Smith's Bible Dictionary
(armed with a spear ), Pontius. Pontius Pilate was the sixth Roman procurator
of Judea, and under him our Lord worked, suffered and died, as we learn not
only from Scripture, but from Tacitus (Ann. xv. 44). was appointed A.D. 25-6, in
the twelfth year of Tiberius.
His arbitrary administration nearly drove the Jews to insurrection on two or
three occasions. One of his first acts was to remove the headquarters of the
army from Caesarea to Jerusalem. The soldiers of course took with them their
standards, bearing the image of the emperor, into the holy city. No previous
governor had ventured on such an outrage. The people poured down in crowds to
Caesarea, where the procurator was then residing, and besought him to remove the
images. After five days of discussion he gave the signal to some concealed soldiers
to surround the petitioners and put them to death unless they ceased to trouble
him; but this only strengthened their determination, and they declared
themselves ready rather to submit to death than forego their resistance to an
idolatrous innovation. Pilate then yielded, and the standards were by his orders brought
down to Caesarea.
His slaughter of certain Galileans, (Luke 13:1) led to some remarks from our
Lord on the connection between sin and calamity. It must have occurred at some
feast at Jerusalem, in the outer court of the temple. It was the custom for the
procurators to reside at Jerusalem during the great feasts, to preserve order,
and accordingly, at the time of our Lordís last Passover, Pilate was occupying his official residence in Herodís palace. The history of his condemnation of our Lord is familiar to all. We
learn from Josephus that Pilateís anxiety to avoid giving offence to Caesar did not save him from political
disaster. The Samaritans were unquiet and rebellious Pilate led his troops
against them, and defeated them enough. The Samaritans complained to Vitellius, then
president of Syria, and he sent Pilate to Rome to answer their accusations
before the emperor. When he reached it he found Tiberius dead and Caius (Caligula)
on the throne A,D, 36.
Eusebius adds that soon afterward "wearied with misfortunes," he killed
himself. As to the scene of his death there are various traditions. One is that he
was banished to Vienna Allobrogum (Vienne on the Rhone), where a singular
monument--a pyramid on a quadrangular base, 52 feet high--is called Pontius Pilate"s
tomb, An other is that he sought to hide his sorrows on the mountain by the lake
of Lucerne, now called Mount Pilatus; and there) after spending years in its
recesses, in remorse and despair rather than penitence, plunged into the dismal
lake which occupies its summit.
These files are public domain.
Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Piílate'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". 1901.
Return to Bible History Online
The main historical sources about the life of Pontius Pilate were:
- Josephus (75-94 A.D. approx.)
- The New Testament
(50-100 A.D. approx.)
- Jewish and Christian Tradition
- Archaeology: inscriptions, coins, written text.
Bibliography on Pontius Pilate
by Wroe, 432 Pages, Pub. 2001
Pontius Pilate a Novel
by Maier, 384 Pages
Bible History Online
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