What is the punishment for adultery meted out in the Torah or Tanach? Is that punishment still being practiced in Israel?

And how are the charges of adultery proved before meting out punishment? Please give citations from the Torah on how the charges of adultery are proven in a court.

  • 1
    A) death. B) no. C) nearly impossible.
    – Seth J
    Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 6:12
  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/7739/472 Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 14:10
  • 6
    Just fyi, limiting your questions to Torah or Tanakh does not allow an honest response to these questions. The Oral Law is considered just as important and binding as the Written Law and must be included when talking about actual practice. In addition, there have been many works whose teachings have become canonical (Rashi's commentary, Rambam's Mishneh Torah, and Joseph Karo's Shulchan Aruch are the clearest examples). Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 14:34
  • 2
    So, though you might have different motives for limiting your questions, it might make sense to broaden your them by source but limit them by time. E.g., "What was the punishment for X during the time of the first Jews?" Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 14:38
  • Can anyone confirm that adultery is intercourse between a Jewish man and non-Jewish women, a married woman with anyone but her husband, and a man and a married women (whom he's not married to). To be clear of the exception, a Jewish man (married or not) and an unmarried Jewish woman is okay. Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 16:28

2 Answers 2


If a man and a woman married to a different man have sexual intercourse, they are both liable to the death penalty by strangulation (Leviticus 20:10; Mishna Sanhedrin 11:1).

The death penalty has not been administered since the Sanhedrin left their court room on the Temple mount in the years preceding the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem (nor can it possibly resume until they return there) (Bavli Sanhedrin 41a).

The standard of evidence is two (Deuteronomy 7:6) adult, male, non-related, non-sinning (Exodus 23:1) witnesses who warned the violators immediately prior to their sin that they would be killed by strangulation. The witnesses do not need to see, to use the Talmud's (Makkot 7a) analogy, like a eye-color brush in its tube, but rather to see them acting as lovers do (Rambam Issurei Biah 1:19). However, the Mishna does record (Makkot 1:10), that any court which can't find a way to exempt all cases but at most one in seven (some say seventy) years is a murderous court. Suffice to say, such executions were not at all common.

  • Just to add that the halacha that Sanhedrin can only rule on capital cases from the site of the Temple mount is based on D'varim 17:8.
    – Fred
    Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 16:18
  • In respect to the citation in Mishnah Sanhedrin, be warned that many (most?) editions have the last two perakim swapped.
    – DonielF
    Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 19:45

The penalty for adultery is typically strangulation as cited above by Double AA. The penalty is stoning when the woman is a naarah, a virgin, betrothed, and still in her father's house (Deuteronomy 22:24, Sanhedrin 66b).

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