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have, a discretionary power to treat their prisoners just as they please; nothing further being required of them, than to produce them when called for. According to the accurate and observant traveller, Chardin, the gaoler is master, to do as he pleases; to treat his prisoner well or ill; to put him in irons or not, to shut him up closely, or to hold him in easier restraint; to admit persons to him, or to suffer no one to see him. If the gaoler and his servants receive large fees, however base may be the character of the prisoner, he shall be lodged in the best part of the gaoler's own apartment: and, on the contrary, if the persons, who have caused the prisoner to be confined, make the gaoler greater presents, he will treat his victim with the utmost inhumanity. Chardin, illustrates this statement by a narrative of the treatment received by a very great Armenian merchant. While he bribed the gaoler, the latter treated him with the greatest lenity; but afterwards, when the adverse party presented a considerable sum of money, first to the judge, and afterwards to the gaoler, the hapless Armenian first felt his privileges retrenched he was next closely confined, and then was treated with such inhumanity, as not to be permitted to drink oftener than once in twenty-four hours, even during the hottest time in the summer. No person was allowed to approach him but the servants of the prison: at length he was thrown into a dungeon, where he was in a quarter of an hour brought to the point to which all this severe usage was designed to force him.1 What energy does this account of an eastern prison give to those passages of Scripture, which speak of the soul coming into iron (Psal. cv. 17. marginal rendering), of the sorrowful SIGHING of the prisoner coming before God (Psal. lxxix. 11.), and of Jeremiah's being kept in a dungeon many days, and supplicating that he might not be remanded thither lest he should die! (Jer. xxxvii. 16-20.)
5. Banishment was not a punishment enjoined by the Mosaic law; but after the captivity, both exile and forfeiture of property were introduced among the Jews and it also existed under the Romans, by whom it was called diminutio capitis, because the person banished lost the right of a citizen, and the city of Rome thereby lost a head.2 But there was another kind of exile, termed disportatio, which was accounted the worst kind. The party banished forfeited his estate; and being bound was put on board ship, and transported to some island specified exclusively by the emperor, there to be confined in perpetual banishment. In this manner the apostle John was exiled to the little island of Patmos (Rev. i. 9.), where he wrote his Revelation.
6. In the East, antiently, it was the custom to put out the eyes of prisoners. Thus Sampson was deprived of sight by the Philistines (Judg. xvi. 21.), and Zedekiah by the Chaldees. (2 Kings xxv. 7.) It is well known that cutting out one or both of the eyes has been frequently practised in Persia, as a punishment for treasonable
1 Harmer's Observations, vol. iii. pp. 504, 505.
offences. To the great work of restoring eye-balls to the sightless by the Messiah, the prophet Isaiah probably alludes in his beautiful prediction cited by our Lord and applied to himself in Luke iv. 18.1
7. Cutting off the hair of criminals seems to be rather an ignominious than a painful mode of punishment: yet it appears that pain was added to the disgrace, and that the hair was violently plucked off, as if the executioner were plucking a bird alive. This is the literal meaning of the original word, which in Neh. xiii. is rendered plucked off their hair; sometimes hot ashes were applied to the skin after the hair was torn off, in order to render the pain more exquisitely acute. In the spurious book, commonly termed the fourth book of Macabees, it is said that the tyrant Antiochus Epiphanes caused the hair and skin to be entirely torn off the heads of some of the seven Maccabean brethren. As an historical composition this book is utterly destitute of credit; but it shows that the mode of punishment under consideration was not unusual in the East. This sort of torture is said to have been frequently inflicted on the early martyrs and confessors for the Christian faith.
8. Exclusion from sacred worship, or Excommunication, was not only an ecclesiastical punishment, but also a civil one; because in this theocratic republic, there was no distinction between the divine and the civil right. The earliest vestiges of this punishment are to be found after the return from the Babylonish captivity. In later times, according to the rabbinical writers, there were three degrees of excommunication among the Jews. The first was called 3 (NIDUI), removal or separation from all intercourse with society: this is, in the New Testament, frequently termed casting out of the synagogue. (John ix. 22. xvi. 2. Luke vi. 22. &c.) This was in force for thirty days, and might be shortened by repentance. If the person continued in his obstinacy after that time, the excommunication was renewed with additional solemn maledictions. This second degree was called (CHEREM) which signifies to anathematise or devote to death. The third, and the last degree of excommunication was termed (SHAM-ATHA) or 70 (MaRaN-ATHA), that is, the Lord cometh, or may the Lord come; intimating that those against whom it was fulminated, had nothing more to expect but the terrible day of judgment.
The condition of those who were excommunicated was the most deplorable that can be imagined. They were debarred of all social intercourse, and were excluded from the temple and the synagogues, on pain of severe corporal punishment. Whoever had incurred this sentence was loaded with imprecations, as appears from Deut. xxvii. where the expression cursed is he, is so often repeated: whence to curse and to excommunicate were equivalent terms with the Jews. And therefore St. Paul says that no man, speaking by the Spirit of God, calleth Jesus anathema or accursed (1 Cor. xii. 3.), that is, curses Him as the Jews did, who denied him to be the Messiah, and
1 Fragments supplementary to Calmet, No. 192.
excommunicated the Christians. In the second degree, they delivered the excommunicated party over to Satan, devoting him by a solemn curse to this practice St. Paul is supposed to allude (1 Cor. v. 5.); and in this sense he expresses his desire even to be accursed for his brethren (Rom. ix. 3.), that is, to be excommunicated, laden with curses, and to suffer all the miseries consequent on the infliction of this punishment, if it could have been of any service to his brethren the Jews. In order to impress the minds of the people with the greater horror, it is said that, when the offence was published in the synagogue, all the candles were lighted, and when the proclamation was finished, they were extinguished, as a sign that the excommunicated person was deprived of the light of Heaven; further, his goods were confiscated, his sons were not admitted to circumcision; and if he died without repentance or absolution, by the sentence of the judge a stone was to be cast upon his coffin or bier, in order to show that he deserved to be stoned.
II. The Talmudical writers have distinguished the CAPITAL PUNISHMENTS of the Jews into lesser deaths, and such as were more grievous but there is no warrant in the Scriptures for these distinctions, neither are these writers agreed among themselves what particular punishments are to be referred to these two heads. A capital crime was termed, generally, a sin of death (Deut. xxii. 6.), or a sin worthy of death (Deut. xxi. 22.); which mode of expression is adopted, or rather imitated, by the apostle John, who distinguishes between a sin unto death and a sin NOT unto death. (1 John v. 16.) Criminals, or those who were deemed worthy of capital punishment, were called sons or men of death (1 Sam. xx. 31. xxvi. 16. 2 Sam. xix. 29. marginal rendering); just as he who had incurred the punishment of scourging was designated a son of stripes. (Deut. xxv. 2. Heb.) Those who suffered a capital punishment, were said to be put to death for their own sin. (Deut. xxiv. 16. 2 Kings xiv. 6.) A similar phraseology was adopted by Jesus Christ, when he said to the Jews, ye shall die in your sins. (John viii. 21. 24.) Eleven different sorts of capital punishments are mentioned in the sacred writings, viz.
1. Slaying by the sword is commonly confounded with decapitation or beheading. They were however two distinct punishments. The laws of Moses are totally silent concerning the latter practice, and it appears that those who were slain with the sword were put to death in any way which the executioner thought proper. See 1 Kings ii. 25. 29. 31. 34. 46. This punishment was inflicted in two cases (1.) When a murderer was to be put to death; and (2.) When a whole city or tribe was hostilely attacked for any common crime, they smote all (as the Hebrew phrase is) with the edge of the sword. (Deut. xiii. 13-16.) Here doubtless the sword was used by every one as he found opportunity.
1 Grotius's Note, or rather Dissertation, on Luke vi. 22. Lightfoot's Works' vol. ii. pp. 747–749. Selden, de Jure Naturæ et Gentium, lib. iv. c. 8.
With respect to the case, of murder, frequent mention is made in the Old Testament of the (GOEL) or blood-avenger; various regulations were made by Moses concerning this person.
The inhabitants of the East, it is well known, are now, what they antiently were, exceedingly revengeful. If, therefore, an individual should unfortunately happen to lay violent hands upon another person and kill him, the next of kin is bound to avenge the death of the latter, and to pursue the murderer with unceasing vigilance until he have caught and killed him, either by force or by fraud. The same custom exists in Arabia and Persia1 and also among the Circassians, Nubians,3 and Abyssinians, and it appears to have been alluded to by Rebecca: when she learnt that Esau was threatening to kill his brother Jacob, she endeavoured to send the latter out of the country, saying, Why should I be bereft of you both in one day? (Gen. xxvii. 15.) She could not be afraid of the magistrate for punishing the murder, for the patriarchs were subject to no superior in Palestine: and Isaac was much too partial to Esau, for her to entertain any expectation that he would condemn him to death for it. It would therefore appear that she dreaded lest he should fall by the hand of the blood-avenger, perhaps of some Ishmaelite. The office, therefore of the Goel was in use before the time of Moses, and it was probably filled by the nearest of blood to the party killed, as the right of redeeming a mortgaged field is given
1 "The interest of the common safety has, for ages, established a law among them" (the Arabians), "which decrees that the blood of every man, who is slain, must be avenged by that of his murderer. This vengeance is called tar or retaliation; and the right of exacting it devolves on the nearest of kin to the deceased. So nice are the Arabs on this point of honour, that, if any one neglects to seek his retaliation, he is disgraced for ever. He therefore watches every opportunity of revenge if his enemy perishes from any other cause, still he is not satisfied, and his vengeance is directed against the nearest relation. These animosities are transmitted, as an inheritance, from father to children, and never cease but by the extinction of one of the families, unless they agree to sacrifice the criminal, or purchase the blood for a stated price, in money or in flocks. Without this satisfaction there is neither peace, nor truce, nor alliance between them; nor, sometimes, even between whole tribes. There is blood between us, say they, on every occasion; and this expression is an insurmountable barrier."—(Volney's Travels in Egypt and Syria, vol. p. 367. See also Niebuhr, Description de l'Arabie, pp. 26-30.)—In Turkey and in Persia murder is never prosecuted by the officers of the government. It is the business of the next relations, and of them only, to revenge the slaughter of their kinsmen; and if they rather choose, as they generally do, to compound the matter for money, nothing more is said about it.-Lady M. W. Montague's Letters, let. 42. Sir R. K. Porter's Travels, vol. ii. pp. 75, 76.
2 Among the Circassians, all the relatives of the murderers are considered as guilty. This customary infatuation to avenge the blood of relations, generates most of the feuds, and occasions great bloodshed among all the tribes of Caucasus ; for, unless pardon be purchased, or obtained by intermarriage between the two families, the principle of revenge is propagated to all succeeding generations. If the thirst of vengeance is quenched by a price paid to the family of the deceased, this tribute is called Thlil-Uasa, or the price of blood; but neither princes nor usdens (or nobles) accept of such a compensation, as it is an established law among them, to demand blood for blood.-Pallas, Voyages dans les Gouvernemens Meridionaux de l'Empire de Russie, tome i. p. 441. Paris, 1805.
3 Light's Travels in Egypt, Nubia. &c. p. 95. Burckhardt's Travels in Nubia,
4 Salt's Voyage to Abyssinia, pp. 345, 346.
to him. To prevent the unnecessary loss of life through a sanguinary spirit of revenge, the Hebrew legislator made various enactments concerning the blood-avenger. In most ages and countries, certain reputed sacred places enjoyed the privileges of being asylums: Moses, therefore, taking it for granted that the murderer would flee to the altar, commanded that when the crime was deliberate and intentional, he should be torn even from the altar, and put to death. (Exod. xxi. 14.) But in the case of unintentional murder, the man-slayer was enjoined to flee to one of the six cities of refuge which (we have already seen) were appropriated for his residence. The roads to these cities, it was enacted, should be kept in such a state that the unfortunate individual might meet with no impediment whatever in his way. (Deut. xix. 3.) If the Goel overtook the fugitive before he reached an asylum, and put him to death, he was not considered as guilty of blood: but if the man-slayer had reached a place of refuge, he was immediately protected, and an inquiry was instituted whether he had a right to such protection and asylum, that is, whether he had caused his neighbour's death undesignedly, or was a deliberate murderer. In the latter case he was judicially delivered to the Goel, who might put him to death in whatever way he chose: but in the former case the homicide continued in the place of refuge until the high priest's death, when he might return home in perfect security. If, however, the Goel found him without the city or beyond its suburbs, he might slay him without being guilty of blood. (Numb. xxxv. 26, 27.) Further to guard the life of man, and prevent the perpetration of murder, Moses positively prohibited the receiving of a sum of money from a murderer in the way of compensation. (Numb. xxxv. 31.) It should seem that if no avenger of blood appeared, or if he were dilatory in the pursuit of the murderer, it became the duty of the magistrate himself to inflict the sentence of the law; and thus we find that David deemed this to be his duty in the case of Joab, and that Solomon, in obedience to his father's dying entreaty, actually discharged it by putting that murderer to death. (1 Kings ii. 5, 6. 28-34.) There is a beautiful allusion to the blood-avenger in Heb. vi. 17, 18.
Hewing in pieces with the sword may be referred to this class of punishments. Thus Agag was executed, as a criminal, by the prophet Samuel (1 Sam. xv. 33.); and recent travellers inform us that criminals are literally hewed in pieces in Abyssinia, Persia, and in Asiatic Turkey.1
2. Stoning was denounced against idolaters, blasphemers, sabbathbreakers, incestuous persons, witches, wizards, and children who either cursed their parents or rebelled against them. (Lev. xx. 2. 27. xxiv. 14. Deut. xiii. 10. xvii. 5. xxi. 21. and xxii. 21. 24.) It was the most general punishment, denounced in the law against notorious criminals; and this kind of punishment is intended by the indefinite
1 Bruce's Travels, vol. iv. p. 81. Harmer's Observations, vol. iv. pp. 229, 230. Capt. Light's Travels in Egypt, Nubia, &c. p. 194.