From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Smith's Bible Dictionary [1]

Punishments. 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.  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 dawn.  Genesis 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:

Striking, or even reviling, a parent.  Exodus 21:15;  Exodus 21:17.

Blasphemy.  Leviticus 24:14;  Leviticus 24:16;  Leviticus 24:23.

Sabbath-breaking .  Exodus 31:14;  Exodus 35:2;  Numbers 15:32-36.

Witchcraft, and false pretension to prophecy.  Exodus 22:18;  Leviticus 20:27;  Deuteronomy 13:5;  Deuteronomy 18:20.

Adultery.  Leviticus 20:10;  Deuteronomy 22:22.

Unchastity.  Leviticus 21:9;  Deuteronomy 22:21;  Deuteronomy 22:23.

Rape.  Deuteronomy 22:25.

Incestuous and unnatural connections.  Exodus 22:19;  Leviticus 20:11;  Leviticus 20:14;  Leviticus 20:16.

Manstealing.  Exodus 21:16;  Deuteronomy 24:7.

Idolatry, actual or virtual, in any shape.  Leviticus 20:2;  Deuteronomy 13:8;  Deuteronomy 13:10;  Deuteronomy 13:15;  Deuteronomy 17:2-7. See  Joshua 7:1;  Joshua 22:20;  Numbers 25:8.

False witness in certain cases.  Deuteronomy 19:16;  Deuteronomy 19:19.

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, that is, 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: Stoning , which was the ordinary mode of execution.  Exodus 17:4;  Luke 20:6;  John 10:31;  Acts 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.  Deuteronomy 13:9;  Acts 7:58.

Hanging is mentioned as a distinct punishment.  Numbers 25:4;  2 Samuel 21:6;  2 Samuel 21:9.

Burning , in pre-Mosaic times, was the punishment for unchastity.  Genesis 38:24. Under the law, it was ordered in the case of a priest's daughter  Leviticus 21:9.

Death By The Sword Or Spear is named in the law,  Exodus 19:13;  Exodus 32:27;  Numbers 25:7, and it occurs frequently, in regal and post-Babylonian times.  1 Kings 2:25;  1 Kings 2:34;  1 Kings 19:1;  2 Chronicles 21:4; etc.

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,

Crucifixion is treated elsewhere.

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.

Sawing Asunder or crushing beneath iron instruments.  2 Samuel 12:31, and perhaps  Proverbs 20:26;  Hebrews 11:37.

Pounding In A Mortar , or beating to death, is alluded to in  Proverbs 27:22 but not as a legal punishment, and cases are described.  1 Maccabees 6:28;  1 Maccabees 6:30.

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.  Joshua 7:25-26;  2 Samuel 18:17;  Jeremiah 22:19.

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

Retaliation , "eye for eye," etc.  Exodus 21:24-25.

Compensation , Identical (restitution) or analogous payment for loss of time or of power.  Exodus 21:18-36;  Leviticus 24:18-21;  Deuteronomy 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 .  Deuteronomy 22:18-19.

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.

Scourging With Thorns is mentioned  Judges 8:16.

The Stocks are mentioned in  Jeremiah 20:2,

Passing Through Fire is mentioned in  2 Samuel 12:31,

Mutilation is mentioned in  Judges 1:6;  2 Maccabees 7:4;  2 Samuel 4:12,

Plucking Out Hair is mentioned in  Isaiah 50:6, and

in later times, Imprisonment , and Confiscation or Exile .  Ezra 7:26;  Jeremiah 37:15;  Jeremiah 38:6;  Acts 4:3;  Acts 5:18;  Acts 12:4.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

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

The command ( Numbers 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  Deuteronomy 21:22 ( Thalitha Toli ),  Deuteronomy 21:23. The hanged were accounted accursed; so were buried at evening, as the hanging body defiled the land; so Christ ( Galatians 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 ( Leviticus 18:25;  Leviticus 18:28;  2 Samuel 21:6;  2 Samuel 21:9). Punishments not ordained by law: sawing asunder, and cutting with iron harrows (Isaiah,  Hebrews 11:37 ; Ammon, In Retaliation For Their Cruelties,  2 Samuel 12:31 ;  1 Samuel 11:2 ) ; pounding in a mortar ( Proverbs 27:22); precipitation ( Luke 4:29;  2 Chronicles 25:12); stripes, 40 only allowed ( Deuteronomy 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  2 Corinthians 11:24.

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

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [3]

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,  Genesis 4:14-15 . It was reenacted, with reasons, after the deluge,  Genesis 9:5-6 , and in the wilderness,  Numbers 35:9-34; and was early and widely recognized among mankind.

The mode of capital punishment usual among the Hebrew was stoning,  Deuteronomy 13:9-10   Joshua 17:18   John 8:7; but various other modes became known to them by intercourse with other nations: as decapitation,  2 Kings 10:6-8   Matthew 14:8-12; precipitation from rocks,  2 Chronicles 25:12   Luke 4:29; hanging,  Joshua 8:29   Esther 7:10; burning,  Daniel 3:1-30; cutting asunder,  Daniel 2:5   3:29   Hebrews 11:27; beating, on a wheel-like frame,  Hebrews 11:35; exposure to wild beasts,  Daniel 6:1-28   1 Corinthians 15:32; drowning,  Matthew 18:6; bruising in a mortar,  Proverbs 27:22; and crucifixion,  John 19:18 . Minor punishments were scourging,  Leviticus 19:20   2 Corinthians 11:24; retaliation in kind for an injury done,  Exodus 21:23-25   Deuteronomy 19:19; imprisonment,  2 Chronicles 16:10   Matthew 4:12; the stocks,  Acts 16:24; banishment,  Revelation 1:9; and personal torture,  2 Chronicles 18:26   Isaiah 50:6   Matthew 18:30   Hebrews 11:37 .

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [4]

There were many kinds of these among the Hebrews, according to the crimes committed—scourging, stoning, imprisonment, hanging, and many others. But it is observable that in all cases, excepting high crimes against God, tenderness was mingled with their punishments. So much of the mercy of the gospel was even then shadowed out in Christ Jesus!

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [5]

PUNISHMENTS . See Crimes and Punishments, §§ 8 11,

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [6]

pun´ish - ments ( עון , ‛āwōn , "fault," "iniquity," "punishment for iniquity," "sin" (  Genesis 4:13;  Leviticus 26:41;  Job 19:29;  Psalm 149:7;  Lamentations 4:22;  Ezekiel 14:10 margin;   Amos 1:3 ,  Amos 1:6 ,  Amos 1:9 ,  Amos 1:11 ,  Amos 1:13;  Amos 2:1 ,  Amos 2:4 ,  Amos 2:6 ), ענשׁ , ‛ōnesh , "tribute," "fine," "punishment" ( Lamentations 3:39 ), חטאה , ḥăṭā'āh , or חטּאת ro ,h , ḥaṭṭā'th , "sin" and its retribution, "penalty," "expiation" ( Zechariah 14:19 ); κόλασις , kólasis , "punishment," "torment" ( Matthew 25:46 ), ἐπιτιμία , epitimı́a , "poll tax," hence, "penalty" ( 2 Corinthians 2:6 ), τιμωρία , timōrı́a , "vindication," hence, "penalty" ( Hebrews 10:29 ), ἐκδίκησις , ekdı́kēsis , "vindication," "retribution" ( 1 Peter 2:14 the King James Version)): A court could inflict for a crime against the person, a sentence of (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 (Nu 35); or (3) stripes, not to exceed 40, in practice 39 or less (  Deuteronomy 25:3;  2 Corinthians 11:24 ). Offences against property (theft, fraudulent conversion of deposit, embezzlement, robbery) were punished by exacting more than the value of the things taken ( Luke 19:8 ), the excess going to the injured party, thus differing from a fine, which goes into the treasury of the community. The housebreaker was liable to be slain with impunity ( Exodus 22:2 ). A fine in the modern sense is unknown in the Scriptures, unless  Leviticus 5:6-19 be interpreted as referring to such.

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 ( Leviticus 21:19 ,  Leviticus 21:20;  Matthew 5:38 ). Early in the history of the race, punishment was administered for sin and crime. Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden, and Cain, the first murderer, though not executed in retaliation for his deed, had a mark set on him. The words of Lamech ( Genesis 4:24 ) indicate that death was regarded as the fitting punishment for murder, and the same thought apparently was in the minds of the brethren of Joseph ( Genesis 42:21 ). Judah, as head of his family, seems to have had power of life and death ( Genesis 38:24 ), and Abimelech threatens his people with the extreme punishment in case they injure or insult Isaac or his wife ( Genesis 26:11 ). Similar power is ascribed to Pharaoh ( Genesis 41:13 ).

2. The Mosaic Law Concerning Punishment:

Under the Law of Moses, the murderer was to be put to death without mercy. Even if he took refuge at the altar in a sanctuary or in an asylum city, he would not be immune from arrest and execution, and the same principle was applied in the case of an animal ( Exodus 21:12 ,  Exodus 21:14 ,  Exodus 21:23 ,  Exodus 21:28 ,  Exodus 21:36 parallel). But punishment under the Mosaic Law was not to be entailed or transmitted (  Deuteronomy 24:16 ), as was the case among the Chaldeans ( Daniel 6:24 ) and the kings of Israel (1 Ki 21;  2 Kings 9:26 ).

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 (  Exodus 21:15 ,  Exodus 21:17 ); (2) blasphemy ( Leviticus 24:14 ,  Leviticus 24:16 ,  Leviticus 24:23;  1 Kings 21:10;  Matthew 26:65 ,  Matthew 26:66 ); (3) Sabbath-breaking ( Exodus 31:14;  Exodus 35:2;  Numbers 15:32-36 ); (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 ); (6) unchastity: ( a ) before marriage, but detected afterward ( Deuteronomy 22:21 ), ( b ) in case of a woman with someone other than her betrothed ( Deuteronomy 22:23 ), ( c ) in a priest's daughter ( Leviticus 21:9 ); (7) rape ( Deuteronomy 22:25 ); (8) incestuous and unnatural connections ( Exodus 22:19;  Leviticus 20:11 ,  Leviticus 20:14 ,  Leviticus 20:16 ); (9) man-stealing ( Exodus 21:16 ); (10) idolatry, actual or virtual, in any form ( Leviticus 20:2;  Deuteronomy 13:6;  Deuteronomy 17:2-7 ); (11) false witness in capital cases ( Deuteronomy 19:16 ,  Deuteronomy 19:19 ).

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 (  Numbers 15:30 ,  Numbers 15:31 ); incestuous or unclean connections ( Leviticus 18:29; 29:9-21); (2) breach of covenant, brought about through uncircumcision ( Genesis 17:14;  Exodus 4:24 ), neglect of Passover ( Numbers 9:13 ), Sabbath-breaking ( Exodus 31:14 ), neglect of Atonement Day ( Leviticus 23:29 ), work done on the Atonement Day ( Leviticus 23:30 ), children offered to Molech ( Leviticus 20:3 ), witchcraft ( Leviticus 20:6 ), anointing an alien with holy oil ( Exodus 30:33 ); (3) breach of ritual, committed by 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 sacrifices while unclean ( Leviticus 7:20 ,  Leviticus 7:21;  Leviticus 22:3 ,  Leviticus 22:4 ,  Leviticus 22:9 ), offering too late ( Leviticus 19:8 ), making holy ointment for private use ( Exodus 30:32 ,  Exodus 30:33 ), making perfume for private use ( Exodus 30:38 ), general neglect of purification ( Numbers 19:13 ,  Numbers 19:20 ), not bringing offering after slaying a beast for food ( Leviticus 17:9 ), slaying the animal at a place other than the tabernacle door ( Leviticus 17:4 ), touching holy things illegally ( Numbers 4:15 ,  Numbers 4:18 ,  Numbers 4:20 ).

Of capital punishments that are properly regarded as of Hebrew origin , we note:

(1) Stoning

Stoning, which was the ordinary mode of execution ( Exodus 19:13;  Leviticus 20:27;  Joshua 7:25;  Luke 20:6;  Acts 7:58;  Acts 14:5 ). The witnesses, of whom there were at least two, were required to cast the first stone ( Deuteronomy 13:9 f;   John 8:7 ). If these failed to cause death, the bystanders proceeded to complete the sentence, whereupon the body was to be suspended until sunset ( Deuteronomy 21:23 ).

(2) Hanging

Hanging is mentioned ( Numbers 25:4;  Deuteronomy 21:22 ), probably not as a mode of execution, but rather of exposure after death. It may have been a Canaanitish punishment, since it was practiced by the Gibeonites on the sons of Saul ( 2 Samuel 21:6 ,  2 Samuel 21:9 ).

(3) Burning

Burning, before the age of Moses, was the punishment of unchastity ( Genesis 38:24 ). The Law prescribes it as a punishment in the case of a priest's daughter ( Leviticus 21:9 ), and in case of incest ( Leviticus 20:14 ), but it is also mentioned as following death by other means ( Joshua 7:25 ), and some believe it was never used except after death. That it was sometimes used as a punishment on living persons among the heathen is shown by Dan 3.

(4) The Sword or Spear

The sword or spear as an instrument of punishment is named in the Law ( Exodus 19:13;  Exodus 32:27;  Numbers 25:7 ff). It occurs frequently in monarchic and post-Bab times (  Judges 9:5;  1 Samuel 15:33;  2 Samuel 20:22;  1 Kings 19:1;  Jeremiah 26:23;  Matthew 14:8 ,  Matthew 14:10 ), but among these cases, there are some of assassination rather than of punishment.

(5) Strangling

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 (  Matthew 18:6 parallel); (3) sawing asunder or crushing (  2 Samuel 12:31;  Hebrews 11:37 ); (4) torturing (  1 Chronicles 20:3;  Hebrews 11:35 ); (5) precipitation (  2 Chronicles 25:12;  Luke 4:29 ); (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 ( Judges 16:21;  1 Samuel 11:2;  2 Kings 25:7 ).

(2) Chaining.

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 ( Judges 16:21;  2 Samuel 3:34;  2 Kings 25:7 ); also alluded to in the life of Paul ( Acts 28:20;  Ephesians 6:20;  2 Timothy 1:16 ); and in the case of Peter ( Acts 12:6 ).

(3) Confiscation of Property.

Confiscation of property that had fallen under the ban, i.e. had been singled out for destruction by the special decree of Yahweh, as in  Numbers 21:2;  Joshua 6:17; or had been reserved for the use of the army ( Deuteronomy 2:35;  Deuteronomy 20:14;  Joshua 22:8 ); or given over to the priesthood ( Joshua 6:19 ). The term may be extended to include all things vowed or sanctified and those irrevocably devoted or consecrated to God ( Leviticus 27:21 ,  Leviticus 27:28 ). The idea is applied with special emphasis to those things which, because of their uncleanness, must not be used by the Israelites, though, through their warfare with the heathen, they might have come into possession of them ( Deuteronomy 7:26;  1 Samuel 15:16-23 ).

(4) Dashing in Pieces.

See  Psalm 2:9;  Isaiah 13:18 .

(5) Divine Visitation.

See Visitation .

(6) Exposure to Wild Beasts.

See  Leviticus 26:22;  1 Samuel 17:46; Daniel 6.

(7) Flaying.

Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchy, I, 478; Nineveh and Babylon; mentioned figuratively in  Micah 3:3 .

(8) Forfeiture

See  Ezra 10:8 .

(9) Gallows.

Gallows in the modern sense probably were unknown to the ancients. Where the word occurs in  Esther 5:14;  Esther 6:4;  Esther 7:9 ,  Esther 7:10;  Esther 9:13 ,  Esther 9:15 , it probably refers to a beam or pole on which the body was impaled and then elevated to a height of 50 cubits as an object of warning to the people (see "Hanging").

(10) Imprisonment.

Imprisonment is frequently referred to in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, indicating that this was a common mode of punishment among both the Israelites and other nations ( Genesis 40:3;  Genesis 42:17;  Leviticus 24:12;  Numbers 15:34;  1 Kings 22:27;  Jeremiah 37:15 ,  Jeremiah 37:21;  Luke 3:20;  Acts 4:3 ,  Acts 4:10;  Acts 23:10; and the Epistles of Paul). See Prison .

(11) Indignities.

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 ( Matthew 26:59 ,  Matthew 26:67;  Luke 22:63 ff;   John 18:22 ); also in the life of Paul ( Acts 23:2 ).

(12) Mutilation

See  Judges 1:6 ,  Judges 1:7;  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 ( 1 Samuel 8:10 ff), does not say that he would thus treat "their sons." It was a barbarous custom of the East (see Eunuchs; Polygamy ), evidently regarded, among the Hebrews, as a heinous practice ( Deuteronomy 23:1 ). The only act authorizing mutilation (except in retaliation ) is mentioned in  Deuteronomy 25:11 .

(13) Plucking off the Hair

Plucking off the hair is alluded to as a mode of punishment in  Nehemiah 13:25;  Isaiah 50:6 .

(14) Prison Garments

Prison garments were in vogue to mark the convicts ( Jeremiah 52:33 ).

(15) Restitution

Restitution has been alluded to in the general introduction to this topic.

(16) Retaliation

Retaliation was recognized by Moses as a principle, but the application of it was left to the judge ( Leviticus 24:19-22 ). A fine example of it is found in the law of  Deuteronomy 19:19 .

(17) Scorpions, Chastising With.

Probably the use of thongs armed with pointed pieces of lead or other metal ( 1 Kings 12:11;  2 Chronicles 10:14 ). See Scorpions .

(18) Scourging.

See separate article.

(19) Slavery.

See separate article.

(20) Stocks.

See Prison .

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [7]

This subject is properly restricted to the penalty imposed on the commission of some crime or offence against law. It is thus distinguished from private retaliation or revenge, cruelty, torture, popular violence, certain customs of war, etc. Human punishments are such as are indicted immediately on the person of the offender, or indirectly upon his goods, etc. For the leading points in the literature of the question concerning future and divine punishment see Soul. Capital punishment is usually supposed to have been instituted at the deluge . Arnheim, however, thus explains the precept: if one stranger slay another, the kinsmen of the murdered man are the avengers of blood; but if he be slain by one of his own kindred, the other kinsmen must not spare the murderer, for if they do, then divine providence will require the blood—that is, will avenge it. This interpretation would account for the custom of blood-revenge among all the ancient and Asiatic nations. 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 degenerating influences of slavery among heathens.

The mode of capital punishment, which constitutes a material element in the character of any law, was probably as humane as the circumstances of Moses admitted. It was probably restricted to lapidation or stoning, which, by skillful management, might produce instantaneous death. It was an Egyptian custom . The public effusion of blood by decapitation cannot be proved to have been a Mosaic punishment. The appearance of decapitation, 'slaying by the sword,' in later times (;; ), has no more relation to the Mosaic law than the decapitation of John the Baptist by Herod or than the hewing to pieces of Agag before the Lord by Samuel, as a punishment in kind . Execution was ordered by Moses, probably adopting an ancient custom, to be begun first by the witnesses, a regulation which constituted a tremendous appeal to their moral feelings, and afterwards to be completed by the people . It was a later innovation that immediate execution should be done by some personal attendant, by whom the office was probably considered as an honor . Stoning therefore was, probably, the only capital punishment ordered by Moses. It is observable that neither this nor any other punishment was, according to his law, attended with insult or torture (comp. 2 Maccabees 7). Nor did his laws admit of those horrible mutilations practiced by other nations. Mutilation of such a nature amounts to a perpetual condemnation to infamy and crime. It will shortly be seen that the lex talionis, 'an eye for an eye,' etc., was adopted by Moses as the principle, but not the mode of punishment. He seems also to have understood the true end of punishment, which is not to gratify the antipathy of society against crime, nor moral vengeance, which belongs to God alone, but prevention. 'All the people shall hear and fear, and do no more so presumptuously' . His laws are equally free from the characteristic of savage legislation, that of involving the family of the offender in his punishment. He did not allow parents to be put to death for their children, nor children for their parents , as did the Chaldeans , and the kings of Israel (comp. 1 Kings 21; ). Various punishments were introduced among the Jews, or became known to them by their intercourse with other nations—viz., precipitation, or throwing, or causing to leap, from the top of a rock: to which ten thousand Idumeans were condemned by Amaziah, king of Judah . The inhabitants of Nazareth intended a similar fate for our Lord . This punishment resembles that of the Tarpeian rock among the Romans. Cutting asunder appears to have been a Babylonian custom ; but the passages in the Gospels admit of the milder interpretation of scourging with severity, discarding from office, etc. Beating to death was a Greek punishment for slaves. It was inflicted on a wooden frame, on which the criminal was bound and beaten to death (;; comp. 6:30). Fighting with wild beasts was a Roman punishment, to which criminals and captives in war were sometimes condemned (Adam, Roman Antiq., p. 344;; comp. ). Drowning with a heavy weight around the neck, was a Syrian, Greek, and Roman punishment. For Crucifixion, see the Article.

Posthumous insults offered to the dead bodies of criminals, though common in other nations, were very sparingly allowed by Moses. He permitted only hanging on a tree or gibbet; but the exposure was limited to a day, and burial of the body at night was commanded . Such persons were esteemed 'cursed of God' (comp.;; )—a law which the later Jews extended to crucifixion (, etc.; ). Hanging alive may have been a Canaanitish punishment, since it was practiced by the Gibeonites on the sons of Saul . Another posthumous insult in later times consisted in heaping stones on the body or grave of the executed criminal . To 'make heaps' of houses or cities is a phrase denoting complete and ignominious destruction . Burning the dead body seems to have been a very ancient posthumous insult: it was denounced by Judah against his daughter-in-law, Tamar, when informed that she was with child . Selden thinks that this means merely branding on the forehead. Moses retained this ancient ignominy for two offences only, which from the nature of things must have been comparatively rare, viz., for bigamy with a mother and her daughter , and for the case of a priest's daughter who committed whoredom . Though 'burning' only be specified in these cases, it may be safely inferred that the previous death of the criminals, probably by lapidation, is to be understood (comp. ). Among the heathens this merciful preliminary was not always observed, as for instance in the case of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3).

Among the minor corporal punishments ordered by Moses, was scourging; or the infliction of blows on the back of an offender with a rod. It was limited by him to forty stripes, a number which the Jews in later times were so careful not to exceed, that they inflicted but thirty-nine . It was to be inflicted on the offender lying on the ground, in the presence of a judge (;; ). We have abundant evidence that it was an ancient Egyptian punishment. Corporal punishment of this kind was allowed by Moses, by masters to servants or slaves of both sexes . 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 (; comp. 10:13; ). Hence it became the symbol for correction in general . Solomon is a zealous advocate for its use in education (;; comp. ). It was inflicted for ecclesiastical offences in the synagogue . The Mosaic law, however, respecting it, affords a pleasing contrast to the extreme and unlimited scourging known among the Romans, but which, according to the Porcian law, could not be inflicted upon a Roman citizen . Reference to the scourge with scorpions, i.e. a whip or scourge armed with knots or thorns, occurs in .

Retaliation 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. 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' . His system of compensations, etc., occurs in Exodus 21. He, however, makes willful murder, even of a slave, always capital, as did the Egyptians. The Egyptians doomed the false accuser to the same punishment which he endeavored to bring on his victim, as did Moses . Imprisonment, not as a punishment, but custody, till the royal pleasure was known, appears among the Egyptians . Moses adopted it for like purposes . In later times, it appears as a punishment inflicted by the kings of Judah and Israel (;; ); and during the Christian era, as in the instance of John , and Peter . Murderers and debtors were also committed to prison; and the latter 'tormented' till they paid . A common prison is mentioned and also an inner prison or dungeon, which was sometimes a pit , in which were 'stocks' (;; ). Prisoners are alluded to , and stocks . Banishment was impracticable among the Jews. It was inflicted by the Romans on John . Cutting or plucking off the hair is alluded to . Excision, or 'cutting off from his people,' is denounced against the uncircumcised as early as the covenant with Abraham . This punishment is expressed in the Mosaic law by the formula—'that soul shall be destroyed from its people' 'from Israel' 'from the midst of the congregation' 'it shall be destroyed' ; which terms sometimes denote capital punishment (; comp. 35:2; , etc.) [ANATHEMA].

Ecclesiastical punishments are prescribed, as might be expected under a theocracy, but these were moderate. Involuntary transgressions of the Levitical law, whether of omission or commission, were atoned for by a sin-offering (, etc.;; ). This head embraced a rash or neglected oath, keeping back evidence in court (, etc.;; ), breach of trust, concealment of property when found, or theft, even when the offender had already cleared himself by oath, but was now moved by conscience to make restitution. By these means, and by the payment of twenty percent beyond the amount of his trespass, the offender might cancel the crime as far as the church was concerned . Adultery with a slave was commuted from death to stripes and a trespass-offering . All these cases involved public confession, and the expenses of the offering.

Future punishment.—Though the doctrine of a future state was known to the ancient Hebrews, yet temporal punishment and reward were the immediate motives held out to obedience. Hence the references in the Old Testament to punishment in a future state are obscure and scanty. See Hades; Heaven; Hell.