List of capital crimes in the Torah

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

According to the Torah or Law of Moses, these are some of the offenses which may merit the death penalty.

Religious practices

  • Sacrificing to gods other than YHWH[1][2]
  • Passing children through the fire to/as [MLK]. The triconsonantal root MLK has traditionally been translated as if it were the name of an otherwise unattested deity – Moloch – but may just describe a type of sacrifice. It is generally thought that this refers to a form of human sacrifice similar to that of which the Phoenicians (particularly in Carthage) have historically been widely accused[3] However, the Septuagint reads "You shall not give your seed to serve a ruler", suggesting that the root M-L-K should be more properly rendered as 'king/ruler'. This was not a capital crime but resulted in the offenders being cut off from their people; that is, cast out.
  • Worshipping Baal Peor.[4] The death penalty here was specifically impaling.
  • False prophecy[5][6][7]
  • Necromancy, according to the Masoretic Text; specifically those who are masters over ghosts (Hebrew: Ba'al ob) and those who gain information from the dead (Hebrew: Yidde'oni).[8] The Septuagint instead condemns gastromancy (Greek: eggastrimuthos), and enchantment (Greek: epaoidos).[9]
  • According to the Masoretic Text, practitioners of kashaph[10]incanting maleficium. According to the Septuagint version of the same passages, pharmakeia[11]poisoners; drug users for the purposes of hallucinogenic experiences.[citation needed] Historically this passage has been translated into English using vague terminology, condemning witchcraft in general.[12]
  • Blasphemy[13]
  • Sabbath breaking[14][15][16]
  • A foreigner (outsider) who gets close to the tabernacle[17]

Sexual practices

  • Rape by a man of a betrothed woman in the countryside[18]
  • Being either participant in consensual sexual activity, in which a betrothed woman consensually loses her virginity to another man[19]
  • Adultery with a married woman.[20] Both parties are to die.
  • Loss of virginity by a woman prior to marriage, to someone other than her husband while falsely representing herself as a virgin before the marriage ceremony[21]
  • Marrying one's wife's mother.[22] This was in addition to one's wife; death is by burning.
  • Certain forms of incest, namely if it involves the father's wife or a daughter-in-law.[23] Other forms of incest receive lesser punishment; sexual activity with a sister/stepsister is given excommunication for a punishment;[24] if it involves a brother's wife or an uncle's wife it is just cursed[25] and sexual activity with an aunt that is a blood relation is merely criticised.[26]
  • Male on male sexual intercourse.[27] Certain sexual activities between males (Hebrew: zakhar) involving what the Masoretic Text literally terms lie lyings (of a) woman (Hebrew: tishkav mishkvei ishah),[28][29] and the Septuagint literally terms beds [verb] the woman's/wife's bed (Greek: koimethese koiten gynaikos);[30][31] the gender of the target of the command is commonly understood to be male, but not explicitly stated. The correct translation and interpretation of this passage, and its implications for homosexuality in Judaism and homosexuality in Christianity, are not controversial. Translations into English are wide-ranging.[32][33]
  • Bestiality.[34][35] Both the human and the animal are to die.
  • Prostitution by the daughter of a priest[36]


  • Murder, believed by Jews to apply to non-Jews as well.[37][38][39][40] Sanctuary at the altar was not permitted.
  • Negligent homicide, specifically by ox-goring, if already warned about the behavior of the ox. Death punishment is no longer required if the interested party requires payment of a fee. The death penalty does not apply to ox-goring of slaves, though the ox is to be executed in all cases.[41]

Parental discipline



  • Kidnapping.[49][50] It refers to the punishment for the kidnappers regardless of whether they have sold or still hold on to the person they have kidnapped.

See also


  1. ^ Exodus 22:20
  2. ^ Leviticus 27:29
  3. ^ Leviticus 20:1–5
  4. ^ Numbers 25:1–9
  5. ^ Deuteronomy 13:1–10
  6. ^ Deuteronomy 17:2–7
  7. ^ Deuteronomy 18:20–22
  8. ^ Leviticus 20:27
  9. ^ Leviticus 20:27 (LXX)
  10. ^ Exodus 22:18
  11. ^ Exodus 22:17 (LXX); note that for technical reasons, verse numbering in the Septuagint doesn't correspond exactly with the masoretic text
  12. ^ Exodus 22:18 (numbered as verse 17 in the NAB, which follows Septuagint numbering)
  13. ^ Leviticus 24:10–16
  14. ^ Exodus 31:14
  15. ^ Exodus 35:2
  16. ^ Numbers 15:32–36
  17. ^ Numbers 1:51, Numbers 3:10 and Numbers 3:38
  18. ^ Deuteronomy 22:25–27
  19. ^ Deuteronomy 22:23–24
  20. ^ Leviticus 20:10
  21. ^ Deuteronomy 22:13–21
  22. ^ Leviticus 20:14
  23. ^ Leviticus 20:11–12
  24. ^ Leviticus 20:17
  25. ^ Leviticus 20:20–21
  26. ^ Leviticus 20:19
  27. ^ Coogan, Michael (October 2010). "4. Thou Shalt Not: Forbidden Sexual Relationships in the Bible". God and Sex: What the Bible Really Says (1st ed.). New York, Boston: Twelve. Hachette Book Group. pp. 116–117, 140. ISBN 978-0-446-54525-9. OCLC 505927356. Retrieved May 5, 2011. It is arbitrary to assert on the basis of biblical authority that some of them, such as sex between men, are intrinsically wrong, whereas others, such as wearing clothing made from wool and linen, are not: the biblical writers themselves make no such distinction. Few who argue that homosexuality is wrong – to say nothing about incest, adultery and bestiality – because the Bible says so, would enforce the death penalty for these offences as the Bible also commands.
  28. ^ Leviticus 20:13
  29. ^ Leviticus 18:22
  30. ^ Leviticus 18:22 (LXX)
  31. ^ Leviticus 20:13 (LXX)
  32. ^ Leviticus 20:13
  33. ^ Leviticus 18:22
  34. ^ Exodus 22:19
  35. ^ Leviticus 20:15–16
  36. ^ Leviticus 21:9
  37. ^ Genesis 9:6
  38. ^ Exodus 21:12–14
  39. ^ Leviticus 24:17–23
  40. ^ Numbers 35:9–34
  41. ^ Exodus 21:28–32
  42. ^ Exodus 21:15
  43. ^ Exodus 21:17
  44. ^ Leviticus 20:9
  45. ^ Deuteronomy 21:18–21
  46. ^ Ehrman, Bart (2009). "Eight. Is faith possible?". Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them). HarperCollins e-books. p. 281. ISBN 978-0061173943. OCLC 317877487. My view is that everyone already picks and chooses what they want to accept in the Bible.6 The most egregious instances of this can be found among people who claim not to be picking and choosing. I have a young friend whose evangelical parents were upset because she wanted to get a tattoo, since the Bible, after all, condemns tattoos. In the same book, Leviticus, the Bible also condemns wearing clothing made of two different kinds of fabric and eating pork. And it indicates that children who disobey their parents are to be stoned to death. Why insist on the biblical teaching about tattoos but not about dress shirts, pork chops, and stoning?
  47. ^ Deuteronomy 17:8–13
  48. ^ Deuteronomy 19:15–21
  49. ^ Exodus 21:16
  50. ^ Deuteronomy 24:7

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