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And the Chief Priests took the silver pieces, and said, Jerusalem. It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.
And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in.
Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood,
9. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy
And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord ap-
(Acts i. 18.) burst asunder in the midst, and his bowels gushed.
12 The words quoted here are not in the prophet Jeremiah,
It was an ancient custom among the Jews, says Lightfoot, to divide the Old Testament into three parts; the first, beginning with the law, is called the Law: the second, beginning with the Psalms,,was called the Psalms; the third, beginning with the prophet in question, was called Jeremiah: thus, then, the writings of Zechariah and the other prophets being included in that division that began with Jeremiah, all quotations from it would go under the name of this prophet. If this be admitted, it solves the difficulty at once. Lightfoot quotes Bava Bathra, and Rabbi David Kimchi's preface to the prophet Jeremiah, as his authorities; and insists that the word Jeremiah is perfectly correct, as standing at the head of that division from which the evangelist quoted, and which gave its denomi- nation to all the rest (a.)
(a) Vide Dr. A. Clarke's Comment. in loc. Lightfoot's Harmony, Pitman's 8vo. edit. vol. ii. p. 157, 158. and the note on the Prophecies of Zechariah, in the second volume of the Arrangement of the Old Tes
Lu. xxiii. 1.
Christ is accused before Pilate, and is by Him also
MATT. xxvii. 2. and 11-14.
MARK XV. 1—5. LUKE
xxiii. 1-4. JOHN Xviii. 28-38.
And the whole multitude of them arose,
Mark xv. 1. and bound Jesus,
And when they had bound him, they led him away
Jo. xviii. 28. from Caiaphas, unto the hall of judgment:
Mat.xxvii.2. and delivered him unto Pontius Pilate the governor.
29. Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accu-
30. They answered and said unto him, If he were not a
13 Much discussion has taken place on the question, whether
Two kinds of arguments have been used, to prove that the
The judge, according to the Roman laws, exerted in criminal
The arguments by which the position is defended, that the Jews had not the power of life and death at this time, are thus proposed, and answered by Biscoe (a).
1. There was a Roman law, which states that the municipal magistrate cannot do those things which have more of imperium than of jurisdiction; the municipal magistrates not having it in their power to enforce their orders.
Ans. It cannot be proved that this law existed at the time in question and even if it had, there is sufficient grounds for concluding it was confined to the municipes, who were Roman citizens, and therefore to be tried and punished by magistrates of the first rank; and that it did not extend to the provincials, who were less regarded, and left more under the power of their own magistrates.
2. The power of inflicting capital punishments could not be exercised by any magistrate, unless it were given him by some special law or constitution; therefore this power could not be transferable to magistrates who held a delegated jurisdiction.
And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this Jerusalem. fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cesar, saying that he himself is Christ, a king.
Ans. Nothing is more certain than that many cities, and some whole countries, had obtained from the people and emperors of Rome, the privilege of being governed by their own laws, and by their own magistrates, in a greater or less degree. The Carthaginians, after the second Punic war, had the power of executing their own laws, even in capital punishments; and many other instances might be enumerated. Why may we not then suppose that the people of Judea were equally favoured? It may indeed be shewn, from many things recorded in history, that the Romans were more peculiarly disposed to be favourable to the Jews.
3. According to the civil law of Rome, the presidents alone possessed the Merum Imperium, or the power of sitting in judgment on, and executing criminals, in those provinces over which they were placed.
Answ. This is taking for granted the thing that is questioned. It is acknowledged that the Jewish magistrates had the power of inflicting lesser punishments; but how could this be, if the cognizance of all criminal causes was solely in the president, and not the least part of this power could be delegated? The Jewish magistrates must have received their power to execute these minor punishments either by some special law; or, what is more probable, (as there is no record of such law in their favour,) they, like other nations, were allowed the privilege of their own laws.
We now proceed to the arguments from the New Testament.
1. The most plausible of all is, that saying of the Jews to Pilate, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death, (John xviii. 31.) which is represented as an ample acknowledgment from the Jews themselves, that they had not at that time the power of inflicting capital punishments.
Ans. The context proves that these words do not imply that the Romans had deprived them of the liberty of judging men by their own law, but shew on the contrary, that they had the option of trying Jesus themselves, or of giving him up to the Roman Governor. For Pilate had only a moment before said, "Take ye him, and judge him according to your law." Their answer is evidently a refusal of the Governor's offer; and if we interpret the words in any other way, we are naturally brought to the conclusion, that Pilate, when he said "Judge him according to your law," spoke in mere mockery, and intended to remind them of their subjection, which is not probable, as he was then called upon to act in his official capacity. Something more therefore must be understood than what is expressed; and nothing I think can be so reasonably supplied to make the sense complete, as that which regards the time in which the conversation took place, namely, the first day of the passover week, and the preparation for the Sabbath-" It is not lawful for us to put any man to death this holy festival." In the same manner it was not lawful for them to go into the judgment-hall (John xviii. 28.) Pilate, who had been long Governor, must have been well acquainted with their customs, and must have perfectly comprehended their meaning. St. Augustine, Cyril, and several other ancient fathers, put the same construction on these words, which agrees exactly with the rule laid down in the Talmud. The Mishna says expressly that capital causes, in which the criminal was condemned, were always to be finished after the trial began, for
Jo. xviii. 33.
Then Pilate entered into the judgment-hall again, and Jerusalem, called Jesus,
which reason these trials were never to begin the day before the
The day on which our Lord was put to death was the first
2. Pilate says to our Lord, "Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and power to release thee?" which words are said expressly to declare, that Pilate was the supreme and only judge who was invested with the power of pronouncing sentence of absolution or condemnation.
Ans. It is granted, that Pilate was supreme judge under the Emperor, and Governor of Syria, in this and every other case, within the province of Judea, but this does not prove that he was the only judge; nor does it from hence follow that the Jews had not the privilege of trying and executing their own criminals.
3. Again, the Jews say to Christ, "Moses in the law commanded that such should be stoned; but how sayest thou?" It is added, "This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him;" which is interpreted, if he had determined, the woman taken in adultery should be stoned, according to the Mosaic law, they designed to accuse him to the Roman Governor; because, if the Jews were prohibited from the use of their own laws, this act might have been considered as seditious: if, on the contrary, he had decided that she ought not to be stoned, they would have accused him of derogating from the law of Moses, and have thereby lessened his influence among the people.
Ans. This is taking for granted the point to be proved, with
And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor Jerusalem. asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews?
out one word being said in its confirmation. It is probable the
Many more arguments are adduced by Biscoe in support of
Again, it is related that Peter and the other apostles were