The 13 Sufferings of the Cross (Aserte Selestu Himamat Mesqel)

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, One God, Amen!

The Thirteen Sufferings of the Cross
(Aserte Selestu Hemamat Mesqel)

Below is some excerpts from my seminar conducted at Kidus Yohannes Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church Indianapolis Indiana on Friday April 13th/2012 right after the rite of “Arbi Seqlet” (Good Friday) prayers. If we are to describe and explain everything our Lord went through for our sake it would be numerous and impossible to do so. But in brief I have attempted to provide some of his sufferings as taught in the Tewahdo Orthodox Church by our ancestors for the past generations. I pray and hope that we all take a moment and meditate on each one of them so we can have a better understanding and appreciation of what Christ has done for us. Our scholars in the Tewahdo Church teach us that on Holy Thursday Jesus broke bread into 13 pieces and divided one for each of the twelve Apostles in commemoration of his suffering. The numerical significance of the 12 pieces (12 apostles + Christ=13) were a metaphor of his suffering of which was to take place on Good Friday.
The Thirteen Sufferings of the Cross (Aserte Seleste Hemamat Mesqel):
1) Aklil Sek ------------------------------Crown of Thorns
And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! (Matthew 27:29).

2) Tekoro Re’s --------------------------Beaten on the Head
“And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head”(Matth.27:30).

3) Tetsef’o Meltahet ------------------Slapped on the Cheek
“And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so?” (John 18:22).

4) Te’asro Dehrit ----------------------Bound behind the Back
“And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. (Matthew 27:2).”
5) Teqesfo Z’ban -----------------------Whipped on the Back
- “Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.” (Matth. 27:26).
- “Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him.” (john 19:1).

6) Tsewi’re Gunde -------------------Carried the Cross
- “And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross. (Matth.27:32).”
- “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).

7) Serib Hamot ------------------------Vinegar and Gall
They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. (Matth.27:34). {Gall---is bile obtained from animal, bitter to drink its nasty}

8) Tesehbo Behabel ------------------Pulled by Rope
Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.(John 18:12-13). {When they bound our Lord & led him away they wanted to humiliate him by dragging him to afflict pain as much as possible. Romans were very cruel at torture they wanted the person especially those watching and witnessing that you don’t mess with the Romans or in particular (Roman punishment). Scholars say that when they bound a person’s hands they made sure small sharp teeth like things were placed within the ropes to cause pain on the hand when pulled aggressively causing suffering} .

Hamestu Qenwate Mesqel/ Five Nails of the Cross/ Hamushte Qenwat Mesqel:
9) Sador
10) Alador
11) Danat
12) Adiera
13) Rodas

The last five indicated above are referred to as “Hamestu Qenwat Mesqel” referring to the five specific suffering Christ endured on the Cross.

According to the teaching of the Holy Fathers of Debre Bizan they refer to the following as such:
- Three (3) for the nails on the Cross (one for his right hand, one for his left hand and one for his feet)
- One for the piercing on his side which water and blood flowed from.
- The last one for the puncture of his heart from the piercing on his side
- 5 in total.

Other Holy Fathers differ slightly in opinion and say:
- Four (4) for the nails on the Cross (one for his right hand, one for his left hand and two for his feet. Some Fathers say that the feet are heavier and were layered together so therefore requiring 2 nails for the feet for support).
- One for the piercing on his side which water and blood flowed from.
- In total they are Five (5)

Personally I will refrain from presenting my personal opinion on the “Hamestu Qenwate Mesqel.” I will leave that to the Liqawent (scholars). In turn what I think we should all focus on is the uniqueness of these Mysteries and appreciates them as lessons to be learned of how God became man, suffered for our sake and paid our debts so that through believing in him, repenting from our sins and partaking of the Holy Eucharist we may have ever lasting life.

Let us think about the following for a second:

One who his unapproachable even by the angels became man (Emmanuel) and lived among us for our sake, to teach us humility, forgiveness, compassion, patience and love.

One who was blameless, sinless requiring no baptism was baptized by John the Baptist (as an example) so that through baptism we become valid members of Christ (Christians) to inherit everlasting life.

One who required no fasting fasted 40 days and 40 nights and was tempted by the devil as an example for us so that we may know and understand that man lives through the words of God not by bread only and by the word (Christ) we are able to resist and conquer the devil.

One who is not confined chose to be handed and bound by the hands of men was betrayed, beaten, spat on, slapped, dragged, humiliated and crucified.

One who is eternal and has no beginning and end chose to die on the Cross and rise from the dead on the third day to teach us that he is the God of living and even if we die (depart from the flesh) while believing in him we will surely have life after death and rise from the dead on the last day.

May our Lord and Savior Eyesus Kristos have compassion on us!
May the intercession of our blessed mother Kedisti Dengel Mariam and the Holy Saints be with us all!
May the Lord Grant peace to our country Eritrea and the entire world!
May the Lord bless our Church and sustain it for generations to come!

Please remember a sinner like me in your prayers.
Your brother in Christ Deacon Helmon T.


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