(1) death in the form of stoning, burning, beheading, or strangling, etc.;
(2) exile to one of the cities of refuge in case of manslaughter (
(3) stripes, not to exceed 40, in practice 39 or less (
Offences against property (theft, fraudulent conversion of deposit, embezzlement, robbery) were punished by exacting more than the value of the things taken (
1. History of the Hebrew Law concerning Punishment:
The earliest theory of punishment seems to have been that of retaliation--"blood for blood"--and to some extent this principle appears even in the Law of Moses (
2. The Mosaic Law concerning Punishment:
It has been noted that capital punishment is extensively prescribed by the Mosaic Law, and undoubtedly the Law was carried out. This circumstance has been explained by reference to the fact that the nation consisted of newly emancipated slaves, and therefore required harsh measures to keep them in check.
Under the Mosaic Law, the offenses that made one liable to the punishment of death were:
(1) striking or reviling a parent (
(2) blasphemy (
(3) Sabbath-breaking (
(4) witchcraft and false pretension to prophecy (
(5) adultery (
(a) before marriage, but detected afterward (
(b) in case of a woman with someone other than her betrothed (
(c) in a priest’s daughter (
(7) rape (
(8) incestuous and unnatural connections (
(9) man-stealing (
(10) idolatry, actual or virtual, in any form (
(11) false witness in capital cases (
A large number of offenses come under the law of punishment by cutting off from the people, the meaning of which expression has led to some controversy. It may signify excommunication or death, and occurs in connection with the following offenses:
(1) breach of morals, such as willful sin in general (
Of capital punishments that are properly regarded as of Hebrew origin, we note:
Hanging is mentioned (
Burning, before the age of Moses, was the punishment of unchastity (
(4) The Sword or Spear
Strangling as a form of punishment has no Scripture authority, but according to tradition was frequently employed, and is said to have been performed by immersing the convict in clay or mud, and then strangling him by a cloth tied around the neck.
3. Punishments of Foreign Origin: Besides these, which are to be regarded as the ordinary capital punishments, we read of some that were either of foreign introduction or of an irregular kind, such as:
(1) crucifixion (which see);
(2) drowning (
(3) sawing asunder or crushing (
(4) torturing (
(5) precipitation (
(6) suffocation (2 Macc 13:4-8).
The Persians are said to have filled a high tower a great way up with ashes, and then to have thrown the criminal into it, and continually stirred up the ashes by means of a wheel till he was suffocated (Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchy, III, 246).
See also HEROD, II, 100.
Secondary forms of punishment not heretofore mentioned are to be noted as follows:
(1) Blinding or Putting Out of Eyes
Blinding or putting out of eyes in the case of captives (
Chaining by means of manacles or fetters of copper or iron, similar to our handcuffs fastened on the wrists and ankles and attached to each other by a chain (
(3) Confiscation of Property
(4) Dashing in Pieces (Psalms 2:9; Isaiah 13:18).
(6) Exposure to Wild Beasts (Leviticus 26:22; 1 Samuel 17:46; Daniel 6).
(Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchy, I, 478; Nineveh and Babylon; mentioned figuratively in
(8) Forfeiture (Ezra 10:8).
Gallows in the modern sense probably were unknown to the ancients. Where the word occurs in
In this term may be included all those outbursts of vengeance or other evil dispositions that were practiced in times or under circumstances when liberties with the prisoner were permitted on the part of bystanders or those who had charge beyond the execution of the judicial decree. Instances are found in the life of Christ (
(12) Mutilation (Judges 1:6,7; Ezekiel 23:25; 2 Maccabees 7).
The Law was opposed to thus treating any Israelite, and Samuel, when referring to the arbitrary power of the future king (
Plucking off the hair is alluded to as a mode of punishment in
Prison garments were in vogue to mark the convicts (
Restitution has been alluded to in the general introduction to this topic.
Retaliation was recognized by Moses as a principle, but the application of it was left to the judge (
(17) Scorpions, Chastising with.
Probably the use of thongs armed with pointed pieces of lead or other metal (
See separate article.
See separate article.
Frank E. Hirsch