Where Was Jesus CrucifiedQUESTION: Where Was Jesus Crucified?ANSWER:
Where was Jesus crucified? We find the answer in Scripture. This information is recorded in all four of the gospels. However, three of the gospels use one Greek word and one gospel uses another.
"And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull" (Matthew 27:33).
"And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull" (Mark 15:22).
"And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha" (John 19:17).
In these three gospels the Greek word "Golgotha" is used and it means as we read in Matthew "a place of a skull." The Hebrew and the Greek word were the same and therefore it was a commonly known name.
Luke uses the Greek word "Calvary" rather than Golgotha. "And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left" (Luke 23:33). This word in Greek means cranium, or skull and all four gospels identify this spot outside of the gates of Jerusalem as the place where Jesus was placed on a cross. Therefore, the place where Jesus was crucified was a knoll or hill on the outskirts of Jerusalem that was made up of rock shaped like a man's skull and both the Romans and the Jews knew this place by the same name.
Why here? There were several reasons. For the Romans, this spot outside the gates of the city was a place where they crucified criminals as a sign to those who would visit the city that they did not tolerate criminality. In other words, it was capitol punishment used as a deterrent for crime. It was a usual practice for those crucified to be left on the cross for days and they often became rotting corpses that were food for the carrion eaters. Only those criminals who were Jewish or had someone to claim the body were taken down and placed in graves. Jesus' body was buried in the grave belonging to Joseph of Arimathaea (Matthew 27:57-60). Others were sometimes left to rot on the cross and then their bones were cast into a potter's field.
Another reason that the crucifixions took place outside of the city was because of the strict Jewish laws regarding the proximity of dead bodies to the living. Coming into contact with a dead body meant a period of ritual cleansing for uncleanness (Numbers 19:11-22). The Pharisees took this very seriously and all tombs in the city were white washed so that no one could accidentally come into contact with them and be ceremonially unclean. In addition, there was the fact that anyone who "hung on a tree" was cursed. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" (Galatians 3:13).
This is a quote from Deuteronomy. "His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance" (Deuteronomy 21:23). Therefore, the body of any Jew that was hanged or crucified had to be taken down before the beginning of a new day or there was defilement. This practice was accepted by the Roman government as a way to keep the peace with the Jews.
Where was Jesus crucified? Golgotha is where Jesus was crucified by the Romans and it was a place where capitol punishment was meted out. If the Jews had punished Jesus, He would have been stoned. Therefore, the sovereignty of God and the fulfillment of Scripture were perfectly accomplished at the "place of the skull."