Signs and Symbols; Why Jews Reject the Cross
“… Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree:” Deut.21:23; Gal. 3:13
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of Elohim.” I Cor. 1:18
When Scripture talks about the “Cross,” it is not referring to the inanimate, rugged wooden crossbeams in the shape of a lowercase “t” on which Yeshua the Messiah and others were executed. Rather, it is referring to the event, the whole idea and the process of redemption from a Hebraic perspective, the redemption of all mankind.
The word "cross" appears 28 times in the New Testament, and in all cases, it is translated from the Greek word stauros. The original meaning of this word was not "a cross" but "an upright stake." In fact, many modern Messianic translations render “cross” as “execution stake.”
Like the Altar in the Tabernacle and
when the Scriptures refers to it (besides giving its dimensions and
construction) it is dealing with the concept of the sacrifice upon that Altar,
the meaning and significance of that sacrifice. Temple
The cross has been adopted by modern-day Christianity as its defining symbol. Christians see it as the symbol of the beginning of life and freedom, the victory over sin and death. How do I know? I was one. So why do Jews reject the symbol of the cross?
Jews reject the symbol of the cross because to us it does not symbolize freedom and life, but slavery and death.
· Catholics used this symbol during the persecution and forced conversions of Jews during the Crusades, and the Spanish Inquisition.
· Hitler used this symbol during the Holocaust. As a matter of fact, it was said to be Martin Luther's, a monk who kicked off the Protestant Reformation, influence and inspiration.
· Most of the people who persecuted the Jews throughout history used or wore a cross, and professed Christianity. Some of the early “Church Fathers” were very anti-Semitic and it shows in many of their writings.
So to the Jews, the cross symbolizes loss of Torah, culture, traditions and identity. It symbolizes Hellenization, assimilation, and a pagan religion. It’s not necessarily what the cross is supposed to symbolize that is in opposition today, but rather what it truly is at the root. The negative events that have been attached to it, is what is in opposition.
Some Messianic Jews along with Natsari (Nazarene) Jews and non-believing Jews reject the symbol of the cross because we know that the root and origins of the cross is pagan, coming from Babylonian and Roman religion.
So where did the cross come from?
From its simplicity of form, the cross has been used both as a religious symbol and as an ornament, from the dawn of man's civilization. Various objects, dating from periods long anterior to the Christian era, have been found, marked with crosses of different designs, in almost every part of the old world. India, Syria, Persia and Egypt have all yielded numberless examples, while numerous instances, dating from the later Stone Age to Christian times, have been found in nearly every part of Europe. The use of the cross as a religious symbol in pre-Christian times, and among non-Christian peoples, may probably be regarded as almost universal, and in very many cases it was connected with some form of nature worship. (The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed., 1910, Vol. 7, pg. 506. Emphasis ours.)
The following is taken from an article found in the May 1996 edition of the Forerunner, written by the late Earl L. Henn:
“Where did the tau cross come from? In the book of Ezekiel, YHWH supernaturally revealed to the prophet some of the secret sins of the nation of Israel. One of these sins was lamenting for a pagan god named Tammuz. "So He brought me to the door of the north gate of the YHWH's house; and to my dismay, women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz" (Ezekiel 8:14). Who was Tammuz and why would women be weeping for him? The New Encyclopedia Britannica writes in the article "Tammuz": ". . . in Mesopotamian religion, god of fertility embodying the powers for new life in nature in the spring" (Vol. 11, p. 532).
This "nature god" was associated with two yearly festivals, one held in late winter and the other in early spring.
The cult of Tammuz centered around two yearly festivals, one celebrating his marriage to the goddess Inanna, the other lamenting his death at the hands of demons from the netherworld. During the 3rd dynasty of Ur (c. 2112–c. 2004 BC) in the city of Umma (modern Tell Jokha), the marriage of the god was dramatically celebrated in February–March, Umma's Month of the Festival of Tammuz. . . . The celebrations in March–April that marked the death of the god also seem to have been dramatically performed. Many of the laments for the occasion have as a setting a procession out into the desert to the fold of the slain god. (ibid. Emphasis ours.)
What does the worship of Tammuz have to do with the sign of the cross? According to historian Alexander Hislop, Tammuz was intimately associated with the Babylonian mystery religions begun by the worship of Nimrod, Simiramus and her illegitimate son, Horus. The original form of the Babylonian letter T was †, identical to the crosses used today in this world's Christianity. This was the initial of Tammuz. Referring to this sign of Tammuz, Hislop writes:
That mystic Tau was marked in baptism on the foreheads of those initiated into the Mysteries. . . . The Vestal virgins of Pagan Rome wore it suspended from their necklaces, as the nuns do now. . . . There is hardly a Pagan tribe where the cross has not been found. . . . [T]he X which in itself was not an unnatural symbol of Christ, the true Messiah, and which had once been regarded as such, was allowed to go entirely into disuse, and the Tau, "†", the sign of the cross, the indisputable sign of Tammuz, the false Messiah, was everywhere substituted in its stead. (The Two Babylon’s, 1959, p. 198-199, 204-205)
When did "Christians" first begin using the cross as a sign of their religion? Did the apostles use it?
It was not till the time of Constantine that the cross was publicly used as the symbol of the Christian religion. Till then its employment had been restricted, and private among the Christians themselves. Under Constantine it became the acknowledged symbol of Christianity. . . . Constantine's action was no doubt influenced by the vision which he believed he saw of the cross in the sky with the accompanying words en toutw nika [by this conquer], as well as by the story of the discovery of the true cross by his mother St. Helena in the year 326. (ibid. Emphasis ours.)
As we have seen, an enormous body of evidence proves that the cross is not a Christian symbol but has its roots in rank paganism. Some will argue, however, that we may use the sign of the cross because 1) it represents the manner in which Jesus Christ died, and 2) we are not using it today to worship a pagan deity. However, its use as a Christian symbol is a product of syncretism, that is, the blending of pagan traditions and methods of worship with the true worship of Elohim, something Elohim strongly condemns.
Before entering the land of Canaan, Elohim told the Israelites,
. . . take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, "How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise." You shall not worship the YHWH your Elohim in that way; for every abomination to the YHWH which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. (Deuteronomy 12:30-31).”
By the time Romans executed Yeshua on a cross, Romans, like Americans, were far from religious observance. But just as religious formalities and traditions linger here in American culture; Grace before meals, swearing on the Bible in court, prayer before governmental meetings, etc., the same type of scenario existed in the Roman culture of Yeshua’s time. In pagan religious
At its root, the cross symbolizes a pagan religion, of a pagan sacrifice, to a pagan god, or gods. It symbolizes death. Thinking of the Christian cross in modern terms, how morbid it would be if the mode of Yeshua’s death was by lethal injection, or by the electric chair, and Christians wore syringes, or miniature electric chairs around their neck.
How Ironic, that the pagan Roman religion, which is one of the places from where the cross originates (besides
While it is true the Paleo-Hebrew Tav resembles a Cross on which Yeshua Messiah died upon for our sins, and while this may have been a sign from
God to the people that this was the Messiah who completed and finished our atonement, (which is what the ancient letter Tav means) this does not mean the Nazarene sect of Judaism was to adopt this symbol as their own. For it was in use and well known in Roman religion to symbolize their god and a sacrifice to it.
It wasn’t until the late 1st century that Gentile believers broke away from the Natsari sect of Judaism and essentially created a new religion called Catholicism, mixing Jewish and pagan traditions together. Eventually a spin- off of what we know today as modern-day Christianity was born, which is based on Babylonian and Roman religion. In Catholicism, Jupiter (Zeus) and Nimrod became GOD. Venus and Simiramus became Mary, and Saturnalias and Tammuz became Jesus. The saints replaced the gods of the Roman pantheon.
So the cross is neither a Jewish nor Christian (in the truest sense of the word) symbol. It is seen by most Jews as a slap in the face to ADONAI and the Jewish people.
In essence, it would be like me trying to justify using the swastika as a religious symbol, and saying something to the effect that it symbolizes Yeshua’s life giving death on the cross with the arms extending from the initial cross of the swastika representing His salvation reaching to all four corners of the globe! Blasphemously sickening, right? The swastika will forever symbolize Anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and the Nazi regime's plan to wipe out all Jews from the face of the earth. That sounded quite offensive and insensitive, didn’t it? To a Jew the cross is no different from a swastika.
We as believers in Yeshua Messiah must separate tradition from fact, true religion from culture, and deception from truth. We must get to the origins and root of all matters, especially those of faith.
Some attempt to use the passage in Revelation 13 to try to say that it may be the symbol of the cross, a paleo-Hebrew Tav that marks the forehead of Believers, especially the 144,000 to counter the Mark of the Beast. However, Revelation was written in an allegorical way for many reasons I will not elaborate on at this time. However, it is well known that the Adversary counterfeits and perverts anything that is of God. It is well known in Judaism that the “sign” in Hebrew “ot” meaning a physical, tangible, literal sign on the forehead and hand is none other than the Tefillin we Jews wear during prayer. We also know by the book of Revelation that the Mark of the Beast will be on the head and or hand and will partially be used for commerce. We know that the Scripture says that the love of money is the root of all evil (I Tim. 6:10). Therefore, I highly doubt that the cross will mark the foreheads of 144,000 Jews in the end days because of the above stated reasons.
This is why Jews reject the cross.
However, some of you may be wondering, “Well what about the symbol of Judaism, the Star of David, what does it mean, what does it symbolize?”
The Magen David (Star/Shield of David) is two intertwined Paleo-Hebrew letter “dalets”, which looked like a triangle. This has been associated with, according to the Encyclopedia Judaica, the initials in King David’s name. This in turn has been associated with the Messiah being seen as coming from King David’s lineage. In Kabbalistic literature the Magen David has been associated with the mysterious angelic alphabet of the head angel (heavenly messenger) Metatron, which is also linked to the Messiah. Not only this, but symbols now associated with paganism and anti-Semitism, such as the hexagram, pentagram and the swastika were originally purely decorative and found in Jewish, Muslim and Christian places of worship, and strangely enough has turned up in some Native American cultures as well. It has also been used equally in the past by Jews, Christians and Muslims as notarial seals in European countries. It is my speculation that this is not so strange seeing as we were all one people-group prior to
, and took this
common knowledge with us during our migrations.
Seeing now as anti-Semitic, pagan, and satanic groups use the pentagram,
hexagram and the swastika proves once again that Satan cannot create, just
manipulate and pervert. Babel
There are some Messianic and Christian groups who will purpose that the Star of David is linked to the cult of Saturn, and other pagan religions. However, according to the Encyclopedia Judaica, this is “purely speculative.”
It is also said according to the Talmud (Git. 68a-b) that this Magen David was used as King Solomon’s kingly seal that gave him power over demons.
The Jewish Student Online Research Center has this to say about the Star of David:
“Scholars such as Franz Rosenzweig have attributed deep theological significance to the symbol. For example, some note that the top triangle strives upward, toward God, while the lower triangle strives downward, toward the real world. Some note that the intertwining makes the triangles inseparable, like the Jewish people. Some say that the three sides represent the three types of Jews: Kohanim, Levites and Israel. While these theories are theologically interesting, they have little basis in historical fact.”
In addition, Breakthrough International in Everette
- In Judaism, and Messianic Christianity, we see that there are a number of sacred symbols, which prove a constant reminder of the truth that God is ONE. This truth is seen in the fringe of the tallit, and in the Star of David, where the Hebrew term for the Star of David (Magen David) is made up of six Hebrew letters, stand for the spelling out of the SHEMA, with each point of the star representing a Hebrew word, for "Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is one Lord." (Deut. 6:4)
· The Star of David (also called the Shield of David) was made up of these two triangular dalets. The warriors of pagan nations going to war would paint dragons, snakes, or other frightening looking creatures on their shields.
Israelites chose to use the Star of David - the two dalets which contained the first and last letters of King David's name. King David had the reputation of being "a great man of war," and this struck terror into the hearts of Israel's adversaries. It was an excellent and effective symbol for warfare, for it testified of the SHEMA: Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord." (Deut. 6:4) The significance of the Magen David on the shields of Israel's armies as a holy emblem is because of their tremendous faith in the promises of the covenant of God.
I personally see the symbolism of God in the three pillars of the Seforitic tree, (in Christian terminology this would be known as the Tri-unity or Trinity) coming downward to fellowship intimately with man who is a triune being of body, soul and spirit reaching upward to God.
In short, this is why the Magen David (Star of David) and not the cross has become the universal symbol representing Judaism and the Jewish people. The only symbol other than the Magen David that is older and universally recognized as a symbol representing the Jewish people is the Menorah, the seven branched oil lamp in the Temple.
Ancient History of the Magen David and Messianic Seal(Used with permission by Reb Yehonatan ben-Elohim)
“There are many who erroneously teach that the symbols of the Magen David (Shield or Star of David) and the Messianic Seal are pagan in nature, but nothing could be further from the truth. We must always remember that hasatan (the adversary) cannot create anything in and of himself, but merely mimics, imitates, and counterfeits everything that ADONAI God does. After all, it was he who claimed that he would "be like the Most High". The pagan use of this star does not pre-date the Hebrew use of it, as is confirmed by various sources, including Wikipedia.org:
"Scholars once speculated that the hexagram may be a relic from Ancient Egyptian religious practices, adopted by Jews engaged in the occult and syncretism as early as the era of King Solomon. However, such claims are unlikely due to the scarcity of any examples in Egyptian religious practices BCE. For example, where Hellenistic Gnostics and Egyptians did use pentagrams in their amulets (such as the "pentalpha" symbol), they did not use hexagrams. It is notably absent from the ancient papyri."
Even though some scholars scoff at this truth, the Magen David is from as early as 1,700 - 1,500 B.C., and this symbol of the six-pointed star was found amongst the petroglyphs of the Negev Desert of Israel, on Mount Karkom, which is now believed by many to be the true Mount Sinai (Horeb) where Moses and the Israelites received the Torah-Law and the 10 Commandments from ADONAI. Along with this symbol are various Proto-Sinaitric (First-Sinaitic) words, images, and phrases. This was a Pan-Canaantite Aleph-Bet language often called "Old Hebrew", even predating Paleo-Hebrew. Some call this the "First Tongue", and examples of this language have been found all over the world, including Australia and the North American Southwest, being at least 3,800 years old. The Name of Abba (the Father) "Yah" "El" is repeatedly found in the Negev location on Mount Karkom (Sinai), as well as symbols of the menorah with fruit ornamentation (7-branched oil lamp of the tabernacle/temple), and the 10 commandments, etc.
It is widely believed that the twelve sides of the six-pointed Star of David symbolize the twelve tribes of the nation of Israel (with the encampment of these tribes having three on each side, with the Levites in the middle. Ephraim and Manasseh are considered to be half-tribes, due to being Joseph's sons in which the inheritance was divided equally. The number twelve is used many times within Holy Scripture, and has a powerful and rich meaning.
Over 40 ancient artifacts were discovered near the traditional site of the Upper Room (of Acts chapters 1 and 2) and the Tomb of David in a cave within the Old City of Jerusalem, which, for their mikvah, was used by the Miqra and as a place for the purpose of healing with prayer and the practice of anointing with oil. It is clearly indicated within the book of James (5:14, 15) that the earliest Jewish Nazarenes (in Hebrew, the "Netzarim") anointed believers with oil. In case anyone here doesn't know, the original name for Messianic believers was the "Nazarenes," or "the followers of The Way"(Acts 24:5; 19:9; 24:14). It is widely believed that, as part of their mikvah, the physical submersion of the believer into water was symbolism of the divine immersion by the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) into the Body of Moshiach (Messiah). On these artifacts are the 3-part symbol, called the "Messianic Seal". It consists of a menorah at the top, a star of David in the middle, and a fish at the bottom. The star is created within each of the renditions of the three-part symbol by interlacing the menorah stand with the fish's tail. According to Bob Fischer (one of the archaeologists who discovered these), at least two of the eight artifacts were obviously ceremonial pieces which may well have been used by James, the brother of Yeshua (Jesus), who is alleged to have been the first pastor of the church, or perhaps even by one or more of His twelve apostles. One of these pieces bears an etched version of the Messianic Seal with a Tav (the last letter in the ancient Paleo-Hebrew aleph-bet that looks exactly like a sign of the cross) in the eye of the fish symbol, as well as the ancient Aramaic lettering proclaiming the use of this artifact as a stand to hold a vial of anointing oil. The English transliteration of this statement which is in ancient Aramaic wording is, "La Shemen Ruehon" (meaning: "For the Oil of the Spirit").
The seven-branched Menorah represents His perfection, and the Torah (teachings/instructions of the Law) which was given to Israel. "Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." (Psalms 119:105) "For the commandment is a lamp; and the Torah/law is light; And reproofs of instruction are the way of life." (Prov. 6:23). For nearly 2,000 years, the fish has been a symbol of Nazarene (Christian) identity. In Matthew 4:18, it reveals that the very first statement spoken by Yeshua HaMashiach (The Messiah) to His soon-to-be disciples (who were fishermen), was, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." This was a part of the fulfillment of the Hebrew prophecy from Jeremiah 16:16, "Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith ADONAI, and they shall fish them..." The prophecy refers to them one day being led by the Spirit to "fish out" or hunt/locate the displaced and "lost" ones of Israel and to bring them back home. Not only is this speaking of those who were scattered into other nations and cultures, but also, of those who are of Moshiach (Messiah), being the spiritual seed of Abraham, and grafted into the "Olive Branch" (Gal.3:29; Rom.2:29; 11:16-27). Remember that there are parallels oftentimes within the Word, such as in the natural and also the spiritual, the types/foreshadows and also the substance and fulfillments. The symbol of the Fish has been meaningful to Jews, previous to His arrival and also afterwards, to Messianics for the past two millennia. Whenever the symbols of the Menorah and the Fish come together as one, the Star of David is automatically formed in the middle between the two. This Star has six points which allegedly represent the six days of creation, and in the center, a space representing the Sabbath rest which can only come through our Messiah, and this rest and refreshing is truly glorious. Likewise, it also is referring to the tri-unity of Abba's divine nature merging downwards from Heaven as one with the tri-unity of man in the earthly realm, who is created in His image and likeness.
The meaning of the Menorah is the steadfast and unmovable Law. Grace came by Yeshua, and ADONAI's Word speaks about fishing for the Gentiles who swim freely on their own without restraint in the "waters" of this world, and must be caught and brought to Messiah, the "Way" of the Hebraic Truth of salvation through Him. One cannot exist in completion without the other. The Law is insufficient without grace, and so is grace, if it is without the Law (written upon the heart by the Ruach/Spirit through Him). Many former Gentiles are finding themselves joined to the chosen people of LORD God through discovering the Hebraic roots of the Messianic Faith. It says in Ephesians 2:11-13 : "Therefore remember, that you, in the past being Gentiles in the flesh,....that at one time you were without Moshiach, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without Elohim in the world. But now in Messiah Yeshua, you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Messiah."
Yeshua the Messiah represents the ultimate and complete fulfillment of the Star, for it was prophesied in Numbers 24:17, "There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel." He also spoke, saying: "I AM the Root and the Offspring of David, the bright and morning Star."(Rev.22:16) This is why the name, "Star of David" is very suitable. He is also called the "Daystar" within 2 Peter 1:19. It is ONLY through and by Him that BOTH the Torah (Law) and the Fish (through His Grace) can be truly unified as one. He is the One who brings them together, being the Aleph and the Tav (Alpha and Omega), Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, the Author and the Completer of our Faith. He brought true shalom (peace), and has broken down the middle wall of partition between the Jews and Gentiles, which had previously been divided (Eph.2:14). The Old Covenant is the New Covenant concealed. The New Covenant is the Old Covenant revealed. Amen?”