The Trial of the King

 In Studies About The Messiah

From: Yeshua The Life of Messiah from a Messianic Jewish p557-589
By Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum

The Pharisees rejected Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel because He repudiated their Mishnaic Law. Ironically, the Pharisees broke 22 of their own rules and regulations concerning arrests and trials in order to expedite Yeshua’s trial and death.

List of Rules

Rule 1: There was to be no arrest by religious authorities that was effected by a bribe.
This was based on Exodus 23:8.
Rule 2: No steps of criminal proceedings were to occur after sunset.
This was to avoid the possibility of conspiracy, especially one that would be carried out using the cover of night. Once the sun had officially set, the authorities were not to proceed with any form of criminal proceedings. By Jewish reckoning, the sun officially sets once three stars are visible.
Rule 3: Judges or members of the Sanhedrin were not allowed to participate in an arrest.
The purpose was to ensure their neutrality. If they participated in the arrest, it meant they had already taken sides.
Rule 4: There were to be no trials before the morning sacrifice.
All of the daily morning rituals in the Temple had to be completed before
any trial could be conducted.
Rule 5: There were to be no secret trials, only public.
In keeping with the second rule, secret trials were forbidden in order to
avoid the possibility of conspiracy.
Rule 6: Sanhedrin trials could only be conducted in the Hall of Judgment
of the Temple compound.
Since all trials had to be public, the people would have to know where to
go to observe a trial. Sanhedrin trials, therefore, had to be held only in
this room, the Hall of Judgment in the Temple compound. It was known
in Hebrew as the Lishkat ha-Gazit, the Chamber of Hewn Stones.
Rule 7: During the trial, the defense had the first word before the
prosecutors could present the accusations.
This is the reverse of the western system. The defense provided all
reasons why the accused could not be guilty of anything and presented
character witnesses. Then the two or three witnesses for the prosecution officially presented the accusation.
Rule 8: All could argue in favor of acquittal, but all could not argue in
favor of conviction.
It was permissible under Jewish criminal law to “stack the deck” in favor
of the accused, but not against him. It was permissible for everyone to
argue only for acquittal, but it was not permissible for everyone to argue
only for conviction. The accused had to have at least one defender.
Rule 9: There were to be two or three witnesses, and their testimony had
to agree in every detail.
This rule was based on Deuteronomy 19:15.
Rule 10: There was to be no allowance for the accused to testify against
himself.
This was to avoid two possible situations.
First, a man might be suicidal and so confess to a crime he did not commit.
Second, he might be trying to protect someone else who was guilty and so confess to a crime he did not commit. Therefore, the individual himself could not be counted among the two witnesses that were minimally required for a court case to be heard.
Rule 11: The high priest was forbidden to rend his garments.
This rule was based on Leviticus 21:10. In a Jewish context, the tearing
of garments was a sign of the emotions. For example, if a family member
died, the relatives would tear their clothing. This also happened if a
family member married a Gentile or became a believer in Yeshua.
Because the trial had to be decided based on the facts presented by two
or three witnesses, not on the basis of emotions, the high priest could
not tear his clothing during the trial.
Rule 12: Judges could not initiate the charges; they could only investigate
charges brought to them.
Like the third rule, this law was supposed to keep judges neutral. If they
originated the charge, it would mean that they had already taken sides.
Rule 13: The accusation of blasphemy was only valid if the name of God
itself was pronounced.
In Hebrew, the name of God is comprised of four letters that correspond
to the Latin letters YHWH or YHVH. Unless a person actually pronounced
this four-letter name of God, they could not technically be accused of
blasphemy.
Rule 14: A person could not be condemned solely on the basis of his own
words. This rule emphasized the necessity of having two witnesses.
Rule 15: The verdict could not be announced at night.
This rule was to avoid a rush to judgment. It might have been a very long
day with many witnesses being questioned, arguments back and forth,
and people getting tired and edgy. To avoid a rush to judgment, once the
night had come (meaning once three stars were visible), the judges had
to wait until the next day to announce the verdict, even if they knew
what it would be.
Rule 16: In the case of capital punishment, the trial and guilty verdict
could not occur at the same time, but had to be separated by at least 24
hours.
The purpose of this law was to permit more time for information to
become available which might favor the accused.
Rule 17: Voting for the death penalty had to be done by individual count,
beginning with the youngest, so the young would not be influenced by
the elders.
Rule 18: A unanimous decision for guilt showed innocence, since it is
impossible for 23 to 71 men to agree without plotting.
The figure 71 is the full membership of the Sanhedrin. Not all the
members needed to be present, but there had to be a minimum of 23.
However, even with the minimum, it was inconceivable in a Jewish
context that all 23 men could agree on one issue, unless there was a plot
involved. This came from the observation that Jews enjoy arguing among
themselves, as noted earlier in the discussion on the school of the
Sopherim.
Rule 19: The sentence could only be pronounced three days after the
guilty verdict.
The trial and the verdict had to be separated by 24 hours, but three more
days had to pass before pronouncing the sentence, for the same reason:
to allow more time for information to come forth that would favor the
accused.
Rule 20: Judges were to be humane and kind.
Rule 21: A person condemned to death was not to be scourged or beaten
before his execution.
Rule 22: No trials were allowed on the eve of the Sabbath or on a feast
day.

Obviously, these were not all of the Sanhedrin laws; there were hundreds of them. However, these 22 were violated during either the arrest or the trial of Yeshua, and these violations will be noted as they occur in the Gospel accounts.

A. The Arrest

Matthew 26:47-56, Mark 14:43-52, Luke 22:47-53, John 18:2-11


It was now the 15th of Nisan, or April 7, A.D. 30,1

when Judas set out to betray Yeshua: Now Yehuda also, who betrayed him, knew the place: for Yeshua oft-times resorted thither with his disciples (Jn. 18:2).

(Jn. 18:2).

1. Judas

When the members of the Sanhedrin bribed Judas with thirty pieces of
silver to do this deed, they violated the first Mishnaic law: There was to
be no arrest by religious authorities that was effected by a bribe.
As mentioned earlier, the religious leaders needed Judas for three
reasons, and the first was to show where Yeshua could be arrested apart
from the multitude. Here Judas fulfilled his first function. As Yeshua’s
disciple for some time, he knew the Messiah’s habits when He was in
Jerusalem. Although this is the only record of Him doing so, one such
habit was to pray at the garden of Gethsemane, as the Gospel of John points out: Yeshua oft-times resorted thither. Judas knew this, so he could easily lead the soldiers to where they could arrest the Lord apart from the multitude.


After Judas procured a band , and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, they came to the garden with lanterns and torches and weapons (Jn. 18:3). The Greek word for band is speira, which means “cohort.” Judas had been given a Roman cohort. Per Roman law, a cohort could not be released to make an arrest until someone appeared before the governor to accuse a person of a crime punishable under that law. So, the second reason Judas was needed was to satisfy this Roman law by officially accusing Yeshua of some crime. When Judas left the Passover Seder, he first went to the chief priests who had originally bribed him. They then took him to Pontius Pilate, where he accused Yeshua of a crime punishable under Roman law and then received this Roman cohort. Normally, the governor was stationed in his headquarters in Caesarea, which, under Rome, was the capital of Israel.2

However, Pontius Pilate always went to Jerusalem to help maintain order during the Jewish festivals, making it convenient for Judas and the chief priests. This also explains why Pilate was already dressed and ready to conduct the trial in the early hours of the morning: He anticipated conducting a trial because he had already released a cohort to make this arrest. Again, neither Judas nor the chief priests intended to do any of this that night. However, when Yeshua identified Judas as the betrayer, He forced their hands, and thus, Judas also fulfilled his second function.

2. The Arresting Forces

The fact that the arresting soldiers came thither with lanterns and torches (Jn. 18:3b) shows that it was nighttime when the arrest occurred.
This violated the second law: No steps of criminal proceedings were to
occur after sunset.
A sizeable crowd of people consisting of four different groups and
one specific individual went into the garden to arrest one person. The
first group was the Roman cohort, which consisted of four hundred to
six hundred soldiers. Also present was an individual described as the servant of the high priest (Lk. 22:50). These were the crucial hours between the first night of Passover and the first day of Passover, during which the high priest was forbidden to leave his compound, lest he become ceremonially unclean and rendered unfit to offer up the special Passover sacrifice.

While the high priest could not participate in the arrest, he sent his
servant to make sure everything went correctly.
Luke mentioned a third party, the captains of the temple (Lk. 22:52a).
These were the Jewish temple police. Gentile soldiers could be stationed
in the outer court of the Temple to maintain order, but were not allowed to enter the inner court. A sign on the wall between the outer and inner courts announced that any Gentile entering the inner court would be punished by execution. For that reason, an order of Jewish
temple police called the captains of the temple were responsible for
maintaining order in the inner court.
Finally, chief priests and elders (Lk. 22:52b), both including members
of the Sanhedrin, were part of the multitude who accompanied Judas.

1
Or April 3, A.D. 33.
2
During the first century, it took two days to travel from Caesarea to Jerusalem.

Their participation in the arrest violated the third law: Judges or members of the Sanhedrin were not allowed to participate in an arrest. Mark observed that a multitude with swords and staves also came into the garden (Mk. 14:43). Such a large group of people, both Jewish and Gentile, carrying swords and clubs to arrest just one individual, revealed the high level of respect they had for this one man.

3. The Great I Am

As this large body of people surrounding Judas came into the garden,
Yeshua quickly took the initiative and asked, Whom seek ye? They
answered him, Yeshua of Natzeret.

Yeshua said unto them, I am

(Jn. 18:4b-5).

In the Greek text, this verse does not contain the personal pronoun he, which is why the ASV puts it in brackets. The Greek egō eimi simply means I am; the phrase can be interpreted as the great I AM, Jehovah of the Hebrew Bible, the one who revealed Himself to Moses as the I AM that I AM (Ex. 3:14), or simply as I am He, meaning, “I am the one for whom you are looking.” Yeshua used the phrase both ways.
The first time, He meant the I AM, Jehovah of the Hebrew Bible (Jn. 18:5), and He clearly used the phrase deliberately:

When therefore [meaning for the very specific reason] he said unto them, I am

(Jn.18:6a).

The result was that the crowd went backward, and fell to the ground (Jn. 18:6b). Yeshua’s deliberate use of the phrase displayed His deity; by uttering mere words, He forced the entire group to the ground. Fully in control, they could arrest Him only when He permitted them to do so. There is a small hint of something which will occur in the future: At the second coming, the power of Rome will fall to its knees at the feet of the King of the Jews.
Yeshua asked the arresting soldiers and chief priests a second time,


Whom seek ye? And they said, Yeshua of Natzeret

(Jn. 18:7).

Again Yeshua responded, I told you that I am (Jn. 18:8). This time He meant simply, “I am that Yeshua whom you seek.” He added that they
should let the disciples go free since He was the one they sought:

if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way (Jn. 18:8b).

(Jn. 18:8b).

In the midst of His own endangerment, Yeshua interceded for His disciples, fulfilling one of His near prophecies:

that the word might be fulfilled which he spoke, Of those whom you have given me I lost not one

(Jn. 18:9).

This was Yeshua’s prayer of John 17.
By this time, Yeshua had clearly identified Himself twice to the group. However, Judas had arranged with the captain of the cohort that they should arrest no one until they saw whom he kissed:

Whomsoever I shall kiss, that is he: take him, and lead him away safely

(Mk. 14:44).


The kiss would signal to the Romans the one to arrest (Mt. 26:48), and although Yeshua had identified Himself twice, Judas insisted on earning his money and drew near unto Yeshua to kiss him (Lk. 22:47). Before he applied the kiss, Yeshua warned him against doing so (Lk.22:48), but Judas insisted and came to him, saying, Rabbi; and kissed him (Mk. 14:45). Literally, the Greek reads, kissed him much. He kissed Yeshua not once, but many times, profaning something that was then sacred to Jewish people. A disciple submitted himself to his teacher by kissing him to signal discipleship and as a sign of homage (Ps. 2:12). In the case of Judas, however, this was not a kiss of homage or of discipleship, and although he called Yeshua “rabbi,” it was a kiss of betrayal.

4. Peter’s Impetuous Swing

Peter then decided he would take action and pulled out a sword:


Shimon Peter therefore having a sword drew it, and struck the highpriest’s servant, and cut off his right ear .

(Jn. 18:10a)

There are several Greek words for sword, and the one used in this verse is machaira, which refers to a long, ceremonial knife with a single cutting edge. By this action, Peter at least temporarily proved his claim during the last Passover: that he was willing to die for his Lord. Imagine the scene: On one side were four hundred to six hundred Roman soldiers, an unknown number of Jewish temple police, and many others, all carrying swords and staves. Peter, on the other side, pulled out his one lone knife. He quickly proved that he was a fisherman and not a soldier by profession. He swung at someone’s head and missed, cutting off the man’s right ear. However, he demonstrated some wisdom by attacking the high priest’s servant, who may or may not have been armed, rather than a Jewish police officer or a Roman soldier. By using the definite article, Matthew indicated it was the servant, this one in particular (Mt.26:51). The Apostle Yochanan provided the most detail because his family and the high priest’s family happened to be friends (Jn. 18:16),which is why he knew that the servant’s name was Melech (Jn. 18:10).
Yeshua quickly stepped in and touched his ear, thus healing the servant’s severed ear (Lk. 22:51). By so doing, He no doubt saved Peter’s life.
All four Gospel writers recorded that Peter sliced off the man’s ear, but only Luke recorded the healing of the ear, showing his interest in the medical side of these things. For him, it was significant enough to mention.
Notably, this was the only miracle Yeshua performed on a fresh wound and on an enemy, though He did it to save Peter’s life. This is a sign of Yeshua’s victory in the spiritual warfare in the garden of Gethsemane:

the cup which the Father has given me, shall I not drink it?

(Jn. 18:11).

He asked not to have to drink the cup, but realized it was God the Father’s will for Him to do so. Therefore, nothing would interfere with His drinking of this cup, not even Peter. This marked Yeshua’s personal victory over His agony.
Yeshua proceeded to teach Peter three lessons.
First, all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword (Mt. 26:52). There is a proper time to use the sword, such as in personal defense and defense of the state. However, for issues of the faith, believers must turn the other cheek and be willing to become martyrs.
Second, this was a spiritual conflict, and it was to be fought by spiritual means. Yeshua had at His disposal twelve legions of angels, and He could have called upon them at will (Mt. 26:53). He did not need Peter’s lone, long knife.
Third, all of this was necessary for the fulfillment of prophecy (Mt. 26:54-56). These things had to happen to Him because they were part of His messianic credentials.
Addressing those who came to arrest Him, Yeshua declared:

But this is your hour, and the power of darkness

(Lk. 22:53).

The hour refers to what He anticipated in the garden of Gethsemane: He was ready to face the wrath of man and the wrath of God.
When the disciples realized that Yeshua would do nothing more to
defend Himself, they left him, and fled (Mt. 26:56), thus fulfilling the
Messiah’s prophetic words that they would scatter and disperse. As
previously mentioned, sometimes the author of a biography wrote
himself into the account when he witnessed an event. That is why
Yochanan referred to himself as “the disciple whom Yeshua loved” (Jn.
13:23; 19:26, etc.). Mark did the same thing (Mk. 14:51-52). In passing,
he mentioned that a certain young man was present when the soldiers
seized Yeshua. When they tried to also arrest the young man, they took
hold of his clothing, and he fled naked, leaving a linen cloth in the hands of his would-be captors. In keeping with the way biographers wrote in those days, this young man was John Mark, the author of the Gospel.

B. The Religious Trial


Yeshua underwent two distinct trials: a religious, Jewish trial and a civil, Gentile trial led by the Romans. Blasphemy was the issue in the religious trial, but not in the civil trial. Both trials had three distinct stages.

1. The Trial before Annas


John 18:12-14, 19-23

This was the first stage of the religious trial, and its purpose was to establish a religious charge. If everything had gone the way the religious leaders had intended, they would have had false witnesses lined up, ready to testify. However, the events caught them by surprise; they were
not organized and were still looking for specific charges to bring against
Yeshua. Verse 14 makes it clear that the trial which was about to take
place was a farce:

Now Kayapha was he that gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people

(Jn. 18:14).

The verdict had already been determined, and the sentence was decreed well before the trial.

According to the Gospel of John, the arresting forces led Yeshua to Annas first:

So the band [the Roman cohort] and the chief captain [the leader of the cohort], and the officers of the Jews [the temple police], seized Yeshua and bound him, and led him to Chanan first

(Jn. 18:12-13).

Annas served as high priest during the years A.D. 6 or 7 to A.D. 14, then was deposed by Valerius Gratus, the Roman governor at that time. However, Annas retained control of the priesthood, because he was
succeeded by four or five of his sons; his son-in-law; and, at the end of
his life, his grandson. He was the head of what the Pharisees called “the Bazaar of the Sons of Annas,” a private money-changing and sacrifice-
selling business. Yeshua overthrew his tables twice, at the first and last Passovers of His public ministry. Therefore, Annas held a personal
grudge against Yeshua. By immediately taking Yeshua to His trial in the night, the religious leaders violated the fourth Mishnaic Law: There were to be no trials before the morning sacrifice. Yochanan’s description of the trial implies that this trial was held in secret (Jn. 18:19-22), which broke the fifth law: There were to be no secret trials, only public.
Annas questioned Yeshua about two key issues: of his disciples, to incriminate them, and of his teaching, to incriminate Him (Jn. 18:19).
However, Yeshua turned the tables and insisted on His rights under
Jewish civil law:

I have spoken openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogues, and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and in secret spoke I nothing

(Jn. 18:20).

He was not responsible to answer their questions, but they must produce two or three witnesses to conduct this trial. Everything He taught was in public, and so if He had truly said anything amiss, they should have no trouble finding these witnesses. Yeshua challenged them to keep their own law and support their charges by producing the proper witnesses:

Why do you ask me? Ask them that have heard , what I spoke unto them: behold, these know the things which I said

(Jn. 18:21).

For this response, which was His right to make, He was smitten (Jn. 18:22). This was the first of several mistreatments Yeshua suffered that night. He responded:

If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why do you smite me?

(Jn.18:23).

They were conducting an illegal proceeding. This first stage of the religious trial concluded without the authorities establishing a specific charge. The lack of organization, the element of chaos, and the confusion which characterized the first stage were also evident at the beginning of the second stage. The religious leaders were ill-prepared to conduct the trial because none of this was supposed to occur on the night of the Passover observance. However, Yeshua had forced their hand by identifying the traitor, and so they were confused and disorganized.

2. The Trial Before Caiaphas


Matthew 26:57, 59-68, Mark 14:53, 55-65, Luke 22:54a, John 18:24

This was the second stage of the religious trial. As mentioned in § 31, Caiaphas was Annas’ son-in-law, and he served as high priest during
the years A.D. 18-36/37. He had led the religious leaders in rejecting the first sign of Jonah, the resurrection of Lazarus. Yeshua’s trial took place in A.D. 30, a few years after the midpoint of Caiaphas’ high priesthood.

Luke noted that the Sanhedrin gathered into the high priest’s house
(Lk. 22:54), thereby violating the sixth law: Sanhedrin trials could only
be conducted in the Hall of Judgment of the Temple compound. The
Sanhedrin was comprised of 71 members, carefully divided along party
lines: 24 seats went to the chief priests, who were Sadducees; 24 seats
went to the elders, who were Pharisees; 22 seats went to the scribes, who
were also Pharisees; and the last seat went to the high priest, a Sadducee.
The high priest conducted the proceedings, but the majority vote was
with the Pharisees. For capital cases, not all 71 members of the
Sanhedrin had to participate in the trial, but a minimum of 23 had to
be present. If only the minimum attended, and 11 members voted for
innocence, the accused was acquitted, since conviction required 13
votes. A vote of 11 for innocent and 12 for guilty could not convict the accused; conviction must be by a majority of two. The number of the
Sanhedrin members present is unknown, but it will become evident
that at least two members were missing: Nicodemus and Joseph of
Arimathaea.

a. The Search for Witnesses

Matthew and Mark provided the details of the second stage of the religious trial. It began with the religious leaders seeking false witness against Yeshua (Mt. 26:59), thus breaking the seventh law: During the
trial, the defense had the first word before the prosecutors could present
the accusations. Mark noted that the whole council sought to act in
unison against Yeshua (Mk. 14:55), breaking the eighth law: All could
argue in favor of acquittal, but all could not argue in favor of conviction.

The religious leaders presented one false witness after another, trying to find two in agreement; but one by one, their testimonies were disqualified. This demonstrates the disorganization of the whole process. After several attempts, the prosecutors found two men who seemingly said the same thing (Mk. 14:57) and formally presented them to the court. However, when each testified individually, they ended up disagreeing:

And not even so did their witness agree together

(Mk. 14:59).

A comparison of Mark and Matthew reveals the crucial point of difference that disqualified their testimonies. Mark quoted one witness as saying:

We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands

(Mk. 14:58).

Matthew quoted the other witness as saying:

This man said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days

(Mt. 26:61).

The question came to this: Did Yeshua say, I will destroy this temple, or did He say, I am able to destroy the temple? The first is a statement of intent, the second a statement of ability. This discrepancy disqualified the two witnesses, so by Jewish law, Yeshua should have been released. Failure to do so broke the ninth law: There were to be two or three witnesses, and their testimony had to agree in every detail. The specific charge the religious leaders desired—disrespect of the Temple—did not materialize. Only this offense would have had merit under Roman law. Generally during that time, the Sanhedrin lacked authority to put anyone to death under Roman law, with the exception of this one charge: If they proved that the person had shown disrespect toward the Temple, the ruling authorities allowed them to execute the perpetrator. However, they could not find two witnesses to establish the charge against Yeshua.

b. Caiaphas Takes Charge

This all frustrated Caiaphas:

And the high priest stood up, and said unto him, do you answer nothing? What is it which these witness against you?

(Mt. 26:62).

Asking Yeshua to speak before the two witnesses broke the tenth law: There was to be no allowance for the accused to testify against himself. Exercising His Jewish civil rights, Yeshua held his peace (Mt.26:63a). Legally, He was not obliged to respond at this point. All of this further exasperated Caiaphas, so he put Yeshua under oath: Yeshua, I adjure you by the living God, that you tell us whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God (Mt. 26:63b). In a Jewish court of law, the phrase I adjure you means to put someone under oath. Based upon his statement, Caiaphas obviously understood that Yeshua claimed to be the Messiah, and he clearly understood that the Messiah was supposed to be the Son of God. Mark quoted Caiaphas as saying,

Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed?

(Mk. 14:61).

In the Jewish mindset, the term the Blessed is a substitute for the name of God.
A person placed under oath in a Jewish civil court of law had to answer. Yeshua responded positively, saying, I am (Mk. 14:62), meaning, “I am the Messiah, the Son of God.” He added that someday they would recognize the truth of His claims: Henceforth ye shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven (Mt. 26:64). They would see Him seated at the right hand of God the Father, and they would see Him coming again in the clouds of heaven; the second coming will be visible in hell itself. Mark’s Gospel records Yeshua using the same distinctive phrase, saying that the religious leaders would see Him sitting at the right hand of Power (Mk.14:62). This demonstrates the Jewishness of both Gospels, since Power was another term for “God.”

c. The Verdict and Sentence

Several things then happened in quick succession.
First, the high priest rent his garments (Mt. 26:65a). Generally, the high priest was forbidden to rend his garments; the one exception was when he heard a blasphemy uttered. But Yeshua had not blasphemed God, so Caiaphas broke the eleventh law, which prohibited the high priest from tearing his garments.
Second, Caiaphas, the chief judge, originated the charge of blasphemy: He has spoken blasphemy (Mt. 26:65b), breaking the twelfth law: Judges could not initiate the charges; they could only investigate charges brought to them. Because the specific charge was blasphemy, Caiaphas also broke the thirteenth law: The accusation of blasphemy was only valid if the name of God itself was pronounced.
Third, the high priest stated, what further need have we of witnesses? (Mt. 26:65c). This was a magnanimous statement given that his witnesses had all been disqualified, including the two whose testimonies had originally seemed to agree. This broke the ninth law again, and requesting condemnation on the basis of what Yeshua had just said also broke the fourteenth law: A person could not be condemned on the basis
of his own words alone. Nevertheless, the religious leaders answered and
said, He is worthy of death (Mt. 26:66) and pronounced Him guilty while it was still nighttime, which broke the fifteenth law: A verdict could not be announced at night, only in the daytime. Blasphemy was a capital offense; therefore, announcing the guilty verdict on the same day as the trial broke the sixteenth law: In the case of capital punishment, the trial and guilty verdict could not occur at the same time, but had to be separated by at least twenty-four hours.

Furthermore, the religious leaders quickly condemned Yeshua without properly voting, thus breaking the seventeenth law: Voting for the death penalty had to be done by individual count, beginning with the youngest, so the young would not be influenced by the elders. Mark specified,

And they all condemned him to be worthy of death

(Mk. 14:64).

The word all indicates a unanimous decision. By Jewish law, Yeshua
should have been released, and failure to do so broke the eighteenth law: A unanimous decision for guilt showed innocence, since it is impossible for 23 to 71 men to agree without plotting.

Furthermore, in declaring He was worthy of death—announcing the death sentence— on the same day as the guilty verdict, they broke the nineteenth law: The sentence could only be pronounced three days after the guilty verdict. Next, some of those present at the trial began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy:

and the officers received him with blows of their hands

(Mk. 14:65).

Then did they spit in his face and buffet him: and some smote him with the palms of their hands

(Mt. 26:67).

This records the violation of the twentieth and twenty-first laws, respectively: Judges were to be humane and kind. A person condemned to death was not to be scourged or beaten beforehand. This was the second mistreatment Yeshua suffered this night, as some men hit Him with their fists, some slapped Him with the palm of their hands, and some spit into His face. Yeshua thus suffered what are considered to be some of the highest indignities under Jewish law, and all were punishable by fines. To hit someone with the fist was punishable by a fine of four denarii. One denarius was equal to one day’s salary, so four denarii equaled four days’ wages. Even more insulting was to slap someone with the palm of the hand; this was punishable by a fine of two hundred denarii. Still more insulting was to spit in another’s face; this was punishable by a fine of four hundred denarii, more than a year’s salary. Obviously, no one was fined on this occasion.


Finally, this event took place between the first night and the first day of Passover, violating the twenty-second law: No trials were allowed on
the eve of the Sabbath or on a feast day.

3. The Denial by Peter


Matthew 26:58, 69-75, Mark 14:54, 66-72, Luke 22:54b-62, John 18:15-18, 25-27

Peter’s three denials all took place during the second stage of Yeshua’s religious trial. The disciples had scattered, but Peter and Yochanan regrouped and began to follow the procession. Since Yochanan’s and the high priest’s families were acquainted, the apostle knew the name of the servant whose ear Peter had severed (Jn. 18:26). This relationship now
worked to Yochanan’s advantage:

Now that disciple was known unto the high priest, and entered in with Yeshua into the court of the high priest

(Jn. 18:15).

Caiaphas’ servants obviously knew Yochanan, giving him easy access to the courtyard where the trial was being conducted. He used his influence to bring Peter in as well:

but Peter was standing at the door without. So the other disciple, who was known unto the high priest, went out and spoke unto her that kept the door, and brought inPeter

(Jn. 18:16).

Now Peter and Yochanan both were there. Yochanan thought he was doing Peter a favor, but instead, he unwittingly set the stage for the apostle’s threefold denial. The fact that Caiaphas’ home had a court big enough to contain the Sanhedrin and all the other religious leaders attending the trial as well as the soldiers and the officers shows that the high priest was wealthy.
Three times Peter was accused of being a disciple of Yeshua.
Three times he denied it, with each denial becoming more intense.
The first accusation came from a maid who said:

You also were with Yeshua the Galilean

(Mt. 26:69b).

Peter and Yochanan were not alone when she made the statement; they were with a group of people in the courtyard. The night was chilly, so they kept a fire burning (Lk. 22:55). Peter denied the accusation (Mk. 14:68). The Greek verb used here, ernesato, refers to a simple denial; he simply denied that he was a disciple of Yeshua. The first cock crow came, indicating it was midnight. A little while later, another maid saw him (Lk. 22:58) and also accused him of being with Yeshua the Nazarene (Mt. 26:71). Peter responded: And again he denied with an oath (Mt. 26:72). The apostle moved from a simple denial to denying with an oath that he knew Yeshua or was His disciple.
More time passed, and after the space of about one hour (Lk. 22:59),
someone mentioned that Peter was a disciple of the Galilean:

they that stood by said to Peter, of a truth you are of them; for you are a Galilean

(Mk. 14:70).

The give-away was Peter’s accent:

for your speech makes you known

(Mt. 26:73);

another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this man was also with him:

for he is a Galilean

(Lk. 22:59).

Peter denied Yeshua for the third time:

But he began to curse, and to swear, I know not this man of whom ye speak

(Mk. 14:71).

This time, cursing and swearing accompanied his denial. The Greek verbs used here require an object. In other words, Peter swore against and cursed Yeshua in this third denial.
The progression was from a simple denial to a denial with an oath to a denial accompanied by cursing Yeshua. Then came the second cock crow (Mk. 14:72), at three o’clock in the morning. The second stage of the religious trial apparently ended at the same time, and the door either opened or was already open:

And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter

(Lk. 22:61).

Their eyes met at the moment following the second cock crow. Instantly, Peter remembered Yeshua’s prophecy at the Last Passover:

before the cock crow twice, Peter would deny Yeshua thrice

(Mk. 14:30).

Peter left the scene weeping with repentance.

4. The Mockery and Beating

Luke 22:63-65

Yeshua then suffered the third mistreatment of the night. In addition to the physical abuse, He also suffered mockery: And the men that held
mocked him, and beat him (Lk. 22:63). This was the first of eight mockeries He would experience over the next several hours.


5. The Condemnation by the Sanhedrin


Matthew 27:1, Mark 15:1a, Luke 22:6

The only purpose of the third stage of the religious trial was to give it a
semblance of legality. Apparently, some came to their senses, realizing
that the entire proceedings so far were entirely illegal. So they waited
for a measure of daylight; all three accounts make that point:

Now when morning was come

(Mt. 27:1);

And straightway in the morning

(Mk.15:1a);

And as soon as it was day

(Lk. 22:66).

The religious leaders deliberately waited until daylight to give the trial a measure of legality; then they quickly reconvened, and asked Yeshua two questions.
First,

If you are the Messiah, tell us

(Lk. 22:67).

Yeshua answered that it was useless to tell them because they had already chosen not to believe. But someday they will know His claims are true, when they see Him seated at the right hand of God the Father (Lk. 22:67-69).
Second, And they allsaid,

Are you then the Son of God?

(Lk. 22:70).

Yeshua answered: Ye say that I am. In Greek, this is an emphatic way of saying, “Yes, indeed, I am the Son of God.”
The religious trial ended with Yeshua being condemned to death for
blasphemy, a verdict unsupported by the actual evidence. The rabbinic
definition of blasphemy was to expressly pronounce the four-letter name of God, and Yeshua had not done so. If the Sanhedrin had carried out the death sentence on these charges, Yeshua would have been stoned and then hanged. This would have been contrary to the prophecies concerning how the Messiah would die. Messiah was to be crucified. The plan of God could not be diverted or subverted.

C. The Death of Judas

Matthew 27:3-10, Acts 1:18-19

Despite their best efforts, the religious leaders were unable to prove their accusation that Yeshua had tried to destroy the Temple, so they lacked the authority to order His execution. While the Sanhedrin found Him guilty of blasphemy and sentenced Him to death, they could not execute the death sentence, as the Roman senate had revoked the Sanhedrin’s power of capital punishment. Therefore, if Yeshua was going to be executed, He had to be found guilty of committing a capital offense under Roman law. Blasphemy was punishable by death under Jewish law only. Therefore, the religious leaders needed to trump up a different charge. While Judas was not needed for the religious trial, he was needed for the civil trial.
However, between the two trials, Judas committed suicide:

Then Yehuda, who betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself

(Mt. 27:3).

Because the word repented is used, the question arises as to whether or not Judas was saved. Two Greek words re translated as “repent” in English. One is metanoia, carrying the sense of salvation-repentance. However, in this text, a different Greek word, metamelomai, is used, which means, “to be filled with regret or remorse,” “to experience a change of concern after a change of emotion.” So, the answer to the question is: No, Judas was not saved. Being full of regret and remorse, he tried to return the money to the chief priests and admitted that he had betrayed innocent blood (Mt. 27:4).
When they refused to accept the money, he cast down the pieces of silver
into the sanctuary, and departed; and he went away and hanged himself
(Mt. 27:5).

1.Resolving Two Alleged Contradictions

Critics of the New Testament have pointed out that the two accounts of Judas’ suicide seem to contradict each other. The first alleged variance is the way Judas actually died. According to Matthew, he died by hanging. However, Luke stated that falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out (Acts 1:18). So how did Judas die?
By hanging or by falling with his bowels gushing out?
A specific point of rabbinic law clarifies Luke’s statement. By Jewish reckoning of time, a day begins at sundown. Therefore, the Sabbath be-
gins at sundown Friday and ends at sundown Saturday. Once the sun has set on Saturday, the Sabbath law no longer applies. The same reckoning of time applies to any other event or day. For example, the first night of Passover always comes before the first day of Passover. Jewish families eat their Seder on the first night of Passover, as Yeshua did with His apostles. Then at nine o’clock in the morning on the first day of Passover, only the priesthood ate a special Passover sacrifice called the chagigah. If, between the first night and the first day of Passover, a dead body was found within the walls of Jerusalem, the city was reckoned as ceremonially unclean. As long as the body was within the walls, the
priests could not proceed with the special sacrifice of the first day. If the
corpse was thrown over the wall facing the Valley of Hinnom, the city
would be reckoned as cleansed. The priesthood could then proceed
with the morning Passover sacrifice. When Judas hanged himself, he
defiled the city. As long as his body was within the walls, the priests
could not proceed with the chagigah sacrifice, so they took it and threw
it over the wall facing the Valley of Hinnom. In that fall, Judas’ guts
gushed out. Therefore, no contradiction exists; Matthew recorded how
Judas died, while Luke described what happened to his body after it was
found.

The second alleged contradiction critics have cited concerns who actually purchased the field. According to Matthew, it was the chief priests (Mt. 27:7-8). Yet, Luke stated:

Now this man [Judas] obtained a field with the reward of his iniquity

(Acts 1:18).

From a Jewish viewpoint, both statements are true. By Jewish law, money wrongfully gained could not be put into the Temple treasury:

It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is the price of blood

(Mt. 27:6).

The priesthood knew this money was wrongfully gained, and they were legally obligated to return the money to the donor. However, the donor was dead. Although the money could not be placed into the Temple treasury, it could be used for purchasing something to benefit the whole community in the name of the donor. So, the religious leaders purchased the field for the public, as a place to bury strangers, and despite Judas’ death, all legal documents of sale reflected his name. Matthew recorded the events as they occurred, and Luke documented the fact that legally, Judas purchased the field.

2. Jeremiah or Zechariah?

Two other verses in this context, Matthew 27:9-10, also tend to draw criticism. Matthew noted that what happened with Judas was a fulfillment of something spoken of by the Prophet Jeremiah, probably referring to Jeremiah 18:2-3 and 32:8-9, but he quoted Zechariah 11:12-
13, which says:


12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my hire; and if not,
forbear. So they weighed for my hire thirty pieces of silver. 13 And
Jehovah said unto me, Cast it unto the potter, the goodly price that I was
prized at by them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them
unto the potter, in the house of Jehovah.

Zechariah 11:12-13,

Several answers have been suggested. One is that sometimes the divisions of the Hebrew Scriptures are referred to by the first book of the scroll. For example, the third section of the Hebrew Bible is called “The Writings,” but sometimes is referred to as the book of Psalms, which is the first book contained therein. The first book of the prophetic scroll would be Joshua or, if only dealing with the latter writing prophets, Isaiah. Therefore, had Matthew mentioned Joshua or Isaiah, this answer would make sense. However, he mentioned Jeremiah, and so this explanation does not support the solution stated above.
A second answer may be that this is simply a scribal error. This is a more valid option, since scribal errors exist in the text of both testaments.
A third answer is that Matthew quoted from both Zechariah and Jeremiah, but named only one of the prophets from which he was quoting.
The fourth answer is based on the fact that only Matthew records this event. In his Gospel, he was particularly concerned with the development of the rejection of the Messianic King, the unpardonable sin, resulting in the destruction of Jerusalem in the year A.D. 70. That may account for his reference to Jeremiah while quoting Zechariah, as Jeremiah referred twice to a particular curse that has relevance to Judas’ burial place, the curse of Topheth. Jerusalem is surrounded by two valleys: the Valley of Kidron on the eastern side , and the Valley of Hinnom coming around the west side down to the south side. Topheth is located where the two valleys meet. Some of the more wicked kings of Jerusalem practiced human sacrifice here. As a result, God pronounced a curse upon this section of the valley, in Jeremiah 7:31-34:

31 And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the valley
of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded not, neither came it into my mind. 32 Therefore, be-
hold, the days come, says Jehovah, that it shall no more be called Topheth, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of Slaughter: for they shall bury in Topheth, till there be no place to bury. 33 And the dead bodies of this people shall be food for the birds of the heavens, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall frighten them away.
34 Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Yehudah, and from the
streets of Yerushalayim, the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the
voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride; for the land shall
become a waste.

Jeremiah 7:31-34:


In the Hebrew Scriptures, the Valley of Hinnom was known as Gei (or Gai) Ben-Hinnom, literally the “Valley of the son of Hinnom” (as in the verses above). In the Talmud, it was referred to as Gehinnam or Gehinnom, the place where humans were burned as sacrifices. The Hebrew words were Hellenized as Ge’enna, which became the term used for the lake of fire, the place of the future burning of humans. After a few additional etymological changes, the term found its way into the English dictionary as Gehenna. Referring to Gehenna, Jeremiah wrote: Thus says Jehovah of hosts:

Even so will I break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter’s ves-
sel, that cannot be made whole again: and they shall bury in Topheth, till there be no place to bury

(Jer. 19:11b).

To summarize, the curse of Jeremiah was that someday the people of Israel would bury in Topheth until there was no more room to bury. Matthew showed that when the religious leaders purchased this particular area of the Hinnom Valley, they also purchased the Jeremiah curse. When the unpardonable sin was judged and punished in A.D. 70, so many were slaughtered (altogether 1,100,000 Jews were killed in that war) that they buried until there was no more room in the field. One ancient writer observed:

After Titus has taken Jerusalem, and when the country all round was
filled with corpses, the neighboring races offered him a crown; but he
disclaimed any such honor to himself, saying . . . that he had merely lent
his arms to God, who had so manifested his wrath.

Flavius Philostratus, Life of Apollonius, 6:29. Translated by F. C. Conybeare. Online at
http://www.livius.org/ap-ark/apollonius/life/va_6_26.html.

Acts 1:19 notes that the field initially became known by the name
Akeldama, Aramaic for “the field of blood,” because it was bought with
the purchase price of blood. However, it literally ended up being a place
of slaughter. Therefore, Matthew mentioned Jeremiah to point out that the curse of Topheth would come to pass as the result of the unpardon-
able sin, and he quoted Zechariah to show that the actual purchase price was that of a dead slave.
Once Judas was dead, the religious leaders lost their one witness for
the prosecution. For that reason, just as disorganization and confusion
dominated the initial stages of the religious trial, the same was true in
the civil trial.

D. The Civil Trial

Like the religious trial, the civil trial also proceeded through three specific stages. While the issue of blasphemy in the religious trial was not punishable by death under Roman law, sedition or treason against Rome, the issue in the civil trial, was punishable by death.
Twenty-two Jewish laws were broken during Yeshua’s religious trial;
only two Roman laws affected His civil trial.
First, all proceedings must be public. Yeshua’s trial was quite public, much to Pilate’s later regret.
Second, a trial was to begin with the accuser(s) presenting formal charges for a crime that had to be punishable under Roman law, and for this the religious leaders would have needed Judas, as he was their sole witness.


1. The First Trial Before Pilate


Matthew 27:2, 11-14, Mark 15:1b-5, Luke 23:1-5, John 18:28-38


Pilate, born in Spain, was a Roman citizen and served as procurator
during A.D. 26-36. This trial took place in A.D. 30, at the midpoint of his term. In contemporary Jewish writings, Pilate was noted as being cruel, and his career ended when, after having ordered the massacre of a group of Samaritans, he was recalled to Rome to answer for what he had done.
Although it was the early morning hours, Pilate was up and dressed. He expected the trial, since earlier he had released the Roman cohort to Judas. Yochanan noted:

They led Yeshua therefore from Kayapha into the Praetorium: and it was early; and they themselves entered not into the Praetorium, that they might not be defiled, but might eat the Passover

(Jn. 18:28).

Because the Passover is mentioned, some assumed that Yeshua ate His Passover a day early. However, He observed the Mosaic Law perfectly, down to every yod and tittle, and the law specified the day of the month Passover must be observed, so undoubtedly, Yeshua obeyed that commandment. The pronoun they refers to the chief priests. Jewish families ate their Passover meal on the first night of Passover. At nine in the morning of the first day of Passover, the special sacrifice, the ghagigah, was made, of which only the priesthood could eat. It was offered immediately after the regular morning sacrifices and was roasted and eaten later that day. If, however, the priests became ceremonially unclean before the chagigah was served, they could not eat of it. One way to become ritually defiled was to enter the home of a Gentile. That was why the chief priests did not enter the Praetorium.

a. Attempts to Find an Accusation

In keeping with the second Roman law, Pilate asked:

What accusation bring ye against this man?

(Jn. 18:29).

At this point Judas should have stepped forward, but Judas was dead. Instead, the religious leaders responded:

If this man were not an evildoer, we should not have delivered him up unto you

(Jn. 18:30).

Their sole accuser was conspicuously absent, so they pressured Pilate to pass the sentence without any accusation or trial. Pilate, following Roman law, refused:

Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law

(Jn. 18:31a).

With no accusation, there would be no trial; no trial, no condemnation; no condemnation, no sentence.

The religious leaders responded:

It is not lawful for us to put any man to death

(Jn. 18:31b).

Since Rome had revoked the Sanhedrin’s authority to impose capital punishment, it was unlawful for them to put anyone to death. The Talmud reveals the exact year the right was revoked:

“Forty years before the destruction of the temple, the Sanhedrin were exiled . . . They did not try capital charges.”

4 b. Sanhedrin 41a. See also: b. ʽAbodah Zarah 8b.

Another tractate in the Talmud states:

“Forty years before the destruction of the temple the Sanhedrin went into exile and took its seat in the Trade Halls,”5

5 b. Shabbath 15a.

meaning they no longer had the authority to execute criminals. Subtracting forty years from the year of the Temple’s destruction results in the year A.D. 30. This was also the year of Yeshua’s crucifixion and the year that the Jews lost the authority to sentence someone to death.

Yochanan made an editorial comment, saying that the word of Yeshua might be fulfilled, which he spoke, signifying by what manner of death he should die (Jn. 18:32). Yeshua prophesied a number of times that He would die by crucifixion. However, the Jewish method of execution was stoning, not crucifixion. If Yeshua had been executed under Jewish law, He would have been stoned to death, making Him a false prophet, because He prophesied He would die by crucifixion. If the trial had occurred six months earlier, Yeshua would have been stoned to death and rendered a false prophet. In His providence, at the proper time, God moved the Roman Senate to take away the power of capital punishment from the Sanhedrin, so that Yeshua would die in accordance with His prophecies.

b. Sedition

When the religious leaders realized that Pilate required a proper accusation to proceed, they claimed Yeshua was guilty of sedition on three counts.
First, We found this man perverting our nation (Lk. 23:2a). They accused Yeshua of perverting the nation by mixing truth with heresy and therefore fomenting a rebellion.
Second, they accused Him of forbidding to give tribute to Caesar (Lk. 23:2b), a treasonous act. They obviously lied, because Yeshua said, render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s (Mt. 22:21; Mk. 12:17; Lk. 20:25). Third, they reminded Pilate that Yeshua claimed to be Messiah, a king, and therefore a competitor to Caesar.

c. The Conversation with Pilate

Once Pilate had a specific charge, he proceeded. In a Roman trial, after
the indictment was officially presented, the accused was questioned.
Pilate asked Yeshua:

Are you the King of the Jews?

(Jn. 18:33).

Note that he did not ask Him, “Are you the Messiah?” The question from his perspective as an official of the Roman government was, “Are you really a competitor to Caesar?” To clarify the issue, Yeshua responded to Pilate’s question with one of His own:

Do you say this of yourself, or did others tell you it concerning me?

(Jn. 18:34).

In other words, did Pilate, the Roman procurator, ask Him this of his own accord or did he repeat what others—specifically the Jewish leaders—had told him? Furthermore, did he ask the question from the viewpoint of a Roman or the viewpoint of a Jew?

Pilate answered:

Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered you unto me: what have you done?

(Jn. 18:35).

Pilate asked the question based upon what the Jewish leaders told him, but as the Roman procurator he needed to know, “Are you a competitor to
Caesar?”
Once the issue was clear, Yeshua gave a specific answer:

My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence

(Jn. 18:36).

For two reasons, Yeshua was not a competitor to Caesar.
First, He said, My kingdom is not of this world. This is a favorite passage for replacement theologians, especially those of the amillennial school, who use this verse to support their argument that when Yeshua returns, He will not set up a literal, earthly kingdom.
They believe in His second coming, but not that when He returns He will set up His earthly kingdom. They instead interpret Yeshua’s statement to mean that His kingdom will not be in this world. However, there is a difference between “of the world” and “in the world.” Yeshua made that distinction in John 17:11, 14, 16, and 18, where He said to the Father that He and the believers are in the world, but not of the world. To be of the world means to be of this world’s nature, and believers are no longer of this world’s nature. As long as believers are alive, they are in this world, but no longer of this world’s nature. When Yeshua returns to earth, He will not depose Caesar and sit upon his throne. He will come with His own throne, the throne of David, and with His own kingdom, the messianic kingdom. His kingdom will someday be in the world, but will never be of this world.
Second, He said, but now is my kingdom not from hence, meaning “not from now.” As a result of the rejection of His Messiahship, Yeshua’s kingdom would not yet be established. For these two reasons, He was not a competitor to Caesar.

To verify that he understood Yeshua correctly, Pilate asked a followup question:

Are you a king then?

(Jn. 18:37a),

meaning, “Are you a king in any sense of the term?” Yeshua answered, “Yes, in one sense,

I am a king even now; I am the king of the truth,” and Every one that is of the truth hears my voice

(Jn. 18:37b).


This ended the interrogation, and Pilate answered with a sarcastic question, What is truth? (Jn. 18:38). Sadly, for Pilate, at that very moment, he was looking at the Truth and did not recognize Him.

d. Declarations of Innocence

The procurator then issued the first of several declarations of innocence (Lk. 23:4). As far as he was concerned, Yeshua was not a threat to Rome. The first declaration of innocence was rebuffed and countered with many other accusations:

And the chief priests accused him of many things

(Mk. 15:3).

Yeshua responded with silence. When Pilate asked Him to defend Himself against these charges, Yeshua no more answered anything (Mk. 15:5);

And he gave him no answer, not even to one word

(Mt. 27:14).


As the accusations were blurted out, someone mentioned that Yeshua was from Galilee:

But they were the more urgent, saying, He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Yehudah, and beginning from Galil even unto this place.

(Lk. 23:5)

The mention of Yeshua’s Galilean origin gave Pilate an escape from the situation. While both Samaria and Judea were under his jurisdiction, Galilee was under the jurisdiction of Herod Antipas, who also came to Jerusalem during the festivals to help maintain order. So Pilate sent Yeshua to him.


2. The Trial before Herod Antipas

Luke 23:6-12

Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great. About a year earlier, he had beheaded Yochanan the Baptizer. Only then did he hear about Yeshua’s miracles, and for a while thought that Yeshua was Yochanan
raised from the dead. He had wanted to meet Him in person of a long time (Lk. 23:8). Pilate now sent Yeshua, a Galilean, to Herod Antipas because He was under Antipas’ jurisdiction (Lk. 23:7). So, Antipas finally got his wish: Yeshua stood before him, and he wanted to see miracles and be entertained. The same desire had cost Yochanan his life. However, Yeshua refused to perform for Antipas, because miracles were never for the purpose of entertainment. Disappointed, Antipas mocked Yeshua by arraying him in gorgeous apparel (Lk. 23:11), the second mockery the Messiah suffered that night. Even Herod Antipas acknowledged that Yeshua posed no threat to Rome, regardless of the accusations brought against Him by the chief priests and scribes (Lk.23:10), so this trial concluded with a second declaration of innocence (see § 174, Lk. 23:13-25, esp. v. 15).
Luke observed:

And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day: for before they were at enmity between themselves

(Lk.23:12).

The hostility between the two rulers had started when, as the newly appointed procurator, Pilate ordered his legions to carry ensigns with Caesar’s portrait into Jerusalem. This violated Jewish law, which forbade the making of images. Herod Antipas, a nominal convert to Judaism, understood these Jewish sensitivities; he knew that as long as the ensigns were within the walls of Jerusalem, a constant threat existed of Jewish agitation turning into rebellion. He asked Pilate to take them down, but Pilate refused. Then Antipas wrote a letter of complaint to the Roman Senate, who ordered Pilate to comply. Pilate and Antipas were at enmity between themselves, because each felt the other was not recognizing his authority. Now that the ruler of Judea had sent a Galilean to the one in charge of Galilee, they recognized their mutual authority and became friends, at Yeshua’s expense.
Herod Antipas and his wife Herodias eventually paid for beheading
Yochanan and mocking Yeshua. In the year A.D. 39, Herodias prompted her husband to go to Rome to request the title of king. The Senate had given that title to his father, Herod the Great, and if Rome also made Antipas king of Judea, she could be called queen. The emperor at that time was Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus, better known by his childhood nickname Caligula, meaning “little boots.” He was in power for only four years, but it was a bloody reign, for Caligula was mad. His excesses knew no bounds. Whenever he exhausted the government treasury to pay for his personal expenditures, he accused a wealthy landowner of some crime, killed the whole family, and seized their property. Eventually, the situation worsened so that the Praetorian Guard, once his protector, assassinated him. When Antipas and Herodias came before Caligula to request the title of king and queen, he banished them to Lyon, where they died in abject poverty.


3. The Second Trial before Pilate


Matthew 27:15-26, Mark 15:6-15, Luke 23:13 John 18:39-19:16

After Herod Antipas failed to find a charge against Yeshua, Pilate made several specific efforts to release Yeshua, in the process again declaring
His innocence. He gathered the religious leaders and said, Ye brought
unto me this man, as one that perverts the people: and behold, I having
examined him before you, found no fault in this man touching those
things whereof ye accuse him (Lk. 23:14). Herod could find no fault in
Yeshua and determined that nothing worthy of death has been done by
him (Lk. 23:15b). If one wanted to keep a list of these declarations of
innocence, Herod’s statement would be the second and Pilate’s the third. However, the crowd rejected these proclamations of Yeshua’s innocence.

a. Yeshua Bar Abba

In his second attempt to free Yeshua, Pilate offered the people a choice. A custom had developed that during the Passover the Roman authorities would release one Jewish prisoner as a goodwill gesture (Jn. 18:39). Besides Yeshua, another man, named Barabbas, was imprisoned, whom Yochanan referred to as a robber (Jn. 18:40). A better translation might be “malefactor” or “rebel,” since robbery was not punishable by death. Mark clearly stated that Barabbas had made insurrection, and in the insurrection had committed murder (Mk. 15:7). Barabbas was actually guilty of the crime of which Yeshua was accused. This is reaffirmed by Luke 23:19. The irony is that “Barabbas” was not a proper name, but a Greek transliteration of the Aramaic words bar, which means “son of,” and Abba, which was his father’s name, making him the “son of Abba.” The Gospels do not give his actual name, probably to avoid confusing the
reader. However, other sources reveal that his name was also Yeshua, a
common first-century name.6

So two men shared the same name; one

was guilty of sedition, and the other was accused but innocent of sedi-
tion. Even more ironic is the fact that Barabbas’ father’s name was

Abba, which in Aramaic means “the father.” So, Barabbas’ name and
title was Yeshua the son of the father. One bore the name and title, but
the other was the true Yeshua, the true Son of the true Father.
The two men were brought forward. Pilate tried hard to release
Yeshua because he perceived that for envy the chief priests had delivered
him up (Mk. 15:10). As it was with Yochanan the Baptizer, so it would
be with the Messiah: The actual reasons were personal, but the charge
was political. Pilate assumed that the people would ask for Yeshua’s,
not Barabbas’, release. The procedure was temporarily interrupted when Pilate received a message from his wife warning him not to get involved with the situation because of a dream she had just had (Mt. 27:19). By church tradition, her name was Claudia, and she later became a believer. The interruption was long enough so that the chief priests and the elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Bar Abba, and destroy Yeshua (Mt. 27:20), and that is what they did: But they cried out all to-
gether, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Bar Abba (Lk.23:18), and thus, Pilate’s second attempt to free Yeshua also failed.

6 The name Iesous Barabbas appears in the 9th century Codex Koridethi and in some Syrian sources. In his commentary on Matthew, Origen refers to ancient manuscripts that had this reading.

b. The Chastisement

Pilate made a third attempt to free Yeshua by satisfying the bloodlust of the crowd in a different way: Then Pilate therefore took Yeshua, and scourged him (Jn. 19:1). Details are omitted from the Gospels because
people would have been familiar with this type of punishment. Now, more than two thousand years later, many do not understand what it
means to be scourged, so they miss the degree of Yeshua’s suffering
prior to the cross. To be scourged was to be beaten or flogged with a
whip with multiple lashes. The Jews had exact rules regarding this form
of punishment. The actual stripes given were restricted to “forty save
one,” because according to the Mosaic Law, nobody could be lashed
more than forty times (Deut. 25:3). The Sopherim raised the question,
“Suppose the lasher was lashing, miscounted and gave the victim 41
lashes and broke the law?” Therefore, they built a fence around that law
by stopping the count at 39, and called it “forty save one.”7

7
See: b. Makkoth 2a; p. 1, n. (4).

The Jewish scourge was made either of leather or wood for the handle and had short leather lashes. The only part of the body beaten was the victim’s back. The whipping was excruciating, but never deadly. Paul suffered this Jewish punishment five times and survived (II Cor. 11:24). However, Yeshua was flogged by Romans, not Jews, with a vastly different procedure. The number of times a person could be struck with the scourge was limitless. The Roman whip had long leather lashes which could wrap around the whole body. At the end of each lash was a piece of metal, nail, glass, or sharp lamb bone. Sometimes even small jagged iron balls were used. After only a few applications of the scourge, the skin of the victim was torn away and the muscle exposed. The entire body was affected: the front, back, sides, and face. The face was lacerated and became like pulp. Paintings of the crucifixion often reveal a faulty interpretation of this scene, portraying Yeshua’s face intact except for a line of blood on the brow from the crown of thorns. In reality, His face would have been a pulpy mass. By the time a Roman flogging was over, family members no longer recognized the victim. This fulfilled the specific messianic prophecy of Isaiah 52:13-15, which said that the Messiah’s face was so disfigured that He no longer resembled a man.
This was the fourth mistreatment Yeshua endured on that night, and
He also suffered the third mockery (Jn. 19:2-3). The accusation was that
He claimed to be a king, so the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and arrayed him in a purple garment (a sign of royalty), thus mocking Yeshua. The thorns of some plants in Israel come to almost razor-sharp points, so that even lightly brushing against one can cause bleeding. Merely placing it on Yeshua’s head after His scourging would cause pain, but they kept striking Him. If they struck Him on the head where the crown rested, the thorns would cut deeper and more painfully.
The symbolism is important. Thorns symbolize the Adamic curse (Gen. 3:18); therefore, by means of His suffering, Yeshua bore upon Himself the Adamic curse. Pilate, believing that this severe corporal punishment without a guilty verdict would satisfy the Jewish leadership, issued a fourth declaration of innocence (Jn. 19:4). However, although the crowd saw that Yeshua was beaten to a bloody mess, they still cried out for His crucifixion (Jn. 19:5-6).

c. A New Charge

Pilate made a fourth attempt to free Yeshua by again declaring Him innocent of any crime (Jn. 19:6). Without a sentence by Rome, He could not be executed. The Jewish leaders dropped the charge of sedition and returned to the real issue troubling them all along, Yeshua’s claim to be the Messiah:

We have a law, and by that law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God

(Jn. 19:7).

Since Pilate had a new charge, he had to conduct a new interrogation (Jn. 19:8-11). This time, Yeshua did not answer any of his questions, probably because Pilate had previously received sufficient light to respond correctly, but instead asked sarcastically, What is truth? (Jn. 18:38). Therefore, Yeshua gave him no further truth. Pilate, pressing for an answer, pointed out that he had the authority to release Yeshua or have Him crucified, but Yeshua reminded Pilate that his authority was delegated:

You would have no power against me, except it were given you from above: therefore he that delivered me unto you has greater sin

(Jn. 19:11).


Final authority comes from heaven above. Furthermore, those who turned Yeshua over to Pilate were guilty of the greater transgression,
proving that there are varying degrees of sin. The Great White Throne judgment will judge the works of the unbeliever and determine the appropriate degree of punishment in the lake of fire.

Pilate made a fifth attempt to have Yeshua released:

Upon this Pilate sought to release him

(Jn. 19:12a).

However, his effort was spoiled when the people started crying out,

If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend: everyone that makes himself a king speaks against Caesar .

(Jn. 19:12)

While sounding like an empty threat, it still intimidated Pilate: When Pilate therefore [for the specific reason] heard these words [referring to the words,

If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend] he brought Yeshua out, and sat down on the judgment seat

(Jn. 19:13).

Why was Pilate so intimidated by this statement? Why did he care what the Jewish people thought? If this trial occurred in A.D. 30, the cause of the intimidation is unknown. However, if these events occurred in A.D. 33, it is possible that he was intimidated because of events occurring in Rome. Pilate received his position as procurator through his close friend Lucius Aelius Sejanus. Sejanus was a soldier and a confidant of Emperor Tiberius. When he became the captain of the imperial bodyguard, known as the Praetorian Guard, he used his influence to have Pilate appointed procurator over Judea. Later, Sejanus desired the position of emperor and conspired to assassinate Tiberius. However, the plot was discovered before the machination could be carried out, and Sejanus, along with others, was executed. The Roman Senate launched an investigation of everyone in the empire who had connections to Sejanus to root out any remaining pockets of conspirators. Because of Pilate’s friendship with Sejanus, he too was being investigated. The last thing he needed was for news to get back to Rome that he released someone claiming to be king and, therefore, a competitor to Caesar. Again, this would only apply if the trial took place in A.D. 33.
Nevertheless, the people’s threat intimidated Pilate enough to make him immediately close the proceedings and take his place on the judgment seat, or bema. The bema was an elevated stand probably erected outside the Praetorium, from where public meetings were directed and courts were held. If the Jewish leaders had entered the Praetorium, they would have defiled themselves and could not have eaten the chagigah, the Paschal lamb, later that morning. Therefore, Pilate left the palace to
take his seat on the bema and render the verdict. If found guilty, the
accused would then be sentenced.

d. Behold Your King

Sitting on the bema, Pilate made his sixth and final attempt to release
Yeshua, presenting Him to the people and saying: Behold, your King! (Jn. 19:14). The masses, however, countered by demanding His crucifixion. When he asked them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar (Jn. 19:15). That cry came from
the chief priests, the Sadducees, who, with this statement, disowned the
Messiah as their king and proclaimed their allegiance to Caesar. The
Pharisees would not have made such a proclamation.
Pilate made no further attempts to free Yeshua. Instead, taking a
pitcher of water, he washed his hands before the multitude (Mt. 27:24),
assuming that this gesture would absolve him of guilt, but it did not.
From a human perspective, the final decision as to whether Yeshua
lived or died was not with the Jewish leaders, but with this one man,
Pontius Pilate. He clearly knew what the right decision should be, but
allowed himself to be intimidated into making the wrong one. Merely
washing his hands did not absolve him from blame. Later, when Peter
preached a sermon (Acts 3), he listed several people by name who were
responsible for the Messiah’s death, and he included Pontius Pilate
(Acts 4:27). The earliest creed in church history, the Apostles’ Creed,
states, He suffered under Pontius Pilate. God did not absolve Pilate of
what he did. In A.D. 36, Caligula deposed Pilate and banished him to Gaul, where he committed suicide and paid for his role in this miscarriage of justice.

Pilate then issued his fifth declaration of innocence, calling Yeshua
this righteous man (Mt. 27:24). This was the most significant of the five
attestations, because it was made from the judgment seat. Still, all the
people answered and said, His blood on us, and on our children
(Mt. 27:25). They took upon themselves the curse of the blood, limiting it to themselves and their children. When the judgment for the unpardonable sin finally came in A.D. 70, it indeed fell upon them and their children, fulfilling the curse. Matthew alone recorded this response,
since he carefully traced the outworking of the unpardonable sin.

Finally, Pilate issued the death sentence (Lk. 23:24), while releasing Yeshua Bar Abba, or Barabbas (Lk. 23:25). There was a symbolic sub-
stitution in that the innocent one went to His death in place of the guilty one, who was set free:

Then therefore he [Pilate] delivered him [Yeshua] unto them to be crucified

(Jn. 19:16).


4. The Mockery


Matthew 27:27-30, Mark 15:16-1

Having been turned over to Roman soldiers, Yeshua suffered the fourth
mockery of the night (Mk. 15:17): Then the soldiers of the governor took
Yeshua into the Praetorium, and gathered unto him the whole band (Mt.
27:27). In Greek, the word band actually means “cohort.” A cohort had
arrested Yeshua earlier, and now it reconvened for the crucifixion.
After stripping Him of His clothes, they put on him a scarlet robe (Mt.
27:28), thus mocking His royalty. Instead of a crown of gold, they
placed a crown of thorns on His head (Mt. 27:29a) and a reed in his
right hand (Mt. 27:29b) to mimic a royal scepter. After spitting on Him
(Mt. 27:30), they took the reed out of His hand and used it to strike Him on the head (Mk. 15:19). This was the fifth mistreatment He suffered on that night.

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