Eli, Eli, Llama Sabachtani?


Why did God the Father abandon Jesus at his death? For how long was he abaondoned?

Is it correct to answer the first question by stating that the abadonment was ransom to the devil in exchange for part of the human race? Is it correct to answer the second question by stating that the abandonment lasted three days?


Psalm 22
Plea for Deliverance from Suffering and Hostility

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.
3 Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 In you our ancestors trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried, and were saved;
in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.
6 But I am a worm, and not human;
scorned by others, and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock at me;
they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
8 “Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver—
let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”
9 Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
10 On you I was cast from my birth,
and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls encircle me,
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
15 my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 For dogs are all around me;
a company of evildoers encircles me.
My hands and feet have shriveled;
17 I can count all my bones.
They stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
19 But you, O Lord, do not be far away!
O my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
my life from the power of the dog!
21 Save me from the mouth of the lion!
From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.
22 I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he did not despise or abhor
the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,
but heard when I cried to him.
25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
May your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.
28 For dominion belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.
29 To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in[k] the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
and I shall live for him.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord,
31 and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying that he has done it.


Christ, in His humanity, cried out with a prayer that all Jews would recognize.
He was not abandoned. He submitted to His Father’s will.


Jesus was not abandoned!

Jesus was fulfilling Scripture by quoting the first verse of Psalm 22.


He did not abandon Jesus. You have misunderstood. Jesus was quoting the first line of Psalm 22. The Jews around would have understood what he meant.


So, if he wasn’t abandoned, he died a holy death.


A possible reason this phrase was left untranslated.



I found an interesting discussion of this here.



Notice that the bystanders thought that Jesus was calling for Elijah. Because of Jesus’ heavy Aramaic accent they mistook his words as Eliya ta which means “Elijah, come.”

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, la’ma sabach-tha’ni?” that is, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “This man is calling Eli’jah.” (Matthew 27:46-47)

Eli Eli is really ***Eli atta ***which in Hebrew means “you are my God.” This phrase is all over Scripture…

*Teach me to do thy will,
for thou art my God
Let thy good spirit lead me
on a level path!
(Psalm 143:10)

But I trust in thee, O LORD,
I say, "Thou art my God
(Psalm 31:14)

O God, thou art my God, I seek thee,
my soul thirsts for thee;
my flesh faints for thee,
as in a dry and weary land where no water is.
(Psalm 63:1)

Thou art my God, and I will give thanks to thee;
thou art my God, I will extol thee.
(Psalm 118:28)*

This is just a sample. There are others.



Actually, 'ēlî (= Eli) is Hebrew. The Aramaic form would have been something like 'əlahi (= Eloi). It is implied Jesus is speaking in Aramaic rather than Hebrew here because He is said to use the word shəvaqtáni (sabachthani/sabakthani/zaphthani, etc.) rather than the Hebrew azaḇətānî.

(Fun fact: Martin Luther’s translation of the NT ‘corrected’ sabachthani into asab’thani.)

Which brings you to the issue of why the bystanders misunderstood Him. Either as you said, Jesus was speaking in a thick accent (or could not speak clearly), or the ‘bystanders’ were the Roman soldiers did not understand Aramaic/Hebrew (although they do apparently know who Elijah is). But then again, some have pointed out that confusing 'əlahi with Eliya(hu) ‘Elijah’ is not as easy as one would think. (In fact, it is also thought that Matthew gave the Hebrew form ‘Eli’ so as to make the connection clearer, compared to Mark’s ‘Eloi’, which reflects the Aramaic better.*)

  • Another fun fact: a few manuscripts of Mark have “why have you reviled/slighted me?” instead of “why have you forsaken me?” Here a different pun is probably being made: the similar-sounding words El(o)i and hēlios “sun” are being connected. In other words, these manuscripts seem to make it appear as if Jesus was berating the sun for leaving Him! In fact, some people wonder, what if the historical bystanders had actually thought that Jesus was calling out to the Greek sun god Helios, and that it was only later scribes who had confused Hēlios with Hēlias ‘Elijah’ - the difference being only that of a single letter? This would certainly make the bystander’s misinterpretation of Jesus’ words more credible: you might think they were non-Jews who probably did not know Aramaic. But the problem is, we have no manuscript that contains hēlios instead of Hēlias, so it’s all just speculation.


He died knowing that he will be raised again on the 3rd day.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.