Was Jesus Poisoned?

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Was Jesus Poisoned?

[Part I] [Part II]

 

 

Jesus was born into a very troubled stage of the Roman Empire, when thousands of crucifixions were taking place each week. The military leader Judas of Galilee (6 CE) founded the Zealot sect that determined to destroy the Roman government, the Gospels describe the Roman occupation as very peaceful, yet the opposite was true according to historians. The Pharisee leader Judas of Galilee caused a rebellion against Roman taxes in 6 CE, and the self-claimed “Messiah” Bar Kochba (132-135 CE) caused another insurrection. The Zealots were carrying out assassinations on a daily basis, dispatching groups that murdered Roman officials and caused political uprising, they were known as the Sicarii, or dagger-men. There is a possibility the Romans considered Jesus a political leader disguised as a spiritual teacher, the Gospels record at least two disciples of Jesus were Zealots, so the Romans had good reason to suspect Jesus. They were Simon and Judas Iscariot; both carried swords and traveled with Jesus.  

These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. (Mark 3:16-19) 

The word Iscariot is a corruption of Sicarii. The disciples John and James are described as “sons of thunder”, which means they were Zealots, yet the Gospels are clear that Judas and Simon were undoubtedly Zealots. 

The Zealots were opposed to Roman rule and sought to eliminate/destroy it by violent means; the portions of the Zealots who engaged in violence were called the Sicarii. Their activities included raids on Jewish settlements and eliminating Jewish collaborators, as well as inciting the Jews to fight Rome and each other if necessary. Josephus paints a very bleak picture of their murderous activities as they instituted a "reign of terror" in the build-up to the Temple's destruction. [1]
 

The New Testament was written much later but its narrative is set during those times. Some have speculated that the name of Jesus’ ' disciple Yehuda Ish-Kerayot (Judas Iscariot) means that he was a sicarius, "daggerman" - "Judas the Zealot". [2]  

The Gospels portray Jesus as a spiritual teacher, the Romans eventually considered him a threat, and the Pharisees also wanted to kill Jesus for their own reasons. Jesus was sent to restore the Jewish Law (Matt. 5:17-20), and crucifixion was never his purpose (Matt. 9:13, 12:7, John 17:4). Yet the Romans suspected Jesus of political motives when he drove out the money changers at the Temple, causing disorder.  

The Romans had a strong force near at hand, since it was the time of the annual festival and the feast of the Passover was approaching. The Romans who at that time of year were always ready for minor disturbances, were even more alert than usual. In addition, there were the temple police who guarded the sacred place. The entrance made by Jesus was so well-planned that the Roman soldiers were taken completely by surprise, and Jesus took over the control of the temple. (Muhammad Ataur-Raheem, Jesus Prophet of Islam, 1992 edition, p. 34) 

The Jews expected the Messiah to destroy the Roman government; they considered Jesus a false prophet because he failed to liberate Palestine

Jesus and his immediate followers were Pharisees. Jesus had no intention of founding a new religion. He regarded himself as the Messiah in the normal Jewish sense of the term, i.e. a human leader who would restore the Jewish monarchy, drive out the Roman invaders, set up an independent Jewish state, and inaugurate an era of peace, justice and prosperity (known as 'the kingdom of God,) for the whole world. Jesus believed himself to be the figure prophesied in the Hebrew Bible who would do all these things. He was not a militarist and did not build up an army to fight the Romans, since he believed that God would perform a great miracle to break the power of Rome. This miracle would take place on the Mount of Olives, as prophesied in the book of Zechariah. When this miracle did not occur, his mission had failed. He had no intention of being crucified in order to save mankind from eternal damnation by his sacrifice. He never regarded himself as a divine being, and would have regarded such an idea as pagan and idolatrous, an infringement of the first of the Ten Commandments. (Hyam Maccoby, The Problem of Paul) 

The Pharisees expected the Messiah to restore the Davidic kingdom. Yet we must be grateful to Islam for destroying the Roman occupation after so many failed attempts by Jewish leaders (Judas of Galilee, Bar Kochba). The Prophet Muhammad foretold the conquest of Jerusalem and Constantinople! [1].  

Concerning the trial of Jesus, the Pilate refused to crucify Jesus at first, he said “I find no fault in this man” (John 19:4) but eventually the Pilate sentenced Jesus and washed his hands (Matt. 27:24), signifying the innocence of Rome. The Gospel of Matthew records the Jews saying "Let his blood be on us and on our children!” the verse has been to justify many atrocities. The Romans only crucified for political charges, not religious charges, or blasphemy. The Jews had to press false charges against Jesus in order to get him crucified, though they knew the charges were false, the Pilate denied the charges altogether.  

Jesus was condemned by the Pharisees for blasphemy, claiming to be God’s son, and working on the Sabbath. The Jews also insisted that Jesus claimed to be a political King, which is an acceptable charge, since the Romans abolished the Jewish monarchy.  

Jesus was a man who was born into Jewish society in Galilee; he was not a divine being who descended from outer space in order to suffer death on behalf of mankind. If we want to know why Jesus was killed, we have to ask why a Jew from Galilee in those times might meet his end on a Roman cross.  

Many Jews from Galilee died in the same way during this period. Judas of Galilee was a Jewish patriot who led an armed rebellion against the Romans. Many hundreds of his supporters were crucified by the Romans. At one time, while Jesus was a boy, four thousand Jews were crucified by the Romans for an insurrection against Roman taxes. Crucifixion was the cruel form of execution which the Romans used for rebels against their rule. Galilee was always a centre of rebellion, partly because it was not under direct Roman rule and, therefore, like Vichy France during the last World War, gave some scope for the organization of resistance.  

The presumption is, therefore, that Jesus the Galilean who died on the cross did so for the same reason as the others: because he was a threat to the Roman occupation. The Gospels indeed tell us that this was the charge made against him. The actual charge, according to Luke was as follows, ‘We found this fellow perverting the nation, and, forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King’ (Luke 23:2). On his cross, the charge for which he was executed was affixed, according to Roman usage: it was that he claimed to be ‘King of the Jews’, a capital offence at a time when the Romans had abolished the Jewish monarchy. To ‘pervert the nation’ meant to disturb them from their allegiance to Rome. The use of the term ‘Christ’ (Messiah) here in its original political sense is interesting, for it shows that despite Christian editing of the Gospels, which ensured that the term was de-politicalized in almost every instance, editorial vigilance could occasionally slip. (Hyam Maccoby, The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity, pp. 46-47) 

The Gospels indicate that Jesus was secretly poisoned; the passage speaks for itself. The Romans poisoned Jesus to avoid leaving his body over the Sabbath, which began at evening (John 19:31). According to the Torah, a man “shall not remain all night upon the tree”; they must bury him that same day.  

Christian tradition reports Jesus as having died for the sis of the world shortly prior to Friday sunset, leading to the celebration of ‘Good Friday’. This also explains why the Jews were under pressure to expedite the death of the three crucified before sunset, for the Friday sunset ushered in the Jewish Sabbath (according to Hebraic lunar calendar, the day ends at sunset. Hence, Friday sunset heralds the beginning of Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath). The problem facing the Jews was that a crucified man can live for days on the cross…Most crucifixes were constructed with small seats, enough to partially bear the weight of the body in order to prolong the torture. (Dr. Lawrence B. Brown, The First and Final Commandment, p. 209) 

Historically the Jews followed Pharisee leaders who claimed to be Messiah, they were Judas of Galilee (6 CE), Theudas (46 CE), and Bar Kochba (132-135 CE), so the Romans did not want to take any chances, they suspected Jesus and thereby poisoned him. There was no need to break his legs because they saw he was already dead by ingesting the poison (John 19:32-33). It took several days to die by crucifixion; the Romans knew Jesus would survive the cross if they did not poison him.  

Crucifixion was a slow death. It usually lasted several days. Death followed from exhaustion, inability to respire property as a result of being in an upright position or attacks by wild animals.

In the year A.D. 297, by the order of Emperor Maximian, seven Christians at Samosata were subjected to various tortures and then crucified. According to Alban Butler, (5) in

Hipparchus [one of them], a venerable old man, died on the cross in a short time. James, Romanus, and Lollianus, expired the next day being stabbed by the soldiers while they hung on their crosses. Philotheus, Habibus and Paragrus, were taken down from their crosses while they were still alive. The emperor being informed that they were alive, commanded large nails to be driven into heads--by which they were at length dispatched.

There are a number of cases in which men were cruelly tortured, and then crucified head down, yet surviving for 24 hours or more. [*]  [*]

Scholars agree that no man could die within three hours, the Jews were probably ignorant of this fact, but the Romans were experts at crucifixion, they knew Jesus was alive, so they poisoned him.   The Pilate knew Jesus was harmless, yet he did not know about the poisoning that caused his death.

Jesus was a healthy man who traveled throughout Palestine and its cities. How could a healthy man die so fast?  

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. (Matthew 9:35) 

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, (Luke 8:1)

Even if Jesus was not poisoned, it’s impossible for him to die in three hours, the Gospels are clear that Jesus was very healthy. 

Crucifixion was a slow death. It usually lasted several days. Death followed from   exhaustion, inability to respire properly 
as a result of being in an upright position or attacks by wild animals. Why did Jesus, who was a fit and healthy man 
used to walking the countryside for long distances, die so quickly in only a matter of a few hours? (online Source) 


Jesus was “filled with the Holy Spirit” on the cross, yet the poison killed him instantly, the Holy Spirit departed from his body immediately after the vinegar was consumed:

Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (John 19:29-30)

There are only two alternatives to explain Jesus’ death, either he was crucified as a false prophet (Deu. 13:5), or he was saved by God and never crucified (Ps. 20:6). We have evidence to support the latter, God promised to save the Messiah from death (Ps. 20:6), He will never forsake the Messiah (Ps. 37:28), Christians will argue to the contrary that Jesus’ poisoning does not discredit his prophethood, and that he “died for their sins”, the Jews conspired to kill Jesus to prove he was false. But why do Christians discriminate Muhammad for eating poison when Jesus was also poisoned? In fact, the Bible confirms Jesus died instantly from the poison whereas Muhammad died four years later! The poison had such a grave effect on Jesus that he cried out: 

And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. (Mark 15:36-38) 

Why didn’t Jesus refuse the vinegar? Why didn’t he spit out the poison? He obviously did not know it was poisoned, so therefore he was not All-knowing. Yet the Prophet Muhammad tasted the poison and immediately SPAT it out.  

The Bible teaches that false prophets should be put to death (Deuteronomy 13:5, 18:19), so does this mean Jesus and Muhammad were poisoned false prophets? Absolutely not, even true Prophets were murdered (Matt. 23:27, Rom. 11:3). So if Jesus and Muhammad died from ingesting poison, they are still true Prophets!  

Jesus was a Pharisee belonging to the Shammiate sect, and the Pharisees loyal to Jesus considered his death as martyrdom. Muslim scholars assert that Prophet Muhammad’s death was martyrdom.  

It has been assumed by most scholars that Paul’s interpretation of the verse in Deuteronomy (i.e. that anyone hanged on a gibbet is under a curse) was part of contemporary Pharisee exegesis of that verse, and that consequently Paul took his basis for argument from the Pharisee stock, though he developed it in his own way. This, however, is an error. The idea that anyone hanged on a gibbet is under a curse was entirely alien to Pharisee thought, and the Pharisee teachers did not interpret the verse in Deuteronomy in this way. Many highly respected members of the Pharisee movement were crucified by the Romans, just like Jesus, and, far from being regarded as under a curse because of the manner of their death, they were regarded as martyrs. The idea that an innocent man would incur a curse from God just because he had been unfortunate enough to die an agonizing death on the cross was never part of Pharisee thinking, and only a deep contempt for the Judaism of the Pharisees has led so many scholars to assume that it was. The Pharisees never thought that God was either stupid or unjust, and he would have to be both to put a curse on an innocent victim. (Hyam Maccoby, The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity, p. 67)

 A hadith sherif, which our mother Aisha as-Siddiqa (radi-Allahu anha) related, says “I suffer the pain of the poisonous meat I ate at Khaibar. Because of that poison my aorta almost fails to function now”. This hadith sheriff shows that, in addition to prophethood, Allahu tal’ala has given the status of martyrdom to Muhammad the Highest of Mankind (alaihi salam).  (Waqf Ikhlas, The Sunni Path, p. 78)

 The fact that Allah protected the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) from dying from the poison right away and had him live long enough in order to finish his duty of spreading the message of Islam and then Allah had the Prophet die from the poison four years later so that the Prophet could die as a martyr, which is the most honorable death that a person in Islam could have proves that he was a Prophet. (1)  

If Jesus was crucified and poisoned, the Pharisees considered him a martyr, the Jews considered him a false prophet, and the Romans considered him a political threat. Yet Islam absolves Jesus from the charge of crucifixion; the Holy Quran says what actually happened – Jesus was not crucified at all. (4:157)

 

 The Stimulating Effects of Vinegar: 

According to the Gospels, Jesus was given a sponge full of vinegar. The ancient civilizations believed that vinegar had stimulating effects on the body, the senses were aroused and the body twitched.  

The Gospels show that Jesus immediately died after drinking the vinegar:

Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (John 19:29-30)

This proves Jesus was poisoned, the vinegar is supposed to have stimulating effects, yet it killed Jesus instantly! 

Crucifixion was a slow death. It usually lasted several days. Death followed from exhaustion, inability to respire property as
a result of being in an upright position or attacks by wild animals. Why did Jesus, who was a fit and healthy man used to 
walking the countryside for long distances, die so quickly in only a matter of a few hours? [1] 

Within the canonical texts certain clues may be found that shows that the biblical crucifixion was a less then transparent affair. In the Fourth Gospel Jesus, hanging
on the cross, says that he thirsts and is given a sponge allegedly soaked in vinegar. Tradition has it that this act was an act of derision, but in actuality vinegar - or soured wine – 
was a temporary stimulant with effects similar to smelling salts. It was often used to resuscitate exhausted galley slaves. For an exhausted man, a sniff or taste of vinegar 
would induce a restorative, rejuvenating effect. Surprisingly, in Jesus' case the effect is exactly the opposite. As soon as he tastes or inhales the sponge he expires. 
Corey Gilkes, The Crucifixion Demystified, [online Source]  


We must contend that Jesus was poisoned, and this does not disqualify his prophethood. Yet Muslims do not believe Jesus was crucified, so Christians are responsible for solving this dilemma. The only explanation is that Jesus was not crucified, (Al-Quran 4:157), therefore he was not poisoned.

The discovery of Gnostic texts at Nag Hammadi, Egypt unearthed a book called The Second Treatise of the Great Seth, where Jesus states:

 

I did not succumb to them as they had planned. But I was not afflicted at all. Those who were there punished me. And I did not die in reality but in appearance, lest I be put to shame by them because these are my kinsfolk. I removed the shame from me and I did not become fainthearted in the face of what happened to me at their hands. I was about to succumb to fear, and I suffered according to their sight and thought, in order that they may never find any word to speak about them. For my death, which they think happened, (happened) to them in their error and blindness, since they nailed their man unto their death. For their Ennoias did not see me, for they were deaf and blind. But in doing these things, they condemn themselves. Yes, they saw me; they punished me. It was another, their father, who drank the gall and the vinegar; it was not I. They struck me with the reed; it was another, Simon, who bore the cross on his shoulder. It was another upon Whom they placed the crown of thorns. But I was rejoicing in the height over all the wealth of the archons and the offspring of their error, of their empty glory. And I was laughing at their ignorance. The Treatise of the Great Seth [online Source]

 

 

 

 

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