719. Spitting - Buffeting

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Matthew 26:6767Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, (Matthew 26:67) Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands.
1. Spitting in the face was considered the greatest insult that could be offered to a person. See Deuteronomy 25:99Then shall his brother's wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother's house. (Deuteronomy 25:9); Job 30:1010They abhor me, they flee far from me, and spare not to spit in my face. (Job 30:10). An Oriental, in relating any circumstance of which be desires to express the utmost contempt, will make a motion with his mouth, as if spitting.
2. Graham states that, at the present day in Palestine, when men quarrel and come to blows they strike each other, not with the fists, but with the palms of the hands. The insult offered to Jesus was given in this ordinary form; though, in addition, there were some who buffeted him, or struck him with their fist.
There is a scene represented on the Assyrian marbles which graphically illustrates this text, and at the same time shows the antiquity of the custom referred to. A captive is brought before the king, and in front of him is one who seizes the prisoner with the left hand, while the right hand is extended with open palm as if to smite him. He is also represented as spitting in the captive’s face. Around his neck is suspended the head of a slain countryman.
This indignity of spitting and smiting was repeated in the case of Jesus by the Roman soldiers. The first insult of the kind was when he was in the presence of the high priest. Afterward, when Pilate released Barabbas and delivered Jesus up to the brutal soldiery, they again spit upon him and smote him. See Matthew 27:3030And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. (Matthew 27:30); Mark 15:1919And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him. (Mark 15:19); John 19:33And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. (John 19:3).