Chapter 26

The Burial



Bethlehem road, Hebron Gate, Palace of Herod the Great

Antonia Fortress, Lower City

Lined on three sides with sheds


he who is not recognized will become a rich man

olive estate--Gethsemane

thirty tetradrachmas

knife struck the would be lover

Now we shall always be together--according to Proffer, this idea is found in the Gospel of Nicodemus (I haven't found it yet)

Pilate, Banga, Afranius

Iuda's Murder

sentries playing dice

The son of an astrologer-king and a miller's daughter, Pila

Valerius Gratus

The temple seals


Couldn't he have killed himself?

one body was missing

Yesterday we ate sweet spring figs

pure stream of the waters of life

fifth procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate

Lined on three sides with sheds--the Russian here is "dvorik pokoem obstavlennyi saraiami"--a yard surrounded with sheds like the Russian letter P (pokoi) at right. Bulgakov says the same about the Sadovaya 302bis in Chapter 7. The name of the letter is the word "peace" that is so important in the novel.

he who is not recognized will become a rich man--this is a Russian saying, not a Greek or Hebrew one.

knife struck the would be lover--compare the Master's comment in Chapter 13 that love struck him like a robber, a Finnish knife.

Iuda's Murder­The hooded man is clearly Afranius who must be acting on orders from Pilate. The murder scene in Gethsemane resembles a Russian short story, "Gethsemane," by Alexander Fedorov, published in Novoe slovo in 1910. Bulgakov draws the moonlit scene in the garden from this story. Also he highlights the irony of the traitor being killed by treachery. Finally, Fedorov's story also evokes the image of continued blood-letting and destruction for Jerusalem down the centuries for the next 2000 years.

sentries playing dice--in the Bible the soldiers play dice for Jesus' clothes after the crucifixion (Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:34, John 19:24). A dice game board carved in the pavement of Jerusalem is traditionally associated with this game.

Valerius Gratus-­this was Pilate's predecessor who was Prefect from AD 15-25. Since Afranius says that he has been serving for 15 years the indications are that he began service in AD 15 and that the year of the novel is AD 29. This too Bulgakov could have learned from Müller (G. A. Müller, Pontius Pilatus, der fünfte Prokurator von Judäa und Richter Jesu von Nasareth, Stuttgart 1888), though there is no mention of his work in Bulgakov's notes.

The temple seals-­Here Afranius mentions that he has all the temple seals. He also mentions that no one in Kaifa's palace claimed to have paid out any money. These facts lend credence to the theory that Afranius gave Iuda the money and then moved to murder him. (Seals of course connect Afranius with the NKVD, which puts a seal on Berlioz's door after his death.)

Couldn't he have killed himself?­-this line caps the irony in an already ironic conversation. Clearly Afranius and Pilate have arranged the murder, yet in their oblique way they talk about it as if it were a mystery. They essentially set up a credible story to cover their traces. The further irony in this statement is its parallel to the Bible, where Judas actually does kill himself by hanging.

one body was missing-- The rumor of the theft of Christ's body is mentioned in Matthew 28:13-15.

Yesterday we ate sweet spring figs [bakkuroty]­-These figs were a typical dish for Passover supper. Bulgakov has a note from Farrar to this effect. He also noted from the diary of Bishop Porfirii Uspenskii (1804-85) that they would be fully ripe in Judea in about the latter half of April, by the time when the Jerusalem scenes take place. (Kniga bytiia moego, SPb 1894, t. 1, s. 593 in Sokolov 553)

The pure stream of the waters of life echoes Revelation 22:1 (El'baum 21).

fifth procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate--In Chapter 13 the Master says his novel ends with the words "fifth procurator of Judea, the knight Pontius Pilate." Oversight or intentional change?