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316 § 257. Mosaic PUNishments.
aggrieved party might, either before or after the decision of the judge, make an arrangement with the aggressor, and relieve him from the infliction of the punishment, to which he had legally exposed himself, on his rendering that satisfaction, which in the Hebrew is technically called no?, and Tion a ransom.
The law of retaliation was common among all ancient nations, and was in truth the most efficacious means of protecting a person from injuries. But, in progress of time, when feelings and manners had assumed a milder tone, causes, which originated from one person’s receiving bodily injuries from another, were brought into the common civil courts on the footing of other causes, and the punishment to be inflicted on the aggressor, or the satisfaction in any other way to be rendered to the injured party, was left entirely to the person, who sat as judge.
The arguments, which have been employed against the expediency and propriety of the Jus TALIONis, are of no great weight. For instance, it has been said, that this system of retaliation increased the number of injured and mutilated persons in the community; when on the contrary it probably diminished it, as a person would naturally be cautious, how he inflicted wounds on the body of another, when he was fully aware of what might be the consequences to himself. Another objection is, that it would be very difficult, or altogether impossible, to requite upon the original aggressor just as much and no more, than had been suffered by the injured person. But the answer is, if, from any circumstance, he should suffer more, all he has to do, is to attribute it to himself, and to consider it, as what he might very naturally have expected.
§ 257. Mosaic PUNISHMENTs.
Criminals, who had committed homicide, were punished, (as we may learn, as far back as Gen. 9: 6,) with death. But the mode, in which this punishment was inflicted, is not there stated.
Becapitation and the Sword. DFCAPITATION or beheading was a method of taking away life, that was known and practised among the Egyptians, Gen. 40: 17– 19. This mode of punishment, therefore, must have been known § 257. Mosaic PUNIshments. 317
to the Hebrews. And it may further be remarked, that if, in truth, there occur no indubitable instances of it in the time of the early Hebrew kings, it is clear, that something, which bears much relationship to it, may be found in such passages, as the following, viz, 2 Sam. 4: 8. 20: 21, 22. 2 Kgs. 10: 6–8. It appears, in the later periods of the Jewish history, that Herod and his descendants, in a number of instances, ordered decapitation, Matt. 14: 8–12. Acts. 12: 2. It becomes us to observe, however, lest these remarks should carry an erroneous impression, that beheading was not sanctioned by the Laws of Moses. The Mosaic punishment the most correspondent to it, was that of the sword; with which the criminal was slain in any way, which appeared most convenient or agreeable to the executioner. That this statement in respect to the liberty, exercised by the executioner, is correct may indeed be inferred from the phrases, “Rush upon him,” and “He rushed upon him,” a vio, a sapon, Jud. 8: 21. 1 Sam. 22: 18. 2 Sam. 1: 15.1 Kgs. 2:26, 29, 31, 34. The probability is, however, that the executioner, generally, thrust the sword into the bowels of the criminal. Lapidation or Stoning.
In addition to the use of the sword, stoning was another mode of effecting the punishment of death, authorized by the Laws of Moses. Stoning was practised likewise among many other ancient nations.
Moses, (following, probably, some ancient custom) enacted, that the witnesses should throw the first stone against the criminal, and, after the witnesses, the people, Deut. 13: 10, 17: 7. Jos. 7: 25. John 8: 7.
The assertion of the Talmudists, (Sanhedrin, 6: 1–4,) that the criminal was first thrown off from an elevated scaffolding, and then stoned, is mere fable. The punishment of stoning is to be understood, wherever the mode of putting to death is not expressly mentioned. This mode of punishment is meant, consequently, in Leviticus 20:10, where the discourse is concerning adulterers. Accordingly, this is the construction put upon that passage in Ezekiel 16:38, 40, and in John 8: 5. Compare likewise Exodus 31: 14, and 35: 2, with Numbers 15:35, 36. The opinion, therefore, of the Talmudists, who maintain, that strangulation is the punishment, meant in the passage referred to in Leviticus, is not to be admitted.
318 § 258. Excision. Excommunications.
§ 258. Excision FRoM THE PEOPLE. Excommunications.
When God is introduced, as saying in respect to any person, as follows, “I will cut him off, or nort, from the people,” the expressions mean some event in divine Providence, which shall eventually terminate the life of that person's family. Consult 1 Kgs. 14: 10. 21:21. 2 Kgs. 9: 8. If the following expressions are used, “He shall be cut off non-3, no, from the people,” the punishment of stoning is meant, Lev. 17:4. 20: 10–18, comp. Exod. 31: 14.35:2. Heb. 10:28. The more recent Jewish interpreters have understood, by Excision from the people, excommunication; and have, accordingly, made three species of it. I. Excommunication, in the slightest degree, *z, was separation from the synagogue, and the suspension of intercourse with all Jews whatever, even with one’s wife and domesticks. A person, who had exposed himself to excommunication of this sort, was not allowed to approach another, nearer than a distance of four cubits. This separation was continued for thirty days; and in case the excommunicated person did not repent, the time might be doubled or tripled, even when the transgression, by means of which it was incurred, was of small consequence, Buxtorf. Lex. Chald. Talm. Rabb. col. 1304, et seq. II. The second degree of excommunication is denominated Bori, the curse, and was more severe in its effects, than that just mentioned. It was pronounced with imprecations, in the presence of ten men, and so thoroughly excluded the guilty person from all communion whatever with his countrymen, that they were not allowed to sell him any thing, even the necessaries of life, Buxtorf. Lex. Chald. Talm. Rabbin. col. 827. comp. John 16: 1, 2. 1 Cor. 5: 2–9. III. The third degree of excommunication, which was more severe in its consequences, than either of the preceding, was denominated Nryap. It was a solemn, and absolute exclusion from all intercourse and communion with any other individuals of the nation ; and the criminal was left in the hands, and to the justice of God, Buxtorf. Lex. Chald. Talm. Rabbin. col. 2463—2470. Whether the word, Nogg, be the same with Nrls off, the § 259. Posthumous insults. 319
NAME, (i. e. God,) comes, and with Nr's joy, our Lord comes, is a question, on which there is a difference of opinion. It is most probable, that, in the time of Christ, the second degree of excommunication was not distinguished from the third, and that both were expressed by the phraseology, which is used in first Corinthians (5; 5) and 1 Timothy (1:20,) viz. to deliver to Satan for the destruction of the flesh.
§ 259. OF PUNISHMENTs, which consist of Posthumous insults.
It enters into the design of the Mosaic Laws to inflict punishments, but not punishments of such a nature, as shall have a tendency to communicate a perpetual infamy to the person, who suffers them. This remark applies to the living. It was sometimes the case, that a lasting infamy, by means of posthumous insults, was heaped upon the dead.
The posthumous insults, to which we refer, were, as follows.
I. The body of the criminal, who had been stoned, was burnt. Burning, as a mark of infamy, appears to have been an ancient custom, which was, consequently, not originated, although it was retained by Moses, Gen. 38:24. Lev. 20:14, 21:9. Jos. 7: 15, 25. The Jewish Rabbins suppose, that the BURNING, which is mentioned in the Scriptures, is the operation of pouring melted lead down the throat of the living criminal. Certainly such a supposition is a dream.
II. Another mark of infamy was the suspension of the dead body on a tree or gallows. This was customary in Egypt, Gen. 40: 17–19. Num. 25: 4, 5. Deut. 21:22, 23. The person suspended was considered, as a curse, an abomination in the sight of God, and as receiving this token of infamy from his hand. The body, nevertheless, was to be taken down, and buried on the same day. The hanging, mentioned in second Samuel 21: 6, was the work of the Gibeonites, and not of the Israelites. Posthumous suspension of this kind for the purpose of conferring ignominy is a very different thing from the CRucifixion, that was practised by the Romans, notwithstanding that the Jews gave such an extent to the law in Deuteronomy 21:22, 23, as to include the last-named Punishment, John 19:31, et seq. Galat. 3:13.
320 § 260. Punishments of Foreign origin.
III. Heaps of stones were raised either directly upon the dead body, or upon the place, where it was buried, Jos. 7: 25, 26. 2 Sam. 18: 17. The pile of stones, that was gathered in this way, was increased by the contributions of each passing traveller, who added one to the heap in testimony of his aversion to the crime.
Examine in connexion with this the two hundred and ninth Section.
§ 260. Punish MENTs INTRoduced FROM other NATIONs.
There are other punishments, mentioned in the Bible, in addition to those, of which we have given some account; but which were introduced among the Hebrews at a period later, than the days of Moses.
I. Decapitation. [Something has been said in respect to this mode of punishment, in the two hundred and fifty seventh section.] It was properly a foreign punishment, and was frequently practised among the Persians, Greeks, Romans, and other nations.
II. Strangulation; to which an allusion is made in first Kings 20:31. The more recent Jews attributed the origin of this punishment to Moses, but without cause. They suppose strangulation is meant, when the phrase, “He shall die the death,” is used. As that phrase, in their estimation, is meant to express the easiest death, by which a person can die, they suppose, the mode of death intended is no other, than that of strangulation. A person will be surprised at their notions of an easy death, when he understands the method, in which it was effected, to have been as follows. The criminal, (as the punishment, according to their account, was inflicted,) was thrust up to his middle in mud. A handkerchief was then tied round his neck, which was drawn by the two ends in opposite directions by two lictors; and while the process of strangulation was going on in this way, melted lead was poured down his throat, Sanhedr. 10: 3.
III. Burning. Persons were burnt alive in a furnace, which, as has been observed, resembled in its form a well, Dan. 3: comp. Chardin's Voyage, Vol. IV. p. 276. This mode of punishment was practised among the Chaldeans, Jer. 29:22.
IV. The Lion's Den. This mode of punishment is still customary in Fez and Morocco. See accounts of Fez and Morocco by Hoest, c. 2, p. 77. Dan, 6.