They gave him vinegar - mingled with gall - Perhaps χολη, commonly translated gall, signifies no more than bitters of any kind. It was a common custom to administer a stupefying potion compounded of sour wine, which is the same as vinegar, from the French vinaigre, frankincense, and myrrh, to condemned persons, to help to alleviate their sufferings, or so disturb their intellect that they might not be sensible of them. The rabbins say that they put a grain of frankincense into a cup of strong wine; and they ground this on Proverbs 31:6; : Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, i.e. who is condemned to death. Some person, out of kindness, appears to have administered this to our blessed Lord; but he, as in all other cases, determining to endure the fullness of pain, refused to take what was thus offered to him, choosing to tread the winepress alone. Instead of οξος, vinegar, several excellent MSS. and versions have οινον, wine; but as sour wine is said to have been a general drink of the common people and Roman soldiers, it being the same as vinegar, it is of little consequence which reading is here adopted. This custom of giving stupefying potions to condemned malefactors is alluded to in Proverbs 31:6; : Give strong drink, שקר shekar, inebriating drink, to him who is ready to Perish, and wine to him who is Bitter of soul - because he is just going to suffer the punishment of death. And thus the rabbins, as we have seen above, understand it. See Lightfoot and Schoettgen.
Michaelis offers an ingenious exposition of this place: "Immediately after Christ was fastened to the cross, they gave him, according to Matthew 27:34, vinegar mingled with gall; but, according to Mark, they offered him wine mingled with myrrh. That St. Mark's account is the right one is probable from this circumstance, that Christ refused to drink what was offered him, as appears from both evangelists. Wine mixed with myrrh was given to malefactors at the place of execution, to intoxicate them, and make them less sensible to pain. Christ, therefore, with great propriety, refused the aid of such remedies. But if vinegar was offered him, which was taken merely to assuage thirst, there could be no reason for his rejecting it. Besides, he tasted it before he rejected it; and therefore he must have found it different from that which, if offered to him, he was ready to receive. To solve this difficulty, we must suppose that the words used in the Hebrew Gospel of St. Matthew were such as agreed with the account given by St. Mark, and at the same time were capable of the construction which was put on them by St. Matthew's Greek translator. Suppose St. Matthew wrote במרירא חליא (chaleea bemireera ) which signifies, sweet wine with bitters, or sweet wine and myrrh, as we find it in Mark; and Matthew's translator overlooked the yod י in חליא (chaleea ) he took it for חלא (chala ) which signifies vinegar; and bitter, he translated by χολη, as it is often used in the Septuagint. Nay, St. Matthew may have written חלא , and have still meant to express sweet wine; if so, the difference only consisted in the points; for the same word which, when pronounced chale, signifies sweet, denotes vinegar, as soon as it is pronounced chala ."
With this conjecture Dr. Marsh (Michaelis's translator) is not satisfied; and therefore finds a Chaldee word for οινος wine, which may easily be mistaken for one that denotes οξος vinegar; and likewise a Chaldee word, which signifies σμυρνα, (myrrh), which may be easily mistaken for one that denotes χολη, (gall). "Now," says he, "חמר (chamar ) or חמרא (chamera ) really denotes οινος (wine), and חמץ (chamets ) or חמצא (charnetsa ) really denotes οξος (vinegar). Again, מורא (mura ) really signifies σμυρνα (myrrh), and מררא (murera ) really signifies χολη (gall). If, then, we suppose that the original Chaldee text was במורא הליט חמרא (chamera heleet bemura ) wine mingled with myrrh, which is not at all improbable, as it is the reading of the Syriac version, at Mark 15:23, it might easily have been mistaken for במררא הליט חמצא (chametsa haleet bemurera ) vinegar mingled with gall." This is a more ingenious conjecture than that of Michaelis. See Marsh's notes to Michaelis, vol. iii., part 2d. p. 127-28. But as that kind of sour wine, which was used by the Roman soldiers and common people, appears to have been termed οινος, and vin aigre is sour wine, it is not difficult to reconcile the two accounts, in what is most material to the facts here recorded.
They gave him vinegar - Mark says that, “they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh.” The two evangelists mean the same thing. Vinegar was made of light wine rendered acid, and was the common drink of the Roman soldiers, and this might be called either vinegar or wine in common language. “Myrrh” is a bitter substance produced in Arabia, but is used often to denote anything bitter. The meaning of the name is “bitterness.” See the notes at Matthew 2:11. “Gall” is properly a bitter secretion from the liver, but the word is also used to denote anything exceedingly “bitter,” as wormwood, etc. The drink, therefore, was vinegar or sour wine, rendered “bitter” by the infusion of wormwood or some other very bitter substance. The effect of this, it is said, was to stupefy the senses. It was often given to those who were crucified, to render them insensible to the pains of death. Our Lord, knowing this, when he bad tasted it refused to drink. He was unwilling to blunt the pains of dying. The “cup” which his “Father” gave him he rather chose to drink. He came to suffer. His sorrows were necessary for the work of the atonement, and he gave himself up to the unmitigated sufferings of the cross. This was presented to him in the early part of his sufferings, or when he was about to be suspended on the cross. “Afterward,” when he was on the cross and just before his death, vinegar was offered to him “without the myrrh” - the vinegar which the soldiers usually drank - and of this he drank. See Matthew 27:49, and John 19:28-30. When Matthew and Mark say that he “would not drink,” they refer to a different thing and a different time from John, and there is no contradiction.
An earthquake marked the hour when Christ laid down His life, and another earthquake witnessed the moment when He took it up in triumph. He who had vanquished death and the grave came forth from the tomb with the tread of a conqueror, amid the reeling of the earth, the flashing of lightning, and the roaring of thunder. When He shall come to the earth again, He will shake “not the earth only, but also heaven.” “The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage.” “The heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll;” “the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” But “the Lord will be the hope of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel.” Hebrews 12:26; Isaiah 24:20; 34:4; 2 Peter 3:10; Joel 3:16. DA 780.1
At the death of Jesus the soldiers had beheld the earth wrapped in darkness at midday; but at the resurrection they saw the brightness of the angels illuminate the night, and heard the inhabitants of heaven singing with great joy and triumph: Thou hast vanquished Satan and the powers of darkness; Thou hast swallowed up death in victory! DA 780.2
Christ came forth from the tomb glorified, and the Roman guard beheld Him. Their eyes were riveted upon the face of Him whom they had so recently mocked and derided. In this glorified Being they beheld the prisoner whom they had seen in the judgment hall, the one for whom they had plaited a crown of thorns. This was the One who had stood unresisting before Pilate and Herod, His form lacerated by the cruel scourge. This was He who had been nailed to the cross, at whom the priests and rulers, full of self-satisfaction, had wagged their heads, saying, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save.” Matthew 27:42. This was He who had been laid in Joseph's new tomb. The decree of heaven had loosed the captive. Mountains piled upon mountains over His sepulcher could not have prevented Him from coming forth. DA 780.3Read in context »
There are those who mocked Christ in His humiliation. With thrilling power come to their minds the Sufferer's words, when, adjured by the high priest, He solemnly declared: “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Matthew 26:64. Now they behold Him in His glory, and they are yet to see Him sitting on the right hand of power. GC 643.1
Those who derided His claim to be the Son of God are speechless now. There is the haughty Herod who jeered at His royal title and bade the mocking soldiers crown Him king. There are the very men who with impious hands placed upon His form the purple robe, upon His sacred brow the thorny crown, and in His unresisting hand the mimic scepter, and bowed before Him in blasphemous mockery. The men who smote and spit upon the Prince of life now turn from His piercing gaze and seek to flee from the overpowering glory of His presence. Those who drove the nails through His hands and feet, the soldier who pierced His side, behold these marks with terror and remorse. GC 643.2
With awful distinctness do priests and rulers recall the events of Calvary. With shuddering horror they remember how, wagging their heads in satanic exultation, they exclaimed: “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him.” Matthew 27:42, 43. GC 643.3Read in context »
And now before the swaying multitude are revealed the final scenes—the patient Sufferer treading the path to Calvary; the Prince of heaven hanging upon the cross; the haughty priests and the jeering rabble deriding His expiring agony; the supernatural darkness; the heaving earth, the rent rocks, the open graves, marking the moment when the world's Redeemer yielded up His life. GC 667.1
The awful spectacle appears just as it was. Satan, his angels, and his subjects have no power to turn from the picture of their own work. Each actor recalls the part which he performed. Herod, who slew the innocent children of Bethlehem that he might destroy the King of Israel; the base Herodias, upon whose guilty soul rests the blood of John the Baptist; the weak, timeserving Pilate; the mocking soldiers; the priests and rulers and the maddened throng who cried, “His blood be on us, and on our children!”—all behold the enormity of their guilt. They vainly seek to hide from the divine majesty of His countenance, outshining the glory of the sun, while the redeemed cast their crowns at the Saviour's feet, exclaiming: “He died for me!” GC 667.2
Amid the ransomed throng are the apostles of Christ, the heroic Paul, the ardent Peter, the loved and loving John, and their truehearted brethren, and with them the vast host of martyrs; while outside the walls, with every vile and abominable thing, are those by whom they were persecuted, imprisoned, and slain. There is Nero, that monster of cruelty and vice, beholding the joy and exaltation of those whom he once tortured, and in whose extremest anguish he found satanic delight. His mother is there to witness the result of her own work; to see how the evil stamp of character transmitted to her son, the passions encouraged and developed by her influence and example, have borne fruit in crimes that caused the world to shudder. GC 667.3Read in context »
What a scene that will be! No pen can describe it! The accumulated guilt of the world will be laid bare, and the voice of the Judge will be heard saying to the wicked, “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” 6BC 1070.1
Then those who pierced Christ will remember how they slighted His love and abused His compassion; how they chose in His stead Barabbas, a robber and murderer; how they crowned the Saviour with thorns, and caused Him to be scourged and crucified; how, in the agony of His death on the cross, they taunted Him, saying, “Let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” “He saved others; himself he cannot save.” They will seem to hear again His voice of entreaty. Every tone of solicitude will vibrate as distinctly in their ears as when the Saviour spoke to them. Every act of insult and mockery done to Christ will be as fresh in their memory as when the satanic deeds were done. 6BC 1070.2
They will call on the rocks and mountains to fall on them and hide them from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. “The wrath of the Lamb”—One who ever showed Himself full of tenderness, patience, and long-suffering, who, having given Himself up as the sacrificial offering, was led as a lamb to the slaughter, to save sinners from the doom now falling upon them because they would not allow Him to take away their guilt (The Review and Herald, June 18, 1901). 6BC 1070.3Read in context »