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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Entry Into Jerusalem

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ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM.—This was one of the acted parables of Jesus, in which some immortal lesson is concealed. The washing of the feet, the entry, and the cleansing of the Temple, stand together as dramatic representations of the principles and ideas of the Kingdom of God; of the humility and self-denial required in the life of the Christian; of the mixture of condescension and majesty in the manner of the King’s coming; and of the peace He gives and of the judgment that follows in His steps.

Of the Synoptic accounts Mk. seems the original. Mt. describes the entry in keeping with his representation of Jesus as the Malkâ Mĕshihâ of the Jews, and in consonance with the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. The Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 rendering of Matthew 21:4 τοῦτο δὲ γἐγονεν, ‘Now this is come to pass,’ seems to put the reference to the fulfilment of that prophecy into the mouth of Jesus. But the inference from John 12:15-16 is that the prophecy is an afterthought of the disciples, in the light of the Ascension; and the ten texts of ‘fulfilment’ in Mt. are always comments of the writer. Mt. seems to represent Jesus as riding on the she-ass and the colt (ἑπάνω αὐτῶν). In Zechariah 9:9 the Heb. ו, as Rosenmüller points out, is exegetical not copulative, and as ‘ass’ (חֲמוֹר) is male, the proper rendering is ‘sitting on an ass, even a colt, the foal of she-asses.’ There is thus only one ass in Zechariah. The apparent duplication is due to Hebrew parallelismus. Mt. is accused of embroidering the historical statement by adding a second ass in order to show the exact literal fulfilment of prophecy (Kirsopp Lake, at Liverpool Church Congress). Robertson’s attempt (Christianity and Mythology, p. 368) to explain the two asses mythologically as signifying that the ‘Sun-god is at his highest pitch of glory and is coming to his doom,’ is not to be taken seriously. Mt.’s penchant for ‘doubles’ being well known (cf. Matthew 8:28; Matthew 9:27; Matthew 20:30-34), the passage must not be pressed. Bengel’s comment is ‘pullo vectus est, asinâ item usus, pulli comite.’ Farrar suggested rendering ἑπάνω αὐτῶν = ‘on one of them’; cf. Acts 23:24. Justin Martyr (Apol. i. 32) speaks only of a colt, but, connecting the incident with Genesis 49:11, describes it as ‘tied to a vine.’

The prophecy Matthew 21:5, a compound of Isaiah 62:11 and Zechariah 9:9, is taken partly from Heb., partly from LXX Septuagint. LXX Septuagint suppresses ὌΝΟΝ, which is recovered from Hebrew. Mt. suppresses δικαιος καὶ σώζων [נוֹשָׁע Niph. ptcp.: salvatus not salvator, trans. active, through influence of יִשְׁעֵךְ (‘thy salvation’) Isaiah 62:11], emphasizing ΤΡΑΐ, ‘meek’ (צנִי).

In Mt. there is a description of the commotion (ἐσείσθη) in the whole city; the question, ‘Who is this?’; the answer, ‘This is the prophet Jesus, he who is from Nazareth of Galilee,’ and the greeting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David.’ Mark 11:1-10 adds some vivid details. The colt, never before used (so Lk.), was tied ‘at the door without in the open street’ (ἐπὶ τοῦ ἁμφόδου [not ‘where two ways met,’ bivium, Vulgate], Just. Mart, ἔν τινι εἰσόδῳ κώμης (l.c.); ἄμφοδα, αἱ ῥύμαι (Hesych.). The woven branches (στοιβάδες) cut from the gardens (ἁγρῶν, v.l. for δένδρων) are different from the κλάδοι (olive branches in classical Greek) cut from the trees, in Matthew 21:8. The cry of the people is ‘Hosanna; Blessed in the name of the Lord (acc. to Hebrew accents and idiom, e.g. Deuteronomy 21:5), Blessed be the kingdom that cometh, even that of our father David.’ Mk. treats the visit as one of inspection. Jesus retires, ‘having looked round on all things, for the hour was late,’ whereas Mt. and Lk. give it as prelude to the cleansing of the Temple. Luke 19:29-45 gives additional touches. They placed Jesus on the colt ἐπεβίβασαν (ἐπεκάθισαν of Matthew 21:7 being doubtful); the exact place of the exhibition of popular enthusiasm is given, ‘even now at the descent of the Mt. of Olives’ (ἤδη πρὸς τῇ καταβάσει), from which, Dean Stanley states, the first view is caught of the south-eastern corner of the city as the road from Bethany begins to descend. The lament over the city, the retort to the Pharisees’ objection, ‘If these should hold their peace,’ etc., are peculiar to Luke. The song is, ‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest,’ a seeming adaptation of the ‘Hosanna,’ etc., to suit Greek taste, perhaps through the influence of the angels’ song (Luke 2:14).

John 12:12-19 describes the scene from the stand-point of the people in the city who went out to meet Him (εἰς ὑπάντησιν): the blending of the two streams of people, the οἱ προάγοντες, ‘those going before’ of the Synoptics being those who had gone out to meet Him and had turned back when they met Him at the head of the procession, and thus preceded Him to the city; the testimony of the people who were with Him to the new-comers that (reading ὅτι for ὅτε) He had summoned Lazarus from the tomb; and the fact that the people from the city took branches of palm trees (τὰ βαΐα τῶν φοινίκων [from class. βαίς, ‘palm-branch,’ not from βαιός, ‘small’; note the three different words for ‘branch,’ κλάδος, στιβάς, and βαΐον]. The prophecy is given in a shorter form. Jesus is hailed ‘King of Israel,’ and the Pharisees comment on their own powerlessness and His popularity (John 12:19).

This entry was connected with Jesus’ consciousness of His Messianic mission, gradually developing as His work assumed definite direction and His doctrine definite form; was conceived after the prophecies of the OT, and planned in order to satisfy the expectations of many who were waiting for the coming of the Kingdom of God, ‘the consolation of Israel,’ ‘the redemption of Jerusalem’ (Luke 2:25; Luke 2:35). After the feeding of the 5000 (John 6:14) the multitude recognized Jesus as the prophet that should come into the world, and would have seized Him and made Him a king, but He defeated their purpose; for He could not allow an emotional peasantry, ever ready to flock to the standard of a deliverer, to identify His Kingdom with this world, or His cause with that of a Judas of Galilee. Here He devises the entry on the lines of Jewish prophecy, which, though free from any hostile intention, was equivalent to a declaration that He was the Messiah, and implied that He was more. It was not directly urged against Him at His trial; but it supplied Pilate with his question, ‘Art thou the King of the Jews?’ and, accordingly, with the legal basis for his sentence. This and the cleansing were His two first and last actions as Messiah. They were followed by the Cross.

We may infer in some measure from the song, the prophecy quoted, and His mode of entry, how far Jesus fulfilled and how far He transcended the Messianic expectations of His day.

1. The Kingdom of our father David.—The Kingdom of God or of heaven in the sense of the rule or Herrschaft of God, ‘the power of God in its present or future manifestation,’ the spiritual sway and ‘sovereignty of God’ (Dalman. Words of Jesus, p. 94), not in the sense of Home Rule for the Jews, had always been the text of Jesus’ public addresses (Matthew 4:17). Shortly before this the Pharisees had asked when the Kingdom of God should come (Luke 17:20). And His answer was in keeping with His object of purifying the Messianic ideas and exalting the Messianic ideals of His age. It was the Kingdom of His Father (Matthew 26:29) and of the Father of the righteous (Matthew 13:43) that He proclaimed; it was the kingdom of their father David of which the people thought. And His question, ‘What think ye of Christ?’ (Matthew 22:42), shows that He did not consider Davidic origin sufficient status in itself for the Messiah. ‘The kingdom of our father David’ recalls the grand ideal of the theocratic ruler, the representative of J" [Note: ″ Jehovah.] , the ideal son to whose descendants that throne was ensured (2 Samuel 7:16), upon which the prophets of the OT continued to build their hopes—hopes which had become greatly modified and materialized during the struggle with Antiochus and Rome, and by contact with Grecian thought, and which made the ordinary Jew dream of a deliverer with all the heroic qualities of a Judas Maceabaeus, and the more philosophic think of an earthly empire, cosmopolitan and world-ruling like the Roman. It was the idea in the prophets, chiefly in Daniel 7:13-14; Daniel 7:17, of a kingdom, holy, supernatural, universal and eternal, that Jesus sought to recover from the lumber-room of tradition; and in this He was assisted by the gradual revival of more spiritual Messianic hopes among thoughtful and devout Jews like Simeon and Anna (cf. also the angelic prediction of Luke 1:32 ‘And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David’). The Gospels give an account of the general Messianic expectations. The Messiah was not to come from Galilee but from Bethlehem (Matthew 2:5), was king of the Jews (Matthew 2:2), was to perform miracles (John 7:31), to be a prophet (John 4:29), to appear mysteriously (John 7:27), to be a descendant of David (Matthew 9:27), and to restore again the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6).

2. The addressSon of David.’—The Messiah is first designated υἱὸς Δαυίδ in Ps-Sol 17:23—a title founded on Scripture expressions such as ‘son’ (Isaiah 9:6), ‘seed’ (Targ. [Note: Targum.] 2 Samuel 7:12), ‘branch’ (Jeremiah 23:5 and Zechariah 6:13, where the Aram. [Note: Aramaic.] paraphrase for ‘branch’ is ‘Messiah’). The Davidic descent of Jesus, never refuted by His opponents, was accepted by St. Paul (Romans 1:3). But Jesus based His authority on something higher than this (Matthew 22:45).

3. The song ‘Hosanna … highest’ (cf. Psalms 118:25-26, the festal cry amidst which the altar of burnt-offering was solemnly compassed on the first six days of the Feast of Tabernacles, and on the last day seven times).—‘Hosanna,’ which may be a contraction for Hôshî ‘âh nâ (σῶσον δή, LXX Septuagint), or shorter Hiph. imper. with enclitic, הוֹשַׁעצָא, is evidently a salutation = ‘greeting to (cf. Lat. Io triumphe) the Son of David,’ not supplication as in Ps.; cf. Didache, x. 6, ὡσαννὰ τῷ θἐῳ Δαβίδ (‘hail’). ὡσαννὰ ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις (Mt.) = δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις (Lk.). In Psalms 72:4; Psalms 116:6 the Heb. לְ (= dat.) is found after Hiph. of יָשַׁע; but the fact that the branches at the Feast of Tabernacles were called ‘hosannas’ and Mt.’s remarkable omission from Zechariah 9:9 of נוֹשָׁע (σώζων, LXX Septuagint), which would have thrown a new light on this cry, seem to denude the expression of any special significance. See Hosanna.

Dalman suggests that the original cry of the people was ‘Hosanna, Blessed in the name of J" [Note: ″ Jehovah.] be he that cometh’ (op. cit. p. 222). It is also to be remembered that in the OT, J" [Note: ″ Jehovah.] Himself is generally represented as Saviour, while the Messiah was the prince of the redeemed people; the idea that the Messiah was the Redeemer being more recent. An interesting connexion between Psalms 118:27 ‘Bind the sacrifice with cords or woven branches’ (עכֹתים = στοιβαδες, Mark 11:8) and the entry of Jesus is brought out in Symm. [Note: Symmachus.] συνδήσατε ἑν τανηγύρει πυκάσματκ.

It is possible to make too much of the ceremonies of the Feast of Tabernacles in connexion with this entry, which took place just before the Feast of Passover in spring. But it is equally possible that the song, etc., may have been due to reminiscences of the preceding Feast of Tabernacles, when Jesus was pronounced the prophet and the Messiah (John 7:41), and that the whole passage was sung, that which used to be supplication now passing into greeting. Our conclusion is, then, that though the song ‘Hosanna,’ etc., was used in salutation, it contains an allusion to the preceding Feast of Tabernacles, expresses the convictions of many of the people, and offers a remarkable parallel to Psalms 118:25-27.

4. The mode of entry.—Some of the same Galilaean folk who wished to make Jesus a king before the time of John 6:15 have now, in their progress to the city, gathered around Him and escort Him, their national Prophet, with song. Others come from the city to meet Him, and receive Him with acts of homage which show that they regarded Him at the time as the prospective deliverer of the nation. In 2 Maccabees 10:6-7 Judas Maccabaeus is welcomed with similar acclamations and ‘branches and fair boughs and palms,’ and in 1 Maccabees 13:51 Simon. In 2 Kings 9:13 the followers of Jehu, the newly proclaimed king, threw down their cloaks (ἱμάτια, as here) before him. Stanley also (SP [Note: P Sinai and Palestine.] 191) mentions that in recent times the people of Bethlehem cast their cloaks before the horse of the consul of Damascus. Dalman agrees with Wellhausen that the procession did not acquire its Messianic colour until a later period, and that few at the time thought of the prophecy in Zec. (opcit. p. 222). In the light of after events, Jesus entered the city as Messianic king, priest, and prophet. (1) The ‘prince’ had to provide the sacrifices ‘to make reconciliation for or to atone for [לְבַפר] the house of Israel’ (Ezekiel 45:15; cf. Ezekiel 46:4-6 and 2 Chronicles 30:14). So does ‘the Lord’s Anointed’ here. (2) The priest presents the offering. So does ‘the priest after the order of Melchizedek’ (Psalms 110:4) proceed, metaphorically speaking, to ‘bind the sacrifice with cords unto the horns of the altar’ (Psalms 118:27). The harmony between the two offices of the Messiah as king and priest is well described in Zechariah 6:13 ‘and the counsel of peace shall be between the two’ (so Rosenm.). The growing predominance of the priestly office of the Messiah is also expressed in the choice of the colt ‘whereon never man sat’ (Mk. and Lk.), cf. Numbers 19:3 ‘a red heifer … upon which never came yoke.’ (3) The prophetic character of the Messiah as the ‘messenger of the covenant’ (Malachi 3:1), coming to His temple, J" [Note: ″ Jehovah.] ’s prophet to the world and a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 49:6), was suitably expressed by the proclamation of the people, ‘This is Jesus the prophet,’ etc., and by their testimony to His miracles, generally connected with a prophet. (4) There was another ideal of the OT realized in Jesus on this occasion. The meek and afflicted [עָנִי] saint of Psalms 22:24, the Psalm appropriated by Jesus on the cross, was represented by Him who wept over the city and entered it ‘meek [עָנִי Zechariah 9:9 = πραΰς, Matthew 21:5; also in Matthew 5:5 = Psalms 37:11], and sitting upon an ass.’ Other significations of this Heb. adj., such as ‘poor,’ ‘oppressed,’ and ‘persecuted’ (in Isaiah), were also realized in Jesus. But it is His meekness that Mt. emphasizes, doubtless because of His riding on an ass. At one time the ass was not a despised animal. Judges rode on white asses (Judges 5:10). But through contact with Gentiles the ass had fallen into contempt. For ὄνος Josephus substitutes κτῆνος and ἵππος. LXX Septuagint in Zechariah 9:9 preferred ὑποζύγιον and πῶλος to the despised word. It was, however, the tradition that the Messiah should come riding on an ass (Sepp, § vi. c. 6). (5) The conception of Messiah as the suffering Servant of Deut.-Isaiah was, however, most of all exemplified by Him who on this occasion humbled Himself [נָעַנ֛ה (Niph. of עִנַה in reflexive sense) Isaiah 53:7 = ἐταπείνωσεν ἐαυτόν, Philippians 2:8] in a voluntary manner in His progress to a death for His people.

Matthew describes Jesus as armed with authority (ἐξουσία, cf. Matthew 8:9), and on this occasion depicts Him as the Malkâ Mĕshìhâ of the Jews. His authority is over all flesh, to make them feel their want of God and Him. The sense of power was derived from the sense of His mission and the consciousness that He was the Son of God, which made Him soar beyond the Messianic rôle and see Himself the Lord of the whole earth, holding sway by peace, spiritual peace, and by power, spiritual power. ‘He claimed for Himself.’ as Dalman remarks (op. cit. p. 313), ‘an exalted position such as had not been assigned even to the Messiah,’ and, as Harnack (What is Christianity? p. 141) observes, ‘He leaves the idea of the Messiah far behind Him, because He filled it with a content that burst it.’ It was in the same spirit that He affirmed His Kingship before Pilate (Matthew 27:11).

The object of this entry was the inauguration of Jesus’ last mission to His people. The attraction of the provincial crowds, the Jerusalem populace, the Greeks and proselytes, if not the impressing of the Jewish hierarchy, this was the end desired, and in a great measure attained. He never seems to move in solitary state in the Temple; crowds are always around Him; He is the topic of the people’s conversation and the subject of the priests’ conspiracy. This was a suitable prelude to a great missionary enterprise all too brief, but crowded perhaps with more real work and witness for the King and His Kingdom than the preceding portion of His ministry. It led to the cleansing of the Temple on the same or the following day, and these together culminated in the Cross.

Literature.—Dalman, Words of Jesus; Harnack, What is Christianity?; Stanley, SP [Note: P Sinai and Palestine.] ; Farrar, Life of Christ; Edersheim, Life and Times; Hitchcock, Mystery of the Cross; artt. ‘Hosanna,’ ‘Messiah,’ ‘Prophets’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible.

F. R. Montgomery Hitchcock.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Entry Into Jerusalem'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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