Psalm 22 a Prophecy about Jesus’ crucifixion

Eitan Bar

Eitan Bar is a native Jewish-Israeli who was born and raised in Tel Aviv, Israel (1984). Graduated with his B.A. in Biblical Studies from Israel College of the Bible (Jerusalem, 2009), his M.A. in Theology from Liberty University (2013) and is now pursuing his Doctorate with Dallas Theological Seminary. Eitan currently serves as ONE FOR ISRAEL's Director of Media & Evangelism. (From 2006 to 2013, Eitan worked for CRU, in which his roles included serving as Israel's VLM-SLM leader.)

Eitan's professional background is in "Multimedia Design and Visual Communications" working for various secular advertising agencies in Tel-Aviv.

Eitan is the producer of:
1) I MET MESSIAH (Jewish testimonials).
2) Answering Rabbinic Objections to Jesus.

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Rabbi Yosi Mizrachi claims that Jesus cannot be the Messiah, because when he was on the cross he begged God to save him, but God didn’t save him and he wasn’t able to save himself. In the New Testament, Matthew describes what happened: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Mt. 27:46)

These are the very words that King David wrote at the beginning of Psalm 22. Jesus addressed the crowd in their spoken language, in Aramaic, so that they would hear and understand. In other words, Jesus wasn’t asking God for help, but he was deliberately quoting King David’s words in Psalm 22. But King David’s prophecy about the Messiah sounded “too Christian” so they simply changed a letter in order to change it’s meaning.

Rabbi Yosi Mizrachi believes that Jesus begged God to save him, but that is not quite what Matthew described. Actually, Matthew gives the answer to Rabbi Mizrachi’s claim when he says, “Jesus cried out with a loud voice”… Jesus was not addressing God, but was shouting so that the crowd could hear him. He shouted in Aramaic: “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Both Jesus and Matthew direct us to call to mind Psalm 22. Here are a few reasons why…

Rashi says about Psalm 22: “‘Lema sabachthani?’ They are destined to go into exile, and David recited this prayer for the future.” He says that about verse 2 and he also attributes verse 27 to “the time of our redemption in the days of our Messiah.”

The famous Midrash from the eighth-century, Pesikta Rabbati, places some of the words of Psalm 22 on the lips of the suffering Messiah. In fact, the Midrash explicitly states that: “it was because of the ordeal of the son of David, that David wept, saying: “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.” (Ps. 22:16)

Did you catch that? According to this Rabbinic Midrash, King David described the future suffering and death of Messiah Son of David in this Psalm.

“During the seven year period preceding the coming of the son of David, iron beams will be brought low and loaded upon his neck until the Messiah’s body is bent low. Then he will cry and weep, and his voice will rise to the very height of heaven, and he will say to God: Master of the universe, how much can my strength endure? How much can my spirit endure? How much my breath before it ceases? How much can my limbs suffer? Am I not flesh and blood? During this time, the Holy One, blessed be He, will say to him: Ephraim, My true Messiah, long ago, ever since the six days of creation, thou didst take this ordeal upon thyself. At this moment, thy pain is like my pain. At these words, the Messiah will reply: Master of the universe ‘Now I am reconciled. The servant is content to be like his Master’” (Pesikta Rabbati 36:2).

He even taught that in the month of Nisan our Patriarchs will arise and say of the Messiah: “Ephraim, our true Messiah, even though we’re thy forbears, thou art greater than we because thou didst suffer for the iniquities of our children, and terrible ordeals befell thee that did not befell the firsts or the lasts.” (Pesikta Rabbati 37:1) And he said: and thine eyes grew dim from fasting, and thy strength was dried up like a potsherd, all these afflictions on account of the iniquities of our children.” (Pesikta Rabbati 37:1)

The Midrash recognizes that the Messiah should suffer because of our iniquities. Psalm 22 is the prayer of a suffering martyr, who suffers unto death for the sake of his people, and is about salvation and resurrection by God as an answer to prayer. Great Jewish commentators like Rashi understood that in this chapter David is not only speaking about himself, but about the coming Messiah.

A well-known rabbinical Midrash composed about 1,200 years ago states that in Psalm 22 King David predicted the sufferings of the prophesied Messiah. However, modern rabbis, like Rabbi Tovia Singer, Rabbi Yosi Mizrachi and Rabbi Daniel Asor (who are known for their hatred toward Messianic Jews) decided to re-interpret this section… According to them, David simply spoke about himself… Not about the future, and not about the Messiah. This is completely contrary to the Sages and to classical Jewish thought. They prefer to contradict the Sages than allow the prophecy to apply to Jesus. What are they so afraid of, you might wonder?

Let’s look at Psalm 22. (By the way, even if we were to agree for a moment that King David was only speaking of himself and not about the future, the Sages also agreed that King David is a prototype of the Messiah. There is a reason why they call the Messiah “Son of David”.)

King David, who wrote Psalm 22 under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, saw that one of his Jewish descendants would suffer like him, and even much more. We encourage you to sit down and read the entire chapter, but pay attention to some of the key verses in the chapter, in which King David, who died of old age in the arms of Abishag, describes the future death of the Messiah; a death full of rejection, torture and humiliation:

1: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?”: My God, why do you leave me, why don’t you save me and ignore my cries?

6: “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people”: I am like a worm, my People humiliate me and are ashamed of me.

7: “All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads”: They look at me and mock me, curse me and reject me.

12: “Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me”: Like strong bulls that surround me.

13: “they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion”: Like a predator lion, they yell at me.

14: “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within me”: I spill like water, and my bones fall apart out of fear, my heart melts inside of my guts.

15: “my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death”: I am dried out and powerless, my tongue sticks in my mouth, you laid me on the dust of death.

And now comes the climax, pay attention to verse 16:

“For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; Like a lion my hands and feet.”

The last part doesn’t make sense, right? What does it mean “Like a lion, my hands and my feet”? Well the thing is that this isn’t what King David really wrote, but a later change that the rabbis made to the text.

Originally, this verse was written as: “Ka’aru My hands and my feet” “Ka’aru”, and not “Ka’ari”. Ka’aru in biblical Hebrew means “to make a hole” while Ka’ari means “like a lion”. The rabbis shortened the last Hebrew letter of the word, and by doing so, changed the word from “Ka’aru”=“they have pierced” to the word “ka’ari” = “like a lion”.

Originally the verse read like this: “For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet.” Meaning, they made holes in my hands and my feet.

Do you understand? This entire description sounds too much like Jesus crucified on the cross, after he was rejected and tortured. This of course, didn’t suit the rabbis, so they decided, about 1,000 years ago, to change that one Hebrew letter.

Do you think we just invented all of this? In the Dead Sea Scrolls, scrolls from over 2,200 ago, that contain Psalm 22 among other scriptures, we can see that in this chapter, in verse 16, it says “Ka’aru” (they have pierced), and not “Ka’ari” (like a lion). These scrolls were written long before the time of Jesus.

Also the Septuagint, which was written by Jewish scribes during the 3rd century BC – before Jesus, the word is “Ka’aru” (they have pierced) and not “Ka’ari” (like a lion).

This is another example of the way the rabbis concealed and are still concealing the Messiahship of Jesus from you, even by changing and twisting the Old Testament text. They will do anything in order to keep Jesus a secret from you.

King David, whose figure is the prototype of the Messiah, prophesied that the people of the Messiah would reject him, mock him, see him as a traitor and cause him to suffer to his death. But in His suffering and death, the Messiah would take upon Himself the punishment and suffering that we deserve. Through His death, we receive forgiveness of sins. But later in this chapter, God raises Him from the dead, He comes back to life and conquers death; just as Jesus rose again on the third day.

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