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Stoning and the Death Penalty from a Netsarim Perspective - (Part Two)


People in Heavenly Houses Throwing Stones

(Part 2)

An Examination of Capital Punishment in the TaNaK and Brit Chadashah from a Netsarim Perspective

Two Types of Stoning

When most people think of stoning, they think of an organised group throwing stones at an individual until the person dies. However, occasionally a condemned person may also be pushed from a platform set high above a stone floor. The objective is that a stone impacts with great speed against the victim and there is no ruling that states the rock always has to be the projectile. In a legal ruling of stoning the accused was mercifully given a drug to dull his senses before being led outside the encampment or city. The lesser known cliff pushing method gives a little bit more context to the matter involving Yahshua’s fellow townsfolk who attempted to hurdle him over a precipice. Luke 4:29; “They got up, drove him (Yahshua) out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff.”

What Can a Man be Stoned For?

The Torah describes stoning for the following offenses (Note: Not all rulings are against humans.):

  • Touching Mount Sinai while Elohim was giving Moses the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19:13)
  • An ox that gores someone to death should be stoned (Exodus 21:28)
  • Breaking the Shabbat (Numbers 15:32-36)
  • Giving one's "seed" (presumably one's offspring) "to Moloch a form of human sacrifice" (Leviticus 20:2-5)
  • Having a "familiar spirit" (or being a necromancer) or being a "wizard" (Leviticus 20:27)
  • Cursing Elohim (Leviticus 24:10-16)
  • Engaging in idolatry (Deuteronomy 17:2-7) or seducing others to do so (Deuteronomy 13:7-12)
  • "Rebellion" against parents in a disgusting way (Deuteronomy 21,21)
  • Sexual intercourse between a man and a woman engaged to another man (both should be stoned, (Deuteronomy 22:23-24), unless in case of rape.

Stoning in the Mishnah

The Mishnah gives the following list of persons who should be stoned (Sanhedrin Chapter 7, p. 53a [2])

  • A man who has sexual intercourse with one of the following (see Leviticus 20, which however does not specify the form of execution):
    • his mother
    • his father's wife
    • his daughter-in-law
    • another man
    • an animal ("bestiality")
  • A woman who allows an animal to have sexual intercourse with her
  • A blasphemer
  • An idolater
  • One who gives his seed to Moloch
  • A necromancer or wizard
  • One who desecrates the Shabbat
  • One who curses his father and mother
  • One who has sexual intercourse with a betrothed maiden
  • One who incites or instigates (toward idolatry)
  • A sorcerer
  • A wayward and rebellious son

Stoning – A Very Scarce Practice

It may come as a surprise to many that legally inflicted stoning is very scarce in Scripture. There are only three cases in the TaNaK in which a person was stoned to death as a punishment. There is an additional five cases where someone was stoned illegally by a mob. As pointed out earlier, stoning was very seldom carried out in Judaism.

As time went on, leading Jewish sages, knowing that their communities where not what they should have been, imposed so many restrictions on the actual implementation of capital punishment that it became almost impossible to fulfill conditions for an admissible testimony.

Netsarim Who Were Stoned Outside the Scriptures

People Stoned in Scripture

In the Tanakh

  • The son of an Israelite woman and an Egyptian man, for cursing Elohim (Leviticus 24:10-23)
  • A man who gathered wood on Shabbat (Numbers 15:32-36)
  • Yeshu, a person mentioned in the Talmud as a sorcerer and an inciter to idolatry
  • Achan (Joshua 7)
  • Adoniram, King Rehoboam's tax man (I Kings 12:18)
  • Naboth, (I Kings 21)
  • Zechariah ben Jehoiada, who denounced the people's disobedience to the commandments (II Chronicles 24:20-21, perhaps also Matthew 23:35)

In the Brit Chadashah:

People Who Were Almost Stoned in the Scriptures

In the Tanakh and Old Testament:

In the Brit Chadashah:

  • The Adulterous Woman (John 8)
  • Yahshua (John 10)
  • The captain of the Temple and his officers (Acts 5:26)
  • Sha’ul of Tarsus, mentioned in the Acts 14:19, as being stoned at Lystra at the instigation of Jews. He was left for dead, but then revived.

New Testament Scripture that Supports Capital Punishment

While the case of Ananias and Sapphira is certainly the strongest support for the existence of the death penalty in the Brit Chadashah, it is important to examine any other such references to this supposedly done away with Old Testament law.

The following are a selection of passages from the Brit Chadashah that show that Capital Punishment was completely embraced by the Netsarim. While the verses are not direct rulings on the subject, their reference in the course of teaching other matters stands as a testimony to their legitimacy. Hebrews 2:1-4; We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by יהוה, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. Elohim also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.”

Hebrews 10:28; “Anyone who rejects the law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of Elohim, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Ruach HaKodesh who brings Elohim's mercy to us.”

Romans 1:27; In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” This observation is supported by Leviticus 20:13; “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their blood-guiltiness is upon them.”

Romans 1:32; “Although they know Elohim's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

The Four Types of Capital Punishment

The four types of Capital Punishment were:

This was performed by pushing a person off a height of at least two stories. If the person didn't die, then the executioners (the witnesses) brought a rock that was so large that it took both of them to lift it; this was placed on the convicted person to crush them.

This was done by melting lead, and pouring it down the throat of the convicted person.

This is also known as "being put to the sword."

A rope was wound around the convicted person's neck, and the executioners (the witnesses) pulled from either side to strangle the convicted person.

Sins Separated by the Four Types of Capital Punishment

The following is a list by Maimonides in his Mishneh Torah (Hilchoth Sanhedrin Chapter 15) of which crimes carry a capital punishment.

Punishment by Sekila (stoning)

  • Intercourse between a man and his mother.
  • Intercourse between a man and his father's wife (not necessarily his mother).
  • Intercourse between a man and his daughter in law.
  • Intercourse with another man's wife from the first stage of marriage.
  • Intercourse between two men.
  • Bestiality.
  • Cursing the name of Elohim in Elohim’s name.
  • Idol Worship.
  • Giving one's progeny to Molech.
  • Necromantic Sorcery.
  • Pythonic Sorcery.
  • Attempting to convince another to worship idols.
  • Instigating a community to worship idols.
  • Witchcraft.
  • Violating the Sabbath.
  • Cursing one's own parent.
  • A stubborn and rebellious son.
Punishment by Serefah (burning)
  • The daughter of a priest who completed the second stage of marriage commits adultery.
  • Intercourse between a man and his daughter.
  • Intercourse between a man and his daughter's daughter.
  • Intercourse between a man and his son's daughter.
  • Intercourse between a man and his wife's daughter (not necessarily his own daughter).
  • Intercourse between a man and his wife's daughter's daughter.
  • Intercourse between a man and his wife's son's daughter.
  • Intercourse between a man and his mother in law.
  • Intercourse between a man and his mother in law's mother.
  • Intercourse between a man and his father in law's mother.

Punishment by Hereg (beheading)

  • Unlawful premeditated murder.
  • Being a member of a city that has gone astray.
Punishment by Chenek (strangulation)
  • Committing adultery with another man's wife, where it doesn't fall under the above criteria.
  • Wounding one's own parent.
  • Kidnapping another member of Israel.
  • Prophesying Falsely.
  • Prophesying in the name of other deities.
  • A sage who is guilty of insubordination in front of the grand court in the Chamber of the Hewn Stone.

Conclusion

Capital Punishment was, is and will always be a part of the Heavenly Father’s Torah. As Netsarim we are obligated to teach truthfully on this subject, avoiding the temptation to marginalise or downplay the practice. The Death Penalty is there so that we might fear Elohim and keep ourselves from sinning. Just as Elohim deliberately scared the people at Mount Sinai to instill in them a fear of sin, the thought of having our lives extinguished through one of the four methods of execution is to instigate that same real fear of יהוה.

Exodus 20:20; “Moshe said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Elohim has come to test you, so that the fear of Elohim will be with you to keep you from sinning.’”

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