Did Yeshua Die on a Cross or a Stake?

Matthew 10:38, Cross. This is the first place in the Scriptures where the word cross is mentioned. There is often a spirited debate among those returning to the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith as to whether Yeshua was crucified on a cross, a stake, tree or gallows. For the reason that the cross is a symbol that has been tainted by ancient pagan connotations, many Hebraic believers have an aversion to seeing it as the instrument upon which Messiah Yeshua was crucified. This being the case, we must ask the obvious question: which came first? Was the cross first a pagan symbol or was it a God-ordained symbol that was later corrupted by apostate men?

We may never, with certainty, know the answer to this question. But one thing is certain, the origins of the cross as a redemptive symbol are ancient—perhaps as ancient, if not more so, then its uses as a pagan religious symbol. This is proven in the ancient Paleo-Hebrew script, which predates the current square-lettered Hebrew script, where the final letter in the Hebrew alphabet is the letter tav, which looks like our letter “t,” and is shaped like a cross. Because the letters in this ancient Hebrew script were actually pictorial symbols, they were thus descriptive in nature (much like Egyptian hieroglyphics), so the letter tav literally means “ownership, to make a sign, to seal, to make a covenant.”

In the Scriptures we see the symbol of the cross reoccurring numerous times. For example, when Jacob on his deathbed blessed Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, he crossed his arms (making the cross symbol) as he laid his hands on their heads to bless them (Gen 48:14). He then made mention of the Angel or Messenger of Elohim (the pre-incarnate Yeshua) redeeming him from evil (v. 16). This is an obvious reference to YHVH saving Jacob from Esau and Laban (Gen 31 and 32), but is also a future prophetic allusion to the redemptive work of the Messiah at his crucifixion, since Jacob calls on the Redeemer Messenger of Elohim (or the Messiah) to bless his grandsons and their future offspring (v. 16). We know that in Yeshua, the Seed of Abraham, all the nations of the earth were to be blessed (Gal 3:16 cp. Gen 22:18). Certainly, Jacob must have had at least a vague awareness of the future implications of this promise that YHVH had made to Abraham and the redemptive work of the coming Messiah.

Another reference to the cross can found in Exodus 12:7 where YHVH commands the Israelites to kill the Passover lamb and smear the blood therefrom on the side posts and top of their door frames. This is a perfect picture of the cross outlined in blood that flowed from the seven places in Yeshua’s body while he hung on the cross.

We see another outline of the cross in Numbers chapter two in how YHVH instructed the tribes of Israel to be configured around the mishkan (Tabernacle of Moses). If one were to view the encampment from the air as is described in this chapter, we see the outline of a perfect cross. Furthermore, within the tabernacle itself, the furnishings were laid out in the shape of a cross. In essence we see a cross on a cross! Since the tabernacle and all therein was a prophetic shadow-picture of Yeshua himself, we see not so much a cross on a cross, but a picture Yeshua on the cross.

Many more examples could be given, but one will suffice to make the point. In Ezekiel chapter eight, we see YHVH instructing one of his angels to write in ink a mark (literally, a tav or cross) on the heads of his righteous saints in Jerusalem. This tav would preserve them from the destruction that was about to fall on that city (Ezek 9:4). Similarly, in the Book of Revelation in the end times, YHVH will place a seal or mark upon the foreheads of his saints to preserve from his judgments of wrath that will fall upon the earth prior to Yeshua’s second coming (Rev 7:3–4; 14:1). These same end-time saints are those who obey the Torah and who have the testimony or faith of Yeshua who died on a cross to redeem us (Rev 12:17; 14:12). Is this seal a cross? Only time will tell.

In John 20:25 we find another proof that the stake upon which Yeshua was crucified had a horizontal cross beam. There Thomas declares, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” The word nails being in the plural in all major English Bible translations indicate that more than one nail was used to secure Yeshua’s hands to the “crucifixion stake.” Had Yeshua been crucified on a stake minus a cross beam, then his hands would have been over his head and nailed to the post with one nail only. The fact that Thomas mentions nails (plural) indicates that Yeshua’s arms were outstretched when attached to the stake requiring a nail in each wrist. This fact seems to favor the idea that Yeshua was crucified on a traditional rather than a simple upright post.

In reality, whether Messiah died on a cross, stake or some other contraption is irrelevant. The fact is that he died for our sins and we must place our trusting faith in him if we are to have eternal life. That is the bottom line! But for those who are adamant that he was not crucified on a cross, they have some ­cross­ reference Scriptures to explain.

 

28 thoughts on “Did Yeshua Die on a Cross or a Stake?

  1. John 20:25 in Greek Textus Recepticus with Strong’s numbers. Nail isn’t plural
    G2247
    ἧλος
    hēlos
    hay’-los
    Of uncertain affinity; a stud, that is, spike: – nail.

    • Incorrect. In John 20:25, the Greek word for nail is in its plural form. Strongs only lists the singular or root form of the noun in its Greek dictionary. The word in the actual text may vary from its root. This is the case when you look up a word in an English dictionary as well.

      The plurality of the word nails is corroborated by the fact that all the major English translation of the NT whether from both the Alexandrian or Byzantine texts contain the Greek word helon (nails, plural) as opposed to helos (nail, singular). This is the case in the Aramaic NT as well (see the translations of Ethridge and Murdock, for example). William Mounce whose Koine Greek grammar book is used in the majority of seminaries in the U.S. in his Greek and English Interlinear NT designates this word as in the genitive case, plural form and masculine gender.

  2. Matt 10:38 in Greek Textus Recepticus with Strongs numbers. Cross could have been a post or stake also. Not conclusive.
    G4716
    σταυρός
    stauros
    stow-ros’
    From the base of G2476; a stake or post (as set upright), that is, (specifically) a pole or cross (as an instrument of capital punishment); figuratively exposure to death, that is, self denial; by implication the atonement of Christ: – cross.

    • As in English, a Greek word can have more than one definition. If we take only one definition for a word that may in fact have several definitions, we’re risking not furthering the cause of the discovery of truth as much as furthering own biases. This is the case with the Greek word stauros typically translated as cross in the NT. According to the Theological Dictionary of the NT, vol 7, p. 572, stauros can have several definitions. It’s primary definition is “an upright stake” like a fence stake. But the ancients used it as a torture instrument as well, and as such, it took on several additional definitions or forms including the following: “The cross was a vertical, pointed stake, or it consisted of an upright with a cross-beam above it, or it consisted of two intersecting beams of equal length” (ibid).

  3. The execution of Yahusha Messiah was on a stake, not a cross. The Catholic Church started this error through Jerome and Constantine. When Jerome translated the Latin Vulgate, he translated the Greek word stauros into the Latin word crux, and not the Latin stauro which is exactly the same as stauros. The cross has been in ancient religions since the dawn of time, the first was the cross of Tammuz of Babel. Yahuah said, “Do not worship me in their ways.” The fact is the cross has become an idol that people adore and worship and is an image of the beast. I don’t think you will post this comment, but if you do [edited out].

    • Thank you for your comments. In the interest of the pursuit of truth, we welcome the free exchange of ideas, and when we disagree, we can do so respectfully.

      The main thing is not what Yeshua died on, but rather, the fact that he died as an atonement for our sins. If one wants to believe he died on a stake, fine, or a cross, that’s fine too. Just believe on him! What he died on isn’t what saves us, but the fact that he shed his blood for our sins. The exact method of his death is, quite frankly, a side issue not worth debating over.

      In all honesty, I believed exactly as you did until I was in my 30s because of the church I was born and raised in — a church that hated and was fearful of the Christians in the traditional Sunday church world. Once I got past my arrogant bigotry against the church system, my mind became opened to more of the truth. You see, I was interpreting the truth through my biased view points, indoctrinations, prejudices and, quite frankly, a Pharisaical mindset. That’s like trying to walk in the light of day while wearing a welding helmet—you’re not going to see the whole view in front of you. Once I learned some Hebrew and then learned about Paleo-Hebrew and its possible pictographic meanings and discovered that the letter tav in the ancient Hebrew script looks just a like a cross, and then I began to see it all over the Bible as related to Yeshua, my eyes became open. I realized that the enemy who comes as an angel of light is a great counterfeiter. He perverts everything. This is what has happened with the tav when it became a pagan symbol along the way.

      What clinched it for me was “the print of the nails” (John 20:25) in the hands of Yeshua. Nails plural wouldn’t have been the case had he been crucified on a stake with his hands over his head. I remember trying to explain this to someone who believed as you do, and as I too had once believed, but, sadly, this person was so biased against the traditional Christian church (he was in the same church I had been raised in), that he refused to see the truth, even though it was in plain English in front of him. Those who refuse to see, will not see.

      So my loving admonition to you, my brother, is to make certain you believe that Yeshua died for your sins, NUMBER ONE! Beyond that, let’s all maintain a teachable attitude so that we can grow in the grace and knowledge of Yeshua the Messiah. Let us all practice the beautiful art and quality of disagreeing without being disagreeable.

      BTW, the names Yahusha, Yahushua or Yahshua don’t exist in the Hebrew language. The addition of YAH as a prefix to —shua is a pure fabrication invented by the sacred names groups in the U.S. in the early part of the 20th century. You will not find these permutations of the name Yehoshua from which the shortened version Yeshua derives anywhere in the Bible or in ancient or modern Hebrew. This is not to take away for the deity of Yeshua, but we don’t need to resort to invented names to prove his deity. This simply weakens our arguments in favor of his deity because it undermines our credibility and makes us look ignorant.

      Again, thank you for you email. Iron sharpens iron, which is a good thing, and I hope we an remain friends.

      Blessings!

      • Could you share some information proving Yahusha isn’t a real name? I was recently wondering about this same exact thing you are talking about.

      • Easily done. Pull down any Bible Hebrew word dictionary, lexicon or concordance and I challenge you to find the name Yahsuah in the Bible. If it’s not there, then it’s a made up name. The name Yeshua is found many times in the Old Testament, but not Yahshua. Sorry, but you won’t find it.

        I know that many people who use Yahshua are tying to emphasize the fact that Yeshua is deity. I appreciate their zeal, but it’s misguided and based on, sorry to be so blunt, but ignorance of the Scriptures and Hebrew. Furthermore, it makes them look foolish, and it discredits the truth of the deity of Yeshua. Let’s just stick with the facts and not make stuff up. Yeshua is deity, and there are plenty of ways to prove this without having to resort to doctrines of men.

      • I appreciate the straight forward answer so don’t worry about being blunt. I read that the spelling yod, hey, vav, shin , ayin was in the scriptures 218 times and is rendered Yehoshua and that Yeshua is just a shortened version. Is that acceptable or even true? I also read that Yeshua comes from the word yasha which means to rescue, save and deliver. Thanks and shalom.

      • Yeshua is a shortened version of Yehoshua, but his name technically was Yeshua, not Yehoshua. That’s what YHVH instructed his parents to call him. Yasha is at the root of both words.

      • dear Sir

        i am doing my thesis and are now writting of Yashua’s steps to the cross and I would truly like your input on writting about Yashuaon the cross, as it would mean allot to me. for there isnt much on the way it happened. did He carry a full Cross or just the horizontal bar. how long were the nails how thick were he covered or wasit turly tottaly naked. sorry for the spelling mistakes ….. blessings

      • Honestly, I don’t know the answers to these questions. The Bible doesn’t give us those details, and obvious we weren’t there to see it with our own eyes, so there’s no way to know these specific details. The important thing is that Yeshua died for our sins and those who repent of their sins and place heartfelt believing faith in him can receive the free gift of salvation. Amein!

    • If you believe that the true name of the Son is Yeshua, what is the True name of His Father then? Because you can see clearly that most of the Major Prophets bear on their names the word Yah (the heavenly Father abbreviated form of His name), like Neḥemyah/Nehemiah, Yeshayahu/Isaiah, Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah, Oḇaḏyah/Obadiah, Tsephanyah/Zephaniah, Zeḵaryah/Zechariah. Please take note of the word IAH not YE, the Messiah said I have come in my Father’s name. If He indeed did came in the name of His Father then they should have had the same name.

      • His last name, if you will, is YHVH (same as Yeshua’s “last name”). The Scriptures don’t seem to tell us what his personal name is—except “the Father.” When Yeshua said he had revealed to the people the Father’s name, it’s more than just a moniker or label. A name in Hebraic thought is also, and perhaps more importantly, a person’s reputation and character. We have the same idea in English when we ask, “Does he have a good name?”

  4. there is one truth Yahshua was not on a stake nor on a cross he was on a tree,, it was a BEAM that was nailed to a tree YHWH means behold the hand Behold the nail… its blasphemy to say Yahshua was on a stake thats simply not the case that tree also represented the almond tree which in fact looks like a memorah …im on fb if anyone would like to know the huge sod level meaning of this teaching its very deep im happy to share…

      • I don’t understand your question. My article, if you read it, gives my understanding from the Scriptures on this subject. Beyond this, I have nothing more to add at this point.

        If one has a problem believing that Yeshua was crucified on tree, post or stake that was in the shape of the letter “t”, that’s alright with me. Just believe that he died for your sins, put your faith in him and walk in obedience to him. That’s the most important thing. What exactly he died on his immaterial and not worth arguing about. What’s important is that he died and paid the price for our sins by his shed blood.

        Blessings!

  5. Thank you Natan for your teaching on this subject and the wise and kind way you are dealing with opposing opinions. . I have a very much loved sister in law who is a Jehovah’s Witness and she has challenged me many times over what she sees, as a wrong belief, and therefore of the devil, that I think that Yeshua was crucified on a cross. Like you, I’ve said to her that I don’t feel it’s that important, that the point is I believe he died in my place, and for me, but she says that Jehovah expects us to worship him ‘In spirit and truth’ and therefore unacceptable that I am in the wrong on this. Thoughts?

    • My thoughts are this: Doctrine doesn’t save us; faith in Yeshua’s death, burial and resurrection and who is is does. The problem with many false religious systems is that they place more emphasis on head knowledge than on faith. They have omitted the weightier matters of the Torah-law: justice, mercy and faith. Sadly, they castigate and exclude anyone who believes differently. Moreover, they major in the minors and proudly so. I know; I was born and raised in such a system until age 30. Blessings!

  6. As long as I can remember people have held up the cross to represent how we are saved of our sins against all instructions in the scripture to fasten any engraven or constructed image let alone what it means. Most the conversation here is about how we are saved because he died for our sins… That’s not what sets him apart and the death and sacrifice is not what saved us. Bulls and goats, lambs and rams were sacrificed and died, but they did not stone our sins…. It was his resurrection that sets him apart that saves us and people should stop honouring his death and instead honour his life and resurrection. If you had to carry a symbol to remind you carry an open grave stone. He lives not dead so it’s a constant insult to me for folks that should know better.
    I love you all in our quest for accurate information and love for the Father!

    • I do have one question for you. Please do a study and tell me this: In the Testimony of Yeshua (New Testament), what do the apostolic writers—those who sat at Yeshua’s feet—mention more frequently? His death or his resurrection? His atoning for our sins by his death or his resurrection? The answer may surprise you and cause you to rethink your statement above. Moreover, the NT is clear that it is his death that atoned for our sins. Can you give me one Scripture that says his resurrection atoned for our sins?

      Please don’t let any animus that you may have for the Christian church skew your view of biblical Truth. Truth is still truth regardless of who is preaching it.

      Blessings!

      • “animus” ? Are you serious? I am surprised and disappointed by your statement.

        If I have to explain what the sacrifices at the temple mean and the fact that Jesus rose from the dead and beat death according the prophecy of Jonah, then you have missed everything.

        You need a “study” to understand this? Come on buddy I love you and care about you and hoping you seek truth. The Disciples talked about his Death because they didnt understand the whole picture and the prophecy. If they understood it all they would not have been that way.

        (Luke 18:33)  And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.
        (Luke 18:34)  And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.

        The devil wanted Jesus dead because he thought he would win… unfortunately for the devil he lost not from Jesus death, but from his miraculous resurrections that saved (yasha) from our sins. Yehovah yasha for Yeshua yashaya

        Many blessings to you brother in your search for truth and peace.
        Shalom

  7. “I stand by my previous comment.” What does that even mean?

    We can’t understand Yeshua and what he did, when he did it and why he did what he did unless we understand the fulfilled (completed) appointed times of the Father.

    Passover was not the only spring festival celebrated under the covenant, for the (Domestic Olive Tree) Israelites also observed the Feast of Firstfruits and the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost. The Feast of Firstfruits actually took place during the week-long Feast of unleavened bread (Lev. 23:4–8), on the first day after the Sabbath that occurred in the midst of the week. Pentecost occurred fifty days after that Sabbath and marked the culmination of what started at the Feast of Firstfruits.

    As its name indicates, the Feast of Firstfruits marked thanksgiving to God for the firstfruits of the harvest — in this case, the grain and cereal harvested in the spring. During the observance, the Israelites offered the very first sheaf of the harvest and were instructed not to eat anything from the crop until they gave its initial portion to the Father. This required a great deal of faith on the part of the Father’s children, as they would be giving the offering of firstfruits at a time when not much was ready to be harvested. They had to trust Yah that He would indeed provide the fullness of grain that had yet to come forth, something that from a human perspective was far from certain given the people’s utter dependence on the right amount of rainfall and so forth to give the best crop.

    Somewhere around AD 30, the firstfruits of an even greater harvest issued forth, for it was on the first day after the Sabbath that occurred in the midst of the Passover celebration that Jesus rose from the dead (Matt. 28:1–10). Lest there be any doubt that His resurrection fulfilled the Feast of Firstfruits, With out this fulfillment his of everything would not have atoned for our sins. For it is the fulness of the entire process all inclusive, sacrifice, 3 days in the belly of the earth like as in Jonah in the great fish AND his resurrection proving Yehovah the Father instructed his appointed times accepting these firstfruits. So if there were no resurrections, there would be no firstfruits = would mean no atonement.

    Paul tells us explicitly that Jesus is the firstfruits of those who will be raised from the dead (1 Cor. 15:20–23). Just as the firstfruits offered to God under the old covenant anticipated the fuller harvest to come, the resurrection of Jesus anticipates the bodily resurrection of His people first promised under the covenant (Job 19:25–27).

    • In our discussions, please ensure that you always keep the tone of your comments respectful and polite toward your host. Thank you.

      So now let’s go back to your first comments, and my response to them, which you failed to address. You stated that Yeshua’s death did not atone for our sins—his resurrection did. This is flat out heresy. The Bible, both OT and NT, is clear that only by the shedding of blood is there atonement for sin. I then challenged you to do a search in the NT to see if the apostles talked more about the dead of Yeshua or his resurrection. (I have done the search and study, and I know the answer.) I also asked you to give me chapter and verse that states that Yeshua’s resurrection atoned for our sins. You did not. (The so-called Feast of First Fruits is not the answer to the question. We can discuss this later if you’re open-minded to it.) You totally ignored my questions in your next two posts.

      The bottom line is this: We will have a back and forth polite discussion, or there will be no discussion. If all you want to do is to ignore your host (that’s me) and the legitimate questions that I ask in response to your statements, and preach to my audience, then I cannot allow you to continue to post on MY blog, especially when you make statements that are false and go against a foundational biblical truth, namely, that Yeshua’s death did not atone for man’s sins. If that is your agenda, then I invite you to get your own blog (soapbox) somewhere else.

      So now, if you want to have a polite and respectful discussion, then you need to go back to my original response and address those issues. These are the rules of this MY blog. I hope this is clear to you.

      • Brother Natan,

        I found your article to be quite excellent and I appreciate it very much.

        I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy, but most of all blessed by our Amazing God.

        I have Jewish roots, but I was raised in the evangelical church, mostly Baptist, but I don’t consider myself aligned with any one denomination. I have been to a few great churches and far more not so great churches over the years. Right now I’m in a Baptist church and it is the best congregation I have experienced. Pastors that preach the Truth straight from the Bible. I was also in a great messianic congregation years ago before I moved.

        I have been quite disappointed in some other messianic congregations over the years that tend to believe things similar to some of the questions that previous people have asked here. I have seen this movement grow larger and louder every year.

        From my observations it seems like so many messianic believers start out with a premise and work backwards. That premise being gentiles do just about everything wrong and they need messianic believers to save them from their false and bad teachings. Its truly been disheartening and disappointing to say the least.

        I have always found the “roots” to add some beautiful context, but I have never found them to be a superior faith or understanding of our precious God and Savior. I have been attacked many times by what I consider “judaizers” for not using Yahshua and instead of Yeshua and I found your explanation quite simple and beautiful. I have also encountered the it was a stake, tree, anything but a cross and I very much appreciated your explanation there as well. I had never put the letter “tav” together with the cross like you did. In recent years I have retreated from most Hebrew roots because of all of the animus and vitriol that so many in the movement use against good brothers and sisters in Yeshua. We all need Yeshua to save us equally like only He can. It was His death and only His death in place of ours that can cover our sins and save us. It is solely through our faith, by His grace, in Yeshua. Period.

        Sorry this is so long, but I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your article or blog post as well as your gracious responses to others.

        May God bless you so that your cup runneth over.

        Scott

      • Thank you and I am humbled by your comments. I agree with nearly everything you have said and hear a godly, gracious and magnanimous heart behind your words. Blessings to you in Yeshua!

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