From: Over 50 Interpreters Explain the Gospel of Mark Return to Home
By Roland H. Worth, Jr. © 2013
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Weymouth: At earliest dawn, after the High Priests had held a consultation with the Elders and Scribes, they and the entire Sanhedrin bound Jesus and took Him away and handed Him over to Pilate.
WEB: Immediately in the morning the chief priests, with the elders and scribes, and the whole council, held a consultation, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him up to Pilate.
Young’s: And immediately, in the morning, the chief priests having made a consultation, with the elders, and scribes, and the whole sanhedrim, having bound Jesus, did lead away, and delivered him to Pilate;
Conte (RC): And immediately in the morning, after the leaders of the priests had taken counsel with the elders and the scribes and the entire council, binding Jesus, they led him away and delivered him to Pilate.
15:1 And straightway [immediately, NKJV] in the morning. i.e., after Peter's going out to weep (14:72), which was at daybreak. 
the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. Some suppose the "consultation" in the morning was only an informal and private one; some regard it as merely a continuation of the former meeting; others, and most [recent] writers, hold that it was an official meeting of the Sanhedrin to ratify the sentence, and order the case before the Roman procurator. This seems the most probable. 
the whole council. i.e. the Sanhedrin. As this body included both Sadducean priests and Pharisaic scribes, both parties were united in the act. 
Lightfoot quotes from Maimonides a precept that it was not necessary for all members of the Sanhedrin to be present to transact business, but when all were specially summoned, then attendance was compulsory. Mark here implies such a compulsory meeting of the whole council. 
Or: That all the members of the council who were present concurred—by their silence if nothing else. Since they were bending their procedures thoroughly out of shape in order to bring a judgment on Jesus so quickly, it is inherently unlikely that they went out of their way to assure the presence of anyone except those they assumed to be fully in their corner. [rw]
And bound Jesus. They replaced the prisoner's bonds, which may have been removed during the trial. 
And carried [led, NKJV] Him away. From the high priest's house, which was no doubt near the temple, to that of the Procurator. 
and delivered him to Pilate. The Sanhedrin could try a prisoner and condemn him, but could not put him to death. The power of life and death was in the hands of the Roman procurator, who was the governor of Judea--at this time Pontius Pilate--who could carry out the decision of the Sanhedrin or try the prisoner himself. In this case Pilate decided to do the latter, or rather to make some inquiries before deciding to do the former. 
As judge he sat on a portable tribunal erected on a tesselated pavement, called in Hebrew Gabbatha (John 19:13), and was invested with the power of life and death (Matthew 27:26). 
In depth: Pilate--the man and his character . Pontius Pilate had been appointed by Tiberius as procurator of Judea in the twelfth year of his reign, i.e., 25 or 26 A.D. His administration was marked by severity and he was regarded by Jews like Philo and Josephus as a bad governor and a bad man. He remained in office ten years, but was then sent by the procurator of Syria to Rome for trial, as an act of favor to the Jews and Samaritans whom he had treated severely. If tradition is to be trusted, he was punished by Caligula.
Also : His proper residence was at Caesarea (Acts 23:23); he had assessors to assist him in council (25:12); wore the military dress; was attended by a cohort as a body guard (Matthew 27:27); and at the great festivals came up to Jerusalem to keep order. In character he was sharp, selfish and cunning, yet anxious at times to act justly, and even mercifully, As a rule he had shown himself cruel and unscrupulous (Luke 13:1-2), and in A.D. 36 the governor of Syria (for Pilate was not properly governor), accused him at Rome for a cruel slaughter of Samaritans in consequence of which Pilate was banished to Gaul, where he is said to have committed suicide.
In depth: The fully developed form of the rules that were supposed to govern the Sanhedrin in its life-death decisions . The laws or this court were humane, and the proceedings were, in theory, conducted with the greatest care. The axiom was "the Sanhedrin was to save, not to destroy life." In trials before this court, the rules, according to the Talmud were:
(1) The accused one [was] to be held innocent until proved guilty.
(2) No one could be tried or condemned in his absence.
(3) Witnesses were to be warned of the value of life, and to omit nothing in the prisoner's favor.
(4) He was to have counsel to defend him.
(5) All evidence in his favor was to be admitted freely.
(6) Any member of the court who had favored acquittal could not later vote for condemnation.
(7) Votes of the youngest members were first taken that they might not be influenced by seniors.
(8) In capital offences a majority of two, at least, was required to condemn.
(9) A verdict of acquittal could be pronounced on the day of trial; of guilt, only on the day after trial.
(10) No criminal trial could be carried through in the night.
(11) The judges must fast for a day before the trial.
(12) No one could be executed on the same day as the sentence.
The trial before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin was, therefore, in violation of their rules, not preserving forms of justice, according to strict Jewish law.
For a lengthy historical note on surviving legal texts from the Mishnah concerning the official rules for proper legal hearings, consult the extract at the end of the the chapter from Alexander Taylor Innes, The Trial of Christ (1899).
Weymouth: So Pilate questioned Him. "Are *you* the King of the Jews?" he asked. "I am," replied Jesus.
WEB: Pilate asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" He answered, "So you say."
Young’s: and Pilate questioned him, 'Art thou the king of the Jews?' and he answering said to him, 'Thou dost say it.'
Conte (RC): And Pilate questioned him, "You are the king of the Jews?" But in response, he said to him, "You are saying it."
15:2 And Pilate asked Him. The [Jewish leaders] carefully suppressed the religious grounds on which they had charged and condemned our Lord, and changed the form (not the substance) of their accusation, so as to make it a political offence; He opposed giving tribute to Caesar because He Himself was Messiah, a king (see Luke 23:2). This claim to be Messiah, and hence king, was substantially the same charge on which they had condemned Him in the Jewish court, only in their court the religious crime was called blasphemy, while in the civil court it would be treason. That the accusation was substantially the same as the charge on which He had already been condemned, will appear more clearly by comparing Luke 23:2-3 and John 18:33-37. 
Art Thou the King of the Jews? The Sanhedrin had condemned Jesus for blasphemy in calling Himself the Christ. But blasphemy was not a charge that would hold in a Roman court. So they converted it into an accusation of treason against Rome in making Himself the King of the Jews. Thus they accused Him of being just what He had always refused to be and carefully avoided seeming to be, viz., the Christ such as popular expectation looked for, a king who would throw off the Roman yoke. 
And He answering said unto him, Thou sayest it. In effect a refusal to answer. To say "Yes" to Pilate's question would be to confess Himself guilty of treason, which of course He was not. To say "No" might be understood as saying that He was not the Christ, which He was. So He leaves it for Pilate to prove whether He had made any treasonable claim to be a king. 
Alternate interpretation: The formula of the rabbis, equivalent to a positive "Yes;" so Pilate would understand it, and all hearers with him. From John we learn that this question and reply formed a part of a longer conversation in which Jesus set forth the nature of His kingdom as an unworldly kingdom and a kingdom of truth, intending, apparently, to relieve Pilate's fear of political complications on account of His claims, and at the same time to let him hear what his own claims really were. 
For an examination of how local and Roman power were intertwined in judicial matters, see the analysis at the end of the the chapter from Alexander Taylor Innes, The Trial of Christ (1899).
Weymouth: Then, as the High Priests went on heaping accusations on Him,
WEB: The chief priests accused him of many things.
Young’s: And the chief priests were accusing him of many things, but he answered nothing.
Conte (RC): And the leaders of the priests accused him in many things.
15:3 And the chief priests accused Him of many things. Pilate declared his conviction of the innocence of the accused (John 18:38; Luke 23:4). This was the signal for a furious clamor and they accused our Lord of many things (Luke 23:5). 
The word translated "many things" (polla) may be used adverbially, meaning "much," and expresses the repetition and intensity of their accusations. 
But He answered nothing. Our Lord answered nothing because all that they had to say against Him was manifestly false or frivolous and unworthy of any reply. St. Augustine says on this, “The Saviour, who is the Wisdom of God, knew how to overcome by keeping silence." 
The prisoner may have had in mind Isaiah 53:7: "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth;" but if He had, He was not trying to fulfill the prophecy. Rather would the prophecy comfort Him and keep Him nerved for patience, as did the other Scriptures when He knew "that thus it must be" (Matthew 26:54). 
Weymouth: Pilate again and again asked Him, "Do you make no reply? Listen to the many charges they are bringing against you."
WEB: Pilate again asked him, "Have you no answer? See how many things they testify against you!"
Young’s: And Pilate again questioned him, saying, 'Thou dost not answer anything! lo, how many things they do testify against thee!'
Conte (RC): Then Pilate again questioned him, saying: "Do you not have any response? See how greatly they accuse you."
15:4 And Pilate asked Him again. Jesus seems to have spoken freely to Pilate when not in the presence of His accusers; and the governor was satisfied that they had no ground for their charges against Him (John 18:29-38). He was therefore surprised that an innocent man should make no reply to false accusations. 
saying, Answerest Thou nothing? Jesus had maintained like silence in presence of these enemies, when they arraigned Him before their own bar (14:60-61), the reasons for which were that they would not have believed Him if He had proved His innocence; and to answer the false charges of His accusers would not have stayed their malice. 
Behold how many things they witness against Thee. A different word (posa) from that used in verse 3, "what things," conveying the double idea of magnitude and number, i.e., how many and great things. 
Weymouth: But Jesus made no further answer: so that Pilate wondered.
WEB: But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate marveled.
Young’s: and Jesus did no more answer anything, so that Pilate wondered.
Conte (RC): But Jesus continued to give no response, so that Pilate wondered.
15:5 But Jesus yet answered nothing. Continued this policy of silence. 
So that Pilate marveled. No doubt it seemed to him reckless self-abandonment. He saw no crime in Jesus, but, since the charges were false, why did He not defend Himself? 
Mark passes over the attempt of Pilate to throw the responsibility of dealing with his prisoner upon Herod, who was then at Jerusalem (Luke 23:6-12); and the fact that again, after Herod had mocked Him and sent Him back, he declared Him innocent (Luke 23:13-15). 
Weymouth: Now at the Festival it was customary for Pilate to release to the Jews any one prisoner whom they might beg off from punishment;
WEB: Now at the feast he used to release to them one prisoner, whom they asked of him.
Young’s: And at every feast he was releasing to them one prisoner, whomsoever they were asking;
Conte (RC): Now on the feast day, he was accustomed to release to them one of the prisoners, whomever they requested.
15:6 Now at that feast. We have no English idiom answering to the Greek phase here used. When "day" follows the same preposition (kata), our adverb "daily" expresses the idea. Feast by feast, i.e., annually at the feast, at every return of the feast, conveys the meaning. 
he released unto them one prisoner. The origin of this custom is not known. 
No other traces remain of this custom of releasing a prisoner at the feast on demand of the people. It is akin, however, to certain Roman customs observed at the festivals of the gods, and so it is not unlikely that Pilate may have introduced it among the Jews, perhaps by way of atonement for his wanton insults to the populace. 
Or: It may have been of Jewish origin, and continued by the Roman governors from motives of policy. 
whomsoever they desired. This shows that the annual releasing of a prisoner of their choosing was designed as a favor from the government to the [local population]. 
Pilate took advantage (verse 9) of this fact to escape from the perplexity into which the action of the more aristocratic leaders had thrown him. 
Weymouth: and at this time a man named Barabbas was in prison among the insurgents--persons who in the insurrection had committed murder.
WEB: There was one called Barabbas, bound with those who had made insurrection, men who in the insurrection had committed murder.
Young’s: and there was one named Barabbas, bound with those making insurrection with him, who had in the insurrection committed murder.
Conte (RC): But there was one called Barabbas, who had committed murder in the sedition, who was confined with those of the sedition.
15:7 And there was one named Barabbas. This man was (1) a robber (John 18:40). (2) He was “in prison and bound” for “sedition made in the city” (Luke 23:19), and for "murder committed by him in the insurrection” (Mark 15:7 cf. Acts 3:14). (3) He was the ringleader of a gang for our verse speaks of those who had made insurrection with him." (4) He was “a notable” or “notorious” character (Matthew 27:16). 
which lay bound with them had had made insurrection. Possibly a revolt of the Zealots or extreme messianic party. 
This man had been really doing what the Jews falsely tried to make it appear that Jesus had done. 
with them. It was not a person working alone, stirring up trouble; it was an organized uprising against legal authority and in crushing it the Romans had managed to grab a number of participations including Barabbas in particular. [rw]
who had committed murder in the insurrection. Mark evidently mentions this fact for the purpose of showing that Pilate could not possibly have conceived the thought that they would ask to let this man go. 
Weymouth: So the people came crowding up, asking Pilate to grant them the usual favour.
WEB: The multitude, crying aloud, began to ask him to do as he always did for them.
Young’s: And the multitude having cried out, began to ask for themselves as he was always doing to them,
Conte (RC): And when the crowd had ascended, they began to petition him to do as he always did for them.
15:8 And the multitude. Hitherto Pilate has been dealing with the Sanhedrin. The crowd comes to plead for the procurator's annual pardon and therefore joined the more aristocratic group in the courtyard of the palace. 
If this be just a bit beyond dawn, it is possible that this crowd arrived in order to get this particular piece of business out of the way at an early hour. If this crowd arrived with no one strongly in mind, the priestly leadership managed to co-opt it and use it as an echo chamber for their own demands. On the other hand, they could have been unarrested sympathizers with the rebellion and were there with Barabbas’ freedom specifically their goal
However one can just as easily conjecture
that the priestly leaders had been using the last few hours having underlings rouse
out of their beds and waken every one who owed them a favor in order to
manufacture a “public sentiment” in case it turned out to be needed to convince
Pilate to act [rw].
crying aloud. This is peculiar to Mark and enables us vividly to realize the rising of the popular excitement before which Pilate, reluctant as he was, eventually gave way. 
From Matthew's account (27:17) it appears that they had assembled for this purpose. 
began to desire [ask, NKJV] him to do as he had ever [always, NKJV] done for them. [The wording] may perhaps imply that Pilate was himself the author of this practice, though it does not necessarily exclude a reference to his predecessors also. 
Weymouth: "Shall I release for you the King of the Jews?" answered Pilate.
WEB: Pilate answered them, saying, "Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?"
Young’s: and Pilate answered them, saying, 'Will ye that I shall release to you the king of the Jews?'
Conte (RC): But Pilate answered them and said, "Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?"
15:9 But Pilate answered them. They had made their request, and his proposition is a response to it. 
saying, Will ye that [Do you want me to, NKJV]. Note the appeal of Pilate from the priests to this newly arrived crowd. Evidently he expects that they will call for Jesus and thus relieve him from the alternative of offending the priests or executing an innocent man. 
that I release unto you the King of the Jews? He designated Jesus by the title given in the accusation of the Council. There seems to be in his use of this title a spice of sarcasm, not designed however to mock the prisoner. He would offset the false charge of treason brought by the Council, by treating Him as a harmless fanatic, to whom he could safely apply a title that had no political significance in his case. 
In depth: Pilate's repeated efforts to save Jesus' life . Pilate made three distinct attempts to secure the consent of the Jewish rulers to a release of Jesus after he had required them to state the charge on which they asked his condemnation, though the "order" of the efforts is not the same in all the evangelists. The attempts may be arranged as follows:
(1) After examining the charge that Jesus is a King, and finding the kingdom is a spiritual one, Pilate declared Him innocent of a civil offence (Luke 23:4).
(2) After the return from Herod, Pilate proposes, after chastising Him, to release Jesus in accordance with custom, at the feast (Luke 23:13-16; Mark 15:6-10; Matthew 27;15-17; John 18:39).
(3) After the choice of Barabbas and the message from Pilate's wife (Matthew 27:20-26; Mark 15:11-15; Luke 23:18-23; John 18:40), when the Jews threatened to impeach him at Rome for not being Caesar's friend if he released Jesus (John 19:12); Pilate at last yielded.
Weymouth: For he could see that it was out of sheer spite that the High Priests had handed Him over.
WEB: For he perceived that for envy the chief priests had delivered him up.
Young’s: for he knew that because of envy the chief priests had delivered him up;
Conte (RC): For he knew that it was out of envy that the leaders of the priests had betrayed him.
15:10 For he knew that the chief priests had delivered Him for [handed Him over because of, NKJV] envy. i.e., because they feared His influence upon the people which would certainly, if left alone, destroy theirs. Therefore he thought a direct appeal to the people might possibly meet with a favorable response. 
Weymouth: But the High Priests urged on the crowd to obtain Barabbas's release in preference;
WEB: But the chief priests stirred up the multitude, that he should release Barabbas to them instead.
Young’s: and the chief priests did move the multitude, that he might rather release Barabbas to them.
Conte (RC): Then the chief priests incited the crowd, so that he would release Barabbas to them instead.
15:11 But the chief priests moved the people [stirred up the crowd, NKJV]. The common people and the priests were at first interested in two entirely different things. The former wanted the pardon of a prisoner, the latter the condemnation of Jesus. But when the priests saw that the request of the people was likely to result in the release of Jesus and the defeat of their plan, they shrewdly persuaded the people to ask for a particular prisoner, Barabbas. This man, representing hatred of the Roman authority, was very likely popular with the common people. 
moved the people. The word [so translated] denotes (1) to shake to and fro, to brandish; (2) to make threatening gestures; (3) to stir up or instigate. 
that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. They thus spoiled the well-intended but cowardly plan of Pilate. 
Why the people sympathized with [Barabbas] is not explained. It was probably because his insurrection had been a blow at the Roman government, causing the people to forget his crimes for the sake of his hostility to the common enemy. 
Weymouth: and when Pilate again asked them, "What then shall I do to the man you call King of the Jews?"
WEB: Pilate again asked them, "What then should I do to him whom you call the King of the Jews?"
Young’s: And Pilate answering, again said to them, 'What, then, will ye that I shall do to him whom ye call king of the Jews?'
Conte (RC): But Pilate, responding again, said to them: "Then what do you want me to do with the king of the Jews?"
15:12 And Pilate answered and said again unto them. Pilate did not give way without many an inward struggle. 
What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? Pilate had himself so designated Jesus in proposing His release (verse 9); but now he speaks of this as a title the people gave Him. No doubt he refers to their proclamation of Him as King at the time of His formal entry into Jerusalem (Luke 19:38), a fact which if not known to Pilate before was no doubt made prominent in the accusation which the Sanhedrin had just preferred. He would call up to the people's mind what they had thought, and publicly declared, of this prisoner a few days before, in the hope of inducing a call for His release. 
Weymouth: they once more shouted out, "Crucify Him!"
WEB: They cried out again, "Crucify him!"
Young’s: and they again cried out, 'Crucify him.'
Conte (RC): But again they cried out, "Crucify him."
15:13 And they cried out again. [This] does not refer to a previous cry, "Crucify him," as none has thus far been mentioned; but to a different cry-out of the people, either their call for the discharge of Barabbas, or more probably to their first clamorous call for the release of a prisoner according to custom (verse 8). 
Crucify Him! Crucifixion was a Roman, not a Jewish mode of punishment. Why, then, did the Jewish multitude fix on such a mode? Some answer, because the punishment for Barabbas would have been crucifixion, and they put Jesus in his place. 
Or: As He was in the hands of Roman authorities, and must be put to death by them, if at all, they called for His death according to the Roman method. The Divine purpose in this was that the death of the Messiah should be of the most painful and shameful character. To deliver us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13) He must bear that curse itself, even submitting to the ignominy that attached to every one hanged upon a tree (Deuteronomy 21:23). The people by demanding His death in this manner were unwittingly executing the Divine purpose in His death. 
Weymouth: "Why, what crime has he committed?" asked Pilate. But they vehemently shouted, "Crucify Him!"
WEB: Pilate said to them, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they cried out exceedingly, "Crucify him!"
Young’s: And Pilate said to them, 'Why -- what evil did he?' and they cried out the more vehemently, 'Crucify him;'
Conte (RC): Yet truly, Pilate said to them: "Why? What evil has he done?" But they cried out all the more, "Crucify him."
15:14 Then Pilate said unto them. In effect, challenging them: “You claim He’s done evil. That’s what I keep hearing—but what is the evil? I need specific accusations!” [rw]
what evil hath He done? A sincere but ill-timed attempt to reason with an excited crowd, and that after the main question has been given into their hands. The governor's resistance comes too late; he has placed himself and his decision in the people's power, and it is vain to think of reasoning now. 
and they cried out the more exceedingly. The only argument of an excited mob. To parley and reason with unreasonable fanaticism is to surrender. Pilate tried this course no less than three times, as we learn from Luke (23:13-23). He thereby exhibited the more clearly His own conviction of the innocence of the prisoner, his inability to deal with such a crisis, and the persistent wickedness of the people, in crying for innocent blood. 
Crucify Him! i.e., "Carry out your own plan, stand to your agreement, execute your bargain; you have given us our choice and we have chosen Barabbas; now do your part and put Jesus in his place." 
Weymouth: So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the mob, released Barabbas for them, and after scourging Jesus handed Him over for crucifixion.
WEB: Pilate, wishing to please the multitude, released Barabbas to them, and handed over Jesus, when he had flogged him, to be crucified.
Young’s: and Pilate, wishing to content the multitude, released to them Barabbas, and delivered up Jesus -- having scourged him -- that he might be crucified.
Conte (RC): Then Pilate, wishing to satisfy the people, released Barabbas to them, and he delivered Jesus, having severely scourged him, to be crucified.
15:15 And so Pilate, willing to content the people. He preferred to release Him, but was not brave enough to do it at the cost of displeasing both the priests and the people. 
Having begun to yield to popular clamor, Pilate was obliged to submit, or face such an outbreak as every Roman governor dreaded among the Jews (Matthew 27:24). He would rather sacrifice an innocent man, whose acquittal he almost begged from the people, than risk the loss of his office, as the consequence of a popular tumult, or popular ill-will, which had led to the deposition of a predecessor, Archelaus, and was dreaded afterwards by Felix and Festus. 
released Barabbas unto them. Giving him into the hands of those who would make great rejoicing over him. 
and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged Him to be crucified. Roman scourging was a fearful punishment. The entire body was bared, the lashes were given without number, thus differing from the Jewish mode. It could not be inflicted upon a Roman citizen (Acts 22:25) but was for slaves. In this case it was inflicted by soldiers. The whips were thongs with led or bones attached. The prisoner was usually bound in a stooping posture so that the skin of the back was stretched tightly; as their backs were flayed by the process, they frequently fainted and sometimes died.
The soldiers who afterwards mocked Him, were not likely to be mild in this case. Yet the representative of civil justice proposed this as a milder punishment for One who was innocent. Thus Pilate sacrificed his independent position as a representative of the Roman law, to the fanaticism of the Jewish hierarchy. The State became a tool in the hands of an apostate and bloodthirsty Church. Pilate's conduct is an awful warning to rulers who, to gain popularity, pander to religious fanaticism. His political fall was due to the accusation of these very people. 
Weymouth: Then the soldiers led Him away into the court of the Palace (the Praetorium)
WEB: The soldiers led him away within the court, which is the Praetorium; and they called together the whole cohort.
Young’s: And the soldiers led him away into the hall, which is Praetorium, and call together the whole band,
Conte (RC): Then the soldiers led him away to the court of the praetorium. And they called together the entire cohort.
15:16 And the soldiers. Soldiers of the Roman army; not themselves Romans, but mercenary soldiers, of whatever kind or origin. 
No doubt a part of Pilate's body-guard. 
led Him away into the hall. Pilate, out of deference to scrupulous Pharisees, who dreaded the ceremonial pollution of the judgment hall, though unconcerned about the eternal stain with which they were polluting their souls, had met them in these conferences in front of his residence (John 18:28; 19:13). The soldiers now conduct Jesus back into the hall. 
called Praetorium. The official residence of the procurator, probably closely connected with, or a part of the castle of Antonia, which stood just north of the west end of the temple area. The court within which they led Jesus was evidently a different place from that in which the hearing before Pilate had taken place. It was perhaps connected with the soldiers' quarters. 
Or: Here [the term] denotes the barracks, the place where the soldiers lived. Into this place they took their victim for abuse. 
and they called together the whole band [garrison, NKJV]. The whole cohort of soldiers stationed in the castle of Antonia. 
The word translated [garrison] is applied to the detachment brought by Judas (John 18:3), and occurs again, Acts 10:1; 21:31; 27:1. It signifies a whole Roman cohort of soldiers, but the number of soldiers in a cohort often varied. 
Weymouth: they arrayed Him in crimson, placed on His head a wreath of thorny twigs which they had twisted,
WEB: They clothed him with purple, and weaving a crown of thorns, they put it on him.
Young’s: and clothe him with purple, and having plaited a crown of thorns, they put it on him,
Conte (RC): And they clothed him with purple. And platting a crown of thorns, they placed it on him.
15:17 And they clothed Him with purple. So also says St. John (19:2). St. Matthew says (27:28), “They put on him a scarlet robe." Purple and scarlet are not such very dissimilar colours. 
The term “purple” was used by the Romans to include several different shades of red. 
[This was done] in derision of His royal claims, according to the charge preferred by the Sanhedrim. 
and platted [twisted, NKJV] a crown of thorns, and put it about his head. Put on Him in mockery either of a regal crown or a victor's wreath. It is natural to suppose that this material was chosen, not only to make the derision more marked, but to cause torture by the thorns piercing the head. 
Weymouth: and went on to salute Him with shouts of "Long live the King of the Jews."
WEB: They began to salute him, "Hail, King of the Jews!"
Young’s: and began to salute him, 'Hail, King of the Jews.'
Conte (RC): And they began to salute him: "Hail, king of the Jews."
15:18 And began to salute Him. i.e., to hail or recognize him as a sovereign. Having thus pretended to array Him as a king, they now affect to pay Him homage in the customary form. 
Hail, King of the Jews! Sarcastic, of course; they mingled mock homage and direct insult [verse 19]. 
The soldiers doubtless felt an additional delight in the name they chose, because by the use of it they were insulting the Jews as well as Jesus. 
Weymouth: Then they began to beat Him on the head with a cane, to spit on Him, and to do Him homage on bended knees.
WEB: They struck his head with a reed, and spat on him, and bowing their knees, did homage to him.
Young’s: And they were smiting him on the head with a reed, and were spitting on him, and having bent the knee, were bowing to him,
Conte (RC): And they struck his head with a reed, and they spit on him. And kneeling down, they reverenced him.
15:19 And they smote [struck, NKJV] Him on the head with a reed. Driving the thorns into His flesh. 
They had "put it in His right hand" as a sceptre (Matthew 27:29). 
and did spit upon Him. While they knelt before Him with their false adoration. 
and bowing their knees worshiped Him. Adoration, in the strictest meaning of the word, was paid to many of the Roman emperors; and no doubt the soldiers mocked our Lord's claim to regal authority by the semblance of it. 
All the verbs in verse 19 are in the imperfect tense, indicating that the acts were performed repeatedly: thus they smote Him again and again on the head, and more than once knelt before Him, spitting upon Him as they did so, repeating their cruelty and insult as long as they would. 
Weymouth: At last, having finished their sport, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him.
WEB: When they had mocked him, they took the purple off of him, and put his own garments on him. They led him out to crucify him.
Young’s: and when they had mocked him, they took the purple from off him, and clothed him in his own garments, and they led him forth, that they may crucify him.
Conte (RC): And after they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple, and they clothed him in his own garments. And they led him away, so that they might crucify him.
15:20 And when they had mocked Him, they took off the purple from Him. As this was only meant to be a passing show or momentary mockery, they soon grew weary of it, stripped him of the temporary purple and replaced His own clothes as a necessary preparation for conducting Him to execution. 
and put His own clothes on Him. All that we know of "His own clothes" relates to the under-coat (chiton), which John tells us was seamless and "woven from the top throughout" (John 19:23). If we judge from the description that Josephus gives of a similar garment for the high priest (Antiquities, 3. 7. 4), we shall infer that this tunic, or under-coat, was intended to be drawn on over the head--a process how painful, after the scourging and the other abuse, we forbear to imagine. 
and led him out to crucify Him. i.e., out of the city, as appears to have been customary in all executions, being expressly spoken of in several cases, as in those of the blasphemer (Leviticus 24:14), of Naboth (1 Kings 21:13), and of Stephen (Acts 7:58). 
The condemned were usually obliged to carry either the entire cross or the cross-beams fastened together. 
Weymouth: One Simon, a Cyrenaean, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing along, coming from the country: him they compelled to carry His cross.
WEB: They compelled one passing by, coming from the country, Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to go with them, that he might bear his cross.
Young’s: And they impress a certain one passing by -- Simon, a Cyrenian, coming from the field, the father of Alexander and Rufus -- that he may bear his cross,
Conte (RC): And they compelled a certain passerby, Simon the Cyrenian, who was arriving from the countryside, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to take up his cross.
15:21 And they compel one. The word ["compelled"] is used only here and at Matthew 27:32 (parallel) and 5:41. It is the word that refers to enforced service exacted by the government. This was an official party, being executioners of the Roman power, and they "impress" this man into their service. 
Simon, a Cyrenian. Cyrene lay on the southern coast of the Mediterranean, westward from Egypt. Many Jews dwelt there, who were represented in the assembly on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10) and among the pioneers of missionary work to the Gentiles (Acts 11:20). Men from the same place were among the opponents of Stephen (Acts 6:9). 
Some think he was chosen because he was an African; others, because he was a slave, as one of this class would be considered fit for such a service; others, because he was a disciple; others still, because meeting the procession, he showed some sympathy for Jesus. The last is the likeliest supposition. 
Who passed by, coming out of the country. Not necessarily from work. 
[He was coming] toward the city; so that the company did not overtake him, but met him. No inferences can be drawn as to the place or the distance from which he had come, except that it is presumable that he was in the city at the time of the Passover, on the previous evening. 
the father of Alexander and Rufus. Doubtless two well-known members of the Christian community; possibly those named in Romans 16:13 and Acts 19:33. 
to bear. When they set out Jesus bore the cross (John 19:17), as criminals usually did; but when they met Simon he was required to take the burden. The exhausted physical condition of Jesus from His mental and bodily sufferings is generally supposed to have been the reason for this unusual procedure. 
His cross. The most disgraceful and one of the most awful instruments of torture among the Romans. It was commonly made by crossing two pieces of timber, the upright being perhaps eight or nine feet long, and commonly left standing permanently in the ground. The cross-bar was carried by the condemned man and to it his hands were nailed or in some other way fastened. The body rested upon a peg driven into the upright post. The person thus punished ordinarily died from starvation and pain, not from any fatal injury. On the way to the place of execution the condemned man would be preceded by a herald bearing a piece of wood upon which was written the name of the crime he had committed. This would be nailed to the cross (cf. vs. 26). 
Weymouth: So they brought Him to the place called Golgotha, which, being translated, means 'Skull-ground.'
WEB: They brought him to the place called Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, "The place of a skull."
Young’s: and they bring him to the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, 'Place of a skull;'
Conte (RC): And they led him through to the place called Golgotha, which means, 'the Place of Calvary.'
15:22 And they bring Him unto the place. Literally "they bear Him," or it may be rendered "lead Him." In other passages it generally implies an infirmity or weakness in the person brought, and hence some understand that Jesus, from the awful scourging, had become too weak to walk, and sinking down, was borne to the place. 
Golgotha. It was outside the city, as the language of John 19:20 proves, and as the writer to the Hebrews assumes that his readers knew (Hebrews 13:12). 
It was near the city (John 19:20), near a thoroughfare (Matthew 27:39), [and ] near a “garden” or “orchard” (John 19:41). 
which is, being interpreted [translated, NKJV[ Place of a Skull. The expression probably refers to the shape of the hill, though some think it implies rather a place of execution. 
It is very unlikely that the name arose from the skulls of the criminals lying there. The Jews did not leave bodies unburied; a rich man like Joseph of Arimathaea would not have a garden near such a spot (John 19:41). 
On the other hand: There is no evidence that Golgotha was the common place of execution, and there is a certain amount of evidence against it in the fact that Joseph's garden, or orchard, was close by, or, as John expresses it, "in the place where He was crucified." It has been suggested as possible that the spot was chosen by the priests as a deliberate insult to Joseph, one of their own Sanhedrin, who had not consented to the deed and was perhaps suspected of a regard for Jesus. 
Weymouth: Here they offered Him wine mixed with myrrh; but He refused it.
WEB: They offered him wine mixed with myrrh to drink, but he didn't take it.
Young’s: and they were giving him to drink wine mingled with myrrh, and he did not receive.
Conte (RC): And they gave him wine with myrrh to drink. But he did not accept it.
15:23 And they gave Him to drink wine mingled with myrrh. [This] seems to have been before the nailing to the cross. The object of this was to stupefy the victim, so that the pain might not be so acutely felt. This, however, was a Jewish, not a Roman custom, though now permitted by the Romans. Lightfoot (on Matthew 27:34) quotes from the Rabbins, "To those that were to be executed they gave a grain of myrrh, infused in wine, to drink, that their understanding might be disturbed, or they lose their senses, as it is said, 'Give strong drink to them that are ready to die, and wine to them that are of sorrowful heart.' " This mixture the Lord tasted, but knowing its purpose, would not drink it. He would not permit the clearness of His mind to be thus disturbed and, in the full possession of consciousness, would endure all the agonies of the cross. 
but He received it not [did not take it, NKJV]. He merely tasted it (Matthew 27:34), so as to recognize the kindness of the act, but He refused to drink enough to have any effect. 
He would not seek alleviation of the agonies of the crucifixion by any drugged potion which might render Him insensible. He would bear the full burden consciously. 
In depth: What was mixed with the wine ? Mayer and Alford find a contradiction between Matthew and Mark because the former speaks of "vinegar mingled with gall;" the latter, of "wine mingled with myrrh." But it is well said by Alexander, that "as the wine used by the soldiers was a cheap wine, little, if at all, superior to vinegar, and as myrrh, gall, and other bitter substances are put for the whole class, there is really no difference in these passages."
Lightfoot supposes that it was not the usual mixture, wine and frankincense, or myrrh, but, for greater mockage, and out of rancor, vinegar and gall. Townsend supposes that three potions were offered him: the first, vinegar mingled with gall, in malice and derision, which He refused; then the intoxicating draught, which He also refused; then the sour wine, which He drank. Another supposition is that benevolent women gave Him the wine and myrrh, and at the same time the soldiers brought the vinegar and gall.
Weymouth: Then they crucified Him. This done, they divided His garments among them, drawing lots to decide what each should take.
WEB: Crucifying him, they parted his garments among them, casting lots on them, what each should take.
Young’s: And having crucified him, they were dividing his garments, casting a lot upon them, what each may take;
Conte (RC): And while crucifying him, they divided his garments, casting lots over them, to see who would take what.
15:24 And when they had crucified Him. By nailing His hands and His feet to the cross, either before or after it was raised and set in the ground. 
they parted [divided, NKJV] His garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. It was the custom to give the clothing of the condemned man to his executioners. 
The soldiers must stay and guard the place, lest there should be even now a rescue of the Crucified One: such was the Roman custom, for rescues were not unknown. The soldiers were four in number (John 19:23). A centurion also was present, in charge of them. Whatever there may have been of His clothes they divided into four equal parts, but for the seamless coat they cast lots; in which John saw the fulfillment of David's language in Psalms 22:18. 
In depth: The practice of crucifixion among the Romans . Crucifixion was a common form of execution among the Romans, the Carthaginians, and some other nations, which confined it for the most part to slaves and to malefactors of the worst kind. The cross was of various forms, sometimes like an "X," sometimes like a "T," and sometimes prolonged like the Latin cross, which is familiar to all modern eyes. In this case the ordinary pictures correctly represent the form, as the fact that the inscription was put "over his head" assures us.
The first act of crucifixion was to lay the cross on the ground and nail or bind the victim to it: "the latter was the more painful method, as the sufferer was left to die of hunger." The language of Thomas (John 20:25) proves that in this case the body was fastened to the cross by nails. Through the hands the nails were driven, and through the feet, either separately or crossed. Then the cross was raised and set in the hole in the earth that had been dug for it, and the victim was left to his agony.
A wooden support between the legs partly sustained the weight of the body. The cross was not high, as in many pictures of the crucifixion: it was only so high that the victim was raised a little from the earth.
The physical agonies of crucifixion were such that we may well shrink from any attempt to portray them. Victims were sometimes known to linger for nine days on the cross, enduring such a complication of torments as we scarcely have power to imagine.
Weymouth: It was nine o'clock in the morning when they crucified Him.
WEB: It was the third hour, and they crucified him.
Young’s: and it was the third hour, and they crucified him;
Conte (RC): Now it was the third hour. And they crucified him.
15:25 And it was the third hour, and they crucified Him. This is in agreement with the subsequent account, verse 33, and its parallel in Matthew and Luke but inconsistent with John 19:14, where it is said to have been about the sixth hour at the time of the exhibition of our Lord by Pilate.
It is preposterous to imagine that two such accounts as these of the proceedings of so eventful a day should differ by three whole hours in their appointment of its occurrences. So that it may fairly be presumed that some different method of calculation has given rise to the present discrepancy. 
An apparent discrepancy of such long standing is a proof: (1) that there was no collusion between the two writers, if the differences originally existed; (2) that those who have held these writings as sacred have been very honest or such an apparent disagreement would have disappeared long ago. 
In depth: Explaining the difference between the Synoptics and the gospel of John concerning the time the crucifixion began . The following solutions in substance are taken from Alexander:
(1) John may refer to the time of the preparation.
(2) "Hour” may be used for a division of the day extending from the third to the sixth hour, the one writer mentioning the beginning, the other the end.
(3) A much more probable solution is that John, writing for the churches of Asia Minor, uses the Roman method of reckoning from midnight. Pilate's presenting Jesus to the Jews, then, was “about the sixth hour,” i.e., about six o'clock; and the crucifixion took place at nine o'clock.
(4) There may have been an early error in transcription.
Argumentation in behalf of the first proposed solution to the difficulty : Perhaps the whole difficulty may be removed by the following statements: (1) Calvary was without the walls of Jerusalem. It was a considerable distance from the place where Jesus was tried and condemned. Some time—more or less--would be occupied in going there, and in the preparatory measures for crucifying Him.
(2) It is not necessary to understand Mark as saying that it was precisely nine o'clock, according to our expression. With the Jews it was six until seven; it was the third hour until the fourth commenced; it was the ninth until it was the tenth. They included in the third hour the whole time from the third to the fourth.
(3) It is not unduly pressing the matter to suppose that Mark spoke of the time when the process for crucifixion commenced; i.e., when He was condemned; when they entered upon it; when they made the preparation. Between that and the time when He was taken out of Jerusalem to Mount Calgary, and when He was actually nailed to the tree, there is no improbability that there might have been an interval of more than an hour. Indeed, the presumption is that considerably more time than that would elapse.
(4) John does not profess, as has been remarked, to be strictly accurate. He says, “it was about the sixth hour."
(5) Now suppose that John meant to indicate the time when He was actually suspended on the cross; that he spoke of the crucifixion denoting the act of suspension, then there is no difficulty. Any other two men--any witness might give just such an account now. One man would speak of the time when the process for an execution commenced, another perhaps of the very act of execution and would both speak of it in general terms and say that a man was executed at such a time.
(6) That this is the true account of the matter is clear from the evangelists themselves; and especially from Mark. The three first evangelists concur in stating that there was a remarkable darkness over the whole land from the sixth to the ninth hour (Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44). This fact would seem to indicate that the actual crucifixion continued only during that time--that He was in fact suspended about the sixth hour though the preparations for crucifying Him had been going on (Mark) for two hours before.
Argumentation in behalf of the fourth proposed solution to the difficulty . "The third hour:" That is, about 9 o'clock. John says it was “about the sixth hour: that Pilate delivered Jesus to be crucified (John 19:14-17). It could not have been the sixth hour according to the Jewish mode of reckoning; for Matthew, Mark and Luke all testify that the darkness occurred at the sixth hour, and this was after Jesus had been on the cross for a considerable length of time (cf. Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44). Neither could it have been at the sixth hour according to the Roman method of counting, which would be 6 o'clock; for this would not allow time for all of the proceedings which were had previous to the crucifixion. We conclude, then, that Mark fixes the true time of the crucifixion, and that the text of John has been altered by some mistake of transcribers. John could not himself have made a mistake; for, independent of his inspiration, he was an eye-witness of the scene, and could not have miscalculated it by the space of three hours.
Weymouth: Over His head was the notice in writing of the charge against Him: THE KING OF THE JEWS.
WEB: The superscription of his accusation was written over him, "THE KING OF THE JEWS."
Young’s: and the inscription of his accusation was written above -- 'The King of the Jews.'
Conte (RC): And the title of his case was written as: THE KING OF THE JEWS.
15:26 And the superscription [inscription, NKJV] of His accusation. We learn from the parallel accounts that it was written in three languages (Luke 23:38), and placed above the sufferer's head (Matthew 27:37), and that when the Jews desired it to be changed the governor refused (John 19:21-22). 
was written over, the King of the Jews. The four Evangelists each give a different form. This is a proof of independence, but not of inaccuracy. Three [slightly different] forms might have been given in three different languages; while the fourth (most likely that of Mark) is a partial transcription giving the words common to all four accounts. 
For the endeavor of the Jewish high priest to get the title altered, see John 19:21-22. 
Weymouth: With him they crucified two robbers; one on his right hand, and one on his left.
WEB: With him they crucified two robbers; one on his right hand, and one on his left.
Young’s: And with him they crucify two robbers, one on the right hand, and one on his left,
Conte (RC): And with him they crucified two robbers: one at his right, and the other at his left.
15:27 And with Him they crucify. Their being crucified with Christ was not necessarily intended as an indignity to Him, but may have been in accordance with the usual practice of executing at the same time those who were condemned as the [regular trials] held before or after the great festivals. 
two thieves. Some conjecture that they belonged to the band of Barabbas and had been engaged in one of those fierce outbreaks against the Romans. This explains the fact that we read of no mockery of them. They were the popular heroes. An old tradition gives the names of the thieves as Dimas and Gestas, Dimas being the one who was penitent. The tradition is preserved in the apocryphal gospel of Nicodemus. 
the one on His right hand, and the other on His left. The central place was meant for a caricature upon the idea of a place of honor; not unlikely His cross was a little taller than the others. They were willing to exalt Him among robbers and to let Him enjoy a preeminence--on the cross. 
WEB: The Scripture was fulfilled, which says, "He was numbered with transgressors."
Young’s: and the Writing was fulfilled that is saying, 'And with lawless ones he was numbered.'
Conte (RC): And the scripture was fulfilled, which says: "And with the iniquitous he was reputed."
15:28 And the Scripture was fulfilled, which saith. This verse is omitted in the oldest manuscripts. It is supposed to have been taken from St. Luke (22:37). 
The falling out of this verse from the text leaves the double quotation in 1:2-3 the only quotation from the prophets made by Mark himself in the whole Gospel. 
And He was numbered with the transgressors. The reference is to Isaiah 53:12. 
Weymouth: And all the passers-by reviled Him. They shook their heads at Him and said, "Ah! you who were for destroying the Sanctuary and building a new one in three days,
WEB: Those who passed by blasphemed him, wagging their heads, and saying, "Ha! You who destroy the temple, and build it in three days,
Young’s: And those passing by were speaking evil of him, shaking their heads, and saying, 'Ah, the thrower down of the sanctuary, and in three days the builder!
Conte (RC): And the passersby blasphemed him, shaking their heads and saying, "Ah, you who would destroy the temple of God, and in three days rebuild it,
15:29 And they that passed by. Calvary was probably near to one of the thoroughfares leading to the city; so that there would be a continual stream of persons passing to and fro; more especially at this time, when Jerusalem was thronged with visitors. 
railed on [blasphemed, NKJV] Him, wagging their heads. Shaking their heads in scorn and perhaps enforcing the expression of their triumph and contempt by gestures and grimaces (cf. Ps. 22:7).
We must remember that the cross was so low that the sufferer was actually among His tormentors, able to look directly into their eyes, and even liable to abuse from their hands; although of such abuse, in our Saviour's case, there is happily no record. 
saying, ha! In the [Greek] classics, [the word] expresses wonder; here, bitter irony. 
Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days. This remark of our Lord at His cleansing of the temple was never forgotten, though its meaning was misrepresented or misunderstood. 
Weymouth: come down from the cross and save yourself."
WEB: save yourself, and come down from the cross!"
Young’s: save thyself, and come down from the cross!'
Conte (RC): save yourself by descending from the cross."
15:30 Save Thyself, and come down from the cross. If He could rebuild the temple, He could do this! The variations in the language, discovered in the different accounts, are natural; some would say one thing, some another, though the tone was in general the same. 
Weymouth: In the same way the High Priests also, as well as the Scribes, kept on scoffing at Him, saying to one another, "He has saved others: himself he cannot save!
WEB: Likewise, also the chief priests mocking among themselves with the scribes said, "He saved others. He can't save himself.
Young’s: And in like manner also the chief priests, mocking with one another, with the scribes, said, 'Others he saved; himself he is not able to save.
Conte (RC): And similarly the leaders of the priests, mocking him with the scribes, said to one another: "He saved others. He is not able to save himself.
15:31 Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes. This was not addressed to Jesus; it was a mocking conversation, loud enough, no doubt, for Him to overhear, an insulting byplay between the religious leaders of Israel revealing their utter hardness and heartlessness. 
He saved others; Himself He cannot save. This may be ironical or it is a recognition of His miracles of mercy to taunt Him with a supposed loss of power just when He needed it most for Himself. His very mercy is used in mockery. 
Weymouth: This Christ, the King of Israel, let him come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe." Even the men who were being crucified with Him heaped insults on Him.
WEB: Let the Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, that we may see and believe him." Those who were crucified with him insulted him.
Young’s: The Christ! the king of Israel -- let him come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe;' and those crucified with him were reproaching him.
Conte (RC): And similarly the leaders of the priests, mocking him with the scribes, said to one another: "He saved others. He is not able to save himself.
15:32 Let Christ, the King of Israel. Had the challenge been accepted they would not have believed, for they were not persuaded when He raised Lazarus from the dead, nor when He rose Himself. 
descend now from the cross. ["Now:"] as if this were the very moment when He might win their faith by such a display of power. 
that we may see and believe. The demand was not an unreasonable demand, from His enemies' point of view: that would be giving Israel something like what they wanted in their Messiah. He had persisted in giving them what they did not want. But this was only the renewal of the old demand for [unneeded] signs (Matthew 12:38-39; Mark 3:11-12). Nay it was a renewal of the temptation of Satan in the wilderness. The language "if thou be the Son of God" (Matthew 27:40), must have instantly recalled that temptation to His mind: this was a new solicitation to prove His Divine Sonship by means of His enemies' choosing. 
And they that were crucified with Him reviled Him. At first both the robbers joined in reproaching Him. One of them was guilty of blaspheming Him (Luke 23:39), the other, beholding the spirit of Jesus, turned in penitence and faith to Him (Luke 23:42). 
Weymouth: At noon there came a darkness over the whole land, lasting till three o'clock in the afternoon.
WEB: When the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.
Young’s: And the sixth hour having come, darkness came over the whole land till the ninth hour,
Conte (RC): And when the sixth hour arrived, a darkness occurred over the entire earth, until the ninth hour.
15:33 And when the sixth hour had come. Noon. 
there was darkness over the whole land. We are not informed precisely how far the darkness extended. Dionysius says that he saw this phenomena at Heliopolis, in Egypt, and he is reported to have exclaimed, “Either the God of nature, the Creator, is suffering, or the universe is dissolving." The darkness was doubtless produced by the immediate interference of God. An account of it is given by Phlegon of Tralles, a freedman of Emperor Adrian. Eusebius, in his records of the year A.D. 33, quotes at length from Phlegon, who says that in the fourth year of the 202nd Olympiad, there was a great and remarkable eclipse of the sun, above any that had happened before. At the sixth hour the day was turned into the darkness of night, so that stars were seen in the heaven; and there was a great earthquake in Bithynia, which overthrew many houses in the city of Nicaea. Phlegon attributes the darkness which de describes, to an eclipse, which was natural enough for him to do. The knowledge of astronomy was very imperfect. The moon was now at the full, so that it could not have been caused by what we call an eclipse, for when it is full moon the moon cannot intervene between the earth and the sun. 
Alternate interpretation: If taken literally, it was probably due to a storm of sand. But probably the phrase is in its origin metaphorical, intended to express the blackness of the sin which culminated in the crucifixion of the Son of God, and the fact that during these three hours Jesus was suffering agony of body and mind. 
until the ninth hour. Three in the afternoon.35
The hour of the evening sacrifice.8
Weymouth: But at three o'clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "Elohi, Elohi, lama sabachthani?" which means, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?"
WEB: At the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which is, being interpreted, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Young’s: and at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a great voice, saying, 'Eloi, Eloi, lamma sabachthani?' which is, being interpreted, 'My God, my God, why didst Thou forsake me?'
Conte (RC): And at the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eloi, Eloi, lamma sabacthani?" which means, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"
15:34 And at the ninth hour. [As] the darkness ended, and just as it was departing it seems to have been that Jesus spoke again. 
Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? The words are Aramaic. 
This is the only one of the “seven words” or utterances from the cross which Mark records. 
which is, being interpreted [translated, NKJV], My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? This expression, apparently of despair, is variously explained. Some, as Calvin, suggest that it was the weakness of the flesh crying out under the awful sense of the load of sin, coming upon the Saviour, as if God had forsaken Him, and yet implying that He still relied on God, as David, "though he slay me yet will I trust in him." The cry cannot be regarded as arising from physical causes alone. 
Or: It is generally supposed that our blessed Lord, continually praying upon His cross, and offering Himself a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, recited the whole of the psalm (xxii) of which these are the first words, that He might show Himself to be the very Being to whom the words refer; so that the Jewish scribes and people might examine and see the cause why He would not descend from the cross: namely, because this very psalm showed that it was appointed that He should suffer these things. 
Weymouth: Some of the bystanders, hearing Him, said, "Listen, he is calling for Elijah!"
WEB: Some of those who stood by, when they heard it, said, "Behold, he is calling Elijah."
Young’s: And certain of those standing by, having heard, said, 'Lo, Elijah he doth call;'
Conte (RC): And some of those standing near, upon hearing this, said, "Behold, he is calling Elijah."
15:35 And some of them that stood by. Not “many” or “most;” merely “some.” Enough to be noticeable rather than overlooked. [rw]
when they heard it, said, Behold, He is calleth [NKJV adds, for] Elias [Elijah,NKJV]. This was not probably a mistake, but a rude jest; for if there were any among those about His cross, who did not understand Hebrew well enough to catch His meaning, they would hardly know anything of Elijah. They knew that He was calling upon God, but the similarity of the Hebrew word (Eli in Matthew) to the name of Elijah, suggested the course pun to express their jeers. And their sarcasm was the bitterer because it intimated that this false Messiah was calling for Elijah, who ought to have come first, to appear now in His extremity as His deliverer. 
Weymouth: Then a man ran to fill a sponge with sour wine, and he put it on the end of a cane and placed it to His lips, saying at the same time, "Wait! let us see whether Elijah will come and take him down."
WEB: One ran, and filling a sponge full of vinegar, put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink, saying, "Let him be. Let's see whether Elijah comes to take him down."
Young’s: and one having run, and having filled a spunge with vinegar, having put it also on a reed, was giving him to drink, saying, 'Let alone, let us see if Elijah doth come to take him down.'
Conte (RC): Then one of them, running and filling a sponge with vinegar, and placing it around a reed, gave it to him to drink, saying: "Wait. Let us see if Elijah will come to take him down."
15:36 And one ran and filled a sponge full of vinegar [sour wine, NKJV]. The offering of it was an act of kindness by one unknown, probably one of the soldiers. It was no drugged wine, but the common sour wine that the soldiers drank. The coincidence with Psalms 69:21 is merely external. 
This was done in response to His cry, "I thirst" (John 19:28), but in close connection with the great event in the last verse. 
and put it on a reed. The mouth of Jesus being probably just too high to be reached by the hand. 
"Upon hyssop" (John 19:29), i.e., upon a hyssop stalk probably not more than two or three feet long. 
and gave Him to drink, saying Let [NKJV adds, Him] alone. The [objection] is not intended as an objection to giving Him the vinegar; for the man who used these words had already given it to Him. "Let alone” is an indefinite expression addressed to the bystanders and meaning that they should be quiet and patient to see the result. 
let us see whether Elias will come to take Him down. It is plain, they think, that He cannot come down from the cross Himself, but perhaps when He is helpless He can have Elijah's help; and so they wish to [have Him] let alone and put His supposed expectations to the test. 
Weymouth: But Jesus uttered a loud cry and yielded up His spirit.
WEB: Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and gave up the spirit.
Young’s: And Jesus having uttered a loud cry, yielded the spirit,
Conte (RC): Then Jesus, having emitted a loud cry, expired.
15:37 And Jesus cried with a loud voice. Usually the voice fails the dying, more especially when the natural forces have been weakened by long agony, as in the case of our Lord. It seems, therefore the right conclusion that He cried out, just before He expired, by that supernatural power which His Godhead supplied to Him; and thus He showed that, although He had gone through all the pains which were sufficient to produce death, yet that at length He did not die of necessity but voluntarily, in accordance with what He had Himself said, "No one taketh My life from Me . . . I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take t again" (John 10:18). 
The three evangelists all dwell upon the loudness of the cry. Some think [the loudness] implied the triumphant note of a conqueror. 
And gave up the ghost [breathed His last, NKJV]. The physical cause of His death has been thought by many to have been rupture of the heart. There was no gradual weakening, but a sudden death. Furthermore, this view accounts for the statement of John 19:34, "there came out blood and water,” rupture of the heart being followed by an effusion of blood into the pericardium, resulting in a separation of its solid and liquid parts. These parts would be termed “blood and water,” in ordinary language. 
Weymouth: And the curtain in the Sanctuary was torn in two, from top to bottom.
WEB: The veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom.
Young’s: and the veil of the sanctuary was rent in two, from top to bottom,
Conte (RC): And the veil of the temple was torn in two, from the top to the bottom.
15:38 And the veil of the temple. These veils or curtains, according to Josephus, were each forty cubits in height and ten in breadth, of great substance, very massive, and richly embroidered with gold and purple. 
[They] separated the Most Holy from the Holy Place. Once a year, on the day of atonement, the High Priest entered within the vail, with blood, which he offered at the mercy seat. 
was rent in twain [torn in two, NKJV] from the top to the bottom. Now, this rending of the veil signified (1) that the whole of the Jewish dispensation, with its rites and ceremonies, was now unfolded by Christ; and that thenceforth the middle wall of partition was broken down, so that now not the Jews only but the Gentiles also might draw nigh by the blood of Christ. But (2) it further signified that they way to heaven was laid open by our Lord's death. The veil signified that heaven was closed to all, until Christ by His death rent this veil in twain, and laid open the way. 
No one of the evangelists offers any explanation or this symbol [in his gospel account], whence some have inferred that they did not understand it. Better infer that they supposed every one would understand it; although this is not to deny that even to them it might seem still more profoundly significant after the overthrow of Jerusalem. 
Weymouth: And when the Centurion who stood in front of the cross saw that He was dead, he exclaimed, "This man was indeed God's Son."
WEB: When the centurion, who stood by opposite him, saw that he cried out like this and breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!"
Young’s: and the centurion who was standing over-against him, having seen that, having so cried out, he yielded the spirit, said, 'Truly this man was Son of God.'
Conte (RC): Then the centurion who stood opposite him, seeing that he had expired while crying out in this way, said: "Truly, this man was the Son of God."
15:39 So when the centurion who stood opposite Him. He was the officer in charge of the crucifixion, who had "stood over against Him," where he could see everything, as his duty was. 
He usually commanded a hundred men, but the term was applied somewhat widely to subordinate officers of a Roman legion. 
saw that He cried out like this and breathed his last. [Saw that He died] with such more than human dignity, and with such amazing signs in nature about him. Matthew, “seeing the earthquake, and the things that were done;" Luke simply, "seeing that which was done." 
he said, Truly this Man was the Son of God! Or, “a son of God." The heathen officer may have used these words in the heathen sense: hero or demi-god; but this is not probable. For he had heard this accusation, must have known something of Jewish opinion: heathen became Christians through the preaching of the cross, why not through the sight of the dying Redeemer? Such a conversion would be indicated. 
Alternate interpretation: It was a heathen who uttered these words. He evidently thought of Jesus as a sort of demi-god. 
Or: With him it could scarcely mean much more than "this man was righteous." 
Weymouth: There were also a party of women looking on from a distance; among them being both Mary of Magdala and Mary the mother of James the Little and of Joses, and Salome--
WEB: There were also women watching from afar, among whom were both Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome;
Young’s: And there were also women afar off beholding, among whom was also Mary the Magdalene, and Mary of James the less, and of Joses, and Salome,
Conte (RC): Now there were also women watching from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome,
15:40 There were also women looking on afar off. Some of those, more faithful than the apostles, except John, had, at an earlier hour of the great tragedy, been near by the cross (John 19:25-27). But retiring, we may suppose, when the rabble, at first silenced by the unnatural darkness, renewed their revilings near the close (verses 35, 36), they, with "all His acquaintances" (Luke 23:49), beheld the last act from a distance. 
Luke has a similar group at chapter 8:2-3, with some names enumerated. 
among whom was Mary Magdalene. i.e., Mary of Magdala (8:10), out of whom Jesus cast seven devils (Luke 8:2), improperly confounded with the woman "which was a sinner" (Luke 8:37). 
and Mary the mother of James the Less. Greek, "the little," either in [physical] stature or age, and applied to distinguish him from James the brother of John, or some other James. 
and of Joses. Another offspring of the same mother. [rw]
and Salome. As Matthew (27:56), gives "the mother of Zebedee's children" in his list of these women, otherwise agreeing with Mark's, her name is supposed to be Salome. This is probably true, but cannot be affirmed, as there were "many women" in the company, of whom the two writers may not have named the same three. 
Weymouth: all of whom in the Galilaean days had habitually been with Him and cared for Him, as well as many other women who had come up to Jerusalem with Him.
WEB: who, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and served him; and many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.
Young’s: (who also, when he was in Galilee, were following him, and were ministering to him,) and many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.
Conte (RC): (and while he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him) and many other women, who had ascended along with him to Jerusalem.
15:41 (Who also, when He was in Galilee, followed Him and ministered unto Him). Luke 8:3, "ministered to Him of their substance." 
These gifts seem to have been the chief source of maintenance for Jesus and the twelve. They made up the fund of which Judas was treasurer. 
and many other women which came up with Him unto Jerusalem. Arguing that, at least among Jesus’ male followers—and presumably far beyond it—it was quite common for women to join in the Passover journey. [rw]
Weymouth: Towards sunset, as it was the Preparation--that is, the day preceding the Sabbath--
WEB: When evening had now come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath,
Young’s: And now evening having come, seeing it was the preparation, that is, the fore-sabbath,
Conte (RC): And when evening had now arrived (because it was the Preparation Day, which is before the Sabbath)
15:42 And now when the even was come. The natural inference is that the death occurred not long after the ninth hour--i.e., at between three and four o'clock by our reckoning. The Sabbath would begin at sunset. It was common enough for the Romans to leave the bodies of the crucified on the cross--indeed, they often remained there till they were devoured by birds or fell to pieces in decay--but this execution had taken place under Jewish auspices, and the Jews would not be willing, in view of the prohibition in Deuteronomy 21:23, that the body of Jesus should remain all night on the cross, and still less over the Sabbath, which, as the Sabbath of the Passover week, was "a great day" (John 19:31). 
because it was the Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath. It was not the preparation of the Passover, which had already been celebrated the evening previous, but for the Sabbath of the Passover week, which was a “high day” (John 19:31). Mark explains it thus by adding, “that is, the day before the Sabbath." It had become a preparation day by custom and not by force of law. 
Weymouth: Joseph of Arimathaea came, a highly respected member of the Council, who himself also was living in expectation of the Kingdom of God. He summoned up courage to go in to see Pilate and beg for the body of Jesus.
WEB: Joseph of Arimathaea, a prominent council member who also himself was looking for the Kingdom of God, came. He boldly went in to Pilate, and asked for Jesus' body.
Young’s: Joseph of Arimathea, an honourable counsellor, who also himself was waiting for the reign of God, came, boldly entered in unto Pilate, and asked the body of Jesus.
Conte (RC): there arrived Joseph of Arimathea, a noble council member, who himself was also awaiting the kingdom of God. And he boldly entered to Pilate and petitioned for the body of Jesus.
15:43 Joseph of Arimathea. It is supposed by some that Arimathaea, the home of Joseph, was the ancient Ramah, the birthplace and home of the prophet Samuel, about two miles north of Jerusalem. 
an honourable counselor [a prominent council member, NKJV]. Matthew says of Joseph personally no more than that he was a rich man of Arimathaea and a disciple of Jesus. Mark adds that he was an “honorable counselor” that is, a member of the Sanhedrim; Luke, that he was “a good man and a just” who had “not consented to the counsel and deed of them;” and John, that though a disciple of Jesus he was so secretly for fear of the Jews. He was one of those men to whom John refers when he says, “Among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43). 
which also waited for the kingdom of God. By which is meant that he was a devout Jew who delighted in the promises of God concerning His coming kingdom and was expecting their early fulfillment. The phrase does not declare that he was a disciple of Jesus but it does represent him as one of those who were ready for discipleship. 
came. i.e., to the place of crucifixion. Perhaps the word, standing where it does, indicates that he arrived at the place when Jesus was dying or dead, having only then come into the city from his home. If he had been at Arimathaea since the night before, he may have known nothing of what was going on; in which case the sudden amazement would swell the tide of his indignation and horror. 
and went in boldly [taking courage, NKJV], went in to Pilate and craved [asked for, NKJV] the body of Jesus. Men who are ordinarily timid sometimes exhibit great boldness in a trying crisis. The boldness of Joseph is identifying himself at this crisis as a friend of Jesus is the more apparent when we contrast his conduct with that of the other male disciples, not one of whom seems to have taken any steps for the proper care of the body of Jesus. It required great moral as well as physical courage to act as His friend when His cause appeared hopeless and when all men seemed to be His enemies. 
Weymouth: But Pilate could hardly believe that He was already dead. He called, however, for the Centurion and inquired whether He had been long dead;
WEB: Pilate marveled if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead long.
Young’s: And Pilate wondered if he were already dead, and having called near the centurion, did question him if he were long dead,
Conte (RC): But Pilate wondered if he had already died. And summoning a centurion, he questioned him as to whether he was already dead.
15:44 And Pilate marvelled if [that, NKJV] He were already dead. It was not common for persons crucified to expire under two or three days, sometimes not until the sixth or seventh. 
The mention of Pilate's wonder and inquiry is peculiar to Mark. Plainly, Pilate did not know of the breaking of the legs of the robbers. Only a few hours had passed, and it seemed impossible that Jesus was dead. Not improbably, there was a shock to Pilate's mind in the tidings: he had honestly wished to save Him, and so soon all was over! 
And calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether He had been any while dead [been dead for some time, NKJV]. Not until he had made inquiry of the centurion, who had perhaps returned to the Praetorium, leaving the soldiers to watch the bodies, did he grant Joseph's request. This procedure shows that Joseph's request for the body of Jesus preceded the request of the Jews that the bodies be taken away (John 19:31). 
Weymouth: and having ascertained the fact he granted the body to Joseph.
WEB: When he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.
Young’s: and having known it from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.
Conte (RC): And when he had been informed by the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph.
15:45 And when he knew if of the centurion. For the manner of the soldier's ascertaining that He was dead, and the piercing of the body, fulfilling prophecy see John 19:32-37. We have thus the testimony of the officer, who had charge of the execution, in his report to the judge, that Jesus really died. 
he gave the body to Joseph. Roman administration cherished no hostility to the dead. Relatives or friends had only to make themselves known to receive all necessary permission. The application of this complete stranger, whose act even the women only witness from a distance, corroborates the other evidence of complete desertion the part of Jesus' followers. 
Alternate interpretation: Not delivered or transferred it merely, but, as the Greek word properly denotes, made him a present of it, no doubt in allusion to the frequent practice, probably well known to Pilate's own experience, of receiving money from the friends of executed criminals, to spare them the dishonour of exposure or promiscuous burial. 
Weymouth: He, having bought a sheet of linen, took Him down, wrapped Him in the sheet and laid Him in a tomb hewn in the rock; after which he rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb.
WEB: He bought a linen cloth, and taking him down, wound him in the linen cloth, and laid him in a tomb which had been cut out of a rock. He rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.
Young’s: And he, having brought fine linen, and having taken him down, wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre that had been hewn out of a rock, and he rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre,
Conte (RC): Then Joseph, having bought a fine linen cloth, and taking him down, wrapped him in the fine linen and laid him in a sepulcher, which was hewn from a rock. And he rolled a stone to the entrance of the tomb.
15:46 And he bought fine line. Mark alone says that it was "bought" now, at the very time when it was to be used. 
[He could afford the best because] he was rich (Matthew 27:57). 
and took him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. This was the usual way of preparing for burial among the Jews. They did not use coffins. See John 19:40. 
The lateness of the hour--just before the stars appeared that should declare the beginning of the Sabbath--made any special preparation of the body impossible. 
The wrapping in this cloth was not a mere enfolding of the body, but, at least in part, the closer wrapping or winding (John, "they took the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices"), which was customary among the Jews. When Lazarus came forth, he was "bound hand and foot with grave-clothes" (John 11:44), each limb wrapped up by itself. This wrapping, however, in the case of Jesus, was left unfinished because of haste, the Sabbath coming quickly on. 
and he laid Him in a sepul chre [tomb, NKJV] which was hewn out of a rock. The sepulchre, a chamber or vault, cut out of the solid rock, on the side of the hill or cliff, as was the custom, would be entered as a room is entered, by those who bore the body, and there "laid" it away in a niche or recess, cut to one side of the tomb. This sepulchre belonged to Joseph (Matthew 27:60), had never before been used [Luke 23:53], and was situated in a garden near the place of crucifixion (John 19:41). Nicodemus, another counselor, probably also rich, joined Joseph in giving an honorable burial (John 19:39) to the body that had already received in Bethany so costly an anointing (14:3-5); and in fulfillment of prophecy He was buried with the rich (Isaiah 53:9). 
and rolled a stone unto [against, NKJV] the door of the sepulchre. This was a common way of burying; cf. John 11:38. 
Weymouth: Mary of Magdala and Mary the mother of Joses were looking on to see where He was put.
WEB: Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joses, saw where he was laid.
Young’s: and Mary the Magdalene, and Mary of Joses, were beholding where he is laid.
Conte (RC): Now Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph observed where he was laid.
15:47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where He was laid. Two of the women, named as beholding His death (verse 40), noted the place of His burial. The expensive embalming provided by Joseph and Nicodemus was hurried, and not completed, when the Sabbath, coming in an sunset, put an end to their preparations. 
A historical note on surviving legal texts from the Mishnah concerning the official rules for proper legal hearings: From Alexander Taylor Innes, The Trial of Christ (1899):
For, according to all the rules of Hebrew law, such a transaction in the night was absolutely illegal, incapable of being validly transacted, and incapable of being reported so as to produce an impression of justice upon the minds of the people.
The detailed law is laid down in a passage of the Mishna (De Synedriis, 4.1), which contrasts capital trials with questions of money. It is so striking that the whole paragraph may be quoted, though it is with the concluding words
that we have now to deal:
“Money trials and trials for life have the same rules of inquiry and investigation. But they differ in procedure, in the following points:
“— The former require only three, the latter three-and-twenty judges. In the former it matters not on which side the judges speak who give the first opinions: in the latter, those who are in favor of acquittal must speak first. In the former, a majority of one is always enough: in the latter, a majority of one is enough to acquit, but it requires a majority of two to condemn.
“In the former, a decision may be quashed on review (for error), no matter which way it has gone in the latter, a condemnation may be quashed, but not an acquittal. In the former, disciples of the law present in the court may speak (as assessors) on either side: in the latter, they may speak in favor of the accused, but not against him. In the former, a judge who has indicated his opinion, no matter on which side, may change his mind: in the latter, he who has given his voice for guilt may change his mind, but not he who has given his voice for acquittal.
“The former (money trials)are commenced only in the daytime, but may be concluded after nightfall: the latter (capital trials) are commenced only in the daytime, and must also be concluded during the day. The former way be concluded by acquittal or condemnation on the day on which they have begun: the latter may be concluded on that day if there is a sentence acquittal, but must be postponed to a second day if there is to be a condemnation. And for this reason capital trials are not held on the day before a Sabbath or a feastday.”
The crucifixion of Jesus took place, as has scarcely ever been doubted, on the Friday, the day before a Sabbath which was also “an high day”; and this meeting of the Council took place on the same Friday morning.
Such a meeting on such a day was forbidden. If indeed it only met to register an acquittal, it was lawful. But if the court was unable at once to acquit, it, was bound to adjourn for at least twelve hours before meeting for final judgment, and such a final meeting could not be on the Sabbath. The necessity of the adjournment of a capital trial to secure the rights of the accused is shown very clearly by the detailed regulations of the Mishna (De Synedriis, 5.5; 6.1):
“If a man is found innocent, the court absolves him. But if not, his judgment is put off to the following day. Meantime the judges meet together, and, eating little meat, and drinking no wine during that whole day, they confer upon the cause. On the following morning they return into court” and vote over again, with the like precautions as before. . .
“If judgment is at last pronounced, they bring out the man sentenced, to stone him. The place of punishment is to be apart front the place of judgment (for it is said in Leviticus 24:14, ‘Bring the blasphemer without the camp’). In the meantime an officer is to stand at the door of the court with a handkerchief in his hand; another, mounted on horseback, follows the procession so far, but halts at the farthest point where he can see the man with the handkerchief. [The judges remain sitting], and if anyone offers himself to prove that the condemned man is innocent, he at the door waves the handkerchief, and the horseman instantly gallops after the condemned and recalls him for his defense.”
These regulations, taken not from the commentary on the oral law, but from the Mishna itself, may have existed in full detail during the high-priesthood of Caiaphas. There is no reason to doubt that at least the general rule, which prescribes adjourning the trial from daylight to daylight, bound the judges of Jesus of Nazareth. In no case was such a rule so absolutely necessary to justice, as where the accused, arrested after nightfall, had been put upon his trial by daybreak, without the least opportunity of summoning witnesses for his defense.
But what the Gemara describes as the atrocity of thus anticipating the day of death of the accused, was exceeded in open injustice by the earlier outrage of commencing, and probably substantially concluding, the real trial under cloud of night. That would have been an intolerable scandal even in the case of an ordinary civil suit. Such a suit could only be called and commenced during the day, though upon occasion it might be prolonged after the shadows had fallen until a verdict were returned.
But a grave criminal case — certainly a capital case of crime — was always to be begun, and resumed or continued, and finished, only in the light of day. And that, of all criminal cases, a trial in which a son of Israel, acknowledged to be mighty in deed and word before all the people, was to be judged for his life. . . that such a trial should be begun and finished and sentence formally pronounced, between midnight and morning, was a violence done to the forms and rules of Hebrew law as well as to the principles of justice.
A historical note on the Roman trial of Jesus: From Alexander Taylor Innes, The Trial of Christ (1899):
I have no intention of going into the great mass of historical investigation which has been accumulated on this confessedly difficult point. There seems no one consideration which is quite conclusive upon it. Thus it would be rash to ascribe to the assertion of the Talmud, that “forty years before the destruction of the temple the judgment of capital causes was taken away from Israel,” the praise of exact chronological accuracy.
Yet it. is very striking as showing the time about which the doctors of the Jewish law were willing to hold that their power of life and death (no doubt already restricted or suspended under the despotism of Herod) had finally passed away. But on the general subject of the relation of the two powers in that age there are some considerations which reasoners on either side do not seem to have always kept in view, but which are important.
1. There was no concordat on this subject between the Romans and the Jews. The latter were the conquered nation; their jurisdiction, including the power of life and death, was wrested from them de facto, and they were obliged to submit. But de jure they never did. To them, at least to the great mass of the nation, the Sanhedrin was still the national authority, especially in accusations relating to religious matters.
2. On the Roman side, the matter was of course precisely the reverse. Their view of the jurisdiction of subject races generally, and of the Jews in particular, was, I suspect, that it was just so much as they chose to leave them. In most cases that formed a very large field. The Roman governor sanctioned, or even himself administered, the old law of the region; but the policy of the ruling power was to concede to local self-government as much as possible. The concession was of course all the larger where there was no disposition on the part of the province to provoke a contest.
. 3. It is evident that a large latitude was allowed on this subject to the great Roman officers — proconsuls or procurators — who administered la haute justice. The Republic and the Emperor permitted, and indeed demanded, that they should stretch or relax their authority as the particular case or exigency required. In ordinary matters brought before their tribunals, the rule on which they acted is perfectly expressed, a few years after this, by Annaeus Gallio, the humane proconsul of Achaia, and brother of the philosopher Seneca: “If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: but if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; I will be no judge of such matters.”
But while they drove such questions from the judgment-seat, so long as they did not affect the rights of the sovereign power, the least hint that one of these words or names or questions of another law could prejudice the supreme power of Rome was enough to authorize the governor to plunge his ax into the offending part of the body politic with prompt and savage severity. These general considerations should never be forgotten in reading the scattered and often inconsistent historical notices on the subject.
They show that the extreme views, which critics in our own time have maintained, were probably held even then by the opposing powers whose jurisdictions were in poise. But the balance of evidence is very strong that, at this time, all questions of life and death in Judaea were by Roman law and practice reserved for the final decision of the Roman governor. In such cases the Jews had, at the most, only the cognitio causae, they could try the cause, but not sentence the accused. Nor can there be much doubt that the governor’s final power in these cases was not a merely ministerial right of endorsement and executio; it was also a power of recognitio, or review, in so far at least as he chose to exercise it.
Whether this reservation to the governor was such as to deprive the Jewish courts of their rights as tribunals of first instance — whether any previous trial of a capital cause before the Sanhedrin was necessarily a usurpation — is another and a more difficult question. With regard to ordinary civil crimes — robberies or assassinations — the Jewish rulers may have been content not to interfere further than to bring the perpetrators to the Roman tribunal for judgment. The Roman judges, on the other hand, may have been quite willing to send to the cross without much inquiry any ordinary malefactors against whom the authorities of the country, having already inquired into the case, were willing to appear as accusers.
But, obviously, a more serious question arose when the alleged crime was a religious one — a claim, as prophet or Messiah, to change the ecclesiastical institutions. In such a ease the Sanhedrin itself no doubt maintained, as the Jews generally did on its behalf, an exclusive right to judge in the first instance; and its tendency would be very strong to deny any re-cognitio by the Roman power, and either not to call in that power at all, or to limit it to a mere right of countersign. What view the Roman governor might take, in the very unusual ease of such a charge being brought to his tribunal, was another matter.