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 high priests, Scribes and Rabbis had hurried back to take part in the afternoon sacrifice at three o'clock, and they arrived just as the darkness ceased and the sun again began to shine. They had got over their fear of the darkness, and were triumphing over the Nazarene, when the earthquake shook the ground, the sacred city and the Temple.
In the Temple had gathered the leaders of the Hebrew nation, and their names have come down to us. These were the men who had spurred on the people to demand Christ's death in Pilate's Forum, and who had mocked the dying Divine Son as he hung on the cross.
Jonathan Ben Uzziel (Jehovah is given," or "Son of Jehovah is strong.") celebrated Targum scholar was their leader. He was known all over Jewry for his grasp of tradition and his great learning. He was revered by all nations. Sixteen men named Jonathan are given in the Old Testament, the first being Moses' grandson, the last was the father of the prophet Zachary. (Judges xviii. 30. II. Esdras xii. 34.)
There was the gentle Rabbi Ben Buta, a follower of Shammai's school, a man mild as the famous Hillel, whom the people held as the holiest man in all Israel. But many years before Herod had put out his eyes, and he could not see that darkness which fell on the earth.
Near by was Dosithai of Jethma, who was always a fierce hater of the Herods. There they met Zadoc (" The Just.") who had taken an active part in the uprising of Judas the Gualonite,which Rome had crushed with ruthless butchery.
With them was Boettho, the father of Herod's wife Mariamne. But he was now old and feeble. There were others not so celebrated in history. Abudem famed for his knowledge of the Torah, the Law of Moses, and Diclas a school teacher. Then we mention Rabbis Addas, Finees and Egias, who lived in Galilee, and had come up to celebrate the Passover. These were prominent preachers of the synagogues of the towns along the shores of Galilee. We find that there gathered also Semes, Dathaes, Judas,—not the Iscariot, for he was dead by suicide,—Levi, Nephthalim, Alexander, Jairns, Phenees, Buthem, Isaac, Nathan, Lazarus—not the one Christ raised from the grave, but another of the same name,— Samuel, Crispus, Syrus, Zaras, Amese, Dagrippus, Aggai and Datam.
We find their names in the accounts of the meetings of the Sanhedrin called by the high priests to take means to prevent the news of the resurrection spreading among the Jews. With the high priests and men of the Temple whose names we have already given in other parts of our work, these leaders deceived the Jewish nation, gave large sums of money to the guards to tell, that while they slept the disciples took away the body of the dead Lord.
All these, with many others coming back from Calvary had gathered in the Temple for the afternoon sacrifice of the lamb, after they had sacrificed the real Lamb of God. As they saw the great bronze gates of the Temple the moment of Christ's death open of their own accord, Rabbi Jochanan Ben Zacchai cried out: " Temple ! Temple ! why do you frighten us ? We know that thou will be shortly destroyed, for it is said: " Open thy gates, O Libanus, and let fire devour thy cedars." (Zach. xi. 1) Ever after, while he lived, his contemporaries looked on him as a prophet. For he had quoted the words of the prophet Zachary, foretelling this very time at the death of Christ, when the Temple gates would open of themselves. The reader can see in the words of the prophets and in Josephus' writings the terrible destruction of the city, the Temple and the Jewish nationality for the crime they committed that day.
The lights and candles were still burning, the priests tried to keep order among the vast concourse of people who had assembled where the strictest order and decorum were always maintained. The lamb had been immolated, and they were getting ready to sprinkle the blood in the Holies, when suddenly appeared among them the spectres of persons who had been dead for years. With pallid faces, and clothed in grave-clothes, the dead floated over the heads of the vast multitude. With stern words they reproved the nation for the crime they had committed. They called down his blood on their heads. They told them they would wander as a nation like Cain over the face of the earth. (Tissot's Life of Christ, Vol. IV.) The people struck with fear and consternation fled from the Temple. They ran out every one of the gates leading from the north and south sides of Israel's court, and a great concourse swept out the Nicanor Gate.
Annas and Caiphas within tried to calm the excited multitude of people. The Roman guards from Antonia ran over into the Temple area, thinking it was a revolt. The priests tried to continue the service, but just as the priest was about to enter the Holies with the lamb's blood, an earthquake shock shook the sacred building. The two great pillars on either side of the Porch, leading into the Holy of Holies fell, one to the north, the other to the south, tearing the great veil from top to bottom. " And the veil of the Temple was rent in the midst."