Deuteronomy 25:2
And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number.
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Deuteronomy 25:2. Worthy to be beaten — Which the Jews say was the case of all those who had committed crimes which the law commands to be punished, without expressing the kind or degree of punishment. Before his face — That the punishment might be duly inflicted, without excess or defect. And from this no person’s rank or quality exempted him, if he were a delinquent.25:1-3 Every punishment should be with solemnity, that those who see it may be filled with dread, and be warned not to offend in like manner. And though the criminals must be shamed as well as put to pain, for their warning and disgrace, yet care should be taken that they do not appear totally vile. Happy those who are chastened of the Lord to humble them, that they should not be condemned with the world to destruction.Scourging is named as a penalty in Leviticus 19:20. The beating here spoken of would be on the back with a rod or stick (compare Proverbs 10:13; Proverbs 19:29; Proverbs 26:3). 2, 3. if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten—In judicial sentences, which awarded punishment short of capital, scourging, like the Egyptian bastinado, was the most common form in which they were executed. The Mosaic law, however, introduced two important restrictions; namely: (1) The punishment should be inflicted in presence of the judge instead of being inflicted in private by some heartless official; and (2) The maximum amount of it should be limited to forty stripes, instead of being awarded according to the arbitrary will or passion of the magistrate. The Egyptian, like Turkish and Chinese rulers, often applied the stick till they caused death or lameness for life. Of what the scourge consisted at first we are not informed; but in later times, when the Jews were exceedingly scrupulous in adhering to the letter of the law and, for fear of miscalculation, were desirous of keeping within the prescribed limit, it was formed of three cords, terminating in leathern thongs, and thirteen strokes of this counted as thirty-nine stripes (2Co 11:24). Worthy to be beaten; which the Jews say was the case of all those crimes which the law commands to be punished, without expressing the kind or degree of the punishment.

Before his face; that the punishment may be duly inflicted, without excess or defect, which otherwise might easily happen through the executioner’s passion or partiality. And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten,.... There were four kinds of death criminals were put to by the Jews, stoning, strangling, burning, and slaying with the sword; and such crimes not as severe as these were punished with beating or scourging; and who they were that were worthy to be beaten is at large set forth in the Misnic treatise called Maccoth (x), or "stripes", which are too many to be transcribed. Maimonides says (y), that all negative precepts in the law, for the breach of which men are guilty of cutting off, but not of death by the sanhedrim, are to be beaten. They are in all twenty one, and so all deserving of death by the hand of heaven; and they are eighteen, and all negative precepts of the law broken, for which there is neither cutting off nor death by a court of judicature, for these men are to be beaten, and they are one hundred and sixty eight; and all that are to be beaten are found to be two hundred and seven:

that the judge shall cause him to lie down; which seems to be on the floor of the court, since it was to be done immediately, and in the presence of the judge; and the Jews gather (z) from hence, that he was to be beaten neither standing, nor sitting, but bowed; that is, ye shall command or order him to lie down, or to fall upon the ground with his face towards it:

and to be beaten before his face; in the presence of the judge, that the sentence might be properly executed, neither exceeded not diminished; and indeed all the judges were to be present, especially the bench of three; while he was beating, the chief of the judges read the passage in Deuteronomy 28:58; and he that was next to him counted the strokes, and the third at every blow said Smite (a): of the manner of beating or scourging; see Gill on Matthew 10:17,

according to his fault, by a certain number; as his crime and wickedness was more or less heinous, more or fewer stripes were to be laid on him; as ten or twenty, fewer or more, according to the nature of his offence, as Aben Ezra observes, only he might not add above forty; though he says there are some who say that according to his fault the stripes are larger or lesser, but all of them in number forty.

(x) Ib. c. 3. sect. 1. 2, 3, &c. (y) Hilchot Sanhedrin, c. 19. sect. 1.((z) Misn. Maccot, c. 3. sect. 13. (a) Maimon & Bartenora in ib. sect. 14.

And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, {b} and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number.

(b) When the crime does not deserve death.

2. then it shall be, if the guilty man be worthy to be beaten] Lit. a son of strokes.Warning against Injustice. - Deuteronomy 24:16. Fathers were not to be put to death upon (along with) their sons, nor sons upon (along with) their fathers, i.e., they were not to suffer the punishment of death with them for crimes in which they had no share; but every one was to be punished simply for his own sin. This command was important, to prevent an unwarrantable and abusive application of the law which is manifest in the movements of divine justice to the criminal jurisprudence of the lane (Exodus 20:5), since it was a common thing among the heathen nations - e.g., the Persians, Macedonians, and others - for the children and families of criminals to be also put to death (cf. Esther 9:13-14; Herod. iii. 19; Ammian Marcell. xxiii. 6; Curtius, vi. 11, 20, etc.). An example of the carrying out of this law is to be found in 2 Kings 14:6; 2 Chronicles 25:4. In Deuteronomy 24:17, Deuteronomy 24:18, the law against perverting the right of strangers, orphans, and widows, is repeated from Exodus 22:20-21, and Exodus 23:9; and an addition is made, namely, that they were not to take a widow's raiment in pledge (cf. Leviticus 19:33-34).
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