Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calls for Elijah.
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Cornelius a Lapide
Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. According to S. Jerome and others, these were the Roman soldiers, who also gave Him vinegar ( Luke 23:36). But not understanding Hebrew, they thought He called for Elias, of whose return at Christ"s coming they had beard from the Jews. ...
This man calleth for Elias. St. Jerome thinks these might be some of the Roman soldiers, who understood not Syriac, but who had heard of the prophet Elias. (Witham)
But if we understand it of the Jews, who could not possibly be ignorant of this word, we must suppose it was merely a stratagem of theirs, who wishing still to show the weakness of our Redeemer, said that he called Elias to his aid. (St. Jerome)
The soldiers thinking that he called for Elias, wished to hinder any one from offering vinegar, lest it should hasten his death, and prevent Elias from coming to assist him; which, from the darkness and other signs, they might think probable. (St. Augustine)
Wine and vinegar, on account of their penetrating quality, were thought to hasten death. We read in Plutarch, that wine was given to Mark Anthony, when he had stabbed himself, that he might die the sooner. (Jansenius) ...
But observe here also their wantonness, intemperance and folly. They thought, it is said, that it was Elijah whom he called. Right away they gave him vinegar to drink. But another came to him and “pierced his side with a spear.” Who could be more lawless, who more brutal, than these men? How could they have carried their madness to so great a length, offering insult at last even to a dead body? But note well how he turned even their evil deeds to use for our salvation. For after the blow the fountains of our salvation gushed forth. The Gospel of Matthew, Homily ...