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35And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
35 Verse 35. And they crucified him] Crucifixion properly means

the act of nailing or tying to a cross. The cross was made of two

beams, either crossing at the top at right angles, like a T, or in

the middle of their length, like an X. There was, besides, a

piece on the centre of the transverse beam, to which the

accusation or statement of the crime of the culprit was attached,

and a piece of wood which projected from the middle, on which the

person sat, as on a sort of saddle; and by which the whole body

was supported. Tertullian mentions this particularly: Nobis, says

he, tota crux imputatur, cum antenna scilicet sua, et cum illo

SEDILIS excessu. Advers. Nationes, lib. ii. Justin Martyr, in

his dialogue with Trypho the Jew, gives precisely the same

description of the cross; and it is worthy of observation that

both he and Tertullian flourished before the punishment of the

cross had been abolished. The cross on which our Lord suffered

was of the former kind; being thus represented in all old

monuments, coins, and crosses. St. Jerome compares it to a bird

flying, a man swimming, or praying with his arms extended. The

punishment of the cross was inflicted among the ancient Hindoos

from time immemorial for various species of theft; see Halhead's

Code of Gentoo Laws, p. 248, and was common among the Syrians,

Egyptians, Persians, Africans, Greeks, and Romans: it is also

still in use among the Chinese, who do not nail, but tie the

criminal to it. It was probably the Romans who introduced it

among the Jews. Before they became subject to the Romans, they

used hanging or gibbeting, but not the cross. This punishment

was the most dreadful of all others, both for the shame and pain

of it: and so scandalous, that it was inflicted as the last mark

of detestation upon the vilest of people. It was the punishment

of robbers and murderers, provided they were slaves; but if they

were free, it was thought too infamous a punishment for such, let

their crimes be what they might.

The body of the criminal was fastened to the upright beam, by

nailing or tying the feet to it, and on the transverse piece by

nailing, and sometimes tying the hands to it. As the hands and

feet are the grand instruments of motion, they are provided with a

greater quantity of nerves; and the nerves in those places,

especially the hands, are peculiarly sensible. Now, as the nerves

are the instruments of all sensation or feeling, wounds in the

parts where they abound must be peculiarly painful; especially

when inflicted with such rude instruments as large nails, forced

through the places by the violence of a hammer; thus tearing

asunder the nervous fibrillae, delicate tendons, and small bones

of those parts. This punishment will appear dreadful enough, when

it is considered that the person was permitted to hang (the whole

weight of his body being borne up by his nailed hands and the

projecting piece which passed between the thighs) till he perished

through agony and lack of food. Some, we are informed, have lived

three whole days in this state. It is true that, in some cases,

there was a kind of mercy shown to the sufferer, which will appear

sufficiently horrid, when it is known that it consisted in

breaking the bones of their legs and thighs to pieces with a large

hammer, in order to put them the sooner out of pain! Such a coup

de grace as this could only spring from those tender mercies of

the wicked which God represents as cruelty itself. Some were

permitted to hang on the cross till eaten up by birds of prey,

which often began to tear them before life was extinct. Horace

alludes to this punishment, and from what he says, it seems to

have been inflicted on slaves, &c., not on trifling occasions, but

for the most horrible crimes.

Si quis eum servum, patinam qui tollere jussus

Semesos pisces tepidumque ligurrierit jus,

In CRUCE suffigat. HOR. Satyr. l. i. s. 3. v. 80.

If a poor slave who takes away your plate,

Lick the warm sauce, or half cold fragments eat,

Yet should you crucify the wretch!----FRANCIS.

Non hominem occidi: non pasces in CRUCE corvos.

"I have not committed murder: Then thou shalt not be nailed to

the cross, to feed the ravens." HOR. Epist. l. i. s. 16. v. 48.

The anguish occasioned by crucifixion was so intense, that

crucio, (a cruce,) among the Romans, was the common word by which

they expressed suffering and torment in general.

And parted his garments, casting lots] These were the Roman

soldiers, who had crucified him: and it appears from this

circumstance, that in those ancient times the spoils of the

criminal were claimed by the executioners, as they are to the

present day. It appears that they divided a part, and cast lots

for the rest: viz. for his seamless coat, .

That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet,

saying, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture

did they cast lots.] The whole of this quotation should be

omitted, as making no part originally of the genuine text of this

evangelist. It is omitted by almost every MS. of worth and

importance, by almost all the versions, and the most reputable of

the primitive fathers, who have written or commented on the place.

The words are plainly an interpolation, borrowed from ,

in which place they will be properly noticed.