A photo of this cross was sent to us with the question: What type of cross is it? Well, with a little help from our friends (or rather, an enormous help from our friends!) we have come to the conclusions detailed below.
In short, the elements on this cross refer to the Old Testament mystery perspectives on the Messiah and Isaiah's prophecy. So we've named it, for want of a better term, the Prince of Peace Cross. (And if you have a better name for this cross, please feel free to tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The cross photographed (above right) was found in Alaska. The initial confusion to its identity arose because Christianity, though the predominant religion for hundreds of years, is not widely embraced in the area. Traditional shamanism, based on animist principles, lingers and the actual cross was given to an Eskimo of the Yup'ik village by a 'fortune teller'. It is a commercially produced cross and given the sparse Christian population of Alaska, it was probably made in another part of the world.
First, Simon Ager came to our aid and identified the characters on each cross member as Aramaic / Proto-Hebrew.
Then Alex Roman interpreted what they mean, in addition to explaining the significance of the other components, all of which relate to Jesus Christ and Old Testament prophecies.
Circles represent eternity and the infinite nature of Christ's love (see Sun Cross and Celtic Cross).
The fretted concentric circle pattern in the centre is not dissimilar to the floor plan of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem (see Order of Christ Cross). Religious Jewish scholars believe that the Ark of the Covenant was placed on a rock in the Holy of Holies of Solomon's Temple (the First Temple) in Jerusalem. It is now covered by a mosque known as the Dome of the Rock. (See also Solomon's Knot)
The floor plan is not unique to the Dome of the Rock. We find these same fretted concentric circles in a symbol known as the Atlantis Cross, but since we don't know where Atlantis was, or even if it existed, its shape and form are only conjecture.1
The small circle at the very top of the cross probably has no additional significance; it is simply to accommodate a neck chain. But click on the cross image above for a larger view and you can see a five-pointed star at the base. This represents the Seal of Solomon, signifying the wisdom of the Messiah, and supports the view that the concentric circles represent King Solomon's Temple.
At the bottom of the lower arm are wing tips, which represent the Ark of the Covenant. The Bible describes that over the Ark were two cherubim, facing each another2 and their outspread wings formed the throne of God, while the Ark itself was God's footstool3. Within the Ark were placed the two stone tablets constituting God's covenant with the people (i.e. the Ten Commandments) and on this cross, we see ten feathers on the wing tips.
But the wings have further significance. The Glory of God, the physical appearance of God (Shekhinah), filled the tabernacle when the Ark was placed there. God was truly pleased, not because of the people's righteousness, but because their sins were covered by the wings of Christ who was to come amongst mankind. The wing tips seen on this cross are tiny, but their meaning is profound. Alex explains that "Christ is the New Covenant (the Ark being the Blessed Virgin Mary) and He is the Presence of God."
Alex goes on to explain the letters, each of which say something about Yeshua ha Mashiach (Jesus the Anointed-Messiah).
Reading from right to left, Tsade (pronounced 'tsah-dee') is the 18th letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Symbolically it represents the 'faithful servant with arms raised before the Lord in humility'. Since God alone is perfectly righteous, the letter reflects the divine image when one lives in humility and dependence on God's will. In the Jewish tradition, it has a numerical value of 90 and signifies fullness of life. It is also a picture of the Lord Jesus/Yeshua, suffering in humility that atones for sin.
Dalet (pronounced 'dah-let') is the 4th letter and represents a door – the two doors of birth and death. Dal means 'weak' and 'powerless'. It shows how Christ suffered and died for us in our infirmity to give us strength and how poor we are indeed without Him.
Ayin (pronounced 'ah-yeen') is the 16th letter of the Hebrew alphabet and has the numerical value of 70. It means 'to see' and/or 'to obey.' It represents the Divine light of God mentioned in Gen. 1:3. Only the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) can grant us the inspiration to see with this Light, according to Jewish midrash. It is also in the Shema that serves to remind us to understand or see that God is the Lord of Israel and that we should hear and obey Him. Again, an appropriate letter for the Cross.
Kaf is the 11th letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The literal meaning of Kaf is 'palm' (of the hand). So we bless others with palms over them, we raise our palms to heaven and God is seen as holding His palms over us - an act which signifies calling forth of the power of the Spirit for manifestation in the physical world - the spiritual meaning of Kaf.
Kaf also forms part of the word for keter (crown). This refers to the crowns of the Law/Torah, of the Priesthood, of the Kingdom and of a good name under the Old Testament. The New Testament identifies the crown of life for suffering endured, of righteousness, an incorruptible crown of eternal life, the crown of glory and the Crown of Thorns that only Yeshua/Jesus can wear as our High Priest. Jesus possesses all the crowns of Israel and of the New Israel which is His Church. When Kaf is used as a prefix (e.g. k'melekh), then it means 'like as' and when we follow Jesus through our submission to Him and follow His works, we will be given the keter haTzedakah (crown of righteousness).
Samekh (pronounced 'sah-mekh') is the 15th letter of the Hebrew alphabet which is the symbol of help and support4. The Epistle of James, chapter two, also talks about supporting/helping our brothers and sisters5. We are to rely on God for help and we are to reflect God's love and support of us by supporting others – the fundamental Christian Gospel.
Bet (pronounced 'bait') is the 2nd letter of the Hebrew alphabet and has the numeric value of two. It is an important letter as it is connected with barukh (blessing) of God. It is also the first letter of the Bible (not Aleph, as one might think). Bet is the power that comes from Av, the Father-Creator of the Universe that stands behind Bet. Genesis is named bereshot after the letter Bet, the first letter of revelation. Bereshot is derived from shoresh which means 'head'.
All this points to Jesus who was with God (the Father) from the beginning and is Himself God. (John 1:1 can be placed alongside Gen. 1:1 for a comparison.) Jesus/Yeshua dwelt with us6 which is literally translated as 'tabernacled'. His Body is indeed the Tabernacle of God the Almighty. Bet is also associated with Ben Elohim (Son of God).
And finally Nun (pronounced 'noon'), the 14th letter of the Hebrew alphabet and has the numeric value of 50, which means 'freedom and fullness of life'. There are two different Hebrew Nun characters in the word itself; the first looking like a squashed letter 'J', and the last standing tall and erect. The squashed 'J' suggests humility before God, which leads to the privilege of standing upright on the Final Day.
In Aramaic, the word Nun means 'fish'; a symbol of activity and life. The fish is a well known symbol of Christ (see Ichthys). Jesus came into this world as a man, where His humility was absolute and then He ascended as Christ the King.
There is much more about these Hebrew letters on www.hebrew4christians.net