Friday, March 07, 2014

Deuteronomy 24-27 Number of stripes for the condemned

From Deuteronomy 24-27

Q. How many stripes were given to criminals as punishment?


Dt 24.1-5 Law; Family, Instructions for divorce and remarriage
Dt 24.6-25.4 Law; Misc, various instructions concerning theft, skin diseases, finances, consideration for the poor and judgement
Dt 25.5-10 Law; Family, Continuing the family line of a deceased brother
Dt 25.11-16 Law; Misc, Instructions about grabbing testicles and measuring things.
Dt 25.17-19 Story; Remember Amalek and destroy them for what they did
Dt 26.1-15 Story; Instructions for Israel to remember the LORD's doings and pledge themselves on entering the promised land.
Dt 26.16-19 Story; Summary statement for all the laws so far. Blessings for obedience.
Dt 27.1-8 Story; Instructions to build an altar and write the commands on it on entering
Dt 27.9-26 Story; Levites in the presence of Israel are to pronounce curses on those who break the commands given.

Passage and Comments

The Jewish law included various rules for dealing with law breakers. Like our system they had judges who would hear people cases, make a decision and pronounce their judgment.
25 “If there is a dispute between men and they come into court and the judges decide between them, acquitting the innocent and condemning the guilty, 2 then if the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence with a number of stripes in proportion to his offense. 3 Forty stripes may be given him, but not more, lest, if one should go on to beat him with more stripes than these, your brother be degraded in your sight. (Dt 25.1-3)
This rule specifies the punishment given to a person who is found guilty. Not all punishments result in death. This is given as a punishment, but like our system, some of the outcomes are given to discipline as well. So the offender will not commit the crime again.

Here we see the punishment is proportional, but limited for the benefit of the guilty. The limit is fourth stripes, so he wouldn't be degraded.

Story of Jesus

Jesus was not whipped by Jews but by Roman soldiers. The Roman scourge would have been used. The Roman scourge had three leather ropes attached to a wood handle. Each length of rope would measure about three feet and on each length there would be a number of bone pieces attached at intervals of every three inches. The bone had sharp edges and would cut deeply. Skin would definitely be broken and flesh torn. Occasionally metal hooks were sometimes added to the ends of each length of rope. These hooks were designed to dig into and gouge-out flesh.

When someone was whipped, heavy bleeding would result and unless the strikes were limited, a man would die from blood loss and physical trauma. As some may have seen in the movie, ‘The Passion of the Christ’, Jesus would have been disfigured after He received His stripes. The spot where He was beaten would have been slick with His blood.

There is no way I could conceive Jesus punishment as degrading, knowing he did so for me and for you. He willingly submitted for the love of His father and for us. The apostle Peter said,
24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Pet 2.24; Isa 53.5)
Peter said Jesus bore our sins so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. Let's do that in honour of what he has done for us.