The Old Testament Death Penalty



Part One - The Death Penalty in the Old Testament


Prior to the Mosaic Law, God gave the death penalty in the case of Murder and this was given to Noah as he left the ark after the flood (Gen. 9:5-6). This was given to all the generations of Moses and was to be followed by Jew and Gentile a like. The way it was to be administered is publicly as a warning to all who may have thoughts of taking the life of another. The fact that the death penalty is not made public today is probably the main reason it has lost its power to prevent crime. Likewise, in Romans 13:1-7, God gives the authority to put criminals to death to the governing bodies of a nation. Thus God has not only given man the authority to practice the death penalty for certain crimes, but He has also commanded it particularly for the crime of murder.

Under the Law of Moses, God added other crimes in which the death penalty was to be carried out. This law it must be remembered was given only to the Jewish nation and was fulfilled and ended in the Age of Grace which began at the time of Pentecost and the beginning of the Church Age. For the help of the Bible student, I have recorded all of the death penalty crimes I could find listed under the Mosaic law.



1) Striking a Parent (Ex. 21:15)

2) Kidnapping (Ex. 21:16)

3) Cursing a Parent (Ex. 21:17)

4) Killing an Unborn Child (Ex. 21:22-23)

5) Negligence (Ex. 21:29)

6) Not keeping the Sabbath (Ex. 31:14)

7) Adutery (Lev. 20:10)

8) Incest (Lev. 20:11-12)

9) Homosexuality (Lev. 20:13)

10) Marrying a Mother and her Daughter (Lev. 20:14)

11) Sex with an Animal (Lev. 20:15-16)

12) Witchcraft/Medium(Lev. 20:27)

13) Blasphemy (Lev. 24:16)

14) Murder (Lev. 24:21; Num. 13:5-9)

15) Heresy (Duet. 13:5-9)

16) Idolatry (Deut. 17:2-7)

17) Disobedient Child (Deut. 21:20-21)

18) Rape (Deut. 24)