Imatges de pàgina



I. Powers and functions of the Roman Procurators.-H. Political and civil state of the Jews under their administration.—III. .1ccount of Pontius Pilate.—IV..And of the Procurators Felix and Festus.

I. THE Jewish kingdom, which the Romans had created in favour of Herod the Great, was of short duration; expiring on his death, by the divison of his territories, and by the dominions of Archelaus, which comprised Samaria, Judaea, and Idumaa, being reduced to a Roman province annexed to Syria, and governed by the Roman procurators. These officers not only had the charge of collecting the imperial revenues, but also had the power of life and death in capital causes: and on account of their high dignity they are sometimes called governors (Hyspoves). They usually had a council, consisting of their friends and other chief Romans in the province; with whom they conferred on important questions." During the eontinuance of the Roman republic, it was very unusual for the governors of provinces to take their wives with them. Augustus” disapproved of the introduction of this practice, which however was in some instances permitted by Tiberius. Thus Agrippina accompanied Germanicus” into Germany and Asia, and Plancina was with Piso, whose insolence towards Germanicus she contributed to inflame:* and though Caecina Severus afterwards offered a motion to the senate, to prohibit this indulgence, (on account of the serious inconveniences, not to say abuses, that would result from the political influence which the wives might exercise over their husbands,) his motion was rejected,” and they continued to attend the procurators to their respective provinces. This circumstance will account for Pilate's wife being at Jerusalem. (Matt. xxvii. 19.) The procurators of Judaea resided principally at Caesarea,” which was reputed to be the metropolis of that country, and occupied the splendid palace which Herod the Great had erected there. On the great festivals, or when any tumults were apprehended, they repaired to Jerusalem, that, by their presence and influence, they might restore order. For this purpose they were accompanied by cohorts (X-rapa, Acts x. 1.) or bands of soldiers, not legionary cohorts, but distinct 1 Josephus (Ant. Jud. lib. xx. c. 4. § 4. and de Bell. Jud. lib. ii. c. 16, § 1) mentions instances in which the Roman procurators thus took council with their assessors. 2 Suetonius, in Augusto. c. 24. 3 Tacitus, Annal. lib. ii. c. 54, 55. lib. i. c. 40, 41. * Ibid. lib. i. c. 40. 5 Ibid. lib. iii. c. 33,34.

34 * Josephus, Ant. Jud. lib. xviii. c. 3. § 1. lib. xx. c. 5. §4. De Bell. Jud. lib. ii. c. 9. § 2. Tacit. Hist. lib. ii. c. 79.

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companies of military: each of them was about one thousand strong."
Six of these cohorts were constantly garrisoned in Judaea; five at
Casarea, and one at Jerusalem, part of which was quartered in the
tower of Antonio, so as to command the temple, and part in the
pratorium or governor's palace.
These procurators were Romans, sometimes of the equestrian
order, and sometimes freedmen of the emperor: Felix (Acts xxiii.
24–26. xxiv. 3.22–27.) was a freedman of the emperor Claudius,”
with whom he was in high favour. These governors were sent, not
by the senate, but by the Caesars themselves, into those provinces
which were situated on the confines of the empire, and were placed
at the emperor's own disposal. Their duties consisted in collecting
and remitting tribute, in the administration of justice, and the re-
pression of tumults: some of them held independent jurisdictions,
while others were subordinate to the proconsul or governor of the
o province. Thus Judaea was annexed to the province of
yria. - - -
II. The Jews endured their subjection to the Romans with great
reluctance, on account of the tribute which they were obliged to pay:
but in all other respects they enjoyed a large measure of national
liberty. It appears from the whole 'tenor of the New Testament,
(for the particular passages are too numerous to be cited") that they
practised their own religious rites, worshipped in the temple and in
their synagogues, followed their own customs, and lived very much
according to their own laws. Thus they had their high priests, and
council or senate; they inflicted lesser punishments; they could
apprehend men and bring them before the council; and if a guard
of soldiers was necessary, could be assisted by them, on requesting
them of the governor. Further, they could bind men and keep them
in custody; the council could likewise summon witnesses and take
examinations; they could excommunicate persons, and they could
inflict scourging in their synagogues. (Deut. xxv. 3. Matt. x. 17.
Mark xiii. 9.); they enjoyed the privilege of referring litigated ques-
tions to referees, whose decisions in reference to them the Roman
Pretor was bound to see put in execution.” Beyond this, however,
they were not allowed to go; for, when they had any capital offend-
ers, they carried them before the P. who usually paid a
regard to what they stated, and, if they brought evidence of the
fact, pronounced sentence according to their laws. He was the
proper judge in all capital causes; for, after the council of the Jews
had taken under their consideration the case of Jesus Christ, which

| Biscoe on the Acts, ch. ix. § 1. pp. 330–335.

* Suetonius in Claudio, c. xxviii.

*See Dr. Lardner's Credibility, part i. book ii, c. ii. where the various passages are adduced and fully ...

* Cod, lib. i. tit. 9.1. 8. de Judaeis-As the Christians were at first regarded as ...sect of the Jews (Acts xxviii.24), they likewise enjoyed the same privilege, This circumstance will account for Saint Paul's blaming the Corinthian Christians or carrying their causes before the Roman prietor, instead of leaving them to Referees chosen from among their brethren. (I Cor. vi. 1–7.)

they pretended was of this kind, they went with it immediately to the governor, who re-examined it and pronounced sentence. That they had not the power of life and death is evident from Pilate's anting to them the privilege of judging, but not of condemning esus Christ, and also from their acknowledgment to Pilate—It is not lawful for us to put any man to death (John xviii. 31.); and likewise from the power vested in Pilate of releasing a condemned criminal to them at the passover (John xviii. 39, 40.), which he could not have done if he had not had the power of life and death, as well as from his own declaration that he had power to crucify and power to release Jesus Christ." (John xix. 10.) III. Of the various procurators that governed Judaea under the Romans, Pontius PiLATE is the best known, and most frequently mentioned in the sacred writings. He is supposed to have been a native of Italy, and was sent to govern Judaea about the year A. D. 26 or 27. Pilate is characterised by Josephus as an unjust and cruel governor, sanguinary, obstinate, and impetuous; who disturbed the tranquillity of Judaea by persisting in carrying into Jerusalem the effigies of Tiberius Caesar that were upon the Roman ensigns, and by other acts of oppression, which produced tumults among the Jews.” Dreading the extreme jealousy and suspicion of Tiberius he delivered up the Redeemer to be crucified, contrary to the conviction of his better judgment; and in the vain hope of conciliating the Jews whom he had oppressed. After he had held his office for ten years, having caused a number of innocent Samaritans to be put to death, that injured people sent an embassy to Vitellius, proconsul of Syria; by whom he was ordered to Rome, to give an account of his maladministration to the emperor. But Tiberius being dead before he arrived there, his successor Caligula banished him to Gaul, where he is said to have committed suicide, about the year of Christ 41.3 IV. On the death of king Herod Agrippa, Judaea being again reduced to a Roman province, the government of it was confided to ANToNIUs FELIX; who had originally been the slave, then the freedman of Nero, and, through the influence of his brother Pallas, 1 The celebrated Roman jurist, Ulpian, states that the governors of the Roman provinces had the right of the sword; which implied the authority of punishing malefactors —an authority which was personal, and not to be transferred. )Lib. vi. c. 8. de Officio Proconsulis.) And Josephus states (de Bell. Jud. lib. ii. c. 8. s. 1.) that Coponius, who was sent to govern Judaea as a province after the banishment of Archelaus, was invested by Augustus with the power of life and death. (Dr. Gray's Connexion of Sacred and Profane Literature, vol. i. p. 273. See also Dr. Lardner's Credibility, c. ii. § 6.) The case of the Jews stoning . (Acts vii. 56, 57.) has been urged by some learned men as a proof that the former had the power of life and death, but the circumstances of that case do not support this assertion. Stephen, it is true, had been examined before the great council, who had heard witnesses against him, but no where do we read that they had collected votes or proceeded to the giving of sentence, or even to pronounce him guilty: all which ought to have been done, if the proceedings had been regular. Before Stephen could finish his defence, a sudden tumult arose; the p. who were

F. rushed with one accord upon him, and casting him out of the city, stoned

in before the affair could be taken before the Roman procurator. Pritii Introd. ad Nov. Test. p. 592.

: Josephus, Ant. Jud. lib. xviii. c. 3. § 1, 2.
Ibid lib. xviii. c. 4. Eusebius Hist. Eccl. lib. ii. c. 7, 8.

also a freedman of that emperor, was raised to the dignity of procurator of Judaea. . He liberated that country from banditti and impostors (the very worthy deeds alluded to by Tertullus, Acts xxiv. 2.); but he was in other respects a cruel and avaricious governor, incontinent, intemperate, and unjust. So oppressive at length did his administration become, that the Jews accused him before Nero, and it was only through the powerful interposition of Pallas that Felix escaped condign punishment. . His wife, Drusilla, (mentioned Acts xxiv. 24.) was the sister of Agrippa junior, and had been married to Azizus king of the Emesenes: Felix, having fallen desperately in love with her, persuaded her to abandon her legitimate husband and live with him. The knowledge of these circumstances materially illustrates Acts xxiv. 25. and shows with what singular propriety St. Paul reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come. the resignation of Felix, A. D. 60, the government of Judaea was committed to Pontius Festus, before whom Paul defended himself against the accusations of the Jews (Acts xxv.), and appealed from his tribunal to that of Caesar. Finding his province overrun with robbers and murderers, Festus strenuously exerted himself in suppressing their outrages. He died in Judaea about the year 62.” The situation of the Jews under the procurators was truly deplorable, particularly the two last mentioned. Distracted by tumults, excited on various occasions, their country was overrun with robbers that plundered all the villages whose inhabitants refused to listen to their persuasions to shake off the Roman yoke. . Justice was sold to the highest bidder; and even the sacred office of high priest was exposed to sale. But, of all the procurators, no one abused his power more than GEssius Florus, a cruel and sanguinary governor, and so extremely avaricious that he shared with the robbers in their booty, and allowed them to follow their nefarious practices with impunity. Hence considerable numbers of the wretched Jews, with their families, abandoned their native country; while those who remained, being driven to desperation, took up arms against the Romans, and thus commenced that war, which terminated in the destruction of Judaea, and the taking away of their name and nation.”

1 Tacit. Annal. lib. xii. c. 54. Hist. lib. v. c. 9. Sueton. in Claudio, c. 38. Josephus, Ant. Jud. lib. xx. c. 7. § 2. c. *ś 5. De Bell Jud. lib. ii.c. *: 8.

* Josephus, Ant. Jud. lib. xx. c. 8. § , 10. De Bell. Jud...lib. ii. c. 14. § 1.

3 Josephus, Ant. Jud. lib. xx. c. 8, 11. De Bell. Jud. lib. ii. c. 9, 10.

WOL. III. 15




I. Inferior Judges.—II. Seat of Justice.—III. Appeals—Constitution of the Sanhedrim or Great Council.—IV. Form of Legal Proceedings among the Jews.-1. Citation of the parties.—2, 3. Form of pleading in civil and criminal cases.—4. Witnesses.— 5. The Lot, in what cases used judicially.—6. Forms of Acquittal.-7. Summary Justice, sometimes clamorously demanded.—V Erecution of Sentences, by whom, and in what manner performed.

I. ON the settlement of the Israelites in the land of Canaan,
Moses commanded them to appoint judges and officers in all their
gates, throughout their tribes (5. xvi. 18.); whose duty it was to
exercise judicial authority in the neighbouring villages; but weighty
causes and appeals were carried before the supreme judge or ruler
of the commonwealth. (Deut. xvii. 8, 9.) According to Josephus,
these inferior judges were seven in number, men zealous in the exer-
cise of virtue and righteousness. To each judge (that is, to each
college of judges in every city) two officers were assigned out of the
tribe of Levi. These judges existed in the time of that historian.”
and, although the rabbinical writers are silent concerning them, yet
their silence neither does, nor can outweigh the evidence of an eye-
witness and magistrate, who himself appointed such judges.
The Priests and Levites, who from their being devoted to the
study of the law, were consequently best skilled in its various pre-
cepts, and old men, who were eminent for their age and virtue,
administered justice to the people : in consequence of their age, the
name of elders became attached to them. Many instances of this kind
occur in the New Testament; they were also called rulers, agxwrk.
(Luke xii. 8. where ruler is synonymous with judge.") The law
of Moses contained the most express prohibitions of bribery (Exod.
xxiii. 8.), and partiality; enjoining them to administer justice without
respect of persons, and reminding them, that a judge sits in the seat
of God, and consequently that no man ought to have any pre-em-
inence in his sight, neither ought he to be affaid of any man in de-
claring the law. (Exod. xxiii. 3. 6, 7. Lev. xix. 15. Deut. i. 17.
1 Josephus, Ant. Jud. lib. iv. c. 14. Schulzii Prolusio de variis Judæorum
orroribus in ...}. Tem li II. #. pp. 27–32. prefixed to his edition o
ona s Treatise De Spoliis Templi Hierosolymitani Trajecti ad Rhenum, 1775,

* Josephus, De Bell. Jud. lib. ii. c. 20. § 5.
Ernesti Institutio Interpretis Novi Testamenti, part ii. c. 10. § 73. p. 356.

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