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Jesus on the cross

Was Jesus abandoned on the cross?

Jesus on the cross

According to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, YESHUA's last words on the cross were:

  • Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34 "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" ("Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani")

  • Luke 23:46 "Then Jesus called out in a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit.” 

  • John 19:28-30 "I am thirsty... It is finished"

For centuries, this declaration of abandonment has caused great religious debate. Scholars disagree with the illogicality of this verse because it calls into question the omniscience of YAHWEH as well as YESHUA's Godhead. How could God abandon God? 

Here are the main reasons that cause the controversy:

Reason 1 

As reported by the prophets, "what is originally expressed in one language no longer has the same strength when translated into another language."

Martin Luther's first Bible, which included the New Testament, was published in Hebrew in the second century. And in this first version, we can read in Matthew:

► Matthew 27:46 "Eli eli lama azabtani"

Azabthani means to abandon that which is undesirable.

In the Syriac (an aramaic dialect) version written around 200 AD, we read in Mark and Matthew:

► Mark 15:34 "Elahi elahi, lamna shabaktani"

► Matthew 27:46 "Eli eli, lamna shabaktani"

And in the Jewish Targum (Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible), we can read in Matthew and the Psalms:

► Matthew 27:46 "Eli Eli Methul Ma Shebaqthani"

► Psalm 22:1 "Eli elahi metul ma shabaktani"

Shebaqthani is the form of the Aramaic word "šəḇaqtan" from the verb šbq (šəḇaq / šāḇaq), which means "to allow, permit, keep, or abandon for a specific purpose."

All these different variations of YESHUA's words cause a disagreement among scholars. It is a fact that YESHUA came from Galilee in northern Israel; a place where they spoke Northern Aramaic. Whereas the scribes and the witnesses of the crucifixion came from Judea in southern Israel, where they spoke southern Aramaic. The accent and use of words were slightly different from one region to another. This suggests it is quite possible YESHUA's words have been misquoted by the scribes and witnesses, because while He was on the cross, He certainly did not say things one way for Matthew and another way for the author of Mark.

Reason 2

In the Roman transliteration (the Greek version) of Matthew 27:46 it reads, "Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani."  Shabach (zāḇaḥ - Strong H2076) is the equivalent word to the Hebrew word Azab (āzaḇ - Strong H5800). 

► Lama means: why

► Shabach means: sacrifice or offering

► Azab means: abandoned, forsaken or departed

► Thani means: you do this to me

Notice that in the Roman and English transliteration, the Hebrew letter H just after the S was dropped. So we read, Sabachthani instead of Shabachtani. However, the word "Sabachthani" is neither Hebrew nor Aramaic. 

Thus, scholars believe that the Roman transliteration is erroneous. 

Moreover, the fact that the translators used the Hebrew word "Lama" instead of the Aramaic word "Lema" proves that these Greek translators probably did not understand the significance of the statement, but rather combined the Hebrew and the Aramaic and then transliterated it into Greek. 

Now, it is highly unlikely that Jesus would have started speaking in Hebrew (Eli, Eli, lama...) and then proceeded to speak a foreign word (...Sabachthani).

Reason 3

If YESHUA really meant that YAHWEH had simply abandoned or forsaken Him, He would have used the Aramaic word "taa tani" which means to abandon an undesirable person or the Aramaic word "nashatani" which means to forsake.

Reason 4

Another dilemma is that if YESHUA was abandoned on the cross because of the sins that were imputed unto Him and if He questioned such abandonment, there are 2 implications:

  1. YAHWEH did not know what would happen on the cross.

  2. YESHUA did not understand nor expected what was happening. 

Now, ELOHIM is omniscient, and YESHUA's sacrificial death was foretold from the foundation of the world and was part of His plan. If the prophets did not fear their physical death but rather embraced it, then one would expect YESHUA to celebrate the abandonment and not be surprised or second guess the consequence that led to the victory. 

To question the abandonment is extremely problematic because it reduces ELOHIM's promise of redemption to a mere random act. Didn't He anticipate that the abandonment would be the consequence of his sacrificial death?

some Oxford scholars have discovered an ancient tribe in northern Iraq that still speaks the old Galilean dialect and they have learned that "Lema Shebaqthani" translates to "this is why I was kept or this is my destiny". Thus they are convinced that YESHUA's words could have been, "My God My God, this is why I was kept because it was my destiny." Which then lead him to triumphantly say the words "All is accomplished!"

Does this mean the Roman Bible cannot be relied upon entirely?

No, it means that before engaging in biblical debates, it is important to pray for discernment and also to seek out the Hebrew texts for a better understanding of Scriptures.

We will not go into further detail. But on the basis of logic and reason, we will try to make sense of that verse according to what is written in the Roman Bible. If YESHUA's death was not a mere random act, and if ELOHIM is not in contradiction with his own decrees, then there must be a logical reason for his feeling of abandonment as the Bible states.

Before we continue, it is important to keep in mind these 3 facts:

  1. ELOHIM is an inseparable triune entity. YAHWEH the Father (the thinking head), YESHUA the Son (the Word made flesh) and RUACH the Holy Spirit (His presence that makes it real).

  2. The death of YESHUA was foretold.

  3. It is ontologically impossible for The Word of God to die.

The Bible teaches that when the Word of ELOHIM entered Creation by means of YESHUA, it was the true light that guides men onto the right path. 

The term "light" is not limited to light in the physical sense, but also refers to that which is true in the intellectual domain, and holy in the spiritual realm.

  • Psalms 36:9 "For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light."

  • 1 John 1:7 "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin."

  • 1 John 1:5 "God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all."

  • John 1:9 "The true Light who gives light to every man was coming into the world."

If in YESHUA was The Word that enlightens men, then why was there darkness as He was agonizing on the cross and not after His death? 

As mentioned earlier, YESHUA had a human nature added to His divine essence so that He would not be something different from the rest of mankind, and would be able to offer Himself as a substitute sacrifice for our sins.

  • Hebrews 2:17 "For this reason He had to be made like His brothers in every way, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, in order to make atonement for the sins of the people."

YESHUA was crucified at 9am and died at 3pm. But why is it that between noon and 3 p.m., for 3 hours, darkness covered the entire earth?

There is only one logical explanation: on Mount Golgotha the sovereign departure of the Word of ELOHIM occurred. As it is ontologically impossible for the Word of ELOHIM to die physically, the heavenly essence of YESHUA had to separate from his human body in order for it to die.  And as the Word that enlightens men left his earthly body, there was darkness when He finally ascended to the heavens... Hence the sentiment of abandonment?

If you carefully read Psalms 22 which illustrates how YESHUA felt at the time of His death, you will notice that He no longer spoke of His oneness with the Father but rather addressed supplications, prayers and praises to ELOHIM in the same way an ordinary man would. This fact would only make sense if the Heavenly Word of the Most High was no longer inside his earthly body, and that body was now subject to all kinds of physical pain like any ordinary human being.

You be the judge...

May the Holy Spirit guide you in understanding this message.

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