« ÎnapoiContinuă »
as he passed by, and sunk to the ground, as if lifeless, when she saw him. "This circumstance," says Chateaubriand. "is not recorded by the Evangelists: but it is generally believed-on the authority of St. Boniface and St. Anselm " Soon after, two places are shown where Christ sunk beneath the burden of his cross; and a third, where, staggering beneath that burden. he stretched forth his hand to the wall, to prevent his falling, and an impression is shown which. it is said, his hand left upon the stone. A very little farther (sixty-six paces from the ruined church) is the spot where the soldiers, compassionating the weakness of Jesus, or fearing he would die too soon, compelled Simon the Cyrenian to take the burden of his cross. The road then passes the supposed houses of the rich man and Lazarus. beyond which, at the entrance of the street leading up to Calvary, is the spot where Christ is supposed to have turned to console the weeping "daughters of Jerusalem." One hundred and ten paces farther, is shown the house of Vernica, whom the legend states to have handed to the Saviour, as he passed, a napkin, to cleanse his face from the blood which trickled from his thorn-pressed brows. The Gate of Judgment, by which criminals were conducted from the city to the place of execution, occurs about one hundred paces farther on. A column of this gate is still standing. buried in rubbish nearly to the top: it is a small Roman column, and, in Richardson's opinion, neither it nor the stones about it, in the least resemble what we should imagine to have been employed in such a wall as formed the rampart of the city of Jerusalem. There are about two hundred paces from this gate to the summit of Calvary, where the Via Dolorosa terminates.
18. "They crucified him."-In some of the notes on the parallel accounts, we have made observations concerning the cross and crucifixion. We shall now add such further particulars as may seem necessary to give the reader some distinct ideas of this manner of death, which is now, happily, extinct, but which must ever be an interesting matter of consideration in consequence of our Lord's submission to its ignominy and torture.
To what we have already said concerning the cross, we have little more to add. Its general form is well known from the numerous paintings and engravings of the Crucifixion. The painters, however, whether from design or inattention, usually represent the cross as much more elevated than it actually was. From all we can collect, we believe the cross was generally about eleven feet high above the ground, and rarely reached twelve feet. The feet of the cu
cified person were seldom more than four feet above the ground, and rested on a projection of wood, that the whole weight of the body might not be borne by the hands so as to rend them from their fastenings. The piece or projection, above the centre of the transverse beam, served to bear the inscription, describing the offence for which the criminal suffered. Ancient monuments, coins, and crosses represent this as the kind of cross on which Jesus suffered; and this opinion is supported by the allusions and descriptions of the early Christian writers, particularly of Justin Martyr. In fact, this was the common cross; the other kind, in the shape of the letter X, on which tradition states St. Andrew to have died, appearing to have been much less usual.
It is a question perhaps not easy to determine, whether the condemned person was fastened to the cross after or before it was erected. The little evidence we have, seems to incline so equally to either alternative, that we might almost suppose that sometimes the one course was taken, and sometimes the other. It is evident that the previous fastening of the criminal to the cross, as it lay on the ground. must have rendered the erection of the cross more difficult; although perhaps the additional trouble thus occasioned was not more than commensurate to that of raising the condemned man and nailing him to the cross after it had been erected. The former course, however, must have given more unutterable anguish to the sufferer, from the violent jerks he received while the cross was being planted in the ground. This marked difference, in point of suffering, may perhaps afford room for the conjecture that an intentional distinction was made, according as the offence was more or less heinous-the nailing to the cross before its erection, being a circumstance of aggravation in the punishment of enormous offences.
When the sufferer arrived at the place of execution, he was stripped entirely naked by the soldiers, who then proceeded to nail him to the cross. In the first instance, the hands and feet were tied with cords to the proper places, and then the nails were driven in, after which the cords were withdrawn. The executioner began with nailing the right hand and foot, and then proceeded to the left hand and foot: it often happened, however, that all the nails were driven simultaneously, by as many soldiers, each of them fixing a limb. Sometimes. instead of one nail being driven through each foot, the sole of one foot was made to rest upon the instep of the other, and then one long nail was driven through both feet. The nails, however, were sometimes altogether dispensed with, cords only being employed; and this, although gentler, in one sense, as occasioning less pain, was, in another. more cruel, as it enabled the sufferer to live the longer upon the cross. It is understood that St. Andrew was tied, and not nailed to his cross, and that three days elapsed before he expired; but this may be considered rather an early death under such circumstances, as those who were even nailed to the cross often lived longer.
A learned German physician. George Gottlieb Richter. in a treatise devoted to the subject of our Lord's Crucifixion, has scientifically defined the character of those tortures which a crucified person endured, and which it seems well that the Christian reader should understand. We are only acquainted with the work through the extracts of Jahu and Rosenmüller, to the former of whom we are indebted for the following passage:
"The position of the body is unnatural, the arms being extended back, and almost immovable. In case of the least motion, an extremely painful sensation is experienced in the hands and feet, and in the back, which is lacerated with stripes. The nails. being driven through the parts of the hands and feet which abound in nerves and tendons, create the most exquisite anguish. The exposure of so many wounds to the open air brings on an inflammation, which every moment increases the poignancy of the suffering.
"In those parts of the body which are distended or pressed, more blood flows through the arteries than can be carried back into the veins. The consequence of this is, that a greater quantity of blood finds its way from the aorta into the head and stomach than would be carried there by a natural and undisturbed circulation. The blood-vessels of the head become pressed and swollen, which of course causes pain, and a redness of the face. The circumstance of blood being impelled in more than ordinary quantities into the stomach, is an unfavourable one also; because it is that part of the system which not only admits of the blood being stationary, but is particularly exposed to mortification. The aorta not being at liberty to empty in the usual free and undisturbed way, the blood which it receives from the left ventricle of the heart is unable to receive its usual quantity. The blood of the lungs therefore is unable to find a free circulation. This general obstruction extends its effects also to the right ventricle; and the consequence is an internal excitement, and exertion, and anxiety, which are more intolerable than the anguish of death itself. All the large vessels about the heart, and all the veins and arteries in that part of the system, on account of the accumulation and pressure of blood, are the sources of inexpressible misery. The degree of misery is gradual in its increase, and the person crucified is able to live under it commonly until the third, and sometimes till the seventh day. Pilate therefore, being surprised at the speedy termination of our Saviour's life, inquired in respect to the truth of it of the centurion himself, who had the command of the soldiers (Mark xv. 44).”
It may be added, that no act, in the punishment of crucifixion, was in itself mortal; the sufferer died rather from the continuance and increase of the unutterable anguish and exhaustion of his torturing position. After the siege of Jerusalem, Josephus observed three of his former acquaintances still alive, among several Jews crucified at the neighbouring village of Tekoa. He besought Titus, with tears, that they might be taken down; and his request was immediately granted, and orders given that care should be taken for their recovery. One of them survived; but no care could preserve the other two, who had probably been too long upon the cross.
The punishment of crucifixion was abolished by Constantine, who was led to deem it unseemly that the most atrocious villains, and persons guilty of the most flagrant crimes, should suffer death in the same manner as the blessed Saviour. He therefore directed that hanging should thereafter be the punishment of those crimes which had formerly been punished by crucifixion.
23. “Four parts, to every soldier a part."-This by no means implies that there were no more than four soldiers present at the crucifixion. These four were probably those who nailed Jesus to the cross, each fixing a limb, and who, being thus the actual executioners, had a right to his clothes as their perquisites. This is still usual.
"The coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout."—We are glad to find that Dr. Clarke ('Travels,' vol. ii. P. 425), in an observation on this text, confirms an impression we long since expressed, that the common outer robe, among the Jews, was similar to the existing Arabian abba, or cloak. "The dress of the Arabs, in this part of the Holy Land, and indeed throughout all Syria, consists of a blue shirt, descending below the knees, the legs and feet being exposed, or the latter being sometimes covered with the ancient cothurnus, or buskin. A cloak is worn, of very coarse and heavy camels'-hair cloth" [by no means always coarse and heavy'], "almost universally decorated with broad Black and white stripes, passing vertically down the back; this is of one square piece, with holes for the arms; it has
seam down the back; and, made without this seam, it is considered of greater value. Here then we perhaps behold the form and materials of our Saviour's garment, for which the soldiers cast lots, being without seam, woven from the top throughout." This is no doubt a correct description of the abba, as most frequently seen by Dr. Clarke; but there are varieties, of much finer texture and of other colours than he mentions. We may refer back to our own notice of the
same robe under Exod. xxii. 27. An abba, now before the present writer, and long worn by him, is entirely black, with the seam not vertical, but horizontai, dividing its length. Except in the finest sorts, the seam is conspicuous and unsightly, which must be one reason why those without seam are preferred.
29. "A vessel full of vinegar."-The word gos does not here strictly denote vinegar, but a kind of very weak and inferior wine, which did then, as it does now in South Europe, form the ordinary drink of the common people. being as a drink, in relation to the best wines, what beer is to wine in our own country, or what small beer is to strong beer. This poor wine-generally mixed with water, and then called posca-was the usual drink of the Roman soldiers; and the vessel of it here mentioned was probably for their use, while attending the crucifixion.
"Put it upon hyssop."-See the note on Exod. xii. 22, where the hyssop of Scripture is referred to a species of Phytolacca, the length and straightness of the stem in several kinds of which, render a sufficient reason for its being chosen for the purpose of raising the sponge to the mouth of the dying Saviour, and obviates the difficulties which some interpreters have found in this passage, and on which their ingenuity has been greatly exercised.
It may perhaps be necessary to remind the reader, that this is the second time that drink was offered to Christ. The first time was on his arrival at Golgotha, when "they gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall." (Matt. xxvii. 34.) Here the "vinegar" is the same weak wine, which we have mentioned in the last note but one, and which is described as "wine" in the parallel text. Mark xv. 23. Mark calls it "myrrhed wine;" in which he does not disagree with Matthew, who mentions "gall;" for the word thus rendered "gall" (xoan) denotes anything bitter; and Mark more precisely determines it to have been myrrh, which, as Theophylact observes, on this same passage, is as bitter as gall. Such a potion produced a degree of stupefaction and bewilderment, and hence operated in mitigating the sense of pain; for which reason it was often humanely given to persons about to suffer a painful death, to enable them the better to sustain their torments. Myrrhed wine appears to have been the preparation used by the Romans on such occasions: but other mixtures had the same effects; and it appears from the Talmud (Sanhed. fol. 43. 1), that the Jews, on similar occasions, used frankincense with the wine, instead of myrrh; and they understood that Solomon refers to this practice. in Prov. xxxi. 6, "Give strong drink to him that is ready to perish, and wine to those that be of heavy hearts." We are also told that the wine and frankincense employed on such occasions were furnished by the charity of the women of Jerusalem; but if neglected by them, it was provided at the charge of the congregation. This potion was refused by our Saviour, obviously because He desired no such mitigation of his sufferings, and eschewed the disturbance of mind through which that mitigation was to be obtained.
40. "As the manner of the Jews is to bury."-It does not appear to have been at any time customary for the Jews to embowel and embalm their dead, in the effective style of the Egyptians. Yet it appears, from the present instance. they made large use of spices and perfumes. The manner of the Jews to bury, as here indicated, appears to have been, to wrap up the spices with the cloths in which the body was enfolded. That this was the manner of the Jews to bury. by no means implies that all Jews were buried in this manner. No doubt, the great mass of the dead were deposited in the sepulchres without any, or with very little, application of aromatics. It is sufficient to establish a practice as a custom, when all follow it who possess the requisite means, although, from the want of such means, it may not be fol
lowed by the mass of the people. Among those who did something of the kind, there was also considerable difference, according to their wealth and consequence. The most common way was to anoint the body with a solution of odoriferous drugs, and wrap it in linen. But, by persons in affluent circumstances, spices were used in great abundance. Among those of more ample means, not only was the body carefully rubbed with aromatic compositions, but large quantities of odoriferous drugs were used, in which they wrapped and with which they surrounded the corpse. Joseph and Nicodemus, being persons of substance, aud desiring to render all possible honour to Christ. used a very large quantity of spices-so large as to have furnished a ground of objection to some captious writers, who did not consider that, as appears from Josephus (Antiq.' l. xv. 3.), the larger the quantity of spices used at the interment, the greater was deemed the honour done to the deceased: and this consideration would, necessarily, often occasion the use of a far greater quantity of aromatics than was strictly necessary.
The precise object which the Jews had in view, in bestowing costly spices and aromatic drugs upon the dead, does nowhere appear very clearly. Some think that it was, in order that they might, to a certain extent, imbibe and absorb the humours of the body, and thus, as well as by their inherent virtues, preserve it as long as possible from putrefaction and decay. It is probable that, to some extent, this effect might be produced by such external application of pungent spices and aromatics; but we question whether the primary object may not rather have been, to overpower, by strong perfumes, the disagreeable effects arising from advancing corruption. As the deceased were deposited, without coffins, in recesses or on ledges in the sepulchre, these effects must soon become so strong that no one could enter the sepulchral cave but for such counteraction. As the sepulchres of the Jews were often family sepulchres, which it was necessary to re-open whenever new death occurred, the more weight is due to this consideration, as influencing the rigin of the practice; although perhaps this consideration was not much adverted to, after the practice had become established as a mode of rendering honour to the dead.
41. "A new sepulchre."-At the end of Mark, we have given an exterior view of that which is called the Sepulchre of Christ, at Jerusalem; we have now the satisfaction of introducing an interior view of the same (see preceding page). For such a description as will render the details intelligible, we may refer to the note which accompanies the former engraving. We also take the opportunity of introducing such a view of the interior of an ancient "sepulchre, hewn in the rock." as will afford a satisfactory illustration of the details and explanations which we have, on different occasions, supplied.
Mary cometh to the sepulchre: 3 so do Peter and
Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the 'other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre,
THE 'first day of the week cometh Mary and we know not where they have laid him.
1 Matt. 28. 1. Mark 16. 1.
Chap 13 23, and 21. 20.