4 occurrences in 4 dictionaries

Reference: Punishments


The penalties inflicted in ancient times for various crimes and offences, varied in different nations, and at different times. Capital punishment for murder is generally agreed to have been permanently instituted at the origin of the human race; and Cain was only saved from it by a special interposition of God, Ge 4:14-15. It was reenacted, with reasons, after the deluge, Ge 9:5-6, and in the wilderness, Nu 35:9-34; and was early and widely recognized among mankind.

The mode of capital punishment usual among the Hebrew was stoning, De 13:9-10; Jos 17:18; Joh 8:7; but various other modes became known to them by intercourse with other nations: as decapitation, 2Ki 10:6-8; Mt 14:8-12; precipitation from rocks, 2Ch 25:12; Lu 4:29; hanging, Jos 8:29; Es 7:10; burning, Da 3; cutting asunder, Da 2:5; 3:29; Heb 11:27; beating, on a wheel-like frame, Heb 11:35; exposure to wild beasts, Da 6; 1Co 15:32; drowning, Mt 18:6; bruising in a mortar, Pr 27:22; and crucifixion, Joh 19:18.

Minor punishments were scourging, Le 19:20; 2Co 11:24; retaliation in kind for an injury done, Ex 21:23-25; De 19:19; imprisonment, 2Ch 16:10; Mt 4:12; the stocks, Ac 16:24; banishment, Re 1:9; and personal torture, 2Ch 18:26; Isa 50:6; Mt 18:30; Heb 11:37.

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(See CROSS, etc.) Death was the punishment of striking or even reviling a parent (Ex 21:15,17); blasphemy (Le 24:14,16,23); Sabbath-breaking (Nu 15:32-36); witchcraft (Ex 22:18); adultery (Le 20:10); rape (De 22:25); incestuous and unnatural connection (Le 20:11,14,16); man stealing (Ex 21:16); idolatry (Le 20:2). "Cutting off from the people" is ipso facto excommunication or outlawry, forfeiture of the privileges of the covenant people (Le 18:29). The hand of God executed the sentence in some cases (Ge 17:14; Le 23:30; 20:3,6; Nu 4:15,18,20). Capital punishments were stoning (Ex 17:4); burning (Le 20:14); the sword (Ex 32:27); and strangulation, not in Scripture, but in rabbinical writings.

The command (Nu 25:4-5) was that the Baal-peor sinners should be slain first, then impaled or nailed to crosses; the Hebrew there (hoqa) means dislocated, and is different from that in De 21:22 (thalitha toli), De 21:23. The hanged were accounted accursed; so were buried at evening, as the hanging body defiled the land; so Christ (Ga 3:13). The malefactor was to be removed by burial from off the face of the earth speedily, that the curse might be removed off the land (Le 18:25,28; 2Sa 21:6,9). Punishments not ordained by law: sawing asunder, and cutting with iron harrows(Isaiah, Heb 11:37; Ammon, in retaliation for their cruelties, 2Sa 12:31; 1Sa 11:2); pounding in a mortar (Pr 27:22); precipitation (Lu 4:29; 2Ch 25:12); stripes, 40 only allowed (De 25:3), the Jews therefore gave only 39; the convict received the stripes from a three-thonged whip, stripped to the waist, in a bent position, tied to a pillar; if the executioner exceeded the number he was punished, a minute accuracy observed in 2Co 11:24.

The Abyssinians use the same number (Wolff, Travels, 2:276). Heaps of stones were flung upon the graves of executed criminals (Jos 15:25-26; 2Sa 18:17); to this day stones are flung on Absalom's supposed tomb. Outside the city gates (Jer 22:19; Heb 13:12). Punishment in kind (lex talionis) was a common principle (Ex 21:24-25). Also compensation, restitution of the thing or its equivalent (Ex 21:18-36). Slander of a wife's honour was punished by fine and stripes (De 22:18-19).

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The earliest theory of punishment current among mankind is doubtless the one of simple retaliation, "blood for blood." Viewed historically, the first case of punishment for crime mentioned in Scripture, next to the Fall itself, is that of Cain, the first murderer. That death was regarded as the fitting punishment for murder appears plain from the remark of Lamech.

Ge 4:24

In the post-diluvian code, if we may so call it, retribution by the hand of man, even in the case of an offending animal, for blood shed, is clearly laid dawn.

Ge 9:5-6

Passing onward to Mosaic times, we find the sentence of capital punishment, in the case of murder, plainly laid down in the law. The murderer was to be put to death, even if he should have taken refuge at God's altar or in a refuge city, and the same principle was to be carried out even in the case of an animal. Offences punished with death.-- I. The following offences also are mentioned in the law as liable to the punishment of death:

1. Striking, or even reviling, a parent.

Ex 21:15,17

2. Blasphemy.

Le 24:14,16,23

3. Sabbath-breaking.

Ex 31:14; 35:2; Nu 15:32-36

4. Witchcraft, and false pretension to prophecy.

Ex 22:18; Le 20:27; De 13:5; 18:20

5. Adultery.

Le 20:10; De 22:22

6. Unchastity.

Le 21:9; De 22:21,23

7. Rape.

De 22:25

8. Incestuous and unnatural connections.

Ex 22:19; Le 20:11,14,16

9. Manstealing.

Ex 21:16; De 24:7

10. Idolatry, actual or virtual, in any shape.

Le 20:2; De 13:8,10,15; 17:2-7

see Josh 7:1 ... and Josh 22:20 and Numb 25:8

11. False witness in certain cases.

De 19:16,19

II. But there is a large number of offences, some of them included in this list, which are named in the law as involving the,penalty of "cutting off from the people. On the meaning of this expression some controversy has arisen. There are altogether thirty six or thirty seven cases in the Pentateuch in which this formula is used. We may perhaps conclude that the primary meaning of "cutting off" is a sentence of death to be executed in some cases without remission, but in others voidable -- (1) by immediate atonement on the offender's part; (2) by direct interposition of the Almighty i.e., a sentence of death always "regarded," but not always executed. Kinds of punishments. --Punishments are twofold, Capital and Secondary. I. Capital. (A) The following only are prescribed by the law:

1. Stoning, which was the ordinary mode of execution.

Ex 17:4; Lu 20:6; Joh 10:31; Ac 14:5

In the case of idolatry, and it may be presumed in other cases also, the witnesses, of whom there were to be at least two, were required to cast the first stone.

De 13:9; Ac 7:58

2. Hanging is mentioned as a distinct punishment.

Nu 25:4; 2Sa 21:6,9

3. Burning, in pre-Mosaic times, was the punishment for unchastity.

Ge 38:24

Under the law it was ordered in the case of a priest's daughter

Le 21:9

4. Death by the sword or spear is named in the law,

Ex 19:13; 32:27; Nu 25:7

and it occurs frequently in regal and post-Babylonian times.

1Ki 2:25,34; 19:1; 2Ch 21:4


5. Strangling is said by the rabbis to have been regarded as the most common but least severe of the capital punishments, and to have been performed by immersing the convict in clay or mud, and then strangling him by a cloth twisted round the neck. (B) Besides these ordinary capital punishments, we read of others, either of foreign introduction or of an irregular kind. Among the former

1. CRUCIFIXION is treated elsewhere.

See Crucifixion

2. Drowning, though not ordered under the law, was practiced at Rome, and is said by St. Jerome to have been in use among the Jews.

3. Sawing asunder or crushing beneath iron instruments.

2Sa 12:31

and perhaps

Pr 20:26; Heb 11:37

4. Pounding in a mortar, or beating to death, is alluded to in

Pr 27:22

but not as a legal punishment, and cases are described. 2 Macc. 6:28,30.

5. Precipitation, attempted in the case of our Lord at Nazareth, and carried out in that of captives from the Edomites, and of St. James, who is said to have been cast from "the pinnacle" of the temple. Criminals executed by law were burned outside the city gates, and heaps of stones were flung upon their graves.

Jos 7:25-26; 2Sa 18:17; Jer 22:19

II. Of secondary punishments among the Jews, the original Principles were,

1. Retaliation, "eye for eye," etc.

Ex 21:24-25

2. Compensation, Identical (restitution)or analogous payment for loss of time or of power.

Ex 21:18-36; Le 24:18-21; De 19:21

Slander against a wife's honor was to be compensated to her parents by a fine of one hundred shekels, and the traducer himself to be punished with stripes

De 22:18-19

3. Stripes, whose number was not to exceed forty,

De 25:3

whence the Jews took care not to exceed thirty-nine.

2Co 11:24

4. Scourging with thorns is mentioned

Jg 8:16

The stocks are mentioned

Jer 20:2

passing through fire,

2Sa 12:31


Jg 1:6

2 Macc. 7:4, and see

2Sa 4:12

plucking out hair,

Isa 50:6

in later times, imprisonment and confiscation or exile.

Ezr 7:26; Jer 37:15; 38:6; Ac 4:3; 5:18; 12:4

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