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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,
unto this day.

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;


And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord ap-
pointed me.

(Acts i. 18.) burst asunder in the midst, and his bowels gushed.
out. Some suppose Judas to have fallen on his face after hang-
ing, by the breaking of the rope. Others, that he was choked
with grief, and burst asunder. Weston renders the passage,
Matt. xxvii. 5. he strangled himself, and the rope failing, he
fell headlong, and his bowels gushed out. This solution ap-
pears to be more satisfactory than any other. See Weston apud.
Bowyer's Critical Conjectures, p. 128, 129. See also the refer-
ences in Archbishop Newcome's note, and the commentators.

12 The words quoted here are not in the prophet Jeremiah,
but in Zech. xi. 13. But St. Jerom says, that a Hebrew, of the
sect of the Nazarenes, shewed him this prophecy in a Hebrew
apocryphal copy of Jeremiah; but probably they were inserted
there, only to countenance the quotation here. One of Col-
bert's, a MS. of the eleventh century, has Zaxapiov, Zecha-
riab; so has the later Syriac in the margin, and a copy of the
Arabic, quoted by Bengel. In a very elegant and correct MS.
of the Vulgate, in the possession of Dr. A. Clarke, written
in the fourteenth century, Zachariam is in the margin, and Je-
rimiam is in the text; but the former is written by a later hand.
Jeremiah is wanting in two MSS. the Syriac, later Persic, two
of the Itala, and in some other Latin copies. It is very likely
that the original reading was διὰ τοῦ προφήτου, and the name of
no prophet mentioned. This is the more likely, as Matthew
often omits the name of the prophet in his quotations. See
chap. i. 22. ii. 5. 15. xiii. 35. xxi. 4. Bengel approves of the

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
declared to be Innocent.

MATT. xxvii. 2. and 11-14.


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.
Jo. xviii. 28. and it was early; and they themselves went not into the
judgment-hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they
might eat the passover.

29. Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accu-
sation bring you against this man?


30. They answered and said unto him, If he were not a
malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.
Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge
him according to your law. The Jews therefore said
unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:
That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he
spake, signifying what death he should die 13.


13 Much discussion has taken place on the question, whether
the Jews, in the time of our Lord, retained the power of life
and death. Lightfoot, Dr. Lardner, Doddridge, &c. have stre-
nuously defended the negative; Biscoe is the principal author,
of late date, who has adopted the affirmative.

Two kinds of arguments have been used, to prove that the
Jews were deprived of the power of inflicting capital punish-
ments: one taken from the Roman laws, or the nature of the
Roman government; the other from certain passages in the
New Testament.

The judge, according to the Roman laws, exerted in criminal
affairs the Imperium merum; in civil causes, Imperium mix-
tum. Proconsuls and presidents of provinces, as Pilate was,
possessed both these powers. They were the representatives of,
and next to, the emperor, in their respective provinces.

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
Sabbath, or the day before a festival: neither is it probable that
the Jews, who were forbid to do any servile work on the Sab-
bath, would put a criminal to death at this holy season, in
honour of which a prisoner was wont to be released to them.
If in answer to this it is affirmed, that some prisoners were re-
served to the time of their great feasts, that the exemption might
be the more public, it is true that three or four instances of
this kind are recorded; but it does not seem probable that even
these executions took place on their principal festivals, which
were as strictly observed as their Sabbaths; but on their Moed
Katon, or lesser holidays; between the first and last days of
their great feasts, which by divine appointment were kept with
the greatest solemnity.

The day on which our Lord was put to death was the first
day of the passover week, and the 15th day of the month. It
was unlawful for them to try him on the 14th, or to put him to
death on the 15th (Levit. xxiii. 5. 7.), and the next day was the
Sabbath: therefore the Jews must have reserved him in custody
for some days before they could have executed him according to
their own laws. But such delay would have been dangerous in
the extreme, as they feared the people might attempt a rescue.
(Luke xxii. 2. Matt. xxvi. 5.) They therefore used every argu-
ment, even to threatening, with Pilate, to procure his condem-
nation. An additional evidence in favour of this side of the
question, is given us in the words of St. John, xviii. 32. who,
when the Jews reject the offer of Pilate, saying, "It is not law-
ful for us to put any man to death," adds, that the saying of Je-
sus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying the death he
should dic. If we do not consider the subject in this point of
view, the prediction of our Lord (John xii. 32, 33.), which fore-
tells the manner of his death, ceases to be a prophecy, for if the
Jews no longer retained the power of inflicting capital punish-
ments, there could not be much difficulty in specifying the par-
ticular death of a criminal according to the Roman laws.

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

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a Mt.xxvii.11.

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
only snare here laid, was to obtain from our Saviour something
in derogation of the law of Moses. He had so often preached
the doctrine of forgiveness to the greatest extent, (Mark v. 38.)
that the Pharisees might have hoped be would have committed
himself, by deciding against the execution of the Mosaic penal-
ties in this instance; and thereby have furnished them with mat-
ter of accusation against him, both before the Jewish magis-
trates and the people; and if necessary, before Pilate also.

Many more arguments are adduced by Biscoe in support of
his opinion. It cannot be denied, (he says,) that in the Acts of
the Apostles there is one very plain instance in the case of the
proto-martyr Stephen, of the councils sitting and hearing wit-
nesses (Acts vi. 12. to the end), and that his execution was
performed according to the law of Moses. Compare Deut. xviii.
5, 6, 7, with Acts vii. 58, 59. He is cast out of the city, and
the witnesses throw the first stone. Some even here bring
in the objection, there is no relation of any sentence pro-
nounced; but surely an historian seldom enters into the detail
of a trial, he confines himself to the most remarkable circum-
stances. Common ceremonies are omitted, as being too gene-
rally known to be mentioned. And these particulars of St.
Stephen's trial would never have been recorded, had it not
been for his noble speech, and to shew us the frame of mind of
the Apostle Paul at that time. If indeed the Jews did not pos
sess the power of putting Stephen to death, if he should be
found guilty, for what purpose did they meet together? If they
did; the thing contended for is granted; and it is of little im-
port whether the sentence was actually passed or not.

Again, it is related that Peter and the other apostles were
brought before the council, (Acts v. 27.) who, it is expressly
said," took counsel to slay them," (Acts v. 33.) and would
doubtless have put their design into execution, had they not
been dissuaded from it by Gamaliel. Is it probable that St.
Luke, who mentions all these proceedings, should not have
once intimated that they exceeded their power in so doing, if
the Romans had prohibited them from exercising their own
punishments? But, on the contrary, we find the High Priest
and the elders asserting their authority in open court, in the
presence of the Roman Governor himself, who was seated as a
judge, without any reproof on his part. Tertullus declares to
Felix, in the case of St. Paul, whom "we took and would
have judged according to our law." (Acts xxiv. 6.) If the ex-
ercise of their law had been taken from them, what possible
construction could have been put upon such a declaration, but
open rebellion against the Roman states? and could any magis-
trate have suffered it to pass unnoticed? St. Paul himself ac-
knowleges the power of the Jewish council, (Acts xxiii. 3.) and
it is evident from the accusation that his was a capital cause.
It may be further observed, in support of this opinion, that
the four evangelists are unanimous that the Jews attempted to
prosecute our Saviour for the capital crime of sabbath-break-
ing, that they might put him to death, Matt. xii. 10. Luke vi. 7.
John v. 9, 10. 16.; and Mark, chap. ii. 3.says,
66 They watched
him, whether he would heal on the sabbbath-day, that they
might accuse him;" but evidently not before the Roman Go-
vernor, for it would have been difficult to have convinced him
that the performance of a wonderful and beneficent action on

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