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Deuteronomy 25:3

    Deuteronomy 25:3 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then your brother should seem vile to you.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    Forty stripes he may give him, he shall not exceed; lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    He may be given forty blows, not more; for if more are given, your brother may be shamed before you.

    Webster's Revision

    Forty stripes he may give him, he shall not exceed; lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee.

    World English Bible

    Forty stripes he may give him, he shall not exceed; lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then your brother should seem vile to you.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    Forty stripes he may give him, he shall not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee.

    Clarke's Commentary on Deuteronomy 25:3

    Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed - According to God's institution a criminal may receive forty stripes; not one more! But is the institution from above or not, that for any offense sentences a man to receive three hundred, yea, a thousand stripes? What horrible brutality is this! and what a reproach to human nature, and to the nation in which such shocking barbarities are exercised and tolerated! Most of the inhabitants of Great Britain have heard of Lord Macartney's embassy to the emperor of China, and they have also heard of its complete failure; but they have not heard the cause. It appears to have been partly occasioned by the following circumstance: A soldier had been convicted of some petty traffic with one of the natives, and he was sentenced by a court-martial to receive sixty lashes! Hear my author: -

    "The soldiers were drawn up in form in the outer court of the place where we resided; and the poor culprit, being fastened to one of the pillars of the great portico, received his punishment without mitigation. The abhorrence excited in the breasts of the Chinese at this cruel conduct, as it appeared to them, was demonstrably proved by their words and looks. They expressed their astonishment that a people professing the mildest, the most benevolent religion on earth, as they wished to have it believed, could be guilty of such flagrant inattention to its merciful dictates. One of the principal Mandarins, who knew a little English, expressed the general sentiment, Englishmen too much cruel, too much bad." - Accurate account of Lord Macartney's Embassy to China, by an attendant on the embassy, 12mo., 1797, p. 88.

    The following is Mr. Ainsworth's note on this verse: "This number forty the Scripture uses sundry times in cases of humiliation, affliction, and punishment. As Moses twice humbled himself in fasting and prayer forty days and forty nights, Deuteronomy 9:9, Deuteronomy 9:18. Elijah fasted forty days, 1 Kings 19:8; and our Savior, Matthew 4:2. Forty years Israel was afflicted in the wilderness for their sins, Numbers 14:33, Numbers 14:34. And forty years Egypt was desolate for treacherous dealing with Israel, Ezekiel 29:11-13. Forty days every woman was in purification for her uncleanness for a man-child that she bare, and twice forty days for a woman-child, Leviticus 12:4, Leviticus 12:5. Forty days and forty nights it rained at Noah's flood, Genesis 7:12. Forty days did Ezekiel bear the iniquity of the house of Judah, Ezekiel 4:6. Jonah preached, Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown, Jonah 3:4. Forty years' space the Canaanites had to repent after Israel came out of Egypt, and wandered so many years in the wilderness, Numbers 14:33. And thrice forty years the old world had Noah preaching unto them repentance, Genesis 6:3. It was forty days ere Christ ascended into heaven after his resurrection, Acts 1:3, Acts 1:9. And forty years' space he gave unto the Jews, from the time that they killed him, before he destroyed their city and temple by the Romans.

    "By the Hebrews this law is expounded thus: How many stripes do they beat (an offender) with? With forty, lacking one: as it is written, (Deuteronomy 25:2, Deuteronomy 25:3), by number forty, that is, the number which is next to forty, Talmud Bab, in Maccoth, chap. 3. This their understanding is very ancient, for so they practiced in the apostles' days; as Paul testified: Of the Jews five times received I forty (stripes) save one; 2 Corinthians 11:24. But the reason which they give is not solid; as when they say, If it had been written Forty In Number, I would say it were full forty; but being written In Number Forty, it means the number which reckons forty next after it, that is, thirty-nine. By this exposition they confound the verses and take away the distinction. I rather think this custom was taken up by reason of the manner of their beating forespoken of, which was with a scourge that had three cords, so that every stroke was counted for three stripes, and then they could not give even forty, but either thirty-nine or forty-two, which was above the number set of God. And hereof they write thus: When they judge (or condemn) a sinner to so many (stripes) as he can bear, they judge not but by strokes that are fit to be trebled [that is, to give three stripes to one stroke, by reason of the three cords]. If they judge that he can bear twenty, they do not say he shall be beaten with one and twenty, to the end that they may treble the stripes, but they give him eighteen - Maimon in Sanhedrin, chap. xvii., sec. 2. Thus he that was able to bear twenty stripes, had but eighteen: the executioner smote him but six times, for if he had smitten him the seventh they were counted one and twenty stripes, which was above the number adjudged: so he that was adjudged to forty was smitten thirteen times, which being counted one for three, make thirty-nine. And so R. Bechaios, writing hereof, says, The strokes are trebled; that is, every one is three, and three times thirteen are nine and thirty."

    Thy brother be vile, or be contemptible - By this God teaches us to hate and despise the sin, not the sinner, who is by this chastisement to be amended; as the power which the Lord hath given is to edification, not to destruction, 2 Corinthians 13:10.

    Barnes' Notes on Deuteronomy 25:3

    The Jews to keep within the letter of the law fixed 39 stripes as the maximum (compare the marginal reference.). Forty signifies the full measure of judgment (compare Genesis 7:12; Numbers 14:33-34); but the son of Israel was not to be lashed like a slave at the mercy of another. The judge was always to be present to see that the Law in this particular was not overpassed.

    Wesley's Notes on Deuteronomy 25:3

    25:3 Forty stripes - It seems not superstition, but prudent caution, when the Jews would not exceed thirty - nine stripes, lest through mistake or forgetfulness they should go beyond their bounds, which they were commanded to keep. Should seem vile - Should be made contemptible to his brethren, either by this cruel usage of him, as if he were a brute beast: or by the deformity or infirmity of body which excessive beating might produce.