Leviticus 20:2 Commentary - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)
(2) Again, thou shalt say.—Better, And thou shalt say.
That giveth any of his seed unto Molech.—It will be seen that whilst in Lev. 18:21 the law about Molech worship follows the laws of incest, the reverse is the case here, where it precedes those laws.
The people of the land.—That is, the whole community (see Lev. 4:27), who have selected the judges, and in whose name sentence is passed by the judges, are bound to execute the sentence.
Shall stone him with stones.—Lapidation was the first and the severest mode of capital punishment among the Hebrews, the three others being burning, beheading, and strangling. The Jewish canonists have tabulated the following eighteen cases in which death by stoning was inflicted: (1) of a man who has commerce with his own mother (chap 20:11); (2) or with his father’s wife (Lev. 20:12); (3) or with his daughter-in-law (Lev. 20:12); (4) or with a betrothed maiden (Deu. 22:23-24); (5) or with a male (Lev. 20:13); (6) or with a beast (Lev. 20:15); (7) of a woman who was guilty of lying with a beast (Lev. 20:16); (8) the blasphemer (Lev. 24:10-16); (9) the worshipper of idols (Deu. 17:2-5); (10) the one who gives his seed to Molech (Lev. 20:2); (11) the necromancer; (12) the wizard (Lev. 20:27); (13) the false prophet (Deu. 13:6); (14) the enticer to idolatry (Deu. 13:11); (15) the witch (Lev. 20:17); (16) the profaner of the Sabbath (Num. 15:32-36); (17) he that curses his parent (Lev. 20:9); and (18) the rebellious son (Deu. 21:18-21). As the Mosaic legislation only directs that the lapidation is to take place without the precincts of the city (Lev. 24:14; Num. 15:36), and that the witnesses upon whose evidence the criminal has been sentenced to death are to throw the first stone (Deu. 17:7), the administrators of the law during the second Temple decreed the following mode of carrying out the sentence. On his way from the court of justice to the place of execution a herald preceded the criminal, exclaiming, “So-and-so is being led out to be stoned for this and this crime, and so-and-so are the witnesses; if any one has to say anything that might save him, let him come forward and say it.” Within ten yards of the place of execution he was publicly admonished to confess his sins, within four yards he was stripped naked except a slight covering about his loins. After his hands had been bound, he was led upon a scaffolding about twice the height of a man. Here wine mingled with myrrh was mercifully given him to dull the pain of execution, and from here one of the witnesses pushed him down with great violence so that he fell upon his back. If the fall did not kill him, the other witness dashed a great stone on his breast, and if this did not kill him, all the people that stood by covered him with stones. The corpse was then nailed to the cross, and afterwards burnt. Hereupon the relatives visited both the judges and the witnesses to show that they bore no hatred towards them, and that the sentence was just. Not unfrequently, however, the excited multitude resorted to lapidation when they wished to inflict summary justice. This description will explain why the Jews said to Christ that the woman had to be stoned, and why He replied to her accusers that he who is without sin should cast the first stone (Joh. 8:5; Joh. 8:7); why the Jews wanted to stone Christ when they thought He was blaspheming (Joh. 10:31), and why they offered Him wine mingled with myrrh before his crucifixion (Mat. 27:34; Mat. 27:38; Mar. 15:23).
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Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)
Charles John Ellicott (1819 - 1905) was a distinguished English Christian theologian, academic and churchman. He briefly served as Dean of Exeter, then Bishop of the united see of Gloucester and Bristol.
His works include:
- An Old Testament Commentary for English Readers, 1897. (Editor)
- A New Testament Commentary for English Readers, 1878.