Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews
A seventy-something year-old merchant of the City tutored me in the replication of the Inscription Pontius Pilate had ordered to be fixed to Jesus' Cross. The familiar Gospel account gave a description of the words but nowhere could I find it written in Hebrew. The lesson this old Polish Jew taught me was invaluable. He knew the Gospel and its subtle intent better than I.
Matthew records that "the passer-by hurled abuse at him: they wagged their heads and cried, 'You would pull the temple down, would you, and build it in three days? Come down from the cross and save yourself, if you are the Son of God.' So, too the chief priests with the lawyers mocked at him: 'He saved others,' they said, 'but he cannot save himself. King of Israel indeed!'" Matthew 27:39ff.
"King of Israel, indeed!" And that is what the Hebrew reflects, Israel! Of the Jews, I reminded him. I should have saved my breath! "And what do you Gentiles know?" he asked. "Who wants to be King of Judah…, a desert place? No! It's 'Israel', my friend." And that is what the chief priests and lawyers were reading... the Hebrew inscription! The subtlety had been lost on Pilate and his secretary; and it was lost on me, too. I'm grateful for the insight, and the correction!
You may find this a useful reference for a Good Friday or general Lenten application.
The Physiology of Crucifixion | Ashes to Easter