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Scourging / Flogging / Beating / Whipping


The Jews sentenced and flogged the early Christians within the walls of the synagogues. Paul confessed to the Risen Lord how he assaulted the Christians prior to his conversion: “From synagogue to synagogue I used to imprison and beat those who believed in you” (Acts 22:19). “Many times, in synagogue after synagogue, I punished them in an attempt to force them to blaspheme; I was so enraged against them that I pursued them even to foreign cities” (Acts 26:11). After his conversion, Paul received forty lashes minus one five times at the hands of the Jews” (1 Cor 11:24).

The Sanhedrin sentenced the apostles to be flogged and asked them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus. The post-punishment reaction of the apostles was strange: “They left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonour for the sake of the name. And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Messiah, Jesus” (Acts 5:41-42).

The usual number of whippings was forty on the back of the body, with the criminal lying down on the floor in the judge’s presence (Deut 25:1-3). Later, the executors tied the criminal to a low post and whipped him on the back. A rod was the initial instrument used for punishment. Later, the Jews attached three thongs or lashes to the rod and whipped thirteen times, thus numbering 39 lashes. In order to inflict more pain, they even fastened sharp pieces of iron or lead in the thongs known as scorpions (1 Kgs 12:11).


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