This title then read many of the Jews
Who were in great numbers, at the place of execution, rejoicing at his crucifixion, and insulting him as he hung on the cross:
for the place where Jesus was crucified, was nigh unto the city;
Golgotha, the place of Christ's crucifixion, was not more than two furlongs, or a quarter of a mile from the city of Jerusalem: so that multitudes were continually going from thence to see this sight; the city also being then very full of people, by reason of the feast of the passover; to which may be added, that the cross stood by the wayside, where persons were continually passing to and fro, as appears from ( Matthew 27:39 ) ( Mark 15:29 ) and where it was usual to erect crosses to make public examples or malefactors, and to deter others from committing the like crimes: so Alexander, the emperor, ordered an eunuch to be crucified by the wayside, in which his servants used commonly to go to his suburb F19 or country house: Cicero says
and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin;
that it might be read by all, Jews, Greeks, and Romans; and to show that he is the Saviour of some of all nations; and that he is King over all. These words were written in Hebrew letters in the Syriac dialect, which was used by the Jews, and is called the Hebrew language, ( John 19:13 John 19:17 ) and in which it is most likely Pilate should write these words, or order them to be written; and which, according to the Syriac version we now have, were thus put, (aydwhyd aklm ayrun ewvy) ; in Greek the words stood as in the original text, thus, (Ihsouv o) (Nazwraiov o basileuv twn Ioudaiwn) : and in the Latin tongue, as may be supposed, after this manner, "Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum". These three languages may be very well thought to be understood by Pilate; at least so much of them as to qualify him to write such an inscription as this. The Latin tongue was his mother tongue, which he must be supposed well to understand; and the Greek tongue was very much used by the Romans, since their conquest of the Grecian monarchy; and the emperors' edicts were generally published in Greek, which it was therefore necessary for Pilate to understand; and as he was a governor of Judea, and had been so for some time, he must have acquired some knowledge of the Hebrew language; and these being the principal languages in the world, he chose to write this title in them, that persons coming from all quarters might be able to read it, and understand it in some one of them.
F19 Lipsius de Crucc, l. 3. c. 13. p. 158.
F20 Orat. 10. in Veriem. l. 5. p. 604.
F21 Declamat. 275.