Master of the Moon

Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD’S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad.
(Jeremiah 51:7 KJV)

The Fertile Crescent, nicknamed “The Cradle of Civilization” due to the birth of various kingdoms within its borders, is a crescent-shaped region containing the comparatively moist and fertile land of otherwise arid and semi-arid Western Asia.

In current usage the Fertile Crescent has a maximum extent and a minimum extent. All definitions include Mesopotamia, the land in and around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The major nation in this region is Iraq, with small portions of Iran near the Persian Gulf, Kuwait to the south and Turkey in the north. More typically the Fertile Crescent includes also the Levantine coast of the Mediterranean Sea, with Syria, Jordan, Israel, and Lebanon. Water sources include the Jordan River. At maximum extent, the Fertile Crescent also may include Egypt and the Nile Valley within it. The inner boundary is delimited by the dry climate of the Syrian Desert to the south. Around the outer boundary are the arid and semi-arid lands of the Zagros Mountains to the east, the Anatolian Highlands to the north, and the Sahara Desert to the west.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a pagan as a follower of any polytheistic religion. It would be fair to extend this definition to the worship of any false god(s) or goddess(s), those without any religion, and those who worship any god other than Yahweh (YHWH), the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Immediately following the Great Flood, Noah and his family were blessed by God and told to, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 9:1).

Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood. The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras. And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah. And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations. And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan. And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtecha: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan. And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city. And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
(Genesis 10:1-12, 11:1-4 KJV)

Instead of accepting God’s blessing and obeying His commandment, people settled on the plains of Shinar and began to establish a kingdom and build a tower (Tower of Babel) in direct opposition and disobedience to God’s wishes and commandments.

The Tower of Babel is historical account of a unified humanity using all its resources to establish a city that is the antithesis of what God intended when he created the world. The Tower of Babel is a symbol of human autonomy, and the city builders see themselves as determining and establishing their own destiny without any reference to God.

The Ancient Babylonian enterprise was all about human independence and self-sufficiency apart from God. The builders believed that they had no need of God. Their technology and social unity give them confidence in their own ability, and they have high aspirations, constructing a tower with its top in the heavens. Contrary to God’s plan that people should fill the earth, the city-building project is designed to prevent the population from being dispersed over the face of the whole earth.

Nimrod’s hunting was not just for animals, but for the souls of men. He sought to turn people away from God. The Jerusalem Targum has Nimrod saying, “Depart from the judgement of God, and follow the judgement of Nimrod.” Genesis informs us that Nimrod was building his own kingdom. He was establishing a centralized society in much the same way as the leaders United Nations and the European Union are today. His government would control resources and the workforce. A self-sufficient society, under one leader, with no need for God. Nimrod’s kingdom was to be a satanic counterfeit of the coming Messianic Kingdom, for he had established himself as mankind’s savior. Nimrod is Satan’s first attempt to raise up a human universal ruler of men. There have been many subsequent attempts, such as Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, Muhammad Ibn `Abd Allāh Ibn `Abd al-Muttalib and Adolf Hitler. Satan will finally succeed in his attempts with the rise of the the Antichrist.

The Corpus Christianum and Judaism have been influenced and corrupted by the adoption of the rituals and practices of Babylon’s Mystery Religion. The Torah specifically forbids this where it is written, “When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it” (Deuteronomy 12:29-32 KJV).

The Book of Exodus also says, “Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images. Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee” (Exodus 23:24; Exodus 23:32-33).

The influence of Babylon’s Mystery Religion doesn’t end with the corruption of the Corpus Christianum and Judaism. As previously stated, Mystery Babylon is the basis for any and all other religions in the world. The Apostle John wrote, “And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration” (Revelation 17:1-6 KJV).

Abrahamic religions are the monotheistic faiths emphasizing and tracing their common origin to Abraham or recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with him. It is said that there are three major Abrahamic religions. These  are reputed  to be, in chronological order of founding, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Judaism regards itself as the religion of the descendants of Jacob, a grandson of Abraham. It has a strictly unitary view of God (YHWH), and the central holy book for almost all branches is the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), as elucidated in the Oral Torah (Mishnah, Talmud and Midrash).

Christianity began as a sect of Judaism in the Mediterranean Basin of the 1st century CE and evolved into a separate religion, the Christian Church, with distinctive beliefs and practices. The Christian Bible (Tanakh and B’rit Chadashah) is usually held to be the ultimate authority, alongside Sacred Tradition in some denominations (such as Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy).

Islam arose in Arabia in the 7th century CE with a strictly unitary view of God (Allah). Muslims (adherents of Islam) typically hold the Qur’an to be the ultimate authority, as revealed and elucidated through the teachings and practices of Muhammad.

Less well-known Abrahamic religions, originally offshoots of Shi’a Islam, include the Bahá’í Faith and Druze.

Although Islam claims to be a Abrahamic religion and monotheistic, it is neither. It may make references to some Patriarchs from Judaism and Christianity, but in almost all cases the backgrounds and personal attributes of these characters are not in harmony with the Tanakh or B’rit Chadashah.

Almost all scholars agree that Babylon was the source of all pagan religions in the world. Nimrod was the human father of idolatry and paganism. Even to this day, the earth is still held tightly in the Mystery Religion of Nimrod. Alexander Hislop taught that mythological persons like Adonis, Apollo, Bacchus, Cupid, Dagon, Hercules, Janus, Mars, Mithra, Moloch, Orion, Osiris, Pluto, Saturn, Vulcan, Zoraster, and many more, were all Nimrod.

A star (or stars) and crescent featuring in some combination form the basis of symbols widely found across the ancient world, with examples attested from the Eastern Mediterranean and Central Asia. The star and crescent appear in combination in finds from in and around ancient Israel. It has been associated with the Moabites (14th or early 13th – 6th century BC), as the symbol or symbols appear on what are thought to be Moabite name seals. Crescents appearing together with a star or stars are a common feature of Sumerian iconography, the crescent usually being associated with the moon god Sin (Nanna to the Sumerians) and the star (often identified as Venus) with Ishtar (Inanna to the Sumerians). However, in this context, there is a third element often seen, that being the sun disk of Shamash. Academic discussion of a star or stars together with crescents in Sumerian representations does not always clearly indicate if they appear in isolation (the “star and crescent” as such) or as part of a triad of symbols, “the three celestial emblems, the sun disk of Shamash (Utu to the Sumerians), the crescent of Sin (Nanna), and the star of Ishtar” or “the crescent of Sin (the moon god), the star of Ishtar and the ray of Shamash”. All of the gods mentioned in connection to the star and crescent symbol are either Nimrod or his mother and wife (Nimrod married his mother) Semiramis (Queen of Heaven). Nimrod and Semiramis, were the prototypes for all pagan gods and goddesses that permeated all subsequent cultures and societies.

The Arabs, before the time of Muhammed, accepted and worshiped, after a fashion, a supreme god called Allah. Interestingly, not many Muslims want to accept that Allah was already being worshipped at the Kabba in Mecca by Arab pagans before Muhammad came. Some Muslims become angry when they are confronted with this fact. The name Allah, as the Qur’an itself is witness, was well known in pre-Islamic Arabia. Indeed, both it and its feminine form, Allat, are found not infrequently among the theophorous names in inscriptions from North Africa.

In Old Testament times, Nabonidus (555-539 BC), the last king of Babylon, built Tayma, Arabia as a center of Moon-god worship. Scholars have noted that South Arabia’s stellar religion has always been dominated by the Moon-god in various variations. Many scholars have also noticed that the Moon-god’s name “Sin” is a part of such Arabic words as “Sinai,” the “wilderness of Sin,” etc. When the popularity of the Moon-god waned elsewhere, the Arabs remained true to their conviction that the Moon-god was the greatest of all gods. While they worshipped 360 gods at the Kaaba in Mecca, the Moon-god was the chief deity. Mecca was in fact built as a shrine for the Moon-god.

Allah is Al-Ilah, which is related to Enlil, Baal, Baili, and to many other false gods. So Allah, contrary to popular belief, was not invented by Muhammad, the Muslim prophet, but in fact existed before his birth. Muhammad’s father’s name was Abdullah, abd in the Arabic language refers to a slave/servant therefore Abdullah means servant of Allah. In an allegory, a poem was written centred on Gilgamesh (Nimrod). The goddess is addressed and scolded for trying to kill Gilgamesh.

Tammuz, the lover of thy youth. Thou causest to weep every year. The bright-colored Allahu bird thou didst love. Thou didst crush him and break his pinions.”
(James George Frazer, The Golden Bough, Vol. IX, Unabridged Edition, The Scapegoat)

The Allahu bird in Islam symbolizes the Archangel of Death. As with everything else in Islam, it is a culture founded upon death and conquest, not peace as Muslims claim and would like everyone to believe.

Archaeological evidence proves that the symbol of the crescent moon and the star and the name of Allah were in use as far back as 2,500 BCE, 3,100 years before the founding of Islam.

The Holy Bible teaches that God cannot be tempted by evil and neither tempts anyone with evil. Evil is understood as referring to immorality and sin. Specifically, immorality and sin is the transgression of the law. The law defines all sin and immorality in the Torah.

King David wrote, “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity” (Psalms 5:4-5 KJV).

The Apostle James wrote, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:13-17 KJV).

The Prophet Habakkuk wrote, “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?” (Habakkuk 1:13 KJV).

In stark contrast, the Qur’an teaches that Allah is the author of evil. “Lo! the hypocrites seek to beguile Allah, but it is He Who beguileth them. When they stand up to worship they perform it languidly and to be seen of men, and are mindful of Allah but little; Swaying between this (and that), (belonging) neither to these nor to those. He whom Allah causeth to go astray, thou (O Muhammad) wilt not find a way for him: O ye who believe! Choose not disbelievers for (your) friends in place of believers. Would ye give Allah a clear warrant against you?” (Qur’an Surah 4:142-144).

The Torah teaches that God cannot lie. It says, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19 KJV).

The Apostle John recorded Yeshua’s words when he wrote, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44 KJV).

Islam teaches and condones the practice of Taqiyya. In summary, Taqiyya means religious dissimulation. It is a practice emphasized in Shi’a Islam whereby adherents may conceal their religion when they are under threat, persecution, or compulsion. This means a legal dispensation whereby a believing individual can deny his faith or commit otherwise illegal or blasphemous acts while they are under those risks.

The Apostle Matthew recorded Yeshua’s words and wrote, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33 KJV).

The Qur’an teaches, “He is Allah, the One! Allah, the eternally Besought of all! He begetteth not nor was begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him” (Qur’an Surah 112:1-4). The “Oneness of Allah” is taught in every sect and offshoot of Islam. The inscriptions on the outside of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem make many blasphemous statements concerning God and Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ).

The Apostle John wrote, “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also” (1 John 2:22-23 KJV).

Coincidentally, the Dome of the Rock was built over the wrong rock. This fulfilled many prophecies including the prophecy recorded by the Apostle John when he wrote, “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months” (Revelation 11:1-2 KJV). Not only does God’s prophetic words always come true, but in some ways we can see that He has a sense of humor.

There can only be one truth. The Qur’an contradicts itself many times. The Tanakh and B’rit Chadashah have no contradiction or errors as they are the infallible Word of God. Allah is not God, Muhammad was not a prophet and the Qur’an is not holy. All things come full circle, and all false religions were born in Babylon. It is written, “So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen” (Matthew 20:16 KJV).

Yeshua HaMashiach: Our Passover Lamb

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
(John 3:16 KJV)

The life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth have formed the basis for a major world religion (Christianity), have appreciably influenced the course of human history, and, by virtue of a compassionate attitude toward the sick, also have contributed to the development of modern medicine. The eminence of Jesus as a historical figure and the suffering and controversy associated with his death have stimulated us to investigate, in an interdisciplinary manner, the circumstances surrounding his crucifixion. Accordingly, it is our intent to present not a theological treatise but rather a medically and historically accurate account of the physical death of the one called Jesus Christ.

Jesus of Nazareth underwent Jewish and Roman trials was flogged and was sentenced to death by crucifixion. The scourging produced deep stripelike lacerations and appreciable blood loss and it probably set the stage for hypovolemic shock as evidenced by the fact that Jesus was too weakened to carry the crossbar (patibulum) to Golgotha. At the site of crucifixion his wrists were nailed to the patibulum and after the patibulum was lifted onto the upright post (stipes) his feet were nailed to the stipes. The major pathophysiologic effect of crucifixion was an interference with normal respirations. Accordingly death resulted primarily from hypovolemic shock and exhaustion asphyxia. Jesus death was ensured by the thrust of a soldier s spear into his side. Modern medical interpretation of the historical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead when taken down from the cross.

After Jesus and his disciples had observed the Passover meal in an upper room in a home in southwest Jerusalem, they traveled to the Mount of Olives, northeast of the city. Owing to various adjustments in the calendar, the years of Jesus’ birth and death remain controversial. However, it is likely that Jesus was born in either 4 or 6 BC and died in 30 AD.  During the Passover observance in 30 AD, the Last Supper would have been observed on Thursday, April 6 (Nisan 13), and Jesus would have been crucified on Friday, April 7 (Nisan 14)   At nearby Gethsemane, Jesus, apparently knowing that the time of his death was near, suffered great mental anguish, and, as described by the physician Luke, his sweat became like blood.

Jesus left the Upper Room and walked with His disciples to the Mount of Olives and Garden of Gethsemane,where he was arrested and taken first to Annas and then to Caiaphas. After His first trial before political Sanhedrin at Caiaphas' residence, Jesus was tried again before religious Sanhedrin, probably at Temple. Next, He was taken to Pontius Pilate, who sent him to Herod Antipas. Herod returned Jesus to Pilate, and Pilate finally handed over Jesus for scourging at Fortress of Antonia and for crucifixion at Golgotha.

Although this is a very rare phenomenon, bloody sweat (hematidrosis or hemohidrosis) may occur in highly emotional states or in persons with bleeding disorders.  As a result of hemorrhage into the sweat glands, the skin becomes fragile and tender. Luke’s description supports the diagnosis of hematidrosis rather than eccrine chromisdrosis (brown or yellow-green sweat) or stigmatization (blood oozing from the palms or elsewhere).  Although some authors have suggested that hematidrosis produced hypovolemia, we agree with Bucklin that Jesus’ actual blood loss probably was minimal. However, in the cold night air, it may have produced chills.

Soon after midnight, Jesus was arrested at Gethsemane by the temple officials and was taken first to Annas and then to Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest for that year.  Between 1 AM and daybreak, Jesus was tried before Caiaphas and the political Sanhedrin and was found guilty of blasphemy. The guards then blindfolded Jesus, spat on Him, and struck Him in the face with their fists. Soon after daybreak, presumably at the temple, Jesus was tried before the religious Sanhedrin (with the Pharisees and Sadducees and again was found guilty of blasphemy, a crime punishable by death.

Since permission for an execution had to come from the governing Romans,  Jesus was taken early in the morning by the temple officials to the Praetorium of the Fortress of Antonia, the residence and governmental seat of Pontius Pilate, the procurator of Judea. However, Jesus was presented to Pilate not as a blasphemer but rather as a self-appointed king who would undermine the Roman authority. Pilate made no charges against Jesus and sent him to Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Judea. Herod likewise made no official charges and then returned Jesus to Pilate. Again, Pilate could find no basis for a legal charge against Jesus, but the people persistently demanded crucifixion, Pilate finally granted their demand and handed over Jesus to be flogged (scourged) and crucified. McDowell has reviewed the prevailing political, religious, and economic climates in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ death, and Bucklin has described the various illegalities of the Jewish and Roman trials.

The rigors of Jesus’ ministry (that is, traveling by foot throughout Palestine) would have precluded any major physical illness or a weak general constitution. Accordingly, it is reasonable to assume that Jesus was in good physical condition before his walk to Gethsemane. However, during the 12 hours between 9 PM Thursday and 9 AM Friday, he had suffered great emotional stress (as evidenced by hematidrosis), abandonment by his closest friends (the disciples), and a physical beating (after the first Jewish trial). Also, in the setting of a traumatic and sleepless night, he had been forced to walk more than 2.5 miles (4.0 km) to and from the sites of the various trials. These physical and emotional factors may have rendered Jesus particularly vulnerable to the adverse hemodynamic effects of the scourging.

Flogging was a legal preliminary to every Roman execution, and only women and Roman senators or soldiers (except in eases of desertion) were exempt. The usual instrument was a short whip (flagellum) with several single or braided leather thongs of variable lengths, in which small iron balls or sharp pieces of sheep bones were tied at intervals. Occasionally, staves also were used. For scourging, the man was stripped of his clothing, and his hands were tied to an upright post. The back, buttocks, and legs were flogged either by two soldiers (lictors) or by one who alternated positions. The severity of the scourging depended on the disposition of the lictors and was intended to weaken the victim to a state just short of collapse or death. After the scourging, the soldiers often taunted their victim.

Left, short whip (flagrum) with lead balls and sheep bones tied into leather thongs. Center left, Naked victim tied to flogging post. Deep stripelike lacerations were usually associated with considerable blood loss. Center right, View from above, showing position of lictors. Right, inferomedial direction of wounds.

As the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck the victim’s back with full force, the iron balls would cause deep contusions, and the leather thongs and sheep bones would cut into the skin and subcutaneous tissues. Then, as the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. Pain and blood loss generally set the stage for circulatory shock. The extent of blood loss may well have determined how long the victim would survive on the cross.

At the Praetorium, Jesus was severely whipped (although the severity of the scourging is not discussed in the four gospel accounts, it is implied in one of the epistles [1Peter 2:24]. A detailed word study of the ancient Greek text for this verse indicates that the scourging of Jesus was particularly harsh.) It is not known whether the number of lashes was limited to 39, in accordance with Jewish law. The Roman soldiers, amused that this weakened man had claimed to be a king, began to mock him by placing a robe on his shoulders, a crown of thorns on his head, and a wooden staff as a scepter in his right hand. Next, they spat on Jesus and struck him on the head with the wooden staff. Moreover, when the soldiers tore the robe from Jesus’ back, they probably reopened the scourging wounds.

The severe scourging, with its intense pain and appreciable blood loss, most probably left Jesus in a pre-shock state. Moreover, hematidrosis had rendered his skin particularly tender. The physical and mental abuse meted out by the Jews and the Romans, as well as the lack of food, water, and sleep, also contributed to his generally weakened state. Therefore, even before the actual crucifixion, Jesus’ physical condition was at least serious and possibly critical.

Crucifixion probably first began among the Persians. Alexander the Great introduced the practice to Egypt and Carthage, and the Romans appear to have learned of it from the Carthaginians. Although the Romans did not invent crucifixions they perfected it as a form of torture and capital punishment that was designed to produce a slow death with maximum pain and suffering. It was one of the most disgraceful and cruel methods of execution and usually was reserved only for slaves, foreigners, revolutionaries, and the vilest of criminals. Roman law usually protected Roman citizens from crucifixion, except perhaps in the case of desertion by soldiers.

 In its earliest form in Persia, the victim was either tied to a tree or was tied to or impaled on an upright post, usually to keep the guilty victim’s feet from touching holy ground. Only later was a true cross used; it was characterized by an upright post (stipes) and a horizontal crossbar (patibulum), and it had several variations. Although archaeological and historical evidence strongly indicates that the low Tau cross was preferred by the Romans in Palestine at the time of Christ, crucifixion practices often varied in a given geographic region and in accordance with the imagination of the executioners, and the Latin cross and other forms also may have been used.

Left, victim carrying crossbar (patibulum) to site of upright post (stipes). center Low Tau cross (crux commissa), commonly used by Romans at time of Christ. upper right, Rendition of Jesus' titulus with name and crime Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. Lower right Possible methods for attaching tittles to Tau cross (left) and Latin cross (right).

It was customary for the condemned man to carry his own cross from the flogging post to the site of crucifixion outside the city walls. He was usually naked, unless this was prohibited by local customs. Since the weight of the entire cross was probably well over 300 lb., only the crossbar was carried. The patibulum, weighing 75 to 125 lb., was placed across the nape of the victim’s neck and balanced along both shoulders. Usually, the outstretched arms.then were tied to the crossbar. The processional to the site of crucifixion was led by a complete Roman military guard, headed by a centurion. One of the soldiers carried a sign (titulus) on which the condemned man’s name and crime were displayed. Later, the titulus would be attached to the top of the cross. The Roman guard would not leave the victim until they were sure of his death.

Outside the city walls was permanently located the heavy upright wooden stipes, on which the patibulum would be secured. In the case of the Tau cross, this was accomplished by means of a mortise and tenon joint, with or without reinforcement by ropes. To prolong the crucifixion process, a horizontal wooden block or plank, serving as a crude seat (sedile or sedulum), often was attached midway down the stipes. Only very rarely was an additional block (suppedaneum) employed for transfixion of the feet.

At the site of execution, by law, the victim was given a bitter drink of wine mixed with myrrh (gall) as a mild analgesic. The criminal was then thrown to the ground on his back, with his arms outstretched along the patibulum. The hands could be nailed or tied to the crossbar, but nailing apparently was preferred by the Romans. The archaeological remains of a crucified body, found in an ossuary near Jerusalem and dating from the time of Christ, indicate that the nails were tapered iron spikes approximately 5 to 7 inches long with a square shaft 3/8 inch across. Furthermore, ossuary findings and the Shroud of Turin have documented that the nails commonly were driven through the wrists rather than the palms.

Left, size of iron nail. Center, location of nail in wrist, between carpals and radius. Right, cross section of wrist, at level of plane indicated at left, showing path of nail, with probable transection of median nerve and impalement of flexor pollicis longus, but without injury to major arterial trunks and without fractures of bones.

After both arms were fixed to the crossbar, the patibulum and the victim, together, were lifted onto the stipes. On the low cross, four soldiers could accomplish this relatively easily. However, on the tall cross, the soldiers used either wooden forks or ladders.

Next, the feet were fixed to the cross, either by nails or ropes. Ossuary findings and the Shroud of Turin suggest that nailing was the preferred Roman practice. Although the feet could be fixed to the sides of the stipes or to a wooden footrest (suppedaneum), they usually were nailed directly to the front of the stipes. To accomplish this, flexion of the knees may have been quite prominent, and the bent legs may have been rotated laterally.

Left, position of feet atop one another and against stipes. Upper right, location of nail in second inter-metatarsal space. Lower right, cross section of foot, at plane indicated at left, showing path of nail.

When the nailing was completed, the titulus was attached to the cross, by nails or cords, just above the victim’s head. The soldiers and the civilian crowd often taunted and jeered the condemned man, and the soldiers customarily divided up his clothes among themselves. The length of survival generally ranged from three or four hours to three or four days and appears to have been inversely related to the severity of the scourging. However, even if the scourging had been relatively mild, the Roman soldiers could hasten death by breaking the legs below the knees (erurifragium or skelokopia).

Not uncommonly, insects would light upon or burrow into the open wounds or the eyes, ears, and nose of the dying and helpless victim, and birds of prey would tear at these sites. Moreover, it was customary to leave the corpse on the cross to be devoured by predatory animals. However, by Roman law, the family of the condemned could take the body for burial, after obtaining permission from the Roman judge.

Since no one was intended to survive crucifixions the body was not released to the family until the soldiers were sure that the victim was dead. By custom, one of the Roman guards would pierce the body with a sword or lance. Traditionally, this had been considered a spear wound to the heart through the right side of the chest (a fatal wound probably taught to most Roman soldiers). The Shroud of Turin documents this form of injury. Moreover, the standard infantry spear, which was 5 to 6 ft long could easily have reached the chest of a man crucified on the customary low cross.

With a knowledge of both anatomy and ancient crucifixion practices, one may reconstruct the probable medical aspects of this form of slow execution. Each wound apparently was intended to produce intense agony, and the contributing causes of death were numerous.

The scourging prior to crucifixion served to weaken the condemned man and, if blood loss was considerable, to produce orthostatie hypotension and even hypovolemie shock. When the victim was thrown to the ground on his back, in preparation for transfixion of the hands, his scourging wounds most likely would become torn open again and contaminated with dirt. Furthermore, with each respiration, the painful scourging wounds would be scraped against the rough wood of the stipes. As a result, blood loss from the back probably would continue throughout the crucifixion ordeal.

With arms outstretched but not taut, the wrists were nailed to the patibulum. It has been shown that the ligaments and bones of the wrist can support the weight of a body hanging from them, but the palms cannot. Accordingly, the iron spikes probably were driven between the radius and the carpals or between the two rows of carpal bones, either proximal to or through the strong band like flexor retinaeulum and the various interearpal ligaments. Although a nail in either location in the wrist might pass between the bony elements and thereby produce no fractures, the likelihood of painful periosteal injury would seem great. Furthermore, the driven nail would crush or sever the rather large sensorimotor median nerve. The stimulated nerve would produce excruciating bolts of fiery pain in both arms. Although the severed median nerve would result in paralysis of a portion of the hand, isehemie eontraetures and impalement of various ligaments by the iron spike might produce a claw like grasp.

Left, inhalation. With elbows extended and shoulders abducted, respiratory muscles of inhalation are passively stretched and thorax is expanded. Right, exhalation. With elbows flexed and shoulders adducted and with weight of body on nailed feet, exhalation is accomplished as active, rather than passive, process. Breaking legs below knees would place burden of exhalation on shoulder and arm muscles alone and soon would result in exhaustion asphyxia.

Most commonly, the feet were fixed to the front of the stipes by means of an iron spike driven through the first or second inter metatarsal space, just distal to the tarsometatarsal joint. It is likely that the deep peroneal nerve and branches of the medial and lateral plantar nerves would have been injured by the nails. Although scourging may have resulted in considerable blood loss, crucifixion per se was a relatively bloodless procedure, since no major arteries, other than perhaps the deep plantar arch, pass through the favored anatomic sites of transfixion.

The major pathophysiologic effect of crucifixion, beyond the excruciating pain, was a marked interference with normal respiration, particularly exhalation. The weight of the body, pulling down on the outstretched arms and shoulders, would tend to fix the intercostal muscles in an inhalation state and thereby hinder passive exhalation. Accordingly, exhalation was primarily diaphragmatic, and breathing was shallow. It is likely that this form of respiration would not suffice and that hypercarbia would soon result. The onset of muscle cramps or tetanic contractions, due to fatigue and hypercarbia, would hinder respiration even further.

Adequate exhalation required lifting the body by pushing up on the feet and by flexing the elbows and adducting the shoulders. However, this maneuver would place the entire weight of the body on the tarsals and would produce searing pain. Furthermore, flexion of the elbows would cause rotation of the wrists about the iron nails and cause fiery pain along the damaged median nerves. Lifting of the body would also painfully scrape the scourged back against the rough wooden stipes. Muscle cramps and paresthesias of the outstretched and uplifted arms would add to the discomfort. As a result, each respiratory effort would become agonizing and tiring and lead eventually to asphyxia.

The actual cause of death by crucifixion was multifactorial and varied somewhat with each case, but the two most prominent causes probably were hypovolemie shock and exhaustion asphyxia. Other possible contributing factors included dehydration, stress-induced arrhythmias, and congestive heart failure with the rapid accumulation of pericardial and perhaps pleural effusions. Crucifracture (breaking the legs below the knees), if performed, led to death by asphyxia within minutes.

After the scourging and the mocking, at about 9 AM, the Roman soldiers put Jesus’ clothes back on him and then led him and two thieves to be crucified. Jesus apparently was so weakened by the severe flogging that he could not carry the patibulum from the Praetorium to the site of crucifixion one third of a mile away. Simon of Cyrene was summoned to carry Christ’s cross, and the processional then made its way to Golgotha, an established crucifixion site.

Here, Jesus’ clothes, except for a linen loincloth, again were removed, thereby probably reopening the scourging wounds. He then was offered a drink of wine mixed with myrrh (gall) but, after tasting it, refused the drink. Finally, Jesus and the two thieves were crucified. Although scriptural references are made to nails in the hands, these are not at odds with the archaeological evidence of wrist wounds, since the ancients customarily considered the wrist to be a part of the hand. The titulus was attached above Jesus’ head. It is unclear whether Jesus was crucified on the Tau cross or the Latin cross; archaeological findings favor the former and early tradition the latter. The fact that Jesus later was offered a drink of wine vinegar from a sponge placed on the stalk of the hyssop plant (approximately 20 in long) strongly supports the belief that Jesus was crucified on the short cross.

The soldiers and the civilian crowd taunted Jesus throughout the crucifixion ordeal, and the soldiers east lots for his clothing. Christ spoke seven times from the cross. Since speech occurs during exhalation, these short, terse utterances must have been particularly difficult and painful. At about 3 PM that Friday, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, bowed his head, and died. The Roman soldiers and onlookers recognized his moment of death.

Since the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the crosses after sunset, the beginning of the Sabbath, they asked Pontius Pilate to order crucifracture to hasten the deaths of the three crucified men. The soldiers broke the legs of the two thieves, but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Rather, one of the soldiers pierced his side, probably with an infantry spear, and produced a sudden flow of blood and water. Later that day, Jesus’ body was taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb.

Left, probable path of spear. Right, cross section of thorax, at level of plane indicated at left, showing structures perforated by spear. LA indicates left atrium; LV, left ventricle; RA, right atrium; RV, right ventricle.

Two aspects of Jesus’ death have been the source of great controversy, namely, the nature of the wound in his side and the cause of his death after only several hours on the cross. The gospel of John describes the piercing of Jesus’ side and emphasizes the sudden flow of blood and water. Some authors have interpreted the flow of water to be ascites or urine, from an abdominal midline perforation of the bladder. However, the Greek word plvra, or pleura) used by John clearly denoted laterality and often implied the ribs. Therefore, it seems probable that the wound was in the thorax and well away from the abdominal midline.

Although the side of the wound was not designated by John, it traditionally has been depicted on the right side. Supporting this tradition is the fact that a large flow of blood would be more likely with a perforation of the distended and thin-walled right atrium or ventricle than the thick-walled and contracted left ventricle. Although the side of the wound may never be established with certainty, the right seems more probable than the left.

Some of the skepticism in accepting John’s description has arisen from the difficulty in explaining, with medical accuracy, the flow of both blood and water. Part of this difficulty has been based on the assumption that the blood appeared first, then the water. However, in the ancient Greek, the order of words generally denoted prominence and not necessarily a time sequence. Therefore, it seems likely that John was emphasizing the prominence of blood rather than its appearance preceding the water.

Therefore, the water probably represented serous pleural and pericardial fluid, and would have preceded the flow of blood and been smaller in volume than the blood. Perhaps in the setting of hypovolemia and impending acute heart failure, pleural and pericardial effusions may have developed and would have added to the volume of apparent water. The blood, in contrast, may have originated from the right atrium or the right ventricle or perhaps from a hemoperieardium.

Jesus’ death after only three to six hours on the cross surprised even Pontius Pilate. The fact that Jesus cried out in a loud voice and then bowed his head and died suggests the possibility of a catastrophic terminal event. One popular explanation has been that Jesus died of cardiac rupture. In the setting of the scourging and crucifixions with associated hypovolemia, hyperemia, and perhaps an altered coagulable state, friable non-infective thrombotic vegetations could have formed on the aortic or mitral valve. These then could have dislodged and embolized into the coronary circulation and thereby produced an acute transmural myocardial infarction. Thrombotic valvular vegetations have been reported to develop under analogous acute traumatic conditions. Rupture of the left ventricular free wall may occur, though uncommonly, in the first few hours following infarction.

However, another explanation may be more likely. Jesus’ death may have been hastened simply by his state of exhaustion and by the severity of the Scourging, with its resultant blood loss and pre-shock state. The fact that he could not carry his patibulum supports this interpretation. The actual cause of Jesus’ death, like that of other crucified victims, may have been multifactorial and related primarily to hypovolemie shock, exhaustion asphyxia, and perhaps acute heart failure. A fatal cardiac arrhythmia may have accounted for the apparent catastrophic terminal event.

Thus, it remains unsettled whether Jesus died of cardiac rupture or of cardiorespiratory failure. However, the important feature may be not how he died but rather whether he died. Clearly, the weight of historical and medical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead before the wound to his side was inflicted and supports the traditional view that the spear, thrust between his right ribs, probably perforated not only the right lung but also the pericardium and heart and thereby ensured his death. Accordingly, interpretations based on the assumption that Jesus did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge.

The source Material concerning Christ’s death comprises a body of literature and not a physical body or its skeletal remains. Accordingly, the credibility of any discussion of Jesus’ death will be determined primarily by the credibility of one’s sources. For this review, the source material includes the writings of ancient Christian and non-Christian authors, the writings of modern authors, and the Shroud of Turin. Using the legal-historical method of scientific investigation, scholars have established the reliability and accuracy of the ancient manuscripts.

The most extensive and detailed descriptions of the life and death of Jesus are to be found in the New Testament gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The other 23 books of the New Testament support but do not expand on the details recorded in the gospels. Contemporary Christian, Jewish, and Roman authors provide additional insight concerning the first-century Jewish and Roman legal systems and the details of scourging and crucifixion. Seneca, Livy, Plutarch, and others refer to crucifixion practices in their works. Specifically, Jesus (or his crucifixion) is mentioned by the Roman historians Cornelius Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, and Suetonius, by non-Roman historians Thallus and Phlegon, by the satirist Lucian of Samosata, by the Jewish Talmud, and by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, although the authenticity of portions of the latter is problematic.

The Shroud of Turin is considered by many to represent the actual burial cloth of Jesus, and several publications concerning the medical aspects of his death draw conclusions from this assumption. The Shroud of Turin and recent archaeological findings provide valuable information concerning Roman crucifixion practices. The interpretations of modern writers, based on a knowledge of science and medicine not available in the first century, may offer additional insight concerning the possible mechanisms of Jesus’ death.

When taken in concert certain facts including the extensive and early testimony of both Christian proponents and opponents, and their universal acceptance of Jesus as a true historical figure; the ethic of the gospel writers, and the shortness of the time interval between the events and the extant manuscripts; and the confirmation of the gospel accounts by historians and archaeological findings, ensure a reliable testimony from which a modern medical interpretation of Jesus’ death may be made.

This article was abridged from a much longer work called The Study on the Physical Death of Jesus Christ.