(1) The Galileeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.--The incident is not related by Josephus or any other historian, but it was quite in harmony with Pilate's character. (See Note on Matthew 27:2.) We may fairly infer it to have originated in some outburst of zealous fanaticism, such as still characterised the followers of Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:37), while the pilgrims from that province were offering their sacrifices in the courts of the Temple, and to have been repressed with the same ruthless severity as he had shown in other tumults. It was probably one, at least, of the causes of the enmity between Herod and Pilate of which we read in Luke 23:12.
some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. These Galileans were very likely some of the followers of Judas Gaulonitis, or Judas of Galilee; see Acts 5:37 who endeavoured to draw off the Jews from the Roman government, and affirmed it was not lawful to give tribute to Caesar; at which Pilate being enraged, sent a band of soldiers, and slew these his followers; who were come up to the feast of the passover, as they were offering their sacrifices in the temple, and so mixed their blood with the blood of the passover lambs: this being lately done, some of the company spoke of it to Christ; very likely some of the Scribes and Pharisees, whom he had just now taxed as hypocrites; either to know his sense of Pilate's conduct, that should he condemn it as brutish and barbarous, they might accuse him to him; or should he approve of it, might traduce him, and bring him into contempt among the people; or to know his sentiments concerning the persons slain, whether or no they were not very wicked persons; and whether this was not a judgment upon them, to be put to death in such a manner, and at such a time and place, and which sense seems to be confirmed by Christ's answer. Josephus (z) relating a slaughter of the Samaritans by Pilate, which bears some likeness to this, has led some, though without any just reason, to conclude, that these were Samaritans, who are here called Galileans. This history is neither related nor hinted at, by any other writer but Luke. The phrase of mingling blood with blood, is Jewish; it is said of one Trogianus the wicked (perhaps the Emperor Trajan), that he slaughtered the Jews, , "and mingled their blood with their blood"; and their blood ran into the sea, unto Cyprus (a). The Jews (b) have a notion, that
"in the age in which the son of David comes, Galilee shall be destroyed.''
Here was a great slaughter of the Galileans now, see Acts 5:37 but there was a greater afterwards by the Romans: it may be that the Pharisees made mention of this case to Christ, to reproach him and his followers, who were called Galileans, as his disciples chiefly were.
(z) Antiqu. l. 18. c. 5. (a) T. Hieros. Succa, fol. 55. 2. Vid. Lightfoot Hor. in loc. (b) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 97. 1.