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306 § 248. Form of TRIAL.
prevented capital punishments, and corporal punishments, which were not capital, from being extended, as was done in other nations, both to parents and their children, and thus involving the innocent and the guilty in that misery, which was justly due only to the latter, Exod. 23: 7. Deut. 24; 16. comp. Dan. 6: 24. This salutary arrangement seems to have been neglected by the kings, 2 Kgs, 9: 26; although in all other cases, where it was deemed expedient to inflict punishment, the form of trial was gone through, even in respect to those innocent persons, who had become the subjects of the royal displeasure, and were tried only to be condemned, 1 Kgs. 21: 7–16. The disregard of justice, which, in such instances, was manifested by the kings, exerted a bad influence on the minds of the judges, and, as we may learn from the repeated complaints of the prophets, they were too often guilty of partiality in their decisions. The ceremonies, which were observed, in conducting a judicial trial, were as follows. I. The accuser and the accused both made their appearance before the judge or judges, Deut. 25: 1; who sat with legs crossed upon the floor, which was furnished for their accommodation with carpet and cushions. A secretary was present, at least in more modern times, who wrote down the sentence, and indeed everything in relation to the trial, for instance, the articles of agreement, that might be entered into, previous to the commencement of the judicial proceedings, Is. 10: 1, 2. Jer. 32: 1–14. The Jews assert, that there were two secretaries, the one being seated to the right of the judge, who wrote the sentence of not guilty, the other to the left, who wrote the sentence of condemnation. Compare Matt. 25: 33–46. That an apparitor or beadle was present, is apparent from other sources. II. The accuser was denominated in Hebrew Top, satan or the adversary, Zech. 3: 1–3. Ps. 109: 6. The judge or judges were seated, but both of the parties implicated stood up, the accuser standing to the right hand of the accused. The latter, at least after the Captivity, when the cause was one of great consequence, appeared with hair dishevelled, and in a garment of mourning. III. The witnesses were sworn, and in capital cases, the parties concerned, 1 Sam. 14: 37–40. Matt. 26: 63. In order to es
§ 249. PRisons AND Tortures. 307
tablish the charges alleged, two witnesses were necessary, and, including the accuser, three. The witnesses were examined separately, but the person accused had the liberty to be present, when their testimony was given in, Num. 35:30. Deut. 17: 1–15. Matt. 26: 59. Proofs might be brought from other sources, for instance, from written contracts, or from papers in evidence of any thing purchased or sold, of which there were commonly taken two copies, the one to be sealed, the other to be left open, as was customary in the time of Jerome, Jer. 32: 10–13. IV. The parties sometimes, as may be inferred from Prov. 18:18, made use of the lot in determining the points of difficulty between them, but not without a mutual agreement. The sacred lot of Urim and Thummim was anciently resorted to, in order to detect the guilty, Jos. 7: 14–24. 1 Sam. 14 ch, but the determination of a case of right or wrong in this way was not commanded by Moses. W. The sentence, very soon after the completion of the examination, was pronounced, and the criminal, without any delay, even if the offence were a capital one, was hastened away to the place of punishment, Jos. 7: 22, et seq. 1 Sam. 22: 18. 1 Kgs. 2: 23.
§ 249. Prisons and Tortures.
As the execution followed so soon after the sentence, there was no special need of prisons. Indeed they are not to be found in Persia to the present day, and it is customary to confine the criminal in an apartment of the house of the judge. Compare Gen. 40: 3, 4.
The instrument of punishment, mentioned in Job. 13:27. 33. 11, in Hebrew to the stocks, was probably of Egyptian origin. Among the Hebrews anciently, criminals were put under a guard of persons, employed for that purpose, Lev. 24; 12. Not unfrequently they were confined in empty cisterns.
The great variety in the names of prisons would lead one to suppose, that they were more frequently erected, and more often used, in the later, than in the early periods of the Jewish nation, They are as follows.
308 § 249. Parsons AND Tortures.
(1) “iz, nNz, which usually signifies a cistern, Gen. 40: 15. (2.) nner, n°3, Gen. 39:20. (The word nrit appears to be of Coptick origin.) (3) connor; no, (for Dobso.) Eccles. 4: 14, (4.) -aosri n°2, Jer. 37: 15. (5.) Noor, no. 1 Kgs. 22: 27. 2 Kgs. 25: 29, (6.) Noz, No.2, Jer. 37:4. 52: 31. (7.) near on n°2, 2 Chron. 16:10. (8) “at”, Is. 42.7. 24; 22, Ps. 142; 7. If the great variety in the names of prisons is a proof, that in the progress of time they were more and more multiplied; it is likewise an indirect evidence, that they were employed not only for the detention of criminals, but as a means of punishment and correction, Jer. 37:15–20. Persons, who were committed to prison, were subjected to the further evil of being confined with chains, which occur under the Hebrew words EPs, 833, and Fina; likewise under the word pruri made of brass, Jer. 40:4. 52; 11. Ps. 105: 18. 107: 10. The Jews, after the Captivity, followed the example of other nations, and shut up in prison those, who failed in the payment of their debts. They had the liberty likewise to put in requisition the aid of tortures, Bagavuotag, and to punish the debtor with stripes, Matt. 5:26. 18: 28–34. At a more recent period still, they borrowed from the Greeks the custom of applying the torture, Bagavou, in order to extort a confession from the person accused, Wisdom 2:19. The different kinds of torture are mentioned in the Treatise concerning the Maccabees, appended to the Works of Josephus. The Romans in some instances fastened their criminals, sometimes by one, sometimes by both, hands to a soldier. Such remained in their own house, Acts 28:16. Seneca Epist. 5, et de Tranquill. c. 20. It was not unfrequently the case, that the keepers of prisons, when those, who were committed to their charge, had escaped, were subjected to the same punishment, which had been intended for the prisoners, Acts. 12:19. 16:27.
§ 250. Regulations, etc. in Respect to debtors. 300
§250. REGULATIONs, Etc. IN RESPECT to DEBToks.
Those, who had property due to them, might, if they chose, seoure it by means of a mortgage, or by a pledge, or by a bondsIman. The following remarks, in relation to this subject, are worthy of attention. I. The creditor, when about to receive a pledge for a debt, was not allowed to enter the house of the debtor, and take what he pleased; but was to wait before the door, till the debtor should deliver up that pledge, which he could most easily do without, Deut. 24:10, 11. comp. Job 22:6. 24: 3, 7–9. II. When a mill or millstone, or an upper-garment was given, as a pledge, it was not to be kept over night; and these appear to stand, as examples for all other things, which the debtor could not, without great inconvenience, dispense with, Exod. 22:25, 26. Deut. 24: 6, 12. III. The debt, which remained, till the seventh, or sabbatick year, (during which the soil was to be left without cultivation, and a person, consequently, was not supposed to be in a condition to make payments,) could not be exacted during said period. Hence the sabbatick year was denominated Hong or deferring, Deut. 15:1–11. But at other times, in case the debt was not paid, the lands or the house of the debtor might be sold. The property thus sold appears to have continued in the hands of the purchaser only till the year of Jubilee, when it returned again to the original possessors, or their heirs, Prov. 31: 16. In case the house, or land was not sufficient to cancel the debt, or if it so happened, that the debtor had none, the debtor himself, together with his wife and children, was sold into slavery, Prov. 22:27. Mic, 2: 9. If a person had become bondsman for another, he was liable to be called upon for payment in the same way with the original debtor. We see in this the ground of the admonitions in the Book of Proverbs, (6:1–4. 11:15. 17: 18. 22:26,) that a person should not too readily give his hands to, or “strike hands” with the debtor, in the presence of the creditor, i.e. become his surety.
This was a phrase applied by the Romans to a general can
celling of debts. The assertion of Josephus, (Antiq. III. 12, 1.) that there was an extinction of debts on every returning Jubilee among the Hebrews, corresponding to the state of things among the Romans at the recurrence of the Novae Tabulae, is necessarily applicable only to the age, in which he himself lived. It is true, however, (but it was an extraordinary case,) that Nehemiah, (5:1–12.) in order to relieve the wants and to improve the condition of the poor, permitted Novae Tubulae.
§ 251. ON UsuRy.
Moses enacted a law to the effect, (Exod. 22:26. Lev. 25:35 —37,) that interest should not be taken from a poor person, neither for borrowed money, Ty;, nor for articles of consumption, nozoa, nozoo, for instance grain, which was borrowed with the expectation of being returned. A difficulty arose, in determining who was to be considered a poor person, in a case of this kind; and the Law was accordingly altered in Deut. 23:20, 21, and extended in its operation to all the Hebrews, whether they had more or less property; so that interest could be lawfully taken only of foreigners.
The Hebrews were, therefore, exhorted to lend money, &c. as a deed of mercy and brotherly kindness, Deut. 15:7–11. 24: 13. And hence it happens, that we find encomiums every where lavished upon those, who were willing to lend, without insisting upon interest for the use of the thing lent, Ps. 15:15, 37:21, 26. 1.12: 5. Prov. 19:17. Ezek. 18; 8.
This regulation in regard to taking interest was very well suited to the condition of a state, that had been recently founded, and which had but very little mercantile dealings, but it would be very unwisely introduced into communities, that are much engaged in commerce.