4 occurrences in 4 dictionaries

Reference: Prison


The first occasion on which we read of a prison is in the history of Joseph in Egypt. Then Potiphar, "Joseph's master, took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound" (Ge 39:20-23). The Heb word here used (sohar) means properly a round tower or fortress. It seems to have been a part of Potiphar's house, a place in which state prisoners were kept.

The Mosaic law made no provision for imprisonment as a punishment. In the wilderness two persons were "put in ward" (Le 24:12; Nu 15:34), but it was only till the mind of God concerning them should be ascertained. Prisons and prisoners are mentioned in the book of Psalms (Ps 69:33; 79:11; 142:7). Samson was confined in a Philistine prison (Jg 16:21,25). In the subsequent history of Israel frequent references are made to prisons (1Ki 22:27; 2Ki 17:4; 25:27,29; 2Ch 16:10; Isa 42:7; Jer 32:2). Prisons seem to have been common in New Testament times (Mt 11:2; 25:36,43). The apostles were put into the "common prison" at the instance of the Jewish council (Ac 5:18,23; 8:3); and at Philippi Paul and Silas were thrust into the "inner prison" (Ac 16:24; comp. Ac 4:3; 12:4-5).

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Imprisonment, in the modern sense of strict confinement under guard, had no recognized place as a punishment for criminals under the older Hebrew legislation (see Crimes and Punishments,

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In Egypt, in Babylon, among the Romans, and doubtless in most other nations, these were used as places in which to secure prisoners. Joseph was cast into prison, and his feet were hurt with fetters (Ps 105:18), though it does not appear that there was any trial as to the crime of which he was accused. God interfered on his behalf, and made the keeper or jailor favourable to him, and he committed all the prisoners into Joseph's care. This was the royal prison, but the condition of the place is not known: he called it 'the dungeon.'

Jeremiah was confined in 'the court of the prison,' a place to which the Jews could come and where they could converse with him. Jer 32:2-12. Jehoiachin was in prison in Babylon. Jer 52:31. The prison at Jerusalem, under the Romans, is more fully described. Peter was bound by two chains, and lay asleep between two soldiers. It was under military rule, and the soldiers were responsible for the safety of the prisoners. The angel conducted Peter through the first and second guard to the outer iron gate that led into the city. This shows what is meant by the 'inner prison' mentioned elsewhere. Acts 12. At Philippi there was a jailor who was responsible for the safety of the prisoners. He, supposing some had escaped, was about to destroy himself, when Paul stopped him. Ac 16:23-27.

Fallen angels are said to be kept in 'everlasting chains,' Jude 1:6; and there are spirits which are kept in prison. 1Pe 3:19. The abyss in which Satan is to be shut up for the thousand years is also called a prison, which may refer to the same place. Re 20:7.

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[For imprisonment as a punishment, see PUNISHMENTS] It is plain that in Egypt special places were used as prisons, and that they were under the custody of a military officer.

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Ge 40:3; 42:17

During the wandering in the desert we read on two occasions of confinement "in ward" --

Le 24:12; Nu 15:34

but as imprisonment was not directed by the law, so we hear of none till the time of the kings, when the prison appears as an appendage to the palace, or a special part of it.

1Ki 22:27

Private houses were sometimes used as places of confinement. By the Romans the tower of Antoni, was used as a prison at Jerusalem,

Ac 23:10

and at Caesarea the praetorium of Herod. The royal prisons In those days were doubtless managed after the Roman fashion, and chains, fetters and stocks were used as means of confinement. See

Ac 16:24

One of the readiest places for confinement was a dry or partially-dry wall or pit.

Jer 35:6-11

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