The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken from prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920
The women with John passed around to the west side, went through the crowd and stopped in the little valley near the walls of Joseph's garden. The Virgin, with John at her side, and her niece Mary, daughter of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen went up near the top, where they were stopped by the guard, while the other women remained below, where they found many women friends who believed in Jesus and who had come to see him die.
The leading Jews and Pharisees rode back and forth among the people, heaping maledictions on the head of the Victim, and encouraging the people to insult him. Within the circle of the low stone wall around the top of Calvary, with its five entrances guarded by the soldiers, were the three crosses of the condemned, and the guards were preparing for the execution, all surrounded by the hundred soldiers in unbroken Roman ranks.
When the preparations were finished, four guards went down straight north to the little cave like a dry cistern where the Victim was confined. With their usual brutality they dragged him out. At the sight of the Victim, a great shout went up from his enemies, which the Roman guards treated with indifference, for they were there to preserve the peace and to carry out their orders. The women gave the soldiers some money to allow them to approach, and give the Lord the wine Veronica had prepared.
The executioners feared they would have to nail an in sensible man to the cross, and they had prepared a mixture of myrrh, gall and vinegar to revive him. " They give him vinegar mixed with gall, and when he had tasted thereof he would not drink." (Matt xxvii. 34.) He looked as though he was about to fall insensible, he had so suffered, and the women offered him the wine Veronica had prepared, but he refused. Then were fulfilled the prophet's words
"And they gave me gall for my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink." (Psalm, lxviii. 22)
He would pass through his sufferings, even unto death, his senses undimmed by anaesthetics. He would drink the chalice of the awful tortures to the end. Besides, he was a Nazarite, and they were forbidden wine. (Numb. vi. 3. etc.)
The Nazarite who drank wine was punished with 39 stripes. The official of the sanhedrin, " ties both hands to a pillar, and messengers of the court take hold of his clothes, uncovers his breast : one stands on a stone behind him with a stick, with stripes of calfskin tied to its end, folded to make four stripes, and lashes him on the back and shoulders," says the Talmud. (Talmud, Babyl., Tract. Maccoth, Mish, v., p. 4, 7.)
The Lord would not break the law of the Nazarites. It was the custom to give wine and drink to those about to die, as the Jewish proverb says : " Give strong drink to those in anguish and about to perish, and wine to those who are heavy of heart. Let him drink and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more. (Prov. xxxi. 6, 7.) Romans gave criminals a drink they called Soper: " Sleep," Jewish ladies of highest rank used to prepare such drinks for criminals, and this was the reason they brought the aromatic wine from Veronica's house.
Within the circle on Calvary's top were eighteen guardsmen, the six who had scourged him, the four who had led him from Pilate's palace to Calvary, two with ropes to raise the cross and the six executioners. They were strong men from the wild mountains of the Swiss Alps—veterans who had seen severe service against the German tribes who had resisted the inroads of the Roman army. They were men absolutely without feeling, and accustomed to Rome's severest military discipline.
When Jesus was brought to the top of the hill, the executioners pulled off his cloak, then the belt around his waist, his tunic and his girdle. When they found they could not pull off his seamless garment on account of the crown of thorns, they took this off from his wounded bleeding brow, and pulled the garment off over his head. Then they took off his linen drawers worn by all the Temple priests, and then he stood naked before the whole multitude. Then they tied a towel around his loins, for the Talmud says criminals were thus covered.