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Philo, the Jew, also, in his embassy to Caligula, p. 799, 780, states a further aggression, similar to the first.
66 Pilate, not so much in honour of Tiberius, as to vex the people, dedicated some gilt shields to him, without any figures or other forbidden emblems, but only a dedicatory inscription, from himself to the emperor, and placed them in Herod's palace, within the holy city. As soon as the people perceived it, and the matter was noised abroad, they sent a deputation, consisting of [Herod] the king's four sons, (Matt. xiv. 2,) of royal rank and consequence, attended by the other relations of the family, and their own chief magistrates, to entreat Pilate, that this innovation of the shields might be removed, and that he would not infringe their native customs, of the earliest date, which had been preserved inviolate both by kings and governors. But he sternly refused, for he was unbending, haughty and implacable, in his disposition. Then they exclaimed, Do not raise a sedition, do not excite war, do not break the peace! the dishonour of our ancient laws cannot redound to the honour of the emperor; therefore let not this be a pretext for your outrage to the nation: It surely was not the wish of Tiberius to violate any of our laws. If you say it was, produce either his decree, or letter, or any other document, that we may cease to importune you, and send an embassy to supplicate your master. This last circumstance disconcerted him very much, fearing, that if they should actually send an embassy, they would charge him with the other misdemeanors of his administration, his briberies, his injuries, his extortions, his insults, his outrages, his indiscriminate and successive † massacres, and his unbounded and most grievous cruelty, in detail; and this wrathful and vindictive man was reduced to the utmost perplexity; on the one hand, not daring to remove the shields after they had been once dedicated, and unwilling to gratify his subjects in any shape; but
The dedication of shields to THE LORD, in the temple, as emblematical of the divine defence and protection against their enemies, Gen. xv. 1, was customary. 1 Kings x. 17; xiv. 26, 27, &c. It was adopted by the heathens also to their tutelar gods, 1 Mac. vi. 1, 2; and by the Romans, Livy, i. 20. To whom Simon the Maccabee sent a present of a golden shield of great size and value, 1 Mac. xiv. 24, which was graciously received, xv. 20.
The original, aλλŋλovç, is remarkably strong and expressive. It signifies, "succeeding each other, without intermission," like the waves of the sea; aλλɛñaλλŋdoig Kvμao. Basil. This, therefore, is rightly placed after the preceding outrages.
on the other, well knowing the steady severity of Tiberius, on such occasions. The chief magistrates seeing this, and perceiving his concern for what he had done, though he wished to hide it, wrote the most supplicatory letter to Tiberius; who, when he was informed of Pilate's speeches and threats, though not prone to anger, was greatly incensed, and immediately wrote without further delay, most sharply reproaching and reprimanding him for his audacious innovation, and ordering him to take down the shields directly: accordingly, they were removed from the metropolis to Cæsarea, and there dedicated to the emperor."
This curious and important passage, (here translated at length) furnishes the fullest and most authentic account extant, of the true character of Pilate, drawn by the hand of a most intelligent contemporary. It furnishes also the most satisfactory solution of" the enmity that had subsisted for some time between Pilate and Herod," who are not reconciled until this very day of the crucifixion; as we learn from the concise Scripture account, Luke xxiii. 21.; stating the fact, but not assigning the grounds of it. Herod was probably offended by the massacre of his subjects, the Galileans, at the preceding passover; but surely, it was a heinous insult to himself, to hang up the dedicated shields in his palace, without his permission; which, as a Jew, he could not have given; and which would only tend to render him odious and unpopular, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the whole nation. Accordingly, his four sons headed the deputation to Pilate; furnishing full proof of their father's indignation, and an open expression of his resentment. And it is highly probable, that Herod himself joined in the complaint of the Jews to the emperor against Pilate. No wonder then, that the Roman governor, when severely reprimanded, and openly disgraced as he must have been by the removal of the shields, in the eyes of the nation, was thoroughly mortified and humbled, and reduced to the necessity of suing for reconciliation with Herod, and of endeavouring to ingratiate himself with the people. This satisfactorily accounts for his anxiety not to give Herod umbrage, as before, by interfering with his “jurisdiction, as soon as he found that JESUS was a Galilean;" and for his repeated endeavours to sooth the Jews, and prevail on them, by entreaties and remonstrances, to be content with a milder pu
nishment; and for his being at length, basely intimidated, by their implied threat of another complaint to Cæsar, to surrender an innocent and just person, against his own repeated declarations, and against his conscience, and co-operate with their envy" and lawless rage; fulfilling prophecy. Ps. ii. 1—3; Acts iv. 25-28.
HIS TRIAL BEFORE PILATE.
When" the whole council," came to the prætorium, or Roman court of justice, where Pilate was prepared to receive them, they delivered up their divine prisoner to him. But they themselves entered not into the heathen prætorium, lest they should be polluted thereby *, and prevented from eating the passover, on that their appointed day, Friday. Matt. xxvii. 1, 2; Mark xv. 1; Luke xxiii. 1; John xviii. 28. Pilate therefore went out to them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? maintaining thus his own prerogative, of bringing JESUS, to a fresh trial; not relying upon their proceedings. They answered, If he were not a malefactor worthy of death, we would not have delivered him up to thee.
Then Pilate said unto them, Take ye him and judge him according to your law, intimating that the crime laid to his charge was not of a capital nature. But they asserted that it was, and urged their own inability to inflict capital punishment, without his sentence. It is not lawful for us to put any man to death; thus unwittingly fulfilling OUR LORD's own predictions, signifying that he should die, but not by a Jewish death, stoning, but by a Roman, crucifixion, John xviii. 29–32.
Then upon this rehearing of the cause, quitting the ground of blasphemy, on which they had condemned him in council, and to which Pilate had evidently referred, as an offence against their law; they brought a fresh accusation against him, more suitable to the Roman: We have found him, 1. perverting the nation, or stirring them up to insurrection against the Romans; 2. forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar; like the faction of Judas Gaulonites, called Zealots; and 3. saying that
How exactly did the "Scribes and Pharisees" on this occasion verify OUR LORD'S censure; "Ye blind guides, who strain at a gnat and swallow a camel !'' Matt. xxiii. 24. who scrupled external pollution, while they were cominitting murder, heightened by hypocrisy, treachery, and ingratitude!
he himself is CHRIST THE KING [of the Jews,] in downright rebellion against the Roman emperor. Luke xxiii. 2.
Pilate then entered into the prætorium again, to examine JESUS as to these capital charges. And knowing, probably from the inoffensive life and conversation of JESUS, that the two former were unfounded and malicious, both from his actual payment of the tribute himself, Matt. xvii. 24-27; and from his recommendation in public to the Pharisees and Herodians, to render unto Cæsar the dues of Cæsar, Matt. xxii. 21, he confined himself to the last and most important charge, Art thou the king of the Jews? Matt. xxvii. 11, Mark xv. 2, Luke xxiii. 3, John xviii. 23.
JESUS, who was not present at the charges brought against him, wished to know whether this was one of them; otherwise, modestly, but indirectly objecting to it, as a question originally put by the governor, as tending to make him criminate himself; for so he had before objected to the questions of Caiaphas ;"Askest thou this of thyself? or did others bring it in charge against me? Pilate said, Am I a Jew? or thinkest thou that I, a Roman, concern myself about such matters; I speak not of myself: Thine own nation, and the chief priests, have delivered thee up to me, for trial; what hast thou done to deserve this? JESUS then answered, by admitting, but explaining the alleged fact: My kingdom is not of this world: and can therefore create no jealousy or alarm to the Romans; If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants have anxiously exerted themselves, (nywvilovтo,) that I should not be delivered up to the Jews: (and Pilate himself must indeed have known, that they all forsook him and fled, from the Chiliarch's report.) But now their desertion is decisive evidence that my kingdom is not from hence. Pilate then said unto him, Art thou a king then? JESUS answered, Thou sayest [true;] for I am a king. For this end have I been born, and for this end have I come
Xpiorov Basilea, Luke xxiii. 2. This title, on account of its celebrity, is anarthrous, or without the definitive article; put for ò Xpioтog ò ẞaoiλevç, Mark xv. 32, like Ιησούν Χριστον, John xvii. 3, put for Ιησους ὁ Χριστος, Matt. xvi. 20 ; or like υίος Θεου, Matt. xiv. 33, put for υἱος του Θεου, Matt. iv. 3, or ὁ υἱος του Θεού, Matt. xvi. 16; or like Oɛoç Tarno, Jude, ver. 1, put for Oɛoc o raτno, John i. 18; or o Otoço Tarnр. This indiscriminate use of all the divine titles, with and without the article, is fully shewn by Middleton; and cuts up the Socinian and Unitarian heresies by
into the world, to testify unto THE TRUTH *."-To attest his Messiahship, was indeed the grand design of his incarnation and mission. And this, accordingly, was " the good confession which JESUS witnessed before Pontius Pilate,” (1 Tim. vi. 13.) John xviii. 34-37.
Pilate then, having carelessly asked him, What is truth †? without receiving, or without waiting for an answer, went out again to the chief priests and multitudes, saying, I find no fault in this man. But they persisted in their accusation, and proceeded to establish their first charge; For he stirreth up the people throughout all Judea; beginning from Galilee, unto this place. JESUS then was brought out, to answer this and many other charges of the chief priests and elders; but he answered nothing. Pilate, therefore, questioned him again, Answerest thou nothing? See how many charges they bring against thee. But JESUS answered him not a word more; so that Pilate wondered, Matt. xxvii. 12-14, Mark xv. 3-5, Luke xxiii. 4, 5, John xviii. 38.
HE IS SENT TO HEROD.
But when Pilate had heard Galilee mentioned, he enquired whether the man was a Galilean; and when he was informed that he was one of Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him back to Herod, (who, during these days of unleavened bread, was also at Jerusalem himself.) But Herod, seeing JESUS, was greatly rejoiced, for he was desirous to see him a good while, because he had heard much of him, and hoped to see some miracle done by him. Then he questioned him in many words, but he an
Ty aλnoɛig, may denote" the truth of his divine mission," John xvii. 3; or Himself" THE WAY, and THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE," John xiv. 6. The "king of fierce countenance" was remarkably foretold "to cast down THE TRUTH to the ground," Dan. viii. 12. See Vol. II. p. 509.
Cowper, the poet, in his Task, has furnished an excellent comment on this verse.
"What is truth? 'Twas Pilate's question, put
But to the proud, uncandid, insincere,
Or negligent enquirer; not a spark.'
Herod suspected that JESUS was John the Baptist, whom he had beheaded, raised from the dead, and indued with miraculous powers, Matt. xiv. 2. The message of Jesus fox," seemed to promise the performance of miracles, Luke xiii. 32.
to that "