Dr. Charles Page, a director of the Center for Jerusalem Studies,
held a seminar several years ago. They tried to discern the
culture of that time (and present) to aid in the interpretation of
the Bible; feeling the biblical writers did not know there would be
a time when "everyone" doesn't know where the temple was, what their
family routines and traditions were, etc.
Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem was exactly as had been prophesized and
from the direction consistent with Rabbinical interpretations of
that scripture. The shouts of "Hosanna" which means "save us"
referred not to their sins, but Roman rule. Palms don't grow in
Jerusalem (much too high), but were bought in from Jericho. The palm
branch was a symbol of defiance for the Hebrews, dating from the
rebellion led by Judas Macabee over a century earlier. How did the
Romans like that? It went over like waving a PLO flag in Israel.
The Romans were suspicious of any large gathering and Pilate had no
reason to hear of him before his march into Jerusalem. BTW,
crucifixions were common then and Pilate, far from being an innocent
hard-working Roman official who was dragged into this mess, was
ruthless and paranoid (eventually died mad in prison).
Although Jesus enjoyed wide support on Palm Sunday among the people,
he was to lose all of that within only three days. Overturning the money
changers on Monday lost the Sadducees. When He spoke openly in the
Temple on Tuesday morning where interaction between the teacher and
people was common, the answer "Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar's"
was not what the Zealots wanted to hear. They wanted to overthrow the Roman
occupation and were looking for a popular military leader. On
Tuesday afternoon, Jesus preached privately to his disciples on the
south steps of the temple, but within earshot of the offices of the
Pharisees. Matthew 23 is what they heard.
Page thinks Jesus was arrested on Tuesday evening, not Thursday.
There were several calendars at that time in use and so much
happened to Jesus from his arrest to crucifixion it would be hard to
squeeze it all in from Thurs evening (about 2am) to the execution at
9am the next day.
The Passover supper was in a room provided probably by the Essences,
a small sect at their monastery. As was the custom in that time,
the table was only about 9" off the floor in a U shape. It is the
only recorded occasion when Jesus was the host of a meal and Judas
was the guest of honor. Peter was at the foot of the table (other
lip of the U) expecting to be called up, he wasn't. The people
reclined on their left sides and ate with their hands.
At the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus had every reason the be fearful
as He knew what was coming and while praying seemed to sweat drops
The Sanhedrin (a court of 70 judges) trumped up a charge of
blasphemy which insured the loss of support of the general
population which only a few days earlier was shouting "Hosanna". In
addition to the scourging, He was also victim of the "Game of Kings"
in which the prisoner is made to move to different squares on the
floor of a large room by lot and suffer different types of abuse
depending on where he lands.
Capitol prisoners were held in dark pits. Some think Psalm 88
foretold this experience.
The vertical post used in crucifixions was permanently in place.
The horizontal bar was tied to the prisoner before being driven to
the place of crucifixion. It was an extremely painful way to die
(it is the root of the word "excruciating") and often took 4 to 5
days. Fortunately, Jesus was only on the cross 6 hours. In
deference to the Jews, the Romans did not want the crucifixion to
continue onto the Sabbath which starts at 6pm on Friday; this was
the reason he was stabbed in the side.