Saturday, March 19, 2022

You can't understand Christ in the Temple without Rome's bronze law plates

Julius Caesar played a major role in the life and death of Jesus Christ. He was of prime importance in the existence and preservation of the Temple, even though Julius Caesar was long dead by the first century CE!

While the Temple existed, the Romans were unable to destroy Judaism and the Nazarenes. Why? Because in the period of one of the Roman civil wars, the Jews chose to help Julius Caesar against his rival Pompey. 

It turned out to be crucial for Rome and for the ruling Jerusalem priesthood that put their soldiers at Caesar's disposal. At this time the government in Israel had gained an unstable measure of freedom under the Hasmoneans and they then threw their weight on Caesar's side. Why? Their motivation makes the outcome a vital factor in NT history.

Jewish support was effective. Caesar, from an unsure situation where he shared power and then fought his former allies, gained unchallenged supremacy. He was grateful to his helpers in Jerusalem. He gave his thanks to receiving Jewish arms at a critical time. He made certain pledges to the Hasmoneans and the Jews when the Romans later occupied the land of Israel as a military power. They were not mere words that blew away with the wind.

Caesar's decrees had the support of the Roman Senate. They were so important they were engraved on bronze plates and exhibited in Jerusalem and elsewhere. Bronze plates with written law or declarations were used for millennia to show international agreements that must stand throughout time. Abraham was said to have made an agreement with the Jebusites about the future of Jerusalem and immortalized it on bronze plates. (See Jesus, James, Joseph, p580).

Without an understanding of these Roman bronze plates, much of the New Testament does not make sense. Happily we have an exact transcript of what they said.

A Roman bronze law plate

You will find these bronze plates described in detail in the fourteenth book of the Antiquities of Flavius Josephus. 

It is quite extraordinary that so many Bible commentators have not understood the significance of these plates. They represent fully-fledged legal pledges of the Roman military Dictator and his Senate into the future. The whole of the history of Israel in the first century BCE and beyond into the persecution of the early Nazarenes depends on them. Not least because the Senate also pledged to their continuance long after Caesar was deceased. It had international powers. The Senate was the body that sent and received ambassadors and appointed governors to provinces abroad.

While the plates stood, the Senate and Rome where obliged to follow its words as law. Their destruction brought about the demise of the entire city of Jerusalem. It resulted in its disappearance as the capital of the Jews, not for a few years, or a few centuries, but for a millennium or more.

The story of the Roman bronze plates is a question of law but also of greed, cheating and international chicanery.  

Battle Background

In the first century BCE, the Maccabees (the Hasmonean dynasty) had gained Israel's independence from the Hellenistic empire of the Seleucids of Syria. In the last days of the Hasmoneans, a struggle broke out between two family factions, brothers Hyrcanus II versus Aristobulus II. When both sides sought help and arbitration they made a foolish mistake which cost the Israelite nation dear. They turned to Rome's general Pompey to arbitrate. He was then warring against the Armenians, to the north. 

Instead of acting as a peacemaker, he seized on the opportunity to gain control of Israel. He conquered Jerusalem in 63 BCE. And then he entered the Temple's Holy of Holies to see if it was really empty. This sacred place is entered only by the High Priest on one day in the year, on Yon Kippur. The sacred ornaments including the Ark of the Covenant had long disappeared in previous wars. 

Hasmonean independence was ended.  Rome, not the Seleucids, was the master. Israel was again a land occupied by foreign armies.

Rome was then led by three men, the triumvirs. Pompey was the rival of super-rich Crassus. Julius Caesar was a military hero in Rome but he was in debt to Crassus. While it is said that Pompey did not steal riches from the Temple or further desecrate it, his act horrified the Jews who had fought tooth and nail to gain freedom from the Syro-Grecian empire of the Seleucids that had tried to wipe out Judaism by forced Hellenization.

Gold-mad Crassus, already possessing the equivalent of more than 200 tonnes of gold, planned to invade the Parthian Empire in the East and pillage its treasures. He wanted more gold. On his way east, he arrived in Jerusalem. He pillaged the Temple of an equivalent amount of gold plus silver. Antiq 14, 7,1, (105). 

He thought he would seize more gold in Parthia. It was a huge, rich empire that rivalled Rome's. Alas! In Parthia he met his fate. Both he and his legions were destroyed.  

So when Pompey and Caesar struggled for ultimate power, the Hasmoneans threw their support to Caesar, not the Temple-defiler, and promised to help. Pompey died in Egypt in 48 BCE. Caesar then chose Hyrcanus as high priest and leader of ethnic Jews.  

Embossed on Bronze

Caesar then made the following legal promulgation according to Josephus book 14 chapter 10,2 (190).

2. "Caius Julius Caesar, imperator and high priest (Pontifex Maximus), and dictator the second time, to the magistrates, senate, and people of Sidon, sends greeting. If you be in health, it is well. I also and the army are well. I have sent you a copy of that decree, registered on the tables, which concerns Hyrcanus, the son of Alexander, the high priest and ethnarch of the Jews, that it may be laid up among the public records; and I will that it be openly proposed in a table of brass, both in Greek and in Latin. It is as follows: 

I, Julius Caesar, imperator the second time, and high priest, have made this decree, with the approbation of the senate. Whereas Hyrcanus, the son of Alexander the Jew, hath demonstrated his fidelity and diligence about our affairs, and this both now and in former times, both in peace and in war, as many of our generals have borne witness, and came to our assistance in the last Alexandrian war, with fifteen hundred soldiers; and when he was sent by me to Mithridates, showed himself superior in valor to all the rest of that army; - for these reasons I will that Hyrcanus, the son of Alexander, and his children, be ethnarchs of the Jews, and have the high priesthood of the Jews for ever, according to the customs of their forefathers, and that he and his sons be our confederates; and that besides this, everyone of them be reckoned among our particular friends. I also ordain that he and his children retain whatsoever privileges belong to the office of high priest, or whatsoever favors have been hitherto granted them; and if at any time hereafter there arise any questions about the Jewish customs, I will that he determine the same. And I think it not proper that they should be obliged to find us winter quarters, or that any money should be required of them."

Thus the Hasmoneans under Hyrcanus II were made hereditary high priests and ethnarchs, or secular rulers. 

Along came Herod
Being high priests for ever is not something that Caesar or any human can guarantee. For one, it depends on the family having the reproductive powers to have children, and two, that any male child surviving to adulthood would fulfill the stringent requirements of the office. This included being free from a long list of physical deformities. Other factors such as the will of Rome's rulers also come into play.

When Herod received the power as king from the Roman Senate, he saw the high priesthood as a rival to his office. He did two things. He married Mariamne, the last legitimate daughter of the Hasmoneans. Then he made sure that her brother, the young, potentially very popular high priest, was assassinated by drowning by his Gaulish bodyguards. The Hasmoneans were then bereft of any legitimate candidate for high priest.

Herod then thought he could select whomsoever he wished to be high priest. He made priests of men who had no right according to the laws of the Temple. So Josephus.

As Rome's agent, Herod exercised royal power in Judea. He had ultimate control of who would be high priest, whether it conformed to Hebrew law or not. The choice conformed to his will as someone loyal to the pagan gods but also a fervent restorer of paganism. Judea was in a dire spiritual situation. 

Consider the religious and political implications of these events. What would happen to true worship in the Temple? We need to look at the dilemma from the point of view of the faithful Jews.

Who makes high priests?
When Julius Caesar proclaimed that the Hasmoneans were to be forever high priests, he was exercising his own religious authority as the Pontifex Maximus, the chief authority of all religions in the Roman Empire. Before Caesar, the holder of the office was a priest separate from secular and military powers. Traditionally the Pontifex Maximus remained in Rome. When Caesar gained the office that all changed. After his military victories, he had all secular and religious power combined together.

A faithful Jew could ask: Is that how it works? Does a pagan, in fact the chief of the pagans, have the delegated authority of God to name the high priest in the Jerusalem Temple, dedicated to the Supreme God of the Universe?

The subjection of all forms of Judaism to the power of Rome was how Romans thought was the natural order. Herod assumed he had the legal power to name whomsoever he wished to be high priest, following the end of the Hasmonean dynasty.

Did he have God's approval, according to the Jews faithful to Jehovah?

Certainly not. 

Hasmonean bronze plates
Bronze plates enunciating law and rights have along history. They were used in the Temple even before the Romans arrived to try to legitimize royal and priestly power. One set of bronze plates did not jibe for some Jews. Josephus makes it clear that neither the Hasmoneans (who had become corrupt and Hellenized) nor the Pontifex Maximus had powers to convince a certain group of Jews or provide any approval above Hebrew custom. Bronze decrees were often brazen attempts to overthrow God's laws written in minds and consciences.

The Hasmoneans were of a minor branch of the tribe of Levi and were not themselves fit to be high priests. Their glory lies in the facts of history. They refused to succumb to pagan Hellenism that the Seleucids wished to impose and thus to wipe out all forms of Judaism. They revolted. They fought the huge Seleucid Empire and won the independence of the nation with the help of the Parthian Empire in the East. 

But the revolt led by brave warriors did not give them divine rights to be high priests. Nor as it turned out later did it give them any right to claim to be kings or ethnarchs. The right of the high priesthood was always given to the sons of Aaron and their offspring. The throne of Israel was appointed to the offspring of King David.

The Hasmoneans saw things differently. They recorded their views on bronze plates in the Temple grounds. They claimed they were 'high priests and hegemons for ever' (eis ton aiona), I Macc 14:41. 
  • Their word must be obeyed by all the people; 
  • none should gainsay their words or else they would be punished; 
  • the Hasmoneans should be clothed in purple and wear a gold buckle. 
These powers were conceded by their former imperial masters and confirmed by the Seleucid King Demetrius to Simon Maccabeus. They were written on bronze plates set up within the Temple in a conspicuous place so all could see them, v45.
They had overstepped the mark.

So where were the authentic priestly and royal dynasties at the time of the Hasmoneans and Julius Caesar?

The third parties
Let's go back to the time of the triumvirs, before Caesar was sole ruler. When Pompey conquered Israel, there were two last surviving Hasmonean brothers struggling for power: Hyrcanus and Aristobulus. Caesar decreed that Hyrcanus, son of Alexander, and his offspring should be perpetual priests. 

But neither brother was of legitimate priestly or royal descent. When Pompey first arrived and entered into the dispute, there was another party who made claim to both royal and priestly offices. In Antiquities 14, chapter three, we read (41) that Pompey came to Damascus:
And there it was he heard the causes of the Jews, and of their governors Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, who were at difference one with another, as also of the nation against them both, which did not desire to be under kingly government because the form of government they received from their forefathers was that of subjection to the priests of that God whom they worshipped; and [they complained], that though these two were of the posterity of priests, yet did they did they seek to change the government of the nation to another form, in order to enslave them.
Who were members of the nation against both Hasmonean brothers? They wanted to change the Hasmonean form of government that was trying to enslave them? The Greek τὸ ἔθνος, ethnos, refers to an ethnicity, a genealogical family and dynasty. They were not a part of the Hasmoneans. These people, this tribe, were reclaiming the ancient rights of the pure priesthood who should have direct Aaronic blood, and royal Davidic blood if they should be considered for the kingship. They wanted a royal and priestly system based on freedom, not Gentile-style autocracy. 
They were not the third party in the dispute but the legitimate, first claimants. 

The legitimate claimants
This is a key historic event that should be at the forefront of biblical commentators and historians when they discuss Christianity. Both the priesthood and the secular power of Israel were in the hands of imperious imposters! They were supported by all the might and power of the Hellenizing Seleucids and then pagan Rome. 

This true genealogical claim hearkens back to the Return from the Babylonian exile. Then Ezra led a group of purified priests and made sure that they did not have mixed blood with the surrounding pagans. Some of the priests had even married the native (pagan) girls of the land. Ezra made sure that these priests either divorced from these pagans or were expelled from any office in the priesthood -- forever. He told them that one of the main reasons for the Babylonian conquest and their exile was that their forefathers had mixed with pagans.
The royal line was the inheritance of a different tribe, that of Judah. The royal line was the offspring of Zerubbabel who became the leader after the Return. While his sons were not crowned kings because they were still subjects and under control of the powers of Babylon and then Persia, they provided leadership up to a point into the empire of Alexander the Great and later the Seleucids. When the Law of God indicated that they should not stay in Israel, a country riven with war, idolatry and rape, they exiled themselves in Egypt. They could thus preserve their offspring and ensure it was not polluted by rapine.

It is clear from this passage of Josephus, however, that, when the land of Israel was returning to independence, the legitimate clans were not allowed by the Hasmonean power-holders to regain their offices. Their representatives, however, made it clear to Pompey in Damascus (outside Israel) that the Hasmoneans were not legitimate.

This passage from Josephus indicates and presages the rise of the legitimate Aaronic priesthood of the family of Jesus as High Priest and Davidic line of the 'king of the Jews' of the New Testament, the New Covenant.

Priestly polemics
For Israelites in Israel and those exiled broad it was the essential part of their faith and adherence that the priesthood should follow the instructions of the Torah, the books of Moses. The Temple priesthood represented a connection of the people with the Creator God and the covenant their families had made at Sinai. It opposed all forms of paganism. A falsified priesthood may have sat well with religious and political authorities in Rome but for many Jews it was an insult and sacrilege.

After the demise of the Hasmonean dynasty, the effort of Herod trying to foist his own choice as high priest would have not resolved the dilemma. It would have made the sacrilege and public outrage even worse. The Hasmoneans had no legitimate offspring. The people that Herod chose as his high priest had even less. Where was the authentic Aaronic dynasty and how could it be installed again with Herod's acquiescence?

It should be recalled that Aaronic priests were always a minority among the Levitical priests that made up the tribe. Aaron had two surviving sons when the total number of male Levites was more than 22,000, Num 3. 

The solution was forced on Herod. It was not his choice. The undisputed dynastic claims made the choice inevitable. It was thrust upon him from Egypt of all places.

A man and his family arrived from refuge in Egypt and settled in Israel. The Land was now at peace, although it was ruled by a ruthless conqueror. For the priesthood it was important that their families and especially their virgin daughters should not live in a place of open warfare. Civil war was replaced by Roman law and administration.

Out of Egypt   
Simon Boethus arrived from Egypt and caused consternation. One surprising result of his arrival was that Herod had to divorce his queen! Why?
  • Was it money? Was Simon super-rich? No. 
  • Did he have an intimate political relationship to Caesar? There is no evidence of any relationship. 
  • Did he blackmail Herod in some way? Not at all. Simon was known for his piety and adherence to the laws of God.
Simon was from a family of modest means. It was not wealth or politics that caused Herod to take real notice of him. 

Here's what Josephus records:
There was one Simon, the son of Boethus, a citizen of Alexandria, a priest of great note there; this man had a daughter who was esteemed as being the most beautiful woman of her time ...  Herod was stricken with her beauty. Antiq bk 15, 9, 4 (320).
What was the brutal Herod to do? Use his authority to abuse her? Be thus stigmatized by violence and tyranny? Simon was of a dignity (social standing) too inferior to be allied to him, but too considerable to be despised, says Josephus. Curious. Herod wielded enough brutal power to do what he wanted. But here with Simon, he did not exercise it. Simon had a social standing but not riches or political power.

What dignity did Simon have that an abuse of his daughter would have provoked a revolt?

What was the context of popular discord that Herod had already stirred up? The dignity that Simon possessed was not riches or powerful friends but a pure genealogy. Even Josephus, who held Hasmonean loyalties, had to admit Simon was a 'priest of great note'.

Herod immediately deprived Jesus son of Phabet of the high priesthood, and conferred that dignity on Simon, says Josephus. Thus it is clear that Simon had the standing of a pure Aaronic pedigree. No one objected when such a person became high priest. Then Herod did something that was illegal.

And so Herod joined in affinity with him [by marrying his daughter, Mariamne] says Josephus. It was not permitted for an Aaronic high priest to give his daughter to a non-Israelite. Herod threw up a cloud of false information about his origins. What could Simon do against the desires of an autocrat? For someone who Josephus describes as having little dignity, he drove a hard bargain: his daughter became Herod's first lady to the exclusion of all others.

Simon now held the title of high priest and ethnarch. By marrying into the family with the greatest priestly genealogical claims, Herod, the product of a disreputable line as far as Israel was concerned, sought to capture some of its legitimacy and make his offspring the heirs to his kingdom. That this was his motive is shown by the fact that he divorced his queen, his previous wife of Samaritan extraction (also named Mariamne) and made Simon's daughter his queen.

The previous high priest was a man of little breeding. Simon was a popular choice, and one that could not easily be reversed, as history shows. He remained high priest for some two decades.  

As Josephus tells the story it is about beauty and kingly power but the record shows much more was involved. Why is Josephus reticent in saying the word 'priestly pedigree'? Why use the word 'dignity'? Josephus confesses his own bias as narrator: he had some minor Hasmonean blood and therefore supported their cause; he was a Pharisee (as distinct from supporting the Nazarenes or Esseans) and he was a leader of the bloody and fruitless revolt against the Romans (which Simon and his family were not). To say more about Simon would reveal the inadequacy of his own positions by comparison.

The elevation of Simon to the high priesthood coincided with the golden revival of Jewish fortunes, the Parthian peace process. Peace with Rome's major rival, Parthia, meant neither side wasted resources on war. Trade blossomed. Simon led the rebuilding of the Temple and its glorification. With the influx of vast quantities of treasures from Israelites in Parthia and around the world the Temple became the greatest construction project in the Roman Empire. It was the result of a geopolitical agreement of peace between the kings of Parthia and Emperor Augustus of Rome. Herod merely submitted to Rome's geopolitical plan. In Israel other amazing construction projects with no parallel elsewhere in their ingenuity followed. Herod took the praise. 

 The Temple and the Plaque
With the end of the Hasmoneans, the legitimate Levitical priesthood had gained the high office in the Temple. The City State, recognized by Julius Caesar, continued as an autonomous entity of the high priest. The high priest held all powers within the Temple. The Hasmoneans had been ethnarchs as well masters in the Temple itself. But now under Roman occupation, the ethnarchy of the land of Israel outside the Temple complex was subject to Roman occupation and Herodian control. 

The sanctity of the Temple remained. No Roman, nor any Gentile was allowed within its inner courts, such as the Court of the Israelites, and certainly nowhere near the Court of Priest and the Temple itself. That included the powerful King Herod himself. What restrained him? Roman law and the bronze plaque showing the agreement and decree of Julius Caesar and Rome's continuous adherence to its principles. In other words, Augustus made it clear to Herod that the Temple and its grounds were off-limits to him because major geopolitical agreements were involved.  

The Despot of the House
But was Simon the sole master inside the Temple? Simon was the High Priest (Cohen haGodol) and as such was responsible for the rituals and daily services of sacrifice.  The Hebrew Scriptures speak of several high priests and they are ruled by a Chief Priest (Cohen haRosh). He was quite often a relative, that is a fellow Aaronic priest, sometimes with royal blood too. The Hasmoneans seem not to have followed this or demoted the latter to a subservient position as a military commander.

The Chief Priest was the Teacher of the high priest. As such he could discipline the high priest if he did not follow the rules of the Temple. The Chief Priest was in charge of all aspects of the Temple, including its security and the thousands who served as Temple guards, opened the gates at the appointed time and made sure that only Israelites of verified pure pedigree were admitted and they were all properly purified. He was in charge of the Temple treasury and the Temple archives. 

The Chief Priest was the Absolute Sovereign of the Temple, God's House. The Greek term, used in the NT, is oikodespotis -- literally House Despot, whose voice had to be obeyed as the voice of God. The term despotis was not used by observant Jews of any man but only of God, the supreme power of good. No human outside the Temple wielded such power over Israelites, not even the Caesar. The customary exception was that of the head of a family with slaves as this described that absolute authority on a much smaller scale. He had total power of life, torture and death over his slaves under Roman law. They were his objects. 

Caesar's bronze plates state Roman Law that no one in the Empire had the right to violate the sanctity of the Temple. That had to be observed by all Roman soldiers in Jerusalem. Within the whole Roman Empire there may therefore have been one area that lay outside any force of Roman power. That was the tiny enclave of the Temple. The House of God itself was a fortress, built square with sides one Roman stade long. That is 185 meters or 600 feet. Its wall rose 140 meters from the Kidron valley. Josephus Wars 5,5,1 (188.) Jesus, James, Joseph, p439ff.

Besides this impressive battlement, certain other land was attached. This included the wine and olive press gardens on the east side of the precipitous Kidron valley. Gethsemane was connected by a holy bridge. Both the bridge and the area of Gethsemane were Temple ground. The ownership of this land dated back to the time of King David. Only priests were allowed to use this area. That is why the fraudulent high priests made such a clamor when Christ crossed the Kidron on a donkey just like his ancestor David. 

The ride on a mule was no random choice. It was an assertion of royal legitimacy. It reflected the historic event when King David rode from his palace on the Mount of Olives on the bridge to the Temple area to quell the rebellion of his son and his military commander. He then crowned Solomon king as his legitimate successor, and the high priest anointed Solomon over the sacred Gihon spring, the site of the Temple. Jesus, James, Joseph, p429ff.

The ride was an assertion by Jesus that he was a Davidic king of the Temple and rightful priest. 

The fraudsters had to react. Jesus re-affirmed his genealogy to Pontius Pilate's question 'Are you a king?' 'You said it! I am king,' John 18:37. But not of Caesar's world. He was king and priest of the Temple, the last remaining parcel of Israelite sovereignty. Pilate's praetorium lay outside this zone and Jerusalem proper. To the fraudsters' questions, he said nothing. He did not have to justify the claim; they had to give grounds for theirs. 

Inside the Temple, Jesus could call on all loyal priest-guards and Israelites. Outside he was on Roman occupied ground. Inside he was designated by right as military commander. He is called Commander many times in the NT but readers would not know it from almost all English translations. 

In Luke 5:5 Simon Peter at his first meeting calls Jesus epistatis, usually translated as Master. It means much more. The Geneva Bible has a note: The word signifies him that is made ruler over anything. The original Weymouth has Commander. The Julia Smith or Jonathan Mitchell Literal translations also have Commander. The same word is used in the Greek Septuagint in Jeremiah 29:25 as 'overseer in the Temple' in 2Chron 31 :12 it is ruler-priest and elsewhere taskmaster in charge of construction.

The lexicon says it means chief or commander. Chief and commander over what? The Temple.  It was a fortress. The commander had absolute command.

Some translations have Rabbi! That is false and an outright distortion of the Greek. The Greek for rabbi is literally rabbi! If Peter wanted to say Rabbi, he would have said Rabbi. That shows the confusion among churches that have not come to grips with the technical terms of the NT and its Temple context.  

The Greek translators knew Greek history and usage. The term epistatis is a special, technical political term used for centuries earlier and also later. He is the head of a city. In this case the Temple-city. He was in charge of fortification and security and all aspects of the politics.  He was thus Superintendent of the city's assembly -- which is called the ekklesia in Greek! He holds the key to the city and is their military commander. That is the way the term ekklesia is used in the NT. 

It is used of the Congregation of the tribes of Israel, Acts 7:38. It is the political assembly of Israel. In the NT it is used of a Greek political assembly, Acts 19:32, 39, 41. Yet many people today think it means 'church' in the style set up in the Middle Ages by the Catholic church. In the NT it means the political assembly of those who recognized the kingship of Christ. The ekklesia abroad were run by his designated Ambassadors (the Greek word is apostolos). When Peter and others address Christ as epistatis they acknowledge he is king, military commander and keeper of the archives (canon). He was absolute, sovereign ruler, despotis.

What this is saying is that firstly Jesus is the designated, hereditary leader and Sovereign of Israel. Secondly in the Roman context, he is Ruler of the Temple, an independent City-State, recognized by Rome as separate from their own laws and religious obligations.

That came into conflict with the Roman quislings, their high priests chosen to be guardians of Roman control of the people. It was these fraudulent high priests, working for Rome, that denounced Christ as undermining their authority. But Pontius Pilate knew his Roman law and that Christ was the real King and Chief Priest of Holy Jerusalem. He declared him innocent of any charge. He knew the genealogies of Christ made him the hereditary Ruler. 

And Christ also made clear that outside Holy Jerusalem, for example, as a prisoner inside the praetorium of Pilate, he was not an active king. 'My kingdom is not of this world (kosmos)' -- the Roman world. Inside the Temple fortress it was different. 'If my kingdom were of this (Roman) world, then would my officers (hyperetai) fight' to deliver me. John 18:36. That would mean taking on the whole Roman world. It would incite a world war with Jews and Israelites in the Diaspora and with the Parthian Empire. Jesus the king (as Pilate confirmed) was totally in Rome's hands without help inside the Roman hall of judgement of the legionary garrison. He showed Jesus to the mob outside as 'the King of the Jews'. They demanded punishment and refused clemency. 

Pilate showed his power by scourging Christ with a multi-thronged whip with attached jagged metal pieces.  Hoping this would satisfy their illicit desires to humiliate and eliminate Christ, he had soldiers hit the bloodied Jesus and say 'Hail the king of the Jews!' striking him several times across the face with their hands, John 19:3.  Pilate then presented him with a crown of thorns to the mob: 'See the man now!

Pilate tried further to get out of the dilemma, when Christ as God's legitimate High Priest, told him that he, Pilate, governor from Rome, had no authority except that which was allowed by God. Those that demanded his death had the greater culpability, John 19:11. They demanded his death and Pilate gave the order.

Jesus was crucified. A green tree (xulon), Acts 5:30, was used as a stake. 

What was at stake at his trial before Pilate? 


The fraudulent high priesthood depended on a bronze plaque, initially favoring the Hasmoneans. It was given by the Pontifex Maximus, the chief of all pagan religions of the Roman Empire. When asked about giving tribute to Rome, Jesus asked for a coin of Tiberius, bearing his effigy and title as Pontifex Maximus. 'Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's' was his reply, Mat 22:21. All the Universe belongs to God, the Supreme Sovereign and Creator.  Jesus, James, Joseph, p325. 

Jesus said he was come to bear witness of the truth. After extracting the forensic facts, Pilate asked 'What is truth?' John 19:37-8. Surely, factual truth was vital in judgement.

Jesus could prove his genealogy as a king from David. He could prove his fitness as Chief Priest from Aaron. What the fraudulent high priests and the Roman governor decided was based on politics.

They thought their politics would save the day.

They were wrong.

Truth is eternal.  Truth saves. 'I am the Way, the Truth and the Life' John 14:6.