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wrote this gospel, about thirty years after the field was pure chased.
9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;
The words quoted here are not to be found in the prophecy of Jeremiah. Words similar to these are recorded in Zech. xi. 12, 13, and from that place this quotation has been doubtless made. Anciently, according to the Jewish writers, Jeremiah was placed first in the Book of the Prophets; and the Old Testament being divided into three parts, the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets, the third division was called Jeremiah, because bis book was placed first. Matthew, therefore, quoted the Book of the Prophets under the name of that which had the first place in the book; and though the words are those of Zechariah, yet they are quoted correctly
as the words of the Book of the Prophets, the first of which was Jeremiah. "The price of him that was valued. The word rendered' valued,' here, does not, as often in our language, mean to esteem, but to estimate; not to love, approve, or regard, but to fix a price on, to estimate the value of. This they considered to be thirty pieces of silver, the common price of a slave. They of the children of Israel did value.' Some of the Jews, the leaders or priests, acting in the name of the nation. 'Did value.' Did estimate, or fix a price on.
10 And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.
And gave them.' In Zechariah it is, I gave them. Here it is represented as being given by the priests. The meaning is not, however, different. It is, that this price was given for the potter's field.
11 1 And Jesus stood before the governor : and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.
Many things are omitted by Matthew in the account of this trial, which are recorded by the other evangelists. A much more full account is found in John xviii. 28–40. 'And the
governor asked him,' &c. This question was asked on account of the charge which the Jews brought against Jesus, of perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar, Luke xxiii
. 2. They had condemned him for blasphemy; but they well knew that Pilate would altogether disregard an accusation of that kind. They therefore attempted to substitute a totally different accusation, to procure his death on a false charge of treason against the Roman emperor. "Thou sayest.' That is, thou sayest right, or thou sayest the truth. We may wonder why the Jews did no:
press it upon the attention of Pilate as a full confession of his guilt. It was what they had accused him of. Jesus took away all occasion of triumph by explaining to Pilate the nature of his kingdom, John xviii. 36. Though he acknowledged that he was a king, yet he stated that his kingdom was noi of this world, therefore it could not be charged upon him as treason against the Roman emperor.
12 And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.
• When he was accused. Namely, of perverting the nation, and of forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar, Luke xxiii. 2, 5. Probably this was done in a tumultuous manner, and in every variety of form. ' He answered nothing. He was conscious of his innocence. He knew that they could not prove these charges; and therefore he was silent.
13 Then saith Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee ?
• They witness against thee.' This means, rather, that they accused him. They were not witnesses, but accusers. They charged him with exciting the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee to Jerusalem, and exciting them to sedition, Luke xxiii. 5.
14 And he answered him to never a word ; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.
*To never a word.' That is, not at all. This is an emphatic way of saying that he answered nothing. There was no need of his replying. He was innocent, and they offered no proof. "Marvelled greatly.' Wondered exceedingly, or was much surprised, Pilate probably was more surprised that Jesus bore this so meekly, and did not return railing for railing, than that he did not set up a defence, The latter was unnecessary; the former was unusual. The governor was not accustomed to see it, and was therefore greatly amazed.
It was at this time that Pilate sent Jesus to Herod, who was then at Jerusalem, attending the feast of the passover, Luke xxiii. 6–12. Herod, having examined him, and finding no cause of death in him, sent him back to Pilate. Pleased with the respect which had been shown him, Herod laid aside his enmity against Pilate, and they became friends.
15 | Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.
See also the parallel places in Mark xv. 6–14; Luke xxiii. 17. -23. John xviii. 39, 40. "At that feast.' The feast of the Passover. "The governor was wont to release,' &c. Was ac. customed to release. From what this custom arose, or by whom it was introduced, is not known. It was probably adopted to secure popularity among the Jews, and to render the government of the Romans less odious.
16 And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.
The word 'notable' means one that is distinguished in any way, either for great virtues, or great crimes. In this place, it evidently means the latter, Luke xxiii. 19.
17 Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?
Pilate was satisfied of the innocence of Jesus, Luke xxiii. 13 16. He was therefore desirous of releasing him. He knew that Jesus, though condemned by the chief priests, was popular among the people. He therefore attempted in this manner to rescue him from the hands of the priests, and expected that the people would prefer him, to an infamous robber and murderer. Jesus which is called Christ.' That is, Jesus who claims to be the Messiah. Pilate used the name which Jesus had among the people, Mark, xv. 9, adds that he asked them whether they would that he should release the king of the Jews ? It is probable that he asked the question in both ways. Matthew has recorded one way in which it was asked, and Mark another. He asked them whether they would demand him who was called the Christ, expecting that they would be moved by the claims of the Messiah, claims which, when he entered Jerusalem in triumph, and in the temple, they had acknowledged. He asked them whether they would have the king of the Jews, to ridicule the priests who had delivered him on that charge. There he stood, apparently a poor, inoffensive, unarmed, and despised man. The charge, therefore, of the priests, that he was a king opposed to the Roman emperor, was quite ridiculous; and Pilate expecting the people would see it so, hoped also that they would ask for him to be released.
18 (For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.) Envy at his popularity: he drew away the people from his
As Pilate knew this, he was bound to release Jesus himself. As a governor and judge, he was bound to protect the innocent, and should, in spite of all the opposition of the Jews, at once have set him at liberty. But the scriptures could not thus have been fulfilled. At the same time, it shows the wisdom of the over-ruling providence of God, that he was condemned by a man who was satisfied of his innocence, and who proclaimed before his accusers his full belief that there was no fault in him.
19 When he was set down on the judgment-seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to
do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.
Have thou nothing to do,' &c. That is, do not condemn him. Perhaps she was afraid that the vengeance of Heaven would follow her husband and family, if he condemned the innocent. “That just man.'. The word “just here has the sense of innocent; or not guilty. She might have been satisfied of his innocence from other sources, as well as from the dream. “I have suffered many things,' &c. Dreams were occasionally considered as indications of the Divine will, and among the Romans and Greeks, as well as the Jews, great reliance was placed on them.
20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.
Persuaded the multitude. The release of a prisoner was to be to the people, not to the rulers. The people were greatly under the influence of the priests. The priests turned the pretensions of Jesus into ridicule. Hence in a popular tumult, among a changing multitude, they easily excited those, who but a little before had cried Hosanna, to cry, Crucify him.
21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. 22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus, which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. 23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done ? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.
" Whether of the twain ? Which of the two, Jesus or Barabbas ? ' And the governor said, Why? Luke informs us that Pilate put this question to them three times, so anxious was he to release him. He affirmed that he had found no cause of death in him. He said therefore, that he would chastise him and let him go. He expected probably by causing him to be publicly scourged, to excite their compassion, to satisfy them, and thus to evade the demands of the priests, and to set him at liberty with the consent of the people. Let him be crucified.' See note on ver. 35. Luke says they were instant with loud voices demanding this. They urged it. They demanded it with a popular clamour.
24 | When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and
washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person, see ye to it.
“He took water.' The Jews were accustomed to wash their hands when they wished to show that they were innocent of a crime committed by others, see Deut. xxi. 6. Ps. xxvi. 6. They often used signs to represent their meaning. But the mere washing of his hands, did not free Pilate from guilt. He was bound as a magistrate to free an innocent man; and was guilty of suffering the holy Saviour to be led to execution, to gratify the malice of enraged priests, and the clamours of a tumultuous populace. "See ye to it. That is, take it upon yourselves. Ye are responsible for it, if you put him to death.
25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
His blood be on us.' &c. That is, let the guilt of putting him to death, if there be any, be on us and on our children. We will be answerable for it, and will consent to bear the punishment of it. In all countries, the conduct of the parent involves also the children in many of the consequences of his conduct, The Jews had no right to call down this vengeance on their children, but in the righteous judgment of God it has come upon them. In less than forty years their city and temple were overthrown and destroyed. More than a million of ople rished in the siege. Their blood ran down the streets like water, so that, Josephus says, it extinguished things that were burning in the city. Thousands were crucified-suffering the same torture that they had inflicted on the Messiah. So great was the nunber of those who were crucified, that, Josephus says, they were obliged to cease from it, room being wanting for the crosses, and crosses for the men. To this day also the curse has remained. All classes of men; all the governments of the earth have conspired to overwhelm them with calamity, and yet they still live as monuments of the justice of God, as proofs that the christian religion is true, and standing demonstrations of the crime of their fathers in putting the Messiah to death, and in calling down vengeance on their heads.
26 | Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
And when he had scourged Jesus.' See note Matt. x. 17. Among the Romans it was customary to scourge or whip a slave before he was crucified. Our Lord, being about to be put to death after the manner of a slave, was also treated as a slave; as one of the lowest and most despised of mankind. 'He delivered him,' &c. He gave him up as a judge when he ought to have