Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology 
Earthly Punishment . The Old Testament . Early in Israel's history, guilt and punishment were understood to be communal. When Achan broke the law by taking some of the spoil from Jericho, the whole Israelite army was defeated at Ai ( Joshua 7:1-5 ). Once it was discovered what Achan had done, his whole family was stoned along with him ( Joshua 7:22-26 ). The sins of parents could be punished to the third and fourth generation ( Exodus 20:5; 34:7; Deuteronomy 5:9-10 ). However, the Lord later revealed that individuals would bear their own guilt ( Deuteronomy 24:16; 2 Kings 14:6; Jeremiah 31:29-30; Ezekiel 18:1-4,20 ).
Sometimes punishment was meted out by God directly, as when fire and brimstone destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah ( Genesis 19:24-25 ) or when the ground opened up to swallow those who rebelled in the wilderness ( Numbers 16:31-33 ). On a national level, God punished his people using the instrumentality of foreign nations. For example, Assyria was seen as the Lord's rod of wrath ( Isaiah 10:5 ). Most crimes and punishments, however, were dealt with through Israel's judicial system, which is found in the Pentateuch.
The Decalogue is in apodictic or absolute form, giving the most important requirements of the law in general terms without listing punishments. One has to examine the casuistic or case law to discover specific violations and their penalties. In the following paragraphs, both are reviewed.
The first and second commands concern foreign deities ( Exodus 20:3-6 ). Worshiping gods other than Yahweh was a capital crime ( Exodus 22:20 ) for which the punishment was stoning ( Deuteronomy 13:6-10 ). Molech worship, involving infant sacrifice, was specifically forbidden, also requiring death by stoning ( Leviticus 20:1-5 ). Likewise, those who prophesied in the name of other gods, or who led the people into idolatry were to be executed ( Deuteronomy 13:1-5; 18:20 ). Other pagan religious practices such as witchcraft, consulting of spirits, necromancy, divination, sorcery, augury, and soothsaying were proscribed ( Leviticus 19:26; 20:6; Deuteronomy 18:10-11 ). Death is indicted for a sorceress ( Exodus 22:18 ); stoning is designated for a medium ( Leviticus 20:27 ).
The third command prohibited taking Yahweh's name in vain ( Exodus 20:7; Leviticus 19:12; cf. Exodus 22:28 ,; "revile God" ). Offenders were stoned ( Leviticus 24:10-23; falsely accused, in Naboth's case, 1 Kings 21:8-14 ).
The fourth command, breaking the Sabbath ( Exodus 20:8 ), was also a capital offense ( Exodus 31:14-15; 35:2 ). An example of its enforcement is found in Numbers 15:32-36 , where the penalty was stoning.
The fifth command entails respect for parents ( Exodus 20:12 ). According to the case law, death was the punishment for the one who struck ( Exodus 21:15 ) or even cursed a parent ( Exodus 21:17; Leviticus 20:9 ).
The sixth command prohibits murder ( Exodus 20:13 ). Those who intended to kill were to be executed while those who slew accidentally could flee to a city of refuge ( Exodus 21:12-14; Numbers 35:9-28; Deuteronomy 19:4-13 ). However, if two men were fighting and one of them accidentally hit a pregnant woman so that she both miscarried and died, he would suffer death also ( Exodus 21:22-25 ). If the owner of a dangerous ox did not keep it fenced in and the ox gored someone to death, both the ox and the owner were to be put to death ( Exodus 21:28-32 ). Killing a burglar at night incurred no guilt ( Exodus 22:2 ). Obviously, the taking of human life was allowed in war and when punishing capital offenses. If someone caused bodily harm to another rather than death, lex talionis, or the law of retaliation was invoked: "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" ( Exodus 21:23; Leviticus 24:19; Deuteronomy 19:21; Matthew 5:38 ). The intention was to make the law more equitable by making the punishment fit the crime.
The seventh command forbids adultery ( Exodus 20:14 ). Stoning is stipulated in Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22-24 . Prostitution was outlawed but no punishment is listed ( Leviticus 19:29; Deuteronomy 23:17 ). In the case of a man raping a single woman, he could be forced to marry her (relinquishing the right to divorce) and pay her father the marriage present, but no punishment was required ( Deuteronomy 22:28-29 ). In the case of seduction, the result was the same except that no mention is made of divorce and the father could still be paid the marriage present though he disallowed the wedding ( Exodus 22:16-17 ). Incest was proscribed ( Leviticus 20:11,12 , 14,17 , 19-21; Deuteronomy 27:20,22-23 ) for which the penalty in certain cases was death by burning ( Leviticus 20:11,14 ). Sexual relations between two men or between humans and animals were punishable by death ( Exodus 22:19; Leviticus 18:22-23; 20:13,15-16 ).
The eighth command concerns stealing ( Exodus 20:15 ). The law requires restitution with interest ( Exodus 22:1-4,7; Leviticus 6:4-5 ). If the thief could not pay, he could be sold as a slave to pay the debt ( Exodus 22:1 ). Kidnappers, who stole humans, were to be put to death ( Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7 ).
The ninth command prohibits bearing false witness ( Exodus 20:16 ). Whatever the false witness intended to do to the innocent party would be done to him ( Deuteronomy 19:15-19 ).
The tenth command deals with coveting ( Exodus 20:17 ). No penalty is recorded.
The New Testament . As in the Old Testament, so in the New Testament. God occasionally punished people directly, as when Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead ( Acts 5:1-11 ), but this was rare. Unlike Israel, the church is not a nation. Therefore, it does not have a set of laws with crimes and punishments. That is left to the secular authorities, which are instituted by God ( Romans 13:1-7 ). However, Jesus did provide for church discipline. If one believer sinned against another, the offended party was to confront the guilty party. If the offender refused to repent, the one wronged should go back to him, bringing one or two others with him. If that failed, he was to bring the accusation to the church, which may then excommunicate the sinner ( Matthew 18:15-17 ). The church has the power of "binding and loosing, " which is the power to determine what is forbidden and what is allowed ( Matthew 16:18-19; 18:18 ).One illustration of church discipline in a case of gross immorality is found in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 . Paul instructs the assembly to hand the transgressor over to Satan for the destruction of the body in order that the spirit might be saved. This may refer to excommunication (if cast out of the church one is under the domain of Satan) or to a mortal illness invading the sinner's body. Either way, the goal is redemption more than punishment. The hope is that after being handed over to Satan, he will repent and return to the fold, or at the very least, that his spirit will go to heaven in spite of his body's death. Another illustration may be Ananias and Sapphira. Although God seems to have struck them dead, it was while Peter was presiding and executing judgment as God's representative ( Acts 5:1-11 ).
Eternal Punishment . The Old Testament introduced the notion of eternal punishment in Daniel 12:2 , indicating that the lost will also be resurrected, but for the purpose of eternal shame and contempt. While the worst punishment that earthly courts can inflict is death, Jesus taught his disciples not to fear those who can kill the body, but rather God, who can also cast people into hell ( Luke 12:4-5 ). Isaiah 66:24 speaks of an undying worm and unquenchable firethe same imagery Jesus uses to warn about hell ( Mark 9:42-43,47-48 ). Jesus also described it as "outer darkness, " where people "weep and gnash their teeth" ( Matthew 8:12 ). The Lord described eternal punishment for the wicked as well as eternal life for the righteous, showing that both are without end ( Matthew 25:46 ). The rest of the New Testament is in agreement ( 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 20:10-15 ). Just as that Bible utilizes earthly things to symbolize heavenly bliss, so the description of hell as fire may be metaphorical for torment. However, the torment of hell is as real as the joy of heaven, even if our pictures of the two are less than perfect.
William B. Nelson, Jr.
Bibliography . W. Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament ; G. E. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament .
Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament 
The word ‘punishment’ is employed to translate κόλασις ( 1 John 4:18 RV_) and τιμωρία ( Hebrews 10:29). The corresponding verbs κολάζω and τιμωρέω, translated ‘punish,’ are used indiscriminately ( Acts 4:21; 2 Peter 2:9; cf. Acts 22:5; Acts 26:11); so that the classical distinction, exemplified in Plato and Aristotle, between τιμωρία, which regarded the retributive suffering, and κόλασις, which regarded the correction of the offender, can hardly be pressed in the case of NT usage (for the distinction, see R. C. Trench, Synonyms of the NT8, London, 1876). Other words translated ‘punishment’ are δίκη ( 2 Thessalonians 1:9 RV_), ἐκδίκησις ( 1 Peter 2:14, ‘vengeance’ in RV_), and ἐπιτιμία ( 2 Corinthians 2:6).
The term ‘punishment’ (Lat. pCEna) may be defined as pain or suffering inflicted in expiation of a crime or offence by an authority to which the offender is subject. The authority inflicting it may be human or Divine. The human authority may be civil or ecclesiastical. Human authority to inflict punishment is ultimately derived from a Divine source.
1. Punishment inflicted by human authority.-Under this head may be mentioned (a) that inflicted by civil authority. Roman magistrates, under the supremacy of the Emperor, in so far as they administered just laws, are regarded as executors of the Divine wrath or vengeance against evil-doers, and submission to their jurisdiction is made imperative on members of the Apostolic Church ( 1 Peter 2:14; cf. Romans 13:1-5).
(b) That inflicted by ecclesiastical authority. (α) In the Jewish Church, the supreme Sanhedrin at Jerusalem and local Sanhedrins claimed and exercised the right to punish persons adjudged guilty of contumacy, schism (αἵρεσις), or seducing the people. On the basis of such charges it was sought to make the apostles and others who adhered to their doctrine and fellowship amenable to punishment ( Acts 4:21; Acts 22:25; Acts 26:11). (β) In the exercise of discipline, the members of a Christian church, acting as a judicial body, were vested with the power to inflict censure, or the severer punishment of exclusion from the fellowship of the Church, on every brother who walked disorderly ( 1 Corinthians 5:3-5, 1 Thessalonians 5:14, 2 Thessalonians 3:6). In carrying out the sentence of exclusion, the name and authority of Christ, as King and Head of the Church, were solemnly invoked. While the extreme penalty of exclusion was called punishment (ἐπιτιμία, 2 Corinthians 2:6; ἐκδίκησις, 2 Corinthians 7:11), the object of its infliction was the ultimate restoration of the offender to Church privileges ( 2 Corinthians 2:6 f.; cf. 2 Corinthians 10:8, 2 Corinthians 13:10).
2. Divine punishment.-In passages in which the term occurs it is conceived as eschatological. (a) It is associated with the Intermediate State. (α) According to representations derived from apocalyptic literature, the fallen angels are depicted as undergoing punishment in Tartarus while awaiting the Final Judgment ( 2 Peter 2:9; cf. 2 Peter 2:4, Judges 1:6; 1 Peter 3:19). (β) The inhabitants of the Cities of the Plain have been continually subjected to punishment since the period when it was first inflicted upon them in the time of Lot ( Judges 1:7 RV_).
(b) Punishment is associated with the Parousia. (α) At the Second Advent the heathen and unbelieving Jews who have persecuted or ill-used members of the Church are to receive the due reward of their deeds. The punishment meted out to them is more particularly defined as ‘eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might’ ( 2 Thessalonians 1:9 RV_). (β) Apostates from the Christian faith, being guilty of wilful sin, for which no further sacrifice is provided, are liable under the New Covenant to far severer punishment at Christ’s Return than that which overtook offenders under the Old Covenant ( Hebrews 10:29 f.; cf. Hebrews 10:37).
The primary purpose of punishment, human or Divine, is to vindicate the law, and uphold the moral order of the world, which, in the absence of such sanction. would fail to command the respect of the law-breaker. Punishment may also be imposed with a view to reform the offender or to deter others from the commission of like offences by making an example of him. It must be maintained, however, that even should punishment fail to exercise a corrective or deterrent effect, its infliction as righteous retribution would still be justified (see W. N. Clarke, An Outline of Christian Theology, Edinburgh, 1898, pp. 253-255, and R. Mackintosh, Christianity and Sin, London, 1913, p. 215). Punishment is the natural correlate and consequence of guilt. It presupposes that the wrong-dcer is responsible for the acts which have exposed him to it, and justly merits its infliction. Divine punishment is the reaction of God’s holy nature against sin. It is the outward manifestation of the Divine wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. As the manifestation of God’s just resentment, it is mainly, though not exclusively (in opposition to Ritschl, see A. E. Garvie, The Ritschlian Theology2, Edinburgh, 1902, pp. 307-310), eschatological. Punishment by itself, i.e. apart from disclosures of Divine grace, leading to ‘the apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ’ (Shorter Catechism, A. 87), has no redemptive or remedial effects upon the character, and cannot produce repentance ( Romans 2:4; Romans 4:15, 2 Corinthians 7:10). Doubtless it is for this reason that the future punishment of the impenitent is never regarded as tending to the purification of the sufferers. Whatever possibilities the eternal future may have in store, the NT draws a veil over the fate of those who have failed to improve the opportunity afforded by the dispensation under which men are now living.
Literature.-For theories of punishment, in addition to works referred to in art._ see F. H. Bradley, Ethical Studies, London, 1876, ch. i; J. Seth, A Study of Ethical Principles10, do., 1908, pp. 320-323; Borden P. Bowne, Principles of Ethics, New York, 1892, ch. x; G. F. Barbour, A Philosophical Study of Christian Ethics, Edinburgh and London, 1911, pp. 285-291, 409 f.
W. S. Montgomery.
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary 
As the supreme Lord and the perfect judge, God is the source of all justice. He loves what is good and is the giver of all blessings ( Zephaniah 3:5; Matthew 19:17; James 1:17). He also hates what is evil and requires just punishment on the sins that people commit ( Psalms 94:1-2; Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30).
Order in society
God desires that human society function justly and orderly. Therefore, he has given to human beings the responsibility to administer justice in society and to carry out fitting punishments on wrongdoers ( Romans 13:1-4; 1 Peter 2:13-14; see Government ).
Such punishments must always be just. They must not be relaxed to favour people of power and influence such as the rich; nor must they be imposed rashly to take advantage of defenceless people such as the poor ( Exodus 23:3; Exodus 23:6; cf. Romans 2:11; James 2:6). Always the punishment must be in proportion to the crime ( Exodus 21:22-25; Deuteronomy 25:1-13; Galatians 6:7). Where the wrongdoing involves loss or damage, the wrongdoer should compensate the person who suffers the loss or damage ( Exodus 22:1-6; Luke 19:8).
Punishment of wrongdoers should be carried out primarily because they deserve it, not because the ruling authorities want to use them to teach others a lesson ( Deuteronomy 13:10; Deuteronomy 19:19; Deuteronomy 25:2; Luke 23:41; Hebrews 2:2). If, however, the punishment serves to warn others or reform the wrongdoer, so much the better ( Deuteronomy 13:11; Deuteronomy 19:20).
Being a holy and righteous judge, God must punish sin ( John 5:26-29; Romans 2:1-6). But God’s holiness and righteousness are not separate from his love. He has therefore provided a way of salvation so that when people repent of their sins and trust in his mercy, they can receive forgiveness. Christ bears the punishment of their sins for them ( Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 2:24; see Judgment ; Propitiation ). Those who repent are forgiven and receive eternal life. Those who refuse to repent remain unforgiven and suffer eternal punishment ( Matthew 25:46; 2 Thessalonians 1:9).
The word ‘eternal’ indicates the nature, rather than the length of time, of the life or punishment. They belong to the eternal and spiritual world in contrast to the temporal and material world. Nevertheless, there is a terrible endlessness about the punishment, as Jesus clearly pointed out ( Mark 9:43-48; see Hell ).
There is no indication in the Bible that God’s judgment of condemnation on the wicked will be reversed. The judgment is final, and therefore the punishment is eternal ( Matthew 8:12; Matthew 13:41-42; John 3:36; Romans 2:5-11). The punishment is not for the purpose of correction. It is for the purpose of carrying out the penalty that the person, because of his sin, deserves ( 1 Peter 1:17; Revelation 16:6).
Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words 
for 1—Peter 2:14 , AV, "punishment" (RV, "vengeance"), see Avenge , B, No. 2.
in the NT denotes "penalty, punishment," 2—Corinthians 2:6 . Originally it signified the enjoyment of the rights and privileges of citizenship; then it became used of the estimate (time) fixed by a judge on the infringement of such rights, and hence, in general, a "penalty."
akin to kolazo (PUNISH, No. 1), "punishment," is used in Matthew 25:46 , "(eternal) punishment," and 1—John 4:18 , "(fear hath) punishment," RV (AV, "torment"), which there describes a process, not merely an effect; this kind of fear is expelled by perfect love; where God's love is being perfected in us, it gives no room for the fear of meeting with His reprobation; the "punishment" referred to is the immediate consequence of the sense of sin, not a holy awe but a slavish fear, the negation of the enjoyment of love.
"justice," or "the execution of a sentence," is translated "punishment" in Jude 1:7 , RV (AV, "vengeance"). See Justice.
primarily "help" (see Punish , No. 2), denotes "vengeance, punishment," Hebrews 10:29 .
Morrish Bible Dictionary 
The law required that capital punishment should be inflicted for reviling a parent, blasphemy, sabbath-breaking, witchcraft, adultery, man-stealing, idolatry, murder, etc. Capital punishment was by stoning, Deuteronomy 13:10; burning, Leviticus 20:14; the sword, Exodus 32:27; and hanging, Deuteronomy 21:22,23 . It appears that those who sinned at Baal-peor were first slain, and then hanged or impaled: Numbers 25:4,5; the word is yaqa, and for hanging is used only here and in 2 Samuel 21:6,9,13 , when the seven descendants of Saul were 'hung up to the Lord,' which may also signify being impaled. There is no record in scripture of crucifixion being practised among the Jews. Capital punishment was at times carried out in ways not mentioned in the law: sawing asunder and cutting with harrows and axes, 2 Samuel 12:31; Hebrews 11:37; precipitation, 2 Chronicles 25:12; Luke 4:29 .
For minor offences there was flogging, which was restricted to forty stripes. Deuteronomy 25:3 . A whip with three thongs accounts for the 'forty stripes less one.' 2 Corinthians 11:24 . Also placing in the stocks. Jeremiah 20:2,3 . In other cases the punishment was according to the offence: "eye for eye, tooth for tooth," etc. Exodus 21:24,25 . Imprisonment for definite periods was not customary as a punishment, though persons were imprisoned. Genesis 39:20; 2 Kings 25:27; Jeremiah 37:4,18 . Punishment was needed in the government of the nation of Israel, as it is in any nation now. God's four direct punishments were "the sword, the famine, the noisome beast, and the pestilence." Ezekiel 14:21 .
The Lord, referring to the law of an individual demanding an eye for an eye, enjoined forgiveness of personal wrongs; but this in no way interferes with civil government. Christians are exhorted to obey the ordained powers, pay tribute, etc.
King James Dictionary 
PUN'ISHMENT, n. Any pain or suffering inflicted on a person for a crime or offense, by the authority to which the offender is subject, either by the constitution of God or of society. The punishment of the faults and offenses of children by the parent, is by virtue of the right of government with which the parent is invested by God himself. This species of punishment is chastisement or correction. The punishment of crimes against the laws is inflicted by the supreme power of the state in virtue of the right of government, vested in the prince or legislature. The right of punishment belongs only to persons clothed with authority. Pain, loss or evil willfully inflicted on another for his crimes or offenses by a private unauthorized person, is revenge rather than punishment.
Some punishments consist in exile or transportation, others in loss of liberty by imprisonment some extend to confiscation by forfeiture of lands and goods, others induce a disability of holding offices, of being heirs and the like.
Divine punishments are doubtless designed to secure obedience to divine laws, and uphold the moral order of created intelligent beings.
The rewards and punishments of another life, which the almighty has established as the enforcements of his law, are of weight enough to determine the choice against whatever pleasure or pain this life can show.
Webster's Dictionary 
(1): ( n.) The act of punishing.
(2): ( n.) Any pain, suffering, or loss inflicted on a person because of a crime or offense.
(3): ( n.) A penalty inflicted by a court of justice on a convicted offender as a just retribution, and incidentally for the purposes of reformation and prevention.
(4): ( n.) Severe, rough, or disastrous treatment.
Easton's Bible Dictionary 
Endless, of the impenitent and unbelieving. The rejection of this doctrine "cuts the ground from under the gospel...blots out the attribute of retributive justice; transmutes sin into misfortune instead of guilt; turns all suffering into chastisement; converts the piacular work of Christ into moral influence...The attempt to retain the evangelical theology in connection with it is futile" (Shedd).
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature 
(most properly expressed in Hebrew by some form of פָּקִד , Pakad, strictly "to visit," and in Greek by Κόλασις or Τιμωρία , but frequently denoted by other terms). The following account is based upon the Scripture statements, with illustrations from ancient and modern sources. (See Corporal Inflictions).
I. Historical Review of Bodily Inflictions among the Hebrews. — The earliest theory of punishment current among mankind is doubtless the one of simple retaliation, "blood for blood", (See Blood Revenge), a view which in a limited form appears even in the Mosaic law. Viewed historically, the first case of punishmnent for crime mentioned in Scripture, next to the fall itself, is that of Cain, the first murderer. His punishment, however, was a substitute for the retaliation which might have been looked for from the hand of man, and the mark set on him, whatever it was, served at once to designate, protect, and perhaps correct the criminal. That death was regarded as the fitting punishment for murder appears plain from the remark of Lamech ( Genesis 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 down ( Genesis 9:5-6); but its terms give no sanction to that "wild justice" executed even to the present day by individuals and families on their own behalf by so many of the uncivilized races of mankind. The prevalence of a feeling of retribution due for blood shed may be remarked as arising among the brethren of Joseph in reference to their virtual fratricide ( Genesis 42:21). The punishmenit of death appears among the legal powers of Judah, as the head of his family, andl he ordered his daughterin-law, Tamar, to be burned ( Genesis 38:24). It is denounced by the king of the Philistines, Abimelech, against those of his people who should injure or insult Isaac or his wife ( Genesis 26:11; Genesis 26:29). Similar power seems to have been possessed by the reigning Pharaoh in the time of Joseph ( Genesis 41:13).
Passing onwards 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 an asylum city, and the same principle was to be carried out even in the case of an animal ( Exodus 21:12; Exodus 21:14; Exodus 21:28; Exodus 21:36; Leviticus 24:17; Leviticus 24:21; Numbers 35:31; Deuteronomy 19:11-12; and see 1 Kings 2:28; 1 Kings 2:34). Moses, however, did not allow parents to be put to death for their children, nor children for their parents ( Deuteronomy 24:16), as did the Chaldeans ( Daniel 6:24) and the kings of Israel (comp. 1 Kings 21:9; 1 Kings 21:26).
The extensive prescription of capital punishment by the Mosaic law, which we cannot consider as a dead letter, may be accounted for by the peculiar circumstances of the people. They were a nation of newly emancipated slaves, and were by nature perhaps more than commonly intractable; and if we may judge by the laws enjoined on them, which Mr. Hume well remarks are a safe index to the manners and disposition of any people, we must infer that they had imbibed all the degrading influences of slavery among heathens. Their wanderings and isolation did not admit of penal settlements or remedial punishments. They were placed under immediate divine government and surveillance. Hence, wilful offences evinced an incorrigibleness which rendered death the only means of ridding the com munity of such transgressors, and this was ultimately resorted to in regard to all indiviluals above a certain age, in order that a better class might enter Canaan ( Numbers 14:29; Numbers 14:32; Numbers 14:35). If capital punishment in Christian nations be defended from the Mosaic law, it ought in fairness to be extended to all the cases sanctioned by that law, and, among the rest, as Paley argues, to the doing of any work on the Sabbath day ( Mor. Phil. b. v, c. 7).
II. Capital Crimes Under Mosaism. —
(A.) Absolute. — The following offences also are mentioned in the law as liable to the punishment of death:
1. Striking, or even revilinlg, a parent ( Exodus 21:15; Exodus 21:17).
2. Blasphemy ( Leviticus 24:14; Leviticus 24:16; Leviticus 24:23 : see Philo, V. M. 3:25; 1 Kings 21:10; Matthew 26:65-66).
3. Sabbath-breaking ( Numbers 15:32-36; Exodus 31:14; Exodus 35:2).
4. Witchcraft, and false pretension to prophecy ( Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 13:5; Deuteronomy 18:20; 1 Samuel 28:9).
5. Adultery ( Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22 : see John 8:5, and Josephus, Ant. iii, 12, 1).
6. Unchastity —
a. Previous to marriage, but detected afterwards ( Deuteronomy 22:21).
b. In a betrothed mwoman with some one not affianced to her (ibid. Deuteronomy 22:23).
c. In a priest's daughter ( Leviticus 21:9).
7. Rape ( Deuteronomy 22:25).
8. Incestuous and unnatural connections ( Leviticus 20:11; Leviticus 20:14; Leviticus 20:16; Exodus 22:19).
9. Man-stealing ( Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7).
10. Idolatry, actual or virtual, in any shape ( Leviticus 20:2; Deuteronomy 13:6; Deuteronomy 13:10; Deuteronomy 13:15; Deuteronomy 17:2-7 : see Joshua 7 and Joshua 22:20, and Numbers 25:8).
11. False witness in certain cases ( Deuteronomy 19:16; Deuteronomy 19:19). Some of the foregoing are mentioned as being in earlier times liable to capital or severe punishment by the hand either of God or of man, as (1) Genesis 9:25; (5) Genesis 12:17; Genesis 20:7; Genesis 39:19; (6) Genesis 38:24; (8) Genesis 19:38.
(B.) Relative. — 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 ( כָּרִת ; Sept. Ἐξολοθρεύω ) from the people." On the meaning of this expression some controversy has arisen. There are all together thirty-six or thirty-seven cases in the Pentateuch in which this formula is used, which may be thus classified:
1 . Breach Of Morals. — Under this head we have the following: Wilful sin in general ( Numbers 15:30-31). *Fifteen cases of incestuous or unclean connection ( Leviticus 18:29; Leviticus 20:9-21).
2. Breach Of Covenant, as follows:
Neglect of Atonement-day ( Leviticus 23:29).
† Work done on that day ( Leviticus 23:30).
* † Children offered to Molech ( Leviticus 20:3).
* † Witchcraft ( Leviticus 20:6).
Anointing a stranger with holy oil ( Exodus 30:33).
3. Breach Of Ritual, as follows:
Eating leavened bread during Passover ( Exodus 12:15; Exodus 12:19). Eating fat of sacrifices ( Leviticus 7:25). Eating blood ( Leviticus 7:27; Leviticus 17:14). *Eating sacrifice in an unclean condition ( Leviticus 7:20-21; Leviticus 22:3-4; Leviticus 22:9).
Offering too late ( Leviticus 19:8).
Making holy ointment for private use ( Exodus 30:32-33). Making perfume for private use ( Exodus 30:38). Neglect of purification in general ( Numbers 19:13; Numbers 19:20). Not bringing offering after slaying a beast for food ( Leviticus 17:9). Not slaying the animal at the tabernacle door ( Leviticus 17:4). Touching holy things illegally ( Numbers 4:15; Numbers 4:18; Numbers 4:20; and see 2 Samuel 6:7; 2 Chronicles 26:21).
In the foregoing list, which, it will be seen, is classified according to the view supposed to be taken by the law of the principle of condemnation, the cases marked with * are (a) those which are expressly threatened or actually visited with death, as well as with cutting off. In those (b) marked † , the hand of God is expressly named as the instrument of execution. We thus find that of (a) there are in class I seven cases, all named in Leviticus 20:9-16; in class 2, four cases; in class 3, two cases; while of ( B ) we find in class 2 four cases, of which three belong also to ( A ), and in class 3 one case. The question to be determined is, whether the phrase "cut off" be likely to mean death in all cases; and to avoid that conclusion Le Clerc, Michaelis, and others have suggested that in some of them — the ceremonial ones — it was intended to be commuted for banishment or privation of civil rights (Michaelis, Laws Of Moses, vol. iii, § 237, p. 436, trans.). Rabbinical writers explained "cutting off" to mean excommunication, and laid down three degrees of severity as belonging to it (Selden, De Syn. i, 6). (See Anathema).
But most commentators agree that, in accordance with the Prim Facie meaning of Hebews 10:28, the sentence of "cutting off" must be understood to be death-punishment of some sort. Saalschtitz explains it to be premature death by God's hand, as if God took into his own hand such cases of ceremonial defilement as would create difficulty for human judges to decide. Knobel thinks death- punishment absolutely is meant; so Corn. a Lapide and Ewald. Jahn explains that when God is said to cut off, an act of divine providence is meant, which in the end destroys the family, but that "cutting off" in general means stoning to death, as the usual capital punishment of the law. Calmet thinks it means privation of all rights belonging to the Covenant. It may be remarked (a) that two instances are recorded in which violation of a ritual command took place without the actual infliction of a death- punishment: (1) that of the people eating with the blood ( 1 Samuel 14:32); (2) that of Uzziah ( 2 Chronicles 26:19; 2 Chronicles 26:21), and that in the latter case the offender was, in fact, excommunicated for life; (b) that there are also instances of the directly contrary course, viz. in which the offenders were punished with death for similar offences: Nadab and Abihu ( Leviticus 10:1-2); Korah and his company ( Numbers 16:10; Numbers 16:33), who "perished from the congregation;" Uzzah ( 2 Samuel 6:7); and, further, that the leprosy inflicted on Uzziah might be regarded as a virtual death ( Numbers 12:12). To whichever side of the question this case may be thought to incline, 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 "recorded," but not always executed. It is also probable that the severity of the sentence produced in practice an immediate recourse to the prescribed means of propitiation in almost every actual case of ceremonial defilement ( Numbers 15:27-28). See Saalschtitz, Arch. Hebr. 10:74, 75, vol. ii, 299; Knobel, Calmet, Corn. a Lapide On Genesis 17:13-14; Keil, Bibl. Arch. vol. ii, p. 264, § 153; Ewald, Gesch. App. to vol. iii, p. 158; Jahn, Arch. Bibl. § 257.
III. Penalties. — Punishments, in themselves, are twofold, capital and secondary; and in the cases we are considering they were either native or foreign.
(A.) Of Capital punishments, properly Hebrew, the following only are prescribed by the law.
1 . Stoning, which was the ordinary mode of execution ( Exodus 17:4; Luke 20 :$; John 10:31; Acts 14:5). We find it ordered in the cases which are marked in the lists above as punishable with death; and we may remark further that it is ordered also in the case of an offending animal ( Exodus 19:13; Exodus 21:29). The false witness, likewise, in a capital case would, by the law of retaliation, become liable to death ( Deuteronomy 19:19; Maccoth, i, 1, 6). 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 ( Deuteronomy 13:9; Deuteronomy 17:7; John 8:7; Acts 7:58). The Rabbinical writers add that the first stone was cast by one of them on the chest of the convict, and if this failed to cause death, the bystanders proceeded to complete the sentence ( Sanhedr. 6:1, 3, 4; Goodwyn, Moses And Aaron, p. 121). The body was then to be suspended till sunset ( Deuteronomy 21:23; Joshua 10:26; Josephus, Ant. 4:8, 24), and not buried in the family grave (Sanhedr. 6:5).
2. Hanging is mentioned as a distinct punishment ( Numbers 25:4; 2 Samuel 21:6; 2 Samuel 21:9), but is generally, in the case of Jews, spoken of as following death by some other means. Hanging alive may have been a Canaanitish punishment, since it was practiced by the Gibeonites on the sons of Saul ( 2 Samuel 21:9).
3. Burning, in pre-Mosaic times, was the punishment for unchastity ( Genesis 38:24). Under the law it is ordered in the case of a priest's daughter ( Leviticus 21:9), of which an instance is mentioned ( Sanhedr. 7:2); likewise in case of incest ( Leviticus 20:14); but it is also mentioned as following death by other means ( Joshua 7:25), and some have thought it was never used excepting after death. Among the heathens this merciful preliminary was not always observed, as, for instance, in the case of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3). The Rabbinical account of burning by means of molten lead poured down the throat has no authority in Scripture.
4. Death By The Sword or Spear is named in the law ( Exodus 19:13; Exodus 32:27; Numbers 25:7), although two of the cases may be regarded as exceptional; but it occurs frequently in regal and post-Babylonial times ( Judges 9:5; 1 Samuel 15:33; 1 Samuel 22:18; 2 Samuel 1:15; 2 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 20:22; 1 Kings 2:25; 1 Kings 2:34; 1 Kings 19:1; 2 Kings 10:7; 2 Chronicles 21:4; Jeremiah 26:23; Matthew 14:8; Matthew 14:10) — a list in which more than one case of assassination, either with or without legal forms, is included.
5. Strangling is said by the rabbins 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 (Goodwyn, M. And A. p. 122; Otho, Lex. Rab. s.v. "Supplicia;" Sanhedr. 7:3; Ker Porter, Trav. ii, 177; C. B. Michaelis, De Judicus, ap. Pott, Syll. Comm. 4: § 10, 12). This Rabbinical opinion, founded, it is said, on oral tradition from Moses, has no Scripture authority.
(B.) Besides these ordinary capital punishments, we read of others, either of foreign introduction or of an irregular kind. Among the former,
1. Crucifixion (q.v.) is treated separately, to which article the following remark may be added, that the Jewish tradition of capital punishment, independent of the Roman governor, being interdicted for forty years previous to the Destruction, appears in fact, if not in time, to be justified ( John 18:31, with De Wette, Comment. ; Goodwyn, p. 121; Keil, 2, 264; Josephus, Ant. 20:9, 1).
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 (Cicero, Pro Sext. Rosc. Am. 25; Jerome, Com. On Matthew lib. iii, p. 138; Matthew 18:6; Mark 9:42). Josephus records that the Galilaeans, revolting from their commanders, drowned the partisans of Herod ( Ant. 14:15, 20).
3 . Sawing Asunder or crushing beneath iron instruments. The former is said to have been practiced on Isaiah; the latter may, perhaps, not always have caused death, and thus have been a torture rather than a capital punishment ( 2 Samuel 12:31, and perhaps Proverbs 20:26; Hebrews 11:37; Just. Mart. Tryph. 120). The process of sawing asunder, as practiced in Barbary, is described by Shaw ( Trav. p. 254).
4. Pounding In A Mortar is alluded to in Proverbs 27:22, but not as a legal punishment. It is mentioned as a Cingalese punishment by Sir E. Tennant ( Ceylon, ii, 88). Something similar to this, Beating To Death ( Τυμπανισμός ), was a Greek punishment for slaves. It was inflicted on a wooden frame, which probably derived its name from resembling a drum or timbrel in form, on which the criminal was bound, and beaten to death ( 2 Maccabees 6:19; 2 Maccabees 6:28; comp. 2 Maccabees 6:30). In Josephus (De Macce.) the same instrument is called Τροχός , or "wheel" (5, 9). Hence, to beat tupon the tympanum, to drum to death, is similar to "breaking on the wheel" ( Hebrews 11:35). David inflicted this among other cruelties upon the inhabitants of Rabbath-ammon ( 1 Chronicles 20:3).
5. Precipitstion, 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; also said to have been executed on some Jewish women by the Syrians ( 2 Chronicles 25:12; 2 Maccabees 6:10; Luke 4:29; Euseb. H.E. ii, 23). This punishment resembles that of the Tarpeian rock among the Romans.
6. The Persians had a singular punishment for great criminals. A high tower was filled a great way up with ashes, the criminal was thrown into it, and the ashes, by means of a wheel, were continually stirred up and raised about him till he was suffocated ( 2 Maccabees 13:4-6).
Criminals executed by law were buried outside the city gates, and heaps of stones were flung upon their graves ( Joshua 7:25-26; 2 Samuel 18:17; Jeremiah 22:19). Mohammedans, to this day, cast stones, in passing, at the supposed tomb of Absalom (Fabri Evagatorium,, i, 409; Sandys, Trav. p. 189; Raumer, Palast. p. 272).
(C.) Of Secondary Punishments among the Jews, the original principles were,
1. Retaliation, "eye for eye," etc. ( Exodus 21:24-25; see Gell. Noct. Att. 20:1). Retaliation, the Lex Talionis of the Latins, and the Ἀντιπεπονθός of the Greeks, is doubtless the most natural of all kinds of punishment, and would be the most just of all if it could be instantaneously and universally inflicted; but when delayed, it is apt to degenerate into revenge. Hence the desirableness that it should be regulated and modified by law. The one-eyed man mentioned by Diodorus Siculus (12) complained that if he lost his remaining eye, he would then suffer more than his victim, who would still have one left. Phavorinus argues against this law, which was one of the twelve tables, as not admitting literal execution, because the same member was more valuable to one man than another; for instance, the right hand of a scribe or painter could not be so well spared as that of a singer. Hence that law, in later times, was administered with the modification, "Ni cum eo pacet," except the aggressor came to an agreement with the mutilated person, de talione redimenda, to redeem the punishment by making compensation. Moses, accordingly, adopted the principle, but lodged the application of it in the judge. "If a man blemish his neighbor, as he hath done, so shall it be done to him. Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, wound for wound, stripe for stripe, breach for breach" ( Leviticus 24:19-22). He, however, makes wilful murder, even of a slave, always capital, as did the Egyptians. Roman masters had an absolute right over the lives of their slaves (Juvenal, 6:219). The Egyptians doomed the false accuser to the same punishment which he endeavored to bring on his victim, as did Moses ( Deuteronomy 19:19).
2. Compensation, identical (restitution) or analogous; payment for loss of time or of power ( Exodus 21:18-36; Leviticus 24:18-21; Deuteronomy 19:21). The man who stole a sheep or an ox was required to restore four sheep for a sheep, and five oxen for an ox thus stolen ( Exodus 22:1). The thief caught in the fact in a dwelling might even be killed or sold; or if a stolen animal were found alive, he might be compelled to restore double ( Exodus 22:2-4). Damage done by an Animal was to be fully compensated ( Exodus 22:5). Fire caused to a neighbor's corn was to be compensated ( Exodus 22:6). A Pledge stolen, and found in the thief's possession, was to be compensated by double ( Exodus 22:7). All Trespass was to pay double ( Exodus 22:9). A Pledge lost or damaged was to be compensated ( Exodus 22:12-13); a Pledge withheld, to be restored with 20 per cent. of the value ( Leviticus 6:4-5). The "sevenfold" of Proverbs 6:31, by its notion of completeness, probably indicates servitude in default of full restitution ( Exodus 22:2-4). 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 ( Deuteronomy 22:18-19).
3. Stripes, whose number was not to exceed forty ( Deuteronomy 25:3); whence the Jews took care not to exceed thirty-nine ( 2 Corinthians 11:24; Josephus, Ant. 4:8, 21). This penalty was to be inflicted on the offender lying on the ground in the presence of a judge ( Leviticus 19:20; Deuteronomy 22:18). In later times, the convict was stripped to the waist and tied, in a bent position, to a low pillar, and the stripes, with a whip of three thongs, were inflicted on the back between the shoulders. A single stripe in excess subjected the executioner to punishment ( Macccoth, iii, 1, 2, 3, 13, 14). It is remarkable that the Abyssinians use the same number (Wolff, Trav. ii, 276). We have abundant evidence that it was an ancient Egyptian punishment. Nor was it unusual for Egyptian superintendents to stimulate laborers to their work by the persuasive powers of the stick. Women received the stripes on the back, while sitting, from the hand of a man; and boys also, sometimes with their hands tied behind them. The modern inhabitants of the valley of the Nile retain the predilection of their forefathers for this punishment. The Moslems say, "The stick came down from heaven a blessing from God." Moses allowed corporal punishment of this kind by masters to servants or slaves of both sexes ( Exodus 21:20). Scourging was common in after-times among the Jews, who associated with it no disgrace or inconvenience beyond the physical pain it occasioned, and from which no station was exempt ( Proverbs 17:26; comp. 10:13; Jeremiah 37:15-20). Hence it became the symbol for correction in general ( Psalms 89:32). Solomon is a zealous advocate for its use in education ( Proverbs 13:24; Proverbs 23:13-14; comp. Sirach 30:1). In his opinion, "the blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil, and stripes the inward parts of the belly" ( Proverbs 20:30). It was inflicted for ecclesiastical offences in the synagogue ( Matthew 10:17; Acts 26:11). Among torturing or tedious penalties,
4. Scourging with thorns is mentioned ( Judges 8:16). Reference to the scourge with scorpions, i.e. a whip or scourge armed with knots or thorns, occurs in 1 Kings 12:11. So in Latin, Scorpio means A Knotted or Thorny Switch. The Stocks are mentioned ( Jeremiah 20:2); Passing Through Fire ( 2 Samuel 12:31); Mutilation ( Judges 1:6; 2 Maccabees 7:4; and see 2 Samuel 4:12); Plucking Out Hair (Isaiah 1, 6; Nehemiah 13:25); in later times, Imprisonment, and Confiscation or Exile ( Ezra 7:26; Jeremiah 37:15; Jeremiah 38:6; Acts 4:3; Acts 4:18; Acts 12:4). Imprisonment, not as a punishment, but custody till the royal pleasure was known, appears among the Egyptians ( Genesis 39:20-21). Moses adopted it for like purposes ( Leviticus 26:12). It appears as a punishment inflicted by the kings of Judah and Israel ( 1 Kings 22:27; 2 Chronicles 16:10; Jeremiah 37:21); and during the Christian tera, as in the instance of John ( Matthew 4:12) and Peter ( Acts 12:4). Murderers and debtors were also committed to prison, and the latter "tormented" till they paid ( Matthew 18:30; Luke 23:19). A common prison is mentioned ( Acts 5:18); and also an inner prison, or dungeon, which was sometimes a pit ( Jeremiah 38:6), in which were "stocks" ( Jeremiah 20:2; Jeremiah 29:26; Acts 16:24). Prisoners are alluded to ( Job 3:18), and stocks (13:27). Banishment was inflicted by the Romans on John ( Revelation 1:9). As in earlier times imprisonment formed no part of the Jewish system, the sentences were executed at once (see Esther 7:8-10; Selden, De Syn. ii, c. 13, p. 888). Before death, a grain of frankincense in a cup of wine was given to the criminal to intoxicate him ( Ibid. 889). The command for witnesses to cast the first stone shows that the duty of execution did not belong to any special officer ( Deuteronomy 17:7).
(D.) Of punishments, especially non-capital, inflicted by other nations we have the following notices: In Egypt, the power of life and death and imprisonment rested with the king, and to some extent also with officers of high rank ( Genesis 40:3; Genesis 40:22; Genesis 42:20). Death might be commuted for slavery ( Genesis 42:19; Genesis 44:9; Genesis 44:33). The law of retaliation was also in use in Egypt (Wilkinson, Ancient Egyptians, 2:214. 215, 217). In Egypt, and also in Babylon, the chief of the executioners, Rab-Tabbachim, was a great officer of state ( Genesis 37:36; Genesis 39; Genesis 40; Jeremiah 39:13; Jeremiah 41:10; Jeremiah 43:6; Jeremiah 52:15-16; Daniel 2:14; Mark 6:27; Michaelis, Mos. Recht, iii, 412; Josephus, Ant. 10:8, 5). He was sometimes a eunuch (Josephus, Ant. 7:5, 4). (See Cherethite)
Putting out the eyes of captives, and other cruelties, as flaying alive, burning, tearing out the tongue, etc., were practiced by Assyrian and Babylonian conquerors; and parallel instances of despotic cruelty are found in abundance in both ancient and modern times in Persian and other history. The execution of Hamnan and the story of Daniel are pictures of summary Oriental procedure ( 2 Kings 25:7; Esther 7:9-10; Jeremiah 29:22; Daniel 3:6; Daniel 6:7; Daniel 6:24; comp. Herod. 7:39; 9:112, 113; see Chardin, Voy. 6:21, 118; Layard , Nineveh, ii, 369, 374, 377; Nin. And Bab. p. 456, 457). The duty of counting the numbers of the victims, which is there represented, agrees with the story of Jehu ( 2 Kings 10:7), and with one recorded of Shah Abbas Mirza, by Ker Porter ( Travels, ii, 524, 525; see also Burckhardt, Syria, p. 57; and Malcolm, Sketches of Persia, p. 47).
With the Romans, stripes and the stocks, Πεντεσύριγγον Ξύλον , Nervus And Columbar, were in use, and imprisonment with a chain attached to a soldier. There were also the Liberoe Custodioe in private houses ( Acts 16:23; Acts 22:24; Acts 28:16; comp. Xenoph. Hell. iii, 3, 11; Herod. 9:37; Plautus, Rud. iii, 6, 30, 34, 38, 50; Aristot. Eq. [ed. Bekker] 1044; Josephus, Ant. 18:6, 7; 19:6, 1; Sallust, Cat. 47).
Exposure to wild beasts appears to be mentioned by St. Paul ( 1 Corinthians 15:32; 2 Timothy 4:17), but not with any precision. The Lion ' S Den was a Babylonian punishment (Daniel 6), and is still customary in Fez and Morocco (see accounts of, by Hoest. c. ii, p. 77).
- Punishment from Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
- Punishment from Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
- Punishment from Bridgeway Bible Dictionary
- Punishment from Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words
- Punishment from Morrish Bible Dictionary
- Punishment from King James Dictionary
- Punishment from Webster's Dictionary
- Punishment from Easton's Bible Dictionary
- Punishment from Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature