Deuteronomy 21:22
And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree:
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Deuteronomy 21:22-23.—HANGING.

(22) And he be put to death.—Better, and he hath been put to death. Hanging followed death in Israel (Joshua 10:26-27).

(23) His body shall not remain all night.—Observed by Joshua, but broken by the Gibeonites (2Samuel 22:9-10; 2Samuel 22:14).

He that is hanged is accursed of God.—In the LXX., “Cursed of God is every one that hangeth upon a tree,” and cited in this form by St. Paul (Galatians 3:13). We cannot see why he should be pronounced cursed, except for the sake of that which was designed by “the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God,” that His Son Jesus Christ should bear our sins in His own body on the tree, and redeem us from the curse of the Law, by being “made a curse for us.”

Rashi’s note upon this shows how strangely the rays of truth are sometimes refracted in the Jewish mina: “‘He that is hanged is the curse of God’—that is, he is the King’s disgrace. For man was made in the likeness of His image. And Israel are his children. There were two twin brothers, who were much alike. One was made king, the other was taken up for highway robbery, and was hanged. Every one who saw him said, ‘There hangs the king!’” From this note it is clear that Rashi takes the words to mean, “He that is hanged is God’s disgrace,” because man is “made after the similitude of God.” There is no doubt as to the shame of the punishment which our Lord endured and despised.

Thou shalt in any wise bury him that day.—Another law, remarkably and providentially fulfilled in our Lord’s death. We do not read that the robbers who were crucified with Him were buried, though their bodies were removed from the cross. It is not improbable that this law was also intended to prevent the barbarous practice of leaving men impaled op sharp stakes or suspended upon crosses from day to day until they died of pain and thirst. It certainly is a disgrace to the Divine image to treat it thus.

Deuteronomy 21:22. On a tree — Which was done after the malefactor was put to death some other way; this public shame being added to his former punishment.

21:22,23 By the law of Moses, the touch of a dead body was defiling, therefore dead bodies must not be left hanging, as that would defile the land. There is one reason here which has reference to Christ; He that is hanged is accursed of God; that is, it is the highest degree of disgrace and reproach. Those who see a man thus hanging between heaven and earth, will conclude him abandoned of both, and unworthy of either. Moses, by the Spirit, uses this phrase of being accursed of God, when he means no more than being treated most disgracefully, that it might afterward be applied to the death of Christ, and might show that in it he underwent the curse of the law for us; which proves his love, and encourages to faith in him.There were four methods of execution in use among the ancient Jews; stoning (Exodus 17:4; Deuteronomy 13:10, etc.), burning Leviticus 20:14; Leviticus 21:9, the sword Exodus 32:27, and strangulation. The latter, though not named in Scripture, is regarded by the rabbis as the most common, and the proper one to be adopted when no other is expressly enjoined by the Law. Suspension, whether from cross, stake, or gallows, was not used as a mode of taking life, but was sometimes added after death as an enhancement of punishment. Pharaoh's chief baker Genesis 40:19 was hanged after being put to death by the sword; and similarly Joshua appears Joshua 10:26 to have dealt with the five kings who made war against Gibeon. Compare also Numbers 25:4. 22, 23. if a man have committed a sin … and thou hang him on a tree—Hanging was not a Hebrew form of execution (gibbeting is meant), but the body was not to be left to rot or be a prey to ravenous birds; it was to be buried "that day," either because the stench in a hot climate would corrupt the air, or the spectacle of an exposed corpse bring ceremonial defilement on the land. Which was done after the malefactor was put to death some other way, this public shame being added to his former punishment. See Joshua 7:25 8:29 10:26 2 Samuel 4:12.

And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death,.... This before mentioned, or any other that deserves death, any kind of death, as strangling, killing with the sword, burning and stoning, to which the Jews restrain it here:

and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him, on a tree; is condemned to stoning, and after that they hang him, as the Targum of Jonathan; and according to the Jewish Rabbins, as Jarchi observes, all that were stoned were to be hanged, and only men, not women (g); for it is remarked that it is said "him" and not "her" (h): about this there is a dispute in the Misnah (i);"all that are stoned are hanged, they are the words of R. Eliezer; but the wise men say none are to be hanged but the blasphemer and idolater; a man is to be hanged with his face to the people, a woman with her face to the tree, they are the words of R. Eliezer; but the wise men say, a man is to be hanged, but no woman, to whom R. Eliezer replied, did not Simeon Ben Shetach hang women in Ashkelon? they answered him, he hung eighty women (at once), but they do not judge or condemn two in one day;''so that this was a particular case at a particular time, and not be drawn into an example: in the same place it is asked,

"how they hang one? they fix a beam in the earth, and a piece of wood goes out of it (near the top of it, as one of the commentator (k) remarks), and join his two hands together and hang him;''that is, by his hand, not by his neck, as with us, but rather in the crucifixion; only in that the hands are spread, and one hand is fastened to one part of the cross beam, and the other to the other end.

(g) Misn. Sotah, c. 3. sect. 8. (h) Maimon. & Bartenora in. ib. (i) Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 6. sect. 4. (k) Bartenora in Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 6. sect. 4.

And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree:
22 f. Of the Exposed Corpse of a Criminal

A corpse exposed after execution shall be buried before night; cursed of God it must not be left to defile the land. In the Sg. address and closing with a deuteronomic formula.

Hanging (or impalement? see below) was not the form of the criminal’s death but was subsequent to the execution and an aggravation of its dishonour. This is clear not only from Deuteronomy 21:22, but from Joshua 8:29; Joshua 10:26, 1 Samuel 31:10, 2 Samuel 4:12 and is perhaps intended also in Genesis 40:19 (and by consequence in Deuteronomy 21:22, Genesis 41:13). Compare the similar treatment of the corpses of traitors and other notorious criminals in Europe till within recent times. In early Israel bodies thus exposed were buried before night and under or behind great stones, as though finally to suppress and get rid of the spirit of the criminal, which otherwise would continue to haunt the neighbourhood. If that was the original idea, it is ignored by D and this other substituted, that the hanged thing was under God’s curse and unburied might infect His holy land with His wrath.

22. if a man, etc.] Cp. Deuteronomy 21:15; Deuteronomy 21:18; lit. if there be against a man a sin, a sentence (mishpaṭ), of death. This compound phrase seems a fusion of a sin of death, a capital sin, Deuteronomy 22:26, and a sentence of death, a capital charge, Deuteronomy 19:6. Or mishpaṭ is a gloss.

and thou hang him on a tree] Not necessarily tree but something wooden (see Deuteronomy 19:5), LXX ἐπὶ ξύλου. It may have been a stake or pole, Esther 7:9, EVV. gallows. Of the cross in Galatians 3:13. So also hang, LXX κρεμάσητε, may be both here and in passages cited above affix or impale, Esther 7:9, LXX σταμροῦν (but this was in Persia, for which cp. the ἀνασκολοπίζειν of Herod. i. 128). Impalement is implied in Ezra 6:11; and probably in 2Ma 15:35, Jdt 14:1, Lamentations 5:12. As their sculptures illustrate, Assyrians and Babylonians frequently impaled the bodies of their enemies.

Verses 22, 23. - When a criminal was put to death and was hanged upon a tree, his body was not to remain there over-night, but was to be buried the same day on which he was executed. Verse 22. - If a man have committed a sin worthy of death; literally, If there be on a man a judgment of death; if he lie under sentence of death. Hang him on a tree. This refers not to putting to death by strangling, but to the impaling of the body after death (cf. C. B. Michaelis, 'De Judiciis Poenisque Capitalibus in Sac. Script. Commemoratis,' in 'Sylloge Commentt. Theolog.,' edita a D. J. Pott, vol. 4. p. 209). This was an aggravation of the punishment, as the body so impaled was exposed to insult and assault (cf. Numbers 25:4; Genesis 40:19). Deuteronomy 21:22Burial of those who had been Hanged. - If there was a sin upon a man, מות משׁפּט, lit., a right of death, i.e., a capital crime (cf. Deuteronomy 19:6 and Deuteronomy 22:26), and he was put to death, and they hanged him upon a tree (wood), his body was not to remain upon the wood over night, but they were to bury him on the same day upon which he as hanged; "for the hanged man is a curse of God," and they were not to defile the land which Jehovah gave for an inheritance. The hanging, not of criminals who were to be put to death, but of those who had been executed with the sword, was an intensification of the punishment of death (see at Numbers 25:4), inasmuch as the body was thereby exposed to peculiar kinds of abominations. Moses commanded the burial of those who had been hanged upon the day of their execution, - that is to say, as we may see from the application of this law in Joshua 8:29; Joshua 10:26-27, before sunset, - because the hanged man, being a curse of God, defiled the land. The land was defiled not only by vices and crimes (cf. Leviticus 18:24, Leviticus 18:28; Numbers 35:34), but also by the exposure to view of criminals who had been punished with death, and thus had been smitten by the curse of God, inasmuch as their shameful deeds were thereby publicly exposed to view. We are not to think of any bodily defilement of the land through the decomposition consequent upon death, as J. D. Mich. and Sommer suppose; so that there is no ground for speaking of any discrepancy between this and the old law. - (On the application of this law to Christ, see Galatians 3:13.), - This regulation is appended very loosely to what precedes. The link of connection is contained in the thought, that with the punishment of the wicked the recollection of their crimes was also to be removed.
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