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Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania

The Crucifixion of the Paschal Lamb Author(s): Joseph Tabory Reviewed work(s): Source: The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 86, No. 3/4 (Jan. - Apr., 1996), pp. 395-406 Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 09/10/2012 00:45
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LXXXVI, Nos. 3-4 (January-April, 1996) 395-406



Bar-Ilan University

ABSTRACT Justin Martyr depicted the paschal lamb as being offered in the form of a cross and he claimed that the manner in which the paschal lamb was slaughtered prefigured the crucifixion of Jesus. It is generally thought that Justin, who was born and raised in Samaria, was thinking of the Samaritan Passover, but the present day Samaritanpractice would not justify his depiction of the lamb in the form of a cross. An examination of the rabbinic evidence, on the other hand, seems to show that in Jerusalem the Jewish paschal lamb was offered in a manner which resembled a crucifixion. The earlier Samaritanpractice, it is suggested, followed the Jerusalem tradition but has since been changed. The rabbinic evidence could also provide an explanationfor the crown of thorns with which Jesus was adorned.

Justin Martyrreports, in his dialogue with Trypho, that the Jews crucified the paschal lamb. He states:
For the lamb, which is roasted, is roasted and dressed up in the form of the cross. For one spit is transfixed right through from the lower parts up to the head, and one across the back, to which are attached the legs of lamb.'

Justin Martyrlived in the second century CE. We know that he was born a pagan in Shechem (Neapolis) and arrived in Rome during the reign of Antoninus Pius (138-161 CE), after his conversion to Christianity.2 Scholarly consensus places his conversion in Ephesus, and it was there, according to Eusebius, that he conducted his dialogue with Trypho.3 Tryphohimself reportsthat the dialogue was

1 The Dialogue with Trypho,40. Translationsin this article are those of the AnteNicene Christian Library, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Edinburgh, 1867); in the American edition, repr. GrandRapids, 1989, 1:194-270. 2 For a brief survey of Justin'slife see Johannes Quasten, Patrology (Westminster, Md., 1950) 1:196-197. 3Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. 4:18.



held "in the walks of Xystus" and one must assume that the walks of Xystus were in Ephesus.4 Many scholars assume that the Trypho with whom Justin conducted his dialogue was "most likely" Rabbi Tarfon,the contemporaryof R. Akiva, but there is no evidence whatsoever for this assumption.5 Trypho is portrayed as a refugee who has escaped from the war,6 and it is clear that the dialogue was conducted sometime around the Bar-Kokhva revolt. Justin's description of the crucifixion of the paschal lamb by the Jews is intended to prove that the offering of the lamb was a prefigurationof the crucifixion of Jesus. However, Justin could not have been an eyewitness to the Jerusalem sacrifice as he was born some 30 years after the destruction of the Temple. One might assume that Justin saw Jews preparinglambs for the Passover meal in the same manner that they were prepared in Jerusalem during the Temple period since there is evidence of Jews doing so, in spite of the objections of the Rabbis.7 However, this custom was apparently not practiced in the areas where Justin lived, as he points out to his opponent that the Jews no longer offer the paschal sacrifice.8 His description might have been a theoretical reconstruction based on

4For an attempt to evaluate the influence of Ephesus on the dialogue, see Robert MacLennon, "Four Christian Writers on Jews and Judaism in the Second Century," FromAncientIsrael to Modem Judaism... Essays in Honor of MarvinFox, ed. J. Neusner (Atlanta, 1989) 187-202. 5Quasten, Patrology, 1:202; Franz Elieser Meyer, "Die Pessach-Haggadahund der KirchenvaterJustinusMartyr;aus der Fruhzeit derjiidisch-christlichen Kontroverse," Verbffentlichungenaus dem Institut Kirche und Judentum 3 (1977) 84. Perhaps the historiansrelied on the fact thatEusebius identified Tryphoas "the most distinguished Jew of the day" (Hist. Eccles. loc. cit.). The methodology of this assumption is very similar to that described by Yitzhak Heinemann in narnil -YnT(Jerusalem, 1954) 2731. Of course, if we accept the view that Justin's work is not the report of an actual dialogue but an artificial invention of Justin (see A. B. Hulen, "The Dialogues with the Jews as Sources for Early Jewish Argument against Christianity," JBL 51 [1932]: 58-70), the question of the identity of Tryphohas no significance except for the spread of the fame of RabbiTarfon(cf. Samuel Krauss,"The Jews in the Worksof the Church Fathers,"JQR o.s. 5 [1892/1893): 125-126). For an analysis of Trypho'spersonality as depicted by Justin, see Demetrios Trakatellis, "Justin Martyr'sTrypho,"HTR 79 (1986) 287-297, published also in Christians among Jews and Gentiles, ed. B. Nicklesburg and G. MacRae (Philadelphia, 1986). 6Dialogue, 1. 7See tBes 2.15. A fuller discussion of this source will be found in my book The Passover Ritual throughoutthe Generations(in Hebrew;Tel Aviv, 1996) 97, 102. 8Dialogue, 40.



his belief that the sacrifice of Jesus was prefiguredby the offering of the paschal lamb. Theological considerations might have led him to imagine that the paschal lamb had not only been offered in the traditionalmanner of sacrifices, but that it had actually been crucified. After all, Justin had accused the Jews of eliminating those passages from the Greek Bible which prophesied the coming of Jesus,9 although scholarly opinion maintainsthat these passages were added by Christianscholars and copyists. 10We might argue, therefore,that his description is not historically accurate. On the other hand, it has been assumed that Justin's description was based on the Samaritanpractice of offering the paschal lamb, a ritual which Justin may have witnessed personally during his childhood in Shechem.11 However, there are certain discrepancies between the Samaritancustom, as described by modern observers, and Justin's portrayal. The contentions of this paper are that the Samaritancustom has indeed changed since Justin'stime;12 that Justin accuratelyportrayedthe contemporarySamaritanritual;and that this ritualwas similarto the paschal sacrifice in Jerusalem.To prove these points, this paperwill compareJustin'saccountwith modernaccounts of the Samaritan ritual'3 and with a reconstruction of the ancient Jewish sacrifice based on rabbinic sources.

9 Dialogue, 73. 1?Sidney Jellicoe, The Septuagint and Modern Study (Oxford, 1968) 75. For the theological concepts behind this passage see J. Duncan M. Derret, "'O Kuptoq 'aito roi3 iko," Vigilae Christianae 43 (1989) 378-392. 'F,0aaWvcuEv "Joachim Jeremias,Die Passahfeier der Samaritaner und ihre Bedeutungfur das Verstdndnis alttestamentlichenPassahilberlieferung (Giessen, 1932) 55. Jeremias der follows the assumption that Justin left Shechem after he was thirty years old. However, Justin'sknowledge of Samaritanismseems very limited. See Bruce C. Hall, "The Samaritansin the Writings of Justin Martyrand Tertullian,"Proceedings of the First International Congress of the Soci&ted'etudes Samaritaines, ed. A. Tal (Tel-Aviv, 1991) 115-122; cf. P.R. Weiss, "Some Samaritanismsof JustinMartyr," 45 (1944) JTS 199-205. 12 See Reinhard Pummer, "SamaritanRituals and Customs," Alan D. Crown, ed., The Samaritans (Tilbingen, 1989) 679. Pummerremarksthat although the Samaritan Passover "has been continuously observed since antiquity,' the available evidence cannot prove that the ritual has not changed. 13 The most comprehensive description of the Samaritanpaschal sacrifice is that of Jeremias, Die Passahfeier, which includes many photographs. Corroboratinginformation is found in the description of the 1903 celebration by WarrenJ. Moulton, "The Samaritan Passover," JBL 22 (1903) 187-194. More recent celebrations have



The first point to consider is how the paschal lamb was prepared for roasting. According to the Mishnah, a wooden roasting spit was inserted through the mouth of the lamb to its anus (mPes 7.1). As this is also how the Samaritans spit the lamb, both the Mishnaic and the Samaritan traditions contradict Justin's statement that the spit was inserted from the anus to the mouth. The Mishnah prohibited the use of a metal spit because any lamb flesh which contacted the metal would be grilled from the heat of the metal rather than roasted by the heat of the fire. The Mishnah preferredthe wood of the pomegranatetree because this wood was considered very dry. If some other wood with a high water content were employed, the lamb's flesh touching the wood would have been cooked or steamed by the water, and not roasted by the fire as prescribed by the law. Similarly, the Samaritansalso use a wooden spit, although they use the wood of a holm- or holly-oak. 14 Justin notes that there were two spits used in the sacrifice, one parallel to the spine and another attached to the back of the lamb, which prefigured the crossbar of the cross. In modern Samaritan custom, after the lamb is spitted along its spine, it is held in a position perpendicular to the ground, with its head down. A wooden collar is attached to the bottom end of the spit to prevent the lamb from sliding off. 15 Moulton remarkedthat the spit which he saw in
been describedby Zev Garber,"The SamaritanPassover,"Journal of the Central Conference of American Rabbis 22 (Spring 1975) 41-44, and by Maurice Baillet, "Le Paque samaritain in 1986," Le Monde de la Bible, 43 (1986) 27-31. Both descriptions show no significantchanges in the ritualsince the beginning of the century.For a comprehensive bibliographyuntil 1981 of the SamaritanPassover see: Jean Margain, 13 [307-308] (7 April "La Paque samaritain-Bibliographie," DwnvmnlW lfl-2.N, 1982) 58-63 and Alan Crown'smore recentA Bibliographyof the Samaritans:Second Edition (Metuchen, N.J.). 14 Moulton, 192. The fact that the Rabbis insisted that the spit be of wood may have contributed to the idea that the paschal lamb was a prefigurationof the crucifixion, as no one would ever have seen the Passover lamb spitted on a metal spit. Although Justin does not stress the fact that the spit was wooden, he points out, in another context, that wooden objects may be recognized as allusions to the cross. Thus, for example, he claims that the stick which Elisha cast into the river to save the ax prefiguredthe tree on which Jesus was crucified (Dialogue, 86; see Derret). 15Garber,43, refers to a peg which was fastened at the bottom of the spit to prevent the animal from falling off. A photographic closeup of the collar, taken at the 1977 ceremony, is found in R. Pummer, The Samaritans (The Iconography of Religions, 23.5, Leiden, 1987) pl. xxxv, picture c. This collar may be a ratherrecent invention. J. E. H. Thomson (The Samaritans: Their Testimonyto the Religion of Israel



1903 "has little resemblance to the shape of the cross alluded to by Justin Martyr."'16Presumably he is referring to the spit parallel to the spine. However, there is another horizontal rod or pole clearly evident in the photographsof the Samaritanpaschal lamb published by Jeremias in 1932.17 The lamb is hung by its feet from this pole immediately after it is slaughtered, and it is thus held between the shoulders of two men while it is being cleaned and while its right leg is removed as an offering to the priest. The lamb is held in this manner until the roasting spit is inserted parallel to its spine. The pole was apparentlyremoved afterwards,but for a short period this lamb was actually attached to two pieces of wood which had the shape of a cross.'8 Such a second pole is also documented in talmudic literature.'9 Although the Mishnah reports that the paschal lamb was generally hung from hooks while it was being flayed, it also dictates an alternate procedure when a large number of lambs exhausted the supply of hooks. There were a number of short, thin poles or rods which were kept in the Temple for such an occasion. Two people would stand next to one another and put a rod between their shoulders; they would then suspend the paschal lamb from this rod while a third person would flay it (mPes 5.9). According to Samaritancustom, the lamb is carried to the roasting pits perpendicularly, with its head down. The lamb is then placed in the pit with its head down. The pit is covered with a woven mat, or wooden grill.20The spit is held in place by its protrusion through a hole in the mat.21 Other than the fact that the two pieces

[Edinburgh-London, 1919] 129) reported 75 years ago that, "When, as frequently happens, one of the lambs falls off the spit in being broughtup, one of the worshippers descends into the pit to bring up the fragments." 16Moulton, 192. 17Jeremias, photograph21. 18 Cf. Jeremias, 24. 19 Note here a furthersimilarityto the crucifixion:The lamb was carriedby a crossbar and only afterwardswas the perpendicularpole inserted. In a similar fashion, the condemned man did not carrythe complete cross to the execution site. He carriedonly the crossbarwhile the perpendicular was at the place of execution. See Joseph Zias bar and Eliezer Sekeles, "The CrucifiedMan from Giv'at Ha-Mivtar:A Reappraisal," IEJ 35 (1985) 26. 20 Pummer, "SamaritanRitual,"681. 21 James A. Montgomery, The Samaritans: The Earliest Jewish Sect (New York, 1907) 39, reports that the lambs are "conveyed to the heated oven, over which they



of wood formed, for a short time, the shape of a cross, there seems to be no other resemblance to a crucifixion in the Samaritanmanner of offering the paschal lamb.22If the lamb had been held upright, however, its position would be very similar to that of a man held on a cross. We shall next show that there was a traditionin rabbinic sources that the lamb was indeed attachedto the spit with its head up. Although the Mishnah agrees with the Samaritan tradition that the spit is inserted from the mouth to the anus, this does not necessarily imply that the Mishnah agrees with the Samaritan custom that the lamb is carried upright. It would seem more naturalto carry it parallel to the ground, with the ends of the spit being held by two men. It might be relevant to point out that the Rabbis stressed that the limbs of the daily sacrifice were to be carried to the altar in the same order in which the animal walked while it was alive (mTam 4.3). It would thus seem reasonable that the Rabbis expected the paschal lamb to be carried parallel to the ground, in the same way that it walked while alive. Rabbinic sources do not mention any device to prevent the lamb from falling off the spit. Such an absence implies that there was no need for such a device, which suggests that the lamb was held parallel to the ground. A baraitapreserved in the Palestinian Talmud contradicts the Mishnah by stating that the spit was inserted in the opposite direction, from the lamb's anus to its mouth (yPes 7.1, 34a). The significance of this contradiction is minimal if we assume that the lamb was carried parallel to the ground as then it would not make much of a difference from which end of the animal the spit was inserted. However, Palestinian Amoraim understoodthis disagreementas reflecting differentmethods of

are laid, the spits protruding on either side" but this is not corroboratedby other sources. Another uncorroboratedstatement is that of Charles Warren(Underground Jerusalem [London, 1876] 223), that "long poles were brought out to which the carcasses were lashed." 22 One should point out, in this context, that the Romans did, occasionally, crucify a man with his head down (S. Lieberman,f'ww"rix flhl nptlnn [Jerusalem,1991] 84; Vassilios Tzaferis, "Crucifixion: The Archaeological Evidence-Remains of a Jewish Victim of Crucifixion Found in Jerusalem,"BAR 11 [1985] 44-53). Indeed, Y. Yadin ("Epigraphy and Crucifixion," IEJ 23 [1973] 18-22) suggested that the man whose skeleton had been found in Givat Ha-Mivtar had been crucified head down. However, Christiantraditionclearly depicted Jesus as being crucified with his head up and it does not seem likely that Justin would have seen a resemblance to the crucifixion if the lamb were carried with its head down.



carrying the lamb (yPes 7.1, 34a): if the spit were inserted from the mouth, the lamb would be carried with its head down; were it to be inserted from the anus, the lamb would be carried with its head up. This explanation is apparentlybased on the fact that a wooden spit was normally sharpenedat one end while the other end remained in its naturalwidth.23If this were so, the shape of the spit itself would serve to protect the lamb from falling off, and thus explain why there is no mention of a device to prevent it. To show that the understanding of the Palestinian Rabbis is indeed correct, I will now turn to the construction of the oven in which the lamb was roasted. According to rabbinic sources, the lamb was roasted in an oven built out of unfired clay, not in a pit like the Samaritans.24 The use of clay for constructing the oven is demonstrated in the halakhic discussion of the case when the paschal lamb comes into contact with "the clay of the oven" (mPes 7.2). If the flesh of the lamb came into contact with the hot "clay of the oven," this part of the flesh was considered grilled, not roasted, and was unfit for consumption, according to the Rabbis. Indeed, the standardoven in talmudic times was a ceramic oven, although ovens were also made of other

Although some of these ovens were big enough to roast two lambs (tPes 5.11), the clay ovens were generally portable, as we can see from the story of .Honiha-Me'agel's prayer for rain. When Honi ha-Me'agel was persuadedto pray for rain, he instructed the people to bring their paschal ovens into the house so that they would not dissolve in the ensuing rain (mTa'an 3.8). Brand points out that talmudic ovens were frequently portable. We thus find a discussion about lending an oven to a neighbor; or even about an oven hanging from the neck of a camel.26 Another point which can be derived from the story of .Honi that is the paschal ovens were not fired and so were likely to be destroyed
23 See yBes 5.2, 63b, for a discussion of whether it is permitted to sharpen a spit on festivals. Cf. J. Tabory,Jewish Festivals in the Time of the Mishnah and Talmud (Hebrew; Jerusalem, 1995) 63, 66-67. 24Thomson, 354, suggests that the Samaritanpit oven "points to the habits of a village community, or the encampment of Bedu in circumstances in which they had to be careful of fuel." 25 J. Brand, iin5nn ni1!ti v-inn ' (Ceramics in TalmudicLiterature)(Jerusalem, 1953) 546-547. 26Brand,n. 255.



by water.27New ovens, therefore, had to be constructed each year for roasting the lamb.28This observation is supported by a baraita which points out that when deciding whether to decree a leap year, the Rabbis took into consideration whether or not the people had already constructed their paschal ovens (bSan 1lb). By decreeing a leap year, the Rabbis would postpone the Passover celebration by a month, thus permitting the people to construct their ovens in time. A modern reconstruction of the paschal oven portrays it in the form of a beehive, about twice as tall as it is wide and with a curved roof.29This portrayalis probably accurate as it would be difficult to build a long, roofed object out of unfired clay. One would need some sort of support, such as rails or beams, to supportthe clay on the roof, or the oven would have to be constructed with an arched roof. Although it might be possible to build a long oven with an arched roof, in the shape of an igloo, the pictures of ovens in the Encyclopedia Hebraica, s.v. tanurim, show beehive shaped ovens. The shape and size of the talmudic oven make it most likely that the lamb was placed upright in the oven: either with its head up or down.30 It would therefore seem that the conflicting descriptions about the way the spit was inserted into the lamb representconflicting descriptions about the way that it was carried (and placed in the oven) as explained by the Amoraim. The mishna is in accordance with the Samaritantraditionthat the lamb was carried with its head down, while the baraita,which agrees with Justin that the lamb was spitted from its anus, implies that the lamb was carriedwith its head up. What could be the reasons for this difference? Moses Margolis,
27 Brand states that the talmudic oven was generally not fired before use, but its use, and its standing in the sun, hardenedthe clay as if it had been fired. 28 In contrast, the roasting pits of the Samaritanswere preserved year after year. They were filled with stones after the sacrifice so that they would be kept clean for the next year (Moulton, 189). 29wqp1nl Inn pv'r, 7 (Passover 1992), cover page. 30 The editor of this journal draws my attention to the mishnaic phrase meshalshelim 'et ha-pesah (mShab 1.1 1) and to the apparentimplication that the lamb was inserted from the top. This would be consistent with the Samaritanpractice of placing the lamb in a pit, but not with inserting the lamb into an oven built to hold the lamb parallel to the ground. I am not sure how the lamb would have been placed in a beehive shaped oven. If an opening was left in the side of the oven, meshalshelim would not be an apt description. On the other hand, the term would be appropriateif the opening was left on the top of the oven, or if the top was not finished and was completed only after the lamb had been inserted.



in his commentary to the Palestinian Talmud, explains that the reason for roasting the paschal lamb upside down was to enable the blood to run out from the throat, which had been cut as part of the slaughtering process. This explanation relies on the statement of the Palestinian Talmud that even according to the baraita, which reports that the lamb was roasted with its head up, it was necessary to turn the lamb over, during the roasting, to enable the blood to run down.31 Margolis gives no explanation for the other tradition, that the lamb was to be carried upright. It should be noted that hanging an animal from its feet was also the preferred way for flaying it (mTam4.2). According to the principle of lectio difficilior, it would seem that the paschal lamb was originally carried with its head up, for no obvious reason-although I shall make a suggestion about this further on. The direction in which the paschal lamb was supported was changed, either for reasons of convenience (to help the blood run down or to flay it), or perhaps even in reaction to the accusations that the Jews were reenacting the crucifixion of Jesus.32 We may now returnto our examination of the Samaritancustom. We saw that rabbinictraditionhad two reasons for carryingthe lamb perpendicularly to the ground. A perpendicularposition was considered the most convenient for flaying the animal and for placing it uprightin the oven. These reasons, however, would not apply to the modern Samaritanpractices. The Samaritansdo not flay the animal

31 Observersof the SamaritanPassover reportthat the lambs were slaughteredlying down, with their throats over a trench, to enable the blood to run out. See Moulton, 190; Jeremias, 18. 32 It has been suggested that the treatmentof the effigy of Haman on Purim, seen as a reenactment of the crucifixion, has been the source of blood libels against the Jews. See Cecil Roth, "Feast of Purim and the Origins of the Blood Accusation," Speculum 8 (1933) 520-526; E[dgar] Wind, "The Crucifixion of Haman,"Journal of the WarburgInstitute 1 (1937) 245-248. Another source for blood libels has recently been offered by Israel J. Yuval, in Zion 58 (1993) 33-90. Cf. the discussions of his article in Zion 59 (1995) by Jeremy Cohen, "The 'Persecutionsof 1096'-From Martyrdomto Martyrology:The SocioculturalContext of the Hebrew CrusadeChronicles," 169-208; Mary Minty, "Martyrologyin the Eyes of the Christiansof Germany in the Middle Ages," 209-266; E. Fleischer, "Christian-Jewish Relations in the Middle Ages Distorted," 267-316; M. Breuer, "The Historian's Imagination and Historical Truth," 317-324; A. Grossman,"'Redemptionby Conversion'in the Teachings of Early Ashkenazic Sages," 325-342; Gerd Mentgen, "The Origins of the Blood Libel," 343-349; Israel J. Yuval, "'The Lord will Take Vengeance, Vengeance for His Temple'-Historia Sine Ira et Studio," 351-414.



(they remove its wool while the animal lies on the ground),33nor, despite their practice, is there any reason for them to put the animal in the roasting pit in an upright position. On the contrary,it would be more practical to put the lamb in the pit with its spine parallel to the ground. Therefore, it seems likely that their custom of carrying the animal uprightwas influenced by the custom in Jerusalem.If the original custom in Jerusalem had been to carry the lamb with its head up, this may also have been the case with the Samaritans. The custom of carrying the lamb with its head upright could explain anotherpoint in Jewish tradition, and this explanation may, in turn, shed light on the origin of this custom. The Bible tells us that the ram which was offered on the altarin place of Isaac was "caught in the thicket by its horns" (Gen 22:13). Mark Bregman has pointed out that Jewish art did not portraythis lamb as if standingon its four legs, but as hanging from the tree by its horns, much as Avshalom was held between heaven and earth when his hair was caught in a terebinth (2 Sam 18:9). The question is why the lamb was portrayed in this unusual position, which does not seem to be dictated by the biblical description of the lamb. Bregman suggests that this description was influenced by Christian art, which illustrates the patristic typology of the 'aqedah as a prefiguration of the crucifixion of Jesus.34 Bregman discusses the possibility that the artist was relying on a Jewish midrashic tradition, but he does not consider this explanation as likely as the one based on Christian theology.35 Now, the depiction of the lamb of Isaac is lacking an essential element for a prefigurationof the crucifixion: there is no crossbar.However, in light of our analysis of the way in which the paschal lamb was carried and roasted, it may be noted that the position of the lamb of Isaac is almost identical to that of the paschal lamb. Jewish tradition was aware of an affinity between the lamb of Isaac and the paschal lamb. The Book of Jubilees (17-18) reportsthat God spoke to Abraham on the 12th day of the first month, which would seem to mean that the 'aqedah, three days later, took place on the fourteenthof Nissan. Jubilees remarksfurther than in commemorationof this event the Jews celebrated a seven day festival, and this could only refer to
33 Jeremias, 23.

Bregman, "The Depiction of the Ram in the 'Aqedah Mosaic at Beit Alpha (Hebrew)," Tarbiz51 (1982) 306-309. 350p. cit., notes 19 and 20.

34 M.



Passover. The tradition connecting the date of the 'aqedah with the date of the Passover does not appear in early rabbinic literature, although I. Levi mentioned that the Mekhilta (pasha 7, p. 24; 11, p. 39) connects the blood of Isaac(!) with the blood of the paschal lamb when the Jews left Egypt. 36 The identity of the dates is found in rabbinic literatureonly in the Palestinian Targumto Exod 12:42 and in a late source (ExodR 15.11). It has been suggested that the Rabbis repressed this idea due to the importance attached to it by 37 the Christians. It would thus seem reasonable that the portrayalof the lamb of Isaac at Bet Alfa was based on a Jewish tradition that wished to stress the similarity of the lamb of Isaac to the paschal lamb and it may well be pre-Christian.This could be considered as additional evidence that it was the rabbinic tradition which originally considered the 'aqedah as a prefigurationof the paschal sacrifice and this paved the way for the Christianportrayalof the 'aqedah as a prefigurationof the crucifixion of Jesus. Indeed, the Rabbis recognized the similarity of the binding of Isaac to a crucifixion when they portrayed Isaac, carrying the wood for his own sacrifice on his back, as one "who carries his cross on his back" (GenR 56.3,
p. 598).38

Finally, the similarity of the paschal lamb to a crucified man will help us understand another aspect of Jesus' crucifixion. After the destruction of the Temple, rabbinic tradition forbade preparingany lamb for the paschal meal in the fashion of a gedi mequlas, due to its similarity to the paschal sacrifice. The exact meaning of mequlas has been the subject of much discussion. The Tosefta states that if part of the lamb has been cooked, ratherthan roasted, one has not violated the prohibition of a gedi mequlas (tBes 2.15). It would seem then, that the prohibition involves roasting the lamb. But this does
361. Levi, "Le sacrifice d'Isaac et la mort du Jesus," REJ 64 (1912) 166. The blood of Isaac may also refer to circumcisional blood. The circumcision of Isaac was considered by some to be a partial sacrifice. See Lawrence A. Hoffman, Covenant of Blood: Circumcision and Gender in Rabbinic Judaism (University of Chicago Press, 1996) 101-103. 37 See G. Vermes, "Redemption and Genesis XXII," Scripture and Tradition(Leiden, 1973) 193-227. 38For a fuller discussion of the development of the idea that the 'aqedah is a prefigurationof the Paschal sacrifice, see P. R. Davies, "Passover and the Dating of the Aqedah,"JJS 30 (1979) 59-67; Bruce D. Chilton, "Isaac and the Second Night: A Consideration,"Biblica 61 (1980) 78-88.



not explain the meaning of the term mequlas. Rashi explained mequlas in reference to a disagreement between R. Akiva and R. Yose ha-Galili regardingthe internal organs of the paschal lamb. According to R. Yose ha-Galili, these organs were replaced inside the lamb after cleaning and the entire lamb was roasted in this fashion. But R. Akiva, on the other hand, thought that the organs were hung aroundthe lamb and the whole was roasted in this way (mPes 7.1). Rashi explained that mequlas derives from an Aramaic word meaning "helmet"(bPes 74a) alluding to R. Akiva's descriptionof the animal's entrails hanging around its head as in the form of a helmet.39 Krauss accepted Rashi's explanation but he claimed that the word mekulos should be derived from Latingalea, which means a helmet.40 Perhaps there is a point of similarity between the lamb with its entrails around its head and Jesus' crown of thorns (Matt 27:29, Mk 15:17, Jn 19:2). It is generally accepted that the crown of thorns was meant to be a mockery of Jesus' kingship, a motif strengthenedby the clothing of Jesus in a purple robe when he was crowned.41 However, it should be noted that according to Matthew and Mark, the robe was removed for the crucifixion although no mention is made of removal of the crown.42 The similarity of the lamb helmeted in its entrails with the crowned Jesus may have served as additional evidence of the connection between the two.
39For a fuller discussion of the tannaitic sources on this point see Joel Gereboff, Rabbi Tarfon:The Tradition,the Man and Early Rabbinic Judaism (Providence, 1979) 51-56, 69-70, n. 4; Shamai Kanter,Rabban Gamaliel II: The Legal Traditions(Providence, 1980) 97-99. 40 Samuel Krauss, Griechische und lateinische Lehnworter im Talmud,Midrasch und Targum(Berlin, 1899) 2:507. Perhaps even more relevant is the word derived from galea, galeatus, which means a helmeted warrior (C. Lewis and C. Short, A Latin Dictionary, [Oxford, 1879, repr. 1969] 800). 41 Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John XII-XXI (The Anchor Bible Series) (New York, 1970) 874-875. E. R. Goodenough and C. B. Welles ("The Crown of Acanthus(?)," HTR46 [1953] 241-242) have suggested that the crown was made of soft leaves ratherthan thorns. For a comparison to Roman crowns see H. St. J. Hart, "The Crown of Thorns in John 19, 2-5," The Journal of Theological Studies, n.s. 3 (1952) 66-75. 42Brown, 875, remarks that John "never mentions that Jesus was allowed to put on his own clothes again. It is because of John'sevidence that in popular art the crucified Jesus is portrayedas still wearing a crown of thorns."However, although Mark and Matthew mention the removal of the purple robe, they do not mention the removal of the crown.