How the Roman Crucifixion was conducted
YESHUA's death on the cross is a real event recorded in the annals of that time, and later authenticated through numerous testaments.
► After his arrest in the middle of the night, YESHUA was brought before Caiaphas, the high priest.
► One of the soldiers who did not like the answer He gave to Caiaphas, slapped him across the face (John 18:22).
► When YESHUA claimed to be the Son of God, the chief priests, covered His eyes, spat in His face, and, punched and slapped Him asking Him to identify who was hitting Him. (Matthew 26:64-68, Mark 14:65)
► In the early morning, beaten, bruised, dehydrated and exhausted from an all-nighter, YESHUA was taken to the Praetorium of the Antonia Fortress, the governmental seat of Pontius Pilate the procurator of Judea.
► Pilate questioned Him about His divinity but found nothing wrong in Him. So Pilate passed the responsibility over to Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Judea (Luke 23:1-7).
► Herod excited to see YESHUA and expecting Him to perform miracles, asked Him many questions, but YESHUA remained silent.
► Herod mocked Him, despised Him, and made Him wear a bright garment. And when he found no guilt in YESHUA, he sent him back to Pilate (Luke 23:8-11).
► Back at Pilate's house, the chief priests and scribes incited the people to revolt. To appease the crowd, Pilate ordered that Barabbas be released, and that YESHUA be scourged then handed over to be crucified.
► The soldiers stripped Him and made Him wear a red garment. They braided a crown of thorns and stuck it in his scalp, then, hit his head with a reed while they spat on him. They placed the reed in his right hand like a royal scepter and prostrated themselves before him in an act of humiliation. Then they took him away to be flogged and then crucified. (Mark 15:16-20; Matthew 27:28-30)
As it turns out, according to archaeological evidence, the Romans, having learned of crucifixion from the Carthaginians, used it as a form of capital punishment for a long time, until the emperor Constantine forbade it in the 4th century.
The purpose of Roman crucifixion was not only death, but also a gruesome way to publicly execute criminals in order to deter the masses from breaking the law.
Originally reserved for slaves, it was the most dishonorable death imaginable. Under ancient Roman penal practice, crucifixion was also a way to expose the low social status of the condemned.
Crucifixion included many forms of painful execution, ranging from hanging from a tree to impaling one's private parts on a stake. The condemned person was usually naked.
The executioners would begin the torture with flogging, violently whipping the victim with a leather strap whip. Iron balls were attached a few inches from the tip of each strap, sometimes sharp sheep bones were attached near the ends.
With each stroke, the leather straps would cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues producing at first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and ultimately arterial bleeding from the vessels in the underlying muscles.
The iron balls and sheep bones would tear into the flesh and muscle. The entire back area would then become an unrecognizable mass of torn tissue causing considerable blood loss.
This would cause the condemned person to fall into a state of shock, dizziness or fainting.
After the flogging, a heavy patibulum (the horizontal part of the cross) was attached to the condemned shredded and bloody back.
Amidst the mockery of the citizens, the condemned had to carry the patibulum to the crucifixion area outside the city walls. The vertical part of the cross (the stipe) was already planted there.
Despite YESHUA's efforts to stand upright, the weight of the patibulum on his lacerated skin, as well as his significant blood loss, must have pushed his human muscles beyond their capacity. He stumbled and fell. Simon of Cyrene helped him carry the patibulum to Mount Golgotha.
Then the condemned person was crucified by hammering a nail between the two bones below the wrist. The nail was strategically placed there to avoid hitting the major blood vessels but rather the median nerve, which would cause the hands to tense up in an excruciating contracture and they could not relax.
In this contracture, every time the condemned person would move a little or would gasp for air to breathe, his hands would suddenly bend towards the wrists, causing a dazzling neuralgic pain in the arms.
A dislocation of the shoulder or elbow could occur when the other arm was pulled out to hammer in the second nail.
The feet were nailed by pounding a nail between the second and third metatarsals in order that the body weight could be supported by the massive feet bones causing extreme shooting pain in the legs.
When the weight of the entire body was only supported by the outstretched arms, the condemned person would have severe difficulty inhaling, due to the hyper-expansion of the lungs.
In some cases a wooden tie or block was placed to support the condemned man's feet and allow him to inhale easily. But in all these circumstances, he had to work very hard to exhale air from his lungs, for in order to do so he had to pull or push his body upwards. And by doing so, his back would press against the rough part of the stipe and this would reopen the back injuries.
Death by crucifixion activated a gradual process of asphyxiation, in which the two sets of muscles used for breathing: the intercostal [chest] muscles and the diaphragm, gradually became weaker. Death could occur after several hours or even 2 or 3 days.
Often, in order to shorten the agony of the condemned person, they would break his legs with an iron bar to suffocate him and cause a rapid death.
If death did not result from asphyxiation, it could result from the physical trauma caused by the scourging that preceded the crucifixion, from the nailing itself, from dehydration or from exhaustion.
On the cross, YESHUA would have experienced several hours of unmitigated pain, cycles of wrenching joint cramps, intermittent bouts of partial asphyxiation, burning pain on His lacerated back rubbing up and down against the rugged wooden stipe, and a tremendous and deep pain in His chest as His pericardium slowly filled with serum and compressed His heart. And He endured it all without saying a word.
1 Peter 2:23 "When they heaped abuse on Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats, but entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly."
Psalms 22:14-15 "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are disjointed. My heart is like wax; it melts away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You lay me in the dust of death."
May the Holy Spirit guide you in understanding this message.