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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Scourge

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(usually some form of שׁוּט , shut, to lash; שׁוֹט, shot, Job 5:21; Job 9:23; Isaiah 10:26; Isaiah 28:18, a whip, as elsewhere rendered; שׁיִט, shayit, Isaiah 28:15; שֹׁטֵט , shorert, Joshua 23:13; but in Leveticius 19:20, בִּקֹּרֶת, bikkoreth, chastisement in general; φραγέλλιον, the Lat. flagellum, or whip, John 2:15; so the verb φραγελλόω , Matthew 28:26; Mark 15:15; μαστίξ, a severe kind of whip, Acts 22:24; Hebrews 11:36; tropically, "plague," Mark 3:10, etc.; so in a literal sense the verb μαστιγόω, Matthew 10:17; Matthew 20:19; Matthew 23:34; Mark 10:34; Luke 18:33; John 19:1; Hebrews 12:6; or μαστίζω , Acts 22:25). The punishment of scourging was very common among the Jews. Moses ordains (Deuteronomy 25:1-3) that if there be a controversy between :men, and they come to judgment, then the judges may judge them; mad if the wicked man were found worthy to be beaten, the judge was to cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number of, but not exceeding forty, stripes. There were two ways of giving the lash one with thongs or whips made of rope-ends or straps of leather, the other with rods or twigs. In later times the of- fender was stripped from his shoulders to his middle and tied by his arms to a low pillar, that he might lean forward and the executioner the more easily strike his back. Some maintain that they never gave more nor less than thirty-nine strokes, but that in greater faults they struck with proportionate violence. Others think that when the fault and circumstances required it, they might increase the number of blows. Paul informs us (2 Corinthians 11:24) that at five different times he received thirty-nine stripes from the Jews; which seems to imply that this was a fixed number, not to be exceeded. The apostle also clearly shows that correction with rods was different from that with a whip, for he says, "Thrice was I beaten with rods." The rabbins affirm that punishment by the scourge was not ignominious, and that it could not be objected as a disgrace to those who had suffered it. They maintain, too, that no Israelite. not even the king or the high-priest, was exempt from this law. This must be understood, however, of the whipping inflicted in their synagogues, which was rather a legal and particular penalty than a public and shameful correction. Philo, speaking of the manner in Which Flaccus treated the Jews of Alexandria, says he made them suffer the punishment of the whip, which, he remarks, is not less insupportable to a free man than death itself. Our Saviour, speaking of the pains and ignominy of his passion, commonly puts his scourging in the second place (Matthew 20:19; Mark 10:34; Luke 28:32). The punishment of scourging was specially prescribed by the law in the case of a betrothed bondwoman guilty of unchastity, and perhaps in the case of both the guilty persons (Leviticus 19:20). Women were subject to scourging in Egypt, as they still are by the law of the Koran for incontinence (Sale, Koran, ch. 4, note, and 24; Lane, Modern Egypt, 1, 147; Wilkinson, Ancient Egypt. abridg, 2:211). The instrument of punishment in ancient Egypt, as it is also in modern times generally in the East, was usually the stick, applied to the soles of the feet bastinado (id. loc. cit.; Chardin, 6:114; Lane, Modern Egypt, 1:146). (See BASTINADO).

A more severe scourge is possibly implied in the term "scorpions," whips armed with pointed halls of lead, the "horribile flagellum" of Horace, though it is more probably merely a vivid figure. Under the Roman method the culprit was stripped, stretched with cords or thongs on a frame (divaricatio), and beaten with rods. After the Porcian law (B.C. 300), Roman citizens were exempted from scourging, but slaves and foreigners were liable to be beaten, even to death. This infliction, as a method of extorting a confession, was not unusual among the Romans, and was sometimes practiced by the Jews themselves. The same punishment was also occasionally inflicted for ecclesiastical offences (Matthew 10:17; Acts 26:11), and sometimes as an instant mode of chastisement (John 2:15). See Gesenius, Thesaur. p. 1062; Isidore, Orig. 5:27; Horace, 1 Sat. 2:41; 3:119; Proverbs 26:3; Acts 16:22, and Grotius, ad loc. 22:24, 25; 1 Kings 12:11; Cicero, 1 Kings 12:3; 1 Kings 12:28-29; Pro Rub. 4; Liv. 10:9; Sallust, Cat. 51; and the monographs of Krumb-holz, De Serratore Fustibus Caeso (in the Bibl. Brem. 8:35 sq.); Sagittarius, De Flagellatione Christi (Jen. 1674); Strauch, De Ritu apud Judaeos (Vi-teb. 1668); Hilpert, id. (Helmst. 1652); Seypel, De Ritu Flagellandi apud Romanos (Viteb. 1668); Schoff, De Flagellatione Apostolorum (Viteb. 1683). (See PUNISHMENT); (See WHIP).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Scourge'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/s/scourge.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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