Yeshua the Worm!?

There is a species of oak with the fancy Latin name of Quercus infectoria (Quercus boissier), called in Hebrew by the corresponding name tola oak because of the crimson worm (tola) which lives off its branches.

Like most things in Judaism and in Israel, the crimson worm (תֹּולֵעָֽה, tola) is immediately pounced upon as being representative of Jesus / Yeshua. The abuse of psalm 22 verse 6 is a prime example.

But I am a worm (תּוֹלָע), and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. Psalm 22:6

Crimson worm

Now of course Psalm 22 is a well maligned psalm by the missionaries in their quest to convert Jews, even Christening it as the crucifixion psalm[1].

For dogs have encompassed me; a company of evildoers encircles me; like a lion (כָּאֲרִי), they are at my hands and feet. Psalm 22:17

The phrase “like a lion” is a direct translation of the Hebrew word “ke’ari (כָּאֲרִי).” Compare:

Lest he tear my soul like a lion (כְּאַרְיֵה), rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver. Psalms 7:3

To transform Psalms 22:17 into a “prophecy” of Jesus’ crucifixion, missionaries translate “ke’ari” (כָּאֲרִי) as “they have pierced my hands and feet.” Yet this is clearly a mistranslation[2], for the Psalmist continues:

Save me from the lion’s mouth (אַרְיֵה), for You have answered me from the horns of wild oxen. Psalms 22:22

The claims of Christians blinded by their New Testament theological projections onto the Jewish scriptures of course completely ignore any immediate context/ fulfillment of psalm 22 and what the Rabbis had to say about it.

An interesting understanding is that Psalm 22 alludes to Purim, an event which was to occur hundreds of years after David. It goes that David, with his ‘holy spirit’ foresaw the bleak Babylonian and Persian exiles in general, and in particular, the terrible threat of Haman and Ahashueros against the entire Jewish nation, personified by Queen Esther. Although there are countless events in Jewish history which David does discuss in the Book of Psalms, Alshich explains that David dedicated a Psalm to Esther because she personally had a hand in the salvation of Israel in her days. When David fled from Absalom, Shimei ben Gera of the tribe of Benjamin went out to viciously curse David. Yet, David would not allow his men to kill Shimei although he deserved death for blaspheming the king:

5 Now when King David came to Bahurim, there was a man from the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei the son of Gera, coming from there. He came out, cursing continuously as he came. 6 And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David. And all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. 7 Also Shimei said thus when he cursed: “Come out! Come out! You bloodthirsty man, you rogue! 8 The Lord has brought upon you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the Lord has delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom your son. So now you are caught in your own evil, because you are a bloodthirsty man!”

9 Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Please, let me go over and take off his head!”

10 But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? So let him curse, because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’”

11 And David said to Abishai and all his servants, “See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life. How much more now may this Benjamite? Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the Lord has ordered him. 12 It may be that the Lord will look on my affliction,[a] and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day.” 13 And as David and his men went along the road, Shimei went along the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went, threw stones at him and kicked up dust. (II Sam. 16:5-13).

The Talmud (Megilla 13a) says that David foresaw that Mordecai [and Esther] was destined do descend from Shimei [Mordecai, son of Yair, son of Shimi) (Esther 2:5)] and being that the salvation of Israel was at stake, David forfeited his own dignity for the sake of saving his own people.

Now onto the Worms

Worm: Rima (רִמָּה) and crimson worm tolat (תוֹלַעַת)

In considering Psalm 22:6 and other passages in the Jewish scriptures we have a very interesting parallel between worms, men and G-d himself. The richness and the beauty of the Hebrew language as such allows for very precise definitions and general principles to be worked out so that any crazy ideas we may entertain may be eliminated. First a quote of Psalm 22:6 (verse 7 in Jewish ‘bibles’):

But I am a worm (תוֹלַעַת, tolat), and no man (אִישׁ, ish); a reproach of men (אָדָם, odom), and despised of the people (עָם).

וְאָנֹכִי תוֹלַעַת וְלֹא-אִישׁ; חֶרְפַּת אָדָם, וּבְזוּי עָם

A word for worm in Hebrew is Rima (רִמָּה) and for a specific crimson worm is a tolat (תוֹלַעַת). In terms of usage  Rima (רִמָּה)  is used seven times in seven verses and tolat (תוֹלַעַת) is used forty-three times in forty three verses. In two places both terms are used together:

Your pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of your stringed instruments: the worm (רִמָּה) is spread under you, and the worms (תּוֹלָע) cover you. Isa 14:11

How much less, man, who is a worm (רִמָּה), and the son of man (בן–אדם ben odom), who is crimson worm (תֹּולֵעָֽה). Job 25:6

In the case of the verse in Job we have a reference to the term ‘son of man’ (בן–אדם ben odom), the very first reference to ‘son of man’ (בן–אדם ben odom) is found in the Torah in Numbers 23:19

God is not a man (איש : [‘iysh]) that He should lie, nor is He a mortal (בן–אדם : [ben-adam ]) that He should relent. Would He say and not do, speak and not fulfill?

In the above both types of men in terms of the singular or in the generic [as in all mankind] are ruled out to describe God or that God could ever become a man. After all God cannot change (Mal 3:6) unlike the lie of the New Testament and New Testament theology which directly present the opposite [see John 1:1,14]. The notion and the implication from the lie of the New Testament and its theology projected onto the Jewish scriptures is that:

god = man = worm

It is rather unfortunate that Christians have to resort to the twisting of scripture to promote the lies of the New Testament to get ‘pierced’ into the distorted picture of Psalm 22. Even more unfortunate is that once pierced is ‘registered’ into the mind of a Christian, the Christian then goes into a frenzy to entertain other bizarre notions about the ‘crucifixion’ psalm. The crimson worm of course provides the copious amount of crimson blood in a bloody allusion  to crucifixion only if the specific tree concerned (Quercus infectoria oak) is totally infested with the little critters!! Similarly if absolute literalism is required for ‘exact’ fulfillment, then by implication the cross has to be made from “Quercus infectoria” and only “Quercus infectoria”. Any sane individual would know that if one was to put all the relics of the cross together you would probably have enough wood to build Noah’s Ark. Moreover, what kind of sacrifice is it if the worm comes back to life after 3 days. A true sacrifice would be gone forever would it not?

Why not take what Psalm 22 has to say at face value and in its context? To do so for the Christian would include a painful acknowledgement of an immediate context for Psalm 22 which describes the psalmist’s degradation. Also to acknowledge future allusions of Psalm 22 to describe the degradation of Israel in exile which includes historical facts [Purim for example] that nations including Christian nations of the world have treated Jews like worms. In other words with numerous inquisitions, pogroms and the Nazis [acting upon the theology of protestant Martin Luther] has seen the treatment of the Jews as not Human and as easily disposable as worms?


  1. From an old Jews for Jesus brochure, there is a section that quotes several Biblical verses which they say foretell the life of Christ. One of these is Psalms 22:16, which they translate as “They pierced my hands and feet.” This supposedly foretells the crucifixion of Jesus where his hands and feet were pierced by the nails that hung him to the cross. One problem, it doesn’t work in Hebrew.The Psalm describes the angst of the psalmist who is surrounded by enemies and asks why G-d has forsaken him. Psalms 22:16, which in Hebrew says “k’ari b’yadai v’raglai” (“Like a lion (the enemies) are at my hands and feet”). The disputed word here is “k’ari” which is spelled kaph – aleph – resh – yud. Most graduates of a Hebrew school education know that an ari is a lion, and that the use of the letter “kaph” before a word means “like” or “as.” The Christians appear to have invented a new Hebrew word which they pronounce “koari” yet no such word exists in Hebrew with the same spelling. There is a similar sounding word to koari that is used to mean to dig, or perhaps bore (as in a hole), although there are better words for that. But the spelling is much different. In “koari” there is no letter aleph as there is in the word k’ari and no grammatical reason for dropping it.
  2. The word in T’hillim / Psalm 22 is ka’ari (lion) not karu (which means “to dig” BTW, as in digging a ditch, not pierce). The word כָּרוּ karu (“they dug”) occurs in T’hillim / Psalm 57:7 and 119:85, as well as in Yirm’yahu / Jeremiah 18:20 and 18:22, The full conjugation is
    ∙ כָּרִֽיתִי kariti “I dug” (B’réshιt 50:5)
    ∙ כָּרִֽיתָ karita “you [m.sing.] dug” (T’hillim 40:7)
    ∙ כָּרִית karit “you [f.sing.] dug”
    ∙ כָּרָה karah “he dug” (T’hillim 7:16, Divrei Hayamim Beit 16:14)
    ∙ כָּרְתָה kar’tah “she dug”
    ∙ כָּרִֽינוּ karinu “we dug”
    ∙ כְּרִיתֶם k’riy’tem “you [] dug”
    ∙ כְּרִיתֶן k’riy’ten “you [] dug”
    ∙ כָּרוּ karu “they dug”
    Some missionaries try and say that the word in T’hillim / Psalm 22 should be karu — but as just shown above כָּרוּ karu (“they dug”) is NOT pierced. Its cognate 3rd person plural masculine gender (karu) translates to they dug.
    Kaf-resh-vav is a word. BTW the KJV translates ka’ari correctly in other places that arent proof texts misquoted by the GT.
    Numbers 23:24
    (veka’ari), and I as a young lion
    Numbers 24:9
    (ka’ari), like a lion
    Isaiah 38:13
    (ka’ari), like a lion
    Ezekiel 22:25
    (ka’ari), like a lion
    So the KJV translators correctly translated it until they got to Psalms 22:17[16] and suddenly the KJV doesn’t know what it means and translates it as “they pierced.”
    One more little bit of Hebrew grammar. If the word really was “pierced,” (which we’ve proven it is not) the sentence would have an “et” (את) to identify the direct object which would be affected by that verb. There is no et (את).

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