Monday, March 19, 2012

Impalements in Antiquity (3A)

WARNING!: This post
may be upsetting to some.

Part 13A of the series: "The Romans NEVER CRUCIFIED the Way We Think They Did!"

Previous in this series:

Part 11 - Impalements in Antiquity (2).
Part 11 - Impalements in Antiquity (1).
Part 10 - Humiliations.
Part 9 - Utility Poles and Masts.
Part 8 - Crown of Thorns.
Part 7 - Crucifixion and Priapus.
Part 6 - From Wax Image to Exposed Body.
Part 5 - The First Crucifix.
Part 4 - The Tropaeum and the Furca.
Part 3 - Crux - Modern English Use and Ancient Quotidian Meanings.
Part 2 - Crux.
Part 1.

Previous Series - Crucifixion – The Bodily Support:

Part 4 - Physics of Crucifixion.
Part 3 - Manuscript Evidence.
Part 2 - Archaeological Evidence.
Part 1.

Part 13A - Impalements in Antiquity (3A): Judea

A. Introduction: Crucifixion or Impalement?

As mentioned in the previous post Impalements in Antiquity (1), Historical, classical and biblical scholars, or should I say some, particularly those of an Evangelical bent, widely assume that crucifixion (only nailing or binding to a "cross" [tropaeum] of any shape) was frequent and common throughout the ancient world and among those who crucified were the Indians, Assyrians, Scythians, Taurians, Celts, Germani, Brittani, Persians, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Numidians, Thracians, Judeans, Hellenic peoples of Asia Minor, and of course, the Greeks and the Romans.

Not so! What most of them, plus the Hittites, the Mittani and the Egyptians, practiced was some kind of impalement, as would be made obvious by the extant ancient writings. Only of some of them could it be said they "crucified," and even then it was usually a method of impalement, with the arms above and the wrists apart, bound to a lifting beam.

In the previous post Impalements in Antiquity (2), the early Babylonians, the Egyptians, the Hittites, the Mittani, the Assyrians and the Chaldeans (neo-Babylonians) all impaled people.

Now it is on to Judea.

Jewish Practice, Historical Reports and Legends.

I will take a several samples and show that the ancient Jewish people impaled people - post mortem - and only rarely pre-mortem. David W. Chapman analyzes this in much more detail, even though he he makes a terrible error in his analysis. [1]

B. Joseph and the Baker.

B.1. The Tanakh / Old Testament.

In the ancient Jewish legend, Joseph was jumped by his brethren, sold to slave traders who sold him to a certain Pophitar, whose wife tried to seduce him and failed, and he ends up in prison anyway! And while he was in prison, the Pharoah's cup-bearer and chief baker are thrown into prison for trial on charges of attempted poisoning of Pharoah.
16 When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, “I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread. 17 In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.”

18 “This is what it means,” Joseph said. “The three baskets are three days. 19 Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and hang you on a tree.* And the birds will eat away your flesh.”

* Or impale you on a pole [2].
Genesis 40: 16-19, NIV
The critical phrase in "will hang you on a tree" -- ותלה אותך על־עץ (vw-ta-lah 'o-wt-ka 'al-'etz) This can be reduced to תלה על־עץ (talah 'al-'etz).
From Jastrow's Dictionary, we have:
תלה (talah): "to swing, raise, suspend, hang; as the butchers suspend animals." [3]

על־ (al-): (prepos.) "upon, above; about, &c." [4]

עץ ('etz): "tree, pole, wood, gallows" [5]
Gesenius's Lexicon explains the action תלה (talah) further as "to suspend, to hang up. (Chald. and Syr. id. Compare Gr. ταλώ to suspend in a balance, whence τάλαντον.) 2 Sam. 18:10, Job 26:7. תלה פ׳ על העצ to hang anyone on a stake, to crucify, a kind of punishment used among the Israelites, Deutr. 21:22; the Egyptians, Gen. 40:19; the Persians, Est. 7:10; 5:14." [6] Since we have shown that the sort of crucifixion the Egyptians did was impalement on a pole, The conclusion is obvious. Joseph predicts the baker's impalement.

And how is the dream fulfilled?
20 Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand, 22 but he hanged* the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation.

* or impaled [7]
Genesis 40:20-22, NIV
Just as predicted. The chief baker was impaled.

The Septuagint has the reading κρεμάσει σε ἐπὶ ξύλου, "he will hang you upon a tree, a pole, a piece of wood" in Genesis 40:19 and ἐκρέμασεν, "he hanged" in Genesis 40:22. [8] As we have seen before, the Greek verb could mean impale. [9]

On the other hand, the Latin Vulgate has suspendet te in cruce, "he will suspend you on/by a crux" in Genesis 40:19 [10], which could be interpreted as impaling on a stake. But in Genesis 40:22 the Vulgate has the reading suspendit in patibulo, "he suspended him on/by a patibulum" [11], which, because of the far too late dating (390 CE), could only mean crucifxion by just nailing to a cross!

B.2. Josephus' Interpretation.

And this is what Josephus says about the legend:
[T]hat on the third day he should be crucified, and devoured by the fowls, while he was not able to help himself. Now both these dreams had the same several events that Joseph foretold they should have, and this to both the parties; for on the third day before mentioned, when the king solemnized his birthday, he crucified the chief baker, but the butler he set free from his bonds, and restored him to his former station.

Josephus, Antiquities [12]
And after this Pharoah is troubled by a bad dream and the cup-bearer finally remembers Joseph!
"[S]o he came and mentioned Joseph to him, as also the vision he had seen in prison, and how the event proved as he had said, also that the chief baker was crucified on the very same day, and that this also happened to him according to the interpretation of Joseph."

Josephus, Antiquities [13]
The verbs Josephus used for "crucified" are conjugates of ανασταυρόω, "flip up and plant a pale, impalisade, fortify, impale" [14]; and σταυρόω, "to impalisade, fence with pales, suspend vines, pile drive, impale." [15] Only in Roman times do they mean "crucify" and only then, sometimes.

B.3. Philo's Interpretations.

This is what Philo says:
96 The three baskets are a symbol of three days; upon reaching these, he will command you to be impaled and your head cut off, and the attacking birds will feast upon your flesh, until you are entirely consumed!

98 [The king, remembering the eunuchs in prison, commanded them to be brought forth, and beholding them he confirmed the judgment of the dreams, enjoining the one to be impaled, the head to be cut off*, but the other he appointed the office he held before.

* alternatively: being cut off

Philo, De Josepho 96, 98 [16]
There is nothing untoward here from the reading in the Old Testament / Tanakh, except the the typical interpretation of the removal of the chief baker's head seems to indicate that this was to be done after he was impaled. It would be kind off difficult to cut off the head if the subject were impaled headlong through the midsection first, worse if impaled upright, nearly impossible if the pale was quite tall. Despite the fact that he used conjugates of the Greek verb ἀνασκολοπίζω ("impale, thorn up") [17] here, it is almost as if Philo were actualizing the legend for himself and his readers by projecting Roman crucifixion into it. Two other passages of his will provide us some insight.
For an end of life follows the lack of bread-food, on account of which the one who errs greatly concerning these things also properly dies by being hanged, a similar evil to which he treated the sufferer, for indeed he had hung up and stretched the famished man with hunger.

Philo, De Josepho 156. [18]

The mind, in fact, stripped of what it fabricated, like one who was severed at the neck, nailed like those crucified to the tree* of poor and needy lack of training.

* or impaled by the stake

Philo, De Somniis 2.213 [19]
In the above two texts, he uses Greek following words: κρεμάννυμι, "hang (by any means including impalement and crucifixion) [9];" ἀνακρεμάννυμι, "hang up (on something);" [20] παρατείνω, "stretch out along, beside (like on a patibulum);" [21] and προσηλόω "nail, rivet, fix to (something)." [22] Now without the stretching verb, Philo could have been referring to simple direct impalement. But the stretching-along verb can only be referring to the sense of nailing outstretched arms along a patibulum! Clearly Philo is projecting Roman crucifixion, and with a penetrator cornu at that, back into the mists of ancient Egypt.

B.4. Conclusion.

As we have clearly seen in the Egyptian hieroglyphics (See Impalements in Antiquity (2)), the Pharoahs hanged or suspended people by impaling them. In the Massoretic text, the same verbiage of the Devoyimic / Deuteronomic suspension proscription is present: תלה על־עץ (talah 'al-'etz) which, as modern scholars now confess, inform the said proscription. Here the impalement is a post-mortem suspension, although Philo seems to indicate a possible ante-mortem suspension similar to a Roman crucifixion. With Joseph, it is less unclear. He is using simple verbs that could be interpreted as "crucify" at this time, but also as "impale," as we have seen in Part 6: From Wax Image to Exposed Body.

C. Deuteronomic Ordinance on Hanging.

C.1. Tanakh / Old Testament.
22 If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, 23 you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.

Deuteronomy 21:22-23 NIV

וְכִֽי־יִהְיֶ֣ה בְאִ֗ישׁ חֵ֛טְא מִשְׁפַּט־מָ֖וֶת וְהוּמָ֑ת וְתָלִ֥יתָ אֹתֹ֖ו עַל־עֵֽץ׃
לֹא־תָלִ֨ין נִבְלָתֹ֜ו עַל־הָעֵ֗ץ כִּֽי־קָבֹ֤ור תִּקְבְּרֶ֙נּוּ֙ בַּיֹּ֣ום הַה֔וּא כִּֽי־קִלְלַ֥ת אֱלֹהִ֖ים תָּל֑וּי וְלֹ֤א תְטַמֵּא֙ אֶת־אַדְמָ֣תְךָ֔ אֲשֶׁר֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ נֹתֵ֥ן לְךָ֖ נַחֲלָֽה׃ ס

Deuteronomy 21:22-23 (Masoretic Text) [23] [24]
The hanging phrases in the Hebrew of verse 22 reads: וְתָלִ֥יתָ אֹתֹ֖ו עַל־עֵֽץ׃ (ve-ta-li-ta o-tow 'al- -etz): "hang him on top of (also over, above) a 'tree' (also wood, pole)." [23] And in verse 23 these phrases Hebrew reads: לֹא־תָלִ֨ין נִבְלָתֹ֜ו עַל־הָעֵ֗ץ (lo- ta-lin nib-la-tow 'al- ha-etz): "you shall not [let] him [just] hang on top of the 'tree'," and כִּֽי־קִלְלַ֥ת אֱלֹהִ֖ים תָּל֑וּי (ki- qil-lat 'e-lo-him ta-lur) "for is accursed by God [the one] hanging." [24] The 1985 JPS Tanakh has all three phrases translated as: "impale him on a stake"and "you must not let his corpse remain on the stake overnight...." and "For an impaled body is an affront to God," respectively. [25]

The Septuagint reads κρεμάσητε αὐτὸν ἐπὶ ξύλου, meaning "you hang him upon a 'tree'," in verse 22; and, in verse 23a we read οὐκ ἐπικοιμηθήσεται τὸ σῶμα αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τοῦ ξύλου: "the body of him shall not 'sleep over' upon the 'tree'," and verse 23b has ὅτι κεκατηραμένος ὑπὸ θεοῦ πᾶς κρεμάμενος ἐπὶ ξύλου: "for having been cursed by God [is] everyone hanging upon a 'tree'." [26]

The offending phrases in the Latin Vulgate read as crucifixion language [27] [28]: adpensus fuerit in patibulo, "he may be hanged on/by a patibulum" in verse 22; non permanebit cadaver eius in ligno, "by no means shall remain the cadaver of him on the wood, tree, staff, club" in verse 23a; and quia maledictus a Deo est qui pendet in ligno, "because cursed by God is he who hangs on/by a piece of wood" in verse 23b. Now Jerome, who created the work, assumed mere non-penetrative crucifixion (see Peter and Paul's speeches in Acts and Galatians 3:13) which under the authorities of Rome could very well have been fiction, but the various meanings of lignum permits a reading of an impaling stake or the cornu used in Roman crucifixion.With a patibulum, it would be the latter.

Jerome has included in his Commentariorum in Epistolam ad Galatas a comment on Galatians 3:14, which is a repeat of the Septuagint, but slightly different: ἐπικατάρατος πᾶς ὁ κρεμάμενος ἐπὶ ξύλου "cursed-upon is everyone who having been hanged upon a 'tree'," i.e., "cursed is everyone who is hanged upon a 'tree'." He cites three different transcribers of the Tanakh into Greek: Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion. [29]. For the phrase in the Septuagint verse 22 κρεμάσητε αὐτὸν ἐπὶ ξύλου, Aquila and Symmachus have suspenderis eum super lignum: "you hang him on top of a 'tree'." For verse 23a οὐκ ἐπικοιμηθήσεται τὸ σῶμα αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τοῦ ξύλου, Aquila has non commorabitur morticinuium eius super lignum: "by no means shall his dead body remain on top of the 'tree'," and Symmachus has non pernoctabit cadaver ipsius super lignum: "by no means shall the cadaver of the person pass the night on top of the 'tree'." For the two respective lines (22 & 23a)Theodotion has suspendes eum in ligno: "you suspend him on / by a 'tree'," and non dormiet morticinium eius super lignum: "by no means shall his dead body 'sleep' on top of the 'tree'." For verse 23b, all three have simply suspensus est / est suspensus "is suspended."

And yes, ligno (ablative) and lignum (accusative) could be interpreted as "a stake" [30]

So it appears that the earlier interpreters / transcribers understood the Deuteronomic text in terms of some kind of impalement or penetrative crucifixion (Ref. Seneca, Epistles 101,10-14). But knowing how Jerome interpreted Genesis 40:16 -22, he may have been reading a post-mortem non-penetrative crucifixion into this.

C.2. Josephus on Deuteronomy.

Josephus does not mention language evocative of crucifixion or even impalement, except for the Greek κρεμάννυμι in the first example, and ἀνασταυρόω in the last. Note that in the first example, he doesn't include the phrase for "upon a 'tree'." And the way he states the last example, he intends the reader to think the Jewish people in Palestine always buried their dead who were hanged by the government (the Roman authorities). Chapman thinks that Josephus is loath to admit the Jews ever crucified or impaled. [31]
But the one hanged who blasphemed God, having been stoned, let him be hanged for a day, and let him be buried dishonourably and obscurely.

Josephus, Antiquities [32]
The second example is concerning the execution of a youth who was so rebellious and disobedient to his parents, he did not at all listen to counsel or received lessons in sobriety but made the mizvot of none effect. People should reflect on the barbarity of this!
...and, after remaining for the whole day exposed to the view of all the people, let him be buried at night.

Josephus, Antiquities (fin). [33]
The verbiage above is: μείνας δι᾽ ὅλης τῆς ἡμέρας εἰς θέαν τὴν ἁπάντων, transliterated as: "remaining in the view of all together"

The third example is from a summation of the hanging commandment in his Jewish War:
What they most of all honour, after God himself, is the name of their legislator [Moses]; whom, if anyone blaspheme, he is capitally punished*."

*lit.: "this one is punished to death."

Josephus, Jewish War, (fin) [34]
The last example was cited when the Idumean Jewish insurgents who stormed the town of Jerusalem occupied by the Galilaean Jewish rebels during the Jewish War slew the Chief Priests Ananus and Jesus ben Ananius and threw out their bodies without burial.
Nay, they proceeded to that degree of impiety as to throw out their dead bodies without burial, although the Jews used to take so much care of the burial of the men, that they took down those that were crucified [or impaled] from a death sentence and buried them before the going down of the sun.

Josephus, Jewish War [35]
Except the Romans usually did not permit the removal of crucified persons from their cruces, due to the political nature of the crimes: crucifixion was the summum supplicium "the height of punishment" for crimen maiestas "high treason and other crimes against the state." For such crimes, release of the body for burial was NOT permitted. (Digest, 48.24.1) So the Romans in the Jewish-majority areas of the Levant may have buried the crucified people themselves. But we have ZERO evidence for this, other than circumstantial.

But Josephus does admit that the Jews hanged people.

C.3. Philo on Deuteronomy.

Philo's interpretation of the actual ordinance on hanging people is, for we moderns, especially the Jewish ones, shocking and bizaare! He applies the ordinance to murderers, not blasphemers, and simply says they should be impaled. Not necessarily post-mortem, either.
151 ...but, since this is not possible, He ordained besides another punishment, commanding those who took human life to be impaled. 152...and he says, "Do not let the sun set upon those who have been impaled, but let them be concealed in the earth, having been taken down before sunset."

Philo, De Specialibus Legibus 3.151, 152 [36]
It seems quite plain that he meant either impalement or penetrative crucifixion in this verse. It appears he is indicating that hanging him in order to kill him is the meaning of the text.

C.4. Qumram Temple Scroll 11Q Temple 64.6-13

An interesting find in the Qumran (Dead Sea) Scrolls was an interpretation of Deuteronomy 21;22-23 that called for the live hanging, impalement or crucifixion of a person who betrayed the people of Israel to an enemy (basically any of the nations of the goyi'im) or, having been sentenced to death, flees to the goyi'im and blasphemes Yahweh and slanders or curses his fellow Israelites.
6(fin) If 7 a man will be a slander against my people, and surrenders my people to a foreign nation, 8 then you all shall hang him upon the tree and he shall die. -- by the mouths of two witnesses and by the mouth of three witnesses 9 he shall be put to death, and they shall hang him [upon] the tree. If there is in a man a sin bearing a judgement of death and he has fled to 10 the midst of the nations and has cursed my people the sons of Israel, then you all shall also hang him upon the tree 11 and he shall die. And their corpse shall not spend the night upon the tree, but you shall surely bury him that very day, for 12 those who are hanging upon the tree have been cursed of God and men, and you shall not defile the land, which I 13 give thee as an inheritance.

יהיה איש רכיל בעמי ומשלים את עמי לגוי נכר ועושה רעה בעמי
ותליתמה אותו על העץ וימת על פי שנים ערים ועל פי שלושה ערים
יומת והמה יתלו אותו העץ כי יהיה באיש חטא משפט מות וירח אל
תוך הגואים ויקלל את עמי ואת בני ישראל ותליתמה גם אותו על העץ
וימות ולוא תלין נבלתמה על העץ כי קבור תקוברמה ביום ההוא כי
מקוללי אלוהים ואשים תלוי על העץ ולוא תטמא את הארמה אשר אנוכי
ונתן לכה נחלה

11QTemple 64:6-13 [37]
Now there is nothing that says that they have to do anything more invasive than the Rabbinical method of hanging by the wrists, bound together, over a plank or a beam jutting out from a post [3], but neither does it prohibit the authorities from impaling him or crucifying him alive, so that he dies. Of course, the Rabbinical method will guarantee that he would die within an hour. [38]

C.5. The Targumin.

Chapman noted there were four Targumin that dealt with this mizvot: Targum Onquelos, Targum Neofiti, Targum Pseudo-Johnathan and the Fragment Targum. [39] All the Targums, Aramaic translations of the Tanakh, date from the Second Temple period to the early Medieval Period, with the earliest and most important one from Palestine being the Targum Neofiti.[40]. The verbiage in each one where the Massoretic Text says תלה על עץ (talah al-etz): commonly translated as "hang upon a tree" (1985 JPS "impale upon a stake") in different phrases with different verbiages.

"22 And if there is in a man a sin bearing a judgement of death, and he is executed, and you suspend him on a stake, 23 his corpse shall not spend the night upon the stake, but you must bury him that day, because on account of his having sinned before the LORD he was suspended, and you shall not defile your land, which the LORD they God will give you as an inheritance.

Targum Onquelos, Deuteronomy 21:22 [41]

"22 And if there is arraigned in a man a sin bearing a judgment of death, and he is executed, and you shall suspend him on a rough edge, 23 his corpse shall not spend the night upon the rough edge, but you must surely bury him that very day, because cursed before the LORD are all who are suspended, and you shall not defile your land, which the LORD your God will give you as an inheritance.

Targum Neofiti, Deuteronomy 21:22-23 [42]

22 And if indeed there is a man bearing judgement of death, and he is convicted, a casting of stones, and after this they suspend him on a rough edge; 23 the corpse of his body shall not spend the night on a rough edge but you all must surely bury him in that day, because it is a disgrace before the LORD to suspend a man, unless his sins caused it. And because in the image of the LORD he was made, you all must bury him with the setting of the sun, so that the creatures will not treat him improperly; and you all shall not defile with the corpses of the guilty your land, which the LORD they God will give to you all.

Targum Pseudo-Johnathan, Deuteronomy 21:22-23 [43]

upon a tree: and you shall suspend him upon the rough edge.

Fragment Targum, Deuteronomy 21:22 [44]

For the act of suspension in the above mizvot, all the texts use conjugations of צלב (tzaluv): "hang, impale, crucify." [45] For the stake itself, only Targum Onqelos uses צלוב (tsaluba): "impaling stake, cross." [46] The other three, including the most important, use קיסא (qisa): "rough edge; twig, chip, wood, tree; gallows." [47] The relevant nouns from this second term would be: rough edge, wood, tree, gallows. Appearing in the Targum Neofiti, the earliest and most important, it would undoubtedly be used to denote the stakes and gallows upon which the Romans nailed and impaled people, with especial emphasis on the harsh tip of the impaling stake and the pointed thornlike acuta-crux of the gallows when it was applied.

C.6. Conclusion:

The original Devoyimic / Deuteronomic proscription on hanging was probably a form of impalement, possibly through the midsection as is shown in Egyptian hieroglyphics (See Impalements in Antiquity (2)). The translators of the Septuagint (in Alexandria, Egypt (beach)), Josephus, Philo and the writers of the Targumin no doubt actualized for themselves by projecting what was being done by the Ptolmies and the Romans after them were doing to criminals in their time, back into even more ancient history. But since Roman execution crosses were usually impaling devices by means of a male appendage, it was still considered impalement anyway. Particularly with Philo using various conjugates of ανασκολοπίζω, which even then, meant, "fix on a pole (or anything else pointed), impale."

Continues in Part 13B.


[1] David W. Chapman, Ancient Jewish and Christian Perspectives on Crucifixion, pp. 31, 32. He says on page 31, that "In examining Greek, Hebrew and Jewish Aramaic, we have seen that there was no single term that only designated "crucifixion" (in the limited sense of the English word) on a cross-shaped object." He is exactly right here and he should have realized that the exact same applies to the Latin! Yet on page 32, he states that for the purpose of the study, that "following with traditional English usage, we will continue to use the term "crucifixion" to mean the executionary suspension of a person on a cross-shaped object (allowing for a certain flexibility in shapes). In other words, just nail or bind to a cross (a Latin Cross [tropaeum], T-cross, X-cross or even an I-cross [simple pole!]). This is a serious error, because when the ancients talked of crucifixion, they meant executing someone by impaling on a stake or suspending on a pole, perhaps a frame, or the Priapean combination thereof like the Romans did. And they used many different verbs and terms to describe it. And not ONE of them perfectly matches the common sense of crucifixion in the English language.

[2] The Tanakh, Genesis 40:19 1985 JPS translation; voir Adele Berlin & Marc Zvi Brettler, The Jewish Study Bible, 2004 Oxford, Oxford University Press, p. 80. The offending phrase reads, "will impale you on a pole."

[3] Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of Targumim and Midrashic Literature, 1926 New York, G. P. Putman's Sons, pp. 1670-1 entry "תלה". See also p. 1670, entry "תלא", meaning "hook, a hook to suspend meat, a hook for a fish." DISCLAIMER: It is entirely possible that "hooking" was not the method of post-mortem hanging authorized by the Jewish High Court during the Roman period of the Second Temple era, due to the Romans' propensity to hang people alive and their method of doing it. According to the Mishnah, Sanhedrin 6:4, the Rabbinical Council agreed that "the manner that butchers do" was to tie the dead person by binding his wrists, and hook the tied wrists over a beam that projected from a post that was set in the ground, or leaned against a wall. (The Mishnah: A New Integrated Translation and Commentary, Sanhedrin 6:10,

[4] Jastrow, p. 1080, entry "על־"

[5] Jastrow, p. 1101, entry "עץ"

[6] Gesenius's Lexicon, entry H8518 "תלה", Blue Letter, Strong's H8518.

[7] Berlin & Brettler, Jewish Study Bible, p. 81

[8], Genesis 40, Septuagint.

[9] Perseus Word Study Tool, κρεμάννυμι. This verb was used by Diodorus Siculus to denote the impalement of Onomarchus in his Library of History 16.35.6 Cf. 16.94.4 (see n. 11 below).

[10] Perseus Digital Library, Latin Vulgate Genesis 40:19.

[11] Perseus Digital library, Latin Vulgate Genesis 40:22.

[12] Perseus Digital Library, Josephus, Antiquities The Greek text reads:
τῇ τρίτῃ δ᾽ αὐτὸν ἀνασταυρωθέντα βορὰνἔσεσθαι πετεινοῖς οὐδὲν ἀμύνειν αὑτῷ δυνάμενον. καὶ δὴ ταῦτα τέλος ὅμοιον οἷς ὁ Ἰώσηπος εἶπεν ἀμφοτέροις ἔλαβε: τῇ γὰρ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ προειρημένῃ γενέθλιον τεθυκὼς ὁ βασιλεὺς τὸν μὲν ἐπὶ τῶνσιτοποιῶν ἀνεσταύρωσε, τὸν δὲ οἰνοχόον τῶν δεσμῶν ἀπολύσας ἐπὶ τῆς αὐτῆς ὑπηρεσίας κατέστησεν.
[13] Perseus Digital Library, Josephus, Antiquities The Greek text is as follows:
καὶ προσελθὼν ἐμήνυσεν αὐτῷ τὸν Ἰώσηπον τήν τε ὄψιν, ἣν αὐτὸς εἶδεν ἐν τῇ εἱρκτῇ, καὶ τὸ ἀποβὰν ἐκείνου φράσαντος, ὅτι τε σταυρωθείη κατὰ τὴν αὐτὴν ἡμέραν ὁ ἐπὶ τῶν σιτοποιῶνκἀκείνῳ τοῦτο συμβαίη κατὰ ἐξήγησιν ὀνείρατος Ἰωσήπου προειπόντος.
[14] Perseus Word Study Tool, ανασταυρόω. The meanings not evident in the entry of LSJ / Middle Liddell tabs come out in Chris Cargounis' anonymous review of Gunnar Samuelsson's Crucifixion in Antiquity. In 225 CE or so, Dio Cassius used a the 3rd person singular perfect conjugate for the affixion, that is, impalement of severed heads onto tall wooden pikes; the sources are referenced in the previous installment of this series.

[15] Perseus Word Study Tool, σταυρόω. The meaning, "pile drive" is evident in Diodorus Siculus' Library of History 24.1 when Romans fenced off Lilybaeum Harbor with timber piles and "impale" is obvious in his Library of History 16.61.2 as one cannot crucify a dismembered corpse.

[16]Philo, De Josepho 96, 98 (ap. Chapman, p. 105). The Greek text reads:
96 τά τρίά κανά σύμβολον τριων ημερων έστιν επισχών ταύτας ό βασιλευ ανασκολοπισθηναι σε καί την κεφαλήν άποτμηθηναι κελευσει καί καταπτάμενα όρνεα των σων ευωχηθήσεται σαρκων, αχρις άν όλος εξαναλωθης.

98 των κατά δεσμωτήριον εύνουχων ύπομνησθείς άχθηναι κελεύει καί θεσάμενος κάκ της των όνειρων διακρίσεως επιφραγίζεται, προστάξας τόν μεν άνασκολοπισθηναι τήν κεφαλήν άποτμηθηναι.* τω δέ τήν άρχην ήν διεϊπε προτέρον άπονεϊμαι.

* άποτμηθηναι, "to be cut off," is extant in MSS 'A', 'B', 'E' AND 'M.' Only MS 'F' has άποτμηθέντα = "being cut off."
[17] Perseus Word Study Tool, ἀνασκολοπίζω.

[18] Philo, De Josepho 156. (ap. Chapman, p. 105). The Greek text reads:
τελευτή γάρ έπεται σιτίων σπάνει ου χάριν καί ό περί ταυτ' έξαυαρτών είκότως θνήσκει κρεμασθεις, όμοιν κακόν ω διέθηκε παθών καί γάρ αυτός άνεκρέμασε καί παρέτεινε τόν πεινωντα λιμω.
[19] Philo, De Somniis 2.213 (ap. Chapman, p. 106). The Greek text is as follows:
περισυληθεις ουν ο νους ων εδημιούργησεν, ώσπερ τόν αυχένα αποτμηθείς αχέφαλος καί νεκρός ανευρεθήσεται, προσηλωμένος ώσπερ οι ανασκολοπισθέντες τω ξύλω* της απόρου καί πενιχρας απαιδευσίας.
* MS 'A' has τω ξύλω αύτω, "on his tree" or "by his stake," etc. The article and noun, τω ξύλω, are dative: either indirect object, locative or instrumental. So the phrase προσηλωμένος ώσπερ οι ανασκολοπισθέντες τω ξύλω της could mean one of four readings: "nailed just as those crucified on the tree," or "fixed just as those impaled by the stake," "nailed to his own tree just as those crucified," or "fixed by his own stake just as those impaled." By itself, the two permutations of Philo's text does NOT automatically mean crucifixion in the English sense of the word![20] Perseus Word Study Tool, ἀνακρεμάννυμι. Herodotus in Histories 3.125.3,4 uses this verb to describe the aftereffect of the impalement of Polycrates by Oroites, a Persian prefect.

[21] Perseus Word Study Tool, παρατείνω.

[22] Perseus Word Study Tool, προσηλόω.

[23], Septuagint, Deuteronomy 21:22.

[24], Septuagint, Deuteronomy 21:23.

[25] Berlin & Brettler, Jewish Study Bible, p. 415

[26], Septuagint, Deuteronomy 21. See also Chapman, pp. 120-121, including n. 89; and Perseus Word Study Tool, ἐπικοιμηθήσεται: "fall asleep after or over [something], fall asleep, overlay."

[27] Perseus Digital library, Latin Vulgate, Deuteronomy 21:22.

[28] Perseus Digital Library, Latin Vulgate, Deuteronomy 21:23.

[29] Chapman, p. 122.

[30] Perseus Latin Word Study Tool, "ligno, lignum."

[31] Chapman, pp. 135-138

[32] Perseus Digital Library, Josephus, Antiquities The Greek text reads:
Ὁ δὲ βλασφημήσας θεὸν καταλευσθεὶς κρεμάσθω δι᾽ ἡμέρας καὶ ἀτίμως καὶ ἀφανῶς θαπτέσθω.
[33] Perseus Digital library, Josephus, Antiquities (fin). The Greek text is as follows:
καὶ μείνας δι᾽ ὅλης τῆς ἡμέρας εἰς θέαν τὴν ἁπάντων θαπτέσθω νυκτός.
[34] Perseus Digital Library, Josephus, Jewish War,
The Greek text reads: σέβας δὲ μέγα παρ᾽ αὐτοῖς μετὰ τὸν θεὸν τοὔνομα τοῦ νομοθέτου, κἂν βλασφημήσῃ τις εἰς τοῦτον κολάζεται θανάτῳ.
[35]Perseus Digital Library, Josephus, Jewish War The Greek text:
προῆλθον δὲ εἰς τοσοῦτον ἀσεβείας ὥστε καὶ ἀτάφους ῥῖψαι, καίτοι τοσαύτην Ἰουδαίων περὶ τὰς ταφὰς πρόνοιαν ποιουμένων, ὥστε καὶ τοὺς ἐκ καταδίκης ἀνεσταυρωμένους πρὸ δύντος ἡλίου καθελεῖν τε καὶ θάπτειν.
[36] Philo, De Specialibus Legibus 3.151-152 (ap. Chapman, p. 133). The Greek text is as follows:
151 ... επεί δέ τουτ' ουκ ενεδέχτο, τιμωριαν άλλην προσδιατάττεται κελεύων τούς ανελόντας ανασκολοπίζεσθαι. 152 ...καί φησι. μν επιδυέτω ό ήλιος ανεσκολοπισμενις αλλ' επικρυπτέσθωσαν γη πρό δύσεως καθαιρεθέντες.
[37] Chapman, pp. 125-132: a more complete discussion is within those pages. English translation is Chapman's with a few of my own tweaks.

[38] The Bible Review, April 1989, ap. "Proof Jesus Died on a Cross," forum.

[39] Chapman, pp. 137-141

[40] Wikipedia, Targum

[41] Targum Onqelos Deuteronomy 21:22-23, ap. Chapman, p. 138. Chapman's translation with some of my tweaks. The Aramaic text reads:
וארי יהי בגבת חובת רין רקטול ויתקטיל ות צלוב יתיה על צליבא
לא תבית נבילתית על צליבא ארי מקבר תקבריניה ביומא ההוא ארי על רחב קרם יוי אצטליב ולא תסאיב ית ארעך ריוי אלהך יהיב לך אחסנא
[42] Targum Neofiti Deuteronomy 21:22-23, ap. Chapman, p. 138. Chapman's translation with some of my tweaks. The Aramaic text reads:
וארום יהווי בגברא סרר חובת רין רקטולין ויתקטל ותצלבין יתיה על קיסה
לא תבית נבלתיה על קיסה אתם מקבר תקבתון יתיה בימה ההוא ארום ליט קרם ייי כל רצליב ולא תסאבון ית ארעכון רייי אלהכון יהיב לכון אתסנה
[43] Targum Pseudo-Johnathan Deuteronomy 21:22-23, ap. Chapman, p. 138-9. Chapman's translation with some of my tweaks. The Aramaic text reads:
וארום אין יהוי בגבר חובת רין קטול ויתחייב אטלות אבנין ובתר כרין יצלבון יתיה על קיסא
לא תבית ניבלת גושמיה על קיסה ארום מקבר תקברוניה ביומה ההוא ארום קילותא קרם אילקא למצלוב גבר אלהן חובוי גרמו ליה רמן בגלל דבדיוקנא רייי אתעבר תקברוניה עם מטמוע שימשא רלא וקולון בנבילתהון דחייביא ית ארעכון רייי אלקכרן יהיב לכון
[44] Fragment Targum Deuteronomy 21:22-23, ap. Chapman, p. 138-9. Chapman's translation with some of my tweaks. The Aramaic text reads:
על עת: ותצלבון יתיה על קייסא
[45] Jastrow, Dictionary, p. 1282, entry "צלב". See also the following entries "צלוב ,צלב" and "צלוב". Their meanings are all listed as "hang, impale."

Cf. Chapman, pp. 14-26, which not only discusses Jastrow's definition, but also cites Haim Cohn (The Trial and Death of Jesus, New York, Ktav, 1977), Joseph M. Baumgarten (Does TLH in the Temple Scroll Refer to Crucifxion?" JBL 91 (December 1972): 472-81; "Hanging and Treason in Qumran and Roman Law" Erlsr 16 (1982): 7*-16*.) and David J. Halperin's ("Crucifixion, the Nahum Pesher, and the Rabbinic Penalty of Strangulation" JJS 32 (1981): 32-46) discussion of these verbs and the nouns that derive from it. Basically he accepts Cohn's argument that the verb צלב in Hebrew and Halperin's argument that this verb in both Hebrew and Aramaic is indicative of crucifixion (definitely true for the Roman period especially when describing Roman executions) and rejects Cohn's argument that the same verb in Aramaic and Baumgarten's argument that the verb in both languages have nothing to do with crucifixion. Chapman cites the Semitic root tzlb* in Palestinian Christian Aramaic, the Mandaic and the Syriac to mean "crucify."

* 'tz' is substituted throughout for the proper 's' with a dot beneath it, which cannot be reproduced here.

Nevertheless, there is an extinct language and a language very much thriving at present that should give pause to limiting the meaning of the verb. Tzlb in the Punic language is very much uncertain but might mean "impale" (Zelig Harris, A Grammar of the Phoenician Language, AOS 8. New Haven, American Oriental Society, 1936) or "impale on a razor." (J. Hoftijzer and K. Jungeling, Dictionary of the Northwest Semitic Inscriptions, 2 vols. HdO I.21. Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1995.) And in Arabic the verb tzalb means to crucify, but M S M Saifullah, Elias Karim & ʿAbdullah David ("Crucifixion of 'Crucifiction' in Ancient Egypt?", Islamic, January 2009) argue that the Arabic root tzlb derives from bone, more specifically the backbone, that it also denotes hardness in both a true sense and a metaphoric sense, that a derivative refers to cooking bones to extract fats, that tzalb: "crucify" comes from the root tzlb; cite Edward Lane's argument that crucifixion was a well-known sort of death where the oily matter, and the ichor mixed with blood, flows from the person being put to death (Ref. Edward Lane, An Arabic-English Lexicon, 1968, Part - 4, Librairie Du Liban: Beirut, pp. 1711-1713), and conclude that tzlb, when applied to the execution of a person, should connote any method where the body becomes hardened or stiffened and where the blood or ichor of the sufferer flows. And Chapman (p. 32) himself cautions that one should not differentiate too rigidly between impalement, crucifixion and some other kind of suspension due to the broad variety of terms -- and possibly an immense variety of methods -- for human bodily suspension-execution.

[46] Jastrow, Dictionary, p. 1282, next two entries "צלוב" meaning: I. stake, gallows, including צלוב על הצלוב = nailed to the stake; and II. impaled, hanging, and from I., nailed. Cf. Chapman, pp. 14-26.

[47] Jastrow, Dictionary, p. 1364, entry "קיסא". Chapman does not discuss the meaning of this word, but merely translates it as "more generic word for tree" (p. 139) when it should have been discussed, since the prime meaning is "rough edge" and the apparent root or derived adjective is "קיס" (qise) meaning "rough-edged."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Finding of the True Cross

There is a discussion about whether the Cross in the early Catholic Church after Constantine was a Latin Cross, or a Chresimon (Chi-Rho symbol), here and here.

And here's my response:

And it had to have been a Latin Cross. That is, a tropaeum. It was as early as 350 CE that the Laureate Cross was displayed on sarcophagi and god knows where else. It was a Latin Cross (t) surmounted by a rising Chi-Rho symbol surrounded by a laurel wreath.

Domatilla Sarcophagus, 350 CE

The "True Cross" HAD to have been a tropaeum. Likely, a disused one, probably used to deify deceased Emperors with, stashed away with two others in a second-century underground stone reservoir built by Hadrian, which itself later became "The Chapel of the Invention of the Cross." Can't get more honest than that!

Indeed, Constantine and Helena HAD to have known about the resemblence of the "True Cross" and your typical everyday, run-of-the-mill tropaeum:

Helena's dispatch of part of the Cross to Constantine has the same symbolic force. The Cross protects the Christian emperor like a phylakterion, but it also serves as a tropaeum, a representation of the heavenly alliance between the emperor and the Christian God. The tropaeum may help to defeat enemies, religious enemies like Jews and pagans, as well as the enemy on the battlefield. The Cross provides a triumphus for the emperor as well as for Christianity.[5] The part of the Cross Helena leaves behind in Jerusalem, together with the churches she builds there, transforms the city from a pagan and Jewish centre into a Christian one: a New Jerusalem.

[5] Rufinus, Expositio Symboli 12 = CC ser. lat. 20, 149: Unde sciendum est quod crux ista triumphis erat: triumphi enim insigne est tropaeum; tropaeum autem devicti hostis indicium est.* For the Cross as trophy, see R. Storch, 1970.

* Ed-M: Hence we may know that the cross was that triumph: namely a sign of triumph is the trophy, and the trophy is an indication of a defeated enemy.
A Google image search will reveal an immense number of pictures and photographs of tropaea; and except for a certain monument in Romania, they are all cruciform! And even the statue on top of the monument, which one could call the tropaeum proper, displays the form of a cross.

It's on marbles, it's on statues, it's on coins. The post-Constantinian Latin Cross, like the tropaeum that preceded it, was in the shape of a modified T.