From what I have learned, different sins which are punished via the court system deserve different types of death penalties. In Parshat Yitro (19:12-13), the text indicates that one who touches the mountain is liable to a death penalty:

וְהִגְבַּלְתָּ אֶת־הָעָם סָבִיב לֵאמֹר הִשָּׁמְרוּ לָכֶם עֲלוֹת בָּהָר וּנְגֹעַ בְּקָצֵהוּ כָּל־הַנֹּגֵעַ בָּהָר מוֹת יוּמָת׃
לֹא־תִגַּע בּוֹ יָד כִּי־סָקוֹל יִסָּקֵל אוֹ־יָרֹה יִיָּרֶה אִם־בְּהֵמָה אִם־אִישׁ לֹא יִחְיֶה בִּמְשֹׁךְ הַיֹּבֵל הֵמָּה יַעֲלוּ בָהָר׃
You shall set bounds for the people round about, saying, ‘Beware of going up the mountain or touching the border of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death:
no hand shall touch it, but he shall be either stoned or shot; beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, they may go up on the mountain.”

(it uses the language of מ֥וֹת יוּמָֽת) and it lists two different options according to those who see the "אוֹ" is "or" and not "if"* . Do the two options indicate that there were 2 different crimes/transgressions committed or is this simply because pre-matan Torah, any death penalty would do the trick? Might it then also mean that pre-matan Torah, "mot yumat" does not invoke a full judicial process?

  • the Da'at Z'keinim explores this here

או ירה יירה, “or shot through with arrows;” according to our author as distinct from Ibn Ezra and Rashbam, the meaning of the word או here is not “or,” but “if” is that the guilty party must be thrown from a height after having been pushed. Alternately, “if throwing the victim down from a height has not killed him he must be shot subsequently to insure that he does not have to die a slow death.

  • First I disagree with the premise that this is a commandment passed on Jewish court, to begin with. Rambam explicitly teaches that one-time edicts don't count, therefore IMHO, they are not passed to a court.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 10:24
  • For me it looks merely educational, to scare people off, just like you tell your kids "Don't put your fingers in the socket, it will kill you!!! it will burn you alive!!! it will shock you to death!!!"
    – Al Berko
    Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 10:30
  • 5
    @AlBerko Rambam teaches that one time edicts don't count towards the 613. That doesn't mean anything about the obligation or enforcement at the time they were relevant. It's just a bookkeeping thing.
    – Heshy
    Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 12:52
  • סנהדרין כה עמוד א תנו רבנן מניין שבדחייה ת"ל (שמות יט, יג) ירה ומנין שבסקילה ת"ל סקל ומנין שבסקילה ובדחייה ת"ל (שמות יט, יג) סקל יסקל או ירה יירה ומנין דשאם מת בדחייה יצא תלמוד לומר או ירה יירה מניין שאף לדורות כן
    – kouty
    Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 14:11
  • @Heshy I agree that this does not necessarily mean those are not judgeable, but I would assume that for one-time Mitzvos Moses would not pass the details down to the judges.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 14:34

1 Answer 1


In this case the latter seems to be true. See Ibn Ezra ad loc. who writes

NO HAND SHALL TOUCH HIM. The word bo (him) refers to the person who touches the mount. It means that no one shall enter after him to grab him. On the contrary, those who see him shall immediately stone him from where they are standing or shall shoot him through with arrows if he be distant.

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