shore due to shoals that run out nearly two miles (3.2 kilometers) from either side. The maximum depth of water near the middle of this trajectory is about fifty feet (c. 15 meters). The distance from shore to shore is about six miles (c. 10 kilometers) allowing ample space for the possibly three million Israelites to be traversing the seabed while, at the same time, the military forces of Pharaoh were also making their way through the miraculously provided passage in an effort to overtake the Israelite host.—See EXODUS (Route of the Exodus).
This view coincides generally with the tradition handed down by Josephus, Jewish historian of the first century C.E., that the Israelites prior to the crossing were ‘shut up in a narrow place between impassable mountains and the sea.’ (Antiquities of the Jews, Book II, chap. XV, par. 3) A ‘turning back’ of the Israelite nation from Etham to the place described above would also harmonize well with Jehovah’s forecast that Pharaoh would say of them, “They are wandering in confusion in the land. The wilderness has closed in upon them.” (Ex. 14:3) This would hardly be true of locations N of Suez. The location of Pihahiroth in the vicinity of Jebel Atakah would likewise allow for Pharaoh’s forces to advance rapidly on the fleeing Israelites by a regularly traveled route from Memphis (the likely capital of Egypt at that time) to the Sinai Peninsula.—Ex. 14:4-9.
While satisfying the geographical requirements, such location of Pihahiroth must be viewed as only tentative, dependent on possible future confirmation.
Roman governor of Judea during Jesus’ earthly ministry. (Luke 3:1) After Herod the Great’s son Archelaus was removed from being king over Judea, provincial governors were appointed by the emperor to rule the province, Pilate evidently being the fifth of these. Tiberius appointed him in 26 C.E., and his rule lasted ten years.
Little is known of Pontius Pilate’s personal history. Some suggest that his clan name Pontius indicates a relationship to C. Pontius Telesimus, a prominent general of the Samnite people in a mountainous section of southern Italy. Pilate, his cognomen or family name, may indicate descent from a military man if the name comes from the Latin pilum, meaning “javelin.” Or it may identify him as a freed slave or a descendant of one if it derives from the Latin pileus, a cap usually worn by slaves who were given their freedom. The only period of his life to receive historical notice is that of his Judean governorship. The one inscription known bearing his name (and that of Tiberius) was found in 1961 at Caesarea, the seat of Roman government in Judea.
As the emperor’s representative, the governor exercised full control of the province. He could impose the death sentence and, according to those endorsing the view that the Sanhedrin could pass the death sentence, the governor’s ratification had to be obtained by that Jewish court for such sentence by them to be valid. (Compare Matthew 26:65, 66; John 18:31.) As the official residence of the Roman ruler was at Caesarea (compare Acts 23:23, 24), the main body of Roman troops was stationed there, with a smaller force garrisoned at Jerusalem. Customarily, however, the governor resided at Jerusalem during festival seasons (such as at Passover time) and brought up military reinforcements with him. Pilate’s wife was with him in Judea (Matt. 27:19), this being possible due to an earlier change in Roman governmental policy concerning governors in dangerous assignments.
Pilate’s tenure of office was not a peaceful one. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, Pilate made a bad start as to his relations with his Jewish subjects. He sent Roman soldiers bearing standards with images of the emperor on them into Jerusalem at night. This move provoked great resentment; a delegation of Jews traveled to Caesarea to protest the presence of the standards and call for their removal. After five days of discussion, Pilate sought to frighten the petitioners with the threat of execution by his soldiers, but their determined refusal to yield caused him to accede to their request.—Antiquities of the Jews, Book XVIII, chap. III, par. 1.
Philo, a Jewish writer of the first century C.E. in Alexandria, Egypt, describes a somewhat similar act by Pilate evoking protest, this time involving gold shields bearing the names of Pilate and Tiberius, which shields Pilate placed in his quarters at Jerusalem. A Jewish appeal went to the emperor at Rome, and Pilate was ordered to remove the shields to Caesarea.—De Legatione ad Gaium, XXXVIII.
Josephus lists yet another disturbance. To construct an aqueduct to bring water into Jerusalem from a distance of about twenty-five miles (c. 40 kilometers), Pilate used money from the temple treasury at Jerusalem. Large crowds clamored against this act when Pilate made a visit to the city. Pilate sent disguised soldiers to mix in with the multitude and, at a signal, to attack them, resulting in deaths and injuries among the Jews. (Antiquities of the Jews, Book XVIII, chap. III, par. 2; Wars of the Jews, Book II, chap. IX, par. 4) Apparently the project was carried through to completion. This latter conflict is often suggested as the occasion when Pilate ‘mixed the blood of Galileans with their sacrifices,’ as recorded at Luke 13:1. From this expression it appears that these Galileans were slain right in the temple area. There is no way of determining if this incident relates to that described by Josephus or is a separate occasion. However, since the Galileans were subjects of Herod Antipas, the district ruler of Galilee, this slaughter may have been at least a contributing factor in the enmity existing between Pilate and Herod up until the time of Jesus’ trial.—Luke 23:6-12.
TRIAL OF JESUS
On Nisan 14, 33 C.E., at dawn, Jesus was brought by the Jewish leaders to Pilate. As they would not enter the Gentile ruler’s premises, Pilate went out to them and inquired as to the charge against Jesus. The charges made included subversion, advocating nonpayment of taxes and that Jesus made himself a king rivaling Caesar. Told to take Jesus and judge him themselves, his accusers replied that it was not lawful for them to execute anyone. Pilate then took Jesus into the palace and questioned him as to the charges. Returning to the accusers, Pilate announced that he found no fault in the accused. The accusations continued and, upon learning that Jesus was from Galilee, Pilate sent him to Herod Antipas. Herod, chagrined at Jesus’ refusal to perform some sign, subjected him to mistreatment and ridicule and returned him to Pilate.
The Jewish leaders and people were again summoned and Pilate renewed his efforts to avoid sentencing an innocent man to death, asking the crowd if they wanted Jesus released in accord with the custom