Matthew 27:33-34. And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha A Syriac word which signifies a scull, or head. In Latin it is called Calvary. The place was so named, either because malefactors used to be executed there, or because the charnel-house or common repository for bones and sculls might have been there. Being upon an eminence, it seems to have been a proper spot of ground for the execution of criminals, as those that were crucified there might be seen at a considerable distance, and by a great number of spectators. They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall The word χολη , here rendered gall, is used with great latitude in the Septuagint. The Hebrew word, signifying wormwood, is twice so rendered, Proverbs 5:4; Lamentations 3:15. At other times it seems to denote any bitter or poisonous infusion that tasted like gall. Mark says, They gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh, εσμυρνισμενον οινον . But, it seems, the two evangelists speak of the same ingredients. For though Mark terms that wine which Matthew calls vinegar, he may really have meant vinegar, which was a common drink among the ancients, (see Numbers 6:6,) and such as might very properly be called wine, as it was usually made of wine, or of the juice of grapes. Besides, it is well known that the ancients gave the general name of wine to all fermented liquors whatsoever. It is evident, therefore, that to reconcile the evangelists here, we have no occasion for the reading of Beza’s copy, which has οινον instead of οξος . As to the other ingredient of this potion, it is probable the bitter, or poisonous infusion of Matthew mentioned above, might be called myrrh by Mark, because it had myrrh mixed with it; there being nothing more common than for a medicine, compounded of many ingredients, to take its name from some one of them that is prevalent in the composition. Or the evangelists maybe reconciled more directly by supposing, that the word used by Matthew and rendered gall, and which, as we have seen, is applied to wormwood, signifies any bitter drug whatsoever, and therefore may denote myrrh, which has its name from a Hebrew word signifying bitterness. Casaubon has given a third solution of this difficulty. He thinks that our Lord’s friends put a cup of myrrhed wine into the hands of one of the soldiers to give to him, but that the soldier, out of contempt, added gall to it. Whatever were the ingredients in this liquor, it is probable that it was offered to Christ by some of his friends, with a view to stupify and render him insensible of the ignominy and pain of his punishment. For it appears it was not unusual to give criminals drink of this kind, before their execution, in order to make them insensible of the pains of death. Jesus, however, refused the potion that was offered him, because he would bear his sufferings, however sharp, not by intoxicating and stupifying himself, but through the strength of faith, fortitude, and patience.
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