Now from the sixth hour
Which was twelve o'clock at noon,
there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour;
till three o'clock in the afternoon, the time the Jews call "between the two evenings"; and which they say F3 is "from the sixth hour, and onwards". Luke says, the sun was darkened, ( Luke 23:45 ) . This darkness was a preternatural eclipse of the sun; for it was at the time when the moon was in the full, as appears from its being at the time of the passover; which was on the fourteenth day of the month Nisan, the Jews beginning their months from the new moon: and moreover, it was over all the land, or earth, as the word may be rendered; and the Ethiopic version renders it, "the whole world was dark"; at least it reached to the whole Roman empire, or the greatest part of it; though some think only the land of Judea, or Palestine, is intended: but it is evident, that it is taken notice of, and recorded by Heathen historians and chronologers, as by Phlegon, and others, referred to by Eusebius F4. The Roman archives are appealed unto for the truth of it by Tertullian F5; and it is asserted by Suidas, that Dionysius the Areopagite, then an Heathen, saw it in Egypt; and said,
``either the, divine being suffers, or suffers with him that suffers, or the frame of the world is dissolving.''Add to this the continuance of it, that it lasted three hours; whereas a natural eclipse of the sun is but of a short duration; see ( Amos 8:9 ) . The Jews F7 have a notion, that in the times of the Messiah
``the sun shall be darkened, (amwy twglpb) , "in the middle of the day", (as this was,) as that day was darkened when the sanctuary was destroyed.''Yea, they speak F8 of a darkness that shall continue a long time: their words are these:
``the king Messiah shall be made known in all the world, and all the kings shall be stirred up to join together to make war with him; and many of the profligate Jews shall be turned to them, and shall go with them, to make war against the king Messiah; so (amle lk Kvxty) , "all the world shall be darkened" fifteen days, and many of the people of Israel shall die in that darkness.''This darkness that was over the earth at the time of Christ's sufferings, was, no doubt, an addition to them; the sun, as it were, hiding its face, and refusing to afford its comforting light and heat to him; and yet might be in detestation of the heinousness of the sin the Jews were committing, and as expressive of the divine anger and resentment; for God's purposes and decrees, and the end he had in view, did not excuse, nor extenuate their wickedness; as it shows also their wretched stupidity, not to be awakened and convinced by the amazing darkness, with other things attending it, which made no impression on them; though it did on the Roman centurion, who concluded Christ must be the Son of God. It was an emblem of the judicial blindness and darkness of the Jewish nation; and signified, that now was the hour and power of darkness, or the time for the prince of darkness, with his principalities and powers, to exert himself; and was a representation of that darkness that was now on the soul of Christ, expressed in the following verse; as well as of the eclipse of him, the sun of righteousness, of the glory of his person, both by his incarnation, and by his sufferings.
F3 T. Hieros Pesachim, fol. 31. 3.
F4 In Chronicis.
F5 Apolog. c. 21.
F7 Zohar in Exod. fol. 4. 1.
F8 Ib. fol. 3, 4.