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The arms was tied down to the cross beam of the cross. The hands was nailed to the cross beam so that they couldn't pull their hands out. The rope took the load. Also their feet was nailed to a support which they used to push themselves up. The Romans where very cruel. They wanted the person been crucified to suffer as long as they could. So the hanging on the cross would cause them not to be able to breathe. So the person been crucified would push them selves up to get a breath of air. Until they had no more strength to do so. And then they would die of suffocation. That process could go on for a long time. That's why the Romans broke the legs of the two criminals, to quicken death. So they couldn't push them selves up to get air.
There are many scriptural references to Jesus having his hands pierced when he was nailed to the cross, mostly in the book of John. Most paintings or renderings of the crucifixion show that the hands of Jesus (his palms) were how he was nailed to the cross- visually, we have grown up seeing these images and relate those to the scriptures. However, we need to look at the Bible from other contexts as well, not just from an American or English context or culture, but God's Word is meant to span all cultures, not just western ones. We have the Bible translated into English for our benefit and understanding, but we have other translations to help us understand contextually and culturally what the text means. This is not to find some deep hidden meaning, but to understand fully the context of the situation. So, our English translations say that Jesus' hands were pierced. Thomas was told by Jesus to touch the wounds on his hands. So, naturally through our cultural understanding we are talking about the palms of the hands. While I lived in India as a missionary, and as I was learning the Hindi language, I came to a lesson that taught the parts of the body. In Hindi, the hand is considered the tips of the fingers to the elbow, and from the elbow to the shoulder is considered the arm- so the wrist is considered part of the hand. This taught me a whole new meaning to the scriptures that talk about Jesus being pierced through the hands. In Greek, there is no word for wrist, so in the Eastern language and cultural context, the wrist would be considered part of the hand. Many scholars have debated whether the nails were actually through the palm of the hand or the wrist, and how the palms could not support the weight but the wrist bones could. When it is written that Jesus' hands were pierced, we can consider that the eastern culture considers the wrist a part of the hand therefore Jesus' wrists are very likely to have been what held him on the cross. Praise God for the wounds, whether palms or wrists, that bring us salvation.
There are many controversial issues and debates on this subject matter. It is naturally a human tendency to debate such issues. Many great painters from the past have depicted Jesus being nailed through His palms to the cross; it is a medical impossibility for this to be the case. The weight of a fully grown man was going to be suspended by three nails. As far as we believers are concerned, these controversial statements are of less important. We have all sinned and deserve God's judgement. God, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgement for those who believe in Him. Jesus, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He died for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was buried, and rose from the dead according to the Bible. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your Savior, declaring, "Jesus is Lord," you will be saved from judgement and spend eternity with God in heaven. As Paul wrote in1 Timothy 3:16, He was revealed as a human being and as our high priest in the Spirit,justified in the Spirit. Angels gazed upon Him as a man and the glorious message of his kingly rulership is being preached to the nations. Many have believed in Him and He has been taken back to heaven and has ascended into the place of exalted glory in the heavenly realm, great is the mystery of righteousness. This is truly amazing.
The late Jim Bishop, who wrote the book The Day Christ Died (an hour-by-hour account of the events from the Last Supper until Jesus' death), and whose historical research not only for that book, but for other similar titles that he authored (such as The Day Lincoln Was Shot and The Day Kennedy Was Shot) I have found to be meticulous and accurate, stated flatly in his account of the crucifixion that, according to standard Roman practice, the nails were never put in the hand, but in the wrist.
This has been debated, but most of the crucifixes and paintings have Jesus' nail in the palms of the hands. Thus the belief has taken place by false perceived truth. If you look at anatomy the perfect place to nail a man's hands and arms to a cross beam is the wrists. Missing the major arteries would have been a technique that would have been a practice to increase the life span of one being crucified, of course. After all, crucifixion's function was to deter crime or rebellion against Roman law or rule. Look at the skeletal anatomy of a man. Would not common sense tell you the wrist is the perfect place to nail you to the cross beam? If the palms were used, the hands would have torn very easily loose from the nail head or shaft. This would have defeated the whole purpose of a slow, agonizing death of crucifixion. Fear instilled in a governed populace with the ultimate purpose to enforce obedience of both civil and a conquerors rule over its subjects. Plus, in those times they considered the hand and wrist as one unit defined as a hand. If they chopped off a hand for punishment or in battle, it usually happened at the wrist. They have found skeletal remains of crucified feet with the nail through both feet with the wood, but I have not heard of one found with the nails through the wrist bones with hand bones being found with wood. I saw it on the "Secrets of the Dead" program. A educational program aired on public television. Search it out for yourself. The truth is out there. Either way our Lord suffered for us.
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