Brutal: Corporal and Capital Punishment in Judaism

Non-Muslims describe hudud (Islamic corporal and capital punishment) as ‘barbaric’, ‘intolerant’ and ‘backward’.[1]

But little attention is paid to the punishments that are prescribed in other religions.

A particularly interesting case is that of Judaism.

RELATED: Amputation and Torture in Classical Hindu Texts

What is notable is that the death penalty in Judaism is applicable for very minor infringements. Yet, we find little mention of these Jewish punishments in discussions pertaining to religious law.

Example 1: Breaking the Sabbath

Exodus 31:14

You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you; everyone who profanes it shall be put to death; whoever does any work on it shall be cut off from among the people.

Note: For an infringement like ‘profaning the Sabbath’, the life of a Jew is at stake. Compared to Islam, the non-observance of the Jumu’ah Salāh (Friday Congregational Prayer) is a serious sin, but the life of a Muslim is not at stake.

Example 2: Blasphemy

Leviticus 24:10–16

One who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall be put to death; the whole congregation shall stone the blasphemer. Aliens as well as citizens, when they blaspheme the Name, shall be put to death.

Example 3: An Outsider coming near to the tabernacle

Numbers 1:51

When the tabernacle is to set out, the Levites shall take it down; and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up. And any outsider who comes near shall be put to death.

Note: A person’s life is at stake for coming near the tabernacle.

Example 4: Bestiality

Exodus 22:19

Whoever lies with an animal shall be put to death.

Example 5: Negligence

Exodus 21:28–32

28 When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall not be liable. 

29 If the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has been warned but has not restrained it, and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death. 

30 If a ransom is imposed on the owner, then the owner shall pay whatever is imposed for the redemption of the victim’s life.

31 If it gores a boy or a girl, the owner shall be dealt with according to this same rule.

32 If the ox gores a male or female slave, the owner shall pay to the slaveowner thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

Example 6: Smiting one’s Parents

Exodus 21:15

Whoever strikes father or mother shall be put to death.

Note: Disobedience to one’s parents and causing harm to them is looked at very gravely in Islam, but there is no death penalty for it.

Example 7: Contempt of Court

Deuteronomy 17:8–13

8 If a judicial decision is too difficult for you to make between one kind of bloodshed and another, one kind of legal right and another, or one kind of assault and another—any such matters of dispute in your towns—then you shall immediately go up to the place that the Lord your God will choose,

9 where you shall consult with the levitical priests and the judge who is in office in those days; they shall announce to you the decision in the case.

10 Carry out exactly the decision that they announce to you from the place that the Lord will choose, diligently observing everything they instruct you.

11 You must carry out fully the law that they interpret for you or the ruling that they announce to you; do not turn aside from the decision that they announce to you, either to the right or to the left.

12 As for anyone who presumes to disobey the priest appointed to minister there to the Lord your God, or the judge, that person shall die. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.

13 All the people will hear and be afraid, and will not act presumptuously again.

Example 8: Adultery

Leviticus 20:10

If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.

Example 9: Homosexuality

Leviticus 20:13

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.

How Are Capital Punishments Implemented in Judaism?[2]

Stoning:

  1. Intercourse between a man and his mother.
  2. Intercourse between a man and his father’s wife (not necessarily his mother).
  3. Intercourse between a man and his daughter-in-law.
  4. Intercourse with another man’s wife from the first stage of marriage.
  5. Intercourse between two men.
  6. Bestiality.
  7. Cursing the name of God in God’s name.
  8. Idol worship.
  9. Giving one’s progeny to Molech (child sacrifice).
  10. Necromancy sorcery.
  11. Pythonic sorcery.
  12. Attempting to convince another to worship idols.
  13. Instigating a community to worship idols.
  14. Witchcraft.
  15. Violating the Sabbath.
  16. Cursing one’s own parent.
  17. A stubborn and rebellious son.

Burning:

“According to Halakha, this punishment is conducted by pouring molten metal (lead, or a mixture of lead and tin) into one’s throat, rather than burning at the stake.”

  1. The daughter of a priest who completed the second stage of marriage commits adultery.
  2. Intercourse between a man and his daughter.
  3. Intercourse between a man and his daughter’s daughter.
  4. Intercourse between a man and his son’s daughter.
  5. Intercourse between a man and his wife’s daughter (not necessarily his own daughter).
  6. Intercourse between a man and his wife’s daughter’s daughter.
  7. Intercourse between a man and his wife’s son’s daughter.
  8. Intercourse between a man and his mother in law.
  9. Intercourse between a man and his mother in law’s mother.
  10. Intercourse between a man and his father in law’s mother.

Beheading by the Sword:

  1. Unlawful premeditated murder.
  2. Being a citizen of a city that has gone astray.

Strangulation:

  1. Committing adultery with another man’s wife, when it does not fall under the above criteria.
  2. Wounding one’s own parent.
  3. Kidnapping another Israelite.
  4. Prophesying falsely.
  5. Prophesying in the name of other deities.
  6. A sage who is guilty of insubordination in front of the grand court in the Chamber of the Hewn Stone.

Do Jews believe, accept, and implement the above? What do they feel about it? In a nutshell, Judaism contains laws for the death penalty for many small and petty infringements. It must be very stressful for the Jewish sinner, walking around with 10 potential death sentences looming over his head – unimplemented.

Meanwhile, anti-Islam critics want to focus on Islam and whine about Islamic Law, whose punishments are perfectly reasonable and in line with justice.

Notes

    1. The punishments stipulated in Islamic law for crimes committed have been a hot topic for many years now. Bear in mind that the punishments themselves are applied after investigation, testimony, sittings before the judge, and then his judgment. They are not dished out like candies, or like the rains of bombs upon Muslim lands – killing innocent women and children – by the ‘highly sophisticated’ and ‘tolerant’ non-Muslims who lecture the world on barbarism. Moreover, the books of Fiqh (jurisprudence) detail the practical implementation of the punishment, taking into account all factors related to the guilty, in order to get the desired result, namely, a safe and peaceful society that is firm upon its principles and provides peace of mind to every citizen. In essence, this is perfectly humane, rational, and necessary, as are all commandments from the Creator.
    2. https://www.sefaria.org/Mishneh_Torah%2C_The_Sanhedrin_and_the_Penalties_within_their_Jurisdiction.15.10?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en
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1 COMMENT

  1. The author says ; “But little attention is paid to the punishments that are prescribed in other religions.”

    That’s because in the modern world today no one from nonMuslims is interested in reviving and imposing the harsh draconian punishments mentioned in the scriptures. Muslims are the only religion people who want modern States to literally revive and impose the punishments mentioned in their Scripture. Even if the Jеws revived the state of Isrаel mentioned in their Scripture, they don’t want their modern іsrаеl to literally copy and paste all the same laws as the ancient state of Іsrаеl.

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