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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 2 When it was morning, all
the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to
put him to death.
They bound him, led him away, and handed him
over to Pilate, the governor.
Then Judas, his betrayer, seeing that Jesus had
been condemned, deeply regretted what he had done. He returned the thirty
pieces of silver 3 to the chief priests and elders,
saying, "I have sinned in betraying
innocent blood." They said, "What is that to us? Look to it
4 Flinging the money into the temple, he
departed and went off and hanged himself.
The chief priests gathered up the money, but
said, "It is not lawful to deposit this in the temple treasury, for it is
the price of blood."
After consultation, they used it to buy the
potter's field as a burial place for foreigners.
That is why that field even today is called the
Field of Blood.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through
Jeremiah the prophet, 5 "And they took the thirty
pieces of silver, the value of a man with a price on his head, a price set by
some of the Israelites,
and they paid it out for the potter's field
just as the Lord had commanded me."
Now Jesus stood before the governor, and he
questioned him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" 6
Jesus said, "You say so."
And when he was accused by the chief priests
and elders, 7 he made no answer.
Then Pilate said to him, "Do you not hear
how many things they are testifying against you?"
But he did not answer him one word, so that the
governor was greatly amazed.
8 Now on the occasion of the feast the governor
was accustomed to release to the crowd one prisoner whom they wished.
9 And at that time they had a notorious prisoner
called (Jesus) Barabbas.
So when they had assembled, Pilate said to
them, "Which one do you want me to release to you, (Jesus) Barabbas, or
Jesus called Messiah?"
10 For he knew that it was out of envy that they
had handed him over.
11 While he was still seated on the bench, his
wife sent him a message, "Have nothing to do with that righteous man. I
suffered much in a dream today because of him."
The chief priests and the elders persuaded the
crowds to ask for Barabbas but to destroy Jesus.
The governor said to them in reply, "Which
of the two do you want me to release to you?" They answered,
12 Pilate said to them, "Then what shall I
do with Jesus called Messiah?" They all said, "Let him be
But he said, "Why? What evil has he
done?" They only shouted the louder, "Let him be crucified!"
13 When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at
all, but that a riot was breaking out instead, he took water and washed his
hands in the sight of the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this man's
blood. Look to it yourselves."
And the whole people said in reply, "His
blood be upon us and upon our children."
Then he released Barabbas to them, but after he
had Jesus scourged, 14 he handed him over to be crucified.
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus
inside the praetorium 15 and gathered the whole cohort
They stripped off his clothes and threw a
scarlet military cloak 16 about him.
Weaving a crown out of thorns, 17
they placed it on his head, and a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before
him, they mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!"
They spat upon him 18 and
took the reed and kept striking him on the head.
And when they had mocked him, they stripped him
of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucify him.
19 As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian
named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross.
And when they came to a place called Golgotha
(which means Place of the Skull),
they gave Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall. 20
But when he had tasted it, he refused to drink.
After they had crucified him, they divided his
garments 21 by casting lots;
then they sat down and kept watch over him
And they placed over his head the written
charge 22 against him: This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.
Two revolutionaries 23 were
crucified with him, one on his right and the other on his left.
24 Those passing by reviled him, shaking their
and saying, "You who would destroy the
temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, if you are the Son of God,
(and) come down from the cross!"
Likewise the chief priests with the scribes and
elders mocked him and said,
"He saved others; he cannot save himself.
So he is the king of Israel! 25 Let him come down from the
cross now, and we will believe in him.
26 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now if
he wants him. For he said, 'I am the Son of God.'"
The revolutionaries who were crucified with him
also kept abusing him in the same way.
27 From noon onward, darkness came over the whole
land until three in the afternoon.
And about three o'clock Jesus cried out in a
loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" 28 which
means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
29 Some of the bystanders who heard it said,
"This one is calling for Elijah."
Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge; he
soaked it in wine, and putting it on a reed, gave it to him to drink.
But the rest said, "Wait, let us see if
Elijah comes to save him."
30 But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and
gave up his spirit.
And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn
in two from top to bottom. 31 The earth quaked, rocks were
tombs were opened, and the bodies of many
saints who had fallen asleep were raised.
And coming forth from their tombs after his
resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
32 The centurion and the men with him who were
keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all
that was happening, and they said, "Truly, this was the Son of God!"
There were many women there, looking on from a
distance, 33 who had followed Jesus from Galilee,
ministering to him.
Among them were Mary Magdalene and Mary the
mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
34 When it was evening, there came a rich man
from Arimathea named Joseph, who was himself a disciple of Jesus.
He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus;
then Pilate ordered it to be handed over.
Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it (in) clean
and laid it in his new tomb that he had hewn in
the rock. Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb and
But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained
sitting there, facing the tomb.
35 The next day, the one following the day of
preparation, 36 the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered
and said, "Sir, we remember that this
impostor while still alive said, 'After three days I will be raised up.'
Give orders, then, that the grave be secured
until the third day, lest his disciples come and steal him and say to the
people, 'He has been raised from the dead.' This last imposture would be worse
than the first." 37
Pilate said to them, "The guard is yours; 38
go secure it as best you can."
So they went and secured the tomb by fixing a
seal to the stone and setting the guard.
1 [1-31] Cf ⇒ Mark
account of the Roman trial before Pilate is introduced by a consultation of the
Sanhedrin after which Jesus is handed over to . . . the governor
(⇒ Matthew 27:1-2). Matthew follows his Marcan source
closely but adds some material that is peculiar to him, the death of Judas
(⇒ Matthew 27:3-10), possibly the name Jesus as the
name of Barabbas also (⇒ Matthew 27:16-17), the
intervention of Pilate's wife (⇒ Matthew 27:19),
Pilate's washing his hands in token of his disclaiming responsibility for
Jesus' death (⇒ Matthew 27:24), and the assuming of
that responsibility by the whole people (⇒ Matthew
2  There is scholarly disagreement
about the meaning of the Sanhedrin's taking counsel (symboulion elabon; cf
⇒ Matthew 12:14;
⇒ 22:15; ⇒ 27:7;
⇒ 28:12); see the note on ⇒ Mark
15:1. Some understand it as a discussion about the strategy for
putting their death sentence against Jesus into effect since they lacked the right
to do so themselves. Others see it as the occasion for their passing that
sentence, holding that Matthew, unlike Mark (⇒ Mark
14:64), does not consider that it had been passed in the night
session (⇒ Matthew 26:66). Even in the latter
interpretation, their handing him over to Pilate is best explained on the
hypothesis that they did not have competence to put their sentence into effect,
as is stated in ⇒ John 18:31.
3  The thirty pieces of silver:
see ⇒ Matthew 26:15.
4 [5-8] For another tradition about
the death of Judas, cf ⇒ Acts 1:18-19. The two
traditions agree only in the purchase of a field with the money paid to Judas
for his betrayal of Jesus and the name given to the field, the Field of Blood.
In Acts Judas himself buys the field and its name comes from his own blood shed
in his fatal accident on it. The potter's field: this designation of the field
is based on the fulfillment citation in ⇒ Matthew
5 [9-10] Cf
⇒ Matthew 26:15. Matthew's attributing this text to
Jeremiah is puzzling, for there is no such text in that book, and the thirty
pieces of silver thrown by Judas "into the temple"
(⇒ Matthew 27:5) recall rather
⇒ Zechariah 11:12-13. It is usually said that the
attribution of the text to Jeremiah is due to Matthew's combining the Zechariah
text with texts from Jeremiah that speak of a potter
(⇒ Jeremiah 18:2-3), the buying of a field
(⇒ Jeremiah 32:6-9), or the breaking of a potter's
flask at Topheth in the valley of Ben-hinnom
with the prediction that it will become a burial place
(⇒ Jeremiah 19:1-13).
6  King of the Jews: this title
is used of Jesus only by pagans. The Matthean instances are, besides this
verse, ⇒ Matthew 2:2;
⇒ 27:29, ⇒ 37. Matthew
equates it with "Messiah"; cf ⇒ Matthew
2:2, 4 and ⇒ Matthew
27:17, ⇒ 22 where he has changed
"the king of the Jews" of his Marcan source (⇒ Mark
15:9, ⇒ 12) to "(Jesus) called
Messiah." The normal political connotation of both titles would be of
concern to the Roman governor. You say so: see the note on
⇒ Matthew 26:25. An unqualified affirmative
response is not made because Jesus' kingship is not what Pilate would
understand it to be.
7 [12-14] Cf
⇒ Matthew 26:62-63. As in the trial before the
Sanhedrin, Jesus' silence may be meant to recall ⇒ Isaiah
53:7. Greatly amazed: possibly an allusion to ⇒ Isaiah
8 [15-26] The choice that Pilate
offers the crowd between Barabbas and Jesus is said to be in accordance with a
custom of releasing at the Passover feast one prisoner chosen by the crowd
(⇒ Matthew 27:15). This custom is mentioned also in
⇒ Mark 15:6 and ⇒ John
18:39 but not in Luke; see the note on ⇒ Luke
23:17. Outside of the gospels there is no direct attestation of it,
and scholars are divided in their judgment of the historical reliability of the
claim that there was such a practice.
9 [16-17] [Jesus] Barabbas: it is
possible that the double name is the original reading; Jesus was a common
Jewish name; see the note on ⇒ Matthew 1:21. This
reading is found in only a few textual witnesses, although its absence in the
majority can be explained as an omission of Jesus made for reverential reasons.
That name is bracketed because of its uncertain textual attestation. The
Aramaic name Barabbas means "son of the father"; the irony of the
choice offered between him and Jesus, the true son of the Father, would be
evident to those addressees of Matthew who knew that.
10  Cf ⇒ Mark
is an example of the tendency, found in varying degree in all the gospels, to
present Pilate in a relatively favorable light and emphasize the hostility of
the Jewish authorities and eventually of the people.
11  Jesus' innocence is declared
by a Gentile woman. In a dream: in Matthew's infancy narrative, dreams are the
means of divine communication; cf ⇒ Matthew 1:20;
⇒ 2:12, ⇒ 13,
⇒ 19, ⇒ 22.
12  Let him be crucified: incited
by the chief priests and elders (⇒ Matthew 27:20),
the crowds demand that Jesus be executed by crucifixion, a peculiarly horrible
form of Roman capital punishment. The Marcan parallel, "Crucify him"
(⇒ Mark 15:3), addressed to Pilate, is changed by
Matthew to the passive, probably to emphasize the responsibility of the crowds.
13 [24-25] Peculiar to Matthew. Took
water . . . blood: cf ⇒ Deut 21:1-8, the handwashing
prescribed in the case of a murder when the killer is unknown. The elders of
the city nearest to where the corpse is found must wash their hands, declaring,
"Our hands did not shed this blood." Look to it yourselves: cf
⇒ Matthew 27:4. The whole people: Matthew sees in
those who speak these words the entire people (Greek laos) of Israel. His blood
. . . and upon our children: cf ⇒ Jeremiah 26:15.
The responsibility for Jesus' death is accepted by the nation that was God's
special possession (⇒ Exodus 19:5), his own people
(Hosea 2:23), and they thereby lose that high
privilege; see ⇒ Matthew 21:43 and the note on that
verse. The controversy between Matthew's church and Pharisaic Judaism about
which was the true people of God is reflected here. As the Second Vatican
Council has pointed out, guilt for Jesus' death is not attributable to all the
Jews of his time or to any Jews of later times.
14  He had Jesus scourged: the
usual preliminary to crucifixion.
15  The praetorium: the residence
of the Roman governor. His usual place of residence was at Caesarea Maritima on
the Mediterranean coast, but he went to Jerusalem during the great feasts, when
the influx of pilgrims posed the danger of a nationalistic riot. It is disputed
whether the praetorium in Jerusalem was the old palace of Herod in the west of
the city or the fortress of Antonia northwest of the temple area. The whole
cohort: normally six hundred soldiers.
16  Scarlet military cloak: so
Matthew as against the royal purple of ⇒ Mark 15:17
and ⇒ John 19:2.
17  Crown out of thorns: probably
of long thorns that stood upright so that it resembled the "radiant"
crown, a diadem with spikes worn by Hellenistic kings. The soldiers' purpose
was mockery, not torture. A reed: peculiar to Matthew; a mock scepter.
18  Spat upon him: cf
⇒ Matthew 26:67 where there also is a possible
allusion to ⇒ Isaiah 50:6.
19  See the note on
⇒ Mark 15:21. Cyrenian named Simon: Cyrenaica was a
Roman province on the north coast of Africa and Cyrene was its capital city.
The city had a large population of Greek-speaking Jews. Simon may have been
living in Palestine or have come there for the Passover as a pilgrim. Pressed
into service: see the note on ⇒ Matthew 5:41.
20  Wine . . . mixed with gall: cf
⇒ Mark 15:23 where the drink is "wine drugged
with myrrh," a narcotic. Matthew's text is probably an inexact allusion to
⇒ Psalm 69:22. That psalm belongs to the class
called the individual lament, in which a persecuted just man prays for
deliverance in the midst of great suffering and also expresses confidence that
his prayer will be heard. That theme of the suffering Just One is frequently
applied to the sufferings of Jesus in the passion narratives.
21  The clothing of an executed
criminal went to his executioner(s), but the description of that procedure in
the case of Jesus, found in all the gospels, is plainly inspired by
⇒ Psalm 22:18. However, that psalm verse is quoted
only in ⇒ John 19:24.
22  The offense of a person
condemned to death by crucifixion was written on a tablet that was displayed on
his cross. The charge against Jesus was that he had claimed to be the King of
the Jews (cf ⇒ Matthew 27:11), i.e., the Messiah
(cf ⇒ Matthew 27:17,
23  Revolutionaries: see the note
on ⇒ John 18:40 where the same Greek word as that
found here is used for Barabbas.
24 [39-40] Reviled him . . . heads: cf
⇒ Psalm 22:8. You who would destroy . . . three
days; cf ⇒ Matthew 26:61. If you are the Son of
God: the same words as those of the devil in the temptation of Jesus; cf
⇒ Matthew 4:3, 6.
25  King of Israel: in their
mocking of Jesus the members of the Sanhedrin call themselves and their people
not "the Jews" but Israel.
26  Peculiar to Matthew. He
trusted in God . . . wants him: cf ⇒ Psalm 22:9. He
said . . . of God: probably an allusion to ⇒ Wisdom
2:12-20 where the theme of the suffering Just One appears.
27  Cf ⇒ Amos
8:9 where on the day of the Lord "the sun will set at
28  Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?:
Jesus cries out in the words of ⇒ Psalm 22:2, a
psalm of lament that is the Old Testament passage most frequently drawn upon in
this narrative. In Mark the verse is cited entirely in Aramaic, which Matthew
partially retains but changes the invocation of God to the Hebrew Eli, possibly
because that is more easily related to the statement of the following verse
about Jesus' calling for Elijah.
29  Elijah: see the note on
⇒ Matthew 3:4. This prophet, taken up into heaven
(⇒ 2 Kings 2:11), was believed to come to the help
of those in distress, but the evidences of that belief are all later than the
30  Gave up his spirit: cf the
Marcan parallel (⇒ Mark 15:37), "breathed his
last." Matthew's alteration expresses both Jesus' control over his destiny
and his obedient giving up of his life to God.
31 [51-53] Veil of the sanctuary . . .
bottom: cf ⇒ Mark 15:38; ⇒ Luke
23:45. Luke puts this event immediately before the death of Jesus.
There were two veils in the Mosaic tabernacle on the model of which the temple
was constructed, the outer one before the entrance of the Holy Place and the
inner one before the Holy of Holies (see ⇒ Exodus
26:31-36). Only the high priest could pass through the latter and
that only on the Day of Atonement (see ⇒ Lev
16:1-18). Probably the torn veil of the gospels is the inner one. The
meaning of the scene may be that now, because of Jesus' death, all people have
access to the presence of God, or that the temple, its holiest part standing
exposed, is now profaned and will soon be destroyed. The earth quaked . . .
appeared to many: peculiar to Matthew. The earthquake, the splitting of the
rocks, and especially the resurrection of the dead saints indicate the coming
of the final age. In the Old Testament the coming of God is frequently
portrayed with the imagery of an earthquake (see ⇒ Psalm
68:9; ⇒ 77:19), and Jesus speaks of the
earthquakes that will accompany the "labor pains" that signify the
beginning of the dissolution of the old world (⇒ Matthew
24:7-8). For the expectation of the resurrection of the dead at the
coming of the new and final age, see ⇒ Daniel
12:1-3. Matthew knows that the end of the old age has not yet come
(⇒ Matthew 28:20), but the new age has broken in
with the death (and resurrection; cf the earthquake in
⇒ Matthew 28:2) of Jesus; see the note on
⇒ Matthew 16:28. After his resurrection: this
qualification seems to be due to Matthew's wish to assert the primacy of Jesus'
resurrection even though he has placed the resurrection of the dead saints
immediately after Jesus' death.
32  Cf ⇒ Mark
Christian confession of faith is made by Gentiles, not only the centurion, as
in Mark, but the other soldiers who were keeping watch over Jesus (cf
⇒ Matthew 27:36).
33 [55-56] Looking on from a distance:
cf ⇒ Psalm 38:12. Mary Magdalene . . . Joseph:
these two women are mentioned again in ⇒ Matthew
27:61 and ⇒ Matthew 28:1 and are important
as witnesses of the reality of the empty tomb. A James and Joseph are referred
to in ⇒ Matthew 13:55 as brothers of Jesus.
34 [57-61] Cf ⇒ Mark
drops Mark's designation of Joseph of Arimathea as "a distinguished member
of the council" (the Sanhedrin), and makes him a rich man and a disciple
of Jesus. The former may be an allusion to ⇒ Isaiah
53:9 (the Hebrew reading of that text is disputed and the one
followed in the NAB OT has nothing about the rich, but they are mentioned in
the LXX version). That the tomb was the new tomb of a rich man and that it was
seen by the women are indications of an apologetic intent of Matthew; there
could be no question about the identity of Jesus' burial place. The other Mary:
the mother of James and Joseph (56).
35 [62-66] Peculiar to Matthew. The
story prepares for ⇒ Matthew 28:11-15 and the
Jewish charge that the tomb was empty because the disciples had stolen the body
of Jesus (⇒ Matthew 28:13,
36  The next day . . .
preparation: the sabbath. According to the synoptic chronology, in that year
the day of preparation (for the sabbath) was the Passover; cf
⇒ Mark 15:42. The Pharisees: the principal
opponents of Jesus during his ministry and, in Matthew's time, of the Christian
church, join with the chief priests to guarantee against a possible attempt of
Jesus' disciples to steal his body.
37  This last imposture . . . the
first: the claim that Jesus has been raised from the dead is clearly the last
imposture; the first may be either his claim that he would be raised up (63) or
his claim that he was the one with whose ministry the kingdom of God had come
(see ⇒ Matthew 12:28).
38  The guard is yours: literally,
"have a guard" or "you have a guard." Either the imperative
or the indicative could mean that Pilate granted the petitioners some Roman
soldiers as guards, which is the sense of the present translation. However, if
the verb is taken as an indicative it could also mean that Pilate told them to
use their own Jewish guards.
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