Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hanged on a Tree

In Genesis 2:9 the Tree of Life is described a being at the center of the garden. The tree marked the sacred center. The Church Fathers understood Genesis 2:9 to be an allusion to the Cross, which is called a “tree” in Scripture.

The New Testament uses the word "tree" five times in reference to Christ's death on a cross. The references are found in Acts 5:30, 10:39, 13:29, Galatians 3:13 and 1 Peter 2:24.

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us," wrote Paul, "for it is written: `Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree" (Galatians 3:13).

Paul was quoting a phrase found in Deuteronomy 21:23: If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and you hang him on a tree, you must not leave the body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury it that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is a curse of God. You must not defile the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.

Torah's prescribed form of execution by stoning for certain offenses, such as blasphemy and idolatry. After being stoned to death, the person's body was hung on a tree to show the individual was under God's curse. To the Jews, hanging on a tree had become a metaphor for an apostate, a blasphemer or a person deemed under God's curse. That's exactly how the Jews viewed Jesus (John 5:18; 10:33; Matthew 26:63-65).

But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.…" (Acts 5:29-31)

The Israeli scholar Yigal Yadin, who deciphered and published the Temple Scroll some years ago, found that the Temple Scroll gave a different interpretation of these verses from Deuteronomy:

If a man informs against his people, delivers his people up to a foreign nation and betrays his people, you shall hang him on the tree so that he dies. On the word of two and three witnesses shall he be put to death, and they shall hang him on the tree.

If a man commits a crime punishable by death, and he defects into the midst of the nations and curses his people, the children of Israel, you shall hang him also on the tree so that he dies. And their bodies shall not remain upon the tree, but you shall bury them the same day, for those who hang on the tree are accursed by God and men, you must not defile the land which I give you as an inheritance.(Temple Scroll 64:6-13).

Jesus' crucifixion and burial conformed to the laws of Israel. He became a curse for us that we might be freed from the curse of old. He became the Tree of Life for us that we might partake of Him and and not die the second death. He died and was buried on the same day. He was buried in the stone tomb of his kinsman, Joseph of Ar-Mathea, a high ranked member of the Sanhedrin and a priest. He rose on the third day, trampled down death by His death, leading captives to immortality. Blessed be His Name. Blessed be the tree marked by His precious blood.

Related reading: Curses in GenesisWho is Jesus?Trees in Genesis; Jesus in Genesis: God With Us; The Red Heifer


  1. Jesus Lives! May you have a blessed Easter, Alice, and may God bless you abundantly in the coming year!

  2. The Risen Lord be glorified in our lives!

    Thanks, Tina.


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