And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher, and departed.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Laid it in his own new tomb.—The garden, or orchard, was therefore the property of Joseph (see Note on Matthew 27:33). All the first three Gospels dwell on the fact of its not being, as so many graves were, a natural cavern, but cut, and, as St. Luke’s word implies. to some extent, smoothed and polished. Like almost all Eastern graves, it was an opening made in the vertical face of the rock. Neither of the two localities which have been identified with the sepulchre (see Note as above) presents this feature, and, so far as this is not an argument against the identity of either with the actual tombs, we must assume that the rock has been so cut and shaped in the course of centuries as to lose its original form. St. John (John 19:39) notes the singularly interesting fact that Nicodemus shared with him in these reverential offices. The hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes which he brought must have been bought beforehand, and may have been stored up from the time when he knew that the leading members of the Council had resolved upon the death of Jesus. St. Luke and St. John give the reason for the speed with which the entombment was hurried on. It was now near sunset. The Sabbath was on the point of beginning, and there was no alternative but that of leaving the body on the cross for another twenty-four hours, and this, though common enough as a Roman practice (which commonly, indeed, left the corpse for birds of prey to feed on), would have shocked Jewish feeling, especially at the Paschal season, as a violation of their law (Deuteronomy 21:23).John 19:41 that this was in a garden that was "in" or "near" the place where he was crucified. This tomb Joseph had prepared for himself, as was not uncommon among the Jews. Compare the notes at Isaiah 22:16. In this tomb Luke and John inform us that no man had been laid. This was so ordered, in the providence of God, doubtless, that there might be no suspicion about his identity when he rose; that it might not be alleged that another person had risen, or that he was raised by touching the bones of some prophet, as happened to the corpse that touched the bones of Elisha, 2 Kings 13:21. Farther, by being buried here an important prophecy was remarkably fulfilled Isaiah 53:9; "He made his grave - with the rich in his death." The fulfillment of this is the more remarkable, because during his life he associated with the poor and was himself poor. See the notes at Isaiah 53:9. "Which he had hewn out in the rock." This was a common way of constructing tombs in Judea. See the notes at Matthew 8:28. Being cut out of a rock, there was no way by which the disciples could have access to it but by the entrance, at which the guard was placed, and consequently it was impossible for them to steal him away. The sepulchre, thus secure, was rendered more so by rolling a great stone at its entrance; all possible precautions thus being used, in the providence of God, against imposition and deceit.
and Mary the mother of James and Joses—the wife of Cleophas, or rather Clopas, and sister of the Virgin (Joh 19:25). See on Mt 13:55,56.
and the mother of Zebedee's children—that is, Salome: compare Mr 15:40. All this about the women is mentioned for the sake of what is afterwards to be related of their purchasing spices to anoint their Lord's body.
The Taking Down from the Cross and the Burial (Mt 27:57-60).
For the exposition of this portion, see on Joh 19:38-42.
The Women Mark the Sacred Spot that They Might Recognize It on Coming Thither to Anoint the Body (Mt 27:61).See Poole on "Matthew 27:61".
"a new grave may be measured, and sold, and divided; an old one may not be measured, nor sold, nor divided: there is a new grave, which is as an old one; and an old one, which is as a new one; an old grave, in which are ten dead bodies, which is not in the power of the owners, lo! this is as a new grave.
Which he had hewn out in the rock; it was usual with the Jews to make their sepulchres in rocks:
"in the midst (of the court of the sepulchre, they say (o)) two caves are opened, one on one side, and the other on the other; R. Simeon says, four on the four sides; Rabban Simeon ben Gamaliel says, all are , "according to the rock";
i.e. according to the nature of the rock, out of which the sepulchre is hewn; see Isaiah 22:16.
And he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre; for the sepulchres were made with doors to go in and out at: hence we often read (p) of , "the door of the sepulchre"; and this was not only the custom of the Jews, but of other nations also (q): the stone rolled to the door, was what the Jews call, from its being rolled to, and from the door of the sepulchre; and which, they say (r), was a large and broad stone, with which the mouth of the sepulchre was stopped above: and it was at the shutting up of the sepulchre with this stone, that mourning began (s); and after it was shut with this sepulchral stone, it was not lawful to open it (t): now this was done by Joseph, to preserve the body from any injury, either from beasts, or from the Jews:
and when he had so done,
he departed to his own house; for the sabbath drew on, and there was no more time to do any thing more in this affair. The Syriac version reads these last clauses in the plural number; "they rolled a great stone, and they put it", &c. and they went away; intimating, that Joseph did not do this himself; the stone was too great; but by others, or with their assistance. It may be observed, that all this was done on a feast day; on one of the days of the feast of the passover, when no servile work was to be done; and yet this was agreeably to the Jewish canons, which say (u),
"they do all things needful for the dead on a feast day; they shave his head, and wash his clothes, and make him a coffin; and if they have no boards, they bring timber and saw boards of it, silently within doors; and if the person is a man of note, they do it even in the street; but they do not cut wood out of the forest, to saw planks of it for the coffin; nor do they hew stones, to build a tomb with them.
In this case, there was no need for the latter, because the sepulchre in which the body of Christ was laid, had been hewn out of a rock before; but the body was wrapped in a clean linen cloth, and wound up in it with myrrh and aloes to preserve it, and was interred; and so the women on this day, prepared spices and ointments, to anoint it with; though they rested on the sabbath day according to the commandment; but then as soon as that was over, though it was a feast day, they came to the sepulchre with their spices and ointments, Luke 23:56.
(n) Massech. Semachto, c. 14. fol. 16. 2.((o) Misn. Bava Bathra, c. 6. sect. 8. (p) Misn. ib. & Bartenora in Misn. Ohalot, c. 15. sect. 8. (q) Vid. Kirchman de Funer. Roman. l. 3. c. 15. p. 438. (r) Bartenora & Yom. Tob. in Misn. Ohalot, c. 2. sect. 4. (s) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 47. 2. Maimon. Hilchot Ebel, c. 1. sect. 2. & c. 2. sect. 8. (t) Vid. Buxtorf. Lex. Rab. p. 437. (u) Maimon. Hilchot Yom. Tob. c. 7. sect. 15.And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 27:60 Ὃ ἐλατόμησεν] Aorist, as in Matthew 27:55.
The other evangelists say nothing about the grave having belonged to Joseph; John 19:42 rather gives us to understand that, owing to the necessary despatch, it was made choice of from its being close at hand. We thus see that Matthew’s account is unsupported by the earlier testimony of Mark on the one hand, and the later testimony of Luke and John on the other. This, however, only goes to confirm the view that in Matthew we have a later amplification of the tradition which was expunged again by Luke and John, for this latter at least would scarcely have left unnoticed the devotion evinced by Joseph in thus giving up his own tomb, and yet it is John who distinctly alleges a different reason altogether for the choice of the grave. The ordinary supposition, that Matthew’s account is intended to supplement those of the other evangelists, fails to meet the exigencies of the case, especially in regard to John, on whom so tender a feature in connection with the burial would doubtless have made too deep an impression to admit of his passing it over in silence.
As a new grave was calculated to do honour to Jesus (comp. on John as above), the circumstance that this one had not been previously used may have gone far to determine the choice, so that there is no ground for supposing that what is said with reference to this has been added without historical warrant (Strauss, Scholten).
ἐν τῇ πέτρᾳ] The article is to be understood as indicating a rocky place just at hand.
τῇ θύρᾳ] Comp. Hom. Od. ix. 243: πέτρην ἐπέθηκε θύρῃσιν. In Rabbinical phraseology the stone used for this purpose is called גּוֹלָל, a roller. See Paulus, exeget. Handb. III. p. 819. Such a mode of stopping up graves is met with even in the present day (Strauss, Sinai u. Golgatha, p. 205).Matthew 27:60. ἐν τῷ καινῷ αὐτοῦ μνημείῳ, in his own new tomb, recently prepared for himself. This not brought out in parallels.—ἐλατόμησεν (λᾶς τέμνω): the aorist for the pluperfect, as in Matthew 27:55; he had hewn out of the rock = ἐν τῇ πέτρᾳ, the article pointing to the custom of making sepulchres in rock.—λίθον μέγαν: the usual mode of shutting the door of the tomb; the Jews called the stone golal, the roller.—ἀπῆλθεν: the entombment over, Joseph went away; but the Dead One was not left alone.60. laid it in his own new tomb] “His own” peculiar to St Matthew. St John mentions that the tomb was “in a garden in the place where he was crucified” (John 19:41). It was probably hewn out of the face of the rock near the ground (John 20:11), and the body of Jesus would lie horizontally in it.
rolled a great stone] assisted by Nicodemus. This stone was technically called golal.Matthew 27:60. Καινῷ, new) Which had not been polluted by any corruption; and also lest any of the ancient saints should be said to have risen instead of Him, or to have given Him the power of rising.—αὐτοῦ, his own) Jesus Christ, the leader and guide of life, was placed in the tomb of another.—τῇ θύρᾳ, the door) The sepulchre was not a narrow trench, but a crypt.—ἀπῆλθεν, he departed) Not hoping those things which soon were to come to pass.
 Implying that the tomb was something alien and strange for Him, the Lord of Life, to be associated with. Therefore He had no tomb of His own.—ED.Verse 60. - Laid it in his own new tomb. It was placed on one of the shelves or recesses formed in the sides of the sepulchre. Thus did the Saviour make "his grave with the wicked" (dying between two thieves), "and with the rich in his death" (Isaiah 53:9). It was fitting that he whose body saw no corruption should be buried in a grave which had never been tainted by a human corpse. Thus also it was ensured that no other body could rise thence except his who alone was buried therein. This tomb, St. John tells us, was quite close at hand, which at that hurried time would be an additional reason for making use of it. Which he had hewn out in the rock. The tomb was a chamber artificially excavated in the face of the rock, with one entrance only. The wealthy Jews were especially fond of appropriating vaults for the burial of themselves and their families. The neighbourhood of Jerusalem (as other parts of Palestine) abounds with tombs cut in the solid limestone. Recent opinion has veered round to adherence to the traditional site of the holy sepulchre, of which the identification dates from the earliest days; that which is known as "Gordon's tomb" meeting with scant acceptance from experts, and other sites not fully answering the requirements of the case. The existing Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre, in the church of that designation, is thus described by Dr. Geikie ('Holy Land and Bible,' pp. 437, etc.): On entering the church, "immediately before you is 'the stone of unction,' said to mark the spot on which our Lord's body was laid in preparation for burial, after being anointed. It is a large slab of limestone A few steps to the left is the place where, as they tell us, the women stood during the anointing, and from this you pass at once, still keeping to the left, into the great round western end of the church - the model of all the circular churches of Europe - under the famous dome, which rests on eighteen pillars, with windows round the circle from which the dome springs. In the centre of this space, which is sixty-seven feet across, is the Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre, about twenty-six feet long and eighteen feet wide, a tasteless structure of reddish limestone, like marble, decorated all along the top with gilt nosegays and modern pictures, and its front ablaze with countless lamps. Inside it is divided into two parts, the one marking, as is maintained, the spot where the angels stood at the Resurrection, the other believed to contain the sepulchre of Christ In the centre, cased in marble, stands what is called a piece of the stone rolled away by the angel; and at the western end, entered by a low doorway, is the reputed tomb chamber of our Lord, a very small spot, for it is only six feet wide, a few inches longer, and very low. The tomb itself is a raised table, two feet high, three feet wide, and over six feet long, the top of it serving as an altar, over which the darkness is only relieved by the dim lamps." A great stone. Joseph and his friends closed the entrance to the cave by rolling up to it, and partly in it, a huge stone, to obviate all danger of the sacred body being meddled with by evil beasts or men. The Jewish sepulchres were often furnished with real doors, either of stone or wood, as is proved by existing remains, which show grooves and marks where hinges have been; Joseph's tomb was not thus supplied, either from being still in an unfinished state, or constructed on a different principle. We can not reason from the present state of the sepulchre that it is too unlike what we must conceive the original to have been to permit of the supposed identification. If other criteria point to this site, the difficulties connected with present appearances may be overcome by the consideration that the whole features of the place were altered by Constantine, the Crusaders, and other builders. The surrounding rock has in many parts been cut away, and the surface levelled or lowered, and the only portion left in situ is the inner chamber where the Lord's body was laid. Captain Conder objects to the traditional site. His own theory, which points to a rock-hewn tomb near the Grotto of Jeremiah, may be seen in the Quarterly Statement of the Palestine Exploration Fund, April, 1883. And departed. He had done what he could: sorrowing, he left the place of sepulture. Tradition has traced the later life of Joseph. He is said to have been sent by the Apostle Philip to Britain, in company with other disciples, and to have settled at Glaston bury, in Somersetshire, then much nearer to an arm of the sea than it is now. Here he erected a little oratory of wickerwork, the first Christian house of prayer that England saw, which was afterwards superseded by the noble abbey whose remains we admire to this day. There is no certain foundation on which the story rests; the only evidence of visitors from Palestine having ever arrived at Glastonbury is the existence of an Eastern thorn tree on Wearyall Hill, which possesses the curious property of blossoming at Christmas. The original tree, which sprang from Joseph's staff, is reported to have flourished till the reign of Charles I., when it was destroyed by the Puritans; but scions or cuttings were taken from it, and many such bushes are still to be found in different parts of the country.
See on Matthew 26:29. Not newly hewn, but fresh, undefiled by anybody.
A great stone
Though in the Jews' sepulchres in general there were doors hung on hinges, the grooves and perforations for which may still be seen. Joseph's tomb may have been differently constructed, or else was in an unfinished state.
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