Matthew 27:19
When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) The judgment seat.—The chair of judgment was placed upon a Mosaic pavement, and was indispensable to the official action of any provincial ruler. (Comp. Note on John 19:13.)

His wife sent unto him.—Under the old regime of the Republic provincial governors were not allowed to take their wives with them; but the rule had been relaxed under the Empire, and Tacitus records (Ann. iii. 33, 34) a vain attempt to revive its strictness. Nothing more is known of the woman thus mentioned; but the Apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus (ii. 1) gives her name as Procula, and states that she was a proselyte to Judaism. The latter fact is probable enough. About this time, both at Rome and in other cities, such, e.g., as Thessalonica and Berœa (Acts 17:4; Acts 17:12), Jews had gained considerable influence over women of the higher classes, and carried on an active work of proselytism.

With that just man.—The word is striking, as showing the impression which had been made on Pilate’s wife by all she had seen or heard. As contrasted with priests and scribes, He was emphatically the “just,” the “righteous “One.

In a dream because of him.—Questions rise in our minds as to the nature of the dream. Was it, as some have thought, a divine warning intended to save her husband from the guilt into which he was on the point of plunging? Did it come from the Evil Spirit, as designed to hinder the completion of the atoning work? Was it simply the reflection of the day-thoughts of a sensitive and devout woman? We have no data for answering such questions, but the very absence of data makes it safer and more reverential to adopt the last view, as involving less of presumptuous conjecture in a region where we have not been called to enter. What the dream was like may be a subject for a poet’s or—as in a well-known picture by a living artist—for a painter’s imagination, but does not fall within the province of the interpreter.

Matthew 27:19-20. When he was set down, &c. — While Pilate was labouring to effect his purpose, he was confirmed in his unwillingness to condemn Jesus, by a message sent from his wife by way of caution; which message was probably delivered to him publicly, in the hearing of all present, for it was intended to be a warning, not to him only, but to the prosecutors: saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man — Gr. τω δικαιω, that righteous man; an honourable testimony this, not only to our Lord’s innocence, but to his virtue and universal goodness, given even at a time when he was persecuted as the worst of malefactors. And, when his friends were afraid to appear in his defence, God made even those that were strangers and enemies to speak in his favour: when Peter denied him, Judas confessed him; when the chief priests pronounced him guilty of death, Pilate declared he found no fault in him; when the women that loved him stood afar off, Pilate’s wife, that knew little of him, showed a concern for him! Observe, reader, God will not leave himself without witnesses to the truth and equity of his cause, even when it seems to be most spitefully run down by its enemies, and most shamefully deserted by its friends. I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him — Whether she dreamed of the cruel usage of an innocent person, or of the judgments that were about to fall upon those that had any hand in his death, or both, her dream, it seems, was very frightful and distressing, and made such an impression on her mind, that she could not be easy till she had sent an account of it to her husband, who was sitting on the tribunal in the pavement. And the special providence of God must be acknowledged in sending this remarkable dream at this time; for it is not likely that she had heard any thing before concerning Christ, at least not so as to occasion her dreaming of him, but that the dream was immediately from God. She might, indeed, be one of those termed devout and honourable women, and might have some sense of religion; yet God sometimes revealed himself to some that had not, as to Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar. Be this as it may, her message was a fair warning to Pilate, and by it and similar instances we learn, that, as the Father of spirits has many ways of access to the spirits of men, and can give them instruction even in a dream, or vision of the night; so he has many ways of giving checks to sinners in their sinful pursuits; and it is a great mercy to have such checks, whether from the word of God, or from his providence, or from faithful friends, or from our own consciences, or in any other way. The people had not yet said whether they would have Jesus or Barabbas released to them. Therefore, when Pilate received his wife’s message, he called the chief priests and rulers together, and in the hearing of the multitude made a speech to them, wherein he gave an account of the examination which Jesus had undergone at his tribunal and at Herod’s, and declared that in both courts the trial had turned out honourably for his character. Wherefore he proposed to them that he should be the object of the people’s favour. See Luke 23:13-17. But the chief priests, &c., persuaded the multitude, both by themselves and their emissaries, whom they sent abroad among them, that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus — Suggesting, doubtless, that he was an impostor in league with Satan; an enemy to their church and temple; that if he were let alone, the Romans would come and take away their place and nation; that Barabbas, though an ill man, yet, not having the interest that Jesus had, could not do so much mischief. Thus they managed the mob, who otherwise were well affected to Jesus, and, if they had not been so much at the beck of their priests, would never have done such a preposterous thing as to prefer Barabbas before Jesus. Here, 1st, We cannot but look upon these wicked priests with indignation. By the law, in certain matters of controversy, the people were to be guided by the priests, and to do as they directed them, Deuteronomy 17:8. This great power, put into their hands, they wretchedly abused, and the leaders of the people caused them to err. 2d, We cannot but look upon the deluded people with pity, to see them hurried on thus violently to such great wickedness, and failing into the ditch with their blind leaders!

27:11-25 Having no malice against Jesus, Pilate urged him to clear himself, and laboured to get him discharged. The message from his wife was a warning. God has many ways of giving checks to sinners, in their sinful pursuits, and it is a great mercy to have such checks from Providence, from faithful friends, and from our own consciences. O do not this abominable thing which the Lord hates! is what we may hear said to us, when we are entering into temptation, if we will but regard it. Being overruled by the priests, the people made choice of Barabbas. Multitudes who choose the world, rather than God, for their ruler and portion, thus choose their own delusions. The Jews were so bent upon the death of Christ, that Pilate thought it would be dangerous to refuse. And this struggle shows the power of conscience even on the worst men. Yet all was so ordered to make it evident that Christ suffered for no fault of his own, but for the sins of his people. How vain for Pilate to expect to free himself from the guilt of the innocent blood of a righteous person, whom he was by his office bound to protect! The Jews' curse upon themselves has been awfully answered in the sufferings of their nation. None could bear the sin of others, except Him that had no sin of his own to answer for. And are we not all concerned? Is not Barabbas preferred to Jesus, when sinners reject salvation that they may retain their darling sins, which rob God of his glory, and murder their souls? The blood of Christ is now upon us for good, through mercy, by the Jews' rejection of it. O let us flee to it for refuge!When he was set down on the judgment-seat - Literally, "While he was sitting." This message was probably received when he had resumed his place on the judgment-seat, after Jesus had been sent to Herod.

See the notes at Matthew 27:14.

His wife sent unto him - The reason why she sent to him is immediately stated - that she had a dream respecting him. We know nothing more of her. We do not know whether she had ever seen the Saviour herself, but it would seem that she was apprised of what was taking place, and probably anticipated that the affair-would involve her husband in trouble.

Have thou nothing to do ... - That is, do not condemn him. Perhaps she was afraid that the vengeance of heaven would follow her husband and family if he condemned the innocent.

That just man - The word "just," here, has the sense of "innocent," or not guilty. She might have been satisfied of his innocence from other sources as well as from the dream.

I have suffered many things ... - Dreams were considered as indications of the divine will, and among the Romans and Greeks, as well as the Jews, great reliance was placed on them. Her mind was probably agitated with the subject. She was satisfied of the innocence of Jesus; and, knowing that the Jews would make every effort to secure his condemnation, it was not unnatural that her mind should be excited during her sleep, perhaps with a frightful prospect of the judgments that would descend on the family of Pilate if Jesus was condemned. She therefore sent to him to secure, if possible, his release.

This day - It was now early in the morning. The Jewish "day" began at sunset, and she employed the usual language of the Jews respecting time. The dream was, in fact, in the night.

Mt 27:11-26. Jesus Again before Pilate—He Seeks to Release Him but at Length Delivers Him to Be Crucified. ( = Mr 15:1-15; Lu 23:1-25; Joh 18:28-40).

For the exposition, see on [1372]Lu 23:1-25; [1373]Joh 18:28-40.

See Poole on "Matthew 27:20".

When he was set down on the judgment seat,.... That is, when Pilate the governor, as the Syriac and Persic versions read, was set down upon the bench, and while he was sitting there, and trying of Jesus:

his wife sent unto him: her name, according to the Ethiopians, was Abrokla (n); who might be a Jewess, as the wife of Felix was, Acts 24:24, and a favourer of Jesus, or, at least, a religious person; and if, only a mere Heathen, yet had some notion of justice being to be done; and however, pressed by her dream, sent a messenger to her husband, as he was trying this cause:

saying, have thou nothing to do with that just man; meaning Jesus, whom she either knew to be so, or concluded from her dream that he was one: and her sense is, that her husband would have no hand in his condemnation and death, but rather do all he could to release and save him. She might know that he had gone some lengths already against him; that he had the night before granted a band of soldiers to the chief priests to apprehend him; and knew he rose early that morning, at the request of the same, to try him; and he was now before him, and she might be apprehensive that he was forward to condemn him to death, and therefore sends this cautionary message; alleging this for a reason,

for I have suffered many things this day, in a dream, because of him. The Arabic and Persic versions read, "this night". Pilate might rise that morning before she was awake, and had an opportunity of telling her dream; or she might dream it after he was gone; in which she was sadly distressed about Jesus, and might have some hints given her of the miserable consequences of his death, not only to the Jewish nation, but to her husband and family; which gave her great uneasiness and disquietude. Some have thought, that this dream was from the devil, willing to hinder the death of Christ, and so man's redemption and salvation by it; but had he had any such intention, the most effectual method would have been to have persuaded the chief priests and elders off of it, and in attempting it; whereas, on the contrary, they were instigated by him to it: and whatever natural causes there might be of this dream, as the chief priests coming over night to desire a band of soldiers to take Jesus, and the discourse they might have with Pilate about him; which things might run in her mind in her sleep; yet, doubtless, this was of God, and with a design that a testimony should be bore to the innocency of Christ every way; as by Judas that betrayed him, by Pilate his judge, and by his wife.

(n) Ludolph. Lex. Ethiop. p. 541.

When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 27:19 Before, Pilate had submitted the question of Matthew 27:17 to the consideration of the people by way of sounding them. Now, he seats himself upon the tribunal (upon the λιθόστρωτον, John 19:13) for the purpose of hearing the decision of the multitude, and of thereafter pronouncing sentence. But while he is sitting on the tribunal, and before he had time again to address his question to the multitude, his wife sends, etc. This particular is peculiar to Matthew; whereas the sending to Herod, and that before the proposal about the release, occurs only in Luke (Matthew 23:6 ff.); and as for John, he omits both those circumstances altogether, though, on the whole, his account of the trial before Pilate is much more detailed than the concise narrative of Matthew, and that without any want of harmony being found between the two evangelists.

ἡ γυνὴ αὐτοῦ] for since the time of Augustus it was customary for Roman governors to take their wives with them into the provinces Tacit. Ann. iii. 33 f. According to tradition, the name of Pilate’s wife was Procla, or Claudia Procula (see Evang. Nicod. ii., and thereon Thilo, p. 522 ff.). In the Greek church she has been canonised.

λέγουσα] through her messengers, Matthew 22:16, Matthew 11:2.

μηδέν σοι κ. τ. δικ. ἐκ.] comp. Matthew 8:29; John 2:4. She was afraid that a judgment from the gods would be the consequence if he had anything to do with the death of Jesu.

πολλὰ γὰρ ἔπαθον, κ.τ.λ.] This alarming dream is to be accounted for on the understanding that the governor’s wife, who in the Evang. Nicod. is described, and it may be correctly, as θεοσεβής and ἰουδαΐζουσα (see Tischendorf, Pilati circa Christum judic. etc. ex actis Pilat. 1855, p. 16 f.), may have heard of Jesus, may even have seen Him and felt a lively interest in Him, and may have been informed of His arrest as well as of the jeopardy in which His life was placed. There is nothing to show that Matthew intended us to regard this incident as a special divine interposition. There is the less reason for relegating it to the domain of legend (Strauss, Ewald, Scholten, Volkmar, Keim).

σήμερον] during the part of the night belonging to the current day.

κατʼ ὄναρ] see on Matthew 1:20. It was a terrible morning-dream.

Matthew 27:19-20. Interlude of Pilate’s wife, in Mt. alone, probably introduced to explain the bias of Pilate in favour of Jesus apparent in the sequel (Weiss-Meyer).

19. the judgment seat] = “the tribunal,” generally a raised platform in the Basilica or court where the judges sat; here a portable tribunal, from which the sentence was pronounced; it was placed on a tesselated pavement called Gabbatha (John 19:13).

his wife] Claudia Procula or Procla: traditions state that she was a proselyte of the gate, which is by no means unlikely, as many of the Jewish proselytes were women. By an imperial regulation provincial governors had been prohibited from taking their wives with them. But the rule gradually fell into disuse, and an attempt made in the Senate (a. d. 21) to revive it completely failed. Tac. Ann. iii. 33, 34. The dream of Pilate’s wife is recorded by St Matthew only.

Matthew 27:19. Καθημένου δὲ αὐτοῦ, κ.τ.λ., but when he was set down, etc.) In the very moment of urgent business and impending decision. Warnings of a strange and marvellous character ought not to be neglected in times of noisy excitement.—ἐπὶ τοῦ βήματος, on the judgment-seat) Great was the influence of the dream, the purport of which, however, the woman understood better after the matter had begun to come to pass. Perhaps she had the dream when Pilate was already engaged in the business.—λέγουσα, κ.τ.λ., saying, etc.) A great benefit was offered by this warning to the governor, in contradistinction to the Jews, who had been sufficiently warned from other sources.[1186]—τῷ δικαίῳ ἐκείνῳ, to that righteous man) Thus Pilate also calls Him in Matthew 27:24, with a feeble reference to these words of his wife.

[1186] μηδὲν, nothing) saith she, in one word. So Pilate, in the business itself, ought to have taken the conscientious course without delay.—V. g. [Vacillation and hesitancy between conscience and love of popularity were his temptation in this case.—ED.]

Verse 19. - When he was set down (was sitting) on the judgment seat. This was a curule chair placed on a raised stone platform in front of the Praetorium, where the Roman governors sat to give judgment in cases brought before them (see John 19:13). It was while he was waiting to hear the decision of the multitude with respect to the selection of the prisoners that the episode that follows (mentioned alone by St. Matthew) occurs. His wife. Her name, according to ecclesiastical tradition, was Claudia, the addition of Procula being probably a mistake. In the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus (ch. 2) she is said to have been a convert to Judaism. Other accounts affirm that she ultimately became a Christian; and the Greek Church has canonized her, and inserted her in the Menology on October 27. It is probable that she was well acquainted with, and favourably disposed towards, the claims of Christ; and if she had impressed her husband in some degree with her own views, this fact may have influenced him to make some effort to save Jesus. Doubtless she had thought much upon the subject, and talked it over with Pilate; hence her dream was the natural sequence of that with which her mind had been filled in her waking moments, though providentially ordered. It speaks for the accuracy of the evangelist's account, that lately the governors had been allowed to take their wives with them into their official districts, a law previously having forbidden this indulgence (see Tacitus, 'Annul.,' 3:33, 34). Have thou nothing to do with that just Man. Wordsworth well remarks, "In the whole history of the Passion of Christ no one pleads for him but a woman, the wife of a heathen governor, the deputy of the emperor of the world." This was another wanting given to Pilate to arrest him in his criminal cowardice. The expression used means literally, "Let there be nothing to thee and that Righteous One," which is equivalent to "Do nothing to him for which you will be hereafter sorry." I have suffered (ἔπαθον, I suffered) many things this day in a dream because of him. It is useless to inquire the nature of her dream. From the way in which it is here introduced, and from what we know of God's employment of dreams in other cases to communicate his will to men, we may reasonably conclude that this was divinely sent to convey a lesson to Pilate through his wife, who alone, perhaps, was able to arouse the better feelings of his heart. The mention of her suffering shows that she had some dreadful experiences to relate in connection with the fate of the righteous Jesus. As at the beginning of Christ's life, so at its close, such communications were addressed to strangers. Pilate's superstitious fears would be excited by this mysterious dream, but they were not able to overpower counteracting influences. Matthew 27:19
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