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In the Year of our LORD Jesus Christ
-- As of January 20, 2017
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Peace and Liberty. Semper Fidelis.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Crucifixion, Passover, and Simon the Cyrenian

[In the following, I have reconstructed the Passover sacrifice ritual at Jerusalem. I cannot attest that it is 100% accurate...but only as accurate as I have thus far be able to reconstruct. I believe it to be accurate. -- Brianroy]

Just who led captivity captive?

In A.D. 30, the small bully faction of the First Priests {at least 23 not counting the High Priest, Caiaphas} were so confident in their zeal, that they would triumphantly (and personally) lead Jesus directly out the Water Gate, and out of the City, stripped of His clothing, to be led as one near naked to His death on Golgotha. This was a psychological tactic meant to strike fear into the nation of 3,000,000 gathered together at Jerusalem for Passover.

It was a calculated risk (on their part)that the crowds would not revolt against both them AND the Romans. It was possibly out of worry that they led Jesus, lest the crowds reject the Roman verdict and spirit Jesus away to safety. I believe this was the probable intent of the conspiracists, who again, numbered only one-third or so within the Sanhedrin proper.

As the “Nasi”, as the “princes” of the city, they lead Jesus on -- as if they were returning Caesars, -- leading their captive foe for all of Rome (in this case, for all of Jerusalem) to see. I am of a mind -- that because Nicodemus was one of the 7 elders of the Sanhedrin, and a secret believer in Jesus -- that no more than 6 Jewish leaders led the procession (being the remaining of the 7 elders).

In all likelihood, the precious garment of purple was carried in a satchel by one of the guards; because if it were ruined through and through with blood, it would be all but worthless to gamble over (Matthew 25:36-37). The Tradition left us by Josephus is that Jesus was to be garbed in sackcloth when presented for Judgment. After the scourging, it would be a benefit of testimony that people could see Jesus' fresh wounds, front and back, as he bore the Cross until collapsing at the Dung Gate Road and Siloam Gate Road Intersection.

But the focus here is not what Jesus wore or did not wear before being stripped naked at the Cross. It is the open show -- the parade to which the First Priests made of Jesus, -- that Jesus did reverse (by the power of His Resurrection) and make of these First Priests and others to which Paul also alludes to in Colossians 2:15,
“And having stripped the clothes off the first rulers and
the authorities, He displayed (these ones instead) in all
public speaking (and in the public eye), leading them
in it triumphantly (as if they themselves now follow behind).”

(Colossians 2:15 -- my translation w/ word pictures)

Even so, it is the power of what GOD did at the Cross, which was the true triumph; because the Resurrection was the affirmation of that very power and victory of GOD, in Christ Jesus, over sin -- through the Cross.

Again, Matthew and Mark accurately portray what the Roman soldiers did to Jesus, and having been the ones who led Jesus away (Matthew 27:31; Mark 15:20). Luke’s documentary from eyewitnesses to the event, as well as John of Zebedee, infer that the chief priests also participated in the living funeral march -- as Christ was led away to Calvary (Luke 23:26; John 19:16). Therefore, the parade led by the priests is not a Pauline theological hypothesis or concept, it is an established and historically testified eyewitness fact.

The documentary evidence gathered from Mark through Peter would have also included the testimony of Simon the Cyrene through Simon’s wife and their son Rufus, who were founding members of the Churches of Rome (Romans 16:13). The Churches of Rome and Ephesus found their origin in Corinth of Achaia, where Luke had written his Gospel years earlier in A.D. 50. Therefore, both Mark (i.e. Peter) and Luke, who both spent time with Rufus and his mom, found their source witness in mother and son. Because of Luke’s meticulous nature for accuracy, we may conclude the extreme likelihood that both of these witnessed Simon being kicked about with the knees, until he submitted to carrying the Cross. Afterwards, following the family Patriarch to Golgotha, where he was set free from his forced service in carrying the Cross of Jesus all the way from the Dung and Water Gate street intersect. From that location within the walls of the lower city, he followed behind Jesus, who Himself followed behind and up alongside with the Romans, who followed behind the First Priests.

This, again, confirms Paul’s statement in Colossians 2:15, for Christ not only won every debate, but He -- through the Cross, and visibly confirmed by His victorious resurrection -- did turn the defeat into a victory, placing shame and dishonor upon the would be victors of the Sanhedrin Conspiracy.

The Passage of Simon the Cyrenian

As was just mentioned, that even as the First Priests made an open show of Christ, and led him to His death; there was another victim in all of this, who was forced into this event: Simon of Cyrene (located in modern eastern Libya). Cyrene, in the early First Century A.D., was an overflow colony from Egypt, settled largely by Jews from out of Alexandria. Because of the Crucifixion experience, and what followed thereafter, (i.e., the Resurrection), Simon settled and was buried in Jerusalem.{1}

In A.D. 50, the physician Luke compiled His Gospel account while in Corinth of Achaia, Greece. In Corinth, Luke interviewed the visiting apostles of Christ, as well as the mother of Jesus. Luke also interviewed many more who also were eyewitness of Christ, perhaps before becoming disciples of Him at Pentecost in 30 A.D., and thereafter. From these, he recorded the first of the 4 gospels, and wrote down the eyewitness accounts only 20 years after the events themselves.

In relation to this, Luke would write the Book of Acts some 7 years later. Acts was almost immediately followed (within two months) by Paul’s teachings as recollected by Luke (following the June 29, 57 A.D. deaths of Peter and Paul in Rome). That third work became known to us as the Book of Hebrews.

So, in 50 A.D., in the midst of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and in the midst of other Apostles who have come to Corinth (cf., I Corinthians 9:5), and of Rufus and his mom, Luke writes:

"And as they led (Christ) away, they [the Roman guards] laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and they laid the cross on him, that he might bear (it), following behind Jesus."
(Luke 23:26) KJV

The combined accounts of Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:20c-21, and Luke 23:26, in the Literal Greek to English Translation would read as thus:

"And brings out and leads Him so that He may be crucified;
and after having searched, found a man returning from the wild fields,
a certain Simon,
--who by name and reputation is the father of Alexander and Rufus --
this one they beat about with the knees violently,
in order that he would take up, raise the Cross, and bear it;
which he did take up, bear, and endure
behind the back of Jesus.”
(Translation mine)

The emphasis in this verse is where Simon was coming from: the "country". The word for "country" in the Greek, is the anarthous noun αγρου, "agrou"; or literally, "a field". When this usage is examined in relation to Jerusalem, it is directly used of that region which lies south of Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, the Passover rituals clean-ups are happening in and about Jerusalem....

And what was Simon the Cyrenian doing? It is all but a certainty, on the day of Pesach, that Simon the Cyrenian was carting ashes from the Temple Altar from out of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem (lest they defile the Temple) earlier in the day. The day before, between 3pm and about 7pm, some 240,000 portions and unknown cords of wood were burned. Mounds of ashes needed to be spirited away to the wilds of Judea for burial (only during daylight hours). Simon the Cyrenian was a priest serving out his Course at the time of the Passover. His responsibilities were dictated by the Temple Administrator, and his position ordained by lot from G-D -- and even from when he was conceived in the belly of his mother (Jeremiah 1:5).

A Review of going to Temple for Passover Sacrifice between the evenings the afternoon before evening Pesach begins: at the Temple.

At the Temple, the priests and their assistants stand in rows, scalpel sharp instruments and pan-basins at the ready; and await the sacrifices that are to be brought before them. The crowds of the sons of Israel and their sacrifices are divided up into sections numbering in the thousands. The priest perhaps has less than an average of 60 seconds for every sacrifice brought before him. Over 240,000 lambs will be slain in less than 4 hours, perhaps even come storm and high water (lest the second Pesach possibility be prevented by uncleaness). This averages to about less than one minute per sacrifice per priest. It was a "move it, or lose it" proposition, and "get in, get out, get the blankety-blank outta the way!" deal.

If there are more than 1,000 priests and two assistants, then at 2,000 priests - the average time increases to two minutes per sacrifice. The practical capacity of the Temple Court is 20,000; and after this chaos. Thus, with the lambs, the absolute maximum is 3,000 priest with their two assistants each and two witnesses each and one lamb each @ 18,000 creatures and a max time of 3 minutes per sacrifice.

The sons of Israel form a line that only mega-concert and amusement park enthusiasts might be familiar with...it is a line that extends around the city and into the valleys, starting from the southern Temple Stairs. Luke 22:8 says the requirement was that two adult males were to accompany the sacrifice to the Temple. On behalf of the disciples, this fell to Peter and John. These two would have come to Jerusalem with their unblemished lamb, and have lived and slept with the creature over these past 4 days; daily examining and protecting the creature.

The priests outside (where the lines are)stand at certain checkpoints, and examine every sacrifice methodically. Those few that are rejected, and who have to return in one month's time for the Second Pesach opportunity, will leave south by the Dung Gate and into the Hinom in shame. In all likelihood, there would be scribes at that gate to record the names of those expected to return. Failure to return in one month's time risks excommunication (through channels).

As one section moves up and out, the next section files in. They are motioned by the waving of flags and the sound of the shofar. The air resonates with nervous anticipation.

When the Temple is rebuilt, and the sacrifice begins again, Israel will again have to follow the "pattern" or trump and banner to move the crowds in orderly fashions yet again.

So, back here in 30 A.D., for about 4 hours just prior to evening start of Pesach, the sons of Israel will windingly approach and ascend the Southern stairs, and dip themselves in the ritual bath: which (housed by the entrance of the Double Gate) receives and flows a continuous stream of incoming and outgoing (or “living”) waters, which run down until they wash into shallow open channels, which gravitates the water out to the Kidron. They then continue easterly, and pass into the Temple by way of the 50 feet wide stairway that leads through the Triple Gate (passing by the chamber of the Bet Din Gadol).

The sons of Israel bring their lambs up the steps, and are greeted at the Temple’s Entrance by three boys, who with purple wool and hyssop on three sticks, sprinkle the ashes of the red heifer and holy water (with hyssop juice) on every individual living person that enters the Temple, one by one.{2} The effect is like a dark purplish juice (because of the dark juice of the hyssop) that reigns down upon each individual member of the congregation, sometimes having the appearance of crimson blood.{3}

There are said not only to be three boys assigned to the task of sprinkling the anointing that cleanses, but there are thought to be three special sticks used as well. The boy called “Abraham” holds “the stick of Joseph” called “Beauty”, and sprinkles the sons of the northern tribes. The boy called “Jacob”, on Isaacs other side, holds “the stick of Judah”, called “Bands”, and sprinkles only those of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi. The staff called “Beauty” is broken, and cut asunder, representing Messiah’s death and betrayal (Zechariah 11:10-13; Isaiah 53:3-9, 52:14-15; Luke 19:3-7; Matthew 27:3-10). The boy in the middle is called “Isaac”, and as the type of Christ, he bears “a combined stick of Joseph-and-Judah”, and sprinkles any and all of the tribes of Israel (cf. Ezekiel 37:16ff; Zechariah 11:7)

The musicians greet the incoming men and their sacrifices with musical instruments playing Hallelujah songs: Psalm 100 most likely among them.

The men move hastily, perhaps most easily in groups of 50s or 100s, one cluster of men is to be directed “this way”, the next group “that way.” They stand before the priest, some assistants to the priests carrying silver pans, while other assistants to the priests carry gold pans. The sons of Israel receive the blessing, and slit the throat of the lamb, as the priest or his Kohen assistant catches the blood in the pan.

The group may possibly file off to another location, where skinners skin the sacrifice, and the next phase occurs. The animals are gutted of their fat, so that it too might be burned with the blood (Isaiah 1:11). The Temple portion of the sacrifice is then taken. The lamb must then be given back (by the Kohen or priestly skinner) to the son of Israel who brought it, each lamb returned in its own skin (Pesachim 65b). The blood and guts of fat are offered up as sacrificial oblations, and burned to ashes.{4} Then, having shared in the mystery of the Trinity, but not understanding it, the son of Israel leaves through the north of the Temple, and returns to his tent or dwelling-place. (The animal having been offered up by a son of Israel, who is representing the Holy Spirit; to the priest, representing the Son; and to the altar hearth of fire, representing the Father.)

At pre-determined fire-pits, raging with flame, the greatest series of these fire-pits being within the Hinom Valley, the son of Israel roasts the Passover. He then returns to his tent, where a group of at least 13 must partake of the Passover lamb, and eat it in haste. Whatever is unconsumed or as being inedible, must be consumed by fire before morning light. In Jerusalem, the primary depository for these burning bones would be the Hinom Valley, although fires would light up all Jerusalem and its valleys on this night. When the Pesach is over, whatever remains will again be cleaned up, and disposed in the proper manner; in order that the Valley of Hinom be found as pristine as possible.

Temple Lamb

It appears that the likely procedure of cooking the lamb will reveal something of the ministry of Messiah. Upon returning to his household or congregation, the man would then place the lamb in a crucified form upon a leaning cross-spit. The rule of cooking the lamb is that it must be cooked upright, and quickly. The animals form a sort of lean-to effect around the fire-pits, which (by 30 A.D.) are probably using stone blocks (and possibly even iron rods) for propping. The lower legs are tied together, while the upper legs are spread apart and tied to the crossbeam, so that the opened chest cavity may spread apart and cook more evenly. The intestines are placed in a wrapped fashion about the lamb’s head (much like the crown of thorns) and thus the lamb is called, “the horned (or crowned) sacrifice”.

If for some reason a man fails to bring his sacrifice before the priest at the final call for Paschal sacrifice by the Priests, that man is called “lazy bones” (Pesachim 65a); and must return in exactly one month, lest he excommunicated from the congregation of Israel. Those of impurities, or who sacrifice was found unfit, also must return at that same time, under the same somber penalty.

On the Day of Pesach -- travel home was still yet forbidden, it being a High Sabbath. Hence, 3,000,000 who had partaken Pesach at Jerusalem yet remain and lingered about.

It was through this sort of crowd of 3,000,000 about tiny Jerusalem that Christ and Simon the Cyrene had to pass and circumvent in the Lower City area of Jerusalem. Simon the Cyrene, with “pack animal” and cart,{5} had worked his way to a pre-determined path, which wove him from the western court gate of the Temple, southward to the Siloam Gate road; then south on the Dung Gate road. From here, he exited into the Hinom Valley, then East to the Kidron, over the Kidron and past En Rogel, and finally south to the wilds of Judea by Dead Sea.{6} This leads him toward the rest settlements of the Dead Sea, where other priests await the ashes, and the containers are returned upon the burial of the ashes.

Hence, Simon had just returned from the south, traveling north through the dung gate of the Lower City, back towards the Temple. The Siloam Gate road travels from the Kidron in the East, and intersects the northerly Dung Gate road, which basically becomes a one way stop at the vertical point of the “T” intersection of these two roads. Where a person traveling north on the Dung Gate road reaches where the Dung Gate road intersects, you have only two choices, either East or West on the Siloam Road. The left or westerly direction will curve the width of the Temple Walls about until it becomes northerly in direction along the Temple’s Western Wall. This leads north, past the Pavement area of Gabbatha. The so-called “Via Dolorosa” takes the tourists out the northern Gate in the ‘New City’, through the Romanized sector of Jerusalem, and in the wrong direction.

Therefore, with cart and “pack animal” in tow, Simon of Cyrene, fulfilling his 6-week Course as Levite in Jerusalem, was now stopped by a procession of a mini-Sanhedrin, who were “triumphantly leading” the Romans and Christ out of the City through the Gate of Siloam. Simon stood silent, simply being a spectator in the very crowded streets of Jerusalem, simply wanting to take his donkey and cart back to the Temple, wash up, and take his next load into the wilds of Judea. He must have been a stout and very strong looking fellow, because the Romans picked him out so quickly from among the long lines of men that stretched to the Southern Temple steps; and in reverse order out the Siloam Gate. Simon of Cyrene resisted the Roman efforts to force his submission.

Roman and local law allowed him to resist being forced into conscription on the Sabbath and on High Holy Days, especially if he was already “in active service of his custom at the time”. The Law of Custom was that he was "free from conscription 3 days prior to and the day of his sabbath or festive day". But Simon’s resistance was to no avail. We are not told of a word or a look of his superiors directing Simon to give in; but he may have been given such.

We are told that Simon resisted quite stubbornly, but gave in only after the continual (and becoming chronic and never-ending) knee kicks of the Messiah’s Roman escort. The Romans grabbed up Simon’s clothing and limbs with their hands, and kicked Simon about repeatedly with their metal plated leather knee-guards until he submitted to his carrying the Cross for Christ.

Then, following behind Jesus, the entourage continued east, exiting out the Water Gate and into the Kidron Valley. Selah. In other words, a Levite was forced into conscription by the Romans to serve as a priest to YHVeH Messiah. YHVeH Messiah, the true High Priest (after the order of Melchizedek), was waited upon by a Levite from Cyrene, a province recognized back then as being “outer” or “little Egypt”. Meanwhile, the First Priests resumed their pompous ostentatious display of the Pharisaic “power” over the man whom the entire city had moved, and joyously welcomed, only days before. These of the faction of the Sanhedrin, trusted in their outward display of their ideals of piety, rich clothing, and conceit - perhaps believing that they were demonstrating some form of holiness and righteousness, in this process.

We are no different from these men today, especially here in America. The people, the Jewish nation of Israel, were not guilty by the actions of a few who usurped their positions and consolidated their power by means of stealth. The nation of Israel was caught almost as if unawares in its being guilty of apathy, (much like “the Church” is today), because these same 23 plus the high priests, by murdering Messiah in A.D. 30, also murdered more than one million of their brethren by their lawless actions set in motion, come 70 A.D. In this case, the sins of the fathers were visited most unfortunately upon the children. In the case of us, our failure helps to usher in the Tribulation and the end of the world, as we know it. Hence, we are just as guilty as any blame we might attribute to Israel, for we too, have murdered Jesus...because he came, died, and rose again to redeem us as well...even though we are downstream in time from those who saw Him with their own eyes, heard Him with their own ears, touched Him with their own hands.


1 Biblical Archaeology Review, Vol. 29, No. 4, Jul/Aug 2003, pp. 46-51. “Family Tomb of Simon the Cyrene…’Treasures in the Storeroom’ by Tom Powers.” In 1941, Eleazar Sukenik (and his assistant Nahman Avigad) discovered the hewn rock cave of Simon the Cyrene in the Kidron Valley. Among the bone ossuaries: Simon, his son Alexander, and three others of the family. A Herodian era lamp lay present, which I contend was perhaps a keepsake from the Upper Room.

2 The Epistle of Barnabas, .8

3 David says, Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be ritually and ceremonially clean…whiter than snow.(Psalm 51:7). This same sentiment is repeated in Isaiah, which says in the KJV: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

4 The sacrifices of war are the blood and guts of men, who as soldiers, lay down their lives or have it taken from them. Warfare is a variant of the holocaust or fiery consummation of the blood and guts of a nation’s fat or “cream of their people”. In this respect, so too, does Christ offer up His blood and guts to redeem us from the deepest mires and chasms of violence and depravity; and is able to make us ritually and ceremonially pure before GOD the Father.

5 I use the word “pack animal” to denote the variety of the horse family at his disposal: horse, ass, and donkey. He would not use a camel (considered ritually unclean) for priestly burdens involving ritual activity, be it on a holy day or any other day, under any circumstances.

6 In the End of Days, the priests will be forced to bury the radioactive bones of men for 7 months, in an area northeast of the Dead Sea, called “Hamon-gog” - according to Ezekiel 39:11-12. Those bones (and the weapons that accompany them) will continue to be radioactively deadly for 7 years Ezekiel 39:9. Therefore, the burying of that which dies in Israel -- outside of Israel -- finds only the rare of exceptions, based on ritual cleansing and necessity.

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