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Are The Jews to be Held Guilty for Jesus’ Death?

Updated on January 20, 2013

Roy Blizzard III

Who is to be Held Guilty for Jesus’ Death?

Roy Blizzard III © 2011

In Matthew 27:24-25 we read some comments that for the last 2,000 years have been misunderstood and have been used as a basis for the murders of untold Jewish people and an antagonism among non Jews that has led to a pronounced bias against anything even remotely “Jewish” even to the mistaken belief that the New Testament is all Greek and there is no need for a learning of Hebrew.

24When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but [that] rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed [his] hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye [to it]. 25Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.

The problem with these passages for most people is that there is a complete an utter lack of understanding of Judaism and Hebrew. There are untold numbers of articles using this passage to blame the Jews and all their offspring forever for the killing of Yeshua without any idea of what they are writing about.

Many supposed learned people think it refers to Blood Libel; the practice is a false accusation or claim that religious Jews murder children to use their blood in certain aspects of their religious rituals and holidays. It has nothing to do with this concept as the origins of this are to be found in the writings of to the Graeco-Egyptian author Apion. He claimed the Jews were sacrificing Greek victims in the Temple in Jerusalem. Apion stirred up lies against the Jews in the 1st century BCE. which resulted in an attack on the Jews in Alexandria in 38 CE in which thousands of Jews died.So we see this was something falsely used against the Jews not the other way around.

What this passage and the surrounding context refer to is the concept of Bloodguilt.

Bloodguilt is the liability for punishment for shedding blood, usually innocent blood.

You see, deeds generate consequences. It is the concept of sin = death and to shed innocent blood is sin, so whosoever sheds it must die.

Bloodguilt attaches itself to the shedder of blood and his family - II Sam. 3:28ff, and it does so for generations - II Kings 9:26. It even follows to his city -Jer. 26:5, his nation -Deut. 21:8, and his land -Deut. 24:4. With an unlawful homicide, innocent blood - Jonah 1:14 - dam naki (naqi ) נקידאם cries out for vengeance - Gen. 4:10, is rejected by the earth - Isa. 26:21; Ezek. 24:7, and pollutes it - Num. 35:33–34.

In technical terms, bearing or having bloodguilt put upon one, בא דמו damo bo, or damo bero'sho בראשו דמו , means originally "his blood [remains] in him/in his head" - Josh. 2:19; Ezek. 33:5. In a legal formula mot yumat damav bo בו דמו ימת מות- Lev. 20:9–16- means that when a lawful execution occurs, the blood of the guilty victim remains on himself and does not attach the guilt of his blood to his executioners.

The punishment of the murderer is primarily the responsibility of the blood avenger – or goel - גואל or “redeemer”, usually family members. And while God may postpone punishment to a later generation - II Sam. 12: 13–14; I Kings 21:21, man doesn’t have this option - Deut. 24:16; II Kings 14:6, unless divinely authorized - II Kings 9:7, 26. Biblically speaking, there is no commutation of the death penalty. The concept that deliberate murder cannot be commuted is the corner stone of criminal law in the Bible. In the Bible, human life is invaluable, hence incommutable. No other body of law in the ancient Near East has this concept.

In the case of “accidental Homicide”, it also results in bloodguilt and the killer may be slain by the goel - גואל or “redeemer” or “avenger” with impunity - Num. 35:26–27; Deut. 19:4–10. But, as the homicide was unintentional, the natural death of the high priest is allowed to substitute for his own death - Num. 35:25, 28. In the mean time, he is confined to a city of refuge to protect him from the blood-avenger - Num. 35:9ff; Deut. 4:41–43; 19:1–13; Josh. 20:1ff.

In the case of Yeshua, He specifically states that He himself lays his life down and no one takes it from him, so His death was not intentional in the case of the Jews, or Romans or anyone even though there was some conspiracy against him. So when the death of the high priest occurs, if there had been some bloodguilt it was taken on by the high priest.

In cases where a slayer is unknown, the community nearest the corpus delicti – usually the evidence of a crime – like a dead body must disavow complicity, - but in the case of Pilate it means the facts and circumstances constituting a breach of a law- so Pilate must disavow complicity in the conspiracy against Yeshua which he knows is unlawful and, by means of a ritual, symbolically wash away the blood of the slain - Deut. 21:1–9 so that Yeshua’s family will not take revenge against him; see Eglah Arufah or the Six cities of refuge .

When the people around the Antonia Fortress cried out for Yeshua’s death, they were saying that they would not try to kill Pilate as a bloodguilt punishment and he washed his hands to make it official.

But in the final analysis you see, Yeshua died for them too.

No bloodguilt is incurred by homicide in self-defense - Ex. 22:1, judicial execution - Lev. 20:9–16, and war - I Kings 2:5–6.

Sanhedrin 8:9


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      Shofarblaster 6 years ago

      The leaders that called this out may have meant one thing but i have a feeling, They will be seeing the request come back to them. We must be thaughtfull of our words

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      ruffridyer 6 years ago from Dayton, ohio

      The Jewish leaders who were critical of Jesus for breaking the sabbath laws,[Laws that He had given them], Broke many of these laws themselves in order to condemn him to death.

      Piliate allowed the exacution of Jesus out of fear of man. However it wasn't the Jewish nation as a whole, just a handfull of corrupt leaders. It could be said that we, meaning all Mankind, are responsible for his death because Jesus died for us.

    • royblizzard profile image

      royblizzard 6 years ago from Austin / Leander, Texas

      The world always wants to "replace" that which is truth with that which is able to control.

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      Bob Baker 6 years ago

      This is a great piece. However, very few people will ever see this or if they do they won't believe it against their false beliefs. The anti-Semitic view seems to be alive and well even in America churches. I didn't realize how much replacement theology influenced the Main christian denominations until this past year in my own research.

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      Olivia Doyle 6 years ago

      This is really well analyzed. My legal-leaning brain looks at scripture from this perspective quite often. I'm not sure if people realized how much of scripture is from a court room/legal proceedings position. Thanks for your very informative input.

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      GregG 6 years ago

      Thanks...great explanation!

    • royblizzard profile image

      royblizzard 6 years ago from Austin / Leander, Texas

      Clay, that may have been a part of it, but remember the "crowd" only consisted of about 30-40 men -that is all the area would hold- and they were for the most part Sadducees who hated anything Pharisaical, and if there were Pharisees in the mix, most of the high positions on both sides that were represented were being bought and sold to the higest bidder so they were being held illegally. so there was a vest interest to get him out of the way as he posed a threat to their fake authority. So most likely it was just an attempt by these corrupt leaders to get their way as they had all conspired to do this. I think Pilate knew this well as he kept trying to let Yeshua out.

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      aka-dj 6 years ago from Australia

      Nice information. Thanks.

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      Clay Miller 6 years ago

      Would it be possible that an attributed evocation of guilt by the Jews to absolve Pilate was in part a symbolic assertion of Jewish nationalism in the face of Roman domination and was an attempt by the populace to claim this guilt?