Matt. 27:38,

Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.

Jesus was crucified during the critical feast of Passover (mistakenly called the Feast of Unleavened Bread because they are so close in time to each other). It was illegal to have anyone crucified during this feast. Jesus fulfilled prophesy but, why were the two thieves being crucified on Passover as well?

  • 1
    This is a Very Good Question and one that I have thought about on many occasions. I added a scripture passage to ensure that it remains a 'hermeneutic' and not 'theological' question. I have an answer, but I would like to hear whjat the rest of the community has to say about it.
    – Tau
    Mar 31, 2016 at 3:46
  • 2
    In what way do you think this could be definitively answered with an answer supported by evidence? Most readers would say that the reason why the text records this detail is that it is a fact of history, but that we cannot know why the Romans decided to do it that way. And your claim that it was illegal to crucify people during the Passover needs to be backed up with evidence.
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 31, 2016 at 15:39
  • 1
    Sorry, apparently this is obvious to others, but is "why" here meant to request a teleologic explanation of this fact (i.e. forward-looking, its place in God's plan of redemptive history, or however you think about it) or an etiologic/historic explanation (i.e. backward-looking, what transpired in 1st C. Roman legal proceedings to bring about the event here recorded)? @Tau, etc.
    – Susan
    Apr 3, 2016 at 1:26
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    @Tau I agree that nothing is left to chance, but that doesn't mean that we can discern the wisdom of God in every matter. If there's such a clear answer then why haven't you written it?
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 3, 2016 at 11:55
  • 1
    - Linda - A.) You said: "... (mistakenly called the Feast of Unleavened Bread because they are so close in time to each other" B.) Technically, this wasn't a mistake - because "the Day of Unleavened Bread" had become an Idiom, and used interchangeably with "Passover" - which occurred on the same Day - Luke 22:1 Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching; Apr 4, 2016 at 20:44

8 Answers 8


1. "Jesus was crucified during the critical feast of Passover (mistakenly called the Feast of Unleavened Bread because they are so close in time to each other)."

The Passover is the first day of the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread.

1 Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. 3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. 7 And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. 8 Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails. 10 You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. 11 And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover.

12 ‘For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. 13 Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

14 ‘So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance. 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat—that only may be prepared by you. 17 So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance. 18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. 19 For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.’” -Exodus 12:1-20 (NKJV)

So the Passover is at twilight on the 14th day, which begins the Feast of Unleavened Bread that continues until the evening of the 21st day, for a total of seven days. This is confirmed in Leviticus 23.

4 ‘These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. 5 On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. 7 On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. 8 But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.’” -Leviticus 23:4-8 (NKJV)

The Passover started in the evening at twilight, since that is when God considers a new day has started. A new day beginning at evening is explicitly stated for the Day of Atonement:

26 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 27 “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. 28 And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. 29 For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. 30 And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31 You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath.-Leviticus 23:26-32 (NKJV)

And also for each day of creation in Genesis 1:

5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. [...] 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day. -Genesis 1:5, 8

Mark 14 and Luke 22 also directly equate the Passover to the start of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

1 After two days it was the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by trickery and put Him to death. Mark 14:1 (NKJV)

12 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare, that You may eat the Passover?” Mark 14:12 (NKJV)

1 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover. -Luke 22:1 (NKJV)

2. "It was illegal to have anyone crucified during this feast."

It was not actually illegal, per Roman or Jewish law, to carry out executions on a feast day, or even on the weekly 7th-day Sabbath. John tells us that the Jews ask Pilate to speed up the deaths of those being crucified by breaking their legs--it was a favor that was asked of Pilate, who obliged their request due to being asked and not out of illegality.

31 Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. -John 19:31 (NKJV)

In Numbers 15 a man who violated the Sabbath was executed on that same Sabbath day.

32 Now while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. 33 And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all the congregation. 34 They put him under guard, because it had not been explained what should be done to him.

35 Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man must surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” 36 So, as the Lord commanded Moses, all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him with stones, and he died. -Numbers 15:32-36 (NKJV)

3. "Jesus fulfilled prophesy but, why were the two thieves being crucified on Passover as well?"

Pilate specifically crucified Jesus because he gave into the demands of the Jewish leaders, who were fully convinced that Jesus was a blasphemer and needed to die:

62 And the high priest arose and said to Him, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” 63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”

64 Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

65 Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! 66 What do you think?”

They answered and said, “He is deserving of death.” -Matthew 26:62-66 (NKJV)

Jesus was then taken to Pilate, who found no fault worthy of death in Him. But in order to keep a riot from occurring, he gave in to the crowd and handed Jesus over to be crucified.

15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to releasing to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished. 16 And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy.

19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.”

20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor answered and said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”

They said, “Barabbas!”

22 Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”

They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!”

23 Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?”

But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!”

24 When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.”

25 And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”

26 Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.

The two thieves being crucified with Jesus was primarily to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 53, which says:

12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors. -Isaiah 53:12 (NKJV)

And secondarily, as John Gill states in his commentary, that

If [crucifying two thieves with Jesus] was so ordered by Pilate, it might be done in order to cover the sin, and take off the reproach of putting an innocent person to death, suggesting hereby he was one of them; though this seems rather to be done by the Jews, the soldiers agreeing to it, for the greater reproach of Jesus; intimating, that he was the worst of these malefactors, and a ringleader of such sort of persons: and whereas they had observed, he took it ill at their hands that they should come to apprehend him with swords and staves, as if he was a thief and a robber; to vex and distress him the more, they crucify him between two such persons: but the grand reason why it was so ordered, was, that though Christ was no transgressor, he was accounted one, and stood in the room and stead of sinners, and was numbered with them, and as such was treated by divine justice, and accordingly died for them.


  1. The Passover was the first day of the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread, which began at twilight on the 14th of Nisan (called 'Abib' in Deuteronomy 16:1--known as 'Nisan' after the Babylonian exile, Esther 3:7) and ended on the 21st (Leviticus 23:4-8).
  2. It was not actually illegal to execute someone on a feast day.
  3. Two thieves were crucified with Jesus because
    • prophetically, it was to fulfill Isaiah 53:12 that says God's righteous Servant would be numbered with the transgressors, and
    • temporally, Pilate perhaps needed some kind of cover for executing a man he himself acknowledged as innocent.
  • Thank you for your response! I appreciate your comment about the Passover mistakenly called the Feast of the Unleavened Bread-though there are some who would disagree. Isa. 53:12 does state He was numbered amongst the transgressors, but doesn't(on the surface) state how or how many. Could there be another passage which illuminates this?
    – Tau
    Apr 4, 2016 at 7:06
  • @Tau - Well, Ps 22:16 states His hands and feet were pierced, along with Zech 12:10 saying "they will look on Me whom they pierced." But I felt that my answer was already super long, and also that the question was really asking about the two thieves, and that I had perhaps already widened my scope a little too much.... Those two texts answer the 'how,' but I am unsure if there is a text specifying the 'how many' of exactly two other transgressors being killed alongside the Messiah.
    – user6503
    Apr 4, 2016 at 15:04
  • There is nothing in the crucifixion that was left to chance.... and the scene is so indelibly painted that even those who have never read the bible can describe it. Are there clues in the text which depict this scene...? We must go beyond a 'surface' search but I believe there are. A point to remember is the "event" is not merely a 'linear moment' in a linear time frame-it was foretold about and described from Genesis to Revelations. When we look at time from God's perspective, it is the one defining moment for God's interaction with mankind. That's how we have to see it(IMO).
    – Tau
    Apr 4, 2016 at 15:37
  • @Bʀɪᴀɴ Perhaps the question would be better stated with the 1st word being WHY instead of Why. When you understand the WHY you understand the How....
    – Tau
    Apr 4, 2016 at 15:54
  • I'm pretty certain killing a man according to a judicial punishment is considered "work" (מְלָאכָה) and is therefore prohibited on the Sabbath.
    – user862
    Apr 4, 2016 at 19:44

Jesus' crucifixion is clearly the centerpiece, the locus and telos of God's work of redemption. It is the defining moment of the Christian faith. And it is at this point, the cross, where man is judged: He is either forgiven by the Christ, or dies in his sins. This is a theological interpretation of the crucifixion as a whole, where the atonement for sin is offered for man, since the Lamb of God is now slain for man and by man. This was God's plan all along, and He has brought it to pass.

Since the crucifixion and the two criminals at his right and left are facts of history, they can be taken as such. But these facts can also be interpreted by other Scripture.

There are two observations in this passage: (1) That there were two thieves crucified, (2) that Jesus was crucified between them. Taking the second point first:

Jesus was crucified among thieves

Jesus himself [Luke 22:37] interpreted his crucifixion as fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 53:12,

For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.”

If Jesus intimated that his death was foretold, and thus, ordained by God to fulfill prophecy, it was no mere accident that he was crucified as a common criminal among common criminals. He was to save one of the two then and there, and all who like the one, put their faith in Christ.

Thus the cross, in addition to being the symbol of God's atonement and grace, is simultaneously the symbol of God's certain, coming judgement.

But why were there two thieves crucified with Jesus?

In this event, one thief was pardoned, the other not, based upon a single confession of faith. Salvation of souls began not after the crucifixion, not after some theological system had been worked out by the early believers, but instantly, even DURING the Lord's dying moments. He was already here and now "the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." [John 1:29]

But why were there TWO thieves crucified with Jesus?

I don't think we have to look hard to find plenty of scriptural parallels, which I believe allow us to interpret this event typologically, as symbolic of God's judgement upon all men:

Cain and Abel: Adam had two sons, one righteous, the other not righteous [Genesis 4, Hebrews 11:4]. Of the human race, all of whom are fallen, some are pleasing to God, and others not. God is sovereign in this matter, and doesn't need to justify his choices to us. Cain rejected God's sovereignty and counsel, and only added to his sins the persecution of his brother.

Isaac and Ishmael: Again, two sons, only one is chosen. While they had different mothers, they were equal humanly. And though Abraham pleaded "If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!" [Gn 17:18] he was not to be the heir, but Isaac, the "child of the promise".

Jacob and Esau: Yet again, two sons, perfectly equal this time, twins in fact, but "Jacob I loved, Esau I hated" [Romans 9:13]. Here the words of Malachi are used by Paul to explain the doctrine of election. One is chosen, not both. This is a most inconvenient doctrine for those who advocate Universalism.

The butler and the baker: The two men in prison with Joseph [Genesis 40] were equally accused, but one was pardoned and the other condemned.

I'm quite sure I could go on. But, hopefully, the interpretation I'm getting at is clear enough: All mankind falls into two classes, which can be stated in various forms: the faithful vs. the unbeliever, the saved vs. the unsaved, the elect vs. the reprobate, the chosen vs. the remainder.

These two thieves, both dying (as all men must) condemned as sinners (as all men are), were different only in that one had faith in the Messiah, while the other did not. They illustrate both the judgement AND salvation of God, which always go hand in hand in Scripture (as with the Flood, Sodom, the Passover, etc.) Jesus himself formulated this in his Parable of the Sheep and the Goats [Matthew 25:31ff]:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’ ... 41 Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’"

Jesus was quite literal in his depiction of the Judgment and this absolute dichotomy among men. One might even interpret the cross AS the symbol of his glorification [John 17:1] and these two thieves as symbols of the elect and the reprobate.

In summary

First, Jesus was, on the cross, in the same condemned state as ALL men. We all are also condemned for sin and must die. He was with us all along. Even at his baptism, our Lord didn't take John's place and baptize US, but was baptized WITH US as though a sinner. Paul condenses this whole doctrine in this amazing verse [Ro 8:3]:

sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh.

In the scene on Golgotha, the Son of God was rejected by Jew and Gentile, condemned to die for sinners, among sinners, in the likeness of sinners.

Second, The two thieves are two types of all men. Inasmuch as "all have sinned" and all die, yet some are saved, there is a clear dichotomy: those whose sins are atoned by faith in the Christ versus those whose sins are still on their own heads.

Third, the two thieves portray the judgment of God upon all, who must all die "for that all have sinned" [Ro 5:12], and the salvation of those who have faith in Christ. Perhaps there was nothing more fitting that that this sacrifice occurred during Passover, the Old Testament portrayal of the judgement-and-salvation of God, where ONLY those who had faith in Him through the blood of the lamb were delivered.

Paul says in Romans 8:6, "For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace". This contrast is nicely portrayed by the two thieves. One died essentially blaming Christ for not "saving himself and us", the other died trusting in Him, and received the promise, [Luke 23:43]

“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

  • @C.Kelly I believe we are beginning to see a "hermeneutical pattern" emerge with this answer. There are many other examples which I'm sure you could cite-both Old and New Testament. Is there "a defining statement" from scripture under which all these examples could be catagorized.......? We are getting on the right path with this answer,
    – Tau
    Apr 7, 2016 at 2:11
  • Don't forget the two Lambs for the day of Atonement. Also, two witnesses and two groomsmen.
    – Joshua
    Apr 7, 2016 at 18:06
  • @Joshua, it's not merely the number two that is germane here; it is the division of mankind into two opposite categories: the saved and the unsaved.
    – C. Kelly
    Apr 8, 2016 at 4:17
  • @C.Kelly Although I felt there are elements missing in this answer, it contained enough of them to award my bounty. " One might even interpret the cross AS the symbol of his glorification [John 17:1] and these two thieves as symbols of the elect and the reprobate" best captures the true meaning of the 2 thieves. I explained the Gen. 3:15 passage in my answer that "hermeneutically qualifies" this, but your answer contains the gist of it-Thank you!
    – Tau
    Apr 10, 2016 at 9:36
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    @C.Kelly - A.) You Said: "In this event, one thief was pardoned, the other not," - but this isn't in the text; B.) The truth is, Jesus interceded for them both, and asked for forgiveness - for them both, (Luke 23:54); C.) Although Jesus told one criminal he would be with Jesus that day - he did not say the other would be condemned - this is adding words into the text; D.) Perhaps it will be said - "It would be a reasonable inference"; Perhaps, but Jesus rebuked the disciples for injecting words, and relying on their understanding, (John 21:23, etc); Apr 11, 2016 at 2:09

1. Question Restatement

  1. Was Crucifying Someone on the Sabbath against Jewish Law?
  2. Why were there two thieves on the Cross?

2. Coincidence, Or Significance?

I had avoided this question - because: A.) It appeared to be looking for symbology; B.) Or, perhaps as simple as: "two were required because the prophecy indicated a plurality", but ...

Then Again:

Twice - The New Testament writers said, "to fulfill the prophecy that he was counted among the transgressors":

  1. On One hand, Surrounded by the Disciples - the Lawful Ones, (Luke 22:37): ... Who had all scattered, or denied him, or attacked people, or betrayed innocent blood;

    NASB, Ezekiel 18:24 - “But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity ... will he live? All his righteous deeds which he has done will not be remembered for his treachery which he has committed ... he will die.

  2. On the Other Hand, Surrounded by Criminals - the Lawless Ones, (Mark 15:28): ... Pilate himself, (and his wife), who feared God; the Romans who confessed their faith in him; and the man on the cross - who trusted in the mercy of God.

    NASB, Ezekiel 18:21-23 - “But if the wicked man turns from all his sins ... and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; ... 23 Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord God, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?

3. The Prophecy - About Unconditional Advocacy:

Isaiah 53:12, IN CONTEXT - Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the lawless ones; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the lawless.

Unconditionally, Jesus Advocated - for them Both / All:

Luke 23:54 - But Jesus was saying, "Father, forgive THEM; for they do not know what they are doing."

The preceding context indicates that Jesus was interceding for BOTH criminals. But, the following context suggests he was praying for everyone. I think - perhaps, the ambiguity is the point.

The Results of Unconditional Advocacy:

NASB, Isaiah 53-54:1 - ... 54:1 - “Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child; Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud ... For the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous Than the sons of the married woman,” says the Lord.

4. Mercy for Israel - And For the World:

Israel were inheritors of the promise according to the law - physically descendants of Abraham:

Romans 9:6-7 - ... For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7 nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants,

But on the Cross, The Promise was Found Through Faith:

NASB, Romans 3:21 - 21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;

5. The Necessity of the Cross - a Public Display

The Prophets - To Publicly Correct All of the Misrepresentations:

NASB, Ezekiel 36:20-23 - When they came to the nations ... they profaned My holy name ... 22 “Therefore, ... Thus says the Lord God, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations ... 23 I will vindicate the holiness of My great name ... which you have profaned ... Then THE NATIONS will know that I am the Lord,” declares the Lord God, “when I prove Myself holy among you in THEIR sight."

Which Would be To Their Own Shame:

NASB, Ezekiel 5:8-9 - therefore, ‘I, even I, am against you, and I will execute judgments among you in the sight of the nations. 9 ... I will do among you what I have not done, and the like of which I will never do again. ... Ezekiel 32:10 - I will make many peoples appalled at you, and their kings will be horribly afraid of you ... on the day of your fall; (the entire book, really);

Why not Stoning? The Pharisees Could Have - Without Pilate.

In Deuteronomy 6:23, (Hebrew Interlinear), it says the one is hung from a tree, is cursed - but specifically, someone who is vilified, and spoken against - by God.

NASB, Hebrews 6:6 - ... since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

But Paul, (and History) - Indicates they Ended up Shaming Themselves:

Romans 3:25 - [Jesus] whom God displayed publicly ... to demonstrate His righteousness, because in ... forbearance ... He passed over [previous] sins;

NASB, Colossians 2:15 - When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of THEM, having triumphed over them through Him.

6. Jewish Law, and Sabbath Death Sentences:

Between the Herodite Jews, the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the Essenes, and Pilate - there were so many ways to circumvent their laws. There were many, many exceptions which could have been used - one of which, is/was to have a non-jew do it for you.

But it was never lawful to sentence an innocent man to death - regardless of the day.

NASB, Luke 23:14-15 - I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him. 15 No, nor has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; and behold, nothing deserving death has been done by Him.

In the following two trials - in two separate jurisdictions - Jesus was exonerated; and therefore, no authority subsisted - at all:

Regardless - Tradition Supersedes the Law:

Also See: Can the Torah Contradict Halakha, (Jewish Law)?

NASB, Mark 7:9 - He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.

Regardless: To argue that that the New Testament said: "the Pharisees acted lawfully" - is contradictory to the text.

  • I like this answer, because although I don't think it's complete, it attempts to address the "Why"; which explains the "How". It is very true that the Sanhedrin could have put Jesus to death without Pilate's consent-by stoning. But in order to fulfill the Law and prophecy(He) who is hung is acursed of God-Deut. 21:23), this required the Roman's consent, which meant crucifixion. All the Law and the Prophets foreshadowed and told this event, and likewise, all the New Testament writers witness that Christ died for all mankind-who (in effect) put Him to death.
    – Tau
    Apr 8, 2016 at 0:08
  • @tau - A.) There are also other ways to be cursed. B.) But, I take your point: C.) But, you are right - hanging was a mechanism to publicly disgrace, and shame someone. - *I will update the answer, (though I am not too certain the question is asking - "why a cross"? Apr 8, 2016 at 0:22
  • Nice use of Ezekiel in your answer. Apr 9, 2016 at 18:54
  • Regarding A.) and C.), since we were looking at Dialogue with Trypho so much lately, Justin Martyr makes and extraordinarily long argument about the symbolism of the wood. One that I have never heard or read any by theologian or preacher in any time period since. In Chapter 86 mostly. The Ark, Moses staff, Aaron's budding staff, Isaiah's root of Jesse, Elisha throwing the stick in the Jordan, and many others. So I have to concur with him, it did have to be a wooden cross indeed. And of course Deut 21 would have been in their minds, perhaps they wanted him cursed, not just dead?
    – Joshua
    Apr 10, 2016 at 4:45
  • @Joshua - That was exactly what I was thinking about, to be honest. Great minds. But I was really trying to stay away from that kind of answer, but we should add the references in comments. :) Apr 10, 2016 at 13:12

The crucifixion of Jesus is the seminal event in human history. It was God’s plan:

this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. (Acts 2:23 ESV)

Why would God’s plan include 2 others being crucified at the same time as Jesus? Why not a single cross for the entire world to contemplate? Why are there 2 others who share the same stage as Jesus at this most crucial moment in history?

Certainly to fulfill the words of Isaiah:

…because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12 ESV)

Being crucified with 2 others not only fulfills the prophecy, it is the Gospel in real life. It starts with 2 sinners who are receiving their wages: death. Both revile Jesus. Then one repents and Jesus promises immediate salvation. The actual events display what the Gospel proclaims:

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12)

Yet there is nothing in Isaiah saying He would be “numbered” with only 2 transgressors. Why not 3 or 7? There must be evidence that 2 was part of that definite plan as Peter states in Acts.

If the crucifixion was God’s definite plan to provide atonement for sin, then the place for making atonement for sin must have been patterned after the crucifixion.

The Law provided a place to make atonement: the Most Holy Place. Entrance to the Most Holy Place was through the Holy Place. These two locations contained 4 pieces of furniture: the Ark of the Covenant, the Altar of Incense, the Table of Showbread, and the Golden Lampstand. Three of the pieces are similar in design (rectangular), construction (wood covered with gold), and method of transportation (2 poles). The fourth is different on all accounts. The furniture is arranged with 3 pieces (two alike and 1 different) in one room and 1 piece behind the veil. The furniture and its arrangement have been designed and arranged to display the crucifixion: enter image description here

The Lampstand is symbolic of Jesus, the Light of the World:

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 ESV)

The other 3 pieces are symbolic of the 3 criminals. Just as 2 pieces are in one place with the Lampstand, 2 criminals were crucified with Jesus. Just as the third piece is behind the veil, the 3rd criminal (Barabbas) was set free and cannot be seen when Jesus and the other 2 are crucified.

On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would go behind the veil to make atonement for sins by sprinkling blood onto the Mercy Seat which covered the Ark. The Mercy Seat was designed with 2 cherubim facing the Mercy Seat and having outstretched wings. The LORD would speak from between the 2 cherubim:

The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be. And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel. (Exodus 25:20-22 ESV)

Jesus answered one of the thieves and before He died He cried out. After He was dead the soldier pierced Jesus and His blood poured out on the ground. Then the place of the crucifixion looked like the Mercy Seat: enter image description here

The 2 cherubim had their wings outstretched because the arms of the 2 thieves were outstretched, overshadowing the ground with the blood of Jesus. When the 2 thieves died their heads dropped facing the ground with the blood of Jesus.

The day before the crucifixion the Romans had 3 criminals in custody. Two would be crucified and one would be set free. No doubt the Romans had prepared Golgotha for the 2 executions. However, the next day, God's plan was realized when Jesus of Nazareth was added to those condemned to die bringing the number crucified to 3. When the day was over we can rightly conclude that the Tabernacle had been designed to follow the crucifixion of Jesus.

The time at which this happened is understood by looking back to the first Passover. The night of the Passover when Pharaoh lost his son brought the release of those enslaved to Pharaoh. The night of the Passover when God lost His son brought the release of those enslaved to Satan. Three days after the Passover, the slaves realized true freedom when Pharaoh and his army were destroyed at the Red Sea. Three days after the Passover, mankind realized true freedom when God raised Jesus to life as proof man had been declared to be righteous:

who was delivered up because of our offences, and was raised up because of our being declared righteous. (Romans 4:25 YLT)

When the first Temple was destroyed the Ark of the Covenant disappeared, today we can rightly say that the Mercy Seat was last seen at Golgotha on the day Jesus and the 2 thieves were crucified.

  • Thank you for your response! I wanted to include the excerpt in my own, but got waylaid by the different elements. Using the pictorals helped to clarify it-thanks!
    – Tau
    Apr 9, 2016 at 9:17

When they crucified three prisoners on the Day of the Passover, the Romans would have expected a riot, similar to that which took place when a Roman army entered Jerusalem with its eagle standard uncovered, yet they took no precautions. Even the priests were wary of arresting Jesus on the feast day, for the same reason (Matthew 26:5) So the first issue would be to confirm the crucifixion really took place on the Day of the Passover.

One possibility is that the crucifixions took place on the day after the Day of the Passover. Matthew 26:17 speaks of the disciples talking to Jesus on "the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread", asking what preparations to make:

Matthew 26:17: Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?

Since they were asking about what preparations to make, to eat the passover, this conversation can only have been on the day before the Day of the Passover. If further evidence is needed, Mark 14:12 tells us that this conversation occurred on the day they killed the paschal lamb - a superfluous detail that Matthew omits. This first day ended at dusk in the Jewish calendar, so the Passover feast was to be eaten that evening and the day of the Passover would end at dusk on the next day. Incidentally, the Passover was the first of seven days of unleavened bread; the Greek word πρώτῃ, translated here as 'first' [day], can also mean 'before'.

There are further good reasons to regard the Last Supper as the celebration of the Passover feast, so that this is almost universally accepted. In spite of their earlier reserve, the priests arrested Jesus on the feast day, perhaps choosing to do so at midnight in order to avoid the riot they had feared. This does not explain why the Romans did not simply imprison Jesus until after the Sabbath, but perhaps they felt that, in Jesus' case, the imprimatur of the priests was sufficient for them to proceed on the Day of the Passover.

However, there is no known reason the Romans would crucify the thieves on this day, so we need to look for a theological reason in the story. Luke 23:39-43 gives us the reason we need, when one of the malefactors cursed Jesus, while the other repented and, because of his repentance, Jesus said he would see the man in paradise:

Luke 23:39-43: And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Unfortunately, this passage in Luke's Gospel is contradicted by Matthew, which says that both thieves reviled Jesus, with no mention of repentance:

Matthew 27:44: The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.

The original New Testament gospel was Mark, which contains neither of the explanations in Matthew or Luke. This gospel finally provides a plausible theological reason for the two thieves to be crucified with Jesus:

Mark 15:27-28: And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.

Again, there is a problem with even this explanation. The New American Bible tells us: This verse, "And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "And he was counted among the wicked,' " **is omitted in the earliest and best manuscripts**. It contains a citation from Isaiah 53:12 and was probably introduced from Luke 22:37.
Mark 15:28 was Christian midrash.

The author of John's Gospel was aware that the crucifixions could not take place on the Day of the Passover and so made a number of changes, one of which was to place the crucifixion of Jesus on the day before the Passover. There was no conversation in which the disciples asked about preparation for the feast, and there was no Last Supper in this Gospel, with Jesus instead washing the feet of the disciples after what appears to have been the normal supper meal. Most importantly, John 19:14 says that the crucifixion took place on the day of preparation of the Passover:

John 19:14: And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!

John's Gospel solves our problem, because it says the crucifixion of Jesus took place before the Passover! A minor complication is that there is no mention of the two thieves crucified with Jesus.

  • The issue of whether or not Jesus's crucifixion was on the Passover is really a separate question-an interesting one, as there appears to be an apparent contradiction, but a separate one. However, you did mention that "...He was counted among the wicked" which certainly explains the 2 thieves. I believe there is even a better answer, but it certainly includes the Isa. 53:12 passage...+1
    – Tau
    Mar 31, 2016 at 13:58
  • @Tau There is no contradiction if you recognise that Matthew 25:1-26:19 is out of sequence. The proof of this is a matter of simple logic. Matthew 26:19-30 has Jesus entering a room in Jerusalem on the evening of Nisan 14 to eat a meal and when the meal is finished the the door is opened to leave and he steps out on to the Mount of Olives. How is that possible? It's not. The obvious solution is that the Passover meal happened in Jerusalem on the evening of Nisan 14, and the Last Supper was a separate meal on a different day. I have presented a solution for this on two occasions now.
    – enegue
    Apr 3, 2016 at 9:52
  • See my solution in the answer I have presented here
    – enegue
    Apr 3, 2016 at 9:55
  • @enegue I don't want to be distracted from the basic question-but I have one concern. Christ is the Fulfillment of the Law, therefore He is the Fulfillment of all the Feasts prescribed by the Law. If the Last Supper wasn't the Passover, and it's just a normal meal, then that's saying His blood, shed on Good Friday was not the Fulfillment of the Feast of Passover. Remember, Rev. 13:8 says the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world; therefore every sacrifice from Abel the Just, through to the crucifixion, when the veil was torn in two was fulfilled through Christ.(Heb. 9)
    – Tau
    Apr 3, 2016 at 12:09
  • That doesn't follow at all, Tau. The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were instituted by God as a memorial of the Exodus -- the blood on the lintel and posts AND the hasty departure from the life they had known in Egypt. The gospel message is not just about blood, it is also about the difference between what you had before the blood was applied, and what you have after, which is the importance of the leaven. You know, "beware the leaven of the Pharisees!"
    – enegue
    Apr 3, 2016 at 12:22


The Passover Feast is not mistakenly called the Feast of unleavened bread. The Passover meal in the evening hours of Nisan 14 (the end of the day) and the Feast of unleavened Bread that is kept from the evening of Nisan 14 (the beginning of the day) up until the evening of Nisan 21 (the beginning of the day), TOGETHER, comprise the perpetual memorial of the Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt.

In Hermeneutic terms, i.e. endeavouring to give consideration to the mindset of the citizens of the Jewish nation to whom these things mattered at the time of the particular Passover Feast recorded in the Gospels (which included Jesus and his disciples), the Passover meal and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were inseparable. BOTH were necessary to recall the Exodus of their fathers from Egypt (Exodus 12:1-13:10).

This question is not the place to explain in detail why this inseparability is also important to Christians, but let me suggest to anyone who thinks they are separable: do a study of what Jesus' teaching includes about leaven, and also what he had to say about putting one's hand to the plow or hating one's mother and father and how such things relate to leaven. The blood of the sacrifice AND the elimination of leaven (any thought that will tempt you to look back with regret), BOTH need to be recalled regularly to stay focused on the journey ahead.

Specific comments

According to my reckoning Jesus was tried and crucified on Nisan 19 (Friday) -- based on having resolved the issue of the miraculous transportation of Jesus and his disciples from a room in Jerusalem on Nisan 14 where they commenced a meal (Matthew 26:17-20), to the Mount of Olives at its conclusion (Matthew 26:30).

During Jesus' trial, the Jewish religious leaders and the crowds they had whipped up to support them, put pressure on Pilate to execute Jesus. It is pretty clear from the narrative that this was the perfect opportunity for Rome to make a complete mockery of the Jewish religion. To do this during their holy festival, and on the day before their Sabbath, must have been the icing on the cake.

And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.
-- John 19:19-22 (KJV)

Why wouldn't Pilate execute other criminals at the same time? And, under the circumstances, how could he possibly resist putting the king of the Jews in the midst of those being executed.


The Cross-God's Eternal Plan for Man's Redemption

To even approach an answer to this question, one must survey the entire scope of Scripture-from Genesis to Revelations, in order to determine the "why" of the cross. Jesus said in Luke 24:25-27,

Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

This includes the New Testament authors, who reiterated what "The Law and the Prophets" spoke in context to Jesus's crucifixion. In Rev. 13:8 it says,

in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

So, in order to view the event of the crucifixion in perspective, we must go beyond seeing an event occuring during the 1st Century and see it in the timeless dimensions of eternity, where all creation worships the Lamb,(Rev. 5:8-9)

And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. 9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.

Passover-Christ's Fulfillment of the Law

The Lamb, the Main Dish of the Passover, was the means by which Israel's Redemption was fulfilled, (Ex. 12:3)

In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:


Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year:


And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. 7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.


And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

Jesus states in all the Synoptic Gospels(Matt., Mark, Luke) that He desires to eat this Passover with His disciples(Matt. 26:18)

I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.

Where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?(Mk. 14:14)

With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:(Luke 22.15)

Therefore, it is no gloss or mistake that the Passover that Christ ate with His disciples was indeed the Passover, since He is the fulfillment of the Passover, it was as He said.

For anyone who has celebrated Passover/Seder(in my explanation they are synonymous) 2 elements(among others) are present: wine and unleavened bread(matzah).

Of both are blessings given; and the middle of 3 matzah which is wrapped, is broken, and distibuted to the guests in attendance. Of this matzah, Jesus said,(Matt. 26:26)

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

He then(vs 28)

And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

God's Mercy

An important part of any Passover/Seder celebration is the recording of God's Mercy. It's not enough to merely record the events of the deliverance from Egypt, but to acknowledge the mercies of God from everlasting to everlasting,

Thus it is our duty to thank, to laud, to praise, to glorify, to exalt, to adore, to bless, to elevate and to honor the One who did all these miracles for our fathers and for us. He took us from slavery to freedom, from sorrow to joy, and from mourning to festivity, and from deep darkness to great light and from bondage to redemption. Let us therefore recite before Him Halleluyah, Praise G‑d!(From here)

This mercy was extended towards man at the dawn of creation, when in the Garden of Eden. God's commandment to man was,(Gen. 2:17)

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Yet in Gen. 3:21,

Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

Of certainty then, man did not physically perish the day he sinned; rather, God made skins to cloth man, an extension of mercy towards man, in spite of his sin. The sacrifice(required of the animals of who's skins were used) is a type of sacrifice that God Himself would make on behalf of mankind, in the person of Christ, the spotless lamb.

The Crucifixion: Foretold from Genesis Throughout the Old Testament

Every detail of the crucifixion was foretold from the beginning of time, and numerous details were prophesied well in advance of the event.

Isa. 53:5 describes the chastisement He endured,

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

In vs 9 it describes Joseph of Arimathea's(a wealthy Jew) grave.

And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death.

Vs. 12 talks about the 2 thieves with Him,

and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Perhaps the Psalms of David, who came before Isaiah explain even more clearly the suffering Christ went through: Ps. 22:16-18 says,

they pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. 18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

But what is even more important is the eternal aspect; which accomplished man's redemption. Jesus said in Luke 22:53 in addressing those that arrested Him,

When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

Satan, who was the 'serpent' from Gen. 3, was orchestrating the events; being brought before Pilate and Herod, being made to suffer death by crucifixion-the worst death imaginable, one which the Roman's used to make an example out of.

But herein lies the reason for the 2 thieves, and the reason that Christ was crucified in their midst.

Reason for the 2 Thieves

In the Garden of Eden, God makes an amazing statement to the serpent (Gen 3:13-14)

And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

In vs 14, He addresses the serpent, announcing that it is cursed above all other animals, but in vs 15, He addresses Satan, the archenemy and villain who 'spoke' through the serpent, tempting Eve and ultimately Adam to sin.

He put emnity between he and the woman: at this time Satan was the 'unofficial' winner of the exchange; he now had both Adam and Eve fall from grace and be "co-conspirators' in his rebellion against God.(Eph. 2:2-3)

Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

But here's where the Plan of Salvation has it's beginning, "...I will put emnity between you(Satan), and the "woman". הָֽאִשָּׁ֔ה(ha-issah), which is not just "Eve" but "THE Woman". Eve fell to temptation, but this "woman" would rise up against temptation. This "woman" can be found throughout scripture; though in numerous instances she can exemplify evil, in other examples she exemplifies faith. In 1 Sam. 1:26, הָֽאִשָּׁ֔ה(ha-issah) prays before the Lord to have a son. Her name is Hannah, yet it is "ha-issah" that prays.

In the New Testament, this "woman" appears again; in John 2:4 Jesus says,

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

The word "γύναι"(gune), rather than "mother" is used, which unless Jesus had some very appropriate reason to use, would be inappropriate. The same word is used in the genitive sense in Rev. 12:4, which is "the" woman who gives birth to the man-child-Jesus.

The next part of God's statement to Satan is "...between your 'seed' and her seed".

Interestingly, the seed is in the man(Adam); but God is talking about the "woman's seed", which means there is a "specific seed" of which God is refering to. Since it is God who is putting emnity, his Father is God, and "Christ", the man-child is the woman's seed, singular. A further discussion of seed-singular can be found here.

The most telling description of the crucifixion is,"...it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

Since the "Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil" was the point of contact with Satan, for man to once again "live", a replacement had to be made for him. Someone had to substitute themselves for Adam and Eve, who fell from grace, and were now in Satan's clutches, and take the punishment of death, required by God's commandment. Since by a tree, man died; it would be by a tree that man would live.

That "tree", the Tree of Life, was Christ, who was raised up on a cross, just as Moses raised up the Bronze Serpent(Num 21:9), so would Christ be raised up for all men for all times. The heel that was "bruised" was the means by which Christ was fastened to the Tree; as the feet is nailed to the block that holds the feet(some hold that the heel itself was nailed but proof is not conclusive). What makes the crucifixion all the more agonizing is the "nail" becames the heel-the point at which the body is held. The word "יְשׁוּפְךָ֣(yusepeka) is a derivative of "shuph", which BDB defines as "rub off, away, grind" which a heel against a cross would do if the feet were nailed to it. The person being crucified most usually died from not aspirating, since as the lungs filled with fluid being accumulated, one would have to "push up" on the feet being nailed to aspirate(source Wikipedia). Of course the pain was excruciating, and when the 2 thieves who outlived Christ were finally killed, it was through having their legs broken, which also prevented them from aspirating.(John 19:32)

What is amazing is the Hebrew version of Gen. 3:15,

וְאֵיבָ֣ה ׀ אָשִׁ֗ית בֵּֽינְךָ֙ וּבֵ֣ין הָֽאִשָּׁ֔ה וּבֵ֥ין זַרְעֲךָ֖ וּבֵ֣ין זַרְעָ֑הּ ה֚וּא יְשׁוּפְךָ֣ רֹ֔אשׁ וְאַתָּ֖ה תְּשׁוּפֶ֥נּוּ עָקֵֽב׃ ס(Westminster Leningrad Codex), which is interpreted as,

"And emnity I will put between and Between you and the woman and between her offspring and your offspring he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel."

Christ(the woman's seed) in each instance stands between Satan's offspring and the woman's offspring(those of the same seed as the woman). The whole of mankind descended from Adam and Eve, who rightfully deserved death, just as the 2 thieves did. Christ was nailed to the cross, predicting the death He would suffer and stands between the "woman's seed" and Satan's seed. Both thieves could have had redemption; one chose repentance and faith, the other continued to blaspheme. Luke 23:33,

And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.

And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Both thieves had the choice: one chose to be "of the woman's seed", the other chose to "grind(bruise)" Him with his words, until the end. The one thief was at emnity with the other, which was foretold from the Garden of Eden to Satan.

Further Proofs

There are many proofs which verify this, some of which are: Matt. 25:33, the sheep are at the right hand, the goats on the left.

Matt. 24:40-41

Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.


The 2 thieves crucified with Christ were predicted from Gen. 3:15; which signified the type of death He would undergo and more important, why He needed to undergo crucifixion. The image of Christ being crucified between 2 thieves is indelibly etched in the conscience of all humanity, as it was foretold from the beginning of time He would stand between the children of God, and the children of Satan.


Short and simple answer. The two thieves were crucified with Jesus because they were arrested with him in the garden of gethsemane.

According to Mark 14:43, Judas came with a great multitude that was heavily armed. With such a large group of soldiers, it's unlikely that everyone except for Jesus escaped. Two 'thieves' or rebels were captured also.

The Romans crucified rebels with each other on the same day. During the Third Servile War, the Roman general Crassus crucified 6,000 rebel slaves. Their leader Spartacus was never found, but if he was, the Romans would've crucified him with his followers.

Obviously, the crucifixion scene in the earliest gospel Mark, is a portrait of Jesus' plan to destroy the temple going south. Jesus was the ring leader of the two 'thieves' and was strategically placed in the middle to make a point. The 'thieves' believed in his mission to destroy the temple until they found themselves condemned to death, hanging from crosses. All they could do now was mock their leader (Mark 15:32) who made big promises (Mark 10:29,30).

  • This is an answer that is neither supported by the text, nor in any way hermeneutically sound. If you are 'serious' about this answer, please add in the evidences to support your conclusions. Thank you.
    – Tau
    Apr 7, 2016 at 2:06
  • @Tau edited, you're welcome
    – brewpixels
    Apr 7, 2016 at 12:22

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