Monday, May 23, 2011

Crosses in the Old Testament

A few years ago I participated in a Bible study that looked at different forms of musical worship in the Bible. One of the diagrams that was used during the presentation was that of the Tabernacle (the full description of the Tabernacle can be found in Exodus 25-31, and in Exodus 35-40). The interesting thing about the diagram was that if you looked down on the Israelites' encampment around the Tabernacle from the air, the tribes of Israel were laid out in the shape of a cross, with the Tabernacle in the middle. (See Numbers 2.)

From that point on, I kept that image in the back of my mind, especially when it came to researching the details of the various temples in the Bible.

Well, the other week I potentially found yet another cross...but not in relation to a temple. This one was in Numbers 35:1-34, which describes the cities of refuge. Cites of refuge were places in Israel that one could run to in the case of accidental manslaughter.

What caught my attention, though, was Numbers 35:4-5, which describes the layout of the common land around the city of refuge:
The common-land of the cities which you will give the Levites shall extend from the wall of the city outward a thousand cubits all around. And you shall measure outside the city on the east side two thousand cubits, on the south side two thousand cubits, on the west side two thousand cubits, and on the north side two thousand cubits. The city shall be in the middle. This shall belong to them as common-land for the cities.
I'm not quite sure what this looks like, but the first verse sounds like the description of a circle. The second sentence, however, seems different (but maybe it is just a larger circle, I don't know). Maybe the east/south/west/north thing is throwing me off, but it sounds like the description of a cross.

Whatever the search will continue for crosses in the Old Testament.

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