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HANGING. Death by strangulation was not a form of capital punishment used in Bible times. Where the word is found in Scripture, except in the two cases of suicide by hanging (Ahithophel, 2Sam.17.23; Judas, Matt.27.5), it refers to the suspension of a body from a tree or post after the criminal had been put to death. This was practiced by the Egyptians (Gen.40.19, Gen.40.22), the Israelites (Deut.21.22), and the Persians. Hanging added to the disgrace. The body was buried before nightfall (Deut.21.23; Josh.8.29; cf. 1Sam.31.8-1Sam.31.13).

Paul in Galatians 3:13 asserts that Jesus became a curse by being hung upon a tree (ζύλον), quoting from Deuteronomy 21:23, his point being that Jesus bore the accursed death due to sin vicariously, so that those who deserved it could be set free.

The מָסָכְ, H5009, at the entrance to the holy place was supported by five pillars of acacia overlaid with gold (26:37), and attached with golden hooks. Possibly it was somewhat wider than the screen to the court. The responsibility for caring for these various hangings and drapes of the Tabernacle and its court was entrusted to the Levitical family of Gershon (Num 3:25, 26).

Besides these is one other Heb. word tr. “hangings” in KJV of OT (2 Kings 23:7) בָּתִּ֖ים. Normally this meant “houses” or “tentshrines,” but here it prob. referred to “woven garments,” although there can be no certainty about a unique usage of this sort.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

Generally, where the word is used in connection with punishments, it appears to have reference to the hanging of the corpse after execution. We find but two clear instances of death by hanging, i.e. strangulation--those of Ahithophel and Judas ((2Sa 17:23; Mt 27:5), and both these were eases of suicide, not of execution. The foregoing Hebrew word is clearly used for "hanging" as a mode of execution in Es 5:14; 6:4; 7:9 ff; 8:7; 9:13,14,25; but probably the "gallows" or "tree" (’ets) was a stake for the purpose of impaling the victim. It could be lowered for this purpose, then raised "fifty cubits high" to arrest the public gaze. The Greek word used in Mt 27:5 is apagchesthai, "to strangle oneself." See HDB, article "Hanging," for an exhaustive discussion.

Frank E. Hirsch