On holiday, a couple of weeks back, I indulged in a little light reading – Martin Hengel’s short study entitled Crucifixion. It’s only 90 pages and he makes lots of brilliant insights about the ways in which crucifixion was viewed in ancient societies. He certainly helps to show why the cross would have been a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles (1 Cor 1:23). Here’s an interesting possibility he suggests which adds weight to the former; next time I’ll give you one of his observations which supports the latter.
Hengel demonstrates from ancient sources that crucifixion was not invented by the Romans but used by societies long before. Most notably Herodotus cites numerous examples of crucifixion as a form of execution among Persians. For example Darius has 3000 Babylonians crucified (Herodotus, Hist. 3.159). This got me wondering. Could it be that Haman was not impaled or hung in Esther 7:9, but rather crucified. I went and checked the Hebrew which reads (apologies for the transliteration) hinneh-ha-es aser-assah (behold the tree which he made) . . . teluhu alayw (hang him upon it).
Is it just possible that Haman was actually crucified, rather than hung or impaled? It would certainly give further evidence that only the cursed are hung on the tree.