liv. 8, it might be seen hanging round the neck of the criminal even when he was passing through the city to the place of execution. Comp. also Sueton. Domit. 10; Calig. 32; Euseb. v. 1. 19.

ἐπέθηκαν] It was undoubtedly affixed to the part of the cross that projected above the horizontal beam. But it is inadmissible, in deference to the hypothesis that the “title” (John 19:19) was affixed to the cross before it was set up, either to transpose the verses in the text (Matthew 27:33-34; Matthew 27:37-38; Matthew 27:35-36; Matthew 27:39, so Wassenbergh in Valckenaer, Schol. II. p. 31), or to take ἐπέθηκαν (Kuinoel) in the sense of the pluperfect, or to assume some inaccuracy in the narrative, by supposing, for example, that the various details are not given in chronological order, and that the mention of the watch being set is introduced too soon, from a desire to include at once all that was done (de Wette, Bleek) by the soldiers (who, however, are understood to have nailed up the “title” as well!). According to Matthew’s statement, it would appear that when the soldiers had finished the work of crucifixion, and had cast lots for the clothes, and had mounted guard over the body, they proceed, by way of supplementing what had been already done, to affix the “title” to the top of the cross. The terms of the inscription are given with diplomatic precision in John 19:20, though others, including Keim, prefer the shortest version, being that found in Mark.


Verse 38

Matthew 27:38 τότε] then, after the crucifixion of Jesus was thus disposed of.

σταυροῦνται] spoken with reference to another band of soldiers which takes the place of καθήμενοι ἐτήρουν αὐτὸν ἐκεῖ, Matthew 27:36. The whole statement is merely of a cursory and summary nature.


Verse 39

Matthew 27:39 οἱ δὲ παραπορ.] That what is here said seems to imply, what would ill accord with the synoptic statement as to the day on which our Lord was crucified, that this took place on a working day (Fritzsche, de Wette), is not to be denied (comp. on John 18:28; Mark 15:21), though it cannot be assumed with certainty that such was the case. But there can be no doubt that the place of execution was close to a public thoroughfare.

κινοῦντες τὰς κεφ. αὐτ.] The shaking of the head here is not to be regarded as that which expresses refusal or passion (Hom. Il. xviii. 200, 442; Od. v. 285, 376), but, according to Psalms 22:8, as indicating a malicious jeering at the helplessness of one who had made such lofty pretensions, Matthew 27:40. Comp. Job 16:4; Psalms 109:25; Lamentations 2:15; Isaiah 37:22; Jeremiah 18:16; Buxt. Lex. Talm. p. 2039; Justin, Ap. I. 38.


Verse 40

Matthew 27:40 ἔλεγον δὲ τὰ τοιαῦτα κωμῳδοῦντες ὡς ψεύστην, Euthymius Zigabenus. We should not fail to notice the parallelism in both the clauses (in opposition to Fritzsche, who puts a comma merely after σεαυτόν, and supposes that in both instances the imperative is conditioned by εἰ υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ θεοῦ), καταλύων, κ. τ. λ. being parallel to εἰ υἱὸς εἶ τ. θ., and σῶσον σεαυτόν to κατάβηθι ἀπὸ τοῦ σταυροῦ.

καταλύων, κ. τ. λ.] is an allusion to Matthew 26:61. For the use of the present participle in a characterizing sense (the destroyer, etc.), comp. Matthew 23:37. The allegation of the witnesses, Matthew 26:61, had come to be a matter of public talk, which is scarcely to be wondered at considering the extraordinary nature of it.

Observe, moreover, that here the emphasis is on υἱός (comp. Matthew 4:3), while in Matthew 27:43 it is on θεοῦ.


Verse 42

Matthew 27:42 Parallelism similar to that of Matthew 27:40.

καὶ πιστεύομεν (see the critical remarks) ἐπʼ αὐτῷ: and we believe on Him (at once), that is, as actually being the Messiah. ἐπί with the dative (Luke 24:25) conveys the idea that the faith would rest upon Him. So also Romans 9:33; Romans 10:11; 1 Timothy 1:16; 1 Peter 2:6.


Verse 43

Matthew 27:43 In the mouth of the members of Sanhedrim, who in Matthew 27:41 are introduced as joining in the blasphemies of the passers-by, and who, Matthew 27:42, have likewise the inscription over the cross in view, the jeering assumes a more impious character. They now avail themselves even of the language of holy writ, quoting from the 22d Psalm (which, moreover, the Jews declared to be non-Messianic), the 5th verse of which is given somewhat loosely from the LXX. ( ἤλπισεν ἐπὶ κύριον, ῥυσάσθω αὐτόν, σωσάτω αὐτόν, ὅτι θέλει αὐτόν).

θέλει αὐτόν] is the rendering of the Heb. חָפִץ בּוֹ, and is to be interpreted in accordance with the Septuagint usage of θέλειν (see Schleusner, Thes. II. p. 51, and comp. on Romans 7:21): if He is the object of his desire, i.e. if he likes Him; comp. Tobit 13:6; Psalms 18:19; Psalms 41:11. In other instances the LXX. give the preposition as well, rendering the Hebrew (1 Samuel 18:22, al.) by θέλειν ἔν τινι. Fritzsche supplies ῥύσασθαι; but in that case we should have had merely εἰ θέλει without αὐτόν; comp. Colossians 2:18.

ὅτι θεοῦ εἰμι υἱός] The emphasis is on θεοῦ, as conveying the idea: I am not the son of a man, but of God, who in consequence will be certain to deliver me.

Comp. Wisdom of Solomon 2:18.

Observe further the short bounding sentences in which their malicious jeering, Matthew 27:42 f., finds vent.


Verse 44

Matthew 27:44 τὸ δʼ αὐτό] not: after the same manner (as generally interpreted), but expressing the object itself (comp. Soph. Oed. Col. 1006: τοσαῦτʼ ὀνειδίζεις με; Plat. Phaedr. p. 241: ὅσα τὸν ἕτερον λελοιδορήκαμεν), for, as is well known, such verbs as denote a particular mode of speaking or acting are often construed like λέγειν τινά τι or ποιεῖν τινά τι. Krüger, § xlvi. 12; Kühner, II. 1, p. 276. Comp. on Philippians 2:18.

οἱ λῃσταί] different from Luke 23:39; the generic interpretation of the plural (Augustine, de cons, ev. iii. 16; Ebrard, Krafft) is precluded by the necessary reference to Matthew 27:38. The harmonists (Origen, Cyrill, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, Zeger, Lange) resorted to the expedient of supposing that at first both of them may have reviled Him, but that subsequently only one was found to do so, because the other had in the meantime been converted. Luke does not base his account upon a later tradition (Ewald, Schenkel, Keim), but upon materials of a more accurate and copious character drawn from a different circle of traditions.


Verse 45

Matthew 27:45 ἀπὸ δὲ ἕκτης ὥρας] counting from the third (nine o’clock in the morning), the hour at which He had been nailed to the cross, Mark 15:25. Respecting the difficulty of reconciling the statements of Matthew and Mark as to the hour in question with what is mentioned by John at Matthew 19:14, and the preference that must necessarily be given to the latter, see on John, John 19:14.

σκότος] An ordinary eclipse of the sun was not possible during full moon (Origen); for which reason the eclipse of the 202d Olympiad, recorded by Phlegon in Syncellus, Chronogr. I. p. 614, ed. Bonn, and already referred to by Eusebius, is equally out of the question (Wieseler, chronol. Synops. p. 387 f.). But as little must we suppose that the reference is to that darkness in the air which precedes an ordinary earthquake (Paulus, Kuinoel, de Wette, Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 448, Weisse), for it is not an earthquake in the ordinary sense that is described in Matthew 27:51 ff.; in fact, Mark and Luke, though recording the darkness and the rending of the veil, say nothing about the earthquake. The darkness upon this occasion was of an unusual, a supernatural character, being as it were the voice of God making itself heard through nature, the gloom over which made it appear as though the whole earth were bewailing the ignominious death which the Son of God was dying. The prodigies, to all appearance similar, that are alleged to have accompanied the death of certain heroes of antiquity (see Wetstein), and those solar obscurations alluded to in Rabbinical literature, were different in kind from that now before us (ordinary eclipses of the sun, such as that which took place after the death of Caesar, Serv. ad. Virg. G. I. 466), and, even apart from this, would not justify us in relegating what is matter of history, John’s omission of it notwithstanding, to the region of myth (in opposition to Strauss, Keim, Scholten), especially when we consider that the death in this instance was not that of a mere human hero, that there were those still living who could corroborate the evangelic narrative, and that the darkness here in question was associated with the extremely peculiar σημεῖον of the rending of the veil of the temple.

ἐπὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν] Keeping in view the supernatural character of the event as well as the usage elsewhere with regard to the somewhat indefinite phraseology πᾶσα or ὅλη γῆ (Luke 21:35; Luke 23:44; Romans 4:17; Romans 10:18; Revelation 13:3), it is clear that the only rendering in keeping with the tone of the narrative is: over the whole earth ( κοσμικὸν δὲ ἦν τὸ σκότος, οὐ μερικόν, Theophylact, comp. Chrysostom, Euthymius Zigabenus), not merely: over the whole land (Origen, Erasmus, Luther, Maldonatus, Kuinoel, Paulus, Olshausen, Ebrard, Lange, Steinmeyer) though at the same time we are not called upon to construe the words in accordance with the laws of physical geography; they are simply to be regarded as expressing the popular idea of the matter.


Verse 46

Matthew 27:46 ἀνεβόησεν] He cried aloud. See Winer, de verbor. cum praepos. compos, usu, 1838, III. p. 6 f.; comp. Luke 9:38; LXX. and Apocr., Herod., Plato.

The circumstance of the following exclamation being given in Hebrew) is sufficiently and naturally enough accounted for by the jeering language of Matthew 27:47, which language is understood to be suggested by the sound of the Hebrew words recorded in our present passage.

σαβαχθανί] Chald.: שְׁבַקְתַּנִי = the Heb. עֲזַבְתָּנִי. Jesus gives vent to His feelings in the opening words of the twenty-second Psalm. We have here, however, the purely human feeling that arises from a natural but momentary quailing before the agonies of death, and which was in every respect similar to that which had been experienced by the author of the psalm. The combination of profound mental anguish, in consequence of entire abandonment by men, with the well-nigh intolerable pangs of dissolution, was all the more natural and inevitable in the case of One whose feelings were so deep, tender, and real, whose moral consciousness was so pure, and whose love was so intense. In ἐγκατέλιπες Jesus expressed, of course, what He felt, for His ordinary conviction that He was in fellowship God had for the moment given way under the pressure of extreme bodily and mental suffering, and a mere passing feeling as though He were no longer sustained by the power of the divine life had taken its place (comp. Gess, p. 196); but this subjective feeling must not be confounded with actual objective desertion on the part of God (in opposition to Olshausen and earlier expositors), which in the case of Jesus would have been a meta-physical and moral impossibility. The dividing of the exclamation into different parts, so as to correspond to the different elements in Christ’s nature, merely gives rise to arbitrary and fanciful views (Lange, Ebrard), similar to those which have been based on the metaphysical deduction from the idea of necessity (Ebrard). To assume, as the theologians have done, that in the distressful cry of abandonment we have the vicarious enduring of the wrath of God (“ira Dei adversus nostra peccata effunditur in ipsum, et sic satisfit justitiae Dei,” Melanchthon, comp. Luther on Psalms 22, Calvin, Quenstedt), or the infliction of divine punishment (Köstlin in the Jahrb. f. D. Theol. III. 1, p. 125, and Weiss himself), is, as in the case of the agony in Gethsemane, to go farther than we are warranted in doing by the New Testament view of the atoning death of Christ, the vicarious character of which is not to be regarded as consisting in an objective and actual equivalent. Comp. Remarks after Matthew 26:46. Others, again, have assumed that Jesus, though quoting only the opening words of Psalms 22., had the whole psalm in view, including, therefore, the comforting words with which it concludes (Paulus, Gratz, de Wette, Bleek; comp. Schleiermacher, Glaubensl. II. p. 141, ed. 4, and L. J. p. 457). This, however, besides being somewhat arbitrary, gives rise to the incongruity of introducing the element of reflection where only pure feeling prevailed, as we see exemplified by Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 309, who, in accordance with his view that Jesus was abandoned to the mercies of an ungodly world, substitutes a secondary thought (“request for the so long delayed deliverance through death”) for the plain and direct sense of the words. The authenticity of our Lord’s exclamation, which the author of the Wolferibüttel Fragnents has singularly misconstrued (in describing it as the cry of despair over a lost cause), is denied by Strauss (who speaks of Psalms 22 as having served the purpose of a programme of Christ’s passion), while it is strongly questioned by Keim, partly on account of Psalms 22 and partly because he thinks that the subsequent accompanying narrative is clearly (?) of the nature of a fictitious legend. But legend would hardly have put the language of despair into the mouth of the dying Redeemer, and certainly there is nothing in the witticisms that follow to warrant the idea that we have here one legend upon another.

ἵνατι] the momentary but agonizing feeling that He is abandoned by God, impels Him to ask what the divine object of this may be. He doubtless knew this already, but the pangs of death had overpowered Him (2 Corinthians 13:4),—a passing anomaly as regards the spirit that uniformly characterized the prayers of Jesus.

ἐγκαταλείπω] means: to abandon any one to utter helplessness. Comp. 2 Corinthians 4:9; Acts 2:27; Hebrews 13:5; Plat. Conv. p. 179 A Dem. p. 158, 10, al.; Sirach 3:16; Sirach 7:30; Sirach 9:10.


Verse 47

Matthew 27:47 A heartless Jewish witticism founded upon a silly malicious perversion of the words ἠλί, ἠλί, and not a misunderstanding of their meaning on the part of the Roman soldiers (Euthymius Zigabenus), or illiterate Jews (Theophylact, Erasmus, Olshausen, Lange), or Hellenists (Grotius), for the whole context introduces us to one scene after another of envenomed mockery; see Matthew 27:49.

οὗτος] that one there! pointing Him out among the three who were being crucified.


Verse 48

Matthew 27:48 f. A touch of sympathy on the part of some one who had been moved by the painful cry of Jesus, and who would fain relieve Him by reaching Him a cordial. What a contrast to this in Matthew 27:49! According to John 19:28, Jesus expressly intimated that He was thirsty. Mark 15:36 makes it appear that the person who reached the drink to Jesus was also one of those who were mocking Him, a discrepancy which we should make no attempt to reconcile, and in which we can have no difficulty in detecting traces of a more corrupt tradition. Luke omits this incident altogether, though in Matthew 23:36 he states that by way of mocking our Lord the soldiers offered Him the posca just before the darkness came on. Strauss takes advantage of these discrepancies so as to make it appear that they are but different applications of the prediction contained in Psalms 69, without, however, disputing the fact that drink had been given to Jesus on two different occasions.

ὄξους] poscae, sour wine, the ordinary drink of the Roman soldiers. Comp. Matthew 27:34 and Wetstein thereon.

ἄφες] stop! don’t give him anything to drink! we want to see whether Elias whom he is invoking as his deliverer will come to his help, which help you would render unnecessary by giving him drink.

ἔρχεται,] placed first for sake of emphasis: whether he is coming, does not fail coming!


Verse 50

Matthew 27:50 πάλιν] refers to Matthew 27:46. What did Jesus cry in this instance? See John 19:30, from which Luke 23:46 diverges somewhat, containing, in fact, an explanatory addition to the account of the great closing scene, that is evidently borrowed from Psalms 31:6.

ἀφῆκε τὸ πνεῦμα] i.e. He died. See Herod, iv. 190; Eur. Hec. 571: ἀφῆκε πνεῦμα θανασίμῳ σφαγῇ; Kypke, I. p. 140; Genesis 35:18; Sirach 38:23; Wisdom of Solomon 16:14. There is no question here of a separating of the πνεῦμα from the ψυχή. See in answer to Ströbel, Delitzsch, Psych. p. 400 f. The theory of a merely apparent death (Bahrdt, Venturini Paulus) is so decidedly at variance with the predictions of Jesus Himself regarding His end, as well as with the whole testimony of the Gospel, is so utterly destructive of the fundamental idea of the resurrection, undermines so completely the whole groundwork of the redemption brought about by Christ, is so inconsistent with the accumulated testimony of centuries as furnished by the very existence of the church itself, which is based upon the facts of the death and the resurrection of Jesus, and requires such a remarkable series of other theories and assumptions of an extraordinary and supernatural character in order to explain duly authenticated facts regarding Christ’s appearance and actings after His resurrection,—that, with friends and foes alike testifying to the actual death of Jesus, we are bound at once to dismiss it as an utterly abortive attempt to get rid of the physiological mystery (but see on Luke, Remarks after Matthew 24:51) of the resurrection. It is true that though those modern critics (Strauss, Weisse, Ewald, Schweizer, Schenkel, Volkmar, Scholten, Keim) who deny the literal resurrection of Christ’s body, and who suggest various ways of accounting for His alleged reappearing again on several occasions, do not dispute the reality of His death, their view is nevertheless as much at variance with the whole of the New Testament evidence in favour of the resurrection as is the one just adverted to. Comp. Matthew 28:10, Rem., and Luke 24:51, Rem.


Verse 51

Matthew 27:51 f. Not an ordinary earthquake, but a supernatural phenomenon, as was that of the darkness in Matthew 27:45.

καὶ ἰδού] “Hie wendet sich’s und wird gar ein neues Wesen” [at this point the history enters upon a fresh stage, and something entirely new appears], Luther. The style of the narrative here is characterized by a simple solemnity, among other indications of which we have the frequent recurrence of καί.

τὸ καταπέτασμα] הַפָּרֹכֶת, the veil suspended before the holy of holies, Exodus 26:31; Leviticus 21:23; 1 Maccabees 1:22; Sirach 30:5; Hebrews 6:19; Hebrews 9:3; Hebrews 10:20. The rending in two (for εἰς δύο, comp. Lucian, Tox. 54; Lapith. 44), of which mention is also made by Mark and Luke, was not the effect of the convulsion in nature (which was a subsequent occurrence), but a divine σημεῖον, accompanying the moment of decease, for the purpose of indicating that in this atoning death of Jesus the old dispensation of sacrifices was being done away, and free access to the gracious presence of God at the same time restored. Comp. Hebrews 6:19 f., Matthew 9:6 ff., Matthew 10:19 f. To treat what is thus a matter of divine symbolism as though it were symbolical legend (Schleiermacher, Strauss, Scholten, Keim) is all the more unwarrantable that neither in Old Testament prophecy nor in the popular beliefs of the Jews do we find anything calculated to suggest the formation of any such legend. The influence of legend has operated rather in the way of transforming the rending of the veil into an incident of a more imposing and startling nature: “superliminare (the lintel) templi infinitae magnitudinis fractum esse atque divisum,” Evang. sec. Hebr. quoted by Jerome. See Hilgenfeld, N. T. extr. can. IV. p. 17. The idea underlying this legend was that of the destruction of the temple.

What follows is peculiar to Matthew. The rocks in question were those in the immediate neighbourhood, and so also with regard to τὰ μνημεῖα. The opening of the graves is in like manner to be regarded as divine symbolism, according to which the death of Jesus is to be understood as preparing the way for the future resurrection of believers to the eternal life of the Messianic kingdom (John 3:14 f., John 6:54). The thing thus signified by the divine sign—a sign sufficiently intelligible, and possessing all the characteristics of a genuine symbol (in opposition to Steinmeyer, p. 226)—was so moulded and amplified in the course of tradition that it became ultimately transformed into an historical incident: πολλὰ σώματα τῶν κεκοιμ. ἁγίων ἠγέρθη, κ. τ. λ. For a specimen of still further and more extravagant amplification of the material in question—material to which Ignatius likewise briefly alludes, ad Magnes. 9, and which he expressly mentions, ad Trall, interpol. 9—see Evang. Nicod. 17 ff. This legend respecting the rising of the Old Testament saints ( ἁγίων) is based upon the assumption of the descensus Christi ad inferos, in the course of which Jesus was understood not only to have visitsd them, but also to have secured their resurrection (comp. Ev. Nicod.; Ignatius, ad Trall. l.c.). But it is quite arbitrary to assume that in those who are thus alleged to have risen from their graves we have mere “apparitions assuring us of the continued existence of the departed” (Michaelis, Paulus, Kuinoel, Hug, Krabbe, p. 505; Steudel, Glaubensl. p. 455; Bleek). Besides, the legend regarding the rising of the saints on this occasion is, in itself considered, no more incompatible with the idea of Christ being the ἀπαρχὴ τῶν κεκοιμ. (1 Corinthians 15:20; Colossians 1:18) than the raising of Lazarus and certain others. See on 1 Corinthians 15:20. It is true that, according to Epiphanius, Origen, Ambrose, Luther, Calovius (comp. also Delitzsch, Psych, p. 414), the dead now in question came forth in spiritual bodies and ascended to heaven along with Christ; but with Jerome it is at the same time assumed, in opposition to the terms of our passage, that: “Non antea resurrexerunt, quam Dominus resurgeret, ut esset primogenitus resurrectionis ex mortuis;” comp. also Calvin, and Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 492. In the Acta Pilati as found in Thilo, p. 810, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the twelve patriarchs, and Noah, are expressly mentioned as being among the number of those who rose from the dead. The names are given somewhat differently in the Evang. Nicod.


Verse 53

Matthew 27:53 ΄ετὰ τὴν ἔγερσιν αὐτοῦ] is to be taken in an active sense (Psalms 139:2; Plat. Tim. p. 70 C comp. ἐξέγερσις, Polyb. ix. 15. 4; ἀνέγερσις, Plut. Mor. p. 156 B), yet not as though αὐτοῦ were a genitive of the subject (“postquam eos Jesus in vitam restituerat,” Fritzsche, which would be to make the addition of αὐτοῦ something like superfluous), but a genitive of the object, in which case it is unnecessary to say who it was that raised up Christ. The words are not to be connected with ἐξελθόντες (de Wette, following the majority of the earlier expositors), which would involve the absurd idea that those here referred to had been lying in their graves alive awaiting the coming of the third day; but, as Heinsius, with εἰσῆλθον. After life was restored they left their graves, but only after the resurrection of Jesus did they enter the holy city. Up till then they had kept themselves concealed. And this is by no means difficult to understand; for it was only after the resurrection of Jesus that their appearing could be of service in the way of bearing testimony in favour of Him in whose death the power of Hades was supposed to have been vanquished, and hence it was only then that their rising found its appropriate explanation.

ἁγίαν πόλιν] is in keeping with the solemnity of the entire narrative; comp. Matthew 4:5.


Verse 54

Matthew 27:54 δὲ ἑκατόνταρχος] “Centurio supplicio praepositus,” Seneca, de ira, i. 16. He belonged to the σπεῖρα, Matthew 27:27.

οἱ μετʼ αὐτοῦ τηροῦντες τ. ἰης.] is to be taken as one expression; see Matthew 27:35 f.

καὶ τὰ γινόμενα] καί, as in Matthew 26:59, and numerous instances besides, serves to conjoin the general with the particular: and what was taking place (generally, that is), viz. the various incidents accompanying the death of Jesus (Matthew 27:46 ff.). The present participle (see the critical remarks) is used with reference to things they have been witnessing up till the present moment; see Kühner, II. 1, pp. 117, 163.

ἐφοβήθησαν] they were seized with terror, under the impression that all that was happening was a manifestation of the wrath of the gods.

θεοῦ υἱός] in the mouth of heathens can only denote a son of God in the heathen sense of the words (hero, demi-god), the sense in which they certainly understood them to be used when they heard Jesus accused and mocked.

ἦν] during His life.


Verse 55

Matthew 27:55 f. ἠκολούθησαν] Here, as in Matthew 27:60 and often elsewhere, we have the aorist in the relative clause instead of the usual pluperfect.

΄αγδαληνή] from Magdala (see on Matthew 15:39), comp. Luke 8:2; she is not identical with the Mary of John 12:1 ff., who again has been confounded with the sinner of Luke 7:36. Comp. on Matthew 26:6 ff. The מגדלינא is likewise mentioned in Rabbinical literature (Eisenmenger, entdeckt. Judenth. I. p. 277), though this must not be confounded with מגדלא, a plaiter of hair, which the Talmud alleges the mother of Jesus to have been (Lightfoot, p. 498).

τοῦ ἰακώβου, κ. τ. λ.] the wife of Alphaeus. See on Matthew 13:55; John 19:25. The mother of Joses is not a different Mary from the mother of James (Ewald, Gesch. Chr. p. 401), otherwise we should have had καὶ τοῦ ἰωσῆ μήτηρ. See also Mark 15:47, Remark.

μήτηρ τῶν υἱῶν ζεβεδ.] Salome. Comp. on Matthew 20:20. In John 19:25 she is designated: ἀδελφὴ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ. The mother of Jesus, whose presence on this occasion is attested by John, is not mentioned by the Synoptists, though at the same time they do not exclude her (in opposition to Schenkel, Keim), especially as Matthew and Mark make no express reference to any but the women who ministered to the Lord. For this reason alone we feel bound to reject the hypothesis of Chrysostom and Theophylact, revived by Fritzsche, but refuted so long ago by Euthymius Zigabenus,—the hypothesis, namely, that it is the mother of Jesus who is meant by ΄αρία τοῦ ἰακώβου καὶ ἰωσῆ μήτηρ (Matthew 13:55). So also Hesychius of Jerusalem in Cramer’s Catena, p. 256.


Verse 57

Matthew 27:57. ὀψίας δὲ γενομ.] the so-called first or early evening, just before the close of the Jewish day. Deuteronomy 21:22 f.; Joseph. Bell. iv. 5. 2. See also Lightfoot, p. 499.

ἀπὸ ἀριμαθ.] belongs to ἄνθρωπος πλούσιος. Comp. μάγοι ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν, Matthew 2:1. The other evangelists describe him as a member of the Sanhedrim; an additional reason for supposing him to have resided in Jerusalem.

ἦλθεν] namely, to the place of execution, as the context shows, and not to the praetorium (de Wette, Bleek), to which latter Matthew 27:58 represents him as going only after his return from the scene of the crucifixion. Arimathia, רָמָתַיִם with the article, 1 Samuel 1:1, the birthplace of Samuel (see Eusebius, Onom., and Jerome, Ep. 86, ad Eustoch. epitaph. Paul. p. 673), and consequently identical with Rama (see on Matthew 2:18); LXX.: ἀρμαθαίμ.

καὶ αὐτός] et ipse, like those women and their sons, Matthew 27:56.

μαθητεύειν τινι] to be a disciple of any one; see Kypke, II. p. 141 f. Comp. on Matthew 13:52. He was a secret follower of Jesus, John 19:38.


Verse 58

Matthew 27:58 According to Roman usage, the bodies of criminals were left hanging upon the cross, where they were allowed to decompose and be devoured by birds of prey. Plaut. mil. glor. ii. 4. 9; Horace, Ep. i. 16. 48. However, should the relatives in any case ask the body for the purpose of burying, there was nothing to forbid their request being complied with. Ulpian, xlviii. 24. 1, de cadav. punit.; Hug in the Freyb. Zeitschr. 5, p. 174 ff.

προσελθ.] therefore from the place of execution to the praetorium.

ἀποδοθῆναι τὸ σῶμα] τὸ σῶμα is due not merely to the simple style of the narrative, but in its threefold repetition expresses with involuntary emphasis the author’s own painful sympathy. ἀποδοθ. has the force of reddi (Vulg.), the thing asked being regarded as the petitioner’s own peculiar property. Comp. Matthew 22:21.


Verse 59

Matthew 27:59 “Jam initia honoris,” Bengel.

σινδόνι καθαρᾷ] with pure (unstained linen) linen, the dative of instrument. Keeping in view the ordinary practice on such occasions, it must not be supposed that the reference here is to a dress (Kuinoel, Fritzsche), but (comp. Herod, ii. 86) to strips or bands (John 19:40), in which the body was swathed after being washed. Comp. Wetstein. Matthew makes no mention of spices (John 19:40), but neither does he exclude their use, for he may have meant us to understand that, in conformity with the usual practice, they would be put in, as matter of course, when the body was wrapped up (in opposition to Strauss, de Wette, Keim). Mark 16:1 and Luke 23:56 represent the putting in of the spices as something intended to be done after the burial. This, however, is in no way inconsistent with the statement of John, for there is no reason why the women may not have supplemented with a subsequent and more careful dressing of the body ( ἀλείψωσιν, Mark 16:1) what had been done imperfectly, because somewhat hurriedly, by Joseph and (see John 19:39) Nicodemus.


Verse 60

Matthew 27:60 ἐλατόμησεν] Aorist, as in Matthew 27:55.

The other evangelists say nothing about the grave having belonged to Joseph; John 19:42 rather gives us to understand that, owing to the necessary despatch, it was made choice of from its being close at hand. We thus see that Matthew’s account is unsupported by the earlier testimony of Mark on the one hand, and the later testimony of Luke and John on the other. This, however, only goes to confirm the view that in Matthew we have a later amplification of the tradition which was expunged again by Luke and John, for this latter at least would scarcely have left unnoticed the devotion evinced by Joseph in thus giving up his own tomb, and yet it is John who distinctly alleges a different reason altogether for the choice of the grave. The ordinary supposition, that Matthew’s account is intended to supplement those of the other evangelists, fails to meet the exigencies of the case, especially in regard to John, on whom so tender a feature in connection with the burial would doubtless have made too deep an impression to admit of his passing it over in silence.

As a new grave was calculated to do honour to Jesus (comp. on John as above), the circumstance that this one had not been previously used may have gone far to determine the choice, so that there is no ground for supposing that what is said with reference to this has been added without historical warrant (Strauss, Scholten).

ἐν τῇ πέτρᾳ] The article is to be understood as indicating a rocky place just at hand.

τῇ θύρᾳ] Comp. Hom. Od. ix. 243: πέτρην ἐπέθηκε θύρῃσιν. In Rabbinical phraseology the stone used for this purpose is called גּוֹלָל, a roller. See Paulus, exeget. Handb. III. p. 819. Such a mode of stopping up graves is met with even in the present day (Strauss, Sinai u. Golgatha, p. 205).


Verse 61

Matthew 27:61 ἦν δὲ ἐκεῖ] present at the burial.

ἄλλη ΄αρ.] see Matthew 27:56. The article is wanting only in A D*, and should be maintained, Wieseler (Chronol. Synops. p. 427) notwithstanding. Its omission in the case of A may be traced to the reading ἰωσήφ, which this MS. has at Mark 15:47. Wieseler approves of this reading, and holds the Mary of our text to be the wife or daughter of Joseph of Arimathea. But see remark on Mark 15:47.

καθήμεναι, κ. τ. λ.] unoccupied, absorbed in grief; comp. Nägelsbach on Hom. Il. i. 134.


Verse 62

Matthew 27:62 ἥτις ἐστὶ μετὰ τὴν παρασκ.] which follows the day of preparation, i.e. on Saturday. For παρασκεύη is used to designate the day that immediately precedes the Sabbath (as in the present instance) or any of the feast days. Comp. on John 19:14. According to the Synoptists, the παρασκεύη of the Sabbath happened to coincide this year with the first day of the feast, which might also properly enough be designated σάββατον (Leviticus 23:11; Leviticus 23:15),—this latter circumstance being, according to Wieseler (Synops. p. 417), the reason why Matthew did not prefer the simpler and more obvious expression ἥτις ἐστὶ σάββατον; an expression which, when used in connection with the days of the Passover week, was liable to be misunderstood. But Matthew had already spoken so definitely of the first day of the feast as that on which Jesus was crucified (see Matthew 24:17 to Matthew 27:1), that he had no cause to apprehend any misunderstanding of his words had he chosen to write ἥτις ἐστὶ σάββατον. But as little does that precise statement regarding the day permit us to suppose that the expression in question has been made to turn on the divergent narrative of John (in opposition to de Wette). The most natural explanation of the peculiar phraseology: ἥτις ἐστὶ μετὰ τ. παρασκ., is to be found in that Christian usage according to which the παρασκεύη (i.e. the προσάββατον, Mark 15:42) has come to be the recognised designation for the Friday of the crucifixion. Michaelis, Paulus, Kuinoel suppose that it is the part of Friday after sunset that is intended, by which time, therefore, the Sabbath had begun. This, however, is distinctly precluded by τῇ ἐπαύριον.


Verse 63

Matthew 27:63 ἐμνήσθημεν] we have remembered, it has just occurred to us, the sense being purely that of the aorist and not of the perfect (in opposition to de Wette).

ἐκεῖνος πλάνος] that deceiver (2 Corinthians 6:8), impostor; Justin, c. Tr. 69: λαοπλάνος. Without once mentioning His name, they contemptuously allude to Him as one now removed to a distance, as got rid of by death. This is a sense in which ἐκεῖνος; is frequently used by Greek authors (Schoem. ad Is. p. 177; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 559).

ἐγείρομαι] present; marking the confidence with which he affirmed it.


Verse 64

Matthew 27:64 καὶ ἔσται] is more lively and natural when not taken as dependent on μήποτε. The Vulgate renders correctly: et erit.

ἐσχάτη πλάνη] the last error (see on Ephesians 4:14), that, namely, which would gain ground among the credulous masses, through those who might steal away the body of Jesus pretending that He had risen from the dead.

τῆς πρώτης] which found acceptance with the multitude through giving out and encouraging others to give out that He was the Messiah.

χείρων] worse, i.e. more fatal to public order and security, etc. For the use of this expression, comp. Matthew 12:45; 2 Samuel 13:15.


Verse 65

Matthew 27:65 f. Pilate’s reply is sharp and peremptory.

ἔχετε κουστωδίαν] with Luther, Vatablus, Wolf, Paulus, de Wette, Keim, Steinmeyer, ἔχετε is to be taken as an imperative, habetote (comp. Xen. Cyrop. viii. 7. 11; Mark 9:50; Mark 11:22; Soph. Phil. 778): ye shall have a watch! For if it be taken as an indicative, as is generally done in conformity with the Vulgate, we must not suppose that the reference is to Roman soldiers (Grotius, Fritzsche), for the Sanhedrim had not any such placed at their disposal, not even to the detachment that guarded the cross (Kuinoel), for its duties were now over, but simply to the ordinary temple guards. But it is evident from Matthew 28:14 that it was not these latter who were set to watch the grave. This duty was assigned to a company of Roman soldiers, which company the Acta Pil. magnifies into a cohort.

ὡς οἴδατε] as, by such means as, ye know how to prevent it, i.e. in the best way you can. The idea: “vereor autem, ut satis communire illud possitis” (Fritzsche), is foreign to the text.

μετὰ τῆς κουστωδίας] belongs to ἠσφαλίς. τ. τάφ.; they secured the grave by means of (Stallbaum, ad Plat. Rep. p. 530 D) the watch, which they posted in front of it. The intervening σφραγίς. τ. λίθ. is to be understood as having preceded the ἠσφαλ. τ. τ. μετὰ τ. κουστ.: after they had sealed the stone. To connect μετὰ τ. κουστωδ. with σφραγίς. (Chrysostom) would result either in the feeble and somewhat inappropriate idea that the watch had helped them with the sealing (Bleek), or in the harsh and unnecessary assumption that our expression is an abbreviation for μετὰ τοῦ προσθεῖναι τὴν κουστωδίαν (Fritzsche).

σφραγίς.] Comp. Daniel 6:17. The sealing was effected by stretching a cord across the stone at the mouth of the sepulchre, and then fastening it to the rock at either end by means of sealing-clay (Paulsen, Regier. d. Morgenl. p. 298; Harmar, Bcobacht. II. p. 467); or if the stone at the door happened to be fastened with a cross-beam, this latter was sealed to the rock (Strauss, Sinai und Golgatha, p. 205).

REMARK.

As it is certain that Jesus cannot have predicted His resurrection in any explicit or intelligible manner even to His own disciples; as, moreover, it is impossible to suppose that the women who visited the grave on the resurrection morning could have contemplated embalming the body, or would have concerned themselves merely about how the stone was to be rolled away, if they had been aware that a watch had been set, and that the grave had been sealed; and finally, as the supposition that Pilate complied with the request for a guard, or at all events, that the members of the Sanhedrim so little understood their own interest as both to leave the body of Jesus in the hands of His followers instead of taking possession of it themselves, and to bribe the soldiers to give false testimony instead of duly calling them to account, as they might have done, for their culpable neglect, is in the highest degree improbable, just as much so as the idea that the procurator would be likely to take no notice of a dereliction of duty on the part of his own soldiers, who, by maintaining the truth of a very stupid fabrication, would only be proclaiming how much they themselves were to blame in the matter: it follows that the story about the watching of the grave—a story which is further disproved by the fact that nowhere in the discussions belonging to the apostolic age do we find any reference confirmatory or otherwise to the alleged stealing of the body—must be referred to the category of unhistorical legend. And a clue to the origin of this legend is furnished by the evangelist himself in mentioning the rumour about the stealing of the body,—a rumour emanating to all appearance from a Jewish source, and circulated with the hostile intention of disproving the resurrection of Jesus (Paulus, exeg. Handb. III. p. 837 ff.; Strauss, II. p. 562 ff.; Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 458 ff.; Weisse, Ewald, Hase, Bleek, Keim, Scholten, Hilgenfeld). The arguments advanced by Hug in the Freyburg. Zeitschr. 1831, 3, p. 184 ff.; 5, p. 80 ff.; Kuinoel, Hofmann, Krabbe, Ebrard, Lange, Riggenbach, Steinmeyer, against the supposition of a legend, resolve themselves into arbitrary assumptions and foreign importations which simply leave the matter as historically incomprehensible as ever. The same thing may be said with regard to the emendation which Olshausen takes the liberty of introducing, according to which it is made to appear that the Sanhedrim did not act in their corporate capacity, but that the affair was managed simply on the authority of Caiaphas alone. Still the unhistorical character of the story by no means justifies the assumption of an interpolation (in opposition to Stroth in Eichhorn’s Repert. IX. p. 141),—an interpolation, too, that would have had to be introduced into three different passages (Matthew 27:62; Matthew 27:66, Matthew 28:4; Matthew 28:11 ff.); yet one can understand how this apocryphal story should have most readily engrafted itself specially and exclusively upon the Gospel of Matthew, a Gospel originating in Judaeo-Christian circles, and having, by this time, the more developed form in which it has come down to us. For a further amplification of the legend, see Ev. Nicod. 14.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Matthew 27:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/matthew-27.html. 1832.

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Monday, September 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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