See PILATE ¯T0002954.
probably connected with the Roman family of the Pontii, and
called "Pilate" from the Latin pileatus, i.e., "wearing the
pileus", which was the "cap or badge of a manumitted slave," as
indicating that he was a "freedman," or the descendant of one.
He was the sixth in the order of the Roman procurators of Judea
(A.D. 26-36). His headquarters were at Caesarea, but he
frequently went up to Jerusalem. His reign extended over the
period of the ministry of John the Baptist and of Jesus Christ,
in connection with whose trial his name comes into prominent
notice. Pilate was a "typical Roman, not of the antique, simple
stamp, but of the imperial period, a man not without some
remains of the ancient Roman justice in his soul, yet
pleasure-loving, imperious, and corrupt. He hated the Jews whom
he ruled, and in times of irritation freely shed their blood.
They returned his hatred with cordiality, and accused him of
every crime, maladministration, cruelty, and robbery. He visited
Jerusalem as seldom as possible; for, indeed, to one accustomed
to the pleasures of Rome, with its theatres, baths, games, and
gay society, Jerusalem, with its religiousness and
ever-smouldering revolt, was a dreary residence. When he did
visit it he stayed in the palace of Herod the Great, it being
common for the officers sent by Rome into conquered countries to
occupy the palaces of the displaced sovereigns."
After his trial before the Sanhedrin, Jesus was brought to the
Roman procurator, Pilate, who had come up to Jerusalem as usual
to preserve order during the Passover, and was now residing,
perhaps, in the castle of Antonia, or it may be in Herod's
palace. Pilate came forth from his palace and met the deputation
from the Sanhedrin, who, in answer to his inquiry as to the
nature of the accusation they had to prefer against Jesus,
accused him of being a "malefactor." Pilate was not satisfied
with this, and they further accused him (1) of sedition, (2)
preventing the payment of the tribute to Caesar, and (3) of
assuming the title of king (Luke 23:2). Pilate now withdrew with
Jesus into the palace (John 18:33) and examined him in private
(37,38); and then going out to the deputation still standing
before the gate, he declared that he could find no fault in
Jesus (Luke 23:4). This only aroused them to more furious
clamour, and they cried that he excited the populace "throughout
all Jewry, beginning from Galilee." When Pilate heard of
Galilee, he sent the accused to Herod Antipas, who had
jurisdiction over that province, thus hoping to escape the
difficulty in which he found himself. But Herod, with his men of
war, set Jesus at nought, and sent him back again to Pilate,
clad in a purple robe of mockery (23:11, 12).
Pilate now proposed that as he and Herod had found no fault in
him, they should release Jesus; and anticipating that they would
consent to this proposal, he ascended the judgment-seat as if
ready to ratify the decision (Matt. 27:19). But at this moment
his wife (Claudia Procula) sent a message to him imploring him
to have nothing to do with the "just person." Pilate's feelings
of perplexity and awe were deepened by this incident, while the
crowd vehemently cried out, "Not this man, but Barabbas." Pilate
answered, "What then shall I do with Jesus?" The fierce cry
immediately followed. "Let him be crucified." Pilate, apparently
vexed, and not knowning what to do, said, "Why, what evil hath
he done?" but with yet fiercer fanaticism the crowd yelled out,
"Away with him! crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate yielded, and
sent Jesus away to be scourged. This scourging was usually
inflicted by lictors; but as Pilate was only a procurator he had
no lictor, and hence his soldiers inflicted this terrible
punishment. This done, the soldiers began to deride the
sufferer, and they threw around him a purple robe, probably some
old cast-off robe of state (Matt. 27:28; John 19:2), and putting
a reed in his right hand, and a crowd of thorns on his head,
bowed the knee before him in mockery, and saluted him, saying,
"Hail, King of the Jews!" They took also the reed and smote him
with it on the head and face, and spat in his face, heaping upon
him every indignity.
Pilate then led forth Jesus from within the Praetorium (Matt.
27:27) before the people, wearing the crown of thorns and the
purple robe, saying, "Behold the man!" But the sight of Jesus,
now scourged and crowned and bleeding, only stirred their hatred
the more, and again they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!"
and brought forth this additional charge against him, that he
professed to be "the Son of God." Pilate heard this accusation
with a superstitious awe, and taking him once more within the
Praetorium, asked him, "Whence art thou?" Jesus gave him no
answer. Pilate was irritated by his continued silence, and said,
"Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee?" Jesus,
with calm dignity, answered the Roman, "Thou couldest have no
power at all against me, except it were given thee from above."
After this Pilate seemed more resolved than ever to let Jesus
go. The crowd perceiving this cried out, "If thou let this man
go, thou art not Caesar's friend." This settled the matter. He
was afraid of being accused to the emperor. Calling for water,
he washed his hands in the sight of the people, saying, "I am
innocent of the blood of this just person." The mob, again
scorning his scruples, cried, "His blood be on us, and on our
children." Pilate was stung to the heart by their insults, and
putting forth Jesus before them, said, "Shall I crucify your
King?" The fatal moment had now come. They madly exclaimed, "We
have no king but Caesar;" and now Jesus is given up to them, and
led away to be crucified.
By the direction of Pilate an inscription was placed,
according to the Roman custom, over the cross, stating the crime
for which he was crucified. Having ascertained from the
centurion that he was dead, he gave up the body to Joseph of
Arimathea to be buried. Pilate's name now disappears from the
Gospel history. References to him, however, are found in the
Acts of the Apostles (3:13; 4:27; 13:28), and in 1 Tim. 6:13. In
A.D. 36 the governor of Syria brought serious accusations
against Pilate, and he was banished to Vienne in Gaul, where,
according to tradition, he committed suicide.
occurs only in the superscription (which is probably spurious,
and is altogether omitted in the R.V.) to the Second Epistle to
Timothy. He became emperor of Rome when he was about seventeen
years of age (A.D. 54), and soon began to exhibit the character
of a cruel tyrant and heathen debauchee. In May A.D. 64, a
terrible conflagration broke out in Rome, which raged for six
days and seven nights, and totally destroyed a great part of the
city. The guilt of this fire was attached to him at the time,
and the general verdict of history accuses him of the crime.
"Hence, to suppress the rumour," says Tacitus (Annals, xv. 44),
"he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished with the most
exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who
are hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of that
name, was put to death as a criminal by Pontius Pilate,
procurator of Judea, in the reign of Tiberius; but the
pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again,
not only throughout Judea, where the mischief originated, but
through the city of Rome also, whither all things horrible and
disgraceful flow, from all quarters, as to a common receptacle,
and where they are encouraged. Accordingly, first three were
seized, who confessed they were Christians. Next, on their
information, a vast multitude were convicted, not so much on the
charge of burning the city as of hating the human race. And in
their deaths they were also made the subjects of sport; for they
were covered with the hides of wild beasts and worried to death
by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set fire to, and, when day
declined, burned to serve for nocturnal lights. Nero offered his
own gardens for that spectacle, and exhibited a Circensian game,
indiscriminately mingling with the common people in the habit of
a charioteer, or else standing in his chariot; whence a feeling
of compassion arose toward the sufferers, though guilty and
deserving to be made examples of by capital punishment, because
they seemed not to be cut off for the public good, but victims
to the ferocity of one man." Another Roman historian, Suetonius
(Nero, xvi.), says of him: "He likewise inflicted punishments on
the Christians, a sort of people who hold a new and impious
superstition" (Forbes's Footsteps of St. Paul, p. 60).
Nero was the emperor before whom Paul was brought on his first
imprisonment at Rome, and the apostle is supposed to have
suffered martyrdom during this persecution. He is repeatedly
alluded to in Scripture (Acts 25:11; Phil. 1:12, 13; 4:22). He
died A.D. 68.
i.e., son of Abba or of a father, a notorious robber whom Pilate
proposed to condemn to death instead of Jesus, whom he wished to
release, in accordance with the Roman custom (John 18:40; Mark
15:7; Luke 23:19). But the Jews were so bent on the death of
Jesus that they demanded that Barabbas should be pardoned (Matt.
27:16-26; Acts 3:14). This Pilate did.
originally denoted only the sea-coast of the land of Canaan
inhabited by the Philistines (Ex. 15:14; Isa. 14:29, 31; Joel
3:4), and in this sense exclusively the Hebrew name Pelesheth
(rendered "Philistia" in Ps. 60:8; 83:7; 87:4; 108:9) occurs in
the Old Testament.
Not till a late period in Jewish history was this name used to
denote "the land of the Hebrews" in general (Gen. 40:15). It is
also called "the holy land" (Zech. 2:12), the "land of Jehovah"
(Hos. 9:3; Ps. 85:1), the "land of promise" (Heb. 11:9), because
promised to Abraham (Gen. 12:7; 24:7), the "land of Canaan"
(Gen. 12:5), the "land of Israel" (1 Sam. 13:19), and the "land
of Judah" (Isa. 19:17).
The territory promised as an inheritance to the seed of
Abraham (Gen. 15:18-21; Num. 34:1-12) was bounded on the east by
the river Euphrates, on the west by the Mediterranean, on the
north by the "entrance of Hamath," and on the south by the
"river of Egypt." This extent of territory, about 60,000 square
miles, was at length conquered by David, and was ruled over also
by his son Solomon (2 Sam. 8; 1 Chr. 18; 1 Kings 4:1, 21). This
vast empire was the Promised Land; but Israel was only a part
of it, terminating in the north at the southern extremity of the
Lebanon range, and in the south in the wilderness of Paran, thus
extending in all to about 144 miles in length. Its average
breadth was about 60 miles from the Mediterranean on the west to
beyond the Jordan. It has fittingly been designated "the least
of all lands." Western Israel, on the south of Gaza, is only
about 40 miles in breadth from the Mediterranean to the Dead
Sea, narrowing gradually toward the north, where it is only 20
miles from the sea-coast to the Jordan.
Israel, "set in the midst" (Ezek. 5:5) of all other lands,
is the most remarkable country on the face of the earth. No
single country of such an extent has so great a variety of
climate, and hence also of plant and animal life. Moses
describes it as "a good land, a land of brooks of water, of
fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a
land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and
pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein
thou shalt not eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack
any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose
hills thou mayest dig brass" (Deut. 8:7-9).
"In the time of Christ the country looked, in all probability,
much as now. The whole land consists of rounded limestone hills,
fretted into countless stony valleys, offering but rarely level
tracts, of which Esdraelon alone, below Nazareth, is large
enough to be seen on the map. The original woods had for ages
disappeared, though the slopes were dotted, as now, with figs,
olives, and other fruit-trees where there was any soil.
Permanent streams were even then unknown, the passing rush of
winter torrents being all that was seen among the hills. The
autumn and spring rains, caught in deep cisterns hewn out like
huge underground jars in the soft limestone, with artificial
mud-banked ponds still found near all villages, furnished water.
Hills now bare, or at best rough with stunted growth, were then
terraced, so as to grow vines, olives, and grain. To-day almost
desolate, the country then teemed with population. Wine-presses
cut in the rocks, endless terraces, and the ruins of old
vineyard towers are now found amidst solitudes overgrown for
ages with thorns and thistles, or with wild shrubs and poor
gnarled scrub" (Geikie's Life of Christ).
From an early period the land was inhabited by the descendants
of Canaan, who retained possession of the whole land "from Sidon
to Gaza" till the time of the conquest by Joshua, when it was
occupied by the twelve tribes. Two tribes and a half had their
allotments given them by Moses on the east of the Jordan (Deut.
3:12-20; comp. Num. 1:17-46; Josh. 4:12-13). The remaining
tribes had their portion on the west of Jordan.
From the conquest till the time of Saul, about four hundred
years, the people were governed by judges. For a period of one
hundred and twenty years the kingdom retained its unity while it
was ruled by Saul and David and Solomon. On the death of
Solomon, his son Rehoboam ascended the throne; but his conduct
was such that ten of the tribes revolted, and formed an
independent monarchy, called the kingdom of Israel, or the
northern kingdom, the capital of which was first Shechem and
afterwards Samaria. This kingdom was destroyed. The Israelites
were carried captive by Shalmanezer, king of Assyria, B.C. 722,
after an independent existence of two hundred and fifty-three
years. The place of the captives carried away was supplied by
tribes brought from the east, and thus was formed the Samaritan
nation (2 Kings 17:24-29).
Nebuchadnezzar came up against the kingdom of the two tribes,
the kingdom of Judah, the capital of which was Jerusalem, one
hundred and thirty-four years after the overthrow of the kingdom
of Israel. He overthrew the city, plundered the temple, and
carried the people into captivity to Babylon (B.C. 587), where
they remained seventy years. At the close of the period of the
Captivity, they returned to their own land, under the edict of
Cyrus (Ezra 1:1-4). They rebuilt the city and temple, and
restored the old Jewish commonwealth.
For a while after the Restoration the Jews were ruled by
Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, and afterwards by the high
priests, assisted by the Sanhedrin. After the death of Alexander
the Great at Babylon (B.C. 323), his vast empire was divided
between his four generals. Egypt, Arabia, Israel, and
Coele-Syria fell to the lot of Ptolemy Lagus. Ptolemy took
possession of Israel in B.C. 320, and carried nearly one
hundred thousand of the inhabitants of Jerusalem into Egypt. He
made Alexandria the capital of his kingdom, and treated the Jews
with consideration, confirming them in the enjoyment of many
After suffering persecution at the hands of Ptolemy's
successors, the Jews threw off the Egyptian yoke, and became
subject to Antiochus the Great, the king of Syria. The cruelty
and opression of the successors of Antiochus at length led to
the revolt under the Maccabees (B.C. 163), when they threw off
the Syrian yoke.
In the year B.C. 68, Israel was reduced by Pompey the Great
to a Roman province. He laid the walls of the city in ruins, and
massacred some twelve thousand of the inhabitants. He left the
temple, however, unijured. About twenty-five years after this
the Jews revolted and cast off the Roman yoke. They were
however, subdued by Herod the Great (q.v.). The city and the
temple were destroyed, and many of the inhabitants were put to
death. About B.C. 20, Herod proceeded to rebuild the city and
restore the ruined temple, which in about nine years and a half
was so far completed that the sacred services could be resumed
in it (comp. John 2:20). He was succeeded by his son Archelaus,
who was deprived of his power, however, by Augustus, A.D. 6,
when Israel became a Roman province, ruled by Roman governors
or procurators. Pontius Pilate was the fifth of these
procurators. He was appointed to his office A.D. 25.
Exclusive of Idumea, the kingdom of Herod the Great
comprehended the whole of the country originally divided among
the twelve tribes, which he divided into four provinces or
districts. This division was recognized so long as Israel was
under the Roman dominion. These four provinces were, (1) Judea,
the southern portion of the country; (2) Samaria, the middle
province, the northern boundary of which ran along the hills to
the south of the plain of Esdraelon; (3) Galilee, the northern
province; and (4) Peraea (a Greek name meaning the "opposite
country"), the country lying east of the Jordan and the Dead
Sea. This province was subdivided into these districts, (1)
Peraea proper, lying between the rivers Arnon and Jabbok; (2)
Galaaditis (Gilead); (3) Batanaea; (4) Gaulonitis (Jaulan); (5)
Ituraea or Auranitis, the ancient Bashan; (6) Trachonitis; (7)
Abilene; (8) Decapolis, i.e., the region of the ten cities. The
whole territory of Israel, including the portions alloted to
the trans-Jordan tribes, extended to about eleven thousand
square miles. Recent exploration has shown the territory on the
west of Jordan alone to be six thousand square miles in extent,
the size of the principality of Wales.
(1.) Herod Antipas, a son of Herod the Great by his Samaritan
wife Malthace. He was tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea during the
whole period of our Lord's life on earth (Luke 23:7). He was a
frivolous and vain prince, and was chargeable with many infamous
crimes (Mark 8:15; Luke 3:19; 13:31, 32). He beheaded John the
Baptist (Matt. 14:1-12) at the instigation of Herodias, the wife
of his half-brother Herod-Philip, whom he had married. Pilate
sent Christ to him when he was at Jerusalem at the Passover
(Luke 23:7). He asked some idle questions of him, and after
causing him to be mocked, sent him back again to Pilate. The
wife of Chuza, his house-steward, was one of our Lord's
disciples (Luke 8:3).
(2.) A "faithful martyr" (Rev. 2:13), of whom nothing more is
It was the custom of the Roman governors to erect their
tribunals in open places, as the market-place, the circus, or
even the highway. Pilate caused his seat of judgment to be set
down in a place called "the Pavement" (John 19:13) i.e., a place
paved with a mosaic of coloured stones. It was probably a place
thus prepared in front of the "judgment hall." (See GABBATHA
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.)
the Jewish high priest (A.D. 27-36) at the beginning of our
Lord's public ministry, in the reign of Tiberius (Luke 3:2), and
also at the time of his condemnation and crucifixion (Matt.
26:3,57; John 11:49; 18:13, 14). He held this office during the
whole of Pilate's administration. His wife was the daughter of
Annas, who had formerly been high priest, and was probably the
vicar or deputy (Heb. sagan) of Caiaphas. He was of the sect of
the Sadducees (Acts 5:17), and was a member of the council when
he gave his opinion that Jesus should be put to death "for the
people, and that the whole nation perish not" (John 11:50). In
these words he unconsciously uttered a prophecy. "Like Saul, he
was a prophet in spite of himself." Caiaphas had no power to
inflict the punishment of death, and therefore Jesus was sent to
Pilate, the Roman governor, that he might duly pronounce the
sentence against him (Matt. 27:2; John 18:28). At a later period
his hostility to the gospel is still manifest (Acts 4:6). (See
a common mode of punishment among heathen nations in early
times. It is not certain whether it was known among the ancient
Jews; probably it was not. The modes of capital punishment
according to the Mosaic law were, by the sword (Ex. 21),
strangling, fire (Lev. 20), and stoning (Deut. 21).
This was regarded as the most horrible form of death, and to a
Jew it would acquire greater horror from the curse in Deut.
This punishment began by subjecting the sufferer to scourging.
In the case of our Lord, however, his scourging was rather
before the sentence was passed upon him, and was inflicted by
Pilate for the purpose, probably, of exciting pity and procuring
his escape from further punishment (Luke 23:22; John 19:1).
The condemned one carried his own cross to the place of
execution, which was outside the city, in some conspicuous place
set apart for the purpose. Before the nailing to the cross took
place, a medicated cup of vinegar mixed with gall and myrrh (the
sopor) was given, for the purpose of deadening the pangs of the
sufferer. Our Lord refused this cup, that his senses might be
clear (Matt. 27:34). The spongeful of vinegar, sour wine, posca,
the common drink of the Roman soldiers, which was put on a
hyssop stalk and offered to our Lord in contemptuous pity (Matt.
27:48; Luke 23:36), he tasted to allay the agonies of his thirst
(John 19:29). The accounts given of the crucifixion of our Lord
are in entire agreement with the customs and practices of the
Roman in such cases. He was crucified between two "malefactors"
(Isa. 53:12; Luke 23:32), and was watched by a party of four
soldiers (John 19:23; Matt. 27:36, 54), with their centurion.
The "breaking of the legs" of the malefactors was intended to
hasten death, and put them out of misery (John 19:31); but the
unusual rapidity of our Lord's death (19:33) was due to his
previous sufferings and his great mental anguish. The omission
of the breaking of his legs was the fulfilment of a type (Ex.
12:46). He literally died of a broken heart, a ruptured heart,
and hence the flowing of blood and water from the wound made by
the soldier's spear (John 19:34). Our Lord uttered seven
memorable words from the cross, namely, (1) Luke 23:34; (2)
23:43; (3) John 19:26; (4) Matt. 27:46, Mark 15:34; (5) John
19:28; (6) 19:30; (7) Luke 23:46.
Used now only of royal dwellings, although originally meaning
simply (as the Latin word palatium, from which it is derived,
shows) a building surrounded by a fence or a paling. In the
Authorized Version there are many different words so rendered,
presenting different ideas, such as that of citadel or lofty
fortress or royal residence (Neh. 1:1; Dan. 8:2). It is the name
given to the temple fortress (Neh. 2:8) and to the temple itself
(1 Chr. 29:1). It denotes also a spacious building or a great
house (Dan. 1:4; 4:4, 29: Esther 1:5; 7:7), and a fortified
place or an enclosure (Ezek. 25:4). Solomon's palace is
described in 1 Kings 7:1-12 as a series of buildings rather than
a single great structure. Thirteen years were spent in their
erection. This palace stood on the eastern hill, adjoining the
temple on the south.
In the New Testament it designates the official residence of
Pilate or that of the high priest (Matt. 26:3, 58, 69; Mark
14:54, 66; John 18:15). In Phil. 1:13 this word is the rendering
of the Greek praitorion, meaning the praetorian cohorts at Rome
(the life-guard of the Caesars). Paul was continually chained to
a soldier of that corps (Acts 28:16), and hence his name and
sufferings became known in all the praetorium. The "soldiers
that kept" him would, on relieving one another on guard,
naturally spread the tidings regarding him among their comrades.
Some, however, regard the praetroium (q.v.) as the barrack
within the palace (the palatium) of the Caesars in Rome where a
detachment of these praetorian guards was stationed, or as the
camp of the guards placed outside the eastern walls of Rome.
"In the chambers which were occupied as guard-rooms," says Dr.
Manning, "by the praetorian troops on duty in the palace, a
number of rude caricatures are found roughly scratched upon the
walls, just such as may be seen upon barrack walls in every part
of the world. Amongst these is one of a human figure nailed upon
a cross. To add to the 'offence of the cross,' the crucified one
is represented with the head of an animal, probably that of an
ass. Before it stands the figure of a Roman legionary with one
hand upraised in the attitude of worship. Underneath is the
rude, misspelt, ungrammatical inscription, Alexamenos worships
his god. It can scarcely be doubted that we have here a
contemporary caricature, executed by one of the praetorian
guard, ridiculing the faith of a Christian comrade."
remover or increaser. (1.) The elder of the two sons of Jacob by
Rachel (Gen. 30:23, 24), who, on the occasion of his birth,
said, "God hath taken away [Heb. 'asaph] my reproach." "The Lord
shall add [Heb. yoseph] to me another son" (Gen. 30:24). He was
a child of probably six years of age when his father returned
from Haran to Canaan and took up his residence in the old
patriarchal town of Hebron. "Now Israel loved Joseph more than
all his children, because he was the son of his old age," and he
"made him a long garment with sleeves" (Gen. 37:3, R.V. marg.),
i.e., a garment long and full, such as was worn by the children
of nobles. This seems to be the correct rendering of the words.
The phrase, however, may also be rendered, "a coat of many
pieces", i.e., a patchwork of many small pieces of divers
When he was about seventeen years old Joseph incurred the
jealous hatred of his brothers (Gen. 37:4). They "hated him, and
could not speak peaceably unto him." Their anger was increased
when he told them his dreams (37:11).
Jacob desiring to hear tidings of his sons, who had gone to
Shechem with their flocks, some 60 miles from Hebron, sent
Joseph as his messenger to make inquiry regarding them. Joseph
found that they had left Shechem for Dothan, whither he followed
them. As soon as they saw him coming they began to plot against
him, and would have killed him had not Reuben interposed. They
ultimately sold him to a company of Ishmaelite merchants for
twenty pieces (shekels) of silver (about $2, 10s.), ten pieces
less than the current value of a slave, for "they cared little
what they had for him, if so be they were rid of him." These
merchants were going down with a varied assortment of
merchandise to the Egyptian market, and thither they conveyed
him, and ultimately sold him as a slave to Potiphar, an "officer
of Pharaoh's, and captain of the guard" (Gen. 37:36). "The Lord
blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake," and Potiphar
made him overseer over his house. At length a false charge
having been brought against him by Potiphar's wife, he was at
once cast into the state prison (39; 40), where he remained for
at least two years. After a while the "chief of the cupbearers"
and the "chief of the bakers" of Pharaoh's household were cast
into the same prison (40:2). Each of these new prisoners dreamed
a dream in the same night, which Joseph interpreted, the event
occurring as he had said.
This led to Joseph's being remembered subsequently by the
chief butler when Pharaoh also dreamed. At his suggestion Joseph
was brought from prison to interpret the king's dreams. Pharaoh
was well pleased with Joseph's wisdom in interpreting his
dreams, and with his counsel with reference to the events then
predicted; and he set him over all the land of Egypt (Gen.
41:46), and gave him the name of Zaphnath-paaneah. He was
married to Asenath, the daughter of the priest of On, and thus
became a member of the priestly class. Joseph was now about
thirty years of age.
As Joseph had interpreted, seven years of plenty came, during
which he stored up great abundance of corn in granaries built
for the purpose. These years were followed by seven years of
famine "over all the face of the earth," when "all countries
came into Egypt to Joseph to buy corn" (Gen. 41:56, 57; 47:13,
14). Thus "Joseph gathered up all the money that was in the land
of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they
bought." Afterwards all the cattle and all the land, and at last
the Egyptians themselves, became the property of Pharaoh.
During this period of famine Joseph's brethren also came down
to Egypt to buy corn. The history of his dealings with them, and
of the manner in which he at length made himself known to them,
is one of the most interesting narratives that can be read (Gen.
42-45). Joseph directed his brethren to return and bring Jacob
and his family to the land of Egypt, saying, "I will give you
the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the
land. Regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land is
yours." Accordingly Jacob and his family, to the number of
threescore and ten souls, together with "all that they had,"
went down to Egypt. They were settled in the land of Goshen,
where Joseph met his father, and "fell on his neck, and wept on
his neck a good while" (Gen. 46:29).
The excavations of Dr. Naville have shown the land of Goshen
to be the Wady Tumilat, between Ismailia and Zagazig. In Goshen
(Egyptian Qosem) they had pasture for their flocks, were near
the Asiatic frontier of Egypt, and were out of the way of the
Egyptian people. An inscription speaks of it as a district given
up to the wandering shepherds of Asia.
Jacob at length died, and in fulfilment of a promise which he
had exacted, Joseph went up to Canaan to bury his father in "the
field of Ephron the Hittite" (Gen. 47:29-31; 50:1-14). This was
the last recorded act of Joseph, who again returned to Egypt.
"The 'Story of the Two Brothers,' an Egyptian romance written
for the son of the Pharaoh of the Oppression, contains an
episode very similar to the Biblical account of Joseph's
treatment by Potiphar's wife. Potiphar and Potipherah are the
Egyptian Pa-tu-pa-Ra, 'the gift of the sun-god.' The name given
to Joseph, Zaphnath-paaneah, is probably the Egyptian
Zaf-nti-pa-ankh, 'nourisher of the living one,' i.e., of the
Pharaoh. There are many instances in the inscriptions of
foreigners in Egypt receiving Egyptian names, and rising to the
highest offices of state."
By his wife Asenath, Joseph had two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim
(Gen. 41:50). Joseph having obtained a promise from his brethren
that when the time should come that God would "bring them unto
the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob,"
they would carry up his bones out of Egypt, at length died, at
the age of one hundred and ten years; and "they embalmed him,
and he was put in a coffin" (Gen. 50:26). This promise was
faithfully observed. Their descendants, long after, when the
Exodus came, carried the body about with them during their forty
years' wanderings, and at length buried it in Shechem, in the
parcel of ground which Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor
(Josh. 24:32; comp. Gen. 33:19). With the death of Joseph the
patriarchal age of the history of Israel came to a close.
The Pharaoh of Joseph's elevation was probably Apepi, or
Apopis, the last of the Hyksos kings. Some, however, think that
Joseph came to Egypt in the reign of Thothmes III. (see PHARAOH
¯T0002923), long after the expulsion of the Hyksos.
The name Joseph denotes the two tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh
in Deut. 33:13-17; the kingdom of Israel in Ezek. 37:16, 19,
Amos 5:6; and the whole covenant people of Israel in Ps. 81:4.
(2.) One of the sons of Asaph, head of the first division of
sacred musicians (1 Chr. 25:2, 9).
(3.) The son of Judah, and father of Semei (Luke 3:26). Other
two of the same name in the ancestry of Christ are also
mentioned (3:24, 30).
(4.) The foster-father of our Lord (Matt. 1:16; Luke 3:23). He
lived at Nazareth in Galilee (Luke 2:4). He is called a "just
man." He was by trade a carpenter (Matt. 13:55). He is last
mentioned in connection with the journey to Jerusalem, when
Jesus was twelve years old. It is probable that he died before
Jesus entered on his public ministry. This is concluded from the
fact that Mary only was present at the marriage feast in Cana of
Galilee. His name does not appear in connection with the scenes
of the crucifixion along with that of Mary (q.v.), John 19:25.
(5.) A native of Arimathea, probably the Ramah of the Old
Testament (1 Sam. 1:19), a man of wealth, and a member of the
Sanhedrim (Matt. 27:57; Luke 23:50), an "honourable counsellor,
who waited for the kingdom of God." As soon as he heard the
tidings of Christ's death, he "went in boldly" (lit. "having
summoned courage, he went") "unto Pilate, and craved the body of
Jesus." Pilate having ascertained from the centurion that the
death had really taken place, granted Joseph's request, who
immediately, having purchased fine linen (Mark 15:46), proceeded
to Golgotha to take the body down from the cross. There,
assisted by Nicodemus, he took down the body and wrapped it in
the fine linen, sprinkling it with the myrrh and aloes which
Nicodemus had brought (John 19:39), and then conveyed the body
to the new tomb hewn by Joseph himself out of a rock in his
garden hard by. There they laid it, in the presence of Mary
Magdalene, Mary the mother of Joses, and other women, and rolled
a great stone to the entrance, and departed (Luke 23:53, 55).
This was done in haste, "for the Sabbath was drawing on" (comp.
(6.) Surnamed Barsabas (Acts 1:23); also called Justus. He was
one of those who "companied with the apostles all the time that
the Lord Jesus went out and in among them" (Acts 1:21), and was
one of the candidates for the place of Judas.