They were not able (ouk iscusan). They did not have strength. An old verb iscuw from iscu (strength). They failed "to take hold (cf. verse Matthew 20 ) of the saying before the people." These "crack" students had made an ignominious failure and were not able to make a case for the surrender of Jesus to Pilate. He had slipped through their net with the utmost ease. Held their peace (esighsan). Ingressive aorist active of sigaw. They became silent as they went back with the "dry grins."