(properly שׁבַי, shebi´; Gr. αἰχμάλωτος) is distinguished from a prisoner (q.v.) or one in bondage (q.v.). SEE CAPTIVITY. Various indignities andcruelties were inflicted on those who had the misfortune to be taken captive in war. Those who surrendered were led out with halters as if for execution (1Ki 20:32). SEE BEHISTUN. On some occasions particular districts were marked out with a line for destruction (2Sa 8:2). The victors set their feet upon the necks (q.v.) of the captured kings and nobles (Jos 10:24), or mutilated their persons by cutting off their thumbs, toes, or ears (Jg 1:7; 2Sa 4:12; Eze 23:25); and sometimes they put out their eyes (q.v.) by passing a red-hot iron over them, or literally scooped or dug them out of their sockets (2Ki 25:7; Isa 61:1). These cruelties are still practiced under some of the despotic governments of the Eastern countries. SEE PUNISHMENT. It was the barbarous custom of the conquerors of those times to suspend their unhappy captives by the hand (La 5:12), and also to make them bow down that they might go over them (Isa 51:23); sometimes they were thrown among thorns, were sawn asunder, beaten to pieces with threshing instruments, or had imposed upon them the severest and most laborious occupations (Jg 8:7; 2Sa 12:31; 1Ch 20:3). The soldiers who were taken were deprived of all their property and sold naked into servitude. When the city was taken by assault, all the men were slain; the women and children were carried away captive, and sold at a very low price ( Isa 20; Isa 3:4; Isa 47:3; 2Ch 28:9-15; Ps 44:12; Mic 1:11; Joe 3:3). SEE SIEGE. Sometimes the conqueror stripped the wretched prisoners naked, shaved their heads, and made them travel in that condition, exposed to the heat of a vertical sun by day, and the chilling cold of the night. Nor were women exempted from this treatment (Isa 3:17). To them this was the height of indignity, as well as of cruelty, especially to those described by the prophets, who had indulged themselves in all manner of delicacies of living, and all the superfluities of ornamental dress, and even whose faces had hardly ever been exposed to the sight of men. Women and children were also exposed to treatment at which humanity shudders (Na 3:5-6; Zec 14:2; Es 3:13; 2Ki 8:12; Ps 137:9; Isa 13:16,18; 2Ki 15:16; Ho 13:16; Am 1:13). Sometimes the people were carried into captivity, and transplanted to distant countries: this was the case with the Jews (Jer 20:5; Jer 39:9-10; Jer 40:7; 2Ki 24:12-16). In some cases the conquered nations were merely made tributary (2Sa 8:6; 2Ki 14:14). To be tributary, however, was considered a great ignominy, and was a source of reproach to the idol deities of the countries who were thus subjected (2Ki 19:8,13). It was likewise a custom among the heathens to carry in triumph the images of the gods of such nations as they had vanquished (Isa 46:1-2; Jer 48:7; Da 11:8; Am 1:15). Still farther to show their absolute superiority, the victorious sovereigns used to change the names of the monarchs whom they subdued (2Ki 24:17; 2Ch 35:21-22; 2Ch 36:4; Da 1:7). The conquerors, however, were not always destitute of humanity. In many instances they permitted the conquered kings to retain their authority, only requiring from them the promise of good faith and the payment of tribute. But if in such a case the kings rebelled, they were treated with the greatest severity (Ge 14:4-11; 2Ki 23:34; 2Ki 24:1-14; Isa 24:2; Jer 20:5-6). SEE TRIUMPH.

Bible concordance for CAPTIVE.

Definition of captive

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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