19:1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged severely. 1 19:2 The soldiers 2 braided 3 a crown of thorns 4 and put it on his head, and they clothed him in a purple robe. 5 19:3 They 6 came up to him again and again 7 and said, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 8 And they struck him repeatedly 9 in the face.
[19:1] 1 tn Or “had him flogged,” or (traditional), “scourged him.” The verb should be read as causative. Pilate ordered Jesus to be flogged. A Roman governor would not carry out such a sentence in person. BDAG 620 s.v. μαστιγόω 1. states, “If J refers to the ‘verberatio’ given those condemned to death (TMommsen, Röm. Strafrecht 1899, 938f; Jos., Bell. 2, 308; 5, 449), it is odd that Pilate subsequently claims no cause for action (vs. 6); but if the latter statement refers only to the penalty of crucifixion, μ. vs. 1 may be equivalent to παιδεύω (q.v. 2bγ) in Lk 23:16, 22 (for μ. of a non-capital offense PFlor I, 61, 61 [85ad]=Mitt-Wilck. II/2, 80 II, 61).”
[19:1] sn This severe flogging was not administered by Pilate himself but his officers, who took Jesus at Pilate’s order and scourged him. The author’s choice of wording here may constitute an allusion to Isa 50:6, “I gave my back to those who scourge me.” Three forms of corporal punishment were employed by the Romans, in increasing degree of severity: (1) fustigatio (beating), (2) flagellatio (flogging), and (3) verberatio (severe flogging, scourging). The first could be on occasion a punishment in itself, but the more severe forms were part of the capital sentence as a prelude to crucifixion. The most severe, verberatio, is what is indicated here by the Greek verb translated flogged severely (μαστιγόω, mastigow). People died on occasion while being flogged this way; frequently it was severe enough to rip a person’s body open or cut muscle and sinew to the bone. It was carried out with a whip that had fragments of bone or pieces of metal bound into the tips.
[19:2] 4 sn The crown of thorns was a crown plaited of some thorny material, intended as a mockery of Jesus’ “kingship.” Traditionally it has been regarded as an additional instrument of torture, but it seems more probable the purpose of the thorns was not necessarily to inflict more physical suffering but to imitate the spikes of the “radiant corona,” a type of crown portrayed on ruler’s heads on many coins of the period; the spikes on this type of crown represented rays of light pointing outward (the best contemporary illustration is the crown on the head of the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor).
[19:3] sn The greeting used by the soldiers, “Hail, King of the Jews!”, is a mockery based on the standard salutation for the Roman emperor, “Ave, Caesar!” (“Hail to Caesar!”).