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
|The Descent from the Cross (van der Weyden)|
The names of the other members of this ecclesiastical court who condemned Christ to death have come down to us. When Tiberius sent Valerius Gratus to be procurator of Palestine, to succeed Annius Rufus, Gratus removed the infamous Annas because of his crimes, and appointed Ismael son of Phabi in his place. Josephus says, " He also deprived him in a little time, and ordained Eleazar, the son of Annas, who had been high priest, which office he held for a year." (Josephus, Antiq., B. xviii, C. ii n. 2.) This fellow in his younger days was a follower of the false prophet Judas of Galilee, who put himself at the head of a revolt against the Romans, saying: " We have no master but God; we ought not to pay tribute to Caesar, nor to acknowledge his authority." The insurrection was suppressed with terrible force by the Roman army. It was to get him into the same trouble with the Romans that the Scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus if it was right to pay tribute to Caesar. (Mark xii. 14 ; Luke xx. 22.) When Judas was killed his sons James, Simon and Menahem took his place as leaders of the rebellion. The two first were taken and crucified, the last took an important part in the siege of Jerusalem. (Stapfer, Palestine in the Time of Christ, p. 75, 76.)
"And when Agrippa had entirely finished all the duties of the divine worship, he removed Theophilus from the high priesthood, and bestowed that honor on Simon the son of Boethus, whose name was also Cantheras, ' the Quarrelsome,' whose daughter King Herod had married." (Antiq. B. xix, C. vi. n. 2.) This Simon was the high priest who later murdered St. James the holy apostle, first bishop of Jerusalem This Theophilus retained the office from A. D. 37 to 38. Be cause of his public scandals, Agrippa deprived him of the office, and selected Jonathan, Annas' son, who pontificated only once, then he protested that he was not worthy of the high dignity, and asked the king to select his brother Matthias, which was done. This Jonathan seems to have been the only decent man in Annas' family. (Josephus Antiq. xix., vi. 4.)
There was Jonathan Ben Mebedai who afterwards be came St. Paul's persecutor. In later days he became a sensual glutton and drunkard, even seizing the remains of the Temple sacrifices and bringing them to his house to adorn his feasts. In Jewish writings he is said to have composed a parody on the marriage feast of the king's son, and on the wedding garment showing that he had heard our Lord's sermons on these subjects. (Matt. xxii. 1-14, See Shabb. 155, 153, etc.)
Issachar of Kefar was the dude of the whole crowd. When later he was elected to the office of high priest he officiated with silk gloves lest he might soil his delicate hands with the victims' blood. Herod had a dispute with his wife whether lamb or kid was the better eating, and they sent for Issachar to settle the question. Going into the throne-room of Herod Agrippa, he waved his right hand to the king in a flippant manner, and Herod felt so insulted that he ordered Alexander Janneus to cut off his hand. Issachar bribed the latter to cut off his left hand, which was done. When Herod heard this, he ordered the right hand also amputated, as that was the one with which he had insulted him, and thus he lost both hands. Of him the Talmud says: " It was also said that during his administration as high priest, there was never anything left over of sacrifice from one day to the next." (Talmud Babyl. iv.)
Jochanan Ben Zacchai, called John in the Acts of the Apostles, (Act. iv. 6.) Alexander and the five sons of Annas all rolled in the wealth of the temple, and they were the most active members of the court which condemned the Lord to death, for they thought that Christ applied to them the parables of Lazarus and the rich man, who died and was buried in hell. (Luke xvi.)
The Talmud says that the Temple priests were so wicked, that the worshipers used to cry out in the Temple four times the following:
" Go away from the temple, ye children of Eli, who defile God's House." (I. Kings, ii. or I. Samuel ii.)
"Leave the temple, Issachar, man of the village of Barkai, who by his arrogance desecrated the sanctity of heaven. He would envelop his hands in silk while performing his service as priest."
"Raise up your heads, O ye gates, and let Ishmael Ben Peakhi, the disciple of Pinhas, enter and assume the office of high priest.
"Raise your heads, O ye gates, and let Johanan Ben Narbaryi enter and fill his bowels with the holy sacrifices."
Of this man it was said that with his large family, he would consume three hundred calves, three hundred jugs of wine and forty seah of grain coming from the Temple during one meal.
When Festus died, the Roman emperor sent Albinus as procurator to Judea, and he at once deprived Joseph Cabi, son of Simon, of the high-priesthood, and appointed Annas the youngest son of the impious Annas to the high priesthood.
Josephus says: " Now the report goes that this Annas proved a most fortunate man, for he had five sons, who had all performed the office of high priest to God, and he had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests. But this younger Annas, who, as we have told you already, took the high-priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees who were very rigid in judging offenders above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed.
"When therefore Annas was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity to exercise his authority. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but on the road. So he assembled the Sanhedrin of the judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned." (Antiq. B. xx., C. ix,, n. 1.)
So perished St. James the Apostle at the hands of the youngest son of that Annas, who before had condemned Christ. Some of the people sent word to Agrippa and they went to meet Albinus on the way up to Jerusalem telling the latter how the Sanhedrin had been called without his consent. The procurator wrote an angry letter to Annas junior and Herod Agrippa removed him from the high-priesthood. ((Antiq., B. xx., C. ix., n. 1.)