What the scriptures say about
inflict a penalty, including death
Also see: crucify

Easton's Bible Dictionary | Smith's Bible Dictionary | Thompson Chain Reference
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Everlasting Punishment and Punishments

PUNISH, PUNISHMENT in scriptures [BibleGateway Search]

select Cross Reference Bible links
Leviticus 18:25 - The land was defiled: therefore [GOD] punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out her inhabitants.
Ezra 9:13 - punished less than deserved
Psalm 81:15 - the punishment of those who hate God would last forever
Proverbs 17:26 - it is not good to punish an innocent man
Proverbs 21:11 - When a mocker is punished, the simple gain wisdom; when a wise man is instructed, he gets knowledge.
Jude 1:7 - the punishment of eternal fire

PUNISHMENT (Endless) [Easton's Bible Dictionary]

Endless, of the impenitent and unbelieving. The rejection of this doctrine
"cuts the ground from under the gospel ... blots out the attribute of retributive justice; transmutes sin into misfortune instead of guilt; turns all suffering into chastisement; converts the piacular work of Christ into moral influence ... The attempt to retain the evangelical theology in connection with it is futile" (Shedd).

PUNISHMENTS (Retaliations) [Smith's Bible Dictionary]

The earliest theory of punishment current among mankind is doubtless the one of simple retaliation, "blood for blood." Viewed historically, the first case of punishment for crime mentioned in Scripture, next to the Fall itself, is that of Cain, the first murderer. That death was regarded as the fitting punishment for murder appears plain from the remark of Lamech. (Genesis 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 dawn. (Genesis 9:5,6)

Passing onward 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 Godís altar or in a refuge city, and the same principle was to be carried out even in the case of an animal.

Offences punished with death. --

I. The following offences also are mentioned in the law as liable to the punishment of death:

1. Striking, or even reviling, a parent. (Exodus 21:15,17)

2. Blasphemy. (Leviticus 24:14,16,23)

3. Sabbath-breaking. (Exodus 31:14; 35:2; Numbers 15:32-36)

4. Witchcraft, and false pretension to prophecy. (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:27; 13:5; 18:20)

5. Adultery. (Leviticus 20:10; 22:22)

6. Unchastity. (Leviticus 21:9; 22:21,23)

7. Rape. ( 22:25)

8. Incestuous and unnatural connections. (Exodus 22:19; Leviticus 20:11,14,16)

9. Manstealing. (Exodus 21:16; 24:7)

10. Idolatry, actual or virtual, in any shape. (Leviticus 20:2; 13:8,10,15; 17:2-7) see Josh 7:1 ... and Josh 22:20 and Numb 25:8

11. False witness in certain cases. ( 19:16,19)

II. 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 from the people. On the meaning of this expression some controversy has arisen. There are altogether thirty six or thirty seven cases in the Pentateuch in which this formula is used. 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 offenderís part;

(2) by direct interposition of the Almighty i.e., a sentence of death always "regarded," but not always executed.

Kinds of punishments. --

Punishments are twofold, Capital and Secondary.
I. Capital.
(A) The following only are prescribed by the law:
12. Stoning, which was the ordinary mode of execution. (Exodus 17:4; Luke 20:6; John 10:31; Acts 14:5) 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. (13:9; Acts 7:58)

13. Hanging is mentioned as a distinct punishment. (Numbers 25:4; 2 Samuel 21:6,9)

14. Burning , in pre-Mosaic times, was the punishment for unchastity. (Genesis 38:24) Under the law it was ordered in the case of a priestís daughter (Leviticus 21:9)

15. Death by the sword or spear is named in the law, (Exodus 19:13; 32:27; Numbers 25:7) and it occurs frequently in regal and post-Babylonian times. (1 Kings 2:25,34; 19:1; 2 Chronicles 21:4) etc.

16. Strangling is said by the rabbis 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.

(B) Besides these ordinary capital punishments, we read of others, either of foreign introduction or of an irregular kind. Among the former
17. CRUCIFIXION is treated elsewhere.

18. 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.

19. Sawing asunder or crushing beneath iron instruments. (2 Samuel 12:31) and perhaps (Proverbs 20:26; Hebrews 11:37)

20. Pounding in a mortar , or beating to death, is alluded to in (Proverbs 27:22) but not as a legal punishment, and cases are described. 2 Macc. 6:28,30.

21. Precipitation, 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. Criminals executed by law were burned outside the city gates, and heaps of stones were flung upon their graves. (Joshua 7:25,26; 2 Samuel 18:17; Jeremiah 22:19)

II. Of secondary punishments among the Jews, the original Principles were,
22. Retaliation , "eye for eye," etc. (Exodus 21:24,25)

23. Compensation , Identical (restitution)or analogous payment for loss of time or of power. (Exodus 21:18-36; Leviticus 24:18-21; 19:21) Slander against a wifeís honor was to be compensated to her parents by a fine of one hundred shekels, and the traducer himself to be punished with stripes ( 22:18,19)

24. Stripes , whose number was not to exceed forty, ( 25:3) whence the Jews took care not to exceed thirty-nine. (2 Corinthians 11:24)

25. Scourging with thorns is mentioned (Judges 8:16)
    The stocks are mentioned (Jeremiah 20:2)
    passing through fire , (2 Samuel 12:31)
    mutilation , (Judges 1:6) 2 Macc. 7:4, and see (2 Samuel 4:12)
    plucking out hair , (Isaiah 50:6)
    in later times, imprisonment and confiscation or exile. (Ezra 7:26; Jeremiah 37:15; 38:6; Acts 4:3; 5:18; 12:4)

PUNISHMENT, Everlasting [International Standard Bible Encyclopedia]

1. Survival after Death
2. Retribution for Sin
3. Conscious Suffering in Future
1. Old Testament and Jewish Conceptions
2. New Testament Teaching
(1) "Eternal"
(2) Equivalent Expressions
(3) The Last Judgment
3. Teaching of Analogy
1. Universal Salvation
2. Annihilation
3. Second Probation
1. Mystery of the Future
2. Nature of Punishment
3. Range of Divine Mercy
4. Gradation of Punishment
5. God "All in All"
I. Preliminary Assumptions.

(For "everlasting," where used in the King James Version as the rendering of aionios, the Revised Version (British and American) substitutes "eternal.") It is assumed in this article that Scripture teaches the survival of the soul after death, the reality of retribution and of judgment to come, and a shorter or longer period of suffering for sin in the case of the unredeemed in the world beyond. Only a few words need be said, therefore, in preliminary remark on these assumptions.

1. Survival after Death:
Whatever view may be taken of the development of the doctrine of immortality in the Old Testament (see ESCHATOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT ), it will scarcely be doubted that it is throughout assumed in the New Testament that the souls of men, good and bad, survive death (see IMMORTALITY). Two passages only need be referred to in proof:
one, Christ's saying in Matthew 10:28: "Be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Gehenna);

the other, the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31: Lazarus is carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom; the rich man lifts up his eyes in Hades, being in torments.

The whole doctrine of the future judgment in the New Testament presupposes survival after death.
2. Retribution for Sin:
Retribution for sin is a cardinal point in the teaching of both the Old Testament and New Testament. The doctrine of judgment, again, in the New Testament, with Christ as judge, turns on this point. The following passages are decisive: Isaiah 3:10-11; Matthew 11:22,24; 12:41-42; Romans 2:5,12; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Galatians 6:7-8, etc.


3. Conscious Suffering in Future:
The conscious endurance of punishment for sin in the future state is already implied in the preceding. The parable of the Rich Man speaks of it as following immediately on death in Hades; all the descriptions of the judgment imply pain and anguish as the result of condemnation (compare Romans 2:5,12). This does not settle the nature or duration of the punishment; but it excludes the idea that physical death is the extinction of being, or that annihilation follows immediately upon death or judgment.

These things being assumed, the questions that remain are:

Is the period of suffering for sin eternal, or is it terminable?

May it be cut short by repentance or by annihilation?

Is there any final solution of the discord it implies in the universe?

It is maintained here that the punishment of sin, in the case of the finally impenitent, is everlasting.

II. Scriptural Support.

The doctrine that the punishment of sin is everlasting is sustained by many plain testimonies of Scripture.

1. Old Testament and Jewish Conceptions:
The doctrine of future punishment is not prominent in the Old Testament, where rewards and punishments are chiefly connected with the present life. In a few passages (Psalms 49:14-15; 73:18-19; compare Isaiah 24:21-22; 66:24), Dr. Charles thinks that "Sheol appears as the place of punishment of the wicked" (Eschatology, 73-76, 156). If so, there is no suggestion of escape from it. In Daniel 12:2, some that sleep in the dust are represented as awaking to "shame and everlasting contempt" (the word for "everlasting" is the usual one, `olam). In the Jewish literature of the century before Christ, "Sheol is regarded," says Dr. Charles, "as the place of final eternal punishment, that is, it has become hell" (op. cit., 236).


2. New Testament Teaching:
In the New Testament, the strongest language is used by Jesus and the apostolic writers on the certainty and severity of the punishment of sin in the future state, and always in a manner which suggests that the doom is final.
(1) "Eternal."
The word "eternal" (aionios) is repeatedly applied to the punishment of sin, or to the fire which is its symbol. A principal example is Matthew 25:41,46, "eternal fire," "eternal punishment" (kolasis aionios). Here precisely the same word is applied to the punishment of the wicked as to the blessedness of the righteous. Other instances are Matthew 18:8; Jude 1:7; compare Revelation 14:11; 19:3; 20:10. In 2 Thess 1:9, we have, "eternal destruction." The kindred word aidios, "everlasting," is in Jude 1:6 applied to the punishment of the fallen angels.

The reply made by Maurice (Theological Essays, 442 ff) that aionios in such passages denotes quality, not duration, cannot be sustained. Whatever else the term includes, it connotes duration. More pertinent is the criticism of other writers (e.g. Cox, Salvator Mundi, 96 ff; Farrar, Eternal Hope, Pref., xxxiv, pp. 78 ff, 197 ff; compare his Mercy and Judgment, passim) that aionios does not necessarily mean "eternal" (according to Cox it does not mean this at all), but is strictly "age-long," is therefore compatible with, if it does not directly suggest, a terminable period. Cox allows that the term is "saturated through and through with the element of time" (p. 100,), but he denies its equivalence with "everlasting." The sense, no doubt, is to be determined by the context, but it can hardly be questioned that "the eons of the eons" and similar phrases are the practical New Testament equivalents for eternity, and that aionios in its application to God and to life ("eternal life") includes the idea of unending duration (compare John 10:28-29 for express assertion of this). When, therefore, the term is applied in the same context to punishment and to life (Matthew 25:46), and no hint is given anywhere of limitation, the only reasonable exegesis is to take the word in its full sense of "eternal."

(2) Equivalent Expressions.
The meaning "eternal" is confirmed by the use of equivalent expressions and of forms of speech which convey in the strongest manner the idea of finality. Such are the expressions, "the unquenchable fire," the "worm" that "dieth not" (Matthew 3:12; Mark 9:43-48; compare Matthew 13:42,50), with those numerous references to "death," "destruction," "second death," on which the advocates of conditional immortality build their arguments for final extinction. Such is the dictum of Jesus: "He that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth (remains) on him" (John 3:36; the opposite of "life" is "perishing," John 3:16); or that in Revelation 22:11, "He that is unrighteous, let him do unrighteousness still: and he that is filthy, let him be made filthy still." Finality is the note in all Christ's warnings -- "the outer darkness" (Matthew 8:12; 22:13); "The door was shut .... I know you not" (Matthew 25:10,12; compare Matthew 7:23), as in those of the Epistles (e.g. Hebrews 2:3; 6:6,8; 10:27,31; 12:25,29). Jesus speaks of the blasphemy against the Spirit as a sin which shall not be forgiven, "neither in this world, nor in that which is to come" (Matthew 12:32; not as implying that other sins, unforgiven in this life, may be forgiven in the next), a passage which Mark gives in the remarkable form, "hath never forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin" (Mark 3:29). The Rich Man in Hades found an impassable gulf fixed between himself and Lazarus (Luke 16:26). See GULF . It adds to the terribleness of these sayings that, as before remarked, there is nothing to put against them; no hint or indication of a termination of the doom. Why did Jesus not safeguard His words from misapprehension, if behind them there lay an assurance of restoration and mercy? One may ask with Oxenham, in a reply to Jukes, "whether if Christ had intended to teach the doctrine of eternal punishment, He could possibly have taught it in plainer terms."
(3) The Last Judgment.
The New Testament doctrine of the last judgment leads to the same conclusion. Two things seem plainly taught about this judgment: the first, that it proceeds on the matter of the present life -- "the things done in the body" (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:12); and the second, that it is decisive in its issues. Not a single suggestion is given of a reversal of its decisions in any future age. Such silence is inexplicable if the Scriptures meant to teach what the opponents of this doctrine so confidently maintain.
3. Teaching of Analogy:
In corroboration of this Scriptural view analogy might be pleaded. How constantly even in this life is the law illustrated of the tendency of character to fixity! The present is the season of grace (2 Corinthians 6:2), yet what powers of resistance to God and goodness are seen to lie in human nature, and how effectually, often, does it harden itself under the influences that seem most fitted to break down its rebellion! What likelihood is there that eternity will alter this tendency, or make conversion more easy? Eternity can hardly be thought of as more really a scene of grace than time is for those to whom the gospel has already come. Its characteristic mark is said to be "judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). Like the photographer's bath, may its effect not be to develop and fix existing character, rather than to change it? If so, the state in which judgment finds the soul may be presumed to be one that will remain.
III. Difficulties and Objections -- Rival Hypotheses.

What, it will now be asked, of the tremendous difficulties which inhere in this doctrine, with their undeniable effect in alienating many generous minds from it and from Christianity? The lurid rhetorical picturings of the sufferings of the lost, too frequent in the teaching of the past, may be discounted; it is not necessary to go beyond the inexpressibly solemn words of Christ Himself and His apostles. But even with this limitation, does it not seem as if, by this doctrine, a reflection was cast on the righteousness and mercy of God in creating such multitudes of the human race, as, on any showing, are outside the pale of Christ's salvation -- the countless generations of the heathen, with the masses even in Christian lands who have not received or do not obey the light -- only to doom them to endless misery?

Before attempting a positive answer, it is proper that a glance be taken at the rival theories put forth in alleviation of the difficulty.

1. Universal Salvation:
The most comprehensive solution propounded is that of universal salvation -- of a final restitution of all souls to God's favor and to blessedness. This tempting speculation -- for it is no more -- advocated by Origen in the early church, by Schleiermacher in the last century, has been urged by many writers in modern times. One of its best known advocates was Samuel Cox, in his book Salvator Mundi. It is noticeable that not a few who favor this theory (e.g. Maurice, Farrar) decline to commit themselves to it as more than a "hope," and admit the possibility of human souls continuing to resist God endlessly (Maurice, Theological Essays, 476; Farrar, Eternal Hope, Pref., xv, xvi; Mercy and Judgment, I, 485, "In this sense there may be for some souls an endless hell"). It must, however, be evident that, be the number greater or smaller -- and who shall give assurance of its smallness? -- if there are any such souls, the difficulty in principle remains, and the passages alleged as teaching universal restoration are equally contradicted.

The deeper objection to this theory is that, springing, not from real knowledge, but from men's hopes and wishes, it has, as already shown, the tremendous stress of Scripture testimony against it; nor do the passages commonly adduced as favoring it really bear the weight put upon them.

We read, e.g., of a restoration of all things" -- the same that Christ calls the palingenesia -- but, in the same breath, we are told of those who will not hearken, and will be destroyed (Matthew 19:28; Acts 3:21,23).

We read of Christ drawing all men unto Him (John 12:32); but we are not less clearly told that at His coming Christ will pronounce on some a tremendous condemnation (Matthew 7:23; 25:41);

we read of all things being gathered, or summed up, in Christ, of Christ subduing all things to Himself, etc.; but representative exegetes like Meyer and Weiss show that it is far from Paul's view to teach an ultimate conversion or annihilation of the kingdom of evil (compare Meyer on 1 Corinthians 15:21,28 and Ephesians 1:10; Weiss, Biblical Theology, II, 723, 107, 109, English translation). We confess, however, that the strain of these last passages does seem to point in the direction of some ultimate unity, be it through subjugation, or in some other way, in which active opposition to God's kingdom is no longer to be reckoned with.

2. Annihilation:
The view favored by another class is that of the annihilation of the finally impenitent. The type of doctrine called "conditional immortality" includes other elements which need not here be discussed (see IMMORTALITY ). The annihilation theory takes different forms. So far as the annihilation is supposed to take place at death, it is contradicted by the Scriptures which support the soul's survival after death; so far as it is believed to take place after a longer or shorter period of conscious suffering (which is White's theory), it involves its advocates in difficulties with their own interpretations of "death," "destruction," "perishing," seeing that in Scripture this doom is uniformly represented as overtaking the ungodly at the day of judgment, and not at some indefinite period thereafter. The theory conflicts also with the idea of gradation of punishment, for which room has to be sought in the period of conscious suffering, and rests really on an unduly narrowed conception of the meaning of the Scriptural terms "life" and "death." Life is not bare existence, nor is "death" necessarily extinction of being. Assaid earlier, the language of many parts of Scripture implies the continued existence of the subjects of the divine wrath.
3. Second Probation:
It is significant that on the side alike of the advocates of restoration and of those of annihilation (e.g. E. White), refuge from the difficulties is frequently sought in the hypothesis of an extended probation and work of evangelization beyond death. This theory labors under the drawback that, in marked contrast with Scripture, it throws immensely the larger part of the work of salvation into the future state of being. It is, besides, apart from the dubious and limited support given to it by the passage on Christ's preaching to "the spirits in prison" (1 Peter 3:19-20); destitute of Scriptural support. It has already been pointed out that the final judgment is uniformly represented as proceeding on the matter of this life. The theory is considered elsewhere.


IV. Nature, Conditions and Issues.
1. Mystery of the Future:
While dogmatisms like the above, which seem opposed to Scripture, are to be avoided, it is equally necessary to guard against dogmatisms of an opposite kind, as if eternity must not, in the nature of the case, have its undisclosed mysteries of which we here in time can frame no conception. The difficulties connected with the ultimate destinies of mankind are truly enormous, and no serious thinker will minimize them. Scripture does not warrant it in negative, any more than in positive, dogmatisms; with its uniformly practical aim, it does not seek to satisfy an idle curiosity (compare Luke 13:23-24). Its language is bold, popular, figurative, intense; the essential idea is to be held fast, but what is said cannot be taken as a directory to all that is to transpire in the ages upon ages of an unending duration. God's methods of dealing with sin in the eternities may prove to be as much above our present thoughts as His dealings now are with men in grace. In His hands we must be content to leave it, only using such light as His immediate revelation yields.
2. Nature of Punishment:
As respects the nature of the punishment of sin, it cannot be doubted that in its essence it is spiritual. Everything can be adopted here which is said by Maurice and others -- "The eternal punishment is the punishment of being without the knowledge of God, who is love, and of Jesus Christ who has manifested it; even as eternal life is declared to be the having the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ" (Theological Essays, 450). The supreme penalty of sin is unquestionably the loss of God's life and love -- the being sinful. Environment, indeed, may be expected to correspond with character, but the hell is one the sinner essentially makes for himself, and, like the kingdom of God, is within. The fire, the worm, the stripes, that figure its severity, are not physical. Even should the poena sensus (were that conceivable) be utterly removed, the poena damni would eternally remain.
3. Range of Divine Mercy:
It is a sound principle that, in His dealing with sin in the world to come, God's mercy will reach as far as ever it can reach. This follows from the whole Scriptural revelation of the character of God. What may be included in it, it is impossible for anyone to say. It should be noticed that those of whom it is said that they shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on them, are those who "obey not" the truth (John 3:36) -- who actively and consciously disregard and oppose it. But all do not belong to this class. It may be assumed that none will be lost who can in consistency with holiness and love be saved. The most germinal goodness, which is the implantation of His own Spirit, God will acknowledge and develop. The problem of undeveloped character may receive a solution we do not wot of with the entrance into the eternal light -- not in change of character, but rather, as said before, in the revelation of character's inmost bent. In this sense, the entrance into eternity may be to many the revelation of a love and grace which had not been understood or appreciated as it should have been on earth, but with which it is in essential kinship. There are at least many shades and degrees of character, and God may be entrusted to take the most just, yet most merciful, account of all.
4. Gradation of Punishment:
The fullest weight must further be given to what the Scripture so expressly says of gradation of punishment, even of the unsaved. It is not the case that the lot of all who fail of the eternal life in Christ is all of one grade. There are the "few stripes" and the "many stripes" (Luke 12:47-48); those for whom it will be "more tolerable" than for others in the day of judgment (Matthew 11:20,24). Even "Sodom and her daughters" will be mercifully dealt with in comparison with others (Ezekiel 16:48-49,53,55,61). There will be for everyone the most exact weighing of privilege, knowledge and opportunity. There is a vast area here for the divine administration on which no light at all is afforded us.
5. God "All in All":
There remain those passages already alluded to which do seem to speak, not, indeed, of conversion or admission into the light and fellowship of Christ's kingdom, but still of a final subjugation of the powers of evil, to the extent, at least, of a cessation of active opposition to God's will, of some form of ultimate unification and acknowledgment of Christ as Lord. Such passages are Ephesians 1:10; Philippians 2:9-11; above all, 1 Corinthians 15:24-28. God, in this final vision, has become "all in all." Here, again, dogmatism is entirely out of place, but it is permissible to believe that these texts foreshadow such a final persuasion of God's righteousness in His judgment and of the futility of further rebellion as shall bring about an outward pacification and restoration of order in the universe disturbed by sin, though it can never repair that eternal loss accruing from exclusion from Christ's kingdom and glory.
Maurice, Theological Essays, "Eternal Life and Eternal Death";
S. Cox, Salvator Mundi;
F. W. Farrar, Eternal Hope; Mercy and Judgment;
A. Jukes, The Second Death and the Restitution of All Things;
E. White, Life in Christ;
H. Constable, Duration and Nature of Future Punishment.
Pusey, What Is of Faith as to Everlasting Punishment,
H. N. Oxenham, Catholic Eschatology;
C. Clemance, Future Punishment;
Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus, the Messiah, Appendix, xix, "On Eternal Punishment, according to the Rabbis and the New Testament ";
The Future Life, A Defence of the Orthodox View, by the Most Eminent American Scholars;
S. D. F. Salmond, The Christian Doctrine of Immortality, Book VI;
Orr, Christian View of God, lecture ix;
Luthardt, Saving Truths (English translations), lecture x.
See also the various works on Dogmatic and Biblical Theology.
James Orr

PUNISHMENTS [International Standard Bible Encyclopedia]

('awon, "fault," "iniquity," "punishment for iniquity," "sin" (Genesis 4:13; Leviticus 26:41; Job 19:29; Psalms 149:7; Lamentations 4:22; Ezekiel 14:10 margin; Amos 1:3,6,9,11,13; 2:1,4,6),

`onesh, "tribute," "fine," "punishment" (Lamentations 3:39),
chaTa'ah, or chaTTa'th, "sin" and its retribution, "penalty," "expiation" (Zechariah 14:19);
kolasis, "punishment," "torment" (Matthew 25:46),
epitimia, "poll tax," hence, "penalty" (2 Corinthians 2:6),
timoria, "vindication," hence, "penalty" (Hebrews 10:29),
ekdikesis, "vindication," "retribution" (1 Peter 2:14 the King James Version)):

A court could inflict for a crime against the person, a sentence of
(1) death in the form of stoning, burning, beheading, or strangling, etc.;

(2) exile to one of the cities of refuge in case of manslaughter (Numbers 35); or

(3) stripes, not to exceed 40, in practice 39 or less (Deuteronomy 25:3; 2 Corinthians 11:24).

Offences against property (theft, fraudulent conversion of deposit, embezzlement, robbery) were punished by exacting more than the value of the things taken (Luke 19:8), the excess going to the injured party, thus differing from a fine, which goes into the treasury of the community. The housebreaker was liable to be slain with impunity (Exodus 22:2). A fine in the modern sense is unknown in the Scriptures, unless Leviticus 5:6-19 be interpreted as referring to such.

1. History of the Hebrew Law concerning Punishment:

The earliest theory of punishment seems to have been that of retaliation--"blood for blood" -- and to some extent this principle appears even in the Law of Moses (Leviticus 21:19-20; Matthew 5:38). Early in the history of the race, punishment was administered for sin and crime. Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden, and Cain, the first murderer, though not executed in retaliation for his deed, had a mark set on him. The words of Lamech (Genesis 4:24) indicate that death was regarded as the fitting punishment for murder, and the same thought apparently was in the minds of the brethren of Joseph (Genesis 42:21). Judah, as head of his family, seems to have had power of life and death (Genesis 38:24), and Abimelech threatens his people with the extreme punishment in case they injure or insult Isaac or his wife (Genesis 26:11). Similar power is ascribed to Pharaoh (Genesis 41:13).
2. The Mosaic Law concerning Punishment:
Under the Law of Moses, the murderer was to be put to death without mercy. Even if he took refuge at the altar in a sanctuary or in an asylum city, he would not be immune from arrest and execution, and the same principle was applied in the case of an animal (Exodus 21:12,14,23,28,36 parallel). But punishment under the Mosaic Law was not to be entailed or transmitted (Deuteronomy 24:16), as was the case among the Chaldeans (Daniel 6:24) and the kings of Israel (1 Kings 21; 2 Kings 9:26).

It has been noted that capital punishment is extensively prescribed by the Mosaic Law, and undoubtedly the Law was carried out. This circumstance has been explained by reference to the fact that the nation consisted of newly emancipated slaves, and therefore required harsh measures to keep them in check.

Under the Mosaic Law, the offenses that made one liable to the punishment of death were:

(1) striking or reviling a parent (Exodus 21:15,17);

(2) blasphemy (Leviticus 24:14,16,23; 1 Kings 21:10; Matthew 26:65-66);

(3) Sabbath-breaking (Exodus 31:14; 35:2; Numbers 15:32-36);

(4) witchcraft and false pretension to prophecy (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 13:5; 18:20; 1 Samuel 28:9);

(5) adultery (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22);

(6) unchastity:

(a) before marriage, but detected afterward (Deuteronomy 22:21),

(b) in case of a woman with someone other than her betrothed (Deuteronomy 22:23),

(c) in a priest's daughter (Leviticus 21:9);

(7) rape (Deuteronomy 22:25);

(8) incestuous and unnatural connections (Exodus 22:19; Leviticus 20:11,14,16);

(9) man-stealing (Exodus 21:16);

(10) idolatry, actual or virtual, in any form (Leviticus 20:2; Deuteronomy 13:6; 17:2-7);

(11) false witness in capital cases (Deuteronomy 19:16,19).

A large number of offenses come under the law of punishment by cutting off from the people, the meaning of which expression has led to some controversy. It may signify excommunication or death, and occurs in connection with the following offenses:

(1) breach of morals, such as
willful sin in general (Numbers 15:30-31);
incestuous or unclean connections (Leviticus 18:29; 29:9-21);
(2) breach of covenant, brought about through
uncircumcision (Genesis 17:14; Exodus 4:24),
neglect of Passover (Numbers 9:13),
Sabbath-breaking (Exodus 31:14),
neglect of Atonement Day (Leviticus 23:29),
work done on the Atonement Day (Leviticus 23:30),
children offered to Molech (Leviticus 20:3),
witchcraft (Leviticus 20:6),
anointing an alien with holy oil (Exodus 30:33);
(3) breach of ritual, committed by
eating leavened bread during Passover (Exodus 12:15,19),
eating fat of sacrifices (Leviticus 7:25),
eating blood (Leviticus 7:27; 17:14),
eating sacrifices while unclean (Leviticus 7:20-21; 22:3-4,9),
offering too late (Leviticus 19:8),
making holy ointment for private use (Exodus 30:32-33),
making perfume for private use (Exodus 30:38),
general neglect of purification (Numbers 19:13,20),
not bringing offering after slaying a beast for food (Leviticus 17:9),
slaying the animal at a place other than the tabernacle door (Leviticus 17:4),
touching holy things illegally (Numbers 4:15,18,20).
Of capital punishments that are properly regarded as of Hebrew origin, we note:
(1) Stoning
Stoning, which was the ordinary mode of execution (Exodus 19:13; Leviticus 20:27; Joshua 7:25; Luke 20:6; Acts 7:58; 14:5). The witnesses, of whom there were at least two, were required to cast the first stone (Deuteronomy 13:9 f; John 8:7). If these failed to cause death, the bystanders proceeded to complete the sentence, whereupon the body was to be suspended until sunset (Deuteronomy 21:23).
(2) Hanging
Hanging is mentioned (Numbers 25:4; Deuteronomy 21:22), probably not as a mode of execution, but rather of exposure after death. It may have been a Canaanitish punishment, since it was practiced by the Gibeonites on the sons of Saul (2 Samuel 21:6,9).
(3) Burning
Burning, before the age of Moses, was the punishment of unchastity (Genesis 38:24). The Law prescribes it as a punishment in the case of a priest's daughter (Leviticus 21:9), and in case of incest (Leviticus 20:14), but it is also mentioned as following death by other means (Joshua 7:25), and some believe it was never used except after death. That it was sometimes used as a punishment on living persons among the heathen is shown by Daniel 3.
(4) The Sword or Spear
The sword or spear as an instrument of punishment is named in the Law (Exodus 19:13; 32:27; Numbers 25:7 ff). It occurs frequently in monarchic and post-Bab times (Judges 9:5; 1 Samuel 15:33; 2 Samuel 20:22; 1 Kings 19:1; Jeremiah 26:23; Matthew 14:8,10), but among these cases, there are some of assassination rather than of punishment.
(5) Strangling
Strangling as a form of punishment has no Scripture authority, but according to tradition was frequently employed, and is said to have been performed by immersing the convict in clay or mud, and then strangling him by a cloth tied around the neck.
3. Punishments of Foreign Origin:
Besides these, which are to be regarded as the ordinary capital punishments, we read of some that were either of foreign introduction or of an irregular kind, such as:
(1) crucifixion (which see);
(2) drowning (Matthew 18:6 parallel);
(3) sawing asunder or crushing (2 Samuel 12:31; Hebrews 11:37);
(4) torturing (1 Chronicles 20:3; Hebrews 11:35);
(5) precipitation (2 Chronicles 25:12; Luke 4:29);
(6) suffocation (2 Macc 13:4-8). The Persians are said to have filled a high tower a great way up with ashes, and then to have thrown the criminal into it, and continually stirred up the ashes by means of a wheel till he was suffocated (Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchy, III, 246).

See also HEROD ,II , 100.

Secondary forms of punishment not heretofore mentioned are to be noted as follows:
(1) Blinding or Putting Out of Eyes
Blinding or putting out of eyes in the case of captives (Judges 16:21; 1 Samuel 11:2; 2 Kings 25:7).
(2) Chaining
Chaining by means of manacles or fetters of copper or iron, similar to our handcuffs fastened on the wrists and ankles and attached to each other by a chain (Judges 16:21; 2 Samuel 3:34; 2 Kings 25:7); also alluded to in the life of Paul (Acts 28:20; Ephesians 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:16); and in the case of Peter (Acts 12:6).
(3) Confiscation of Property
Confiscation of property that had fallen under the ban, i.e. had been singled out for destruction by the special decree of Yahweh, as in Numbers 21:2; Joshua 6:17; or had been reserved for the use of the army (Deuteronomy 2:35; 20:14; Joshua 22:8); or given over to the priesthood (Joshua 6:19). The term may be extended to include all things vowed or sanctified and those irrevocably devoted or consecrated to God (Leviticus 27:21,28). The idea is applied with special emphasis to those things which, because of their uncleanness, must not be used by the Israelites, though, through their warfare with the heathen, they might have come into possession of them (Deuteronomy 7:26; 1 Samuel 15:16-23).
(4) Dashing in Pieces (Psalms 2:9; Isaiah 13:18).

(5) Divine Visitation.

(6) Exposure to Wild Beasts (Leviticus 26:22; 1 Samuel 17:46; Daniel 6).

(7) Flaying

(Rawlinson, Ancient Monarchy, I, 478; Nineveh and Babylon; mentioned figuratively in Micah 3:3).
(8) Forfeiture (Ezra 10:8).

(9) Gallows

Gallows in the modern sense probably were unknown to the ancients. Where the word occurs in Esther 5:14; 6:4; 7:9-10; 9:13,15, it probably refers to a beam or pole on which the body was impaled and then elevated to a height of 50 cubits as an object of warning to the people (see "Hanging").
(10) Imprisonment
Imprisonment is frequently referred to in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, indicating that this was a common mode of punishment among both the Israelites and other nations (Genesis 40:3; 42:17; Leviticus 24:12; Numbers 15:34; 1 Kings 22:27; Jeremiah 37:15,21; Luke 3:20; Acts 4:3,10; 23:10; and the Epistles of Paul).


(11) Indignities.
In this term may be included all those outbursts of vengeance or other evil dispositions that were practiced in times or under circumstances when liberties with the prisoner were permitted on the part of bystanders or those who had charge beyond the execution of the judicial decree. Instances are found in the life of Christ (Matthew 26:59,67; Luke 22:63 ff; John 18:22); also in the life of Paul (Acts 23:2).
(12) Mutilation (Judges 1:6-7; Ezekiel 23:25; 2 Maccabees 7).
The Law was opposed to thus treating any Israelite, and Samuel, when referring to the arbitrary power of the future king (1 Samuel 8:10 ff), does not say that he would thus treat "their sons." It was a barbarous custom of the East (see EUNUCH ; POLYGAMY ), evidently regarded, among the Hebrews, as a heinous practice (Deuteronomy 23:1). The only act authorizing mutilation (except in retaliation) is mentioned in Deuteronomy 25:11.
(13) Plucking Off the Hair
Plucking off the hair is alluded to as a mode of punishment in Nehemiah 13:25; Isaiah 50:6.
(14) Prison Garments
Prison garments were in vogue to mark the convicts (Jeremiah 52:33).
(15) Restitution
Restitution has been alluded to in the general introduction to this topic.
(16) Retaliation
Retaliation was recognized by Moses as a principle, but the application of it was left to the judge (Leviticus 24:19-22). A fine example of it is found in the law of Deuteronomy 19:19.
(17) Scorpions, Chastising with.
Probably the use of thongs armed with pointed pieces of lead or other metal (1 Kings 12:11; 2 Chronicles 10:14).


(18) Scourging.
See separate article.
(19) Slavery.
See separate article.
(20) Stocks.
Frank E. Hirsch

PUNISH [Thompson Chain Reference]
 # Of the Wicked

    * Isaiah 13:11
    * Isaiah 26:21
    * Isaiah 59:18
    * Jeremiah 21:14
    * Zephaniah 1:12
    * Luke 12:47
    * Romans 2:8
    * Hebrews 10:29
    * SEE Threatenings
    * SEE Destruction
    * SEE No 

# Future punishment

    * Psalms 11:6
    * Malachi 4:1
    * Matthew 18:9
    * Matthew 25:46
    * Mark 3:29
    * Luke 3:17
    * 2 Thessalonians 1:9
    * 2 Peter 2:9
    * Revelation 14:11
    * Revelation 20:15
    * SEE Future State of the Wicked
    * SEE Hell
    * SEE Future State of the Wicked
    * For Punishments, Ancient Modes of
    * SEE Punishments

# Future State Of The Wicked

    * Words of Christ concerning
          o Described as Banishment from God
                + Matthew 7:23
                + Matthew 8:12
                + Matthew 22:13
                + Matthew 25:46
                + SEE Separation
          o Compares the Suffering of, to Fire
                + Matthew 5:22
                + Matthew 13:41
                + Matthew 13:42
                + Matthew 25:41
                + Mark 9:43
                + Mark 9:45
                + Mark 9:47
                + Mark 9:48
                + Luke 16:22-24
          o Other References of Christ to
                + Matthew 10:28
                + Matthew 23:33
                + Matthew 24:51
                + John 5:28
                + John 5:29
    * Words of the apostles concerning
          o Romans 2:8
          o 1 Corinthians 3:17
          o 2 Thessalonians 1:9
          o Hebrews 2:2
          o Hebrews 2:3
          o Hebrews 10:29
          o 2 Peter 2:4
          o 2 Peter 2:5
          o 2 Peter 2:9
          o 2 Peter 3:7
          o Jude 1:13
          o Revelation 11:8
          o Revelation 14:11
          o Revelation 20:15
          o Revelation 21:8
    * Other allusions to
          o Daniel 12:2
          o Malachi 4:1
          o Matthew 3:12
          o John 3:36
          o Acts 1:25
          o 1 Thessalonians 5:3
    * Eternal fire
          o Isaiah 33:14
          o Isaiah 66:24
          o Matthew 3:12
          o Matthew 13:42
          o Matthew 18:8
          o Matthew 25:41
          o Mark 9:44
          o Revelation 14:10
          o Revelation 20:10
          o Revelation 20:15
          o Revelation 21:8
          o SEE Fate of the Wicked
          o SEE Torment
    * Hell
          o SEE Fate of the Wicked
          o SEE Torment
          o SEE Retribution
          o Greek, Gehenna), The place of Punishment
                + Matthew 5:22
                + Matthew 5:29
                + Matthew 10:28
                + Matthew 18:9
                + Matthew 23:15
                + Matthew 23:33
                + Mark 9:43
                + Luke 12:5
                + James 3:6
          o (Greek, Hades)
                + SEE Hades
          o (Hebrew, Sheol)
                + SEE Hell
          o (Greek, Tartarus). The Place of Punishment
                + 2 Peter 2:4

# Capital

    * For Capital Offences
          o Genesis 9:6
          o Exodus 21:14
          o Exodus 21:29
          o Exodus 22:20
          o Exodus 35:2
          o Leviticus 20:10
          o Deuteronomy 13:9
          o Deuteronomy 17:12
          o Deuteronomy 21:21
    * Examples of the Infliction of
          o Leviticus 10:2
          o Numbers 15:36
          o Numbers 16:32
          o Joshua 7:25
          o 2 Kings 9:33
          o 2 Chronicles 23:15
          o Esther 7:10
          o Acts 5:5
          o Acts 12:23

# Delayed

    * Genesis 15:16
    * 1 Kings 11:12
    * 1 Kings 21:29
    * 2 Kings 13:23
    * Ecclesiastes 8:11
    * Isaiah 48:9
    * Luke 13:7
    * Luke 13:8
    * Luke 13:9
    * 1 Peter 3:20
    * SEE Longsuffering
    * SEE Mercy
    * SEE Forbearance

# Of Children

    * Proverbs 13:24
    * Proverbs 19:18
    * Proverbs 22:15
    * Proverbs 23:13
    * SEE Rod 

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