People in Heavenly Houses Throwing Stones
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.):
Stoning in the Mishnah
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
In the Brit Chadashah:
People Who Were Almost Stoned in the Scriptures
In the Brit Chadashah:
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
Punishment by Sekila (stoning)
Punishment by Hereg (beheading)
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.’”