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ON THE PUNISHMENTS MENTIONED IN THE SCRIPTURES.
Design of Punishments.-Classification of Jewish Punishments.I. PUNISHMENTS, NOT CAPITAL.-1. Scourging.-2. Retaliation. -3. Pecuniary fines.-4. Offerings in the nature of punishment.5. Imprisonment.-Oriental mode of treating prisoners.-6. Depriving them of sight.-7. Cutting or plucking off the hair.8. Excommunication.-II. CAPITAL PUNISHMENTS.-1. Slaying with the sword.-2. Stoning-3. Decapitation.-4. Precipitation. -5. Drowning.-6. Bruising in a mortar.-7. Dichotomy, or cutting asunder.-8. Tuμπavioμos, or beating to death.-9. Exposing to wild beasts.-10. Burning to death.-11. Crucifixion.(1.) Prevalence of this mode of punishment among the antients.(2.) Ignominy of Crucifixion.-(3.) The circumstances of our Saviour's Crucifixion considered and illustrated.
THE end of punishment is expressed by Moses to be the deter
ment of others from the commission of crimes. His language is, that others may hear and fear, and may shun the commission of like crimes. (Deut. xvii. 13. xix. 20.) By the wise and humane enactments of this legislator, the parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children for their parents (Deut. xxiv. 16.), as was afterwards the case with the Chaldæans (Dan. vi. 24.), and also among the kings of Israel (1 Kings xxi. and 2 Kings ix. 26.), on charges of treason. Of the punishments mentioned in the sacred writers, some were inflicted by the Jews in common with other nations, and others were peculiar to themselves. They are usually divided into two classes, non-capital and capital.
I. The NON-CAPITAL or inferior PUNISHMENTS, which were inflicted for smaller offences, are eight in number, viz.
I. The most common corporal punishment of the antient Mosaic law was Scourging. (Lev. xix. 20. Deut. xxii. 18. xxv. 2, 3.) After the captivity it continued to be the usual punishment for transgressions of the law, so late indeed as the time of Josephus; and the apostle tells us that he suffered it five times.2 (2 Cor. xi. 24.) In the time of our Saviour it was not confined to the judicial tribunals, but was also inflicted in the synagogues. (Matt. x. 17. xxiii. 34. Acts xxii. 19. xxvi. 11.) The penalty of scourging was inflicted by judicial sentence. The offender having been admonished to acknow
1 Ant. Jud. lib. iv. c. 8. § 11.
2 Inflicting the punishment of whipping, the Jews sometimes, for notorious offences, tied sharp bones, pieces of lead, or thorns to the end of thongs, called by the Greeks aorpayaλwλaç μaoriyas, flagra taxillata; but in the Scriptures termed scorpions. To these Rehoboam alludes in 1 Kings xii. 11.-Burder's Oriental Literature, vol. i. p. 414.
ledge his guilt, and the witnesses produced against him as in capital cases, the judges commanded him to be tied by the arms to a low pillar: the culprit being stripped down to his waist, the executioner, who stood behind him upon a stone, inflicted the punishment both on the back and breast with thongs ordinarily made of ox's hide or leather. The number of stripes depended upon the enormity of the offence. According to the talmudical writers, while the execuLioner was discharging his office, the principal judge proclaimed these words with a loud voice :-If thou observest not all the words of this law, &c. then the Lord shall make thy plagues wonderful, &c. (Deut. xxvii. 58, 59.); adding, Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do (Deut. xxix. 9.); and concluding with these words of the Psalmist (lxxviii. 38.): -But he being full of compassion forgave their iniquities: which he was to repeat, if he had finished these verses before the full number of stripes was given. It was expressly enacted that no Jew should suffer more than forty stripes for any crime, though a less number might be inflicted. In order that the legal number might not be exceeded, the scourge consisted of three lashes or thongs: so that, at each blow, he received three stripes: consequently, when the full punishment was inflicted, the delinquent received only thirteen blows, that is, forty stripes save one; but if he were so weak, as to be on the point of fainting away, the judges would order the executioner to suspend his flagellation. Among the Romans, however, the number was not limited, but varied according to the crime of the malefactor and the discretion of the judge. It is highly probable that, when Pilate took Jesus and scourged him, he directed this scourging to be unusually severe, that the sight of his lacerated body might move the Jews to compassionate the prisoner, and desist from opposing his release. This appears the more probable; as our Saviour was so enfeebled by this scourging, that he afterwards had not strength enough left, to enable him to drag his cross to Calvary. Among the Jews, the punishment of scourging involved no sort of ignominy, which could make the sufferer infamous or an object of reproach to his fellow citizens. It consisted merely in the physical sense of the pain.
2. Retaliation, or the returning of like for like, was the punishment inflicted for corporal injuries to another,-eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. (Exod. xxi. 24.) It appears, however, to have been rarely, if ever, strictly put in execution: but the injurious party was to give the injured person satisfaction. In this sense the raurora sa among the Greeks and the Lex Talionis among the Romans was understood; and an equivalent was accepted, the value of an eye, a tooth, &c. for the eye or tooth itself. It should seem that, in the time of Jesus Christ, the Jews had made this law (the execution of which belonged to the civil magistrate) a ground for authorising private resentments, and all the excesses
1 Cited by Dr. Lightfoot, Works, vol. i. p. 901. folio edit. VOL. III. 19
committed by a vindictive spirit. Revenge was carried to the utmost extremity, and more evil returned than what had been received. On this account, our Saviour prohibited retaliation in his divine sermon on the mount. (Matt. vii. 38, 39.)
3. Restitution.-Justice requires that those things which have been stolen or unlawfully taken from another should be restored to the party aggrieved, and that compensation should be made to him. by the agressor. Accordingly, various fines or pecuniary payments were enacted by the Mosaic law; as,
(1.) FINES, (ONESH), strictly so called, went commonly to the injured party; and were of two kinds,-Fixed, that is, those of which the amount was determined by some statute, as for instance, that of Deut. xxii. 19. or xxii. 29.;-and Undetermined, or where the amount was left to the decision of the judges. (Exod. xxi. 22.)
(2.) Two-fold, four-fold, and even five-fold restitution of things stolen, and restitution of property unjustly retained, with twenty per cent. over and above. Thus, if a man killed a beast, he was to make it good, beast for beast. (Levit. xxiv. 18.)-If an ox pushed or gored another man's servant to death, his owner was bound to pay for the servant thirty shekels of silver. (Exod. xxi. 32.) -In the case of one man's ox pushing the ox of another man to death, as it would be very difficult to ascertain which of the two had been to blame for the quarrel, the two owners were obliged to bear the loss. The living ox was to be sold, and its price, together with the dead beast, was to be equally divided between them. If, however, one of the oxen had previously been notorious for pushing, and the owner had not taken care to confine him, in such case he was to give the loser another, and to take the dead ox himself. (Exod. xxi. 36.)—If a man dug a pit and did not cover it, or let an old pit remain open, and another man's beast fell into it, the owner of such pit was obliged to pay for the beast, and had it for the payment. (Exod. xxi. 23, 24.)-When a fire was kindled in the fields and did any damage, he who kindled it was to make the damage good. (Exod. xxii. 5.)1
(3.) Compensation, not commanded, but only allowed, by law, to be given to a person injured, that he might depart from his suit, and not insist on the legal punishment, whether corporal or capital. It is termed either (KOPheR), that is, Compensation, or (PIDJON NePheSH), that is, Ranson of Life. In one case it is most expressly permitted (Exod. xxi. 30.); but it is prohibited in the case of murder and also in homicide. (Numb. xxxv. 31, 32.) The highest fine leviable by the law of Moses was one hundred shekels of silver, great sum in those times, when the precious metals were
4. To this class of punishments may be referred the Sin and Trespass Offerings which were in the nature of punishments. They
1 Michaelis's Commentaries, vol. ii. pp. 365-367.
were in general extremely moderate and were enjoined in the following cases.
(1.) For every unintentional transgression of the Levitical law, even if it was a sin of commission, (for in the Mosaic doctrine concerning sin and trespass offerings, all transgressions are divided into sins of commission, and sins of omission) a sin-offering was to be made, and thereupon the legal punishment was remitted; which, in the case of wilful transgression, was nothing less than extirpation. (Lev. iv. 2. v. 1. 4-7.)
(2.) Whoever had made a rash oath, and had not kept it, was obliged to make a sin-offering; not, however, for his inconsideration, but for his neglect. (Lev. v. 4.)
(3.) Whoever had, as a witness, been guilty of perjury-not, however, to impeach an innocent man, (for in that case the lex talionis operated,) but-in not testifying what he knew against a guilty person, or in any other respect concerning the matter in question; and in consequence thereof felt disquieted in his conscience, might, without being liable to any farther punishment, or ignominy, obtain remission of the perjury, by a confession of it, accompanied with a trespass-offering. (Lev. v. 1.)
(4.) Whoever had incurred debt to the sanctuary, that is, had not conscientiously paid his tithes, had his crime cancelled by making a trespass-offering, and making up his deficiencies with twenty per cent. over and above. (Lev. v. 14, 15.)
(5.) The same was the rule, where a person denied any thing given him in trust, or any thing lost, which he had found, or any promise he had made; or again, where he had acquired any property dishonestly, and had his conscience awakened on account of it, even where it was a theft, of which he had once cleared himself by oath, but was now moved by the impulse of his conscience to make voluntary restitution, and wished to get rid of the guilt. (Lev. vi. 1-7.) By the offering made on such an occasion, the preceding crime was wholly cancelled; and because the delinquent would otherwise have had to make restitution, from two to five fold, he now gave twenty per cent. over and above the amount of his theft.
(6.) In the case of adultery committed with a slave, an offering was appointed by Lev. xix. 20-22.: which did not, however, wholly cancel the punishment, but mitigated it from death, which was the established punishment of adultery, to that of stripes.
Such measures as these, Michaelis remarks, must have had a great effect in prompting to the restitution of property unjustly acquired but in the case of crimes, of which the good of the community expressly required that the legal punishment should uniformly and actually be put in execution, no such offering could be accepted.
5. Imprisonment does not appear to have been imposed by Moses as a punishment, though he could not be unacquainted with it; for he describes it as in use among the Egyptians. (Gen. xxxix. 19, 20,
21.) The only time he mentions it, or more properly arrest, is solely for the purpose of keeping the culprit safe until judgment should be given on his conduct. (Lev. xxiv. 12.) In later times, however, the punishment of the prison came into use among the Israelites and Jews; whose history, under the monarchs, abounds with instances of their imprisoning persons, especially the prophets, who were obnoxious to them for their faithful reproofs of their sins and crimes. Thus, Asa committed the prophet Hannani to prison, for reproving him (2 Chron. xvi. 10.); Ahab committed Micaiah (1 Kings xxii. 27.), as Zedekiah did the prophet Jeremiah, for the same offence. (Jer. xxxvii. 21.) John the Baptist was imprisoned by Herod, misnamed the Great (Matt. iv. 12.); and Peter, by Herod Agrippa. (Acts xii. 4.) Debtors (Matt. xviii. 30.), and murderers (Luke xxiii. 19.), were also committed to prison. We read also of Tngnois Anuodia, a common prison, a public gaol (Acts v. 8.), which was a place of durance and confinement for the worst sort of offenders. In their prisons, there was usually a dungeon (Jer. xxxviii. 6.), or a pit or cistern, as the word (BOR) is rendered in Zech. ix. 11. where it unquestionably refers to a prison: and from this word we may conceive the nature of a dungeon, viz. that it was a place, in which indeed there was no water, but in its bottom deep mud; and accordingly we read that Jeremiah, who was cast into this worst and lowest part of the prison, sunk into the mire. (Jer. xxxviii. 6.) Into such a horrid place was Joseph cast in Egypt. (Gen. xli. 14.)
In the prison also were stocks, for detaining the person of the prisoner more securely. (Jer. xx. 2. xxix. 26.) Michaelis conjectures that they were of the sort by the Greeks called Πεντεσυριγγον, wherein the prisoner was so confined, that his body was kept in an unnatural position, which must have proved a torture truly insupportable. The Eowrega Tuλaxn, or inner prison, into which Paul and Silas were thrust at Philippi, is supposed to have been the same as the pit or cistern above noticed; and here their feet were made fast in the wooden stocks (Acts xvi. 24.), to guλov. το ξύλον. As this prison was under the Roman government, these stocks are supposed to have been the cippi or large pieces of wood in use among that people, which not only loaded the legs of prisoners, but sometimes distended them in a very painful manner. Hence the situation of Paul and Silas would be rendered more painful than that of an offender sitting in the stocks, as used among us; especially if (as is very possible) they lay on the hard or dirty ground, with their bare backs, lacerated by recent scourging.2
The keepers of the prison antiently had, as in the East they still
1 This place is termed the prison-house: but it appears that suspected persons were sometimes confined in part of the house which was occupied by the great officers of state, and was converted into a prison for this purpose. In this manner Jeremiah was at first confined (Jer xxxvii. 15.); and a similar practice obtains in the East to this day. See Harmer's Observations, vol. iii. p. 503.
2 Doddridge's Expositor, on Acts xvi. 24.