OT laws, and stonings


I know in the Old Testament, God commands for people to be put to death, I think by stoning sometimes. This seems to contradict what Jesus said in the NT (Let he who is without sin be the first to cast the stone). It also seems morally wrong, so why would God command this. This seems to be a contradiction. Also, why does OT law ask for forgiveness only to be given three times. I’m sure there are more that I am unaware of, but what am I supposed to make of these apparent contradictions. How can Judaism have been revealed by God if it teaches and taught immoral things?


The jewish view of death penalty is far more complex than what it might seem like if you just read some passages of Leviticus, and was so even in ancient times.
In order to execute a criminal, there has to be at least two witnesses when the crime was committed, before the crime was committed the witnesses must have warned the person who was about to committ it that this act is against the law of God, and the offender must have confirmed that he understood that it was against the law but wanted to do it anyway. As you can understand, this would rarely or never happen. The jewish view is that God does not “like” the death penalty, and the harsh punishments perscribed in the bible are there to point out how important these commandments are.


And what of the citys of refuge? How do those citys integrate with the Law?


Isn’t that why the New Testament and a New Covenant was needed? God in the OT was wrathful and a punisher, in the new He is loving and a protector. Jesus basically was a reboot. Praise Him for that !


This is not correct according to either Judaism or Catholicism. For one thing, G-d does NOT change. Thus, G-d cannot be primarily wrathful in the Hebrew Bible and then merciful and loving in the New Testament. If Jesus is G-d, He is NOT a “reboot”! Further, the G-d of the Hebrew Bible is far from being merely a vengeful G-d. On the contrary, He is infinitely merciful, as a careful reading of the Scriptures reveals.


Yes, I agree. What you say is in keeping with the tenets of Judaism.


God who accepted a prophet’s (Moses) pleas for forgiveness and applied them to the entire nation of Israel seems pretty merciful to me.

Meanwhile the above author is correct, God cannot change because if He did then He wouldn’t be God. A change indicates moving towards something or away from something which would mean that the “thing” God was moving towards or away from is either more or less perfect, thus negating God’s perfection in everything He does which is making Him less than God.

God is constant, always, forever, infinite or in other words unchanging…


Comment which needs your reply – not sure how to present it.

As the history of the Hebrew nation, it seems to me that there could be a few OT laws prescribed by Judaism but not necessarily prescribed by G-d Himself.


An interesting variation of translation might be worth your time, depending on how you look at it.

Numbers 33:55 in the Latin reads:
sin autem nolueritis interficere habitatores terrae qui remanserint erunt vobis quasi clavi in oculis et lanceae in lateribus et adversabuntur vobis in terra habitationis vestrae 56 et quicquid illis facere cogitaram vobis faciam

Look at the English Douay Rheims translation, which is supposedly directly translated from the Latin:
But if you will not kill the inhabitants of the land: they that remain, shall be unto you as nails in your eyes, and spears in your sides, and they shall be your adversaries in the land of your habitation.

Now look at the NABRE as extracted from the vatican.va website:
But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land before you, those whom you allow to remain will become as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they will harass you in the country where you live, (56) and I will treat you as I had intended to treat them.

The strange link between driving out and killing is drawn within in these interpretations if they are to be taken as legitimate and parallel. Depending on how you take this, maybe this has something to do with stoning. Maybe not? :twocents:


You might be thinking of the Oral Law of Judaism, which is believed, especially by Orthodox Jews, to be given by G-d to Moses together with the Written Law (Torah). Later, that Oral Law would become codified as the Talmud (Mishnah) with further commentaries written by rabbis (Gemara) throughout the generations. The Talmud is MUCH more complex than this very brief sketch. But here in the Talmud is where some/many Jews depart from their beliefs in how famous rabbis interpret the Written Law. One further step removed is the Kabbala, which some Orthodox Jews also use to interpret the Law. The reason for all these interpretations appears to be that the Written Law (Torah) is not so clear on several issues, both in the style of writing and the content. For example, there are terms used that the ancients may have understood but less so people of our modern generation. Also, there are explanations omitted which need to be filled in.


This is a complicated subject, but one thing that is valid to say, is that these laws which have stoning as a penalty are meant to deter the action that is prohibited.

And, the Torah was supposed to be re-read every seven years, both as a teaching for young people who were growing up into Judaism and as a reminder for more mature members.

God was the legislator and some leaders of the Israelite people were judges, to pass on the guilt of people who were accused. So, not only were the laws there for the sake of deterrence, but the whole process of judging (and everything that it entailed) was to promote people to meditate on the laws that God intended to make them*** holy*** as a people.

There were things that were totally inconsistent with God’s provision of mercy. Maybe reading Psalm 119 would help to get some insight about how happy people were with the knowledge of God’s law. Contrast that with the attitude we hear expressed sometimes, that there are “too many rules.” No, there’s just enough.


Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to learn.

Somewhere, I saw a brief statement that has a profound truth. While I do not remember the exact words I read, I will never forget its message that the Hebrew Nation remained faithful to One God.


Thats what I get for responding at 6 in the morning! I’m probably wrong…


I see the shift in capital punishment from the OT to the NT as reflecting the evolution of the tribal nomadic people to a kingdom of settled people ie. no longer nomadic. In Leviticus, Moses is trying to managed a bunch of unruly ex-slaves who are prone to turn their backs on Yahweh on any excuse. With God dwelling among them, judgement is swift and just. I doubt anyone would try to pull a fast one with God in their midst. But Moses obviously couldn’t handle the volume and based upon the advice of his father -in-law, he delegated some the administration to leaders of the tribes. We see the start of a rule-of-law system being slowly set up. Initially, the prophets were the go-to person for justice/advice. Eventually, we see prophet kings installed and later segregated functions between kings and prophets. Kings were supposedly to rule justly with support from the prophets. Some kings went pagan, went back to God and vice versa. If God had hair, he would have pulled all his out pleading with them to return and stay loyal to him.

As it transpired, they became a conquered people and over time the prophethood line was broken till Jesus came on the scene. During those prophetless years, the high priest and his machinery was the defacto justice system for the Jews which ran together with the conqueror’s law (Roman eg) being primary. That high priesthood system became corrupted. Hence, Jesus was all out criticising that system for being hypocritical with hearts that are far from God. Without bona fide prophets as a check/balance, the rule of law became rigid and miss the intention of the Law. Jesus wasn’t denying the validity of the Law, he is saying if you are misapplying the law, you should look at yourself first. And he is generous with mercy and compassion too which was lacking in the high priesthood.

Foreknowing the fall of Jerusalem and the end of temple worship, His new covenant replaces the old rituals but retaining the spirit of the old Law.


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