DID MESSIAH YAHSHUA DIE ON A CROSS?
I heard a sermon once about “bearing the cross.” The pastor set forward quite a motivational sermon on how we will suffer if we follow in the footsteps of Messiah. After this, I went back to get my concordance and looked up all of the Scriptures which talk about “bearing the cross,” as the excited pastor explained. They read as follows in the KJV:
- And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me (Matthew 10:38).
- Then said Yahshua unto His disciples, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).
- And when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also, He said unto them, “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mark 8:34).
- Then Yahshua, looking at him loved him, and said unto him, “One thing thou lackest; go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross and follow Me” (Mark 10:21).
- And He said to them all, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
- And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple (Luke 14:27).
After reading all of these verses and others speaking of the persecution of the cross (Galatians 6:12), I felt good. The whole message about suffering for Messiah, the Truth, OUR Righteousness was edifying. However, one thing had been overlooked. All of these verses occurred before Messiah died! What significance would “taking up the cross” have had before He was martyred? Isn’t that just weird? Think about it, then read the following: “The symbol of the cross was used throughout the world since the later Stone Age; Greek pre-Christian crosses were the tau and swastika; the cross first became a symbol of Christianity during the reign of Constantine” (Encyclopedia Americana, 1945).
How peculiar is this since Constantine lived a few hundred years after Messiah was killed. Then I was surprised to learn that the word translated “cross” 28 times in the KJV can actually mean a stake, pole, staff, etc. (See Young’s, Strong’s, and Thayers’.) Then the above verses made sense to me. And I saw how they could make sense—before He was killed. He was telling them to pick up their staff, their walking stick, and follow His example. But what about the many verses talking about a cross? Study these carefully:
- Messiah hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on the tree (Galatians 3:13).
- And if a man has committed a sin worthy of death, and he be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree... (Deuteronomy 21:22).
- His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt surely bury him that day: (for he that is hanged is accursed of Elohim) that thy land be not defiled, which thy Elohim giveth thee for an inheritance (Deuteronomy 21:23).
- The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was a High Day) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away (John 19:31).
The above laws concerning how this type of a death would be done, speak of an “ates” (Strong’s H#6086), v. 12. a “tree” (Genesis 1:11-12, 3:6; Haggai 2:19), “plank” (Ezekiel 41:25), or incidentally, it could also mean, in other contexts, a “staff” (2 Samuel 21:19).
This last point is noteworthy because the Master spoke Hebrew (Acts 26:14) and, therefore, we can make proper sense of the statements previously rendered about taking up our “cross.” As noted previously, these statements were made prior to His death!
- And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up (John 3:14).
- And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole… (Numbers 21:9). Moses did not lift up the serpent on a cross, but rather, put it upon a pole.
It would be very strange for Him to say “even so” if it had “never been so.” Furthermore, the Scriptures testify elsewhere that it was a xulon (Strong’s G#3586) in John 12:34; a timber (Acts 5:30, 10:39; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24). So we can see that for the word “cross” to be used to translate the word stauros 28 times, many of which occurred prior to His death, the modern-day Scribes took great liberties once again. If the copyists meant a “cross” despite it simply not fitting into the continuity of the Scriptures, they would have used a word which actually means a cross—crux. But they didn’t. They used a word most similar to the Hebrew original—a word, in context, meaning a stake, post, pole, staff, stick—not a pagan symbol people, in almost every culture, have been hanging around their necks since time immemorial. This practice was begun before Messiah was even born on earth.
Actually, if you do your research, you will find that the idea of a cross being used came from Jerome’s Latin Vulgate. He chose to render the word as crux. His real name was Eusebius Hieronymus Sophronius who lived, supposedly, around the time of Constantine. It is well known that a great part of the foretold “falling away” occurred due to a merging of “the Way” with paganism.
This is explained in a quote from the Encyclopedia Brittanica (1934), “In every part of the world, crosses were used both as religious symbols or as ornaments long before the Christian era [though] it did not become the symbol of Christianity until 400 years later, during the time of Constantine.”
Here is a quote from Mark A. Null’s Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity, p. 3-4: “In the words of Eusebius of Caesarea, who was both a historian and a confidant of Constantine, the emperor was praying to a pagan god when ‘he saw with his own eyes the trophy of a cross in the light of the heavens, above the sun and an inscription, Conquer By This, attached to it … Then in his sleep, the Christ of God appeared to him with the sign which he had seen in the heavens, and commanded him to make a likeness of the sign which he had seen in the heavens and to use it as a safeguard in all engagements with his enemies.”
We know from the Scriptures that this supposed revelation from the “Christ of God” was not a command from the Messiah of Yahweh. First, the command to “make a likeness” of the sign and use it as a “safeguard” is an express violation of the second command (Exodus 20). No symbol of a cross can safeguard anyone (despite what we see in vampire movies). Secondly, the references to sun worship are obvious. It was years after this “vision” that Constantine still legislated Sun-day keeping and outlawed Sabbath observance. (Read more about this subject in Halley’s Bible Handbook, under “Paganization of the Church.”).
“It was not so much the [Roman] Empire that was brought over to the faith, as the faith that was brought over to the Empire; not the Pagans who were converted to Christianity, but Christianity that was converted to Paganism” (M. Turrentin ca. 4th century).
On the other hand, Yahweh calls His people to be set apart (Leviticus 11:44-45; 1 Peter 1:15-16), meaning don’t be like the Gentiles (Jeremiah 10:2). This is what the Pastor (in the beginning of this article) had failed to grasp. The Master was teaching us to follow in His footsteps, which is completely misunderstood by nominal Christianity. Those footsteps move in accordance with the laws of Yahweh. Just think of all of the people asking themselves, “What would J-sus do?” It never occurs to them that the “real” Messiah would have nothing whatsoever to do with a graven image such as a cross! He was without sin (Hebrews 4:15) and sin is very well defined (Romans 3:20; 1 John 3:4; Hebrews 10:26). Yahshua would have never broken the Second Commandment—Exodus 20:4.
Pick Up Your Staff & Follow the Master
It is true that if you follow in the footsteps of Messiah, you will have to make sacrifices. Such a choice is no small matter. Following Him will not put you in unity with the majority because He did not follow the masses. This is the “crux” of the matter. Just try sharing this information with the masses claiming to follow Him. The same way they look at you, they looked at the prophets of old, so don’t be discouraged. What do you think Daniel would do if he walked into most churches today? How might he act seeing the masses bow before this huge wooden monstrosity? If you do not hold to the truth of the Holy Word of Yahweh, then you may be guilty, too. But if you choose to pick up your staff and follow the Messiah, then you will understand and desire to walk in the “ancient paths,” down the road of righteousness!
Yahshua walked in the way of the truth, in accordance with the laws of Yahweh.
- He that saith, “I know Him” and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him (John 24).
- But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of Elohim perfected (1 John 2:5).
- He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also to walk even as He walked (1 John 2:4-6).
Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3). It is those same Scriptures which we must rely on to truthfully deal with this matter. Furthermore, you will notice that those holding to the other view will try to justify it with everything other than using the Scriptures. Now let’s see why.
It is a fact that Jerome was the first to introduce the “cross” into the Scriptures in his Latin translation called the Vulgate (391-403 CE). However, Jerome didn’t just erroneously render the Greek term stauros as crux (from whence we get cross), but he actually rendered the Hebrew terms crux also. For instance, in the Vulgate, crux is applied widely to any gibbet or gallows on which malefactors were hung. It is also literally rendered cros, cross by Wyclif (Oxford English Dictionary).
What this shows it that the term cross or crux was not used as a literal translation of the term stauros. Jerome interpreted it as cross. It simply does not mean a “cross.” Examples of where Jerome boldly rendered “ates” as crux are found throughout the Scriptures (Genesis 40:19; Deuteronomy 21:22-23; Esther 2:23, etc). Incidentally, these examples all use the same terminology which was applied to Messiah (Acts 5:30, 10:39; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24).
Clearly this supports that the KJV Scribes (and most others) simply followed Wyclif, who simply followed Jerome. This is a perfect example of “the blind leading the blind.”
Here is another example. Strong’s Concordance defines stauros (#4716) as “a stake or post (as set upright) i.e., pole or cross.” However, is Dr. James Strong infallible? I know how helpful his research is and I use his concordance, as well as many other sources regularly, but I would never say that we should dogmatically adopt his interpretations.
In defining stauros, James Strong goes on to explain why he says it carries the supposed implication of a “cross.” For instance, “…(as an instrument of capital punishment); fig. Exposure to death, i.e., self-denial; by impl. the atonement of [Messiah].”
In this it is clear that the reason cross is included in the definition is because of Strong’s presumption that it was a two-beamed cross that the Master died upon. Therefore, the argument is going in circles. Those teaching that Messiah died on a cross cite Strong’s as their witness. Ironically, his testimony is based on the erroneous presumption that Messiah died on a cross, and therefore, the word stauros must also mean such. Those who read Strong’s then, in turn, believe his erroneous presumption.
In truth, you can check every single thesaurus and find that stake, pole or post will all list each other as synonyms. However, none will list cross. Incidentally, cross will not list any of them as synonyms either. So we can say, factually, that cross is a later addition to the original and true meaning of stauros.
We are supposed to corroborate our information (Deuteronomy 19:15; Matthew 18:16) and make diligent inquisition (Deuteronomy 19:18).
We must also examine all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Notice this quote: “Greek dictionaries, lexicons and other study books also declare the primary meaning of stauros to mean upright pale, pole or stake. The secondary meaning of cross is admitted by them to be a ‘later’ rendering” (C. J. Koster, Come Out of Her My People, p. 30).
“Both the noun stauros and the verb stauroo, to fasten to a stake or pole, are originally to be distinguished from the ecclesiastical form of a two-beamed cross” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words).
Additionally, the Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, which gives only the “literal and primitive meaning of every such original word” as is found in the Scriptures (excerpt from Prefatory Note to First Edition), lists stauros as meaning a “stake.” Moreover, Young’s “confines the definitions to their literal original force; which after all, will be found to form the best and indeed the only safe and solid basis for theological deductions.” He makes a good point.
Although Strong’s includes cross in his definition of stauros, he also gives the root word from which stauros comes. This term, stao (#2476) implies only “to cause to stand.” Stao does not imply “stretch” or “expand.” The translation cross was, again, a later addition.
Go back and read Strong’s definition for stauros yourself. There’s one word and one word only which just doesn’t seem to fit with the rest.
With all of this information concerning the terms used in the Scriptures, also consider the following information concerning the cross: “The shape of the two-beamed cross had its origin in ancient Chaldea and was used as the symbol of the mighty one, Tammuz (being in the shape of the Mystic Tau, the initial of his name). By the middle of the 3rd century AD, the churches had departed from...certain doctrines...in order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical systems pagans were received in and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols. Hence the Tau or T, in its most frequent form, with the cross-piece lowered, was adopted” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of NT Words). This is the origin of our capital “T” and lower case “t”.
Moreover, Rev. Alexander Hislop identifies the cross as “the indisputable sign of Tammuz, the false Messiah” (The Two Babylons, pages 197-205). So apparently, this is what Yahweh calls the image of jealousy (Ezekiel 8:3-10), which is involved in Tammuz worship (Ezekiel 8:14).
This is ancient sun-worship (Ezekiel 8:16). Clearly, Constantine gave all worshippers an “image” to represent dies Solis—the cross, representing the sun, Tammuz.
It’s interesting to note that, although the Romans clearly had jurisdiction over executions, the common presumption that Yahshua’s impalement must have been done according to their custom is not in accord with the Scriptures. For according to the scriptural record, there is very little which is described as distinctly Roman.
On the other hand, the Scriptures do show that the religious leaders were pushing the whole matter against the will of the Roman authorities (Matthew 27:11-27). Once you read the following, you will see the relevance it has to the subject at hand—that the Master was not executed in accordance with Roman custom (presumably on a cross), but in accordance with Jewish custom (definitely on a stake/beam).
Here is a quote from Abraham Cohen in Every Man’s Talmud: “...the Rabbis say only those convicted of blasphemy (Matthew 26:65; Mark 14:64) and idolatry are hanged. A man is hanged with his face towards the people (John 19:26-27).”
How is the hanging done? A beam is fixed into the ground from which the gallows protrude. His hands are tied together and he is suspended (by the hands) after the manner of butchers (with carcasses of animals). The corpse is immediately taken down (Matthew 27:50-58). If it were left hanging there, it would be a violation of the law: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt bury Him the same day (John 19:38-42).For he that is hanged is cursed of [Elohim] (Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3:13). The agonies of the execution were alleviated for the condemned criminal by his being given a drink, which produced a state of stupefaction (Matthew 27:34; Mark 15:23). He who goes forth to be executed is given a grain of frankincense in a cup of wine, that his senses should become numbed; as it is said, Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish (Proverb 31:6). It has been taught that gracious women in Jerusalem used to provide this potion voluntarily (John 19:26-30).
From this, it becomes quite clear that, although the execution was done under Roman jurisdiction, it was obviously done after the Jewish custom and how they applied the Scriptures above. Incidentally, being a Pharisee, this is exactly how the emissary would have perceived it (Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3:13).
I have one more serious objection to the use of the cross. Consider that the existence of the cross is found in nearly all churches. Where is it placed? What is the attitude of those looking upon it? They believe that if their Savior died on a cross, then the symbol, too, is actually holy. Pay attention to this and observe. Research these matters out personally and then consider Our Creator’s very words in Exodus 20:4-5!
“The evidence is thus complete, that the [Master] was put to death upon an upright stake and not on two pieces of timber placed at any angle” (Dr. Bullinger’s The Companion Bible, Appendix 162).
May Yahweh bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you. And may these words be confirmed, by many witnesses, to all who seek the truth.
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