There are four capital punishments (Skilah, Sreifah, Hereg and Chenek) and there seems to be a hierarchy in terms of severity (heavy to light) but is there any discussion of how the specific crime merited a particular death or why a specific death method is appropriate for a crime? Is the death sentence a natural consequence (which would make it inherently tied in its method to the crime) or a punishment (so the severity matters but the particular method doesn't)?

If the goal is punishment then the penalty is simply death - how can we justify any method of killing that is more or less severe? Shouldn't the end result, death, be the point so we should use a method like we would in shechita, to get to the desired end as quickly (and painlessly) as possible?

  • 1
    There are 2 angles that I'm not following regarding this question: 1) Many of the types of death are enumerated in the Torah. E.g. gathering twigs on Shabbat is death by stoning. 2) Why do you assume that these types of death have a hierarchy? – DanF Jul 25 '19 at 15:41
  • @DanF is there a logic to associating a sin with a particular penalty? The linked question posits " Stoning is more severe than any other form of death penalty" – rosends Jul 25 '19 at 15:43
  • 3
    From your headline, it's not clear if your asking how, hermeneutically, Chazal derived a specific execution-type from the verses, or if you're asking for taama dikra - the reason behind the biblical commandment... I assume it's the latter(?) – Loewian Jul 25 '19 at 16:04
  • 1
    re the "painlessly" point - we do indeed derive from "Love thy fellow as thyself" - bror lo mitha yafa - choose the most humane execution. However, that is within the specific mode prescribed by the Torah. Thus, rather than burning at the stake one liable to burning, the convict is instead forced to swallow molten lead resulting in a quicker, somewhat more humane (and less disfiguring) death. – Loewian Jul 25 '19 at 16:11
  • 1
    @AlBerko I was pointed to this statement by the Maharal (aspaklaria.info/040_MEM/…) which seems to put them in a geometric pattern as if the four penalties dissuaded people from straying in 4 particular "directions" – rosends Jul 25 '19 at 20:30

You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .