A Cross on a Cross…

Numbers 2:1–34 (especially note verse 1, 9, 16, 24, 31), The Israelite encampment around the tabernacle. On the east side were Judah, Issachar and Zebulun; on the south side were Reuben, Simeon and Gad; on the west side were Ephraim, Manasseh and Benjamin; and on the north side were Dan, Asher and Naphtali. According to the numbers of the fighting men given in Numbers 2, we see that the encampment of Israelites around the tabernacle formed a perfect Paleo-Hebrew letter tav, which looks like our small letter “t” or the cross. The Levites camped around the tabernacle forming a protective perimeter between the Israelites and the tabernacle itself (Num 1:53). (See diagram below.)

There is no doubt that our Redeemer was crucified on a wooden cross. The apostolic writers make reference to the cross 18 times in the Testimony of Yeshua in reference to both the torture instrument upon which Messiah was brutally murdered and later as a metaphor or word picture of the glorious redemptive work that Messiah accomplished there.

Some redeemed believers, sadly, have rejected the cross symbol because of its clear pagan connotations. It has been used as a pagan symbol of sun worship for millennia. Despite its dubious reputation, and long before it was co-opted by the pagans, the cross was significant in the ancient Paleo-Hebrew script—the language in which YHVH wrote the ten commandments. Paleo-Hebrew is the precursor to the modern square script, which was introduced into the Hebrew language by Nehemiah the scribe, and the letter , tav was a pictographic symbol resembling a cross . We see this same cross symbol or mark (literally, the Paleo-Hebrew tav)mentioned in Ezekiel 9:4. There, in the prophet’s vision, YHVH instructs one of the angels to place mark or a tav on the foreheads of those men who sigh and over all the abominations done in Jerusalem. This same symbol was used earlier in the history of America when illiterates were allowed to sign legal documents by marking a cross on the signature line. 

Other occurrences of the Paleo-Hebrew letter tav are to be found when Jacob, while prophetically praying over Ephraim and Manasseh, crossed his arms making this very symbol (Gen 48:14). Likewise, on Passover eve YHVH commanded the Israelites to smear the blood of the lamb on the overhead crosspiece (lintel) and two side posts of their doors. The blood on the lintel would have dripped down onto the threshold of the door. This would have been the perfect configuration of the bloody spots left by Yeshua’s head, hands and feet on his cross of crucifixion. Finally, in the Tabernacle of Moses and later in Solomon’s Temple, the layout of the seven furnishings form a perfect cross-pattern.

Indeed, the cross is not something to shun or reject, for it is a symbol of redemption, ownership and covenant pertaining to those who have been saved or redeemed by Yeshua. 


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