Free Online Bible Library | Banishment

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Banishment, on the other hand, is decisive action by one in power, either forcing a change of residence or excluding one from certain rights and privileges. When Adam and Eve sinned, they were dispossessed and banished from the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:22-24). During the reign of the anti-Sem. Claudius, all Jews were driven out of Rome (Acts 18:2). In both cases official action was taken.

Banishment was not prescribed by Mosaic law. It was not similar to the confiscation of property or capital punishment. The law did, however, call for one to be “cut off from his people” on occasion. That was the penalty, for instance, for failure to circumcise (Gen 17:14), for eating blood (Lev 17:10), and for sinning deliberately (Num 15:31). The meaning of the phrase is not entirely clear, but most likely it meant excommunication and exclusion from the fellowship of the faithful. In the early era deportation was not practiced, for it would have meant sending one out of the context of the true religion into a pagan environment. That form of banishment was not adopted by the Jews until after their return from captivity. It was practiced by the Romans, and it may be that the postexilic Jews borrowed it from their neighbors.


F. E. Hirsch, “Punishments,” ISBE, IV (1955), 2504-2506; M. F. Unger, “Banish,” UBD (1957), 121; M. Greenberg, “Banishment,” IDB, I (1962), 346; A. R. S. Kennedy, “Crimes and Punishment,” HDB (1963), 190.

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