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of Babylon, because they could not interpret his dream. (Dan. ü. 24.) Previously, however, to inflicting punishment, it was a custom of the Jews, that the witnesses should lay their hands on the criminal's head. This custom originated in an express precept of God, in the case of one who had blasphemed the name of Jehovah, who was ordered to be brought without the camp : when all, who had heard him, were appointed to lay their hands upon his head, and afterwards the congregation were to stone him. By this action they signified, that the condemned person suffered justly, protesting that, if he were innocent they desired that his blood might fall on their own head. In allusion to this usage, when sentence was pronounced against Jesus Christ, the Jews exclaimed,--His blood be upon us and our children. (Matt. xxvii. 25.). From the above noticed precept of bringing the criminals without the camp, arose the custom of executing them without the city.
But in whatever manner the criminal was put to death, according to the Talmudical writers, the Jews always gave him some wine with incense in it, in order to stupify and intoxicate him. This custom is said to have originated in the precept recorded in Prov. xxxi. 6., which sufficiently explains the reason why wine, mingled with myrrh, was offered to Jesus Christ when on the cross. (Mark xv. 23.) In the latter ages of the Jewish polity, this medicated cup of wine, was so generally given before execution, that the word cup is sometimes put in the Scriptures for death itself. Thus, Jesus Christ, in his last prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, said-If it be possible, let this CUP pass from me. (Matt. xxvi. 39. 42.)
OF THE ROMAN JUDICATURE, MANNER OF TRIAL, AND TREATMENT
OF PRISONERS, AS MENTIONED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT. 1. Judicial proceedings of the Romans.-- II. Privileges and treatment
of Roman citizens, when prisoners.—III. Appeals to the imperial tribunal.-IV. The Roman method of fettering and confining criminals.-V. The Roman tribunals.-VI. The Areopagus of
the Athenians. WHEREVER the Romans extended their power, they also carried their laws; and though, as we have already seen, they allowed their conquered subjects to enjoy the free performance of their religious worship, as well as the holding of some inferior courts of judicature, yet in all cases of a capital nature the tribunal of the Roman prefect or president was the last resort. Without his permission, no person could be put to death, at least in Judæa. And as we find numerous allusions in the New Testament to the Roman Judicature, manner of trial, treatment of prisoners, and infliction of capital punishment, a brief account of these subjects so intimately
connected with the political state of Judæa under the Romans, naturally claims a place in the present sketch.1
I. “The judicial proceedings of the Romans were conducted in a manner worthy the majesty, honour, and magnanimity of that people. Instances indeed occur of a most scandalous venality and corruption in Roman judges, and the story of Jugurtha and Verres will stand, a lasting monument of the power of gold to pervert justice and shelter the most atrocious villany. But in general in the Roman judicatures, both in the imperial city and in the provinces, justice was administered with impartiality ; a fair and honourable trial was permitted'; the allegations of the plaintiff and defendant were respectively heard ; the merits of the cause weighed and scrutinised with cool unbiassed judgment; and an equitable sentence pronounced. The Roman law, in conformity to the first principle of nature and reason, ordained that no one should be condemned and punished without a previous public trial. This was one of the decrees of the twelve tables : No one shall be condemned before he is tried. Under the Roman government, both in Italy and in the provinces, this universally obtained. After the cause is heard, says Cicero, a man may be acquitted : but his cause unheard, no one can be condemned. 3 To this excellent custom among the Romans, which the law of nature prescribes, and all the principles of equity, honour, and humanity dictate, there are several allusions in Scripture. We find the holy apostles, who did not, like frantic enthusiasts and visionaries, court persecution, but embraced every legal method which the usages and maxims of those times had established to avoid it, and to extricate themselves from calamities and sufferings, pleading this privilege, reminding the Romans of it when they were going to infringe it, and in a spirited manner upbraiding their persecutors with their violation of it. When Lysias, the Roman tribune, ordered Saint Paul to be conducted into the castle, and to be examined by scourging, that he might learn what he had done that enraged the
1 The materials of this section are principally derived from Dr. Harwood's Introduction to the New Testament (a work now of rare occurrence), vol. ii. section xvi. the texts cited being carefully verified and corrected. The subjects of this and the following section are also discussed by Dr. Lardner, Credibility, part i. book i. e. x. 99-11.; and especially by Calmet in his elaborate Dissertation sur les supplices dont il est parlé dans l'Ecriture., inserted in his Commentaire Litterale, tom. i. part ii. pp. 387–402. See also Merrill's Notæ Philologicæ in passionem Christi, and Wyssenbach's Notæ Nomico-Philologicæ in passionem, in vol. iii. of Crenius's Fasciculus Opusculorum, pp. 583_691. and Lydius's Florum Sparsio ad Historiam Passionis Jesu Christi, 18mo., Dordrechti, 1672.
2 Interfici_indemnatum quemcunque hominem, etiam xii Tabularum decreta vetuerant. Fragment xii. Tab. tit. 27.
3 Causâ cognitá multi possunt absolvi: incognitâ quidem condemnari nemo potest. In Verrem, lib. i. c. 25. “ Producing the laws which ordain that no person shall suffer death without a legal trial.” Dion. Halicarn. lib. iii. p. 153. Hudson. “ He did not allow them to inflict death on any citizen uncondemned." Ibid. lib. vi. p. 370. lib. vii. p. 428. edit. Hudson, Oxon. 1704. “They thought proper to call him to justice, as it is contrary to the Roman customs to condemn any one to death without a previous trial.” Appian. Bell. Civil. lib. iii. p. 906. Tolli, 1670. " Did not you miserably murder Lentulus and his associates, without their being either judged or convicted ?" Dion Cassius, lib. 46. p. 463. Reimar.
mob thus violently against him, as the soldiers were fastening him with thongs to the pillars to inflict this upon him, Paul said to the centurion who was appointed to attend and see this executed, Doth the Roman law authorise you to scourge a freeman of Rome uncondemned, to punish him before a legal sentence hath been passed upon him ? (Acts xxii. 25.), The centurion hearing this went immediately to the tribune, bidding him be cautious how he acted upon the present occasion, for the prisoner was a Roman citizen! The tribune upon this information went to him, and said, Tell me the truth, Are you a freeman of Rome? He answered in the affirmative. It cost me an immense sum, said the tribune, to purchase this privilege. But I was the son of a freeman, said the apostle. Immediately, therefore, those who were ordered to examine him by torture desisted; and the tribune was extremely alarmed that he had bound a Roman citizen. In reference to this also, when Paul and Silas were treated with the last indignity at Philippi by the multitude abetted by the magistrates, were beaten with rods, thrown into the public gaol, and their feet fastened in the stocks, the next morning upon the magistrates sending their lictors to the prison with orders to the keeper for the two men whom they had the day before so shamefully and cruelly treated, to be dismissed, Paul turned to the messengers and said, We are Roman citizens. Your magistrates have ordered us to be publicly scourged without a legal trial. They have thrown us into a dungeon. And would they now have us steal away in a silent and clandestine manner? No! Let them come in person and conduct us out themselves. The lictors returned and reported this answer to the governors, who were greatly alarmed and terrified when they understood they were Roman citizens. Accordingly they went in person to the gaol, addressed them with great civility, and begged them in the most respectful terms that they would quietly leave the town. (Acts xvi. 37.)
“ Here we cannot but remark the distinguished humanity and honour which St. Paul experienced from the tribune Lysias. His whole conduct towards the apostle was worthy a Roman. This most generous and worthy officer rescued him from the sanguinary fury of the moh, who had seized the apostle, shut the temple doors, and were in a tumultuous manner dragging him away instantly to shed his blood. Afterwards, also, when above forty Jews associated and mutually bound themselves by the most solemn adjurations, that they
I Dion Cassius confirms what the tribune here asserts, that this honour was purchased at a very high price. “The freedom of Rome formerly,” says the historian," could only be purchased for a large sum;" but he observes, “ that in the reign of Claudius, when Messalina and his freedmen had the management of every thing, this honour became so cheap that any person might buy it for a little broken glass.” Dion Cassius, lib. 60. p. 955. Reimar.
2 « But I was free born.”. Probably St. Paul's family was honoured with the freedom of Rome for engaging in Cæsar's party, and distinguishing themselves in his cause during the civil wars. Appian informs us, that " He made the Laodiceans and Tarsensians free, and exempted them from taxes; and those of the Tarsensians who had been sold for slaves, he ordered by an edict to be released from servitude.” Appian de Bell. Civil. p. 1077. Tollii 1670.
would neither eat nor drink till they had assassinated him; when the tribune was informed of this conspiracy, to secure the person of the apostle from the determined fury of the Jews, he immediately gave orders for seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen to escort the prisoner to Caesarea, where the procurator resided; writing a letter, in which he informed the president of the vindictive rage of the Jews against the prisoner, whom he had snatched from their violence, and whom he afterwards discovered to be a Roman citizen. In consequence of this epistle Felix gave the apostle a kind and candid reception: when he read it, he turned to him, and said, When your accusers come hither before me, I will give your cause an impartial hearing.” And accordingly when the high priest Ananias and the Sanhedrin went down to Caesarea with one Tertullus an orator, whose eloquence they had hired to aggravate the apostle's crimes before the procurator; Felix, though a man of mercenary and profligate character,” did not depart from the Roman honour in this regard; and would not violate the usual processes of judgment to gratify this body of men, though they were the most illustrious personages of the province he governed, by condemning the apostle unheard, and yielding him poor and friendless as he was, to their fury, merely upon their impeachment. He allowed the apostle to offer his vindication and exculpate himself from the charges they had alleged against him; and was so far satisfied with his apology as to give orders for him to be treated as a prisoner at large, and for all his friends to have free access to him; disappointing those who thirsted for his blood, and drawing down upon himself the relentless indignation of the Jews, who, undoubtedly, from such a disappointment, would be instigated to lay all his crimes and oppressions before the emperor. “The same strict honour, in observing the usual forms and processes of the Roman tribunal, appears in Festus, the successor of Felix. Upon his entrance into his province, when the leading men among the Jews waited upon him to congratulate him upon his accession, and took that opportunity to inveigh with great bitterness and virulence against the apostle, soliciting it as a favour (Acts xxv. 3.) that he would send him to Jerusalem, designing, as it afterwards appeared, had he complied with their request, to have hired ruffians to murder him on the road, Festus told them, that it was his will that Paul should remain in custody at Caesarea; but that any persons whom they fixed upon might go down along with him, and produce at his tribunal what they had to allege against the prisoner. This was worthy the Roman honour and spirit. How importunate and urgent the priests and principal magistrates of Jerusalem, when
1 Acts xxiii. 27. “I have since learned that he is a Roman citizen.”
2 Acts xxiii. 35. Literally, “Hear it through ; give the whole of it an attentive examination.” Similar expressions occur in Polybius, lib. i. pp. 39.170. 187. lib. iv. p.32s. edit. Hanov. 1619. See also Dion. Halicarn, lib. x. p. 304
3 Felix per omnem stevitium ac libidinem, jus regium servili ingenio exercuit. Tacitus Hist. lib. v. p. 397. edit. Dublin. Felix cuncta maleficia impune ratus. Annal. xii. 54. He hoped also that money, &c. Acts xxiv. 26.
Festus was in this capital, were with him to pass sentence of death upon the apostle merely upon their impeachment, and upon the atrocious crimes with which they loaded him, appears from what the procurator himself told king Agrippa and Bernice upon a visit they paid him at Cæsarea, to congratulate him upon his new government. I have here, said he, a man whom my predecessor left in custody when he quitted this province. During a short visit I paid to Jerusalem, upon my arrival I was solicited by the priests and principal magistrates to pass sentence of death upon him. To these urgent entreaties I replied, that it was not customary for the Romans to gratify (xxv. 16.) any man with the death of another; that the laws of Rome enacted that he who is accused should have his accuser face to face; and have license to answer for himself concerning the crimes laid against him.'
II. “ It appears from numberless passages in the classics that a Roman citizen could not legally be scourged. This was deemed to the last degree dishonourable, the most daring indignity and insult upon the Roman name. 'A Roman citizen, judges!' exclaims Cicero in his oration against Verres, 'was publicly beaten with rods in the forum of Messina : during this public dishonour, no groan, no other expression of the unhappy wretch was heard amidst the cruelties he suffered, and the sound of the strokes that were inflicted, but this, I am a Roman citizen! By this declaration that he was a Roman citizen, he fondly imagined that he should put an end to the ignominy and cruel usage to which he was now subjected. The orator afterwards breaks forth into this pathetic prosopopeia : '0 transporting name of liberty ! O the distinguished privilege of Roman freedom! O Porcian and Sempronian laws! Are things at last come to this wretched state, that a Roman citizen, in a Roman province, in the most public and open manner, should be beaten with rods !94 The historian Appian, after relating how Marcellus, to express his scorn and contempt of Cæsar, seized a person of some distinction, to whom Cæsar had given his freedom, and beat him with rods, bidding him go and show Cæsar the marks of the scourges he had received, observes, that this was an indignity which is never inflicted upon a Roman citizen for any enormity whatever.5 Agreeably
1“ Senators,” saith Piso, “the law ordains that he who is accused should hear his accusation, and after having offered his defence, to wait the sentence of the judges.” Appian, Bell. Civil. lib. iii. p. 911. Tollii, Amst. 1670. “ He said, that what he now attempted to do was the last tyranny and despotism, that the same person should be both accuser and judge, and should arbitrarily dictate the degree of punishment.” Dion. Halicarn. lib. vii. p. 428. Hudson.
* Facinus est vinciri civem Romanum, scelus verberari. In Verrem, lib. v. 170.
3 Cædebatur virgis in medio foro Messinæ civis Romanus, judices; cum interea nullus gemitus, nulla vox alia istius miseri, inter dolorem crepitumque plagarum audiebatur, nisi hæc, Civis Romanus sum. Hac se commemoratione civitatis omnia verbera depulsurum cruciatumque a corpore dejecturum arbitrabatur. Cicero in Verrem. lib. v. 162.
4 O nomen dulce libertatis! O jus eximium nostræ civitatis! Olex Porcia, legesque Semproniæ! Huccine tandem omnia recederunt, ut civis Romanus in provincia populi Romani, delegatis in foro virgis cæderetur.' Ibid. 163.
5 Appian Bell. Civil. lib. ü. p. 731. Tollii.