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Roman Legions

"Then the soldiers of the governor [see Pontius Pilate] took Jesus into the praetorium, and they gathered the whole battalion before Him. And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe upon Him, and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on His head, and put a reed in His right hand. And kneeling before Him they mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" And they spat upon Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. And when they had mocked Him, they stripped Him of the robe, and put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him. As they went out, they came upon a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; this man they compelled to carry His cross [see Cross or Stake?]. And when they came to a place called Golgotha [see Where Was Jesus Crucified?], which means the place of a skull, they offered Him wine to drink, mingled with gall; but when He tasted it, He would not drink it. And when they had crucified Him, they divided His garments among them by casting lots; then they sat down and kept watch over Him there. And over His head they put the charge against Him, which read, "This is Jesus the King of the Jews." (Matthew 27:27-37 RSV)

Roman Soldiers The Roman Legion was a term that came to represent the vast military system that enabled the Roman empire (see Ancient Empires - Rome) to conquer and govern the ancient world of Europe (including Britain), south-central Asia and the Middle East, and North Africa. Centered on Rome, it was unquestionably the sole military superpower of its day, all connected by an elaborate system of Roman Roads.

A legion was the largest unit in the ancient Roman army, composed of infantry and cavalry. At full strength, such a division could consist of up to 6,000 soldiers. Each legion was divided into cohorts of 600 men, and each cohort was further divided into centuries of 100 men. A century was commanded by a centurion.

In the early empire, there were 28 formally-established legions, however as the empire expanded the military establishment grew along with it. Each legion developed its own traditions and standards (flags and insignia). The 10th Legion was apparently a favorite of Julius Caesar in the earlier years, and after the destruction of Jerusalem (see The Fall of Jerusalem In 70 A.D.) it, under the command of the future emperor Titus (see New Testament Roman Emperors), was the primary force that took Masada.

Roman weaponry for individual troops consisted of a helmet, some version of body armor, a large curved shield, and a now-famous Roman "short-sword." Peter was carrying one when The Messiah was arrested The Fateful Night, and he used it to slice off Malchus' right ear (John 18:10) (some are of the belief that the bold Peter, while attempting to defend The Lord from the mob, actually swung the weapon with the intent to do much more serious damage, but Malchus dodged sufficiently so that the sword only took off his ear as it grazed his head). Most also carried a heavy javelin that could penetrate enemy shields and armor quite effectively at a considerable distance. It was the last item, the javelin (or spear), that actually killed the nearly-dead Jesus Christ (see How Did Jesus Christ Die?), to fulfill the requirement of "His shed blood" - "But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water." (John 19:34 RSV)

Fact Finder: Will the Roman soldier who pierced Jesus Christ with a javelin see Him again one day?
Revelation 1:7
See also The Return Of Jesus Christ


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