Mark 15:43 Commentary - Whedon's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
43. Joseph of Arimathea… craved the body of Jesus The cruelty of Roman law allowed the malefactor to hang until putrefaction had dissolved his body, or the beasts and birds had torn it in pieces. But the humaner law of Moses directed that the malefactor hanged on a tree should be taken down before nightfall. Roman policy usually yielded to such peculiarities in their conquered provinces. Accordingly the crucified bodies are taken down, and the process of death is hastened, or at least the impossibility of escape ensured, in the case of the thieves, by breaking their legs. But the special divine provision in order to secure the fulfilment of the prophetic type of the paschal victim, of which not a bone was to be broken, the earlier death of Jesus, prevented the execution of the same violence upon his body. When thus taken down and found fully deceased, the moment arrived when it should be rescued from desecration by the interposition of Joseph. Otherwise he would have been consigned forthwith to the shameful burial of ordinary malefactors.
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Whedon's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Daniel D. Whedon (1808-1885) was a prominent university professor, theologian, and author. He served as Professor of Ancient Languages at Wesleyan University in Connecticut; as Professor of Rhetoric at the University of Michigan; and as editor of the Methodist Quarterly Review from 1856 to1884. He authored numerous books including Commentary on the New Testament (New York: Carlton & Porter, 1860); Commentary on the Old Testament (New York: Nelson & Phillips, 1873); What is Arminianism? (Toronto: W. Briggs, 1879); and Essays, Reviews, and Discourses (New York: Phillips & Hunt, 1887).