John 19:37
And again another scripture said, They shall look on him whom they pierced.
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(37) They shall look on him whom they pierced.—The words, as they occur in the Authorised version, of the prophecy are, “They shall look upon Me whom they have pierced,” but the reading which St. John has followed is that of many MSS., and is adopted by many Rabbinic (as Rashi and Kimchi) and many modern authorities (as Ewald and Geiger). The Greek translation (LXX.) of the prophet avoided the strong word “pierced,” as applied to Jehovah, and substituted for it “insulted.” St. John translates the original Hebrew freely for himself (comp. Revelation 1:7), and gives the undoubted meaning of the Hebrew word, translating it by the same Greek word which is used by Aquila, Theodotion, and Symmachus. He thinks of the prophecy which spoke of Jehovah as pierced by His people, and sees it fulfilled in the Messiah pierced on the cross.

For the fulfilment of the prophecy, comp. Notes on John 8:28; John 12:32. Jewish Rabbis, and Greek proselytes, and Roman soldiers alike looked, as they stood before the cross, on Him whom they pierced. That scene is typical. He shall draw all men unto Him, and the moral power over the heart of humanity will be the heart of love, which loves and therefore saves him that has pierced it through and through. “God commendeth His love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”

19:31-37 A trial was made whether Jesus was dead. He died in less time than persons crucified commonly did. It showed that he had laid down his life of himself. The spear broke up the very fountains of life; no human body could survive such a wound. But its being so solemnly attested, shows there was something peculiar in it. The blood and water that flowed out, signified those two great benefits which all believers partake of through Christ, justification and sanctification; blood for atonement, water for purification. They both flow from the pierced side of our Redeemer. To Christ crucified we owe merit for our justification, and Spirit and grace for our sanctification. Let this silence the fears of weak Christians, and encourage their hopes; there came both water and blood out of Jesus' pierced side, both to justify and sanctify them. The Scripture was fulfilled, in Pilate's not allowing his legs to be broken, Ps 34:20. There was a type of this in the paschal lamb, Ex 12:46. May we ever look to Him, whom, by our sins, we have ignorantly and heedlessly pierced, nay, sometimes against convictions and mercies; and who shed from his wounded side both water and blood, that we might be justified and sanctified in his name.Another' scripture - Zechariah 12:10. We must here be struck with the wonderful providence of God, that so many scriptures were fulfilled in his death. All these things happened without any such design on the part of the men engaged in these scenes; but whatever was done by Jew or Gentile tended to the fulfillment of prophecies long on record, and with which the Jews themselves ought to have been familiar. Little did they suppose, when delivering him to Pilate when he was mocked when they parted his garments when they pierced him - that they were fulfilling ancient predictions. But in this way God had so ordered it that the firmest foundation should be laid for the belief that he was the true Messiah, and that the designs of wicked men should all be overruled to the fulfillment of the great plans which God had in sending his Son. 37. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced—The quotation is from Zec 12:10; not taken as usual from the Septuagint (the current Greek version), which here is all wrong, but direct from the Hebrew. And there is a remarkable nicety in the choice of the words employed both by the prophet and the Evangelist for "piercing." The word in Zechariah means to thrust through with spear, javelin, sword, or any such weapon. In that sense it is used in all the ten places, besides this, where it is found. How suitable this was to express the action of the Roman soldier, is manifest; and our Evangelist uses the exactly corresponding word, which the Septuagint certainly does not. Very different is the other word for "pierce" in Ps 22:16, "They pierced my hands and my feet." The word there used is one signifying to bore as with an awl or hammer. How striking are these small niceties! So also by seeing Christ’s side pierced, (a thing not very usual), they might have understood, that he was the person mentioned, Zechariah 12:10. And again another Scripture saith,.... Zechariah 12:10 which as the former is referred to on account of the not breaking of his bones, this is cited as fulfilled by the piercing of his side:

they shall look on him whom they pierced; in the Hebrew text it is, "upon me whom they have pierced"; the reason of this difference is, because Christ, who is Jehovah, is there speaking prophetically of himself, here the evangelist cites it as fulfilled in him, that is, that part of it which regards the piercing of him; for that of the Jews looking upon him and mourning is yet to be fulfilled, and will be at the time of their conversion in the latter day, and at the day of judgment. And as the piercing of the Messiah has been literally fulfilled in Jesus, there is reason to believe, though the Jews are to this day hardened against him, that that part of the prophecy which concerns their looking to him, and mourning for him on account of his being pierced by them, will also, in God's own time, be fulfilled. Nor is it any objection to the application of this prophecy to our Lord Jesus, that not the Jews, but the Roman soldiers pierced him, since what one does by another, he may be said to do himself: though it was a Roman soldier that pierced the side of Christ, the Jews might desire and urge him to do it; and however, they agreed to it, and were well pleased with it; and just so Christ is said to be crucified and slain by them; though this was done by the above soldiers, because they prevailed upon Pilate to pass the sentence of death upon him, and to deliver him to the soldiers to be crucified. From the citation of this passage it appears, that the writers of the New Testament did not always follow the Greek version of the Old Testament, which here renders the words very differently, and very wrongly; but John cites them according to the Hebrew text, even which we now have, and which is an instance of the truth, purity, and integrity of the present Hebrew books of the Old Testament. The Jewish doctors (n) themselves own that these words respect the Messiah, though they pretend that Messiah ben Joseph is meant, who shall be slain in the wars of Gog and Magog; for since their disappointment, and the blindness and hardness of heart which have followed it, they feign two Messiahs as expected by them; one Messiah ben David, who they suppose will be prosperous and victorious; and the other Messiah ben Joseph, who will suffer much, and at last be killed.

(n) T. Bab. Succa, fol. 52. 1. & ex codem R. Sol. Jarchi, R. David Kimchi, R. Aben Ezra, & R. Sol. ben Melech. in Zechariah 12.10.

And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.
37. They shall look] All present, especially the Jews. The whole world was represented there.

pierced] See on John 19:34. The word here used occurs nowhere else in N.T. excepting Revelation 1:7, and forms a connexion worth noting between the Gospel and the Apocalypse (see on John 11:44, John 15:20, and John 20:16); all the more so because S. John here agrees with the present Masoretic Hebrew text and in every word differs from the Greek of the LXX. The Greek softens down ‘pierced through’ (which seemed a strange expression to use of men’s treatment of Jehovah) into ‘insulted.’ See on John 6:45, John 12:13; John 12:15, where there is further evidence of the Evangelist having independent knowledge of Hebrew, and therefore being a Jew of Palestine.John 19:37. Ὄψονται, εἰς ὃν ἐξεκέντησαν, they shall look on Him, whom they pierced) εἰς is construed with ὄψονται. Zechariah 12:10, LXX., καὶ ἐπιβλέψονται πρός με, ἀνθʼ ὧν κατωρχήσαντο. They (the LXX.) read רקד (they danced on, insulted) for דקר (they pierced), although Lampius denies it. The piercing took place on the cross: the seeing or looking on Him, accompanied either with penitential grief or with terror, shall come to pass in other times. Therefore John quotes this passage for the sake of its allusion to the piercing [not for that to the looking].Verse 37. - And again another Scripture saith. The second of the Old Testament quotations is in several ways important and noteworthy. They shall look on him whom they pierced (εἰς ὅν ἐξεκέντησαν). The original passage is (Zechariah 12:10), אֵלִי אֵתאּאֲשֶׁר דָּקָדוּ, "They shall look upon me whom they pierced." The evangelist altered the ME into HIM, which, as it stands in the old oracle, and regarded as the language of Jehovah, is sufficiently surprising. The LXX. had felt the difficulty, and translated it Ἐπιβλέψονται πρός με ἀνθ ῶν κατωρχήσαντο, i.e. "They shall look towards me, because they have insulted me." Their repentance and misgiving shall be aroused, because in response for those things which they have done contemptuously against me. It is interesting to see that John is more accurate in his Greek translation of this prophetic passage, viz. ὄψονται or ο{ν, "They shall look" with love and grace and repentance "on him whom (ἐξεκέντησαν) they pierced." This Greek rendering of the Hebrew is followed by Aquila, Theodotion, and Symmachus, and is quoted by Justin Martyr; it is also found in Revelation 1:7, forming a link of connection between the Gospel and the Apocalypse. Moreover, it is most impressive to find that the awful tragedy does not close even in the hands of this writer without a word of promise and hope. Zechariah 12:8-14 is clearly in the mind of the apostle. The merciful Lord waits for the repentance of Israel, of those who, by instigating Roman power for his destruction, pierced him by their trenchant ingratitude as well as by the Roman spear. It will be fulfilled more completely when every eye shall see him, and the full revelation of his majesty shall smite the whole world with penitence or despair. This remarkable event and its issue, whatever may have been the precise physiological fact, establishes:

(1) The autoptic testimony of one who scarcely expected to be credited with the result of his observation.

(2) The genuine humanity of our Lord.

(3) The more than humanity of his manner of death.

(4) The fact of his death, and therefore the reality of the Resurrection.

(5) The symbolic and twofold aspect of his redemptive act.

(6) The fulfillment of prophetic word.

(7) The establishment of the connection between the Passover sacrifice and the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world.
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