Rosh Hashanah

Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and the first of the High Holy Days. To be more precise, Rosh Hashanah actually began yesterday evening, since the Jews traditionally begin a new day at sunset. This holiday takes place on the first two days of the month of Tishrei in the Hebrew calendar. Because the Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar, the dates wander a bit in our Gregorian calendar. This year it takes place on September 25-27. The New Year is celebrated for two days because of the difficulty of determining the precise day of the new moon.

Rosh Hashanah, which means “the head of the year”,  is not mentioned as such in the Bible. Instead, the day is called “Zikaron Teru’ah” a memorial of the blowing of horns in Leviticus 23:24, and “Yom Teru’ah” the day of blowing the horn in Numbers 23:9.

 23 The LORD spoke to Moses: 24 “Tell the Israelites, ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you must have a complete rest, a memorial announced by loud horn blasts, a holy assembly. 25 You must not do any regular work, but you must present a gift to the LORD.’”  (Lev. 23:23-25)

1 “‘On the first day of the seventh month, you are to hold a holy assembly. You must not do your ordinary work, for it is a day of blowing trumpets for you. 2 You must offer a burnt offering as a sweet aroma to the LORD: one young bull, one ram, and seven lambs one year old without blemish.  3 “‘Their grain offering is to be of finely ground flour mixed with olive oil, three-tenths of an ephah for the bull, two-tenths of an ephah for the ram, 4 and one-tenth for each of the seven lambs,note 5 with one male goat for a purification offering to make an atonement for you; 6 this is in addition to the monthly burnt offering and its grain offering, and the daily burnt offering with its grain offering and their drink offerings as prescribed, as a sweet aroma, a sacrifice made by fire to the LORD. (Num 29:1-6)

I mentioned that the Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar. That is not quite correct. A fully lunar calendar would be based solely on the phases of the moon that would cycle through the year, as the Islamic Calendar does. Instead, the Hebrew calendar is a lunisolar calendar. The twelve months add up to 354 days, so to keep up with the seasons extra, intercalary months are added in a nineteen-year cycle. Seven intercalary months are added during the cycle so that a thirteenth month is added every two or three years. This means that the dates wander a bit compared to the Gregorian calendar but stay within the appropriate seasons.

Anyway, Shana Tova everyone.

Twenty-One Years

It has been twenty years since the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, and I still remember it as if it were yesterday.

On that Tuesday morning, I was at work, driving from Madison to North Vernon when I got a call from my wife. She asked me if I was listening to the radio. I was not. She told me to turn it on because something terrible was happening. I turned my car radio on and listened to the coverage of the attack.

I went about my duties at the stores in North Vernon in a sort of state of shock.  The North Vernon Walmart and Jay C played continuing news coverage of the day’s events instead of the usual soothing Musak. Not too many people were working or shopping in the stores. They were mostly just listening.

I had to go to Seymour for a meeting that afternoon. On the way, I noticed that some gas stations had raised the price of gasoline to a then unheard-of price of $5 per gallon. At the meeting, no one wanted to discuss the business at hand. Instead, we talked about the terrorist attack. It seemed certain to us all that more attacks were on the way and that this time we couldn’t just launch a few missiles, blow up some tents, and then move on. We were in for a long fight.

I don’t remember much about the rest of that day. I went home but I don’t remember much about it.

I was once in the World Trade Center. I was in New York with some friends as a sort of tourist and we took the elevator to the top floor of one of the twin towers. There was a gallery up there where you could look out over the city of New York. The day was foggy so I didn’t see anything. They had a gift shop in the center section of the floor. It sickens me to think that the people who worked there went to work one morning, and then had to choose between burning to death or jumping, Not to mention the tourists, who only wanted to look at the city.

It still sickens me to think about the people who were only doing their jobs having to lose their lives.

It sickens me, even more, to have an alleged president turn tail and run from the kind of terrorists who committed this atrocity, abandoning Americans in Afghanistan, or to have this so-called president declaring his fellow Americans a threat to the country while ignoring the external threats, probably because the traitor president is bought and paid for our enemies, but there it is.

twin

Ditch Mitch

By all accounts, the Republican Party should have a great showing in the midterm elections this November. Most pundits believe that the Republicans will almost certainly win control of the House of Representatives and they have a more than fair chance of gaining control in the Senate. The Republicans, being the Stupid Party, however, will probably manage to screw up what should be the biggest red wave in decades. Mitch McConnell, in particular, seems to be trying his best to make sure he remains the Minority Leader in the Senate.

Jeffrey Carter explains why the Republicans need new leadership

The Republicans looked like they would win the Senate and the House this fall. The Red Wave was real. It still might be but Mitch McConnell is doing all he can to screw it up.

The Republicans are known as “the stupid party” for a good reason. As a former resident of Illinois, I have experienced the stupidity of the Republican Party firsthand. Democrats run Illinois and have for a half-century. Republicans scream like two-year-olds and when they are handed their goldfish crackers they keep quiet and roll over while the adults eat steak.

There is no crime in changing out of poor leadership. Lincoln ran through a lot of generals until he landed on US Grant. General George C. Marshall got rid of all the top generals ahead of WW2 and restaffed the entire general cadre with younger generals that could fight the next war. Companies get rid of poor-performing executives all the time. McConnell is a poor leader because he enables the worst in elected officials.

Top movers and shakers in the party will tell you that Mitch is a “knife fighter” and he did do that with the SCOTUS. It took balls of steel to derail Merrick Garland’s nomination and it looks genius now given that Garland has proven to be nothing more than a third-rate apparatchik at the Department of Justice. He thinks nothing of using the government power of his office to attack political rivals. But, one victory doesn’t make a season. Do you want to be the NY Yankees or the Cleveland Indians?

At his core Mitch is GOPe and GOPe is not good for the United States. Instead of a fast double timed march to socialism or corporatism, it’s slower. GOPe doesn’t ruffle feathers and won’t actually change anything.

He goes on to give some good reasons why Mitch McConnell should go, but I have an even more fundamental reason why we need to ditch Mitch. The man is simply too old. Right now, Mitch is eighty years old. He has been in the Senate since 1985. Now, I realize that advances in science and medicine have made it possible for people to remain relatively vigorous even into old age, and maybe eighty is the new sixty; but the fact remains that the human body, no matter how healthy, begins to shut down in the seventh and eighth decades. I cannot believe Senator McConnell could be as effective a legislator as he was in his prime.

Moreover, the fact that McConnell has been in the Senate since 1985 marks him a relic of a different era. When Mitch McConnell began his career, Republicans and Democrats may have differed on the policies they advocated, but politicians in both parties still wanted what was best for America. That was the time when Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill could put aside their differences and have dinner with one another. Those days are over. The Democratic Party is no longer the party of FDR, JFK, and LBJ. It is not even the party of Bill Clinton. The far-left, America-hating extremists who are only interested in seizing power and fundamentally transforming the United States into a socialist totalitarian despotism have taken over the Democratic Party. The debate between the parties is no longer what would benefit the country but whether the country deserves to be benefited at all. Mitch McConnell and all too many older Republicans do not seem to understand that times have changed. Bipartisanship and compromise are no longer desirable ways to produce needed legislation but steps toward the dissolution of our country. If Mitch McConnell can not be made to understand the old ways no longer work, he needs to be replaced by someone who does.

Some more here.

Chronological Snob

I saw this posted somewhere on the internet.

This is a prime example of what C. S. Lewis called chronological snobbery. Chronological snobbery is the idea that because people in earlier times were less knowledgable than we are about natural science, they must have been less intelligent and less knowledgeable about everything than we who live in these more enlightened times. The person who created this meme is suggesting that because the men who wrote the constitution were ignorant about the developments in scientific understanding after their time, they have nothing worthwhile to say to us. The constitution they drafted must be based on their ignorance and should perhaps be discarded as a product of an earlier, benighted era.

The meme isn’t entirely true, even in a real sense. The men of the eighteenth century did not regard women as literal property, except for their Black slaves, but that is another matter. If anything, they probably had a more realistic view concerning men and women than the average gender studies major of our times. At least they knew what a woman was. No educated person at the time would have viewed a light bulb as the product of witchcraft. They would have easily understood the principles of the workings of an incandescent light bulb if someone had explained it to them. Benjamin Franklin and perhaps Thomas Jefferson could have deduced these principles by observation. In fact, Franklin could have invented the light bulb if he had lived a half-century later. These were not ignorant men.

As for the rest, it may be true that the framers did not know about atoms or dinosaurs, though Jefferson at least was aware of the fossils that suggested large animals had existed in the past. They only knew about the prevailing scientific views of their time, just as the creator of this meme only knows about the common views of xir time. It is true that the average college or even high school graduate knows more about the natural world than the most educated persons in the eighteenth century. That is hardly to their credit, however. They had no hand in developing modern scientific theories. They are only repeating what their teachers tell them. It is not to the framers’ discredit they didn’t know better. They could not have known about advancements in knowledge that occurred decades or centuries after their deaths.

In any case, a knowledge of modern physics or medicine is not what is needed to establish a new and lasting government. What is needed is a knowledge of human nature and political history. This sort of wisdom the founding fathers possessed in abundance much greater than the average woke college graduate of today. These men had all read Plutarch, Polybius, and Plato. They were familiar with the works of Locke, Burke, and Montesquieu. Men the woke would dismiss as dead White males with nothing to say to us in these more enlightened times. The men who drafted our constitution had studied the constitutions of many states ancient and modern and had managed to create a political system that has provided the American people with an unparalleled degree of freedom for more than two hundred years. I doubt if any system of government devised by our woke contemporaries would do so well. Indeed, if the history of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries is any guide, we still have a lot to learn from the wise men who wrote that allegedly outdated constitution. We should not dismiss the people who lived in the past as ignorant because they did not have the knowledge we have gained since their time. We should learn from their wisdom that we have perhaps lost.

Bastille Day

In France, they are celebrating Bastille Day. The day in 1789 that mobs stormed the notorious prison fortress and freed seven confused convicts. I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time. Anyway here’s to France.

France has a really cool national anthem.

Independence Day

The Fourth of July is the day on which the American people celebrate their independence from Great Britain. It is not actually clear why Independence Day is the Fourth. Congress actually passed the Declaration of Independence on July 2, 1776. It has often been thought that the Declaration was signed on the fourth, but that doesn’t seem to be true. There wasn’t any one time when the members of Congress signed the Declaration and there were a few who didn’t get around to signing it until August. Nevertheless, the fourth is the date that stuck. As John Adams wrote to Abigail.

English:

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

And so it has been, for the last 246 years. May God bless America and grant us many more years of freedom.

Happy Independence Day.

The Evil Party and the Stupid Party

It is often said that the Democrats are the evil party and the Republicans are the stupid party. If there is any doubt that the Democrats are indeed the evil party, consider the complete meltdown they are having over the Supreme Court’s recent overturning of Roe versus Wade. Keep in mind that the Court’s decision on Dobbs versus Jackson Women’s Health Organization does not actually outlaw abortion anywhere. It simply refers the matter back to the states, where state legislatures can settle the question democratically. The idea that the people of each state can decide for themselves what to do about abortion ought not to be controversial yet the Democrats are furious over the possibility that fewer infants will be murdered in the womb. That is evil.

Let’s be clear about what the debate on abortion is really over. It is not about women’s bodies or reproductive health. It is about murdering human beings before they are even born. Killing an innocent person is always an intrinsically evil act, whatever the justification. Deliberately killing an innocent human being can only be justified if it is necessary to save the life of another human being, and even then, it is a lesser evil rather than a positive good. A mother who kills her child is performing an abominable act, one that is contrary to nature. Abortion is always an evil act unless it is done to preserve the life or health of the mother. A political party that supports abortion right up to the moment of birth can only be called the Evil Party.

If the Democrats are evil, the Republicans are stupid. I do not believe that any other political party in the history of politics has demonstrated quite the knack for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory as the Republican has consistently shown. As it stands, due to the catastrophic record of the alleged president Biden and the Democrats in Congress, the Republicans are poised to win huge victories in the November election. All Republicans have to do to ensure a red tsunami this fall is to avoid alienating their base into staying home instead of voting. What are the Republicans, at least the GOP leaders in the Senate doing? Working to alienate potential voters so that they will decide to stay home by supporting a highly problematic Democrat “gun safety” bill. Fourteen Republican Senators, who ought to have known better, including Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, and Indiana’s own Todd Young, along with the usual traitors like Mitt Romney voted to support a bill that will do nothing to make our streets safer but will help to abridge our constitutional rights.

Alienating your supporters to appease people who will never support you is stupid. Making compromises with people who believe that compromise means you give up something you want while they give up nothing at all is stupid. Making compromises with people who view each compromise as just another step towards their long-term goals is stupid. Breaking promises to your voters and refusing to fight for your principles in the face of opposition is both cowardly and stupid.

The leaders of the Republican Party are, for the most part, either stupid or cowards. Why should we continue to vote for people who will not deliver? Maybe we need a new party in America. Instead of the Evil Party and the Stupid Party, maybe we need a Smart, Good Party.

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day, the day we honor those who have fallen fighting for their country and for freedom.

Memorial Day first started to be observed after the Civil War. That war was the bloodiest in American history and the casualties of that war were unprecedented. The number of killed and wounded in the three previous declared wars, the War of Independence, the War of 1812, and the Mexican War, were insignificant compared to the slaughterhouse that the Civil War became. After the war people in both the North and South began to commemorate the soldiers who died for their country. The date of this commemoration varied throughout the country until it settled on May 30.

In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill. This law moved the dates of four holidays, including Memorial Day, to the nearest Monday to create three-day weekends. This, I think, was unfortunate. I believe that converting the day on which we honor our fallen heroes into a long weekend tends to diminish the significance of this day. It becomes no more that day to take off work and for businesses to have sales. There should be more to Memorial Day.

Easter

We left the story of Jesus of Nazareth last Friday. He had been executed in the most painful and degrading way possible. His closest followers were dispersed and in hiding. It must have seemed that Jesus and his movement had ended in utter failure. But then, something remarkable happened. This something is commemorated by the Easter holiday. Although Christmas is the more popular Christian holiday, Easter is actually the most important holiday in the liturgical year as the celebration of Christ’s resurrection is theologically more important than his Nativity. But I am getting ahead of myself.

The Gospel of Mark has the most concise account of what happened that first Easter.

1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

9 When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene,out of whom he had driven seven demons.10 She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping.11 When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.

12 Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country.13 These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.

14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.17 And these sign swill accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons;they will speak in new tongues;18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it. (Mark 16:1-20)

Mark 16:9-20 seems to be a later addition. At any rate, the earliest manuscripts do not have those verses. Whether the original ending has been lost or Mark intended to end his account so abruptly is unknown.

Matthew has more details.

1After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

The Guards’ Report

11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:1-20)

Luke and John have more to say of Jesus after His resurrection but I won’t quote them here.

The date of Easter has been a matter of some controversy in past centuries. The date of Easter is related to the date of Passover. The calculations on which the date of Easter is determined are based on a lunisolar cycle like the date of Passover but the cycle is not the Hebrew calendar. Generally, Easter falls about a week after Passover but it occurs about a month later in three years of the nineteen-year cycle. Various groups of Christians have had different methods of calculating Easter over the years and these differences have led to bitter disputes. There is still a different date for Easter among the Eastern churches since they use the Julian calendar for the liturgical year while Catholics and Protestants use the Gregorian calendar.

Among Catholics and some Protestants, Easter is generally celebrated by an Easter vigil beginning the previous evening. At dawn, a mass or service begins, etc.

And, of course, many people celebrate Easter by finding Easter eggs and eating candy delivered by the Easter Bunny.

 

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday, the day of Jesus’s crucifixion. It may seem strange to call it “Good” Friday since being crucified wouldn’t normally be considered as part of a good day but the word good is used in an obsolete sense meaning holy. Good Friday is generally celebrated with fasts and vigils. In the Roman Catholic church, no mass is held on this day.

Once again, I will be using the Gospel of Mark to tell the story.

Mark 15

1Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

2 “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

3 The chief priests accused him of many things. 4 So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

6 Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

9 “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

13Crucify him!” they shouted.

14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. (Mark 15:1-15)

It would seem that this meeting of the Sanhedrin at night and before Passover was highly irregular and some have questioned the historicity of the Gospel accounts on that basis. I think that if the elders and priests of the Sanhedrin believed Jesus to be on the point of declaring himself the Messiah and leading a rebellion, they might not have been too concerned with fine points of legality in the face of a national emergency. Little is known of Pontius Pilate but in the historical accounts of Josephus and others, he does not seem to be the sort of man who had any scruples about putting a trouble maker to death even if he wasn’t certain of the man’s guilt. It is possible that he was impressed by Jesus’s force of personality. On the other hand, Josephus makes it clear that Pilate was a tactless man who did not like the Jews much. He was eventually recalled because his actions seemed likely to cause rebellions. Perhaps Pilate resented having the High Priest and others, who he might have considered semi-barbarians, insist on his crucifying a man he believed to be innocent. He might have refused just to be obstinate.

16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS.

27 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. [28][a]29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.(Mark 15:16-32)

Luke has one of the thieves taking Jesus’s side.

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[d]

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)

Crucifixion is probably the most painful method of execution ever devised. The victim is slowly asphyxiated as he hangs on the cross. It was not uncommon for a man to linger for days writhing in pain the whole time. In addition to the pain, crucifixion was meant to be a humiliating, shameful punishment. Only the lowest of the low were crucified, which might have been a stumbling block to early Christian proselytizing.

33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[b]

35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died,[c] he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph,[d] and Salome. 41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.

Those words were the first verse of Psalm 22. Matthew’s account parallels Mark’s but Luke and John report different last words.

46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”[e] When he had said this, he breathed his last.  (Luke 23:46)

28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.(John 19:28-30)

John adds another detail.

31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,”[c]37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” (John 19:31-37)

Strange as it may seem, the breaking of their legs was an act of mercy since they would die sooner. It was surprising that Jesus had died after only being about six hours on the cross.

42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid. (Mark 15:42-47)

To anyone on the scene, this must have seemed the end of the matter. Jesus of Nazareth was dead and his followers scattered. It would seem that, at best, he would only be a minor footnote in history.

 

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