|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
27:31-34 Christ was led as a Lamb to the slaughter, as a Sacrifice to the altar. Even the mercies of the wicked are really cruel. Taking the cross from him, they compelled one Simon to bear it. Make us ready, O Lord, to bear the cross thou hast appointed us, and daily to take it up with cheerfulness, following thee. Was ever sorrow like unto his sorrow? And when we behold what manner of death he died, let us in that behold with what manner of love he loved us. As if death, so painful a death, were not enough, they added to its bitterness and terror in several ways.
Verses 34-44. - The Crucifixion and the mockery. (Mark 15:23-32; Luke 23:32-43; John 19:18-24.) Verse 34. - Vinegar...mingled with gall (χολῆς). Instead of "vinegar" (ὄξος) very many manuscripts, followed by Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort, and others, read here, as in Mark, "wine" (οϊνον). Dederunt ei viaum bibere (Vulgate). Doubtless the two words represent the same fluid, a wine of a sharp and acrid taste. The received reading in our text is supposed to be derived from Psalm 69:21, "They gave me gall for my meats, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." "Gall" here signifies some bitter ingredient (St. Mark calls it "myrrh"), which was infused in the wine to impart a narcotic quality. It was the custom to offer this draught to criminals about to undergo crucifixion, either as an anodyne or to give them adventitious strength to bear their sufferings. The beverage is said to have been prepared by some benevolent ladies in Jerusalem, and to have been owed to a gloss on Proverbs 31:6, 7, "Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto the bitter in soul; let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more." This was not an additional insult offered to Jesus, as some have opined, but a usual act of kindliness. When he had tasted thereof, he would not (οὐκ ἤθελε) drink. He accepted the kindly offer so far as to put his lips to the cup, but, recognizing its stupefying qualities, he refused to drink it. He willed to endure all the coming pains without mitigation; he would meet all with the powers of mind and body undarkened; he would have his senses and his self-consciousness unimpaired to the end.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
They gave him vinegar to drink,.... It was a custom with the Jews (o) when
"a man went out to be executed, to give him to drink a grain of frankincense in a cup of wine, that his understanding might be disturbed, as it is said, Proverbs 31:6. "Give strong drink to him that is ready to perish, and wine to those that be of heavy hearts"; and the tradition is, that the honourable women in Jerusalem gave this freely; but if they did not, it was provided at the charge of the congregation.
The design of it was to cheer their spirits, and intoxicate their heads, that they might not be sensible of their pain and misery. But such a cup was not allowed Christ at the public expense, nor were the honourable women so compassionate to him; or if it was sent him, the soldiers did not give it him, but another potion in the room of it; indeed Mark says, they gave him "wine mingled with myrrh",
Mark 15:23; which was either a cordial provided by his friends, and given him, and is different from what the soldiers gave him here; or the sense is, that they gave him the cup, that was so called, but not the thing; but instead of it,
vinegar mingled with gall. The Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions, instead of "vinegar", read "wine"; and so does Munster's Hebrew Gospel, and so it is read in Beza's most ancient copy, and in another exemplar, and in one of Stephens's; and which may be easily reconciled with the common reading, and that with Mark; for the wine they gave him was flat and sour, and no other or better than vinegar; and real vinegar may be so called, as this seems to be; and the rather, because vinegar was a part of the Roman soldiers' allowance, and so they had it ready at hand; See Gill on John 19:29. As also, because it was thought that vinegar was useful to prolong the life of a man ready to die; and therefore they might choose to give it to Christ, that he might live the longer in misery: so the Jews (p) write, that "if a man swallows a wasp or hornet alive, he cannot live; but they must give him to drink a quarter, , "of vinegar of Shamgaz", (which the gloss says is strong vinegar,) and it is possible he may live a little while, until he hath given orders to his house.
The Arabic version, instead of "gall", reads "myrrh"; nor are we to suppose that this drink was mixed with the gall of a beast itself, but with something that was as bitter as "gall"; as wormwood, or myrrh, or any other bitter, to make it distasteful. This potion of vinegar with gall, was an aggravating circumstance in our Lord's sufferings, being given to him when he had a violent thirst upon him; and was an emblem of the bitter cup of God's wrath, he had already tasted of in the garden, and was about to drink up: the Jews had a notion of vinegar's being expressive of the chastisements of the Messiah; the words in Ruth 2:14, they say (q),
"speak of the king Messiah; "come thou hither", draw nigh to the kingdom; "and eat of the bread", this is the bread of the kingdom, "and dip thy morsel in the vinegar",
, "these are the chastisements", as it is said in Isaiah 53:5, "he was wounded for our transgressions".
By this offer was fulfilled the prophecy in Psalm 69:21, and which he did not altogether refuse; for it follows,
and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink: not because it was the vinegar of Gentiles, which was forbidden by the Jewish canons (q), lest it should have been offered to idols; but because he would make use of no means either to prolong his life, or discompose his mind; and that it might appear he knew what he did, and that he was not afraid nor unwilling to die; though he thought fit to taste of it in a superficial way, to show he did not despise nor resent their offer; and that he was really athirst, and ready to drink a more disagreeable potion than that,
(o) T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 12. 2.((p) Midrash Ruth, fol. 33. 2.((q) T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 29. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Mt 27:34-50. Crucifixion and Death of the Lord Jesus. ( = Mr 15:25-37; Lu 23:33-46; Joh 19:18-30).
For the exposition, see on Joh 19:18-30.
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