Smith's Bible Dictionary
(armed with a spear). Pon'tius Pi'late. Pontius Pilate was
the sixth Roman procurator of Judea, and under him, our Lord worked,
suffered and died, as we learn, not only from Scripture, but from
Tacitus, (Ann. Xv. 44), he was appointed A.D. 25-6, in the twelfth year
of Tiberius. His arbitrary administration nearly drove the Jews to
insurrection on two or three occasions. One of his first acts was to
remove the headquarters of the army from Caesarea to Jerusalem. The
soldiers, of course, took with them their standards, bearing the image
of the emperor, into the Holy City. No previous governor had ventured on
such an outrage. The people poured down in crowds to Caesarea, where the
procurator was then residing, and besought him to remove the images.
After five days of discussion, he gave the signal to some concealed soldiers to surround the petitioners and put them to death unless they ceased to trouble him; but this only strengthened their determination, and they declared themselves ready rather to submit to death than forego their resistance to an idolatrous innovation. Pilate then yielded, and the standards were, by his orders, brought down to Caesarea.
His slaughter of certain Galileans,Luk_13:1, led to some remarks from our Lord on the connection between sin and calamity. It must have occurred at some feast at Jerusalem, in the outer court of the Temple. It was the custom for the procurators to reside at Jerusalem during the great feasts, to preserve order, and accordingly, at the time of our Lord's last Passover, Pilate was occupying his official residence in Herod's palace.
The history of his condemnation of our Lord is familiar to all. We learn from Josephus that Pilate's anxiety to avoid giving offence to Caesar did not save him from political disaster. The Samaritans were unquiet and rebellious, so Pilate led his troops against them, and defeated them enough. The Samaritans complained to Vitellius, then president of Syria, and he sent Pilate to Rome to answer their accusations before the emperor. When he reached it, he found Tiberius dead and Caius, (Caligula), on the throne, A,D, 36.
Eusebius adds that, soon afterward, "wearied with misfortunes," he killed himself. As to the scene of his death, there are various traditions. One is that, he was banished to Vienna Allobrogum, (Vienne on the Rhone), where a singular monument -- a pyramid on a quadrangular base, 52 feet high -- is called Pontius Pilate's tomb, Another is that, he sought to hide his sorrows on the mountain by the lake of Lucerne, now called Mount Pilatus; and there, after spending years in its recesses, in remorse and despair rather than penitence, plunged into the dismal lake, which occupies its summit.
Taken from: Smith's Bible Dictionary by Dr. William Smith (1884)