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egklema, "indictment," "charge" (Ac 25:16 the King James Version) is changed in the Revised Version (British and American) to "matter." A crime is a transgression against the public right; serious offense against the law; a base weakness or iniquity, all of which are regarded by the Bible as offenses against

(1) God, or

(2) man, or

(3) both.

An injury to the creature is regarded as obnoxious to the Creator. Specific forms of crime are the following:


See separate article.



According to Webster: "unnatural connection with a beast." This form of vice was treated by the Mosaic law as something exceedingly loathsome and abhorrent, calling for extreme language in its description and rigorous measures in its punishment. Both the beast and the guilty human were to be put to death (Ex 22:19; Le 18:23; 20:15,16; De 27:21), in order, as the Talmud says, to obliterate all memory of the crime.


See separate article.

Breach of Covenant.

Breach of Covenant (parar ’eth ha-berith).--According to Poucher (HDB, article "Crimes"), this term included:

(1) failure to observe the Day of Atonement (Le 23:29); work on that day (Le 23:28);

(2) sacrifice of children to Moloch (Le 20:3);

(3) neglect of circumcision (Ge 17:14; Ex 4:26);

(4) unauthorized manufacture of the holy oil (Ex 30:33);

(5) anointing an alien therewith (Ex 30:33);

(6) neglect of the Passover (Nu 9:13).

Note also the following: Ge 17:14; Le 26:15-44; De 29:25; 31:16,20. Paul (Ro 1:31) speaks of asunthetoi = "Convenant--breakers."

Breach of Ritual.

A term not found in the Scriptures, but designed to cover a number of acts prohibited by the ceremonial law. They have been exhaustively enumerated by Poucher (HDB, article "Crimes"):

(1) eating blood, whether of fowl or beast (Le 7:27; 17:14);

(2) eating fat of the beast of sacrifice (Le 7:25);

(3) eating leavened bread during the Passover (Ex 12:15,19);

(4) failure to bring an offering when an animal is slaughtered for food (Le 17:4);

(5) offering sacrifice while the worshipper is under the ban of uncleanness. (Le 7:20,21; 22:3,4,9);

(6) making holy ointment for private use (Ex 30:32,33);

(7) using the same for perfume (Ex 30:38);

(8) neglect of purification in general (Nu 19:13,10);

(9) slaughtering an animal for food away from the door of the tabernacle (Le 17:4,9); even the alien must comply, so that the introduction of worship at other places might be avoided;

(10) touching holy things illegally (Nu 4:16,20 the Revised Version (British and American) "the sanctuary").

The punishment for the non-observance of these prohibitions was the "cutting off" from the transgressor’s people (nikhrath miqqerebh = "cut off from among," i.e. excommunicated).

Breach of Trust.

See Breach of Trust.


See separate article.


This term does not occur. The corresponding act is defined as "thievery accompanied by breaking," and it places the offender beyond protection from violence (Ex 22:2). The crime might be committed in various degrees, and to burglarize the "devoted things" was punishable by death (Jos 7:25), as was also man-stealing (Ex 21:16; De 24:7).


See separate article.


See separate article.


See separate article.


See separate article.


See separate article.

Evil Speaking (Slander).

See Speaking Evil.


False Swearing.

"Swearing to a lie or falsehood" (sheqer) is mentioned in Le 6:3,1; 19:12; Jer 5:2; 7:9; Ho 10:4; Zec 5:4. From these passages and their context, it appears that this crime was considered in the twofold sense of a wrong against

(1) the neighbor, and

(2) against God, for the oath was an appeal to God as a witness to the truthfulness of the statement; hence, to swear falsely was to represent God as supporting a false statement.



Found only in Mt 5:33 in the sense of committing perjury (epiorkeo).



"Manslayer" (ratsach, "to dash in pieces," "to kill," "to murder"; Greek androphonos, with the same meaning): Mentioned in Nu 35:6,12; 1Ti 1:9. The Hebrew law distinguished between the premeditated and the unpremeditated slaying. See separate article.


See separate article.

Ill-treatment of Parents (Ex 21:15,17; Le 20:9; De 21:18 ff).

See below.

Injuries to the Person (Ex 21:18 ff; Le 24:19 f; De 25:11).


Lack of respect for God or His natural representatives, the parents or governmental officers. See also Parents, Crimes against; Blasphemy.



This crime, in the form in which it has been and is prevalent among barbarous nations, seems to have been quite foreign to the minds of the Hebrews, for they had too lofty a conception of the value of human life, and children were considered a blessing; their absence in the home, a curse (compare Ex 1:17,21; Ps 127; Ps 128). For this reason, there appeared to be no reason to prohibit it by law, except as the Israelites might be influenced to sacrifice their children to Molech when following the religious customs of the Canaanites.

See Molech.

Kidnapping (Man-Stealing).

= "man-stealer," "slave-dealer" (1Ti 1:10). This was a mortal offense; but it seems that it, like some other forms of iniquity, was unknown to the Hebrews, except as they came in contact with it through their intercourse with other nations, such as the Romans and the Greeks, whose mythology frequently alludes to such acts. Lying, Malice, Manslaughter, Murder, Oath.

See separate articles.

Parents, Crimes against.

The law enjoined upon the infant all the reverence toward his parents, especially the father, that he could bestow on a merely human being. The reason for this lay in the fact that the heads of families were expected to transmit the Divine law to their household, and thus to stand in the place of God. That the mother was to share this reverence practically on equal terms with the father is shown by the fact that each is mentioned separately whenever obedience and reverence are enjoined upon the child (De 5:16). As the specific crime against Yahweh consisted in blasphemy and open rebellion against the law, so the crime against parents consisted in deliberate disobedience and stubbornness (De 21:18). And here again both the father and the mother are directed to lay hands upon him and bring him unto the elders for punishment. How greatly such conduct was held in horror is seen in many of the Proverbs, especially 30:17. It would be hard to specify all the acts which, in view of the above, would be considered crimes against the parents, but it is evident that everything which would lower their dignity and influence or violate their sense of just recognition must be carefully avoided, as witness the curse visited upon Ham (Ge 9:20-27).


See False Swearing; Forswear above; also article OATH.

Prophesying, False.


Hebrew and Christian morality never condoned this practice, though the Bible recognizes its existence as a fact even among God’s people. The Hebrew father was forbidden (Le 19:29) to give his daughter over to a life of shame (chalal, "to profane a person, place or thing," "to pollute"). See also Fornication, Harlotry, and Whoredom below.


= "to seize," "bind," "restrain," "conquer," "force," "ravish." The punishment for this crime was greater when the act was committed against a betrothed woman (De 22:25-29). See also Seduction.

Removing Landmarks. (De 19:14).

See Landmark.

Reviling (Ex 22:28).

See Irreverence above and article REVILE.



As the Hebrew Sabbath was regarded as a day of rest, all acts absolutely unnecessary were considered a violation, a "breaking" of the Sabbath, which appears sufficiently from the commandment (Ex 20:8-11); and the head of the household was held responsible for the keeping of this commandment on the part of all sojourners under his roof.

No other law gave the sophistical legalists of later Judaism so much opportunity for hair-splitting distinctions as did this. In answer to the question what labors were forbidden, they mentioned 39 specific forms of work, and then proceeded to define what constituted each particular form. But as even these definitions would not cover all possible questions, special precepts were invented. In order that one might not be caught in the midst of unfinished labors, when the Sabbath began (at sunset), certain forms of work must not be undertaken on Friday. Thus it was forbidden to fry meat, onions or eggs, if there was not sufficient time for them to be fully cooked before evening. No bread, no cakes, must be put into the oven, if there was not sufficient time remaining for their surface to brown before night.

See Sabbath.



See separate article.


See Unnatural Vice.

Speaking Evil.




No special law is found against this crime, for it is included in the prohibition against killing. Contrary to the practice and the philosophy of paganism, the act was held in deep abhorrence by the Hebrews because of the high value placed on human life. It was held inexcusable that any but the most degraded and satanic should lay hands on their own lives. Only the remorse of the damned could drive one to it, as witness Saul (1Sa 31:4) and Judas (Mt 27:5).


Hebrew genebhah "stealing" (concrete), "something stolen," "theft" (Ex 22:3,1); mentioned in connection with other wickedness (klope) in Mt 15:19; Mr 7:21; and (klemma) in Re 9:21. All three words are used abstractly for the act and concretely for the thing stolen.

See thIEF.

Unchastity. No other form of sin is mentioned with disapproval and threats more frequently than the various forms of carnal vice, for no other sin is more natural or widespread.

See Chastity; Lewdness; Marriage.

Unnatural Vice (Sodomy).


See separate article.

Witnessing, False.


Figurative: Because of the infidelity to the lifemate and to right living involved in such acts, the practice became symbolical of infidelity to God and His law, and thus served as a frequent figure of speech for Israel’s error and apostasy.

See Harlot.

Frank E. Hirsch