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Peter.

hurried away by the vehement gesture and commanding influence,
of the High Priest, hastily passed the fatal sentence, and declared
Jesus guilty of the capital crime.

The insolent soldiery (as he was withdrawn from the court) had Jesus innow full licence, and perhaps more than the licence, of their

sulted by

superiors to indulge the brutality of their own dispositions. They began diery. to spit on his face—in the East the most degrading insult; they blind-folded him, and struck him with the palms of their hands, and, in their miserable merriment, commanded him to display his prophetic knowledge, by detecting the hand that was raised against him (1).

The dismay, the despair, which had seized upon his adherents, is most strongly exemplified by the denial of Peter. The zealous disciple, after he had obtained admittance into the hall, stood warming himself, in the cool of the dawning morning, probably by a kind of brazier (2). He was first accosted by a female servant, who charged him with being an accomplice of the prisoner : Peler denied Denial of the charge with vehemence, and retired to the portico or porch in front of the palace. A second time, another female renewed the accusation : with still more angry protestations Peter disclaimed all connection with his master; and once, but unregarded, the cock crew. An hour afterwards, probably about this time, after the formal condemnation, the charge was renewed by a relalion of the man whose ear he had cut off. His harsh Galilean pronunciation had betrayed him as coming from that province; but Peter now resolutely confirmed his denial with an oalh. It was the usual lime of the second cock-crowing, and again it was distinctly heard. Jesus, who was probably at that time in the outer hall or porch in the midst of the insulting soldiery, lurned his face towards Peter, who, owerwhelmed with shame and distress, bastily retreated from the sight of his deserted master, and wept the bitter tears of selfreproach and humiliation.

But, although the Sanhedrin had thus passed their sentence, there remained a serious obstacle before it could be carried into execution. On the contested point, whether the Jews, under the Roman Question government, possessed the power of life and death (3), it is not right of easy to state the question with brevity and distinctness. Notwith- driu to in

capistanding the apparently clear and distinct recognition of the San- tal pura hedrin, that they had not authority to put any man to death (4); notwithstanding the remarkable concurrence of Rabbinical tradition with this declaration, which asserts that the nation had been

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(1) Matt. xxvi. 67, 68.; Mark, xiv. 65.; Luke, nage, B. v. c. 2. ; Biscoe on the Acts, c. 6.; note xxii. 63. 65.

to Law's Theory, 147.; but above all Krebs, Ob(2) Matt. xxvi. 58. 69. 75.; Mark, xtv. 54. 66. servat. in Nov. Test., 64--155.; Rosenmüller 72. ; Luke, xxii. 54-62.; John, xviii. 15, 16. and Kuinoël, in loc.

(3) The question is discussed in all the coun- (4) John, xviii. 31. mentators. See Lardner, Crebid, i. 2. ; Bas

deprived of the power of life and death forty years before the destruction of the city (1), many of the most learned writers, some indeed of the ablest of the fathers (2), from arguments arising out of the practice of Roman provincial jurisprudence, and from later facts in the Evangelic history and that of the Jews, have supposed, that even if, as is doubtful, they were deprived of this power in civil, they retained it in religious, cases. Some have added, that even in the latter, the ratification of the sentence by the Roman governor, or the permission to carry it into execution, was necessary. According to this view, the object of the Sanhedrin was to bring the case before Pilate as a civil charge; since the assumption of a royal title and authority implied a design to cast off the Roman yoke. Or, if they retained the right of capital punishment in religious cases, it was contrary to usage, in the proceedings of the Sanhedrin, as sacred as law itself, to order an execution on the day of preparation for the Passover (3). As then they dared not violate that usage, and as delay was in every way dangerous, either from the fickleness of the people, who having been momentarily wrought up to a pitch of deadly animosity against Jesus, might again, by some act of power or goodness on his part, be carried away back to his side; or, in case of tumult, from the unsolicited intervention of the Romans; their plainest course was to obtain, if possible, the immediate support and assistance of the government.

In my own opinion, formed upon the study of the cotemporary tion of the Jewish history, the power of the Sanhedrin, at this period of polito the go- tical change and confusion, on this, as well as on other points, was

altogether undefined. Under the Asmonean princes, the sovereign, uniting the civil and religious supremacy, the High-Priesthood with the royal power, exercised, with the Sanhedrin as his council, the highest political and civil jurisdiction. Herod, whose authorily depended on the protection of Rome, and was maintained by his wealth, and in part by foreign mercenaries, although he might leave to the Sanhedrin, as the supreme tribunal, the judicial power, and in ordinary religious cases might admit their unlimited jurisdiction; yel no doubt watched and controlled their proceedings with the jealousy of an Asiatic despot, and practically, if not formally, subjected all their decrees to his revision : at least he would not have permitted any encroachment on his own supreme authority. In fact, according to the general tradition of the Jews, he at

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(1) Traditio est qnadraginta annos ante exci- gustine; among the moderns, Lightfoot, Lard. dium templi, ablatum fuisse jus vitæ et mortis. ner, Krebs, Rosenmüller, Kuinoël. The best disHieros. Sanhed., fol. 18. 1. Ib. fol. 242. Quadra- quisition on that side of the question appears to ginta annis ante vastatum templuın, ablata sunt me that of Krebs; on the other, that of Basnage. judicia capitalia ab Israele. There is, however, (3) Cyril and Augustine, with whom Kuinoël some doubt about the reading and transļation of is inclined to agree, interpret the words of St. this passage. Wagenseil reads four for forty. John, “It is not lawful for us to put any man Selden (De Syn.) insists that the judgments were to death,” by subjoining, “on the day of the not taken away, but interrupted and disused. Passover."

(2) Among the ancients, Chrysostom and Au

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one lime put the whole Sanhedrin to death : and since, as his life advanced, bis tyranny became more watchful and suspicious, he was more likely to dimiņish than increase the powers of the national tribunal. In the short interval of little more than thirty years, which had elapsed since the death of Herod, nearly ten had been occupied by the reign of Archelaus. On his deposal, the Sanhedrin bad probably extended or resumed its original functions, but still the supreme civil authority rested in the Roman Procurator. All the commotions excited by the turbulent adventurers who infested the country, or by Judas the Galilean and his adherents, would fall under the cognisance of the civil governor, and were repressed by his direct interference. Nor can capital religious offences have been of frequent occurrence, since it is evident that the rigour of the Mosaic Law had been greatly relaxed, partly by the feebleness of the judicial power, partly by the lendency of the age, which ran in a counter direction to those acts of idolatry against which the Mosaic statutes were chiefly framed, and left few crimes obnoxious to the extreme penalty. Nor, until the existence of their polity and religion was threatened, first by the progress of Christ, and afterwards of his religion, would they have cared to be armed with an authority, which it was rarely, if ever, necessary or expedient to put forth in its full force (1).

This, then, may have been, strictly speaking, a new case, the That of Jefirst which had occurred since the reduction of Judæa to a Roman and unpreprovince. The Sanhedrin, from whom all jurisdiction in political cases was withdrawn; and who had no recent precedent for the infliction of capital punishment on any religious charge, might think it more prudent (particularly during this hurried and tumultuous proceeding, which commenced at midnight, and must be dispatched with the least possible delay.) at once to disclaim an authority which, however the Roman governor seemed to attribute to them, he might at last prevent their carrying into execution. All the other motives Motives of then operating on their minds would concur in favour of this course of proceeding :-their mistrust of the people, who might attempt claiming a rescue from their feeble and unrespected officers, and could only, power. if they should fall off to the other side, be controlled by the dread of the Roman military; and the reluctance to profane so' sacred a day by a public execution, of which the odium would thus be cast

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(1) It may be worth observing, that not merely tration of the law, and of culpable unwillingness
were the pharisaic and sadducaic party at issue to inflict the punishment of death.
on the great question of the expediency of the The authority of them, says Lightfoot (from
severe administration of the law, which implied the Rabbins), was not taken away by the Ro-
frequency of capital punishment; the latter party mans, but rather relinquished by themselves.
being notoriously sanguinary in the exe The slothfulness of the council desti
of public justice; but even in the pharisaic party authority. Hear it justly upbraided in this
one scbool, that of Hillel, was accused(Jost matter : The council which puts one to death
Geschichte der Israeliter), by the rival school of in seven years is called “ destructive.” R. Lazar
Shaminai, of dangerous lenity in the adminis- Ben Azariah said ; which puts one to death in

seventy years. Lightfoot, in loc.

its own

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Jesus he fore Pilate,

and death

on their foreign rulers. It was clearly their policy, at any cost, lo secure the intervention of Pilate, as well to insure the destruction of their victim, as to shift the responsibility from their own head upon that of the Romans. They might, not unreasonably, suppose that Pilate, whose relentless disposition had been shown in a recent instance, would not hesitate, at once, and on their authority, on the first intimation of a dangerous and growing party, to act without further examination or inquiry, and wilhout scruple, add one victim more to the robbers or turbulent insurgents who, it appears, were kept in prison, in order to be executed as a terrible example at that period of national concourse..

It should seem that while Jesus was sent in chains to the Prætorium of Pilate, whether in the Antonia, the fortress adjacent to the Temple, or in part of Herod's palace, which was connected with the mountain of the Temple by a bridge over the Tyropæon, the council adjourned to their usual place of assemblage, the cham

ber called Gazith, within the Temple. A deputation only accomRemorse panied the prisoner to explain and support the charge, and here of Judas. probably it was that, in his agony of remorse, Judas brought back

the reward that he had received (1); and when the assembly, to his confession of his crime, in belraying the innocent blood, replied with cold and contumelious unconcern, he cast down the money on the pavement, and rushed away to close his miserable life. Nor must the characteristic incident be omitted, the Sanhedrin, who had not hesitated lo reward the basest treachery, probably out of the Temple funds, scruple to receive back and replace in the sacred Treasury, the price of blood. The sum, therefore, is set apart for the purchase of a field for the burial of strangers, long known by the name of Aceldama, the field of blood (2). Such is ever the absurdity, as well as the heinousness, of crimes committed in the name of religion.

The first emotion of Pilate at this strange accusation from the ment of great tribunal of the nation, however rumours of the name and

influence of Jesus had, no doubt, reached his ears, must have been The utmost astonishment. To the Roman mind the Jewish character was ever an inexplicable problem. But if so when they were seen scattered about and mingled with the countless diversities of races of discordant habits, usages, and religions, which thronged to the metropolis of the world, or were dispersed through the principal cities of the empire; in their own country, where there was, as it were, a concentration of all their extraordinary national propensities, they must have appeared in still stronger opposition to the

Astonish

Pilate

(1) Matt. xxvii. 3-10.

worked out, and which was therefore entirely (2) The sum appears extremely small for the barren and unproductive. Kuivoël, in loc. Matt. purchase of a field, even should we adopt the xxvii. 2-14.; Mark, xiv. 1-5.; Luke, xxiii. 1very probable suggestion of Kuinoël, that it was 6. John, xviii, 28-38. a field in which the fuller's earth bad been

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rest of mankind. To the loose manner in which religious belief hung on the greater part of the subjects of the Roman empire, their recluse and uncompromising attachment to the faith of their ancestors offered the most singular contrast. Every where else the temples were open, the rites free to the stranger by race or country, who rarely scrupled to do homage to the tutelar deity of the place. The Jewish Temple alone received, indeed, but with a kind of jealous condescension, the offerings, even of the Emperor. Throughout the rest of the world, religious enthusiasm might not be uncommon, here and there, in individual cases, particularly in the East : the priests of some of the mystic religions at times excited a considerable body of followers, and drove them blindfold to the wildest acts of superstitious frenzy; but the sudden access of religious feryour was, in general, as transient as violent; the flame burned with rapid and irresistible fury, and went out of itself. The Jews stood alone (according to the language and opinion of the Roman world), as a nation of religious fanatics'; and this fanalicism was a deep, a settled, a conscientious feeling, and formed, an essential and inseparable part, the groundwork of their rigid and unsocial character.

Yet even to one familiarised by a residence of several years with the Jewish nation, on the present occasion, the conduct of the Sanhedrin must have appeared utterly unaccountable. This senate, or municipal body, had left to the Roman governor to discover the danger, and suppress the turbulence, of the robbers and insurgents against whom Pilate had taken such decisive measures. Now, however, they appear suddenly seized with an access of loyalty for the Roman authority, and a trembling apprehension of the least invasion at the conof the Roman title to supremacy. And against whom were they Sauheactuated by this unwonted caution, and burning with this unprecedented zeal ? Against a man who, as far as he could discover, was a harmless, peaceful, and benevolent enthusiast, who had persuaded many of the lower orders to believe in certain unintelligible docfrines, which seemed to have no relation to the government of the country, and were, as yet, no way connected with insurrectionary movements. In fact, he could not but clearly see that they were enemies of the influence obtained by Jesus over the populace; but whether Jesus or the Sanhedrin governed the religious feelings and practices of the people, was a matter of perfect indifference to the Roman supremacy.

The vehemence with which they pressed the charge, and the charge itself, were equally inexplicable. When Pilate referred back, at the naas it were, the judgment to themselves, and offered to leave Jesus ture of the

. to be punished by the existing law; while they shrunk from that responsibility, and disclaimed, at least over such a case and at such a season, the power of life and death, they did not in the least rclax

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