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Jo. xviii. 34.
Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, Jerusalem or did others tell it thee of me?
the sabbath-day was worthy of death. Who then can doubt that
If the Jews had not sought to take away the life of Christ
After the resurrection of Lazarus, we read the Chief Priests and Pharisees gathered a council, and determined to put our Saviour to death. (John xi. 47.53.) And a short time afterwards we are told, the Chief Priests consulted how they might put Lazarus also to death. (John xii. 10.) But what gives additional weight to this argument, is the fear of the people, so frequently expressed. Matthew (xxi. 46.) says, when the Chief Priests and Pharisees sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude; (also Matt. xxvi. 4, 5.) Mark xi. 18. also relates, the Scribes and Chief Priests sought how they might destroy him, for they feared him, because all the people were astonished at his doctrine; and again, they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people. (Mark xii. 12.) See also Luke xix. 47, 48. xx. 19. and xxii. 2. If the Jews had meditated the destruction of our Saviour by any private hand, or in any extra-judicial manner, or if they had intended to use their influence with the Governor, to prevail upon him to pronounce a sentence of condemnation, if sufficient evidence was wanting to establish his crime, why had the Chief Priests and Pharisees so much reason to fear the people? The instigators and actors in these cases might perhaps have had some reason to fear; but to suppose that the whole body of Jewish magistrates should be so affected, when the discovery was so improbable, seems wholly incredible. Who could force the assassin to acknowledge his guilt, when the magistrates of course would not? It must, therefore, be an act of the great council of the Jewish nation, and not any secret means of destruction, which is referred to, in those places of the Gospels, where this general fear is expressed; for we read, the Chief Priests, the Scribes, and the elders were afraid of the people. They were afraid to put Jesus to death, in the same manner, and for the same reason, that Herod was afraid to put John the Bap
Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? thine own nation and Jerusalem. the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?
tist to death," they feared the multitude." (Matt. xiv. 5.) And
They would have executed him by their own laws, had it not
The Talmudists mention many instances, proving that the power of inflicting capital punishments was retained by the Jews: the Gemara expressly asserts that the four capital punishments inflicted by the Jewish council or magistracy, were in use during the forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem; though, according to the Talmudists, they were much interrupted. But even this was owing, as Josephus has shewn, to the corruption and mal-administration of the Roman Governors; who were induced by bribes, or the share of plunder, to use their influence to protect criminals from those punishments denounced against them by the Jewish laws. Even Felix himself employed robbers to murder Jonathan, the High Priest, for having reproved him for injustice; and after this time murders were not only frequent, but committed with impunity. The corrup tion of this Governor is hinted at Acts, xxiv. 26. Josephus also asserts, that Albinus dismissed all malefactors for money; and that Gessius Florus was sharer with such in their unlawful gains.
Josephus never alludes to the supposed loss of their power by the Jews; on the contrary, he observes, that the Sadducees are cruel above all the Jews in matters of judicature (b), and at that time they had been fifty years under the Roman power.
Josephus asserts also, that in cases of dispute concerning the Mosaic laws and institutions, the power of inflicting capital punishment was left to the High Priest (c).
In speaking of the Essenes, Josephus expressly affirms, that if any one speaks evil of any of their legislators, he is punished with death (d).
Such is a brief abstract of the reasoning of Mr. Biscoe on this subject, which appears satisfactorily to refute the principal arguments of Lardner on the other side of the question. I had indeed maintained the opposite and more general opinion.
Lightfoot, in his Talmudical Exercitations, after a long discussion on the question whether the Jews at this time retained the power of life and death, remarks, that it is the received
Jo. xviii. 36.
Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if Jerusalem. my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants
opinion, that the Romans divested the council of their autho-
"The Talmudists excellently well clear the matter, and the
Because כיון דחזו דנפישי לחו רוצחין ולא יכלו למידן,reason was this
they saw murderers so much increase, that they could not judge
And again it is said in another Talmudical tradition, "Since
"The slothfulness of the council destroyed its own authority, the law slept while wickedness was in the height of its revels; and primitive justice was so out of countenance, that as to uncertain murders they made no search, and against certain ones they framed no judgment. The Sanhedrim, from mere inactivity, or a foolish tenderness towards an Israelite, as a seed of Abraham, so far neglected to punish bloodshed, and other crimes, that wickedness grew so untractable, that the authority of the council trembled for fear of it, and dared not kill the killers. In this sense that saying must be understood, 'It is not lawful for us to put any man to death,' for it is evident, when they make this assertion, they do not deal fairly with Pilate; for their authority of judging had not been taken from them by the Romans, but lost by themselves, and despised by the people. Under these circumstances it was only exercised when there was no danger to be apprehended. They were happy enough to use it when they had the opportunity of judging, persecuting, and torturing poor men and Christians; and they would certainly have condemned our Saviour to death, had they not feared the people, and if Providence had not otherwise determined it." Lightfoot mentions many other circumstances which took place after Judea had long been subject to the Roman yoke,
Jo. xviii. 37.
fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but Jerusalem.
Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then?
Mark xv. 2. and said unto him,
Jo. xviii.37. Thou sayest that I am king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth
truth heareth my voice.
Every one that is of the
Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he
which clearly affirm the opinion, that the authority of the coun-
The Romans were always the ruling power wherever their
(a) Biscoe on the Acts, vol. i. p. 116. (b) Οίπερ ἐισὶ περὶ τὰς κρίσεις, ὠμοὶ, παρὰ πάντας τῆς Ιεδαίες.-Ρ. 896, b. 37. (c) Joseph. Antiq. xiv. 10. 2. Bell Jud. 1. vi. 2.4. (d) Kåv ¤λaopnμηon rig eig τῦτον, κολάζεσθαι θανατω-De Bell Jud. l. 2. c. 8. sect. ix. (e) Hebrew, and Talmud. Exercit. vol. ii. p. 248, 249. (f) See Bowyer's Critical Conj. p. 318.; Doddridge; Rosenmuller; the discussion of Lardner, in his Credibility, &c. &c. Lightfoot, in his Talmudical Exercitations upon the Acts, observes, on the occasion of the Sanhedrim granting letters to Paul, to go to Damascus, that the power of life and death was not yet taken from the Sanhedrim. Selden is of opinion that the power of the Sanhedrim to punish capitally was only much interrupted and disused at the time of the crucifixion. Krebsius, quoted by Rosenmuller, is of opinion that the power of inflicting capital punishments, in cases of offences against religion, was left to the Jews, but in civil offences it was taken away-in criminibus autem aliis, e. g. seditionis, tumultus, perduellionis, et ad læsam majestatem Cæsaris pertinentibus, illud jus iis non fuisse concessum. Kuinoel has adopted also this conclusion of Biscoe-Mihi perplacet Angustini et Chrysostomi ratio, etiam Semiero probata, qua Judæorum verba v. 31. ad diem referuntur hoc sensu: nobis non licet quenquam supplicio afficere ob religionem diei festi; erat enim παρασκευὴ τοῦ πάσχα, xix. 14-42. quam eamdem ob causam, neque prætorium ingressi erant coll. v. 28.— Kuinoel in Joan. 19. 31.
had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and saith Jerusalem.
Lu. xxiii. 4. the Chief Priests and to the people, I find no fault in this
Jo.xviii. 38. I find in him no fault at all.
Mark xv. 3. And the Chief Priests accused him of many things: but Mtxxvii.12. when he was accused of the Chief Priests and elders, he answered nothing.
Mark xv. 4.
Then saith Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?
And he answered him to never a word.
And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? Behold how many things they witness against thee.
But Jesus answered nothing:
Mtxxvii.14. insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly,
MATT. XXVii. part of ver. 2. and 11.
2 -and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
MARK XV. part of ver. 1, 2, 3. 5.
1 -and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate.
3-he answered nothing.
5 so that Pilate marvelled.
LUKE Xxiii. part of ver. 1. ver. 3. and part of ver. 4.
1-and led him unto Pilate.
3 And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? and he answered him, and said, Thou sayest it.
4 Then said Pilate to
JOHN Xviii. part of ver. 33. 38.
33 and said unto him, Art thou the king of the Jews?
Christ is sent by Pilate to Herod.
LUKE Xxiii. 5—12.
And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.
When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilean.
And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time.
And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad : for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him.
Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.