23:26 As 1 they led him away, they seized Simon of Cyrene, 2 who was coming in from the country. 3 They placed the cross on his back and made him carry it behind Jesus. 4 23:27 A great number of the people followed him, among them women 5 who were mourning 6 and wailing for him. 23:28 But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, 7 do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves 8 and for your children. 23:29 For this is certain: 9 The days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore children, and the breasts that never nursed!’ 10 23:30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 11 ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ 12 23:31 For if such things are done 13 when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” 14
1 tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.
2 sn Jesus was beaten severely with a whip before this (the prelude to crucifixion, known to the Romans as verberatio, mentioned in Matt 27:26; Mark 15:15; John 19:1), so he would have been weak from trauma and loss of blood. Apparently he was unable to bear the cross himself, so Simon was conscripted to help. Cyrene was located in North Africa where Tripoli is today. Nothing more is known about this Simon. Mark 15:21 names him as father of two people apparently known to Mark’s audience.
3 tn Or perhaps, “was coming in from his field” outside the city (BDAG 15-16 s.v. ἀγρός 1).
4 tn Grk “they placed the cross on him to carry behind Jesus.”
5 sn The background of these women is disputed. Are they “official” mourners of Jesus’ death, appointed by custom to mourn death? If so, the mourning here would be more pro forma. However, the text seems to treat the mourning as sincere, so their tears and lamenting would have been genuine.
6 tn Or “who were beating their breasts,” implying a ritualized form of mourning employed in Jewish funerals. See the note on the term “women” earlier in this verse.
7 sn The title Daughters of Jerusalem portrays these women mourning as representatives of the nation.
8 sn Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves. Judgment now comes on the nation (see Luke 19:41-44) for this judgment of Jesus. Ironically, they mourn the wrong person – they should be mourning for themselves.
9 tn Grk “For behold.”
10 tn Grk “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that have not borne, and the breasts that have not nursed!”
sn Normally barrenness is a sign of judgment, because birth would be seen as a sign of blessing. The reversal of imagery indicates that something was badly wrong.
11 sn The figure of crying out to the mountains ‘Fall on us!’ (appealing to creation itself to hide them from God’s wrath), means that a time will come when people will feel they are better off dead (Hos 10:8).
13 tn Grk “if they do such things.” The plural subject here is indefinite, so the active voice has been translated as a passive (see ExSyn 402).
14 sn The figure of the green wood and the dry has been variously understood. Most likely the picture compares the judgment on Jesus as the green (living) wood to the worse judgment that will surely come for the dry (dead) wood of the nation.
15 tc The text reads either “two other criminals” or “others, two criminals.” The first reading (found in Ì75 א B) could be read as describing Jesus as a criminal, while the second (found in A C D L W Θ Ψ 070 0250 Ë1,13 33 Ï) looks like an attempt to prevent this identification. The first reading, more difficult to explain from the other, is likely original.