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THE LEGEND THAT JESUS' TOMB WAS GUARDED AGAINST BODY-SNATCHERS
 
The gospels say that a miracle healing man called Jesus Christ lived. They say he died by crucifixion and was buried immediately after and three days later he rose again. The tomb he was placed in was found wide open with the stone that had been across the entrance moved back and the tomb was mysteriously empty. His body was gone. Certain witnesses claimed that Jesus appeared to them as a resurrected being.
 
As Jesus' body supposedly could not have been removed from his tomb by thieves and as he appeared alive to his followers it is supposed that he rose from the dead. This view cannot be sustained if it was possible for somebody to have robbed the tomb. The Christians contradict that by saying the tomb was securely guarded. They say the body could not have been stolen.

 

We know that John’s claim that the disciples actually went into the tomb is untrue for Roman law would have crushed them for that.  It was a crime scene if the body had vanished.  (Unless you want to believe that they had obtained authorisation from Pilate which was why even if they stole the body nobody could do a thing about it for it was technically not stealing. This would explain why we do not hear of anybody being framed and punished for the theft. The Christians like to keep people from thinking that the body could have been legally stolen and all their apologetics centre around the notion that to take Jesus had to be theft.)  If there had been no guards the disciples would have been liquidated in hours but if there had been guards and what they were guarding was tampered with and trespassed upon the disciples would have been liquidated faster than a millisecond.

 

NOBODY BUT JESUS' CLOSEST WOULD HAVE KNOWN LOCATION OF TOMB

 

Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus.  He was a secret disciple and lived in fear of his Jewish peers.  His secretiveness makes it unlikely that Pilate the Roman governor knew where the tomb was. The Jews definitely did not know. So there was no way the guards could have went to the right tomb.  Why would anybody want them to know anyway?
 
THERE WERE NO GUARDS

Only the Matthew Gospel states that Jesus’ tomb was protected from body snatchers. It says that the day after Jesus died the Jews implored Pilate to have the tomb guarded lest the disciples of Jesus come and steal the body and claim Jesus had risen from the dead for the Jews remembered Jesus saying he would rise after three days. Pilate thought this was a good idea and seals were applied to the stone and the guard mounted. This guard is supposed to prove that nobody stole Jesus from the tomb and that Jesus did not revive and come out himself.
 
The Jews did not close tombs properly for the first three days in case the person would revive (page 89, The Turin Shroud is Genuine). They would have done this especially in the case of Jesus if they thought he could raise the dead and heal or perhaps rise himself. The stone for the tomb of Jesus would have been in place well enough to keep animals out but Jesus could have got out.
 
Or maybe he called out to a passer-by through an opening. The passer-by, knowing that nobody would ever know, helped Jesus out of the tomb after moving the stone and gave him some clothes and maybe nursed him back to health him.
 
But if everybody was sure there was no hope for Jesus the tomb might have been sealed completely. But then why seal the tomb completely if the women were coming on Sunday morning? Hoare says that the bereaved occasionally employed people to watch the tomb for them in case the “deceased” would come round (page 89, The Turin Shroud is Genuine). But the Gospels imply that this was not done with Jesus when Matthew says Roman guards were needed and when he and the rest say the women worried about getting the stone moved. The watchers might have helped Jesus out of the tomb. Perhaps the Romans let them do the close watching while they just pranced about the area. By the way, the watchers would not have stayed inside the tomb to watch for the Jews thought that the tombs were religiously unclean. Ordinary Jews would have watched the tomb. The Romans would not have watched if the Jews did for the Jewish watchers were near enough to the city to summon them at the first sign of trouble. It is possible that if the Jews got a guard, that the guard was never intended to be very near the tomb all the time. This possibility refutes the view that if Matthew is telling the truth about the guards then Jesus could not have been stolen and shows that Matthew failed to be convincing.
 
The watchers would have probably been friends of Jesus and picked and paid by the filthy-rich Joseph of Arimathea and would have been happy to help Jesus to safety or steal his body and tell the Jews they fell asleep and some disciples stole Jesus.
 
Christians comment, “Even though the Jesus people were finished it was known that a return from the dead might restore Jesus to favour in the eyes of the people and create a huge revival. The Jews were taking no chances.” Then why did they have him killed before the eyes of the people? If he was privately killed at least they could say he never rose if he did rise for he was never dead. And there is no evidence that the Jews who caused Jesus’ death acknowledged Jesus’ miracle powers. They were convinced that the crucifixion was Jesus’ ultimate and final failure. They told him as much.

Suppose the Jews believed that Jesus had supernatural demonic powers even if he did cheat sometimes. It would seem that the Jews would not have wanted the guards there for if Jesus had been such a great worker of miracles they would have been terrified that the guards would see the resurrection and become converts. That would have been all the more reason why the guards had to be Romans and not Jews for Jews would have been easier to convert. But you may say that the Jews knew that Jesus could show himself to everybody anyway if he rose. They had no reason to think that he would. There would have been no guards and especially no Roman ones. The Jews knew that even if Jesus was stolen and he planned to rise that wouldn’t stop him rising. There might have been guards only if theft was thought to be the only way Jesus could rise from the dead.
 
Pilate would not have wanted guards there if he broke the law to allow Jesus a proper burial that made Jesus look like an innocent man when the dump was the place for criminals. They would know then what he did and so would the Jews. For the Jews to completely destroy Jesus’ hold over people by making a failure of him which was the alleged reason for their bringing the crucifixion about they had to ensure he had as degrading a burial as a common criminal.

The Womb and the Tomb (page 108) says it is terribly unlikely that the tomb was looked after by Jesus’ enemies and not his friends. Perfectly right. Maybe one independent guard needed to be there to make sure they behaved themselves. If there had been guards they would have been amateurs and we would be told this. We are not so there were no guards.

The places where the bodies of criminals were dumped were always under guard (Who Moved the Stone? page 152). But that was out of cruelty to stop them getting a decent burial. Jesus was already in his tomb and had no guards for several hours so no guards were needed.

John says that Jesus was buried in the tomb because it was so near (19:42). Not because it was Joseph of Arimathea’s so it was a stolen tomb. Romans would not protect a tomb to keep a body that did not belong there inside it. Perhaps the real owners pilfered and destroyed the body and were afraid to own up.

The Gospel never says that guards were witnessed at the tomb except by a man in white who was never asked about them. No evidence is given only hearsay.

We don’t know if the women saw the guards. So Matthew is as good as telling us that he is only assuming that there were guards there. What kind of evidence is that? It is rubbish like that that Christianity is dependent on. Matthew just says that the guards saw the angel at the tomb and fainted and then that the angel spoke to the women. The guards could have gone by then. The gospel does not tell us. If there had been guards there Peter and the disciple and the women would not have touched the tomb. The women would have been silenced and maybe even killed for seeing the guards lying comatose around the tomb for the guards would have checked if anybody had seen them or if anybody was talking.

If guards always watched the graves of criminals – or top criminals like Jesus - then the women would not have been asking how they were going to get the stone moved. When the women did not know about the guards for they would not have worried about shifting the stone if they had it suggests that there were no guards. It is probable that the women would have heard for they were at the tomb and went to the synagogue where women chatted.

The man or men in white would not have been noseying into the tomb if there had been guards posted. Who Moved the Stone? page 158, even admits that the white man was not supernormal. You don’t tamper with the scene of a crime especially when you are a stranger.

Luke wrote a gospel as an apologetic for Christianity (1:1-4) and mentions no guards showing that there were none there. He would not have omitted that unless he knew it was made up especially when he copied lots of stuff from Matthew. When Luke 24 itself is full of interpolations that are missing from some second century manuscripts Heaven knows what was going on with the rest of the gospels. The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus (page 98) says that verses 3, 6, 9, 12, 36, 40, 51 and 52 are of dubious authenticity. Significantly, verse 3 is the one that says the body of Jesus was found missing and verse 6 announces the resurrection and 9 says the women reported this to the apostles. And verse 10 shows this was an interpolation all right for there is no need for verse 9 with it. And verse 12 has Peter running to the tomb and marvelling after verse 11 says the apostles as good as laughed at the women showing 12 was indeed an interpolation. And verse 40 which says the Lord showed the apostles his hands and feet. Verses 51 and 52 describe the ascension but they can be dropped from the narrative without interrupting the flow. When the most magical bits may be interpolations we should drop them entirely for when in doubt we must follow what is non-magical.

There are lies in the story of the guards which shows we can trust no detail in it and question if there were guards there at all. You should believe a person unless they have lied to you in the past especially if there was no need for it. You need evidence from someone or somewhere else to back up anything a liar says. Nobody has the right to command us to believe Matthew about the guards been there. At most we have to be neither sure or unsure.

The guards are so important in Christian apologetics – they are the prime reason that the view that Jesus got out of the tomb alive is rejected - that we can safely say the Christians themselves cannot believe the resurrection without them. John’s gospel accepts the rule in the Law of Moses to have two independent and trusted witnesses before you believe anything important including claims of miracles – the rule which God gave to Moses. This forbids the dependence on the soldiers for only Matthew said they were there and gave no witnesses to the event.

ROMANS OR JEWS AT THE TOMB?

 
The Matthew Gospel asserts that there were guards at the tomb. If there were guards, were they the Temple Guards who were all Jews or Roman soldiers?

When the chief priests and the Pharisees told Pilate they wanted a guard he said, “You have a guard” (Matthew 27:65 AB). Professor Alford said that this can be translated as saying they have got a guard or that they must get a guard (page 211, Evidence that Demands a Verdict). But Mgr. E de Camus says that the word for guards is a Latin word, koustodia. The gospel was written in Greek and Latin was the language of Rome so guards must mean Roman Guards when the Latin word was employed. If Pilate used the present imperative meaning he meant, “Get a guard” this means he meant his own guards (page 73, The Resurrection Factor). He could not just order the Temple guards out for he did not know exactly what they were doing that night and why so it had to be his own guards. He told them to get his own guards.

Frank Morison thinks that if the guards were Roman it would be absurd to think of the Jews saying they were able to save them from the death penalty for sleeping if the Governor got wind of it (page 189, Who Moved the Stone?). That is why he thinks the guard was composed of the Jewish Guard for the Temple and not the Romans. But the gospel says they asked Pilate to set the guard instead of asking him to let them set the guard. Also the gospel never actually mentions the death-penalty – that is just a lie that is sneaked in to bolster up the argument. If Pilate had accepted a Jewish guard and they failed to do their duty they would have been in trouble for it was easy to get on the wrong side of Pilate.
 
You could say there were no guards for story is inconsistent or that we have no reason to believe there were.

If you are trying to influence a difficult sergeant or a politician you take a number of people with you to increase the chance of getting listened to. The gospel says that the chief priests and the Pharisees came before Pilate to ask him to get the tomb guarded. This suggests that it was not the Jewish Guard for one man could have successfully got Pilate to let the Jews’ own guards be used. Also, the rule was that Roman soldiers guard tombs and graves where theft was feared. The Jewish Guard were not for upholding Roman law for Rome only trusted Gentiles. Rome banned grave-robbery so the Roman soldiers had to take care of it.
 
Matthew would tell us if it was the Jewish Guard for they were trusted more by his Jewish readers than by the Romans. He wants them to be witnesses to the supernatural at the tomb for us. Jewish soldiers would not have taken on the job in case they would have to take the body from the thieves and become unclean and unfit to work in the Temple through it for a while.

Some surmise that the guards were Jewish for there was no chance that Jewish guards would have been punished for sleeping on duty and only they would be able to say they slept on duty which the Gospel of Matthew says they said for Roman soldiers would have been punished - and if they were not punished nobody would believe they that they were truthful (Evidence that Demands a Verdict Vol 1, page 212). But any guards would have been punished for Pilate commanded that the tomb be made secure. He was not going to let the Jews have a guard that could get away with sleeping. Any guards deciding to tell such a lie is ridiculous and simply would not be done.

The Jewish Temple Guard had to watch the Temple to prevent desecration and people from going to forbidden territory. They had a religious function. The Romans did not care what happened to the Temple as long as it was nothing illegal in their law. The Temple Guards were relieved in the daytime but not at night-time (page 214, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Vol 1). This means it was unlikely for the Jewish Guard to be sent to the tomb on Saturday evening. Pilate had desecrated the Temple and they would have been afraid to make do with fewer men.

The Jews would not have needed Pilate’s permission to place their own guards at the tomb. And how could Jewish guards work over the Sabbath? Could it be possible that Pilate had commanded that nobody would know where Jesus was buried and the high confidentiality was the reason guards could not be posted without his consent? The Jews could have asked Pilate to have the tomb guarded without knowing where the tomb was. This would tell us that the apostles and the women lied about knowing where the tomb was in order to create the resurrection hoax.

The Temple Guards were always checked up on by the captain to make sure they were not asleep. They got beaten up and their clothes burnt off if they were caught sleeping. The Jews would have been especially anxious to make sure a Jewish Guard at the tomb did not sleep. And they would have been paranoid about the Romans doing the right things for when Pilate had to be asked to place guards at the tomb it gave the probably inaccurate impression that the Romans could not care less what happened to Jesus.

The Temple had a tremendous influx of visitors because of the feast. It is impossible it believe that any guards would have been sent from the Temple to the tomb of a Jesus who was popular and the Jews feared what the people might do if anything bizarre happened to him like we are told in the Gospel. The priests could have been attacked.

It is important to establish that the guards were Roman because that helps to reveal the story of what Matthew says they did as rubbish.

Perhaps the guards were telling the truth and they did sleep on duty. Matthew gives absolutely no evidence that they were lying. That is the foundation of the empty tomb miracle or mystery – gossip.

 
GUARDS BRIBED TO LIE?

 
The Matthew version of events is that there were Guards at Jesus’ tomb to make sure nobody purloined the body and claimed Jesus rose. An angel opened the tomb on Sunday morning causing them to faint in terror. Some of them came round and went to the Jews. These were bribed to testify that they slept on duty and during that time the body was stolen by Jesus’ disciples.
 
Matthew gave no evidence that the bribe took place. How could he know? It could just be his opinion but an opinion is not evidence. The Jews and the soldiers weren’t going to tell. He didn’t say how he came across this information leaving us free to surmise that it was gossip and speculation. 
 
The tomb being empty indicates that something very suspect was going on. Matthew says that an angel that looked like lightning moved the rock but be careful. He says that the sight of the angel scared the guards but not that the guards saw the stone being moved, the women may not have seen it either even if they were near. So, the gospels never say anybody saw it. We don’t know exactly when the stone was moved or how. Perhaps it was moved before and replaced sloppily and fell that morning. If Jesus was not moved until Sunday morning he would have been treated in the tomb. If he was removed as soon as possible after internment then evidence for theft by somebody else had to be manufactured which meant the tomb had to be reopened long after the body was gone for it to work. The disappearance would come out and had to be prepared for.
 
The guards story is meant to silence those who think Jesus was stolen from his tomb. Matthew however claims that those soldiers at the crucifixion scene were scared by the miracles that took place such as the tombs opening and the saints appearing out of them and the earthquake. If they made up the guard at the tomb, they had a further shock - the ferocious angel appearing and another earthquake. You would not expect men like that to be good guards - they needed time off after all those horrors. After the display of hostile divine power at Jesus' death, would they really collaborate in a plot to make Jesus look like failed Messiah? Would they take a bribe to lie about what happened at the tomb and to accuse Jesus' disciples of the capital crime of taking his body? No way! Would you take a bribe and lie after seeing an angel that scared you to death almost? The gospel of Matthew is lying.
 

FACT 1: The soldiers would not have went to the Jews. Policemen that have a problem go to their superiors not to a bunch of callous liars. The gospel says that the Jews accused Jesus of doing miracles that were all fraud. Romans would have been more open to the idea of the supernatural in Jesus’ life than Jews. They would have been too afraid of the angel they supposedly saw to lie. The soldiers could have been accused of telling lies about the angel and the rest and reported by the Jews. Plus the Jews were the temple priests – Sadducees. Sadducees had no belief in the afterlife or in angels. To them, the Old Testament angels were just appearances of God. They didn’t believe in any resurrection and would not have believed the soldiers had they testified that Jesus rose. The Jews would not have believed it about the angel. They would have had the soldiers in big trouble for they would have thought they were lying.

Even Matthew does not say the guards made such a testimony. All he says is they went to the Jews and said they would make it. And Christian liars often say they did make the testimony to inflate the evidence for the resurrection. Matthew doesn’t say the guards found the tomb empty.
 
FACT 2: They did not admit to the chief priests that they were unconscious yet the Gospel says they did.

The chief priests collaborated with Rome but they would have liked to get at them by accusing them of sleeping on duty when they had the legal chance for their racist scriptures told them to prefer Jewish rulers. They only licked Roman boots because they felt that there would be big trouble for the land if they did not. Moreover, these Jews were sceptical about the miracles of Jesus for they said his resurrection would have to be a fraud like everything else he did. Knowing their sceptical attitude – the chief priests were Sadducees who rejected the afterlife and current miracles and angels - how could the soldiers have approached them?

It is thought that it had to be confessed for they could not deny it. You cannot say that they knew the women saw them for there is no evidence of that. So this has to be left out of the argument for it is speculation.

The guards could have stopped the women talking by threats or simply contradicted them. Women were disbelieved more readily than men. It was only the word of a couple of women against a number of guards and everybody believes the guards.

The men could have said that they were lying down resting but not asleep and accuse the women of being mistaken or lying had the women seen them sleeping.

Anyway, the women would not dare tell when it involved the ruthless soldiers. And the Jews and Romans would have dismissed it as gossip for they would not have got the information first-hand. The apostles would not have been allowed to tell about the women.

Frank Morison says that the guards probably worked round the clock since Jesus was arrested for trouble over Jesus was feared so it would have been no wonder if they fell asleep (page 190, Who Moved the Stone?). But there is no probably about it for it could have been the guards who rested or other guards. Nobody posts guards who had to be suffering from fatigue.
 
FACT 3: The Jews would not have told the guards to say they slept on duty and neglected the tomb to stop anybody saying Jesus rose nor would the guards have agreed to do it.

The Jews allegedly told them they would keep them out of trouble if the Governor, Pilate, heard about their indolence. This is laughable because he would hear about it if they went about telling that. And it would still be a black mark on them that could come back to haunt them. It would be a huge hitch if men who claimed to sleep on duty got away with it. They wouldn’t have been allowed to say they did it. The Jews could not guarantee protection and it is impossible to see what they could have done. Pilate did not do everything they told him to.

The Jews would have been delighted to have the soldiers arraigned before Pilate to see them punished and found guilty of sleeping on duty and letting Jesus be stolen for that gave the perfect cover for what really happened. That was why the soldiers would not have gone to them for they would have had to expect this. The Jews knew that people would see the authorities were covering something up if soldiers could go around freely saying they let the body be stolen and were not punished. They would have drawn the conclusion that Jesus had risen. Matthew has the Jews doing exactly what they did not want to do! What a daft wonder-tale!

The Jews would have been in trouble for Pilate would have to find out that they claimed to know the Guards slept and never informed him.

The guards might have said they were attacked and knocked out or drugged instead of saying they fell asleep for sleeping on duty brought more than the sack, it inevitably brought the death-penalty (page 223, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Vol 1).

No soldier would have been willing to slander and endanger himself for a religion that he hated and to destroy a religion that was as good as dead and could be handled by the sword.

If they said the tomb was robbed one moment their backs were turned they would have been in less danger for these things happen. That is what they would have been told to say.

Or the Jews could have told them to admit that they fainted and blame a man dressed up as an angel for it. If an earthquake happened as Matthew says that could have scared them badly.

FACT 4: Upon finding the tomb empty, if they did that, the soldiers could have sealed the tomb again and said nothing not even to the Jews. They would have in case they would not be believed and would have been legally obliged to in case people would see the body was gone. Nobody would have known a thing. Or if they had to tell the Jews and their bosses there was no sense in telling everybody else that Jesus had disappeared. They could have acquired a body to put in the tomb and claim that it was Jesus’ and forbid entry. The Jews would have persuaded them to do that if they had gone to them. It is better to have a body in the tomb to refute the disappearance than to have word of mouth. The Jews knew the people placed no trust in the Romans.

FACT 5: If the Romans were going to tell a lie saying the disciples took Jesus when they were asleep why didn’t they tell the Jews that the tomb was robbed when they slept on duty even if it wasn’t true in the first place? They knew that those Jews were sceptics about the paranormal.

FACT 6: The Jews would not have told them to be so silly and say they knew who took the body while they were dead to the world.

Who would swallow such an asinine story? Who would believe that they were all asleep? Some had to stay awake to watch over the sleepers for Roman soldiers were widely hated and in danger.  Who would believe that the grave robbers were so quiet that they didn’t waken anybody? People would know that if they did sleep they would have lain around the tomb in such a way that nobody could interfere with it without disturbing them. The guards would have been seen to have not been asleep for they were near the city and there were lookouts on the walls. The guards did not claim to be asleep for blatant lies would only make people think they had seen Jesus rise. The Gospel maker is lying when it says the Jews still accepted this story at the time he wrote for they wouldn’t have believed it for five seconds.

FACT 7: The story never gives any evidence that the soldiers lied when they said that the body was stolen so maybe they were telling the truth about that. Even Matthew never actually says it was a lie. He never says the reason the body vanished was because it rose all in one piece. The lie was in saying they slept during the theft for they had fainted. The lie was told to make the Christians look dishonest so that nobody would believe any resurrection story.

Matthew does not put the story in to prove the body was not stolen for his narrative shows that it could have been taken when the men were in a faint. It shows the Christians made up stories that served no useful purpose. If God really sent an angel that did not make the women faint but made the guards faint then God wanted the guards to faint so it was a miracle and that is a crazy suggestion. The angel was not supernatural or perhaps the Devil sent him. If there were guards then they were telling the truth when they said that they slept thinking nothing would happen and woke to find the tomb robbed. Matthew just assumed that it was a faint. He does not say he has evidence that they fainted. He couldn’t have for the men could not tell the public they were so negligent even if it were true.

FACT 8: If the guards had said they knew it was disciples of Jesus who carried off the body, they would have had to make some arrests and avail of false witnesses to convict the accused but this never happened showing that Matthew was making it all up. There must have been witnesses to enable them to say it was the disciples for soldiers cannot just make accusations. These witnesses are unmentioned. Interesting. Either there were none or Matthew wanted them to be forgotten. Either way something suspicious was going on.

FACT 9: Matthew contradicts himself on the guards and the missing body.

The angel is all Matthew says they saw for they fainted at the sight and left upon coming round after the women left. The angel could have been the Devil who wanted to scare them unconscious so that the body could be stolen so Matthew fails to be convincing if he wants us to think the body left the tomb supernaturally. The Jews could have told them to say that the angel was a demon who had taken the body and asked them to say a good angel raised Jesus.

There was no need for the soldiers to tell anybody that Jesus had simply vanished. They could have said the angel scared them into a faint and somebody must have taken the body when they were out cold.

Matthew infers that the soldiers must have went and told the Jews that Jesus had vanished from the tomb for there would have been no need for bribes if they had just seen an angel that opened the tomb.

How did they know that Jesus was gone supernaturally when the angel scared them when he appeared before he opened the tomb and made them faint?

It is more likely that they did not think the body was missing at all but just assumed it later and happened to be right.

FACT 10: If the soldiers had really been traumatised by a holy angel there would have been no way they would have dared to lie and risk his wrath. If they would have lived on the edge then they would just as easily have taken the body themselves.

FACT 11: If the burial cloths were still in the tomb it would not refute the guards’ claim that they saw people stealing the body. Yet Christianity lies that it would (page 355, The Truth of Christianity). The Church says the cloths stand against the testimony of the guards that they saw people stealing the body.
 
The Christians say that the thieves would not have left the cloths behind. They say the cloths prove that nobody stole the body so Jesus must have risen.
 
Come to think of it, when the guards went to the Jews the Jews would have seen to it that the cloths were removed from the tomb before anybody would see them. Though the cloths being there would not disprove theft they would lead to Jesus's followers claiming they were a disproof of theft.
 
The tomb was left alone so were the cloths found in the tomb the real cloths of Jesus? Somebody could have planted cloths there to confuse the authorities about the theft.

FACT 12: When the story of the angels or men in white at the tomb came out, sceptics could have said they were the men the guards had allowed to steal the body. Men dressed so strangely could have got the body removed from the tomb and put new cloths there as if Jesus had gone leaving the cloths behind.
 
There was no effort made to rule this out indicating that the angels story was a late invention. The story of the angels would not have been tolerated by the Jewish authorities or the Romans at any time. The witnesses would have been put to death.

FACT 13: The bribe story is a pack of lies.

Acts 1 tells us that the resurrection was kept secret for forty days. This makes the bribe story ridiculous for you do not bribe people to contradict what nobody is saying. You tell them to say nothing until somebody speaks and only then. The soldiers saying nothing until the resurrection tale came out would not have looked bad for this is the pattern with a lot of controversial claims.  Confidentiality would have been a good excuse.  They could not force the witnesses to speak out by speaking out first.

The bribe must have been substantial when the Romans were prepared to risk everything for it. It must have been worth a lifetime’s wages each. This makes it most unlikely that it was offered when Matthew says. There was no bribe.

Matthew says that some of the guards reported to the Jews. Matthew would tell us if the soldiers who had not gone with the rest told his version of events so they didn’t implying the rest had not been bribed to lie but were telling the truth. Matthew could not have known if they had really been bribed anyway.

But the gospel lets us think that the ones who didn’t go to the Jews could have been as bad as the ones who did. Maybe they were represented.

The Jews did not need to bribe but to say the men admitted to sleeping on duty and use them to blackmail them.

The bribe story is imaginary. If the Christians were so desperate to stop the Jews from saying that the body was stolen by the disciples and were happy to resort to lies it means that it probably was stolen by them. The truth could not refute the accusation. But if theft would not discredit the resurrection then why the cover-up in Matthew? Perhaps Matthew thought the empty tomb might be evidence for the resurrection and put it in, in case it was, which is a lot different from saying it IS evidence. He was preparing the way for it to become evidence if that was what it could become. Perhaps the Jews wanted to accuse the disciples of theft so that nobody would believe them if they began to say Jesus rose or did true miracles.
 
FACT 14: If the guards had accused the disciples of taking the body they would have needed to follow this up and make some arrests. Securing a false conviction would have been dead easy to them when the Jews and they were so corrupt. They were saying they could prove it was the disciples when they accused them.
 
FINALLY
 
The material about the guards is very unsatisfactory. The story tells us nothing about their reliability and indicates that they were scoundrels. In fact it would take extreme unreliability not to mention insanity for them to take a bribe to slander Jesus' disciples as body snatchers after all the terrifying miracles they witnessed such as earthquakes and a scary angel. It is dishonest how desperate Christians try to use the guards as evidence that Jesus could not have been stolen. As Jesus could have been stolen and still have risen again, one wonders why Matthew might have lied about the guards. Was it just to make the Jews look bad? There were no guards. They were made up to stop gossips saying that Jesus was stolen by his disciples which would have meant that they could have invented the resurrection visions for they were bent on tricking the people.