Throughout Deuteronomy we see a book not much different from Exodus. Written by Moses, it reminds the Israelites of their journey to the promise land and what God expects from them while they’re there. The word Deuteronomy literally means “Second Law”, this book is a repetition of the law. What we basically see in this book is God illustrating the importance of following his word; obedience leading to reward and evil leading to punishment, so for my blog this week I wanted to discuss the meaning of there being a curse on anyone who was hanged on a tree.
“If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.
Nicholas Batzig believed that the story of Adam was reflective of what all men deserve by nature.
“God had told Adam, “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, in dying you will die” (Gen. 2:17). In the Mosaic Law, the death penalty was accompanied by a public display of justice. Death came in by virtue of Adam’s relation to the tree, therefore in the exhibition of the curse of God–in the civil law–the offending party would be hung on the tree as a reminder of that curse (Deut. 21:22). Physical death symbolized eternal death, by which the sinner was banished from God’s favorable presence. When the life of an offending party was taken away, the curse of God was displayed before the eyes of others.”
This goes back to prove the belief that we are already born with some sin.
During this time period, the punishment for most capital offenses was stoning and to be hung in public. This law however made it illegal for it to be left hanging overnight. Research shows that it’s not clear if the person should be hanged alive on the tree or after their death, but it is clear that they were placed upon it.
Amy Miller states that “those who received such a punishment had committed such a heinous act that he deserved permanent removal from the covenantal assembly of God’s people by his own death. Such an individual was under the curse of God. And by hanging the body for all to see, the object of that curse was displayed in an atmosphere of humiliation, dishonor, and shame. The body of the offender was subject to the insults and mockery of the bystanders who expressed their revulsion against such a criminal.“
The Old Testament has a number of stories of people who were subjects of this type of punishment for sins such as incest, rape, murder and other things they believed were worthy of death.
The Apostle Paul goes back to relate the law of hanging from a tree to Jesus and his crucifixion on the cross in the New Testament. It made me wonder, was there a reason that Jesus was not stoned for the sins that he was thought to have committed- but instead crucified?
I found an interesting site that asks the question, “What is the curse”? http://www.gracegems.org/Law2/d02.html
I decided to take a closer look behind the crucifixion and posed the question was Jesus considered to be crucified on a cross or a tree?
It is led to believe that the law of the curse prepared the people for Christ’s death.
Crucifixion was evidently not a Jewish practice, but was practiced by the Romans. They did not hang their criminals from trees but they considered the people that committed crimes worthy of death to be so vile and blasphemous that they must die a slow death made of a wooden platform.
According to http://www.gci.org/jesus/risen3 “This is the exact way the Jews felt about God and is believed that this is why Paul on occasion used the Greek word for “tree” (xylon) to describe Jesus execution. “
Christ became the curse for us when he died on the cross. He had no sin nor did any wrongdoings but died so that we could be forgiven of our sins. Jesus was crucified on something that was made from a tree as to symbolize the curse we are all said to have- our sins.