Matthew 26:47
And while he yet spoke, see, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(47) A great multitude with swords and staves.—St. John’s account (John 18:3) is fuller. The multitude included (1) the band (not “a band,” as in the Authorised version), i.e., the cohort (the same word as in Acts 10:1) of Roman soldiers sent by Pilate to prevent a tumult. These probably were armed with swords; (2) the officers of the chief-priests, probably the Levites or Nethinim, who were the guards of the Temple, armed with “staves” or “clubs.” He adds, also, what lay in the nature of the case, that they were provided with “lanterns and torches” as well as weapons. It was now near the hour of dawn, but they must have left the city while there was at best only moonlight to guide them. They bent their steps to Gethsemane, as that was known to Judas as one at least of our Lord’s chosen resorts (John 18:2), in which, we may well believe, He had spent some hours of each of the four preceding nights.

26:47-56 No enemies are so much to be abhorred as those professed disciples that betray Christ with a kiss. God has no need of our services, much less of our sins, to bring about his purposes. Though Christ was crucified through weakness, it was voluntary weakness; he submitted to death. If he had not been willing to suffer, they could not conquer him. It was a great sin for those who had left all to follow Jesus; now to leave him for they knew not what. What folly, for fear of death to flee from Him, whom they knew and acknowledged to be the Fountain of life!The account of Jesus' being betrayed by Judas is recorded by all the evangelists. See Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-12.

Matthew 26:47

Judas, one of the twelve, came - This was done while Jesus was addressing his disciples.

John informs us that Judas knew the place, because Jesus was in the habit of going there with his disciples. Judas had passed the time, after he left Jesus and the other disciples at the Passover, in arranging matters with the Jews, collecting the band, and preparing to go. Perhaps, also, on this occasion they gave him the money which they had promised.

A great multitude with swords and staves - John says that he had received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees." Josephus says (Antiq. b. 20 chapter iv.) that at the festival of the Passover, when a great multitude of people came to observe the feast, lest there should be any disorder, a band of men was commanded to keep watch at the porches of the temple, to repress a tumult if any should be excited. This band, or guard, was at the disposal of the chief priests, Matthew 27:65. It was composed of Roman soldiers, and was stationed chiefly at the tower of Antonia, at the northwest side of the temple. In addition to this, they had constant guards stationed around the temple, composed of Levites. The Roman soldiers were armed with "swords." The other persons that went out carried, probably, whatever was accessible as a weapon. These were the persons sent by the priests to apprehend Jesus. Perhaps other desperate men might have joined them.

Staves - In the original, "wood;" used here in the plural number. It means rather "clubs" or "sticks" than spears. It does not mean "staves." Probably it means any weapon at hand, such as a mob could conveniently collect. John says that they had "lanterns and torches." The Passover was celebrated at the "full moon;" but this night might have been cloudy. The place to which they were going was also shaded with trees, and lights, therefore, might be necessary.

Mt 26:47-56. Betrayal and Apprehension of Jesus—Flight of His Disciples. ( = Mr 14:43-52; Lu 22:47-54; Joh 18:1-12).

For the exposition, see on [1365]Joh 18:1-12.

Mark saith the same, Mark 14:43, adding also the scribes. Luke saith there was a multitude, and Judas went before them, adding, that he drew near to Jesus to kiss him, Luke 22:47. If any ask how Judas knew where Jesus was at that time of the night, or rather so early in the morning, John satisfieth us, John 18:2, And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus oft times resorted thither with his disciples. And then goeth on, John 18:3, Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Those skilled in the Jewish learning tell us, that the ordinary guard of the temple belonged to the priests, and such officers as they employed; but upon their great festivals, the Roman governor added a band of his soldiers, who yet were under the command of the priests. It is thought these officers, soldiers, and others came with a warrant to apprehend our Saviour from the Jewish sanhedrim, or highest court, which was made up of chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees, and the elders of the people: they had torches and lanterns, because it was yet dark, before the day was broke; swords and staves, to be ready against any opposition. Judas the traitor comes before as their leader. And while he yet spake,.... While he was thus speaking to his disciples, before the last words, he is at hand that doth betray me, were well out of his mouth; such an exact knowledge had Christ of every motion of Judas, of what he was about, and where he was:

lo! Judas, one of the twelve, came. The Persic version adds, "in sight"; of Christ, and the disciples; they saw him, and knew him, though some little distance: he came to Gethsemane, and into the garden, where they were, with a design to betray his master. He is described by his name Judas; as in Matthew 26:14, for there was another Judas among the apostles; the Syriac and Persic read, Judas the betrayer, to distinguish him from the other: and also by his office, "one of the twelve"; i.e. apostles, whom Christ called from the rest of his disciples and followers, and bestowed extraordinary gifts upon, and sent forth to preach the Gospel, cast out devils, and heal all manner of diseases; and "lo!", one of these betrays him! an apostle, and yet a devil! one of the twelve, one of his select company, and bosom friends, and yet a traitor!

and with him a great multitude, with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders the people. Judas was at the head of them, went before them to show them where Christ was, and to deliver him into their hands: he had not been asleep, he had been with the chief priests, and acquainted them with the opportunity he had of making good his agreement with him: he had got the band of soldiers, and other persons together, in order to make sure work of it. Thus we see how diligent wicked men are in the accomplishment of their evil designs, whilst good men are asleep and indifferent to godly and spiritual exercises. Judas is here described by his company; he who but a few hours ago was at table with his Lord, and the rest of the apostles, is now at the head of band of Roman soldiers, and other miscreants, and blood thirsty wretches, intent upon the death of his master. They may well be called a "multitude", because made up of various sorts of persons, and these, many of them; of Roman soldiers, of the officers and servants of the chief priests; yea of the chief priests themselves, captains of the temple, and elders of the people, who were so eager upon this enterprise, that they could not forbear going in company with them, to see what would be the issue of it. And "a great one"; for the "band" of soldiers, if it was complete, consisted of a thousand men itself; and besides this, there were many others, and all to take a single person, and who had no more about him than eleven disciples; though the (i) Jews pretend he had two thousand men with him: and who came also "with swords and staves, or clubs"; the Roman soldiers with their swords, and the servants of the chief priests with their clubs: the reason of this posse, and of their being thus armed, might be either for fear of the people, who, should they be alarmed, and have any notice of their design, might rise and make an uproar, and attempt to rescue him; or that by having a Roman band with them, and the chief priests and their officers, it might appear, that what they did they did by authority; and that they seized him as a malefactor, as one guilty either of sedition, or heresy, or both. And this account is confirmed by the Jews themselves, who say (k), that the citizens, of Jerusalem were "armed", and equiped, and so took Jesus: and this multitude also came "from the chief priests and elders of the people". Mark joins the Scribes with them, Mark 14:43, these composed the sanhedrim, or great council of the nation, who had been consulting the death of Christ; had agreed to give Judas thirty pieces of silver to betray him into their hands; had obtained a band of soldiers of the Roman governor to apprehend him, and sent their officers and servants to assist herein; these all acted under their direction, influence, and authority. The Vulgate Latin, and Munster's Hebrew Gospel read, "sent", from them,

(i) Toldos Jesu, p. 16. (k) Ib.

And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, {u} from the chief priests and elders of the people.

(u) Sent from the high Priests.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 26:47. Εἷς τῶν δώδεκα] precisely as in Matthew 26:14, and repeated on both occasions in all three evangelists. In the oral and written tradition this tragic designation (κατηγορία, Euthymius Zigabenus) had come to be so stereotyped that if would be unconsciously inserted without there being any further occasion for doing so. The same holds true with regard to ὁ παραδιδοὺς αὐτόν, Matthew 26:48; Matthew 27:3.

ὄχλος πολύς] Matthew makes no reference to the Roman cohort, John 18:3; his account, however, does not, at the same time, exclude it, as it is simply less precise. Luke 22:52 likewise represents the high priests and elders as appearing at this early stage among the throng; but this is an unwarrantable amplification of the tradition; see on Luke.

ξύλων] cudgels, fustibus (Vulgate). Herod. ii. 63, iv. 180; Polyb. vi. 36. 3. Wetstein on the passage.

ἀπὸ τῶν, κ.τ.λ.] belongs to ἦλθε; see on Galatians 2:12.Matthew 26:47-56. The apprehension (Mark 14:43-52, Luke 22:47-53).—εἷς τ. δώδεκα, as in Matthew 26:14, repeated not for information, but as the literary reflection of the chronic horror of the apostolic church that such a thing should be possible. That it was not only possible but a fact is one of the almost undisputed certainties of the passion history. Even Brandt, who treats that history very sceptically, accepts it as fact (Die Evangelische Geschichte, p. 18).—μετʼ αὐτοῦ, etc.: the description of the company to whom Judas acted as guide is vague; ὄχ. πολ. is elastic, and might mean scores, hundreds, thousands, according to the standard of comparison.—ὄχλος does not suggest soldiery as its constituents, neither does the description of the arms borne—swords and staves. Lk. (Luke 22:52, στρατηγοὺς τ. ἱεροῦ) seems to have in his mind the temple police, consisting of priests and Levites with assistants, and this view appears intrinsically probable, though Brandt (E. G., p. 4) scouts it. The Jewish authorities would make arrangements to ensure their purpose; the temple police was at their command, and they would send a sufficiently large number to overpower the followers of their victim, however desperate their resistance.47–56. The Arrest of Jesus

St Mark 14:43-50; St Luke 22:47-53; St John 18:3-1147. a great multitude with swords and staves] St John more definitely, “having received a (strictly, the) band (of men) and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees” (Matthew 18:3). The band of men here = the company of Roman soldiers, placed at the service of the Sanhedrin by the Procurator. The same word is used Acts 10:1; Acts 21:32; Acts 27:1. St Luke names the “captains of the temple” (Luke 22:52). Hence the body, guided by Judas, consisted of (1) a company (speira) of Roman soldiers; (2) a detachment of the Levitical temple-guard (Luke); (3) certain members of the Sanhedrin and Pharisees.

with swords and staves] St John has “with lanterns and torches and weapons.” Staves, rather, clubs; different from the travellers’ “staves” of ch. Matthew 10:10, where another Greek word is used.Matthew 26:47. Ξύλων, staves) as in a sudden tumult; see Matthew 26:55.Verses 47-56. - Betrayal and apprehension of Jesus. (Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-11.) Verse 47 - Judas, one of the twelve. So called by all the synoptists, as if to enhance his guilt - one of Christ's own familiar friends, who had eaten bread with him. Came. St. Luke tells us that he led the way to Gethsemane. He well knew the place as a favourite resort of Christ (John 18:2); he knew, too, that Jesus was alone there with his apostles, and he had gone with confidence to inform the authorities where they could find him, and to demand a force sufficient to make the arrest. A great multitude. Consisting of some of the Levitical guard, Roman soldiers, Sanhedrists, and elders. The soldiers carried swords, the fanatical herd bore staves, to overcome any opposition which, after the demonstration at the triumphal entry, might be naturally expected. St. John adds that they brought with them lanterns and torches in order to search the recesses of the grove, should Christ have hidden himself there. One of the twelve

Repeated in all three evangelists, in the narratives both of the betrayal and of the arrest. By the time Matthew's Gospel was written, the phrase had become a stereotyped designation of the traitor, like he that betrayed him.

A great multitude

The Sanhedrin had neither soldiery nor a regularly-armed band at command. In John 18:3, Judas receives a cohort of soldiers and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees. Part of the band would consist of this regularly-armed cohort, and the rest of a crowd armed with cudgels, and embracing some of the servants of conspicuous men in the Sanhedrin.

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