A Handbook of Bible Law - Capital laws & offenses

Copyright 1991 by Charles A. Weisman. 2nd Edition: Aug., 1992; 3rd Edition: Dec., 1994

Capital laws & offenses

Comments: The fundamental principle of Hebrew penology is strict retribution, and this found no exception for more serious crimes-Capital crimes. In Biblical law, capital punishment has three definitive purposes:

1). Retributive-those making the most serious crimes against man or against God, are to suffer the greatest punishment, the loss of their lives -"he shall surely be put to death" (Exod. 21:12).

2). Capital punishment concerns itself with rooting out and ridding the land of evil:

'Whoever is worthy of death shall be put to death ... so you shall put away the evil person from among you" (Deut. 17:6-7).

3). The death penalty was to serve as a deterrent. By making the punishment for certain offenses so severe it could not escape the attention of the public, thereby preventing others from committing a similar act.

The Mosaic law provides for thirty-six capital offenses that require punishment by death, which could be carried out by several different modes of execution (see 19D).

Those nations down through history that have adopted these capital laws, and enforced them as called out for in Scripture by the death of the guilty party, have experienced the most safe and peaceful societies. But where such acts, are allowed to exist in the land, and are not enforced by appropriate punishment, there is runaway crime, violence and moral debauchery.

10A - Murder

  1. Thou shall not murder. Exod. 20:13; Deut 5:17; Matt. 5:2; Matt. 19:18; Rom. 13:9.
  2. Shedding of innocent blood is an abomination to God. Prov. 6:16-17.
  3. God requires the blood of a murderer for it defiles the land. Gen. 9:5-6; Num. 35:33.
  4. Those guilty of murder are to be put to death. Lev. 24:17, 21; Num. 35:16, 21, 30-31.
  5. If a man acts with premeditation against his neighbor, to kill him with guile, he shall die. Exod. 21:14.
  6. One who strikes a man so that he dies is a murderer and shall be put to death. Exod. 21:12; Num. 35:16-18.
  7. Killing for hire is condemned (the assassin and the one who hires him are both guilty of murder). Deut 27:25; Ezek. 22:12.
  8. You are not to act against the life of your neighbor. Lev. 19: 16.
  9. The law concerning unsolved murders. Deut. 21:1-9.

10B - Sabbath Desecration

  1. Every one that defiles the Sabbath by doing servile work on that day shall be put to death. Exod. 31:14-15; Exod. 35:2; Num. 15:32-36.

10C - Kidnapping

  1. He that kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, he shall be put to death. Exod. 21:16; Deut. 24:7.

10D - Witchcraft and Sorcery

  1. A man or a woman with a familiar spirit or who is a wizard shall be put to death. Lev. 20:27; 2 Kings 23:24.
  2. You are not to allow a witch or sorceress to live. Exod. 22:18.

10E - Sins Against Parents

  1. He that strikes his father or mother shall be put to death. Exod. 21:15.
  2. He that curses his father or mother shall be put to death. Exod. 21:17; Lev. 20:9.
  3. If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son which will not obey the voice of his parents, and when they chastise him, he will not listen to them, he shall then be put to death. Deut. 21:18-21.

10F - Offenses Against God

  1. Anyone that has served or worshipped false or pagan gods shall be put to death. Deut. 17:2-5.
  2. Idolaters are to be destroyed. Deut 13:13-15.
  3. A preacher or a prophet who leads people to worship false gods is to be put to death, because he has counseled rebel against God. Deut 13:1-5.
  4. Those who entice others to serve pagan gods and religions are to be put to death. Deut. 13:6-11.
  5. He that blasphemes the name of God shall be put to death. Lev. 24:16; 1 Kings 21:10, 13.
  6. He that sacrifices to any god, other than the LORD God alone, shall be utterly destroyed. Exod. 22:20.

10G - Treason and Rebellion

  1. Whoever rebels against the laws of the land shall be put to death. Josh. 1:18.
  2. The man that acts presumptuously by not listening to the priest or the judges, that man shall die. Deut 17:12.
  3. Rebellion and insurrection against the government is punishable by death. 2 Sam. 20:1-22.

10H - Child Sacrifice

  1. Any that offer their children to pagan gods shall be put to death. Lev. 20:2-5; Deut 12:30-31.
  2. Curses brought upon a nation that allows child sacrifice in its land. Jer. 7:31-34; Jer. 19:5-12.
  3. You shall not let any of your offspring pass through the fire of Molech. Lev. 18:21; Lev. 20:2-5; 2 Kings 23:10; Jer. 32:35.

10I - Manslaughter

  1. Manslaughter or accidental killing is not punished by death, but the one guilty is to be banished to a city of refuge. Exod. 21:13; Num. 35:6,11-15; Deut. 4:41-42; Deut 19:4-5; 20:1-6.
  2. If the manslayer at any time goes outside the city of refuge where he fled, he is subject to be killed by the avenger of blood. Num. 35:26-28.
  3. If a murder flees to a city of refuge, he is to be turned over to the hand of the executioner that he may die. Deut. 19:12.

    10J - Crimes of Sexual Immorality
    (See also 5E, 12A)

    1. The adulterer and adulteress are to be put to death. Lev.20:10; Deut. 22:22; Ezek. 18:11, 13.
    2. Sexual relations to affinity of blood that require death. Lev. 20:11, 12, 14. 20, 21.
    3. Those guilty of sodomy (homosexuality) to be put to death. Lev. 18:22; Lev. 20:13.
    4. The act of sodomy condemned as an abomination and an unnatural act. Lev. 18:22: Rom. 1:26-27, 32: 1 Cor. 6:9.
    5. Sodomites are not allowed to exist in the nation. Deut. 23:17.
    6. Those having sexual relations with animals are to be put to death. Exod. 22:19: Lev. 18:23; Lev. 20:15-16; Deut. 27:21.
    7. Whores or prostitutes are to be put to death. Lev. 21:9; Deut 22:21; Deut 23:17.
    8. If a virgin betrothed to a husband lie with another man, both the man and woman shall be put to death. Deut 22:24.
    9. A rapist is to be put to death. Deut. 22:25-26.

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