Free Online Bible Library | Ordeals

We also have classes for: provides a comprehensive biblical education from world-class professors
to encourage spiritual growth in the church, for free.

Would you do us the favor of answering this two question poll so we can know how to serve you better? You will also be given the opportunity to join our team tasked with how to make better. Thank you.  --Bill Mounce



A form of trial whereby, according to God's will and judgment, the guilt or innocence of an accused person was determined by some feat of physical endurance. The practice predates the biblical era and was almost universal in scope. The ordeal by water is mentioned in the Code of Hammurabi (nos. 2, 132) and the bitter-water ordeal is recorded in Numbers 5:11-31. The ordeal was commonly used in medieval Europe and held the favor of the church until 1215 (Fourth Lateran Council), when the clergy was forbidden to take part in the practice. Up to that time the ordeals were usually preceded by Mass. There were many canonists who had opposed it before 1215, but they had been unable to have it abolished. The ordeal took many forms: ordeals by poison, by water, by hot iron, by fire, and by combat. The ordeal by poison is used particularly by the peoples of West Africa. Europeans often required the accused to carry a ball of hot iron in his hand for a certain distance or to plunge his arm to the wrist or elbow into a caldron of boiling water. Festering on the third day proved guilt.

Biblical Training

The BiblicalTraining app gives you access to 2,300 hours of instruction (129 classes and seminars). Stream the classes, or download and listen to them offline. Share classes via social media, email, and more.