The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings
by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920
PILATE, HIS WIFE, AND PALACE. CRUCIFIXION AND CALVARY.
PONTIUS PILATE, whose name may be translated as "Bridgeman Javelin," was born of the noble celebrated Pontii family, first celebrated in Roman history in the person of Pontius Teselenus, the great Samite general.
A German legend says he was the bastard son of Tyrus, king of Mayence, Germany, who sent him to Rome as a hostage. There Pilate murdered a man, and was banished to Pontus, where as commander of the Roman army, he conquered the wild tribes, and received the name of Pontius.
As a reward, and because of his wife's influence, the emperor sent him as the sixth procurator of Judea. The 22d Roman legion which took part under Titus in the destruction of Jerusalem, A. D. 70, was afterwards sent to Mayence, in Germany, and brought this tradition with them.
The Gospels tell us that he ruled Judea and put Christ to death. "When Tiberius was emperor, Christ was condemned to death by Pontius Pilate," says Tacitus (An. XV. 44, Josephus.) who tells many things about him. (Jewish Wars, B. ii., C. ix., Sec. 2, etc.)
A Roman procurator, or governor, was generally a knight. He collected the taxes, administered the laws and sat as judge of the court. According to Augustus' constitution, procurators were directly under the emperor, and the senate could not review their acts unless it was a senatorial province, which was governed by a proconsul with questors under him.
Pilate being thus directly subject to the emperor, we can better understand why he was so much afraid the Jews would report him to the emperor unless he pleased them by putting Christ to death.
Archelaus was deposed in the year of Christ 6, Judea was attached to Syria, and a procurator was named to administer it with his headquarters at Caesarea. During Archelaus' absence, the administration was in the hands of Sabinus, then came Coponius, the third was M. Ambivius, the fourth Annius, the fifth Valerius Gratus, and the sixth Pontius Pilate, whose appointment took place in the year A. D. 25, (Josephus, Antiq., XVIII., ii. 2.) when Tiberius had sat twelve years on the throne of the Caesars.
Pilate's first act was to remove the army headquarters from Caesarea to Jerusalem. Josephus says: "But now Pilate, the procurator of Judea, removed the army from Caesarea to Jerusalem, to take their winter quarters there, in order to abolish the Jewish laws. So he introduced Caesar's effigies, which were upon the ensigns, and brought them into the city, whereas our laws forbid the very making of images. Whereas the former procurators were wont to make their entry into the city with such ensigns as had not these ornaments, Pilate was the first who brought these images to Jerusalem, and set them up there, which was done without the knowledge of the people, be cause it was done in the night-time. But as soon as they saw them they came in a multitude to Caesarea, and inter ceded with Pilate many days, that he would remove the images. And when he would not grant their request, be cause it would tend to the injury of Caesar, while yet they persevered in their request, on the sixth day he ordered his soldiers to have their weapons privately, while he came and sat on his judgment-seat, which was so prepared in the open place of the city, that it concealed the army that lay ready to oppress them.
"And when the Jews petitioned him again, he gave the signal to the soldiers to encompass them round, and threatened that their fate should be no less than immediate death, unless they would leave off disturbing him and go their way home. But they threw themselves on the ground, and laid their necks bare, and said they would take their deaths very willingly, rather than that the wisdom of their laws should be transgressed. Upon which Pilate was deeply affected with their firm resolution to keep their laws inviolable, and presently he commanded the images to be carried back from Jerusalem. (Josephus Antiq. of the Jews, B. xviii., c. iii., Art. I.)
Thus they gained a victory over Pilate, and he learned his first lesson of the unbending stubbornness of the Jew in his religion. The images were the Roman eagles and the emperor's images on the standards or flags, carried wherever the Roman empire had spread.
"But Pilate undertook to bring a current of water to Jerusalem, arid did it with the sacred money, and derived the origin of the stream from the distance of two hundred furlongs. However the Jews were not pleased with what had been done about this water, and ten thousand of the people got together and made a clamor against him, and insisted that he leave off that design, some of them also used reproaches, and abused the man, as crowds of such people usually do. So he dressed a great number of his soldiers in their habit, who carried daggers under their garments, and sent them to a place where they might surround them. So he asked the Jews to go away.
"But they boldly casting reproaches on him, he gave the soldiers the signal, which had beforehand been agreed on, who laid on them much greater blows than Pilate had commanded them, and equally punished those that were tumultuous, and those that were not, nor did they spare any in the least. And since the people, were unarmed, and were caught by the soldiers who were prepared for what they were about, there were great numbers of them slain by this means, and others of them ran away wounded, and thus was an end put to this sedition." (Josephus, Antiq., B. xviii., c. iii. 2)