Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani': Why does Christ quote Psalm 22 from the cross?


  • Please log in to reply
14 replies to this topic

#1 Theopesta

Theopesta

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 411 posts

Posted 23 July 2008 - 09:15 PM

Dear All,
{And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?}

I would like to know how we see that verse. Where can I find the interpretation of that verse.
Thank you,
In One Christ

#2 Herman Blaydoe

Herman Blaydoe

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 4,157 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 24 July 2008 - 12:45 AM

Eli, eli, lamach sabathani is nothing more (and nothing less) than the first line of Psalm 22. It starts out in agony but ends on a note of praise and triumph! Remember that the Jews were generally well educated and put a great deal of effort into knowing the Psalms. As instruction, the rabbi would simply recite the first line of a particular Psalm, expecting his students to simply know the rest of it from their studies. I suggest you read that particular Psalm with the thought of Christ on the Cross. See if you don't get the "chills" as you read it. Even from the Cross, He was instructing us!

#3 Effie Ganatsios

Effie Ganatsios

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,725 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 24 July 2008 - 04:44 AM

Herman, I also have been troubled by these words. Why would Jesus say them if He is the Son of God. Herman, you are right, this psalm is a prophecy of what Christ would endure. Reading it, did give me a chill as you said.

"My bones are out of joint" this first description of what He suffered is certainly correct, because when a person is crucified, the weight of his body pulls all his joints out of place.

But then the second half of the psalm continues :

" You have answered Me.

22 I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.
23 You who fear the LORD, praise Him!"

"When Jesus says "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?", He is, as you no doubt already know, quoting from Psalm 22 (verse 1 in the English versions). This is important to understand, because Psalm 22 is a prophecy of Jesus' crucifixion. The rejection of the Messiah by the people (v.6), the insults they hurled at Him on the cross (vv.7-8 - compare with Matt.27:38-43), the pain of the crucifixion (vv.14-15), the piercing of His hands and feet (v.16), the dividing up of His clothing by lot (v.18) are just some of the more obvious parallels this Psalm prophesies. Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen to Him because He understood this Psalm and how it applied to His death on our behalf (cf. Matt.20:18-19). By quoting Psalm 22, our Lord makes this clear, and makes it clear to all who would later hear these words of His that He was well aware that He would have to die on our behalf in order to save us - for this reason He came into the world (Jn.3:16-17).

Some people very wrongly take this quote you ask about to be a sign of desperation on our Lord's part in His hour of trial - but nothing could be further from the truth. These words from our Savior make it clear beyond doubt that, on the one hand, He understood why He had to suffer - this was His mission - and, on the other hand, that He was supremely confident of the Father's ultimate deliverance of Him through the resurrection of His body before it had even seen decay (Ps.16; cf. Act 2:24-31), for the second half of Psalm 22 is hymn of victory (vv.22-31). These words, therefore, were spoken entirely for our benefit, that we might know that Jesus was delivered over through the will of God (Matt.20:28), willing accepted this mission for our sake (Matt.26:42), and had complete and unbreakable faith in the deliverance that awaited Him. These words were spoken that we might believe in Him and might emulate His faith and confidence in God's deliverance even in the most terrible of circumstances. For if God delivered over His own Son to death that we might live, how would He not then give us everything (Rom.8:32)? "

The above explanation is from a Protestant site. I couldn't find an explanation on an Orthodox site.

#4 Deacon Jonathan

Deacon Jonathan

    Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 210 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 24 July 2008 - 04:46 AM

Yes, a very powerful Psalm.

Something else I heard is that the word translated as "Forsaken" in the Psalm is only used one other time in the Old Testament:

Therefore a man shall leave his father and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

- Genesis 2:24.

"Leave" in Genesis 2:24 and "forsaken" in Psalm 22:1 are the same word in Hebrew - "aw-zab'". Christ's Father - Who He must "leave" - is God, and who is the wife that He must holding fast to and becoming one flesh with if not His Church?

This extra explaination I heard from a talk by Fr. Thomas Hopko, so it is as Orthodox as he is :-)

Edited by Jonathan Michael, 24 July 2008 - 04:48 AM.
added source


#5 Nina

Nina

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,149 posts

Posted 24 July 2008 - 04:58 AM

From the book The feasts of the Lord by Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos

Christ's fourth saying on the Cross is the cry: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt.27,46). This saying must be interpreted in an orthodox way, within the interpretative analyses of the Holy Fathers of the Church, because otherwise it can be considered heretical. This is said because there are some scholastics and rationalists who try to interpret these words of Christ by maintaining that, if only for a few seconds, the divine nature abandoned the human nature on the Cross in order for Christ to feel the pain, the suffering from this abandonment.

In the first place this saying is connected with a psalm of David which is purely christological, since it refers to Christ's incarnation and His saving Passion, and which begins as follows: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Ps.22,1). This psalm is prophetic, because it reveals Christ's suffering on the Cross. Christ was not repeating it mechanically, but by the repetition He was fulfilling the prophecy. Of course the prophet's vision came first, and Christ said it in order for all the prophecies which had been spoken about Him to be fulfilled.

St. Gregory the Theologian, interpreting this cry of Christ, says that Christ was not abandoned either by His Father or by His own divinity, as if fearing the Passion and shrinking from the suffering of Christ. So what happened? By this cry Christ "stamps on Himself what is ours". In other words, at that moment Christ is speaking in our place. For we were those abandoned and overlooked and then assumed and saved by the Passion of the impassible One. And St. Cyril of Alexandria, interpreting this, says that "He abandoned understandings and forgiveness of the passion". Christ's kenosis, which began with His incarnation, reached its highest point. And this is called abandonment.

We have emphasis in previous analyses that in Christ the divine and human natures were united unchangeably, inseparably and indivisibly, according to the definition of the Fourth Ecumenical Council. This means that they have not been separated, are not separated, nor ever will be separated. And this is why we can partake of the Body and Blood of Christ. So this cry of Christ to the Father expresses our own cry at having lost communion with God through sin. Moreover, Christ was suffering for us.

(pp. 226 - 227)

It is good I remembered we discussed this in another thread so I did not have to retype the passage from the book since it is a bit late here :) and I can never help it when I know Metropolitan Hierotheos has written on a subject. I am fond of his work because it is grounded so much on the Fathers and the Patristic thought.

#6 Theopesta

Theopesta

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 411 posts

Posted 24 July 2008 - 10:51 PM

Thanks everyone,
In One Christ

#7 Julia Hayes

Julia Hayes

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 33 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 25 July 2008 - 04:47 PM

Psalm 22 was in fact one of the Psalms recited by Jews as they were dying. So in doing so Christ was fulfilling the Law and also fulfilling the prophecies in the Psalm.

#8 Peter S.

Peter S.

    Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 295 posts

Posted 25 July 2008 - 09:47 PM

From the book The feasts of the Lord by Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos

We have emphasis in previous analyses that in Christ the divine and human natures were united unchangeably, inseparably and indivisibly, according to the definition of the Fourth Ecumenical Council. This means that they have not been separated, are not separated, nor ever will be separated. And this is why we can partake of the Body and Blood of Christ. So this cry of Christ to the Father expresses our own cry at having lost communion with God through sin. Moreover, Christ was suffering for us. (pp. 226 - 227) Nina

I believe this is true but it isn't easy to understand. I would like some further explanation here, but it is maybe at another thread about the Fourth Council? Christ's cry is my cry. He is Life.

Peter

#9 Ken McRae

Ken McRae

    Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 565 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 25 July 2008 - 11:43 PM

St. Gregory the Theologian, interpreting this cry of Christ, says that Christ was not abandoned either by His Father or by His own divinity, as if fearing the Passion and shrinking from the suffering of Christ. So what happened? By this cry Christ "stamps on Himself what is ours". In other words, at that moment Christ is speaking in our place. For we were those abandoned and overlooked and then assumed and saved by the Passion of the impassible One.


"At that moment Christ is speaking in our place," according to St. Gregory. This I take or understand in a double sense: first, in terms of the penitent soul's mystical identification with Christ in his crucifixion, as an integral part of its own mystical kenosis and self-emptying, in preparation for its burial with Christ in holy baptism; insofar as baptism is the mystery of our being buried with Christ; but before the burial there is the purification ritual of the Life-Giving Cross. As there is a proper preparation of the soul for holy communion, so is there a proper mystical preparation for holy baptism (and confirmation); for surely it is as much a great sin to partake unworthily of any life-giving mystery; as it is to partake unworthily of the holy eucharist!

Secondly, in terms of the profound mystery of 'Godforsakenness' as a mystical and integral aspect of the higher life in Christ, and the soul's spiritual ascent of Tabor. For more of this deep mystery of 'Godforsakenness,' I can recommend nothing better than the writings of St. Silouan, Elder Sophrony and Fr. Zacharias. Those of Metropolitan Anthony Bloom are also very good. This Mystical Absence of God which Christ endured for us, according to Metro. Anthony, is something that all ascetics must endure at one time or another; and for some they must endure an entire life-time of profound spiritual desertion(s), in order to attain perfection in holy faith and obedience.

What shall I say of this mystery, but that it appears to me, from where I stand, in my own spiritual condition, as an essential spiritual exercise for all Catechumens, to labour and sweat after, in preparing themselves for their mystical burial with Christ, in baptism; they must labour intensively to feel the weight of their many countless and horrid sins; to feel the spiritual lifelessness, hardness or deadness of their hearts, on account of them; and this mystical abandonment or spiritual 'Godforsakenness.' Yes, Christ stands knocking at the door of the heart but His invitation to come for spiritual rest, is extended to the soul wearied by and heavy-laden with its countless sins!

And St. Cyril of Alexandria, interpreting this, says that "He abandoned understandings and forgiveness of the passion". Christ's kenosis, which began with His incarnation, reached its highest point. And this is called abandonment.


St. Cyril's mystical abandonment is Fr. Sophrony's mystical experience of 'Godforsakenness.'

So this cry of Christ to the Father expresses our own cry at having lost communion with God through sin. Moreover, Christ was suffering for us.


This is a mystical state proper to a soul preparing for a mystical death and burial with Christ, in the mystery of holy baptism (but not only).

#10 Effie Ganatsios

Effie Ganatsios

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,725 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 26 July 2008 - 04:30 AM

Psalm 22 was in fact one of the Psalms recited by Jews as they were dying. So in doing so Christ was fulfilling the Law and also fulfilling the prophecies in the Psalm.


Admittedly most of what I know about Jews I learnt reading Michener's The Source, but Julia, I always believed that Jews cried out "Hear, 0 Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one."

I just checked a couple of sites for the exact wording and
I found this :

"Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 338

If one feels death approaching, he should recite the Vidui. And he should be reassured by those around him: “Many have said the Vidui and not died, and many have not said the Vidui and have died.” And if he is unable to recite it aloud, he should confess in his heart. And if he is unable to recite it by himself, others may recite it with him or for him. And these instructions should not be given to him in the presence of tender-minded people lest they cry and upset him too much.




"The Vidui, the Deathbed Confession

I acknowledge unto you, 0 Lord my God and God of my fathers, that both my cure and my death are in your hands. May it be your will to send me a perfect healing.Yet if my death be fully determined by you, I will in love accept it at your hand. 0 may my death be an atonement for all the sins, iniquities and transgressions of which I have been guilty against thee. Bestow upon me the abounding happiness that is treasured up for the righteous. Make known to me the path of life: in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand, bliss for evermore.

You who are the father of the fatherless and judge of the widow, protect my beloved family with whose soul my own is knit. Into your hand I commend my spirit; you have redeemed me, 0 Lord God of truth. Amen, and Amen!

When the end is approaching:
The Lord reigns; the Lord has reigned; the Lord shall reign for ever and ever. (To be said three times.)

Blessed be his name, whose glorious kingdom is for ever and ever. (To be said three times.)

The Lord he is God. (To be said seven times.)

Hear, 0 Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. "

The first part is really beautiful.

#11 Robert Hegwood

Robert Hegwood

    Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 297 posts

Posted 26 July 2008 - 08:45 AM

For what it is worth, I'm somewhat of the opinion that the Psalmist was quoting Christ, not Christ quoting the Psalm as it were.

#12 Julia Hayes

Julia Hayes

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 33 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 26 July 2008 - 09:18 AM

Admittedly most of what I know about Jews I learnt reading Michener's The Source, but Julia, I always believed that Jews cried out "Hear, 0 Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one."


I first learned that they recite Psalm 22 from my Liturgics professor (George Filias) and I also found the following in an article about death by a Jewish Rabbi

"The person who is dying, whose soul is ebbing from its home in the body, is draped in a tallit. The bystanders help them to wash their hands ritually, three times over the right, three times over the left. The dying person then does a little Yom Kippur either verbally or in their thoughts, reflecting on their life, asking for forgiveness for having wronged people, etc., and if they are able to, they recite Psalms 4, 6, 121, 145. As they feel themselves at the door of death, they recite Psalm 22 and 29 (13th-century Rabbi Moshe ibn Nachmon, quoted in Choch'mat Ahdam, No. 151)."

God bless!

Edited by Herman Blaydoe, 25 October 2008 - 02:36 PM.
Extraneous formatting removed


#13 Peter S.

Peter S.

    Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 295 posts

Posted 26 July 2008 - 03:27 PM

Dear All,
{And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?}

I would like to know how we see that verse. Where can I find the interpretation of that verse.
Thank you,
In One Christ


I also think this saying has a restoration of the Fall in it, and an explanation of fullfillment.

Peter

#14 Anthony S.

Anthony S.

    Junior Poster

  • Members
  • 3 posts

Posted 25 October 2008 - 01:23 PM

He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."

Luke 24:43-45

#15 H. Smith

H. Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 198 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 30 August 2012 - 02:42 AM

Yes, a very powerful Psalm.

Something else I heard is that the word translated as "Forsaken" in the Psalm is only used one other time in the Old Testament:


- Genesis 2:24.

"Leave" in Genesis 2:24 and "forsaken" in Psalm 22:1 are the same word in Hebrew - "aw-zab'". Christ's Father - Who He must "leave" - is God, and who is the wife that He must holding fast to and becoming one flesh with if not His Church?

This extra explaination I heard from a talk by Fr. Thomas Hopko, so it is as Orthodox as he is :-)


This is incorrect. The only other time when the exact form of the word, "azabtani", is used is Deuteronomy 28:20:
...until thou perish quickly because of the wickedness of thy doings whereby thou hast forsaken me

However, the case in Genesis is still important because it's the first time the verb "azab" is used in any form.

Regards.




1 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users