a pretender to supernatural knowledge and power, "a knowing
one," as the original Hebrew word signifies. Such an one was
forbidden on pain of death to practise his deceptions (Lev.
19:31; 20:6, 27; 1 Sam. 28:3; Isa. 8:19; 19:3).
Crown of thorns
our Lord was crowned with a, in mockery by the Romans (Matt.
27:29). The object of Pilate's guard in doing this was probably
to insult, and not specially to inflict pain. There is nothing
to show that the shrub thus used was, as has been supposed, the
spina Christi, which could have been easily woven into a wreath.
It was probably the thorny nabk, which grew abundantly round
about Jerusalem, and whose flexible, pliant, and round branches
could easily be platted into the form of a crown. (See THORN
contest; wrestling; severe struggling with pain and suffering.
Anguish is the reflection on evil that is already past, while
agony is a struggle with evil at the time present. It is only
used in the New Testament by Luke (22:44) to describe our Lord's
fearful struggle in Gethsemane.
The verb from which the noun "agony" is derived is used to
denote an earnest endeavour or striving, as "Strive [agonize] to
enter" (Luke 13:24); "Then would my servants fight" [agonize]
(John 18:36). Comp. 1 Cor. 9:25; Col. 1:29; 4:12; 1 Tim. 6:12; 2
Tim. 4:7, where the words "striveth," "labour," "conflict,"
"fight," are the renderings of the same Greek verb.
This word is found only in Matt. 23:23. It is the plant commonly
known by the name of dill, the Peucedanum graveolens of the
botanist. This name dill is derived from a Norse word which
means to soothe, the plant having the carminative property of
allaying pain. The common dill, the Anethum graveolens, is an
annual growing wild in the cornfields of Spain and Portugal and
the south of Europe generally. There is also a species of dill
cultivated in Eastern countries known by the name of shubit. It
was this species of garden plant of which the Pharisees were in
the habit of paying tithes. The Talmud requires that the seeds,
leaves, and stem of dill shall pay tithes. It is an
umbelliferous plant, very like the caraway, its leaves, which
are aromatic, being used in soups and pickles. The proper anise
is the Pimpinella anisum.
denounced by God against the serpent (Gen. 3:14), and against
Cain (4:11). These divine maledictions carried their effect with
them. Prophetical curses were sometimes pronounced by holy men
(Gen. 9:25; 49:7; Deut. 27:15; Josh. 6:26). Such curses are not
the consequence of passion or revenge, they are predictions.
No one on pain of death shall curse father or mother (Ex.
21:17), nor the prince of his people (22:28), nor the deaf (Lev.
19:14). Cursing God or blaspheming was punishable by death (Lev.
24:10-16). The words "curse God and die" (R.V., "renounce God
and die"), used by Job's wife (Job 2:9), have been variously
interpreted. Perhaps they simply mean that as nothing but death
was expected, God would by this cursing at once interpose and
destroy Job, and so put an end to his sufferings.
(1) Heb. mererah, meaning "bitterness" (Job 16:13); i.e., the
bile secreted in the liver. This word is also used of the poison
of asps (20:14), and of the vitals, the seat of life (25).
(2.) Heb. rosh. In Deut. 32:33 and Job 20:16 it denotes the
poison of serpents. In Hos. 10:4 the Hebrew word is rendered
"hemlock." The original probably denotes some bitter, poisonous
plant, most probably the poppy, which grows up quickly, and is
therefore coupled with wormwood (Deut. 29:18; Jer. 9:15; Lam.
3:19). Comp. Jer. 8:14; 23:15, "water of gall," Gesenius, "poppy
juice;" others, "water of hemlock," "bitter water."
(3.) Gr. chole (Matt. 27:34), the LXX. translation of the
Hebrew _rosh_ in Ps. 69; 21, which foretells our Lord's
sufferings. The drink offered to our Lord was vinegar (made of
light wine rendered acid, the common drink of Roman soldiers)
"mingled with gall," or, according to Mark (15:23), "mingled
with myrrh;" both expressions meaning the same thing, namely,
that the vinegar was made bitter by the infusion of wormwood or
some other bitter substance, usually given, according to a
merciful custom, as an anodyne to those who were crucified, to
render them insensible to pain. Our Lord, knowing this, refuses
to drink it. He would take nothing to cloud his faculties or
blunt the pain of dying. He chooses to suffer every element of
woe in the bitter cup of agony given him by the Father (John
Thorn in the flesh
(2 Cor. 12:7-10). Many interpretations have been given of this
passage. (1.) Roman Catholic writers think that it denotes
suggestions to impiety.
(2.) Luther, Calvin, and other Reformers interpret the
expression as denoting temptation to unbelief.
(3.) Others suppose the expression refers to "a pain in the
ear or head," epileptic fits, or, in general, to some severe
physical infirmity, which was a hindrance to the apostle in his
work (comp. 1 Cor. 2:3; 2 Cor. 10:10; 11:30; Gal. 4:13, 14;
6:17). With a great amount of probability, it has been alleged
that his malady was defect of sight, consequent on the dazzling
light which shone around him at his conversion, acute opthalmia.
This would account for the statements in Gal. 4:14; 2 Cor.
10:10; also Acts 23:5, and for his generally making use of the
help of an amanuensis (comp. Rom. 16:22, etc.).
(4.) Another view which has been maintained is that this
"thorn" consisted in an infirmity of temper, to which he
occasionally gave way, and which interfered with his success
(comp. Acts 15:39; 23:2-5). If we consider the fact, "which the
experience of God's saints in all ages has conclusively
established, of the difficulty of subduing an infirmity of
temper, as well as the pain, remorse, and humiliation such an
infirmity is wont to cause to those who groan under it, we may
be inclined to believe that not the least probable hypothesis
concerning the 'thorn' or 'stake' in the flesh is that the
loving heart of the apostle bewailed as his sorest trial the
misfortune that, by impatience in word, he had often wounded
those for whom he would willingly have given his life" (Lias's
Second Cor., Introd.).
or washing, was practised, (1.) When a person was initiated into
a higher state: e.g., when Aaron and his sons were set apart to
the priest's office, they were washed with water previous to
their investiture with the priestly robes (Lev. 8:6).
(2.) Before the priests approached the altar of God, they were
required, on pain of death, to wash their hands and their feet
to cleanse them from the soil of common life (Ex. 30:17-21). To
this practice the Psalmist alludes, Ps. 26:6.
(3.) There were washings prescribed for the purpose of
cleansing from positive defilement contracted by particular
acts. Of such washings eleven different species are prescribed
in the Levitical law (Lev. 12-15).
(4.) A fourth class of ablutions is mentioned, by which a
person purified or absolved himself from the guilt of some
particular act. For example, the elders of the nearest village
where some murder was committed were required, when the murderer
was unknown, to wash their hands over the expiatory heifer which
was beheaded, and in doing so to say, "Our hands have not shed
this blood, neither have our eyes seen it" (Deut. 21:1-9). So
also Pilate declared himself innocent of the blood of Jesus by
washing his hands (Matt. 27:24). This act of Pilate may not,
however, have been borrowed from the custom of the Jews. The
same practice was common among the Greeks and Romans.
The Pharisees carried the practice of ablution to great
excess, thereby claiming extraordinary purity (Matt. 23:25).
Mark (7:1-5) refers to the ceremonial ablutions. The Pharisees
washed their hands "oft," more correctly, "with the fist" (R.V.,
"diligently"), or as an old father, Theophylact, explains it,
"up to the elbow." (Compare also Mark 7:4; Lev. 6:28; 11: 32-36;
15:22) (See WASHING ¯T0003788.)
son of my right hand. (1.) The younger son of Jacob by Rachel
(Gen. 35:18). His birth took place at Ephrath, on the road
between Bethel and Bethlehem, at a short distance from the
latter place. His mother died in giving him birth, and with her
last breath named him Ben-oni, son of my pain, a name which was
changed by his father into Benjamin. His posterity are called
Benjamites (Gen. 49:27; Deut. 33:12; Josh. 18:21).
The tribe of Benjamin at the Exodus was the smallest but one
(Num. 1:36, 37; Ps. 68:27). During the march its place was along
with Manasseh and Ephraim on the west of the tabernacle. At the
entrance into Canaan it counted 45,600 warriors. It has been
inferred by some from the words of Jacob (Gen. 49:27) that the
figure of a wolf was on the tribal standard. This tribe is
mentioned in Rom. 11:1; Phil. 3:5.
The inheritance of this tribe lay immediately to the south of
that of Ephraim, and was about 26 miles in length and 12 in
breadth. Its eastern boundary was the Jordan. Dan intervened
between it and the Philistines. Its chief towns are named in
The history of the tribe contains a sad record of a desolating
civil war in which they were engaged with the other eleven
tribes. By it they were almost exterminated (Judg. 20:20, 21;
21:10). (See GIBEAH ¯T0001476.)
The first king of the Jews was Saul, a Benjamite. A close
alliance was formed between this tribe and that of Judah in the
time of David (2 Sam. 19:16, 17), which continued after his
death (1 Kings 11:13; 12:20). After the Exile these two tribes
formed the great body of the Jewish nation (Ezra 1:5; 10:9).
The tribe of Benjamin was famous for its archers (1 Sam.
20:20, 36; 2 Sam. 1:22; 1 Chr. 8:40; 12:2) and slingers (Judge.
The gate of Benjamin, on the north side of Jerusalem (Jer.
37:13; 38:7; Zech. 14:10), was so called because it led in the
direction of the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. It is
called by Jeremiah (20:2) "the high gate of Benjamin;" also "the
gate of the children of the people" (17:19). (Comp. 2 Kings
The temple erected by the exiles on their return from Babylon
had stood for about five hundred years, when Herod the Great
became king of Judea. The building had suffered considerably
from natural decay as well as from the assaults of hostile
armies, and Herod, desirous of gaining the favour of the Jews,
proposed to rebuild it. This offer was accepted, and the work
was begun (B.C. 18), and carried out at great labour and
expense, and on a scale of surpassing splendour. The main part
of the building was completed in ten years, but the erection of
the outer courts and the embellishment of the whole were carried
on during the entire period of our Lord's life on earth (John
2:16, 19-21), and the temple was completed only A.D. 65. But it
was not long permitted to exist. Within forty years after our
Lord's crucifixion, his prediction of its overthrow was
accomplished (Luke 19: 41-44). The Roman legions took the city
of Jerusalem by storm, and notwithstanding the strenuous efforts
Titus made to preserve the temple, his soldiers set fire to it
in several places, and it was utterly destroyed (A.D. 70), and
was never rebuilt.
Several remains of Herod's stately temple have by recent
explorations been brought to light. It had two courts, one
intended for the Israelites only, and the other, a large outer
court, called "the court of the Gentiles," intended for the use
of strangers of all nations. These two courts were separated by
a low wall, as Josephus states, some 4 1/2 feet high, with
thirteen openings. Along the top of this dividing wall, at
regular intervals, were placed pillars bearing in Greek an
inscription to the effect that no stranger was, on the pain of
death, to pass from the court of the Gentiles into that of the
Jews. At the entrance to a graveyard at the north-western angle
of the Haram wall, a stone was discovered by M. Ganneau in 1871,
built into the wall, bearing the following inscription in Greek
capitals: "No stranger is to enter within the partition wall and
enclosure around the sanctuary. Whoever is caught will be
responsible to himself for his death, which will ensue."
There can be no doubt that the stone thus discovered was one
of those originally placed on the boundary wall which separated
the Jews from the Gentiles, of which Josephus speaks.
It is of importance to notice that the word rendered
"sanctuary" in the inscription was used in a specific sense of
the inner court, the court of the Israelites, and is the word
rendered "temple" in John 2:15 and Acts 21:28, 29. When Paul
speaks of the middle wall of partition (Eph. 2:14), he probably
makes allusion to this dividing wall. Within this partition wall
stood the temple proper, consisting of, (1) the court of the
women, 8 feet higher than the outer court; (2) 10 feet higher
than this court was the court of Israel; (3) the court of the
priests, again 3 feet higher; and lastly (4) the temple floor, 8
feet above that; thus in all 29 feet above the level of the
The summit of Mount Moriah, on which the temple stood, is now
occupied by the Haram esh-Sherif, i.e., "the sacred enclosure."
This enclosure is about 1,500 feet from north to south, with a
breadth of about 1,000 feet, covering in all a space of about 35
acres. About the centre of the enclosure is a raised platform,
16 feet above the surrounding space, and paved with large stone
slabs, on which stands the Mohammedan mosque called Kubbet
es-Sahkra i.e., the "Dome of the Rock," or the Mosque of Omar.
This mosque covers the site of Solomon's temple. In the centre
of the dome there is a bare, projecting rock, the highest part
of Moriah (q.v.), measuring 60 feet by 40, standing 6 feet above
the floor of the mosque, called the sahkra, i.e., "rock." Over
this rock the altar of burnt-offerings stood. It was the
threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite. The exact position on
this "sacred enclosure" which the temple occupied has not been
yet definitely ascertained. Some affirm that Herod's temple
covered the site of Solomon's temple and palace, and in addition
enclosed a square of 300 feet at the south-western angle. The
temple courts thus are supposed to have occupied the southern
portion of the "enclosure," forming in all a square of more than
900 feet. It is argued by others that Herod's temple occupied a
square of 600 feet at the south-west of the "enclosure."