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Revive Israel Ministries

Poems of the Cross
©April 17, 2011 Revive Israel Ministries

By Asher Intrater

Yair Zakovits, head of the Bible department at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, has recently published a book in Hebrew called, "Yeshua Reads the Gospels" (Am Oved Publishers, Tel Aviv). The book contains 71 poems, written as Yeshua Himself speaking in the first person.

Zakovits is not a "believer" in Yeshua. He approaches the scriptures through "document criticism," often disrespectful and sacrilegious.  Yet he is endeavoring to view Yeshua through "Hebraic" or "Israelite" eyes. The use of the proper name Yeshua, instead of Yeshu, demonstrates intellectual honesty on his part. 

Over twenty of the poems speak of Yeshua's personal experience during the crucifixion. Zakovits was bold, not only to write a book about Yeshua, but particularly to emphasize the crucifixion.

A horribly wrong image of the cross still prevails in Jewish culture. The word cross in Hebrew is used to describe the Nazi swastika ("twisted cross"). The cross has become a symbol of anti-Semitism, persecution, and paganism. Therefore, an examination of the cross in its historical context by Israeli scholars is a considerable breakthrough.

Let's look at a few examples of Zakovits' "crucifixion" poems (translated below by Asher). Here Yeshua is voicing His own thoughts:

            The beauty of the cross is its simplicity,

 and My pain is poured into the midst of it.

(The word poured is the root of a drink offering, and the word midst is like innermost being.)

In another, Yeshua reminisces of Miriam's (Mary's) lullabies, which she sang over Him as a baby. He forgot those songs over the years, and suddenly, while suffering on the cross, the sounds of His mother's comforting melodies float back into His memory.

One poem depicts Yeshua smelling the fragrance of the wood of the cross. As he does so, memories of working with His father Yoseph (Joseph) in the carpentry shop come to His mind.

In another, Yeshua compares Himself hanging between heaven and earth to Moses standing on Mount Nebo. Both of them have a vision of their beloved Holy Land of which they are not able to take part.

In one of the most moving poems, Yeshua has a vision of the Holocaust while hanging on the cross:

            Here am I, one Jew, hanging on the cross.

            I have dark eyes, opened toward the future,

            Counting there many Jews, sixty myriad times ten,

            They are ripped apart, shot and burned.

            They have no grave, nor even a cross.

(The dark eyes are referring to His Semitic appearance. The 60 myriad times 10 are referring to the 6 million who died in the Holocaust.)

Another poem has Yeshua quoting a traditional Jewish prayer, Nishmat (attributed by some to Simon Peter), which speaks of a mouth filled with song and arms spread wide in praise. On the cross Yeshua says His mouth is so dry that He cannot praise, and His arms are spread open by being nailed.

My favorite poem starts by Yeshua quoting Matthew 23 while on the cross:

            Jerusalem, Your city, kills the prophets and stones the apostles

            Binds the sons to the sacrifice, and crucifies Your only son,

            The one You loved.

            "Father, Father, Why have You forsaken me?"

            My Father kept silent, He smiled, rubbing His hands together in pleasure,

            Because everything was working out according to His master plan.

(The word binds refers to Abraham binding Isaac, and the quote "the one you loved" compares Isaac in Genesis 22 to Yeshua in John 3. Zakovits' interpretation of "Why have You forsaken me?" as the Father's silence in order to keep His plan of redemption a secret until its fulfillment shows a profound understanding of the meaning of the cross.)

A final example: When the axe comes to chop a tree to become the wood of the cross, all the trees harden their necks and refuse to be cut down. Yeshua forswears one of them to become the cross, promising that both He and it would blossom again.

Historical analysis of the texts of the New Covenant is now becoming popular in Israeli universities. As a Hebraic understanding of the cross is recovered, the Church will be restored to her Jewish roots, and Israel will come close to salvation and revival.

Nails of the Cross

By Ariel Blumenthal

In recent news, Israeli-Canadian archaeologist, Simcha Jacobovici, is claiming to have found Roman-period nails from the tomb of the high priest, Caiaphas, that "may be" the nails that were used to crucify Jesus. Here in the Holy Land we believers don't get too excited about such archaeological discoveries, since there is a long history of all kinds of superstitions concerning relics, icons, and holy places in this Land. However, we are excited about seeing Jewish people of influence expressing a genuine fascination with the person, history, and teachings of Yeshua.

Two Pro-Palestinian Activists

By Mati Shoshani

Two weeks ago actor Juliano Mer-Khamis was gunned down in front of the "Freedom Theatre," which he founded in the Palestinian city of Jenin.
The actor, born of a Palestinian father and Israeli mother, was an outspoken supporter of the Palestinians and often spoke against Israel. He was widely acclaimed for his work with the youth of Jenin.

On Friday, Pro-Palestinian activist Vittorio Arrigoni's body was found in Gaza. The Italian citizen had been kidnapped the previous day by a radical Islamic faction, to be exchanged for a member of the organization held by Hamas. The terrorists gave a 30-hour ultimatum, but murdered Vittorio many hours before it expired.

The message presented by these two murders shows that to radical Muslims murder and death are second nature, giving no consideration to the identity of the victim, be it friend or foe.

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