Then released he Barabbas to them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)When he had scourged Jesus.—The word used by St. Matthew, derived from the Latin flagellum, shows that it was the Roman punishment with knotted thongs of leather (like the Russian “knout” or the English “cat”), not the Jewish beating with rods (2Corinthians 11:24-25). The pictures of the Stations, so widely used throughout Latin Christendom, have made other nations more familiar with the nature of the punishment than most Englishmen are. The prisoner was stripped sometimes entirely, sometimes to the waist, and tied by the hands to a pillar, with his back bent, so as to receive the full force of the blows. The scourge was of stout leather weighted with lead or bones. Jewish law limited its penalty to forty stripes, reduced in practice to “forty stripes save one” (2Corinthians 11:24; Deuteronomy 25:3), but Roman practice knew no limit but that of the cruelty of the executioner or the physical endurance of the sufferer.Matthew 27:26. And when he had scourged Jesus, &c. — This was an ignominious and cruel punishment, usually, but most unreasonably inflicted by the Romans on such as were condemned to be crucified; as if the exquisite tortures of crucifixion were not a punishment sufficient of any crime, real or pretended, without adding to them those of the scourge. Matthew and Mark seem to signify, that the scourging of Jesus was performed on the pavement; for they tell us, that after it was over, the soldiers took him into the prætorium, and mocked him. We may, therefore, suppose, that the priests and multitude required the governor to scourge him openly in their sight; and that he, to pacify them, consented, contrary to his inclination, hoping, as some suppose, that this previous punishment would excite the pity of the Jews and prevent Christ’s crucifixion. That, however, was not the case. Nothing short of that ignominious and torturing death would satisfy them. Jesus being thus scourged, the Scriptures were fulfilled, I gave my back to the smiters, Isaiah 50:6. The ploughers ploughed on my back: they made long their furrows, Psalm 129:3. By his stripes we are healed.Matthew 10:17. Among the Romans it was customary to scourge or whip a "slave" before he was crucified. This was done to inflict greater suffering. than crucifixion would be alone, and to add to the horrors of the punishment. Our Lord, being about to be put to death after the manner of a slave, was also treated as a slave as one of the lowest and most despised of mankind.
He delivered him to be crucified - Not merely gave him up to them to crucify him, as if they only were answerable, but he gave him up as a judge, when he ought to have saved his life and might have done it. Crucifixion was a Roman punishment; it was performed by Roman soldiers; Pilate pronounced the sentence from a Roman tribunal, and Pilate affixed the title to the cross. Pilate, therefore, as well as the Jews, was answerable to God for the death of the Savior of the world.
For the exposition, see on Lu 23:1-25; Joh 18:28-40.Mark 15:15, So Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him to be crucified.
Luke saith, Luke 23:24,25, And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.
John saith, John 19:13, When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the Judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. Here are three accounts given of Pilate’s coming over to the Jews’ desire to condemn Christ, contrary to the conviction of his own conscience, for he had twice declared that he found no fault in him. Matthew saith, he saw he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made.
Mark saith, he did it to content the people. John saith, it was upon the hearing of that saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. His fear of being accused to the emperor Tiberius, as favouring one who made himself a king, especially if his opposing the Jews in their desire of his death should have caused a tumult, was questionless the great thing that moved him to give judgment in this case contrary to his own conscience; and this is the meaning of his contenting the people, mentioned by Mark. It is plain by the whole story he had no mind to gratify or gain favour with them, but considering how jealous and suspicious a prince Tiberius was, it was Pilate’s interest to quiet them, and to give them no occasion of accusing him unto the emperor.
He took water, and washed his hands before the multitude. It was the law of God in manslaughter, where he that slew the man was not known, the priests and elders of the city that (upon measure) should be found nearest to the dead body, should take a heifer, and bring it to a rough valley, and strike off its head, and wash their hands over the head of the beheaded heifer, and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it, Deu 21:1-7. Some think that Pilate, living amongst the Jews, had learned this rite from them; but others think that it was a rite used in protestations of innocency amongst other people, as well as the Jews. But it was a great fondness in Pilate, to think this excused him, and freed him from the guilt of our Saviour’s death. For there was such an inseparable guilt clave to the act, as nothing could expiate but that blood which he spilt. Those who take upon them the trust of executing laws, had need to take heed what they do, for the law will not excuse them in the court of heaven, unless it be found according to the law of God. What Pilate did he did but ministerially, the law condemned, not he: but if it be understood of the law of God about blasphemy, to which the Jews undoubtedly referred, John 10:33,36, it was misapplied. If it were a Roman law, Pilate ought to have considered the equity and justice of it, and whether the fact was proved or not. Pilate had twice owned there was no fault in him. His washing his hands could not purge him of the murder, whereof he was guilty in his condemnation; he did but protest against what he immediately was about to do.
Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children: his blood, that is, the guilt of his blood, be upon us, &c. A most sad imprecation, the effect of which hath been upon that miserable people now more than sixteen hundred years.
Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, &c. The scourging was before this, and so recorded by St. John, for we cannot imagine that he was twice scourged.
He delivered him to be crucified; not to the Jews, but to his own officers, for it was a civil crime that he was accused of before Pilate, and crucifying was a Roman punishment.
And when he had scourged Jesus; which was done some time before his examination, trial, and condemnation were over, though mentioned here, as appears from John 19:1, and was done by Pilate, in order to move the pity and compassion of the Jews; hoping they would have been satisfied with it, and not have resisted upon his death: and he indeed moved it to them, that he might chastise him and let him go, Luke 23:22, but nothing would do but crucifixion. Whether the previous scourging sufficed, or whether he was not scourged again upon his condemnation, is not certain: if he was scourged twice, John may be thought to relate the one, and Matthew the other; for certain it is, that it was usual with the Romans to scourge either with rods or whips, just before crucifixion (w): our Lord was scourged with whips, as the word here used shows. Persons of birth and blood, and freemen of Rome, were beaten with rods; but such as were servants, which form Christ had taken, were scourged with whips; to which, sometimes were fastened, the hip bones of beasts (x); so that this kind of whipping, was very severe and cruel. The Jews themselves own this scourging of Jesus, only they ascribe it to the elders of Jerusalem, and relate it thus (y):
"the elders of Jerusalem took Jesus, and brought him to the city, and bound him to a marble pillar in the city, "and smote him with whips", or "whipped him"; and said unto him, where are all thy miracles which thou hast done?''
Hereby the prophecy in Isaiah 1:6, and our Lord's prediction in Matthew 20:19, had their accomplishment. This scourging of Christ, was an emblem of the scourges and strokes of divine justice, which he endured in his soul, as the surety of his people; being smitten of God by the sword of justice, as he stood in their place and stead, and stricken for their transgressions; and may furnish out several instructions: as that it is no wonder, if any of the followers of Christ have, do, or shall, meet with such like treatment from men; and that it becomes them to bear patiently the scourges of their heavenly Father, since these are in love; and that they need not fear being trodden down, or carried away by the overflowing scourge of God's wrath, since Christ has endured this in their room. This being done,
he delivered him to be crucified; either into the hands of the Jews, to their will and at their request; or into the hands of his soldiers, to execute the sentence he passed upon him; which was done in a judicial way, and according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 27:26 Φραγελλώσας] a late word adopted from the Latin, and used for μαστιγοῦν. Comp. John 2:15; see “Wetstein. It was the practice among the Romans to scourge the culprit (with cords or thongs of leather) before crucifying him (Liv. xxxiii. 36; Curt. vii. 11. 28; Valer. Max. i. 7, Joseph. Bell. v. 11. 1, al.; Heyne, Opusc. III. p. 184 f.; Keim, III. p. 390 f.). According to the more detailed narrative of John 19:1 ff., Pilate, after this scourging was over, and while the soldiers were mocking Him, made a final attempt to have Jesus set at liberty. According to Luke 23:16, the governor contemplated ultimate scourging immediately after the examination before Herod,—a circumstance which neither prevents us from supposing that he subsequently carried out his intention (in opposition to Strauss), nor justifies the interpretation of our passage given by Paulus: whom He had previously scourged (with a view to His being liberated).
παρέδωκεν] namely, to the Roman soldiers, Matthew 27:27. These latter were entrusted with the task of seeing the execution carried out.Matthew 27:26. τότε ἀπέλυσεν: Pilate, lacking the passion for justice, judges not according to the merits but according to policy. When he discovered that Jesus was not a popular favourite, in fact had no friends, he had no more interest in Him, but acted as the people wished, loosing Barabbas and delivering Jesus to be crucified, after having first subjected Him to scourging (φραγελλώσας = flagello, a Latinism probably borrowed from Mk.). Such was the barbarous practice of the Romans. It is alluded to by Josephus (B. J., Matthew 27:11; Matthew 27:1) in these terms: μαστιγούμενοι δὴ καὶ προβασανιζόμενοι τοῦ θανάτου πᾶσαν αἰκίαν ἀνεσταυροῦντο τοῦ τείχους ἀντικρύ. Brandt thinks that the alleged custom of releasing a prisoner had no existence, and that the story in the Gospels arose out of an occurrence at a later time, the release of a prisoner the son of a Rabbi concerned in a tumult. The Christians said: they release the son of the Scribe and they crucified our Jesus, and at last the incident was read back into the story of the Passion (E. G., pp. 94–105).26. when he had scourged Jesus] Scourging usually preceded crucifixion. It was in itself a cruel and barbarous torture, under which the victim often perished.Matthew 27:26. Φραγελλώσας, having scourged) after passing sentence.
 The delivering up of Jesus to the will of the Jews was immediately connected with the setting of Barabbas free, and both were followed by the scourging, accompanied with the mocking of our Lord. In the presence of Caiaphas, it was not till after the capital sentence, that the mocking followed; and, on the same principle, the soldiers could not at pleasure vent their wanton ribaldry on Jesus, before that Pilate delivered Him up to the will and pleasure of the Jews.—Harm., p. 553.Verse 26. - Released he Barabbas - "him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired" (Luke). When he had scourged Jesus. This was the usual preliminary to crucifixion, especially in the case of shires, and was a punishment of a most severe and cruel nature. The verb here used, φραγελλόω, is formed from the Latin flagellum, and denotes the employment of that terrible implement the Roman scourge. This was no ordinary whip, but commonly a number of leather thongs loaded with lead or armed with sharp bones and spikes, so that every blow cut deeply into the flesh, causing intense pain. The culprit was stripped of his clothes, pinioned, and bound to a stake or pillar, and thus on his bare back suffered this inhuman chastisement. To think that the blessed Son of God was subject to such torture and indignity is indeed a lesson for us written in blood. When "he gave his back to the smiters" (Isaiah 50:6), he was taking the punishment of our sin upon his sacred shoulders. "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). Possibly Pilate thought that the sight of Christ's suffering might arouse at this last moment the pity of the Jews (John 19:1-16). But he was mistaken. The appetite of the bloodthirsty crowd was only whetted by this anticipatory taste; they insisted on the whole programme being canted out, and Pilate yielded to the demand, giving up the useless struggle. He delivered him to be crucified. Pilate delivered Jesus to the will of the people, directing the soldiers to carry out the ordered execution. On the view taken by the Romans themselves of crucifixion, commentators quote Cicero, 'In Verr.,' 2:5. 66, "It is a crime to bind a Roman citizen; to scourge him is an act of wickedness; to put him to death is almost parricide: what shall I say of crucifying him? An act so abominable it is impossible to find any word adequately to express."
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