Was "stauros" used in Septuagint?


Was “stauros” used in Septuagint?

If so, for what Hebrew word?



Caveat – my Septuagint working aids cover only the books of the Protestant Old Testament; someone else will have to answer for the Deutercanonicals.

Within that limitation, “σταυρός” does not appear. However, the related word “σταυρoώ”, “to crucify,” is used in Esther 7:9 in reference to Haman’s execution.

Bunny trail: Crucifixion as a form of execution seems to have been invented by the Persians. Most English translations of Esther (all that I have used) have it that Haman had erected a “gallows” on which he intended to hang Mordecai, and on which he himself was hung (?hanged?). However, having studied the history and the terminology, I believe that what Haman had erected was actually the Persian version of a cross, that his intent was to have Mordecai crucified, and that he himself was crucified on his own cross. /bunny trail

For the record, the Greek word [mis]translated “gallows” is “xulon” (sorry, can’t get my magic Greek word copier to work for this one), and the equivalent Hebrew word is “ets.” Both words carry any number of wood-related meanings starting with “tree,” and the Greek word can be used for “cross.”


What I am hoping to find is an answer to the word cross before Jesus was crucified.

Dave, I was wondering whether cross (“stauros”) really meant to "stand up!"

That is what I am really hoping to understand–for cross before He was crucified seems a little difficult to comprehend–since the Apostles did not even understand in Mark 10 that Jesus had to die and rise.



Here’s the relevant article from Vine’s . . .


A. Noun.

stauros (
, NT:4716) denotes, primarily, “an upright pale or stake.” On such malefactors were nailed for execution. Both the noun and the verb stauroo, “to fasten to a stake or pale,” are originally to be distinguished from the ecclesiastical form of a two beamed “cross.” The shape of the latter had its origin in ancient Chaldea, and was used as the symbol of the god Tammuz (being in the shape of the mystic Tau, the initial of his name) in that country and in adjacent lands, including Egypt. By the middle of the 3 rd cent. A.D. the churches had either departed from, or had travestied, certain doctrines of the Christian faith. In order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical system pagans were received into the churches apart from regeneration by faith, and were permitted largely to retain their pagan signs and symbols. Hence the Tau or T, in its most frequent form, with the cross-piece lowered, was adopted to stand for the “cross” of Christ.

As for the Chi, or X, which Constantine declared he had seen in a vision leading him to champion the Christian faith, that letter was the initial of the word “Christ” and had nothing to do with “the Cross” (for xulon, “a timber beam, a tree,” as used for the stauros, see under TREE).

The method of execution was borrowed by the Greeks and Romans from the Phoenicians. The stauros denotes (a) “the cross, or stake itself,” e. g., Matt 27:32; (b) “the crucifixion suffered,” e. g., 1 Cor 1:17-18, where “the word of the cross,” RV, stands for the gospel; Gal 5:11, where crucifixion is metaphorically used of the renunciation of the world, that characterizes the true Christian life; 6:12,14; 2:16; 3:18.

The judicial custom by which the condemned person carried his stake to the place of execution, was applied by the Lord to those sufferings by which His faithful followers were to express their fellowship with Him, e. g., Matt 10:38.
(from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)


. . . and from Thayer’s:

. . . and from Thayer’s.


NT:4716 stauro/, staurou (from i%sthmi (root sta); cf. Latin stauro, English staff (see Skeat, Etymological Dictionary, under the word); Curtius, § 216; Vanicek, p. 1126);

  1. an upright stake, especially a pointed one (Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon).
  2. a cross; a. the well-known instrument of most cruel and ignominious punishment, borrowed by the Greeks and Romans from the Phoenicians; to it were affixed among the Romans, down to the time of Constantine the Great, the guiltiest criminals, particularly the basest slaves, robbers, the authors and abetters of insurrections, and occasionally in the provinces, at the arbitrary pleasure of the governors, upright and peaceable men also, and even Roman citizens themselves; cf. Winer’s RWB, under the word Kreuzigung; Merz in Herzog edition 1 ((cf. Schaff-Herzog) also Schultze in Herzog edition 2), under the word Kreuz; Keim, iii., p. 409 ff. (English translation, vi. 138; BB. DD., see under the words, Cross, Crucifixion; O. Zöckler, Das Kreuz Christi (Gütersloh, 1875); English translation, Lond. 1878; Fulda, Das Kreuz u. d. Kreuzigung (Bresl. 1878); Edersheim, Jesus the Messiah, ii. 582 ff). This horrible punishment the innocent Jesus also suffered: Matt 27:32,40,42; Mark 15:21,30,32; Luke 23:26; John 19:17,19,25,31; Col 2:14; Heb 12:2;
    qa/nato$ staurou, Phil 2:8; to ai!ma tou staurou, blood shed on the cross; Col 1:20.
    b. equivalent to the crucifixion which Christ underwent: Gal 5:11 (on which see ska/ndalon, under the end); Eph 2:16; with the addition of tou Xristou, 1 Cor 1:17; the saving power of his crucifixion, Phil 3:18 (on which see e)xqro/, at the end); Gal 6:14; tw staurw tou Xristou diw/kesqai, to encounter persecution on account of one’s avowed belief in the saving efficacy of Christ’s crucifixion, Gal 6:12; o lo/go o tou staurou, the doctrine concerning the saving power of the death on the cross endured by Christ, 1 Cor 1:18. The judicial usage which compelled those condemned to crucifixion themselves to carry the cross to the place of punishment (Plutarch, de sara numinis vindict. c. 9; Artemidorus Daldianus, oneir. 2, 56, cf. John 19:17), gave rise to the proverbial expression ai&rein or lamba/nein or basta/zein to/n stauro/n au)tou, which was usually used by those who, on behalf of God’s cause, do not hesitate cheerfully and manfully to bear persecutions, troubles, distresses — thus recalling the fate of Christ and the spirit in which he encountered it (cf. Bleek, Synop. Erkl. der drei ersten Evangg. i, p. 439 f): Matt 10:38; 16:24; Mark 8:34; 10:21 (R L in brackets); 15:21; Luke 9:23; 14:27.

NT:4717 stauro/w, ((a bunch of grammatical forms snipped));

  1. to stake, drive down stakes: Thucydides 7, 25, 6 (here oi Surakosioi e)stau/rwsan, which the Scholiast renders staurou kate/phcan.
  2. to fortify with driven stakes, to palisade: a place, Thucydides 6, 100; Diodorus
  3. to crucify (Vulg. crucifigo): tina
    a. properly: Matt 20:19; 23:34; 26:2; 27:22,(23),26,31,35,38; 28:5; Mark 15:13-15,20,24,27; 16:6; Luke 23:21,23,33; 24:7,20; John 19:6,10,15,18,20,23,41; Acts 2:36; 4:10; 1 Cor 1:13,23; 2:2,(8); 2 Cor 13:4; Gal 3:1; Rev 11:8 (Additions to Esther 8:13 (34) [8:12 r]; for hlT, to hang, Est 7:9. Polybius 1, 86, 4; Josephus, Antiquities 2, 5, 4; 17, 10, 10; Artemidorus Daldianus, oneir. 2, 53 and 56; in native Greek writings a)nastauroun is more common). b. metaphorically: th/n sa/rka, to crucify the flesh, destroy its power utterly (the nature of the figure implying that the destruction is attended with intense pain (but note the aorist)), Gal 5:24; e)stau/rwmai ti/ni, and e)stau/rwtai moi ti/, I have been crucified to something and it has been crucified to me, so that we are dead to each other all fellowship and contact between us has ceased, Gal 6:14. (Compare: a)nastauro/w su(n)stauro/w.

(from Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, PC Study Bible formatted Electronic Database. Copyright © 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)


**Jim, **I don’t know the answer to your question but I can offer a modest contribution that may or may not be useful to you. In the Hebrew NT translated by the Trinitarian Bible Society, the noun “cross” and the verb “to crucify” both appear as צלב, pointed as “tzelav” when it’s the noun and as “tzalav” when it’s the verb.

As **DaveBJ **has already pointed out, both stauros in Greek and crux in Latin can sometimes mean just an upright post, without the crossbar, whether it was used a stake for condemned criminals or for other purposes, such as erecting a palisade. Picking your way among the various meanings can be a bit of a minefield.


Stauros is word whose root is used for cross, intersection and starfish as shown here:
σταυρός, cross (it’s the same word used for Crucifix).
διασταύρωση, intersection
αστερίας, starfish

The derivation is very interesting. In Homeric and classical Greek, until the early 4th century BC, stauros meant an upright stake, pole, but came to infer the whole cross or Crucifix as well as the related words for intersection and starfish.
In Koine Greek, the form of Greek used between about 300 BC and AD 300, the word σταυρός was used to denote a structure on which Romans executed criminals. In the writings of the time, the word stauros is generally translated as cross.

Some 19th century writers took it to mean have the meaning in Homeric Greek, But they were written before the discovery of thousands of manuscripts in Koine Greek at Oxyrhyncus in Egypt revolutionised understanding of the language of the New Testament.

There is an interesting discussion on a similar subject here:


The Greek word “starous” is often used by Jehovah’s Witnesses to prove that Jesus was not crucified. This is because the word actually refers to a wooden pale or stake used by the Greeks to torture others, usually to impale victims. Thus some come to the conclusion that Jesus was nailed to an upright stake instead.

What is wrong about this conclusion is that the Gospels transmit events and discussions held in Aramaic, Hebrew, and even those held in Latin. Greek was only used for the New Testament because the Roman world power had conquered the Greek world, and thus Greek was used as an official universal language (especially where writing was called for) since this is what the majority of the world still used due to being previously conquered by Alexander the Great.

The Roman army conquered the Hellenistic world by using technological advances unseen in warfare and torture. While Latin terms existed for these new contraptions invented by the Romans, there were no exact Greek terms for many of them.

Therefore the New Testament writers had to choose words to describe the Latin “crux,” an object of torture unknown to the Greeks. Unlike the pale, the “crux” had a crossbeam and footrest. Instead of flaying a victim, the “crux” or cross was used to asphyxiate a victim slowly while being publicly displayed nude and forced to die, bleed, and expel their human waste during a death that could last days. It was a horrificly painful and shameful way to die.

The Bible writers chose two words to describe the Latin cross, namely “stauros” and “xylon,” which mean “pale” and “tree” respectively.

Archeological findings, historical documents, and even etchings that date back to ancient Roman times prove that the new invention upon which Jesus was nailed was a Latin cross, even though the word used in the Gospels is the Greek word “pale.” The fact that the legs of the criminals were broken to speed up the process (as mentioned John 19.31-37) indicates that the act of crucifixion and not impaling was being carried out. Breaking the legs would speed up the process of suffocation which was otherwise allowed to move along as slowly as possible.

A Greek word to precisely describe the Latin cross was never invented because Latin soon became the universal language. Romans however invented an expression to describe the difference between the Latin cross and the Greek pale: crux simplex, which means “cross without a crossbeam.”.


All of those that have answered are great!

I will have to study what has been written.

I wonder if Jesus used the word “starous” figuratively.

“Stand up” Jesus says to so many people he cured. “Stand up, pick up your mat and go home.”


If your main question is why Jesus would have referred to the cross before His crucifixion, I think the answer is because He knew that was the way He would die. The Pharisees had tried to kill Him several times. I don’t think your interpretation is the kind of thing Jesus was saying at all. He’s telling us that we should all be willing to accept our own sufferings in this world, like He accepted His. That’s the best way to really follow Him.

Maybe this section of this “Homily 13 on Philippians” from St. John Chrysostom might shed some light on how the ECFs viewed references such as taking up our Cross, and what they mean in the lives of Christians. "Nothing is so incongruous in a Christian, and foreign to his character, as to seek ease and rest; and to be engrossed with the present life is foreign to our profession and enlistment. Your Master was crucified, and do you seek ease? Your Master was pierced with nails, and do you live delicately? Do these things become a noble soldier? Wherefore Paul says, "Many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ." Since there were some who made a pretense of Christianity, yet lived in ease and luxury, and this is contrary to the Cross: therefore he thus spoke. For the cross belongs to a soul at its post for the fight, longing to die, seeking nothing like ease, while their conduct is of the contrary sort. So that even if they say, they are Christ’s, still they are as it were enemies of the Cross. For did they love the Cross, they would strive to live the crucified life. Was not your Master hung upon the tree? Do thou otherwise imitate Him. Crucify yourself, though no one crucify you. Crucify yourself, not that you may slay yourself, God forbid, for that is a wicked thing, but as Paul said, "The world has been crucified unto me and I unto the world." Galatians 6:14 If you love your Master, die His death. Learn how great is the power of the Cross; how many good things it has achieved, and does still: how it is the safety of our life. Through it all things are done. Baptism is through the Cross, for we must receive that seal. The laying on of hands is through the Cross. If we are on journeys, if we are at home, wherever we are, the Cross is a great good, the armor of salvation, a shield which cannot be beaten down, a weapon to oppose the devil; you bear the Cross when you are at enmity with him, not simply when you seal yourself by it, but when you suffer the things belonging to the Cross. Christ thought fit to call our sufferings by the name of the Cross. As when he says, "Except a man take up his cross and follow Me" Matthew 16:24, i.e. except he be prepared to die.

But these being base, and lovers of life, and lovers of their bodies, are enemies of the Cross. And every one, who is a friend of luxury, and of present safety, is an enemy of that Cross in which Paul makes his boast: which he embraces, with which he desires to be incorporated. As when he says, "I am crucified unto the world, and the world unto me." But here he says, "I now tell you weeping." Wherefore? Because the evil was urgent, because such deserve tears. Of a truth the luxurious are worthy of tears, who make fat that which is thrown about them, I mean the body, and take no thought of that soul which must give account. Behold you live delicately, behold you are drunken, today and tomorrow, ten years, twenty, thirty, fifty, a hundred, which is impossible; but if you will, let us suppose it. What is the end? What is the gain? Nought at all."


Thank you, thank you, thank you.

All of you really helped.

God bless!!!


In Homeric and classical Greek, until the early 4th century BC, stauros meant an upright stake, pole, but came to infer the whole cross or Crucifix as well as the related words for intersection and starfish.

In Koine Greek used at the time of Christ and beyond, the form of Greek used between about 300 BC and AD 300, the word σταυρός was used to denote a structure on which Romans executed criminals. In the writings of the time, the word stauros is generally translated as cross.

So when Jesus used the term it would have most likely been the common use at the time , meaning a cross.


It is perhaps not insignificant that the Roman crucifixion process in Palestine required the condemned person to carry the crossbeam, to which the condemned would be affixed, and then the crossbeam would be raised up on the upright, already standing (and stabilized) in place. This would mean that the two terms would not be mutually exclusive.



Your statement about “carrying the crossbeam” is really helpful and interesting to me.



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