« PreviousContinue »
reasoning thereon, by heathen philosophers, at the very time, we owe to Suidas, in the two articles, Atovvotos о Aрεшπaɣiтaç. See Vol. I. p. 65-71. Matt. xxvii. 45, Mark xv. 33, Luke xxiii. 44, 45.
About, or at the ninth hour, JESUS exclaimed with a loud voice, ÆLI, ÆLI, lama sabaktani, " MY GOD, MY GOD, why hast thou forsaken me!" Matt. xxvii. 46, Mark xv. 34.
This exclamation, in its three first words, exhibits the original Hebrew of the beginning of the twenty-second Psalm, descriptive of the Messiah's persecution and sufferings; and these were probably recited to mark the application of the entire Psalm to himself, according to the usual mode of citation at that time. See John xii. 38. where the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah is perhaps so cited. The fourth term, sabaktani, is Syriac, or the vernacular dialect, put for the Hebrew, azabthani. That this was designed for a citation, indeed, and not for any expression of despondency, (as several commentators have
after this obscuration, May 10, at two in the morning, visible in Asia, and there central.
Though the plan of this work does not permit a review of the mistakes of commentators in general, which would be endless and unprofitable; yet there is one on this subject, fraught with the most extravagant and revolting Hutchinsonian mysticism, and that in useful, elementary works, of general circulation, Parkhurst's Hebrew and Greek Lexicons, under the roots, in the former, and EXwt, in the latter; which, therefore, it would be ill discharging the functions of a sacred critic, to pass over in silence, without warning younger students to beware of such.
The pious, but fanciful Parkhurst supposes,
1. That there were two similar exclamations uttered by CHRIST, one "about the ninth hour," (Epɩ τηy εvvατηy wρav,) recorded by Matthew; the other," at the ninth hour," (ry wpą ty evvaty,) recorded by Mark, when he was in the very jaws of death. But this is a hypercritical distinction without a difference.
2. That the former was addressed to THE DIVINITY, as , nλi, (my powerful), GOD, referring to his power; but the latter, as, Eλwi, [my accursed,] bound to bear together with my humanity, the curse due to man for sin!! thus, strangely misreas a participle passive, like επικατάρατος, one accursed, or subject to a curse;" as if it were derived from the verb, to curse. Whereas it does not once occur in this sense throughout the whole range of the Hebrew Scriptures; but every where as "the BLESSED and only POTENTATE;" which last, indeed, is its proper signification: nor does the form, occur any where except in two erroneous passages, Psalm xviii. 47, and cxlv. 1, of Leusden's and Foster's editions, which are correctly written, (excluding the Vau,) in the London Polyglott Bible, as Park
* Parkhurst, in his Hebrew Lexicon, Edit. 3. p. 24. omits indeed our Lord's exclamation on the cross; but he represents as a title of CHRIST, signifying ac
imagined, uttered in Christ's human nature,) we may fairly collect from his express reference to the same Psalm, immediately after, in saying, " I thirst," alluding to ver. 15. "My tongue cleaveth to my jaws *; and also from his last ejaculation, expressive of the highest trust and confidence, immediately before he expired," FATHER, into thy hands I commit my spirit !” alluding to another, Psalm xxxi. 5.
Some of the bystanders, mistaking the meaning of the first Hebrew word, Eli, said, Lo, he calleth Elias, or “Elijah the prophet;" and they might naturally conceive, from the darkness, that this was indeed " the great and dreadful day of THE LORD," which was foretold to follow his coming, (Mal. iv. 5.) Matt. xxvii. 47; Mark xv. 35.
After this, JESUS, knowing that all his predestined sufferings were now ready to be perfected, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. And immediately one of them, running to a vessel full of vinegar, which lay there for the use of the soldiers, steeped a sponge in the vinegar mixed with hyssop, and put it on the end of a reed, and reached it to his mouth, pitying his distress, while the rest, more hardened, said, Let him alone, let us see whether Elias is coming to take him down, and save him," John xix. 28; Matt. xxvii. 48, 49; Mark xv. 36.
When JESUS had received the vinegar, thereby fulfilling also another signal prophecy, in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink, Psalm lxix. 21, he said, it is perfected! and with a loud voice he added, FATHER, into thy hands I commit my spirit!
hurst himself admits, overturning his criticism founded thereon. POTENTATE" is derived from, EL, the primitive name of God, signifying 66 POWER."
3. But (,) Eλw, in the present text of Mark, is now considered by the ablest editors, Wetstein and Griesbach, as faulty, who substitute Hλt, as in Matthew, or Hλε, supported by Eusebius, the Cambridge MS., and several additional vouchers. And EXw, the Syriac, might have been easily substituted for Hλ, the Hebrew, by the unskilfulness of some early copier, hastily concluding, that because the last word, Sabaktari, was Syriac, the first ought to be so too.
4. The last ejaculation, when JESUS was "in the very jaws of Death,"-(here represented as going to devour him, whereas he dismissed his spirit of his own accord,) was widely different: FATHER, into thy hands I commit my spirit!
See a fuller discussion of this mischievous and revolting hypercriticism, in my Dissertations, &c. p. 131-135.
Parching thirst, here expressed by the Psalmist, is one of the usual concomitants of extreme grief of mind, or torture of body :-Sorrow is dry, is a proverbial expression, founded on long experience.
and so saying, he inclined his head, delivered up his spirit, and expired, Matt. xxvii. 48-50; Mark xv. 36, 37; Luke xxiii. 46; John xix. 28-30.
It is remarkable that the original expressions, αφηκε το πνευμα, παρέδωκε το πνευμα, and εξεπνευσε, here, are appropriated by the Evangelists to the death of CHRIST, and are not used elsewhere in the NEW TESTAMENT. The deaths of other persons are expressed by the verbs, aπɛlavɛ, Luke xvi. 22; ɛTɛλɛvτησε, Matt. xxii. 25, &c. ; εκοιμήθη, Acts vii. 60, &c., εξέψυξε, Acts v. 5-10. &c. The distinction in this place plainly intimates that CHRIST had the power of resigning his own life, and of resuming it again, consigned to him by the FATHER, as he expressly told his disciples, foretelling his voluntary death, John x. 18.
And most awful were the signs that ensued; for lo, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, aptly signifying the dissolution of the Jewish ecclesiastical economy, and that the separation heretofore subsisting between them and the Gentiles was now rescinded. And this happened exactly at the commencement of the evening sacrifice, while the priest was offering incense in the holy place, Luke i. 10, and while the high priests were celebrating their unhallowed pass
And the earth did quake, and the rocks rent. (See 1 Kings xix. 11.) And we learn from Maundrel, p. 73, that "about a yard and a half from the hole in which the foot of the cross was fixed, is seen that memorable cleft in the rock, which happened at the suffering of the GOD OF NATURE. It is about a span wide at its upper part, as to what now appears of it, and two deep; after which it closes, but opens again below, (as you may see in another chapel contiguous to the side of Calvary,) and runs down to an unknown depth in the earth. That this rent was made by the earthquake that happened at our Lord's passion there is only tradition to prove: but that it is a natural and genuine breach, and not counterfeited by any art, the sense and reason of every one that sees it may convince him, for the sides of it fit like two tallies to each other, and yet it runs in such intricate windings, as could not well be counterfeited by art, nor arrived at by any instrument."
It is also mentioned by Fleming, in his Christology, p. 97, that a Deist, lately travelling through Palestine, was converted
by viewing one of these rocks, which still remains, torn asunder, not in the weakest place, but across the veins; a plain proof that it was done in a supernatural manner.
And such a conversion was actually wrought at the time on the centurion and Roman soldiers, who guarded the cross, and witnessed the awful scene; they who had joined in the insults and mockeries of the whole cohort against JESUS, in the prætorium, so lately: For when the centurion who stood opposite to JESUS heard that he so cried and expired, with his last breath calling on God as HIS FATHER, he was fully persuaded that JESUS was indeed what he professed himself to be before the council, and said, This man was truly THE Son of God, Mark xv. 39.
The soldiers also, when they saw the earthquake, and the prodigies that happened, feared greatly, and joined in the same declaration with the centurion, "This was truly THE SON OF GOD," Matt. xxvii. 54.
And again, the centurion, when he saw the prodigy that happened, (perhaps the cleft in the rock, which was just beside him, and, according to tradition, separated the cross of JESUS from that of the impenitent malefactor on the left hand, Sandys, p. 127,) he glorified GOD, like a true convert, for this wondrous attestation to his Son's innocence, and said, "This man was really THE JUST ONE," Luke xxiii. 47.
Thus did these strongly prejudiced heathens, who had ridiculed the idea of JESUS being a king, with the governor himself at first, now condemn the high priest and council for representing JESUS as guilty of blasphemy, by recognizing him in that higher character previously ascribed to him, THE Son of God, as intimated by "truly ;" and also bear testimony to the truth of Pilate's previous declaration of his justice or innocence, as intimated by "really*”
* The original phrases, Αληθώς Θεου υἱος ην οὗτος, and οντως ὁ ανθρωπος οὗτος dikaιog ŋy, are rather incorrectly rendered in our English Bible, "Truly, this was the Son of God," and "Certainly, this was a righteous man.” For the adverbs “truly and certainly," when beginning a sentence, in colloquial discourse, rather imply a casual opinion than a solemn and decided asseveration. On this occasion, therefore, they should be connected with the predicates, to strengthen them. Thus the similar phrase, aλnows Oεov viog at, should be rendered "Thou art truly THE Son of God," Matt. xiv. 33, where, though the phrase Oɛov vioç is entirely anarthrous, there cannot be a doubt that it is to be understood in the highest sense; from the worship (poTEKUVNray) then actually paid to CHRIST by the disciples. This anomaly was noticed in a
Not less remarkable was the revolution produced thereby in the public mind; for all the multitudes who assembled together to this spectacle, when they saw the prodigies that happened, smiting their breasts, in token of grief and remorse for their guilt and imprecations, and with a melancholy presage of their own punishment, returned, Luke xxiii. 48. The conviction of the divinity and of the innocence of the sufferer, thus miraculously attested, unquestionably prepared the way for the conver
foregoing note; and Townson also observes, that the Divine Titles frequently want the article in confessions of faith. That aλnews and ovτws should properly be so connected may appear from some other instances : οὗτος εστιν αληθως ὁ προφήτης, "This is truly the prophet," John vi. 14; and again, vii. 40, OVτws πEоÓNτng nv, really a prophet," Mark xi. 32; nyepoŋ o kupios оVτWS, "THE LORD is really risen,” Luke xxiv. 34; ovтws xnpaç, "really widows,” 1 Tim. v. 3—5.
By analogy, dikatog, though anarthrous here, should also be rendered “the just one," in the highest sense also. For this was a title of the MESSIAH in the Old Testament, as may appear from the following passages:
,רשע Instead of)
"Many are the afflictions of THE JUST ONE, but THE LORD delivereth him out of them all. He preserveth all his bones; not one of them shall be broken. Evil shall slay the wicked one, [Judas,] and the haters [Jews] of THE JUST ONE shall be desolate," Psalm xxxiv. 19-24. "wicked," the singular number of the Masorete text, the Sept. followed by the Syr. Arab. and Lat. read yw, in the plural; but surely the Jews had no temptation to forge the singular reading, which is supported by the Chaldee Targum, in the London Polyglott.)
"Behold THY KING cometh unto thee; He is just, and a Saviour," Zech. ix. 10. Hence this title was assumed in the New Testament also. Thus Peter reproached the Jews, "Ye denied THE HOLY and JUST ONE," Acts iii. 14; and the martyr Stephen, "Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? they even slew those (Isaiah, Zechariah, &c.) that prophesied of the coming (Tov dikalov) of the JUST ONE; of whom ye have been the betrayers and murderers!" Acts vii. 52; and James likewise, “Ye condemned, ye murdered THE JUST ONE! Will he not resist you, [ye proud?"] James v. 6, referring to iv. 6. His violent persecutor, Saul, afterwards his most zealous Apostle, Paul, was fore-ordained "to see THE JUST ONE, and to hear the voice of his mouth," Acts xxii. 14.
This Jewish title of the MESSIAH, was naturally adopted by Pilate's wife, who styled JESUS τῳ δικαιῳ εκείνῳ, 66 'THAT JUST ONE," Matt. xxvii. 19; and by Pilate himself, του δικαίου τούτου, 46 THIS JUST ONE," Matt. xxvii. 24. Is it then to be wondered, that the centurion adopted their phraseology, which he heard shortly before?
Nor was this title unknown to the Heathen philosophers. Plato, in the second book of his Republic, describes a perfect character with the same epithet, ò dikatoç, “the just;" who, for attempting to reform the world, should encounter persecution and crucifixion. See the passage, in the note near the end of this volume.
The observations in this note are chiefly taken from "Observations on the words which the centurion uttered at the crucifixion of our Lord, 1808, Oxford, by a Layman,” who is generally supposed to be that learned and intelligent physician, Dr. Falconer, of Bath. Such observations are peculiarly valuable.