Wednesday, 1 June 2016

The tragedy of Calvary. Part 112.

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 Roman scourging was the most terrible known in human history, and 300 years before the time of which we write, they enacted the Porcian law exempting Roman citizens. Horace calls it the flagellum horrible. "The horrible scourge." Juvenal declared his indignation that it had at one time been inflicted on a Roman citizen, and in unmeasured terms he condemns the debauched and ferocious matrons, who allowed it in their houses inflicted on their slaves, in spite of the protests of their husbands. (Satire vi. 479.) Historic records tell us that it was a hundred times more painful than death.

Verres ordered Sextus beaten with rods in the Lybyan Forum, and soon afterwards he died of the wounds. (See Cicero in Verrem, v. 54.) In Roman homes a slave, called the lorarius, wielded a rod called the lora, which he held over the lazy to make them work. (Juvenal, Sat. vi. 480.) Prisoners were punished with it, and its strokes are said to " cut," to "bite," " carve," " pinch," " break." etc.

Nothing equalled the horrors of the terrible Roman scourge. The patrician who had the life and death of his slaves in his hands, seldom ordered one of them punished in this way lest it might kill him.

The victim was stripped and tied with cords on a frame called the divaricatio, or to a pillar. The scourge was made of raw-hide, with lead balls, shaped like an acorn, tied to the ends, which were buried deep into the flesh at every stroke, tearing out chunks of quivering muscles. The back,' limbs, and the whole person of the victim were lacerated and cut open in all directions, often the eyes and teeth being torn out, while the judge and the rabble stood by crying out: " Give it to him."

Under the agony, the victim quivered, screamed, leaped distorted the body, soon sank insensible, and was carried away an unrecognizable mass of livid bleeding flesh, in a few hours to find relief in death from inflammation, fever and pain. (Keim. vol. iii, p. 361.) Eusebius the famed historian says, of the martyrs put to deatli by scourging : " All were horrified to see them so torn with scourges, that their very veins were laid bare, and the inner muscles and sinews, even the very bowels were exposed." (Hist. xv.)

This was the Roman scourging Pilate inflicted on Jesus Christ, with the hope that the Jews would let him go, when they had seen his awful punishment. The stone to which the prisoners were tied when scourged stood in the north of the Forum, near the soldiers' bar racks, where Roman guards and Edumean recruits took a special delight in scourging criminals. It is of dark granite, about eighteen inches in diameter, and Good Friday each year, a part of it is exposed in the Church of the the Holy Sepulcher at Jerusalem.

With a wave of the hand, Pilate turned to the captain of the Edumeans, men once robbers, but who had been detailed to scourge prisoners, and said: " I 'Lictor, ligatis manibus virgis cædite., Go, Lictor, tie his hands and scourge him with vigor." In that scourging were fulfilled the sacrificed animals of the Temple, who were always hung up to pillars and skinned before being placed on the altar. The prophets foretold the scene: " The wicked have wrought on my back." (Psalm cxxviii.) " I have been scourged all the day, and my chastisement hath been in the mornings." (Psalm Ixxii. 14.) " The chastisement of our peace was upon him and by his bruises we are healed." (Isaias liii. 5.)

The high-strung organization, people of refinement, men of great minds, have exquisitely fine nervous systems, and feel pain far greater than rough coarse individuals. Born of the ancient Hebrew race, of David's royal family refined for ages in Moses' law and ceremonial, Jesus Christ had the very finest nervous system, and we can but faintly realize the exquisite torture he suffered while his skin was being torn off by the scourges.

We know not how many times they struck him, history is silent on that. Some Saints say they gave him 5,000 strokes. Sts. Bridget, Gonzalve and others say they did not go beyond forty. But as the Romans were not bound by the Mosaic law, we conclude they scourged him till they tired and stopped from exhaustion.

Six swarthy dark Edumean criminals, with bare hairy arms, lead the Lord to a granite pillar standing in the Forum, and at its base throw down cords and scourges.

They are members of a robber band, Bedouin brutes from lower Arabia, who for murder and robbery had been condemned to hard labor for life. The most hardened had been selected as executioners, and had killed many a man at this pillar by their brutality. This morning they were half drunk. They dragged him along with the utmost cruelty, and they now throw him against the pillar, although he had offered no resistance.

They tore off the mantle of mockery with which he had been clothed in Herod's hall, took off the rest of his clothes and struck him because he did not hurry enough to suit them. The Lord put his arms around the pillar, which was about eighteen inches in diameter with iron rings about nine feet from the ground. To these rings they fastened the cords and tied him so he hung by his hands, just as the victims sacrificed in the Temple were hung up while their skins were taken off. There was not a particle of clothing on him as he hung to fulfil the animal types of him hi the Temple services. But God was merciful to the victims of sacrifice, for they were skinned after death but the real Victim was now to be skinned alive. (Isaias 1. 6)

Then two Edumean brutes began to lash his bare body with the raw-hide scourges. To the end of the sticks were fasten four thongs of raw-hide, hard like wire, each having at the end a leaden ball shaped like an acorn.

Two brutes scourged him till they tired, and then two others took their places. At last they ceased awhile from sheer exhaustion. Then they tied him up again with his back to the pillar and scourged him again. Jesus was a terrible sight. There was hardly a piece of sound skin on his whole body. He was all crimson with his own blood. He was baptized with his own gore as he had foretold. "And I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptized, and how I am straitened until it be accomplished." (Luke xii. 50) Many times he had told his followers that he was to be scourged. (Matt, xx, 19 ; Luke xviii. 33; Mark x. 34) The prophet saw him in this terrible state. " From the sole of the foot unto the top of the head there is no soundness therein, wounds and bruises and swelling sores, they are not bound up, nor dressed, not fomented with oil." (Isaias i. 6.) If Jesus had not been in the flower of his manhood, and free from every disease he would have died.

While this terrible scene is taking place the leaders of the Jews surround the Edumeans, urging and encouraging them to strike harder ; Roman soldiers are walking among the crowds of people; Pharisees are arguing about the points of the law; men are washing lambs for the sacrifice of the Temple in the Probatica Pool; priests approach and give money to the scourgers ; bad bold-looking young men are fixing the scourges, wiping the blood off, and others are giving wine to the already half-intoxicated scourgers. Pilate still stands on the porch of his palace trying to talk to the vast crowd filling the Forum. But they would not listen to him, and he had to have a trumpet blown to attract their attention.