15.03.08 Lk. 22:63-65 (See also Mt. 26:67-68; Mk. 14:65)
JESUS IS ABUSED
63 The men who were holding Jesus started mocking and beating Him. 64 After blindfolding Him, they kept asking, “Prophesy! Who hit You?” 65 And they were saying many other blasphemous things against Him.
The mistreatment of Jesus, mocking Him as a pseudo-king, may seem like an indignity or insult in today’s Western culture. But in the first century where honor and respect were high virtues, to hit, spit upon, and slap someone with an open palm were high indignities punishable by heavy fines. In the past Jesus often embarrassed the leading religious leaders when they tried to trap Him, and He told them the truth about their lives. Now it was pay-back time. A similar game was played by the Greeks, according to an account found in the Onomasticon, authored by Pollux. These humiliations were similar to the modern children’s game called Blindman’s Buff.
The Sanhedrin blindfolded Jesus and mocked Him and His prophetic ministry. He often demonstrated His divine insight into the lives of other people, knowing the inner secrets of men and women. How strange that they would say, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” since this mockery itself was a fulfillment of prophesy. They were so engulfed with hatred that they did not recognize themselves fulfilling the same prophecies they taught to their own students. Furthermore, it was illegal to hit an accused person and the violator was subject to a two hundred denarii fine; to spit on the accused was worthy of a four hundred denarii fine.
These mockers were the men who sat in the judgment seat. They understood it was a sin for a Jew to physically harm another Jew, but now they had stirred up so much uncontrolled hatred among themselves that any sense of justice was totally removed. It should be noted, however, that some men, such as Nicodemus, were not a part of this violation of dignity against Jesus.
“Prophesy! Who hit You?” The striking of Jesus was, no doubt, for two reasons:
- To slap anyone in this honor-focused culture was huge insult. To strike a king was always worthy of capital punishment.
- However, there was a children’s game that was centuries old. In Greece, the second (A.D.) century writer Pollux described the game called Kollabismos. In his work, titled Onomasticon, he describes how one child covered his eyes with the palms of his hands while another hit him and asked him to identify which hand was used to strike the blow.
A pictorial of a similar game was uncovered in a 4,000 year old tomb in southern Egypt. Beni Hassan was a high ranking government official (c. 1892 B.C.) whose tomb has many wall pictures. One of those images portrays a player on his knees while two others, unseen by him, hit or pretend to hit his back with their fists. Whether this was a child’s game is unknown.
Therefore, the cultural message of slapping or striking of Jesus was not only an insult, but also a humiliating action reflecting child’s play.
15.03.08.Q1 What were the reasons the Jewish leaders accused Jesus of blasphemy?
There were a number of reasons, some more serious than others. But when combined, these provided a strong argument for their rejection of Him. The reasons are:
- Jesus forgave sin, and as such, He claimed to be God because only God can forgive sin.
- He spoke with His own authority. Rabbis often spoke on the authority of one or more other rabbis, but Jesus spoke as if He was the final authority.
- Jesus said that His miracles were signs of Divine power. While the Jewish leaders believed that the messianic miracles that Jesus performed were certain identifiers of the messiah, they rejected them and Him.
- Jesus referred to God as Abba, or Abba Father, just as He probably used the endearment term imma for mamma. They could not accept any person refer to God in such an affectionate manner.
- Whereas previous prophets warned the people of God’s judgment, Jesus said they would be judged on how they responded to His words. This in effect, was a statement that He was God.
- At times Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of God. Since a son was seen equal to his father, the words of Jesus were understood that He was equal to God.
- Jesus supposedly said that He would destroy the temple (He didn’t say this, but His accusers claimed that He did). Twice before Jesus had cleansed the temple and the merchants quickly went back to business as usual. They could hardly tolerate the cleansings, but the words of destruction were too much for them.
There can be no question that those who rejected Him did so for very profound reasons – reasons that believers understood, especially after the resurrection, and reasons they died for.
15.03.08.Q2 Where was Annas during the trial?
Annas, the godfather of religious crime and corruption, was not always present during the trials of Jesus. Why? Scholars believe that he was probably performing the Passover duties in the temple that normally would have been performed by Caiaphas. But due to the urgent nature of the moment, Caiaphas had to run the Sanhedrin and get rid of Jesus before the people discovered what happened and before the Passover officially began. Otherwise, a riot was destined to occur.
. Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructor’s Manual. Class 24, page 8.
. Pollux, Onomasticon 9.113; The Onomasticon is a list of Greek names of places and people, with explanations noted that was authored by Julius Pollux about the year A.D. 180.
. Pollux, Onomasticon 9:129.
. http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2009/09/09/the-beni-hasan-asiatics-and-the-biblical-patriarchs.aspx. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
. Cited by Flusser. “Who is it that Struck You?” 31-32.
. While the term abba has often been defined as a child’s expression of daddy, language scholar James Barr has suggested that abba was a solemn adult address to father. See Pilch, The Cultural Dictionary of the Bible. 2; Mould, Essentials of Bible History.
527; Vine, “Abba.”Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:1.
. Smith, Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament: Matthew. 110.