Matthew 27:32
And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(32) They found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name.—There seems at that time to have been a flourishing settlement of Jews in Cyrene, and members of that community appear as prominent in the crowd of the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10), among the disputants who opposed Stephen (Acts 6:9), and among the active preachers of the Word (Acts 11:20). Why, we ask, out of the whole crowd that was streaming to and fro, on the way to the place of execution, did the multitude seize on him? St. Mark’s mention of him as the father of Alexander and Rufus (see Note on Mark 15:21), suggests the thought that his sons were afterwards prominent as members of the Christian community. May we not infer that he was suspected even then of being a secret disciple, and that this led the people to seize on him, and make him a sharer in the humiliation of his Master? He was coming, St. Mark adds, “out of the country.”

Him they compelled.—The word is the technical term for forced service (see Note on Matthew 5:41). The act implied that our Lord was sinking beneath the burden, and that the soldiers began to fear that He might die before they reached the place of execution.

27:31-34 Christ was led as a Lamb to the slaughter, as a Sacrifice to the altar. Even the mercies of the wicked are really cruel. Taking the cross from him, they compelled one Simon to bear it. Make us ready, O Lord, to bear the cross thou hast appointed us, and daily to take it up with cheerfulness, following thee. Was ever sorrow like unto his sorrow? And when we behold what manner of death he died, let us in that behold with what manner of love he loved us. As if death, so painful a death, were not enough, they added to its bitterness and terror in several ways.As they came out - That is, either out of the governor's palace where he had been treated with such cruelty and contempt, or out of the gates of the city, to crucify him.

A man of Cyrene - Cyrene was a city of Libya, in Africa, lying west of Egypt. There were many Jews there, and they were in the habit, like others, of going frequently to Jerusalem.

Him they compelled go bear his cross - John says John 19:17 that Jesus went forth "bearing his cross." Luke says Luke 23:26 that they laid the cross on Simon, that he might bear it after Jesus. There is no contradiction in these accounts. It was a part of the usual punishment of those who were crucified that they should bear their own cross to the place of execution. Accordingly, it was laid at first on Jesus, and he went forth, as John says, bearing it. Weak, however, and exhausted by suffering and watchfulness, he probably sunk under the heavy burden, and they laid hold of Simon that he might bear "one end" of the cross, as Luke says, "after Jesus." The cross was composed of two pieces of wood, one of which was placed upright in the earth, and the other crossed it after the form of the figure of a cross. The upright part was commonly so high that the feet of the person crucified were 2 or 3 feet from the ground.

On the middle of that upright part there was usually a projection or seat on which the person crucified sat, or, as it were, "rode." This was necessary, as the hands were not alone strong enough to bear the weight of the body; as the body was left exposed often many days, and not unfrequently suffered to remain till the flesh had been devoured by vultures or putrefied in the sun. The feet were fastened to this upright piece either by nailing them with large spikes driven through the tender part, or by being lashed by cords. To the cross-piece at the top, the hands, being extended, were also fastened, either by spikes or by cords, or perhaps, in some cases, by both. The hands and feet of our Saviour were both fastened by spikes. Crosses were also sometimes made in the form of the letter X, the limbs of the person crucified being extended to the four parts, and he suffered to die a lingering death in this cruel manner. The cross used in the Crucifixion of Christ appears to have been the former. The mention of the cross often occurs in the New Testament. It was the instrument on which the Saviour made atonement for the sins of the world. The whole of the Christian's hope of heaven, and all his peace and consolation in trial and in death, depend on the sacrifice there made for sin, and on just views and feelings in regard to the fact and the design of the Redeemer's death. See the notes at John 21:18.

Mt 27:27-33. Jesus Scornfully and Cruelly Entreated of the Soldiers, Is Led Away to Be Crucified. ( = Mr 15:16-22; Lu 23:26-31; Joh 19:2, 17).

For the exposition, see on [1374]Mr 15:16-22.

See Poole on "Matthew 27:34". And as they came out,.... Of the city; for no execution was made, neither in the court of judicature, nor in the city, but at some distance; as it was at stoning, so at crucifixion (h):

"when judgment was finished, they brought him out to be stoned; the place of stoning was without the sanhedrim, as it is said, Leviticus 24:14, "bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp".

Upon which the gloss and Gemara say (i), without the three camps; which were these, the court which was the camp of the Shekinah; or the divine presence; and the mountain of the house, the camp of the Levites; and the city, the camp of Israel; so that he that was executed, was had without the city. Maimonides (k) says,

"the place in which the sanhedrim executed, was without it, and at a distance from it, as it is said, Leviticus 24:14, and it appears to me, that it was about six miles distant; for so far it was between the sanhedrim of Moses our master, which was before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the camp of Israel.

So Jesus went without the camp, and suffered without the gate, as the antitype of the red heifer; see Numbers 19:3, compared with Hebrews 13:11, and the notes there,

They found a man of Cyrene: a place in Libya, and one of the five cities called Pentapolis: which were these, Berenice, Arsinoe, Ptolemais, Apollonia, and Cyrene (l); Kir in Amos 1:5 is rendered by the Targum, "Cyrene", as it is also by the Vulgate Latin. There were many Jews dwelt here, as appears from Acts 2:10, as this man was a Jew, as his name shows; and besides, there was a synagogue of the Cyrenian Jews at Jerusalem, Acts 6:9, so that though he was a native of Cyrene, he might now dwell there, and some of these were converted to the faith of Christ; for of those that were scattered abroad at the death of Stephen, some were men of Cyrene, Acts 11:19. And it is very likely, that this man was a favourer of Christ, which might be one reason why they laid hold on him, and obliged him to bear the cross of Christ; since he was the father of Alexander and Rufus, who were men of note among the first Christians:

Simon by name; of which name was one of the apostles, and a common name among the Jews, and signifies hearkening and obedient: and none are fit to bear, or will bear the cross of Christ, but such who hearken to his voice, and are obedient to him, being made willing in the day of his power:

him they compelled to bear his cross; which they did, not out of good will to Christ, but fearing lest through his faintness and weakness, he should, die before he got to the place of execution, and they be disappointed of their end, the crucifixion of him; or because they were in haste to have him executed, and he was not able to go so fast as they desired; for when they, first came out, the cross was laid upon Christ, and he bore it, as John relates; but he being weak and ready to faint under it, and not able to go the pace they would have him, and meeting with this man, they press him to bear it after him: which he might be unwilling to do, partly because it was scandalous and ignominious; and partly, because if a favourer of Jesus, he did not choose to be any ways accessary to his death: but he was obliged to it; and it may be observed from hence, that taking up the cross and following Christ, is disagreeable to flesh and blood: though the spirit may be willing, the flesh recoils; none care for it, or choose to bear it, unless constrained to it,

(h) Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 6. sect. 1.((i) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 42. 2.((k) Hilch. Sanhedrin, c. 12. sect. 3.((l) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 5.

And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they {m} compelled to bear his cross.

(m) They compelled Simon to bear his burdensome cross, by which it appears that Jesus was so poorly handled before that he fainted along the way, and was not able to bear his cross the whole distance: for John writes that he did bear the cross, that is, at the beginning.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 27:32 Ἐξερχόμενοι] because the law required that all executions should take place outside the city. Numbers 15:35 f.; 1 Kings 11:13; Acts 7:58; Lightfoot and Grotius on our passage.

On the question as to whether this Simon of Cyrene, a place in Libya Pentapolitana, thickly peopled with Jews, resided statedly in Jerusalem (Acts 6:9), or was only there on a visit (Acts 2:10), see below. It was usual to compel the person who was to be executed to carry his own cross (see on Matthew 10:38, and Keim, p. 397 f.);[34] to this the case of Jesus was no exception, John 19:17. This statement of John does not exclude what is here said with regard to Simon and the cross, nor does it pretend to deny it (Keim), but it simply passes it over in silence, recording merely the main point in question,—the fact, namely, that Jesus had to carry His own cross (though there is nothing to prevent the supposition that He may have broken down under the burden before reaching the scene of the crucifixion).

That with such a large crowd following (Luke 23:27) they should notwithstanding compel a foreigner who happened to be going toward the city (Mark, Luke) to carry the cross the rest of the way, is a circumstance sufficiently accounted for by the infamy that attached to that odious thing. Possibly Simon was a slave. To suppose that he was one of Jesus’ followers, and that for this reason he had been pressed into the service (Grotius, Kuinoel), is altogether arbitrary, for, according to the text, the determining circumstance lies in the fact that he was ἄνθρωπον Κυρηναῖον. A foreigner coming from Cyrene would not be considered too respectable a person to be employed in such degrading work. That Simon, however, became a Christian, and that perhaps in consequence of his thus carrying the cross and being present at the crucifixion, is a legitimate inference from Mark 15:21 compared with Romans 16:13.

ἠγγάρ.] See on Matthew 5:41. ἵνα] mentions the object for which this was done.

[34] That is to say, the post, the upright beam of the cross, to which the transverse beam was not attached till the scene of the execution was reached, where the instrument of torture was duly put together and then set up with the criminal nailed to it. Hence (because σταυρός originally meant a, post) we find Greek authors making use of such expressions as σταυρὸν φέρειν, ἐκφέρειν, βαστάζειν, λαμβάνειν, αἴρειν, comp. σταυροφορεῖν; Latin writers, however, with rather more regard for precision, distinguish between the upright beam which the criminal was called upon to carry, and the crux as it appeared when completed and set up at the place of execution. The upright beam which the cruciarius was compelled to drag after him was called patibulum; hence we never meet with the phrase crucem ferre, but always patibulum (the upright post) ferre, which patibulum was placed upon the poor criminal’s back, and with his outstretched hands securely tied to it, he had to balance it the best way he could upon his neck and shoulders. It is this distinction between crux and patibulum that enables us adequately to explain the well-known passages of Plautus: “Patibulum ferat per urbem, deinde affigatur cruci” (ap. Non. Marcell. 221), and “Dispensis manibus quom patibulum habebis” (Mil. glor. ii. 4. 7), and similarly with regard to expressions referring to the cross (as completed and set up): in crucem tollere, in crucem agere (Cicero and others), etc.; the comic expression crucisalus (Plaut. Bacch. ii. 3. 128); as also the passage in Tacit. Ann. xiv. 33, where the different modes of punishing by death are enumerated, beginning with those of a general nature and ending with the more specific: “Caedes, patibula (beams for penal purposes generally), ignes, cruces.” From this it is manifest at once that it would be incorrect to suppose, with Keim, that all that Christ had to carry was the cross-beam. Such a view is at variance both with the language of our text: τὸν σταυρὸν αἴρειν, and with the Latin phrase: patibulum ferre. So much is the patibulum regarded as the main portion of the cross, that in poetry it is sometimes used as equivalent to crux, as in Prudent. Peristeph. ix. 641: “Crux illa nostra est, nos patibulum ascendimus.”Matthew 27:32-38. Crucifixion (Mark 15:21-27; Luke 23:26; Luke 23:35-38).—This part of the story begins with the closing words of Matthew 27:31 : “they led Him away to be crucified”.32. a man of Cyrene, Simon by name] (1) “coming out of the country” (Mark and Luke), (2) the father of Alexander and Rufus (Mark).

(1) This has been thought to imply that Simon was returning from work, and hence that it cannot have been the actual day of the Feast. Simon was probably coming into the city for the Paschal sacrifice, the hour for which was close at hand. (2) Rufus is probably the Christian named Romans 16:13, who would be known to St Mark’s readers. May not Simon have been one of those “Men of Cyrene” who preached the Word to Greeks when others preached to the Jews only? (Acts 11:20.) (3) The inference that he was already an adherent of Christ is quite uncertain.

Cyrene] A city in north-eastern Africa, famous for the beauty of its position. A large colony of Jews had settled there, as in other African and Egyptian cities, to avoid the oppression of the Syrian kings.

compelled] See note ch. Matthew 5:41, where the same word is used, and the custom referred to of which this is an instance.Matthew 27:32. Κυρηναῖον, a Cyrenian) There was neither Jew nor Roman who was willing to bear the burden of the cross. Men were present at that time from Europe, Asia, and Africa. Even in the remotest regions Christ has since found those who would bear His cross.—ἵνα ἄρῃ, to bear) Simon is not said to have borne it unwillingly. Well has Athanasius (Book i. fol. 10, 11) said, in his sermon on the Passion, “Simon, a mere man, bore the cross, that all might know that the Lord underwent, not His own death, but that of men.”Verse 32. - As they came out; i.e. from the city gate which led to the place of execution. They found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. He was, as the other synoptists mention, coming out of the country to Jerusalem, where probably he lived. Cyrene was a district in the north of Africa, under Roman rule, and colonized by a large number of Jews (Josephus, 'Cont. Apion.,' 2:4; 'Ant.,' 14:07. 2), who had a synagogue of their own at Jerusalem (Acts 6:9). Simon doubtless became a follower of Christ, and St. Mark mentions his two sons, Alexander and Rufus, as well known believers (see Romans 16:13). Probably the guards saw in him some tokens of sympathy with Christ and compassion for his sufferings; or they used his services simply as being a foreigner, and not likely to resent being put to a task which a Hebrew would deem the lowest degradation. Him they compelled (ἠγγάρευσαν, impressed) to bear his cross. The verb translated "compelled" is derived from the Persian, and implies the compulsory power possessed by couriers of requisitioning horses and carriages in forwarding despatches (see Matthew 5:41). The cross was probably the ordinary Latin cross, crux immissa, of which, however, the lower limb below the transom was longer than the upper; and this latter afforded a place where could be affixed the board containing the inscription. It was not as tall as usually represented; we are told that beasts of prey were able to gnaw the bodies hung thereon. In fact, the culprit's feet were only just raised above the ground, being drawn up till the soles lay flat on the upright beam. Nails were driven through the hands and feet, and the body was supported partly by these, and partly by a projecting pin of wood called the seat. The rest for the feet, often seen in pictures, was never used. A slight covering was allowed for decency's sake, the rest of the body being stripped of clothing; and thus the condemned, exposed to scorching sun, bleeding from the cruel scourge, suffering untold agonies, was left to die. Whether Jesus carried the whole cross or only the transom is uncertain. It is possible that the two were tied together by a rope at one end, so as to form an inverted V, and fastened in the proper position at the place of execution. However this may he, it proved too heavy a burden for him to bear. Spent with his long vigil and lack of food, his spirit afflicted by the agony in the garden and the unknown sufferings then and afterwards, his body tortured with open wounds and weakened with loss of blood, he sank beneath the weight, as he staggered weariedly along the rough and hilly streets, Either from a momentary compunction, or more probably flora impatience at the slowness of the poor Sufferer's movements, the soldiers gladly seized on Simon to relieve the Prisoner of the cross, or to share its weight, and thus enable them sooner to complete their cruel task. Compelled to go (ἠγγάρευσαν)

See on Matthew 5:41. Rev. has impressed in margin.

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