Roman Crucifixion

Roman Crucifixion

It was a punishment tool perhaps originated by the Assyrians and Babylonians, adopted by the Persians, and eventually perfected by the Romans with great intimidation success. It was a tool designed to create fear and dread over people they ruled. It was the method of death called crucifixion. Crucifixion was not designed to be a quick painless death. Instead, the Romans wanted to prolong the death process. A longer death process created more fear upon the inhabitants and fear was what the Romans used to keep people in line.

Roman crucifixion usually started with a terrorizing process called scourging during which the prisoner was beaten with whips enhanced with jagged rocks, broken bones and glass which tore the flesh from the body. After being beaten, the victim would usually be forced to carry his own crossbeam to the crucifixion site while a soldier or forced citizen walked in front holding a sign declaring the infractions committed. According to historians, upon arrival at the crucifixion site, the cross-beam would be laid on the ground and the arms of the prisoner would be tied to the beam, usually between the wrist and the elbow. Now having the prisoner se-cured to the crossbeam the soldiers would take nails (our best comparison might be railroad spikes) and drive two nails through the hands, around the wrists. Next the soldiers would hoist the crossbeam up in the air and place on the vertical beam that was a permanent feature of the crucifixion site. For most of the major cities in the Roman empire the vertical beam’s permanent location in a well-traveled spot was a daily reminder that inhabitants must not disobey Rome. The vertical beam had a small peg usually about 2-3 inches whittled down from the top of the main beam. This peg matched the carved-out hole of the crossbeam. After securing the crossbeam onto the vertical beam the soldiers would nail the feet to the bottom of the cross, either by crossing the ankles and nailing with another one of the spikes or by placing the feet on opposite sides of the vertical beam and nailing both legs with spikes. At this point the ropes were removed and the full weight of the prisoner’s body torn against the spikes in the hands and feet. To make matters even worse, the victim’s lungs would start filling up with body fluids causing a feeling of mass suffocation. Desperate for oxygen, the prisoner would use the spikes in his feet or in some cases a small platform nailed at the bottom of the feet to push up to allow oxygen to enter the lungs. The pain would radiate through the body causing the victim to collapse only to have to repeat the process again and again in order to gain oxygen.

Our Jesus endured the excruciating pain of the cross for one reason …He loves us! Oh, what a Savior!


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