Matthew 27:35
And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
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(35) They crucified him.—The cross employed in capital punishment varied in its form, being sometimes simply a stake on which the sufferer was impaled, sometimes consisting of two pieces of timber put together in the form of a T or an X (as in what we know as the St. Andrew’s cross); sometimes in that familiar to us in Christian art as the Latin cross. In this instance, the fact that the title or superscription was placed over our Lord’s head, implies that the last was the kind of cross employed. In carrying the sentence of crucifixion into effect, the cross was laid on the ground, the condemned man stripped and laid upon it. Sometimes he was simply tied; sometimes, as here, nails driven through the hands and feet; sometimes a projecting ledge was put for the feet to rest on; sometimes the whole weight of the body hung upon the limbs that were thus secured. The clothes of the criminal were the usual perquisites of the executioners, and in this case included (as we find from John 19:23) the tunic worn next the body as well as the outer garment. It was as the soldiers were thus nailing Him to the cross that He prayed, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34).

They parted my garments among them.—St. John (John 19:24) emphatically records a yet more literal fulfilment of the words than that noted by St. Matthew. The thoughts of both disciples, we may believe, were turned to Psalm 22:18 by our Lord’s utterance of its opening words (Matthew 27:46), and thus led to dwell on the manifold coincidences of its language with the facts of the Passion.

Matthew 27:35-36. And they crucified him — The person crucified was nailed to the cross as it lay on the ground, through each hand, extended to the utmost stretch, and through both the feet together. Then the cross was raised up, and the foot of it thrust with a violent shock into a hole in the ground prepared for it. This shock disjointed the body, whose whole weight hung upon the nails, till the person expired through mere dint of pain. This kind of death was used only by the Romans, and by them inflicted only on slaves and the vilest criminals. With regard to Jesus, therefore, as soon as he refused the liquor offered him, the soldiers, according to custom, stripped him quite naked, and in that condition began to fasten him to the tree. But while they were piercing his hands and his feet with the nails, instead of crying out through the acuteness of his pain according to Luke 23:34, he calmly, though fervently prayed for them, and for all who had any hand in his death, beseeching God to forgive them, and excusing them by the only circumstance that could alleviate their guilt — their ignorance. Saying, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. This was infinite meekness and goodness, truly worthy of God’s only-begotten Son; an example of forgiveness which, though it never can be equalled by any, is fit to be imitated by all. Dr. Heylin (Theolog. Lect, p. 103) has well described our Lord’s passion, as follows: “The appointed soldiers dig the hole in which the cross was to be erected. The nails and the hammer are ready. The cross is placed on the ground, and Jesus lies down upon the bed of sorrows. They nail him to it. They erect it. His nerves crack. His blood distils. He hangs upon his wounds,” naked, “a spectacle to heaven and earth.” Thus was the only-begotten Son of God, who came down to save the world, crucified by his own creatures! Hear, O heavens!

O earth, earth, earth, hear! The Lord hath nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against him!

And parted his garments, casting lots — When the soldiers had nailed his naked body to the cross, and raised him up upon it, they divided his garments into four parts, John 19:23, and cast lots for the shares. This was according to the Roman custom; among whom soldiers performed the office of executioners, and divided among them the spoils of the criminals. His coat was excepted out of this division, because, as it was without seam, they agreed to cast lots for it by itself. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, &c. — This clause, though wanting in many valuable copies of this gospel, and in several early versions, is, however, found in the parallel place of John’s gospel, to the text of which it unquestionably belongs, not being omitted by one MS. or version, or ancient commentator. As it was a practice with some transcribers to correct, and, as they imagined, improve one gospel by another, Dr. Campbell thinks it probable, that it was at first copied by some one out of John’s gospel, and inserted in this. The prophet here referred to is David, who, Psalms 22., foretold this, and several other circumstances of the Messiah’s sufferings, upward of a thousand years before they took place. And sitting down, they watched him — The Romans used also to appoint a guard to stay by the crucified persons, that none might come and take them away. And the chief priests, doubtless, would take care that this guard was set, lest any of the people, of whom they were still jealous, should rise and rescue Jesus. But Providence so ordered it, that those who were appointed to watch him, became thereby unexceptionable witnesses for him; having the opportunity to see and hear those things which extorted from them that noble confession, Matthew 27:54, Truly this was the Son of God.

27:35-44 It was usual to put shame upon malefactors, by a writing to notify the crime for which they suffered. So they set up one over Christ's head. This they designed for his reproach, but God so overruled it, that even his accusation was to his honour. There were crucified with him at the same time, two robbers. He was, at his death, numbered among the transgressors, that we, at our death, might be numbered among the saints. The taunts and jeers he received are here recorded. The enemies of Christ labour to make others believe that of religion and of the people of God, which they themselves know to be false. The chief priests and scribes, and the elders, upbraid Jesus with being the King of Israel. Many people could like the King of Israel well enough, if he would but come down from the cross; if they could but have his kingdom without the tribulation through which they must enter into it. But if no cross, then no Christ, no crown. Those that would reign with him, must be willing to suffer with him. Thus our Lord Jesus, having undertaken to satisfy the justice of God, did it, by submitting to the punishment of the worst of men. And in every minute particular recorded about the sufferings of Christ, we find some prediction in the Prophets or the Psalms fulfilled.And they crucified him - To "crucify" means to put to death on a cross. The "cross" has been described at Matthew 27:32. The usual manner of the crucifixion was as follows: After the criminal had carried the cross, attended with every possible gibe and insult, to the place of execution, a hole was dug in the earth to receive the foot of it. The cross was laid on the ground; the person condemned to suffer was stripped and was extended on it, and the soldiers fastened the hands and feet either by nails or thongs. After they had driven the nails deeply in the wood, they elevated the cross with the agonizing sufferer on it, and, in order to fix it more firmly in the earth, they let it fall violently into the hole which they had dug to receive it. This sudden fall gave to the person that was nailed to it a violent and convulsive shock, and greatly increased his sufferings. The crucified person was then suffered to hang, commonly, until pain, exhaustion, thirst, and hunger ended his life. Sometimes the sufferings continued for days; and when friendly death terminated the life, the body was often suffered to remain - a loathsome object, putrefying in the sun or devoured by birds.

This punishment was deemed the most disgraceful and ignominious that was practiced among the Romans. It was the way in which slaves, robbers, and the most notorious and abandoned wretches were commonly put to death. It was this, among other things, that exposed those who preached the gospel to so much shame and contempt among the Greeks and Romans. They despised everything that was connected with the death of one who had been put to death as a slave and an outlaw.

Since it was the most ignominious punishment known, so it was the most painful. The following circumstances made it a death of special pain:

1. The position of the arms and the body was unnatural, the arms being extended back and almost immovable. The least motion gave violent pain in the hands and feet, and in the back, which was lacerated with stripes.

2. The nails, being driven through the parts of the hands and feet which abound with "nerves," created the most exquisite anguish.

3. The exposure of so many wounds to the air brought on a violent inflammation, which greatly increased the poignancy of the suffering.

4. The free circulation of the blood was prevented. More blood was carried out in the arteries than could be returned by the veins. The consequence was, that there was a great increase of blood in the veins of the head, producing an intense pressure and violent pain. The same was true of other parts of the body. This intense pressure in the blood-vessels was the source of inexpressible misery.

5. The pain gradually increased. There was no relaxation and no rest. There was no prospect but death. The sufferer was commonly able to endure it until the third, and sometimes even to the seventh day. The intense sufferings of the Saviour, however, were sooner terminated. This was caused, perhaps, in some measure, by his previous fatigue and exhaustion, but still more by the intense sufferings of his soul in bearing our griefs and carrying our sorrows in making an atonement for the sins of the world.

And parted his garments - It was customary to crucify a person naked. The clothes of the sufferer belonged to those who were executioners. John says (John 19:23) that they divided his garments into four parts, to each soldier a part, but for his coat they cast lots. See the notes at the place. When Matthew says, therefore, that they parted his garments, casting lots, it is to be understood that they "divided" one part of them, and for the other part of them they cast lots.

That it might be fulfilled ... - The words here quoted are found in Psalm 22:18. The whole psalm is usually referred to Christ, and is a most striking description of his sufferings and death.

Mt 27:34-50. Crucifixion and Death of the Lord Jesus. ( = Mr 15:25-37; Lu 23:33-46; Joh 19:18-30).

For the exposition, see on [1375]Joh 19:18-30.

See Poole on "Matthew 27:37".

And they crucified him,.... That is, the soldiers: they laid the cross upon the ground, and stretched Christ upon it; they extended his two arms as far as they could, to the transverse part of it, and nailed his hands unto it: his two feet they fixed by each other on a basis, in the body of the cross, through which they also drove nails; and then raising it up, fixed it in the earth, and left him hanging on it till he expired. This death was not only painful and cruel, but exceedingly shameful and ignominious: it was what was inflicted on the meanest of persons, as servants, whose form Christ had taken; and upon the worst of men, as murderers, cut-throats, thieves, and the vilest of men (r) among whom Christ was now numbered:

and parted his garments, casting lots: for they stripped him of his clothes before they fixed him to the cross, and crucified him naked, as was the custom of the Romans (s); as it was of the Jews to stone and hang persons naked: their canons run thus (t),

"when he is four cubits off of the place of stoning, they strip off his garments; a man they cover before, a woman both behind and before; the words of Judah: but the wise men say, a man is stoned naked, and a woman is not stoned naked: a man, they hang him with his face to the people; a woman, with her face to the tree. R. Eliezer, and the wise men say, a man is hanged, but a woman is not hanged.

On which the Gemara (u) says,

"what is the sense of the Rabbins? the Scripture says, "thou shalt hang him"; him, and not her: and, says R. Eliezer, him, , "without his clothes".

So our Lord was crucified; his clothes were a perquisite of the soldiers; there were four of them, as we learn from John 19:23, and they parted them into four parts, and then cast lots whose each part should be; or rather, they divided his garments into four parts, and each took his part; but his vesture, or coat, being seamless, and woven from top to bottom, they did not choose to tear it into pieces, but cast lots for it, who should have it:

that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, by David, in Psalm 22:18,

they parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. All this, Beza says, is not in any of the ancient copies; nor is it in the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions, but stands in the Vulgate Latin, and in Munster's Hebrew Gospel,

See Gill on John 19:24.

(r) Lipsius de Cruce, l. 1. c. 12. & 13. (s) Lipsius de Cruce, l. 2. c. 7. (t) Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 6. sect. 3, 4. (u) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 46. 1.

{8} And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

(8) He is made a curse, so that in him we may be blessed: his garments are taken from him so that we might be enriched by his nakedness.

Matthew 27:35 Σταυρώσαντες] The cross consisted of the upright post and the horizontal beam (called by Justin and Tertullian: antenna), the former usually projecting some distance beyond the latter (as was also the case, according to the tradition of the early church, with the cross of Jesus, see Friedlieb, p. 130 ff.; Langen, p. 321 ff.). As a rule, it was first of all set up, and then the person to be crucified was hoisted on to it with his body resting upon a peg (πῆγμα) that passed between his legs (ἐφʼ ᾧ ἐποχοῦνται οἱ σταυρούμενοι, Justin, c. Tryph. 91; Iren. Haer. ii. 24. 4), after which the hands were nailed to the cross-beam. Paulus (see his Komment., exeg. Handb., and Skizzen aus m. Bildungsgesch. 1839, p. 146 ff.), following Clericus on John 20:27 and Dathe on Psalm 22:7, firmly maintains that the feet were not nailed as well;[37] an opinion which is likewise held more or less decidedly by Lücke, Fritzsche, Ammon, Baumgarten-Crusius, Winer, de pedum in cruce affixione, 1845; Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 447. In answer to Paulus, see Hug in the Freib. Zeitschr. III. p. 167 ff., and V. p. 102 ff., VII. p. 153 ff.; Gutacht. II. p. 174; and especially Bähr in Heydenreich and Hüffell’s Zeitschr. 1830, 2, p. 308 ff., and in Tholuck’s liter. Anz. 1835, Nos. 1–6. For the history of this dispute, see Tholuck’s liter. Anz. 1834, Nos. 53–55, and Langen, p. 312 ff. That the feet were usually nailed, and that the case of Jesus was no exception to the general rule, may be regarded as beyond doubt, and that for the following reasons: (1) Because nothing can be more evident than that Plautus, Mostell. ii. 1. 13 (“ego dabo ei talentum, primus qui in crucem excucurrerit, sed ea lege, ut offigantur bis pedes, bis brachia”), presupposes that to nail the feet as well as the hands was the ordinary practice, and that he intends the bis to point to something of an exceptional character; (2) because Justin, c. Tryph. 97, expressly maintains (comp. Apol. I. 35), and that in a polemical treatise, at a time when crucifixion was still in vogue, that the feet of Jesus were pierced with nails, and treats the circumstance as a fulfilment of Psalm 22:17, without the slightest hint that in this there was any departure from the usual custom; (3) because Tertullian (c. Marc. iii. 19), in whose day also crucifixion was universally practised (Constantine having been the first to abolish it), agrees with Justin in seeing Psalm 22:17 verified in Christ, and would hardly have said, with reference to the piercing of our Lord’s hands and feet: “quae proprie atrocitas crucis est” unless it had been generally understood that the feet were nailed as well; (4) because Lucian, Prometh. 2 (where, moreover, it is not crucifying in the proper sense of the word that is alluded to), and Lucan, Phars. vi. 547 (“insertum manibus chalybem”), furnish nothing but arguments a silentio, which have the less weight that these passages do not pretend to give a full account of the matter; (5) because we nowhere find in ancient literature any distinct mention of a case in which the feet hung loose or were merely tied to the cross, for Xen. Ephesians 4:2 merely informs us that the binding of the hands and the feet was a practice peculiar to the Egyptians; (6) and lastly, because in Luke 24:39 f. itself the piercing of the feet is taken for granted, for only by means of the pierced hands and feet was Christ to be identified (His corporeality was also to be proved, but that was to be done by the handling which followed). It is probable that each foot was nailed separately.[38] The most plausible arguments in addition to the above against the view that the feet were nailed are: (1) what is said in John 20:25 (see Lücke, II. p. 798), where, however, the absence of any mention of the feet on the part of Thomas entirely accord with is natural sense of propriety. He assumes the Lord, who had been seen by his fellow-disciples, to be standing before him; and so, with a view to identification, he wishes to feel the prints of the nails in his hands and the wound in His side, those being the marks that could then be most conveniently got at; and that is enough. To have stooped down to examine the feet as well would have been going rather far, would have seemed somewhat indecent, somewhat undignified, nay, we should say that the introduction of such a feature into the narrative would have had an apocryphal air; (2) the fact that while Socrates, H. E. i. 17, speaks of the Empress Helena, who found the cross, as having also discovered τους ἥλους οἳ ταῖς χερσὶ τοῦ Χριστοῦ κατὰ τὸν σταυρὸν ἐνεπάγησαν, he makes no mention of the nails for the feet. But, according to the context, the nails for the hands are to be understood as forming merely a part of what was discovered along with the cross, as forming a portion, that is, of what the empress gave as a present to her son. This passage, however, has all the less force as an argument against the supposition that the feet were nailed, that Ambrose, Or. de obitu Theodos. § 47, while also stating that two nails belonging to the cross that was discovered were presented to Constantine, clearly indicates at the same time that they were the nails for the feet (“ferro pedum”). It would appear, then, that two nails were presented to Constantine, but opinion was divided as to whether they were those for the feet or those for the hands, there being also a third view, to the effect that the two pairs were presented together (Rufinus, H. E. ii. 8; Theodoret, H. E. i. 17). This diversity of opinion bears, however, a united testimony, not against, but in favour of the practice of nailing the feet, and that a testimony belonging to a time when there were many still living who had a vivid recollection of the days when crucifixion was quite common.

διεμερίσαντο τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ] The criminal when affixed to the cross was absolutely naked (Artemid. ii. 58; Lipsius, de cruce, ii. 7), and his clothes fell, as a perquisite, to the executioners (Wetstein on our passage). The supposition that there was a cloth for covering the loins has at least no early testimony to support it. See Thilo, ad Evang. Nicod. x. p. 582 f.

βάλλοντες κλῆρον] more precisely in John 19:23 f. Whether this was done by means of dice or by putting the lots into something or other (a helmet) and then shaking them out (comp. on Acts 1:26), it is impossible to say.

[37] This question possesses an interest not merely antiquarian; it is of essential importance in enabling us to judge of the view held by Dr. Paulus, that the death of Jesus was only apparent and not real.

[38] This view is borne out not only by the simple fact that it would be somewhat impracticable to pierce both the feet when lying one above the other (as they usually appear in pictures, and as they are already represented by Nonnus, John 20:19), because in order to secure the necessary firmness, the nail would require to be so long and thick that there would be a danger of dislocating, if not of shattering the feet, but it is still further confirmed by the ancient tradition respecting the two pairs of nails that were used to fasten Jesus to the cross. See below under No. 2. And how is it possible to understand aright what Plautus says about feet twice-nailed, if we are to conceive of them as lying one upon the other! Probably they were placed alongside of each other, and then nailed with the soles flat upon the upright beam of the cross. A board for the feet (suppedaneum) was not used, being unnecessary.

Matthew 27:35. σταυρώσαντες (from σταυρόω, to drive stakes; in later Greek, and in N. T., to impale on a stake, σταυρός). All the evangelists touch lightly the fact of crucifixion, hurrying over the painful subject as quickly as possible; Mt., most of all, disposing of it in a participial clause. Many questions on which there has been much discussion suggest themselves, e.g., as to the structure and form of the cross: did it consist of an upright beam (palus, stipes) and a cross beam (patibulum, antenna), or of the former only, the hands being nailed to the beam above the head? (so Fulda, Das Kreuz und die Kreuzigung, 1878). Was Christ’s cross a crux commissa (T) or a crux immissa (†)? Or is this distinction a purely imaginary one, as Fulda (p. 126) maintains against Justus Lipsius, till Fulda the great authority on the subject of crucifixion? The work of the more recent writer should certainly be consulted before coming to a final decision on the form of the cross or the method of crucifixion. Another question is, what did Jesus carry to the place of execution: the upright post or the cross beam? (the latter according to Marquhardt, Röm. Alter. vii. 1, 1). And how was His body fixed to the cross: were the feet, e.g., nailed as well as the hands, or only tied to the beam with a rope or with wands or left free? The passages cited from ancient authors bearing on the subject, Artemidorus, Plautus, Seneca, are diversely interpreted, and the practice does not seem to have been invariable. Crucifixion was at best a rude mode of executing justice, and, especially in time of war, seems to have been performed by soldiers in diverse fashions, according to their whim (ἄλλον ἄλλῳ σχήματι πρὸς χλεύην, Joseph., Matthew 27:11; Matthew 27:1; plates showing various forms in Fulda). Still there would be a normal mode, and in the case of Jesus, when only one or two were put to death, it would probably be followed. His cross has generally been supposed to have been a crux immissa, with the accusation on the point of the upright post above the cross beam, with a peg whereon to sit. Whether His feet were pierced with nails cannot be certainly determined. Paulus took the negative side in the interest of the hypothesis that Jesus did not really die on the cross; Meyer strongly maintains the contrary, vide ad loc. The fragment of the Gospel of Peter speaks of nails in the hands only: “then they drew the nails from the hands of the Lord”. Fulda takes the same view, representing the hands as nailed, the feet as tied to the beam.—τὰ ἱμάτια: the probability is that Jesus had been stript absolutely naked (γυμνοὶ σταυροῦνται, Artemid., Oneirocritica, ii. 58). On the dividing of the garments vide John 19:23 f. The prophetic reference ἵνα πληρωθῇ in T. R. has little authority, and seems inserted from John 19:24, by a scribe who thought it what the first evangelist should say. This is a second instance where a chance of prophetic citation is not taken advantage of.

35. they crucified him] From the fact of the titulus or inscription being placed over the Saviour’s head, it is inferred that the cross on which He suffered was such as is usually shewn in pictures, the crux immissa (†) or Latin cross as distinguished from the crux commissa (T) or the crux decussata (×) the form of cross on which St Andrew is said to have suffered. The height was from 9 to 12 feet; at a short distance from the ground a projecting rest supported the sufferer’s feet, which, as well as the hands, were nailed to the cross.

According to St Mark (Mark 15:25) the Crucifixion took place at the third hour—nine o’clock. St John (John 19:14) says it was about the sixth hour when Pilate delivered Jesus to be crucified.

This discrepancy has received no entirely satisfactory solution. It has however been suggested that St John, writing at a later period and in a different part of the world, may have followed a different mode of reckoning time.

parted his garments, casting lots] St John describes the division more accurately; they divided His himatia, or outer garments, but cast lots for the seamless chiton, or tunic. The latter is said to have been a dress peculiar to Galilæan peasants.

The Greek of the quotation from Psalm 22:18 (see below) does not convey the same distinction.

They parted my garments among them, &c.] Psalm 22:18. The same psalm is quoted Matthew 27:39; Matthew 27:43; Matthew 27:46. It is not a psalm of David, but was probably “composed by one of the exiles during the Babylonish captivity … who would cling to the thought that he suffered not only as an individual, but as one of the chosen of God. But it has more than an individual reference. It looks forward to Christ.” Canon Perowne on Psalms 22. The leading MSS. omit this quotation, which has probably been inserted from Mark.

Verse 35. - They crucified him. We should try to realize the utter degradation as well as the anguish of such a death. No modern form of punishment carries with it the abhorred ignominy with which crucifixion was regarded, and we must put ourselves back eighteen centuries, and enter into the feelings of Jews and Romans, if we would view it in its genuine aspect. The narrative of this harrowing scene could not be simpler. The writer leaves it reverently to speak for itself, without any attempt at sensational adjuncts or rhetorical amplification. There is no indignation at the outrage, no compassion for the Sufferer, no commendation of the Divine patience. These are suppressed, because they needed no words; the unvarnished details are more than sufficient to place the reader by the Saviour's side, and make him feel every pang, sympathize with the grief, the shame, the horror, that rent the heart of Jesus. The sacred authors have said little about the mode of crucifixion, and have left untold many particulars which we should have liked to hear. This horrid punishment was too well known at that time to need description, and they saw no necessity for dwelling on its revolting details. (For some of these, see on ver. 32.) Whether in the present case the upright beam of the cross was fixed in its position before the Prisoner was fastened to it, or whether it was laid flat on the ground, set in order, and the Sufferer was nailed thereto before it was raised and settled in its place, we are not informed. The former was the method commonly employed. To carry out the execution a quaternion of soldiers (Acts 12:4) was appointed under the command of a centurion (ver. 54) Parted his garments, casting lots. The clothes of criminals were the perquisite of the soldiers charged with the execution. They divided these amongst the four, casting lots to determine what each should take. Further details are supplied by St. John (John 19:23, 24). That it might be fulfilled...they cast lots. These words are retained in the Clementine Vulgate and a few cursives, but omitted by the best uncials and most other manuscripts. Modern editors almost universally have rejected them as an interpolation from the parallel passage in St. John. There can be no doubt, however, that, whether genuine or not in this place, they represent the truth. The soldiers' act did fulfil in marvellous fashion the psalmist's enunciation (Psalm 22:18), where the stripping of the Lord's Anointed and the disposal of his raiment are prophetically stated. Matthew 27:35
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