Punishment (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 (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 down (Ge 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 (Ge 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 (Ge 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 (Ge 26:11,29). Similar power seems to have been possessed by the reigning Pharaoh in the time of Joseph (Ge 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 (Ex 21:12,14,28,36; Le 17:16; Nu 35:31; De 19:11-12; and see 1Ki 2:28,34). Moses, however, did not allow parents to be put to death for their children, nor children for their parents (De 24:16), as did the Chaldeans (Da 6:24) and the kings of Israel (comp. 1Ki 21; 2Ki 9:26).
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 (Nu 14:29,32,35). 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 (Ex 21:15,17).
2. Blasphemy (Le 24:14,16,23: see Philo, V. M. 3:25; 1Ki 21:10; Mt 26:65-66).
3. Sabbath-breaking (Nu 15:32-36; Ex 31:14; Ex 35:2).
4. Witchcraft, and false pretension to prophecy (Ex 22:18; Le 20:27; De 13:5; De 18:20; 1Sa 28:9).
5. Adultery (Le 20:10; De 22:22: see Joh 8:5, and Josephus, Ant. iii, 12, 1).
6. Unchastity —
a. Previous to marriage, but detected afterwards (De 22:21). b. In a betrothed mwoman with some one not affianced to her (ibid. ver. 23). c. In a priest's daughter (Le 21:9).
7. Rape (De 22:25).
8. Incestuous and unnatural connections (Le 20:11,14,16; Ex 22:19).
9. Man-stealing (Ex 21:16; De 24:7).
10. Idolatry, actual or virtual, in any shape (Le 20:2; De 13:6,10,15; De 17:2-7: see Jos 7; Jos 22:20, and Nu 25:8).
11. False witness in certain cases (De 19:16,19). 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) Ge 9:25; (5) Ge 12:17; Ge 20:7; Ge 39:19; (6) Ge 38:24; (8) Ge 38:10.
(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 (Nu 15:30-31). *Fifteen cases of incestuous or unclean connection (Le 18:29; Le 20:9-21).
2. Breach of Covenant, as follows:
*†Uncircumcision (Ge 17:14; Ex 4:24). Neglect of Passover (Nu 9:13). *Sabbath-breaking (Ex 31:14).
Neglect of Atonement-day (Le 23:29).
†Work done on that day (Le 23:30).
*†Children offered to Molech (Le 20:3).
*†Witchcraft (Le 20:6).
Anointing a stranger with holy oil (Ex 30:33).
3. Breach of Ritual, as follows:
Eating leavened bread during Passover (Ex 12:15,19).
Eating fat of sacrifices (Le 7:25). Eating blood (Le 7:27; Le 17:14). *Eating sacrifice in an unclean condition (Le 7:20-21; Le 22:3-4,9).
Offering too late (Le 19:8).
Making holy ointment for private use (Ex 30:32-33). Making perfume for private use (Ex 30:38). Neglect of purification in general (Nu 19:13,20). Not bringing offering after slaying a beast for food (Le 17:9). Not slaying the animal at the tabernacle door (Le 17:4). Touching holy things illegally (Nu 4:15,18,20; and see 2Sa 6:7; 2Ch 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 Le 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 (1Sa 14:32); (2) that of Uzziah (2Ch 26:19,21), 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 (Le 10:1-2); Korah and his company (Nu 16:10,33), who "perished from the congregation;" Uzzah (2Sa 6:7); and, further, that the leprosy inflicted on Uzziah might be regarded as a virtual death (Nu 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 (Nu 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 (Ex 17:4; Lu 20:$; Joh 10:31; Ac 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 (Ex 19:13; Ex 21:29). The false witness, likewise, in a capital case would, by the law of retaliation, become liable to death (De 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 (De 13:9; De 17:7; Joh 8:7; Ac 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 (De 21:23; Jos 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 (Nu 25:4; 2Sa 21:6,9), 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 (2Sa 21:9).
3. Burning, in pre-Mosaic times, was the punishment for unchastity (Ge 38:24). Under the law it is ordered in the case of a priest's daughter (Le 21:9), of which an instance is mentioned (Sanhedr. 7:2); likewise in case of incest (Le 20:14); but it is also mentioned as following death by other means (Jos 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 (Ex 19:13; Ex 32:27; Nu 25:7), although two of the cases may be regarded as exceptional; but it occurs frequently in regal and post-Babylonial times (Jg 9:5; 1Sa 15:33; 1Sa 22:18; 2Sa 1:15; 2Sa 4:12; 2Sa 20:22; 1Ki 2:25,34; 1Ki 19:1; 2Ki 10:7; 2Ch 21:4; Jer 26:23; Mt 14:8,10) — 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 (Joh 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; Mt 18:6; Mr 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 (2Sa 12:31, and perhaps Pr 20:26; Heb 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 Pr 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 6:19,28; comp. ver. 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" (Heb 11:35). David inflicted this among other cruelties upon the inhabitants of Rabbath-ammon (1Ch 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 (2Ch 25:12; 2Ch 2 Maccabees 6:10; Lu 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 (Jos 7:25-26; 2Sa 18:17; Jer 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. (Ex 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" (Le 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 (De 19:19).
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). 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 (Ex 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 (Ex 22:2-4). Damage done by an animal was to be fully compensated (ver. 5). Fire caused to a neighbor's corn was to be compensated (ver. 6). A pledge stolen, and found in the thief's possession, was to be compensated by double (ver. 7). All trespass was to pay double (ver. 9). A pledge lost or damaged was to be compensated (vers. 12, 13); a pledge withheld, to be restored with 20 per cent. of the value (Le 6:4-5). The "sevenfold" of Pr 6:31, by its notion of completeness, probably indicates servitude in default of full restitution (Ex 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 (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; Josephus, Ant. 4:8, 21). This penalty was to be inflicted on the offender lying on the ground in the presence of a judge (Le 19:20; De 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 (Ex 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 (Pr 17:26; comp. 10:13; Jer 37:15-20). Hence it became the symbol for correction in general (Ps 89:32). Solomon is a zealous advocate for its use in education (Pr 13:24; Pr 23:13-14; comp. Ecclus. 30:1). In his opinion, "the blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil, and stripes the inward parts of the belly" (Pr 20:30). It was inflicted for ecclesiastical offences in the synagogue (Mt 10:17; Ac 26:11). Among torturing or tedious penalties,
4. Scourging with thorns is mentioned (Jg 8:16). Reference to the scourge with scorpions, i.e. a whip or scourge armed with knots or thorns, occurs in 1Ki 12:11. So in Latin, scorpio means a knotted or thorny switch. The stocks are mentioned (Jer 20:2); passing through fire (2Sa 12:31); mutilation (Jg 1:6; Jg 2 Maccabees 7:4; and see 2Sa 4:12); plucking out hair (Isa 1; Isa 6; Ne 13:25); in later times, imprisonment, and confiscation or exile (Ezr 7:26; Jer 37:15; Jer 38:6; Ac 4:3,18; Ac 12:4). Imprisonment, not as a punishment, but custody till the royal pleasure was known, appears among the Egyptians (Ge 39:20-21). Moses adopted it for like purposes (Le 26:12). It appears as a punishment inflicted by the kings of Judah and Israel (1Ki 22:27; 2Ch 16:10; Jer 37:21); and during the Christian tera, as in the instance of John (Mt 4:12) and Peter (Ac 12:4). Murderers and debtors were also committed to prison, and the latter "tormented" till they paid (Mt 18:30; Lu 23:19). A common prison is mentioned (Ac 5:18); and also an inner prison, or dungeon, which was sometimes a pit (Jer 38:6), in which were "stocks" (Jer 20:2; Jer 29:26; Ac 16:24). Prisoners are alluded to (Job 3:18), and stocks (13:27). Banishment was inflicted by the Romans on John (Re 1:9). As in earlier times imprisonment formed no part of the Jewish system, the sentences were executed at once (see Es 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 (De 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 (Ge 40:3,22; Ge 42:20). Death might be commuted for slavery (Ge 42:19; Ge 44:9,33). 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 (Ge 37:36; Ge 39; Ge 40; Jer 39:13; Jer 41:10; Jer 43:6; Jer 52:15-16; Da 2:14; Mr 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 (2Ki 25:7; Es 7:9-10; Jer 29:22; Da 3:6; Da 6:7,24; 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 (2Ki 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 (Ac 16:23; Ac 22:24; Ac 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 (1Co 15:32; 2Ti 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).