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Morrish Bible Dictionary


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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.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Punishment '. Morrish Bible Dictionary. 1897.

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