Posts Tagged ‘Tau’

Cross or Stake?

Another controversy brewing in the Hebrew Roots Movement is the cross or stake debate.  Here is a good article exploring this whole discussion, which includes some references to the “mark”.

Used with permission by the author.


Cross or Stake?

Is the term “execution stake” or “torture stake” an accurate rendering of the Greek word stauros, which appears in the New Testament texts? Many groups such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and The Way International, both who deny the Divinity of Christ, as well as some Hebrew roots teachers, use the term “stake”.

The Complete Jewish Bible, a translation used by many Messianics also uses the term stake in place of the more commonly translated cross. Many have said that they do not use the word “cross” because it is a pagan symbol that was brought into the early church by Constantine. The problem with this errant teaching, is that inscriptions of crosses have been found in archaeological excavations that pre-date Constantine in early Jewish Christian tombs, both on the walls, and also written on the burial ossuaries.

Although the Greek word found in some passages of the New Testament is stauros (G4716), which can mean stake, there is another word xulon (G3586) used in such passages as Acts 5:30, 10:39, 13:29, and Galatians 3:13 which quotes from Deuteronomy 21:23 (H6086) which is often translated as “tree”.

Historical reports and archaeological evidence pertaining to first century execution by the Romans does not support “stake” as a valid translation. The stauros was a vertical pole that was permanently installed at the crucifixion site, and the ones being crucified were forced to carry the cross beam up the hill to the site as a form of punishment. Once they reached the site, they were nailed to the crossbeam, and then hoisted up onto the vertical pole (stauros), where their feet were then nailed. The epistle of Barnabas, which is not included in the canon, and is pseudopigraphal in nature, discusses a tau shaped cross as the method of execution of Jesus.

Below are four different translations of the passage:

Barnabas 9

7 For the scripture saith; And Abraham circumcised of his household eighteen males and three hundred. What then was the knowledge given unto him? Understand ye that He saith the eighteen first, and then after an interval three hundred In the eighteen ‘I’ stands for ten, ‘H’ for eight. Here thou hast JESUS (IHSOYS). And because the cross in the ‘T’ was to have grace, He saith also three hundred. So He revealeth Jesus in the two letters, and in the remaining one the cross.

8 For he saith, And Abraham circumcised out of his household eighteen and three hundred. What, then, was the knowledge that was given by this? Learn ye, that he mentioneth the eighteen first, and then, having made an interval, he mentioneth the three hundred. In the eighteen, IH, you have Jesus; and because the cross in the letter T was about to convey the grace of redemption, he mentioneth also the three hundred. Therefore, he showeth Jesus in the two letters, IH, and the cross in the one, T.

8 For it says, “And Abraham circumcised from his household eighteen men and three hundred.” What then was the knowledge that was given to him? Notice that he first mentions the eighteen, and after a pause the three hundred. The eighteen is I (=ten) and H (=8) — you have Jesus — and because the cross was destined to have grace in the T he says “and three hundred.” So he indicates Jesus in the two letters and the cross in the other.

8 For [the Scripture] saith, “And Abraham circumcised ten, and eight, and three hundred men of his household.” What, then, was the knowledge given to him in this? Learn the eighteen first, and then the three hundred. The ten and the eight are thus denoted–Ten by I, and Eight by H. You have [the initials of the, name of] Jesus. And because the cross was to express the grace [of our redemption] by the letter T he says also, “Three Hundred.” He signifies, therefore, Jesus by two letters, and the cross by one. He knows this, who has put within us the engrafted gift of His doctrine. No one has been admitted by me to a more excellent piece of knowledge than this, but I know that ye are worthy.

I am not in any way endorsing the epistle of Barnabas as Scripture, but merely presenting it as a historical writing that mentions the tau cross in reference to the crucifixion of Jesus.

The Mark and its possible meaning.

In the book of Ezekiel, we find this passage:

Eze 9:4 And YHWH said to him, Pass through in the midst of the city, in the midst of Jerusalem, and mark ,<8427> a mark <8420> on the foreheads of the men who are groaning and are mourning over all the abominations that are done in her midst.

Eze 9:6 Slay the aged men, the young man, and the virgin, even children, and

women, all to destruction. But to every man who has the mark <8420> on him,

do not come near. And begin from My sanctuary. And they began with the

aged men who were before the house.

In the book of Revelation, we also find this:

Rev 7:3 Do not harm the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees, until we seal <4972> the slaves of our God on their foreheads.

Rev 9:4 And it was said to them that they should not harm the grass of the earth, nor every green thing, nor every tree, except only the men who do not have the seal<4972> of God on their foreheads.

Eph 4:30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed <4972> for the day of redemption.

What is this mark that we find mentioned in Ezekial 9:4 and also in 9:6? Lets take a look at the Hebrew word:


BDB Definition:


1) desire, mark

1a) mark (as a sign of exemption from judgment)



From H8427; a mark; by implication a signature: – desire, mark.

It is interesting to note, that the modern Hebrew tav looks like a doorway, but the ancient Hebrew tav was a “T” or an “X”. These are the two shapes of the crosses that the Romans used for crucifixion.

Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament has a chart that illustrates the ancient Hebrew tav “T”, which became the letter tau (T) in Greek. A copy of this page can be viewed here:


In a number of the Dead Sea Scrolls, various types of markings appear in the margins to denote Messianic Prophecies. In the scroll of Isaiah, which is dated to 100 bce, the Messianic Prophecies were marked in the side column by the scribes by using the ancient Hebrew letter tav. As an example, if one examines Isaiah 32:1, in the side column, you will see the tav, which is used to denote the Messianic Prophesies. This tav is written in the form of a slanted “t” which also can appear as an x or + with unequal arms .

The sect at Qumran who kept the scrolls, believed that the tav mark was a sign of future Messianic salvation in reference to Ezekiel 9:4. Below is an English translation of what is written in one of their commentaries on scripture known as the “Damascus Document”:

19:12 These [people]shall escape in the time of visitation, but they that hesitate shall be given over to the sword when the Messiah of Aaron and Israel shall come. As it happened in the epoch of the visitation of the forefathers, which He said by the hand of Ezekial “to set the mark (ha Tav) upon the forehead of such as sigh and groan.”

The tav became the letter tau in Greek, and also the letter T in Latin. Because of its shape, the tav was also considered the equivalent to the Greek letter Chi (X) which is used as the first letter in the word Christos (Christ).

Sealing the 144,000

Below are some different translations of the verse in the book of Revelations that prophetically speaks of the Name with which God seals the 144,000. Both the King James Version, the LITV, as well as the YLT and other reformation Bibles translated from the Textus Receptus, state that only the Father’s name is written in their foreheads, while the modern versions state that two separate names will be written.

Revelations 14:1

KJV ” . . . having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.”

LITV ” . . . with the name of his Father having been written in their foreheads.”

NIV ” . . . who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads”

NASB “. . . having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads”

ESV “. . . who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads”

Stephens 1550 Textus Receptus
kai eidon kai idou arnion esthkos epi to oroV siwn kai met autou ekaton tessarakonta tessares ciliadeV ecousai to
onoma tou patroV autou gegrammenon epi twn metwpwn autwn

kai eidon kai idou to arnion estos epi to oroV siwn kai met autou ekaton tesserakonta tessares ciliadeV ecousai to
onoma autou kai to onoma tou patroV autou gegrammenon epi twn metwpwn autwn

As you can see in the comparison of the Greek texts above, the top text lists only one name highlighted in red, while the bottom one lists two. There are also other variations between the two texts that are bolded.

Taking the Mark

So if we are told in scripture that God’s people are marked by Him, then as with all things of God, satan will always attempt to have a counterfeit.

Rev 13:16 And it causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark on their right hand, or in their foreheads,

Rev 14:9 And a third angel followed them, saying in a great voice, If anyone worships the beast and its image, and receives a mark on his

forehead, or in his hand,

Rev 14:10 he also shall drink of the wine of the anger of God having been mixed undiluted in the cup of His wrath. And he will be

tormented by fire and brimstone before the holy angels and before the Lamb.

Rev 14:11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. And they have no rest day or night, those who worship the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.

Rev 15:2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire. And those who had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.

Rev 16:2 And the first went and poured out his vial on the earth. And a bad and grievous sore fell on the men who had the mark of the beast, and on those who worshiped his image.

Rev 19:20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet doing signs before it, (by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast), and those who had worshiped his image. The two were thrown alive into the Lake of Fire burning with brimstone.

Rev 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the Word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast nor his image, nor had received his mark on their foreheads, nor in their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Rev 13:16 And it causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark on their right hand, or in their foreheads,

Rev 13:17 even that not any might buy or sell except those having the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of its name.

The translations from the Textus Receptus state that there are three forms of allegiance given to the beast in addition to worship. They are the mark, or the name, or the number of his name. The modern versions derived from the Alexandrian texts only interpret it as two, being the name or the number of the name.

Stephens 1550 Textus Receptus
kai ina mh tiV dunhtai agorasai h pwlhsai ei mh o ecwn to caragma
h to onoma tou qhriou h ton ariqmon tou onomatoV autou

kai ina mh tiV dunhtai agorasai h pwlhsai ei mh o ecwn to caragma to onoma tou qhriou h ton ariqmon tou onomatoV autou

As you can see in the comparison of the Greek texts above, the top text has the Greek “ay” (h ) highlighted in red, which does not occur in the bottom text. This is why it appears as “or the name, or the number”, instead of the combined “number of the name”

The Strong’s Concordance definition for “mark” in reference to Revelation 13:16-17, applies exclusively to the references of “the mark” found in the book of Revelations. This definition does not apply to the term “mark” as it is found in any other books of the Bible. Here is the breakdown:

5480- charagma, (khar’-ag-mah); from the same as 5482; a scratch or etching, i.e. stamp (as a badge of servitude), or sculptured figure (statue):-graven image, mark.

5482– charasso-(to sharpen to a point, akin to 1125 through the idea of scratching)…

1125–grapho( graf-o); a prim. verb; to “grave”, espec. to write; fig. to describe:– describe, write(-ing,-ten) [Eng. Dictionary def.– “grave” Archaic. engrave; carve; sculpture. 2.impress deeply; fix firmly]

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