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List of capital crimes in the Torah


List of capital crimes in the Torah

According to the Torah or Law of Moses, these are the offenses which may merit the death penalty in a Jewish Beth din court of 23 judges.


  • Religious practices 1
  • Sexual practices 2
  • Miscellaneous 3
  • See also 4
  • External links 5
  • Notes/References 6

Religious practices

  • Sacrificing to gods other than YHWH[1][2]
  • Passing children through the fire to/as [MLK]. The triconsonantal root MLK has traditionally been translated as if it were the name of an otherwise unattested deity - Moloch - but may just describe a type of sacrifice. It is generally thought that this refers to a form of human sacrifice similar to that of which the Phoenicians (particularly in Carthage) have historically been widely accused[3] However, the Septuagint reads "You shall not give your seed to serve a ruler", suggesting that the root M-L-K should be more properly rendered as 'king/ruler'.
  • Worshiping Baal Peor[4]
  • False prophecy[5][6][7]
  • Necromancy, according to the Masoretic Text; specifically those who are masters over ghosts (Hebrew: Ba'al ob) and those who gain information from the dead (Hebrew: Yidde'oni).[8] The Septuagint instead condemns gastromancy (Greek: eggastrimuthos), and enchantment (Greek: epaoidos).[9]
  • According to the Masoretic Text, practitioners of kashaph[10] - incanting maleficium. According to the Septuagint version of the same passages, pharmakeia[11] - poisoners. Historically this passage has been translated into English using vague terminology, condemning witchcraft in general.[12]
  • Blasphemy[13]
  • Sabbath breaking[14][15][16]

Sexual practices

  • Rape by a man of a betrothed woman in the countryside[17]
  • Being either participant in consensual sexual activity, in which a betrothed woman consensually loses her virginity to a man[18]
  • Adultery with a married woman.[19]
  • Marrying one's wife's mother[20]
  • Certain forms of incest, namely if it involves the father's wife or a daughter-in-law.[21] Other forms of incest receive lesser punishment; sexual activity with a sister/stepsister is given excommunication for a punishment;[22] if it involves a brother's wife or an uncle's wife it is just cursed[23] and sexual activity with an aunt that is a blood relation is merely criticized.[24]
  • Male on male sexual intercourse. Certain sexual activities between males (Hebrew: zakhar) involving what the Masoretic Text literally terms lie lyings (of a) woman (Hebrew: tishkav mishkvei ishah),[25][26] and the Septuagint literally terms beds [verb] the woman's/wife's bed (Greek: koimethese koiten gynaikos);[27][28] the gender of the target of the command is commonly understood to be male, but not explicitly stated. The correct translation and interpretation of this passage, and its implications for Homosexuality in Judaism and Homosexuality in Christianity, are controversial. Translations into English are wide-ranging.[29][30]
  • Bestiality[31][32]
  • Prostitution by the daughter of a priest[33]


See also

External links

  • Jewish Encyclopedia: Capital Punishment
  • Catholic Encyclopedia: Capital Punishment


  1. ^ Exodus 22:20
  2. ^ Leviticus 27:29
  3. ^ Leviticus 20:1-5
  4. ^ Numbers 25:1-9
  5. ^ Deuteronomy 13:1-10
  6. ^ Deuteronomy 17:2-7
  7. ^ Deuteronomy 18:20-22
  8. ^ Leviticus 20:27
  9. ^ Leviticus 20:27 (LXX)
  10. ^ Exodus 22:18
  11. ^ Exodus 22:17 (LXX); note that for technical reasons, verse numbering in the Septuagint doesn't correspond exactly with the masoretic text
  12. ^ Exodus 22:18 (numbered as verse 17 in the NAB, which follows Septuagint numbering)
  13. ^ Leviticus 24:10-16
  14. ^ Exodus 31:14
  15. ^ Exodus 35:2
  16. ^ Numbers 15:32-36
  17. ^ Deuteronomy 22:25-27
  18. ^ Deuteronomy 22:23-24
  19. ^ Leviticus 20:10
  20. ^ Leviticus 20:14
  21. ^ Leviticus 20:11-12
  22. ^ Leviticus 20:17
  23. ^ Leviticus 20:20-21
  24. ^ Leviticus 20:19
  25. ^ Leviticus 20:13
  26. ^ Leviticus 18:22
  27. ^ Leviticus 18:22 (LXX)
  28. ^ Leviticus 20:13 (LXX)
  29. ^ Leviticus 20:13
  30. ^ Leviticus 18:22
  31. ^ Exodus 22:19
  32. ^ Leviticus 20:15-16
  33. ^ Leviticus 21:9
  34. ^ Genesis 9:6
  35. ^ Exodus 21:12-14
  36. ^ Leviticus 24:17-23
  37. ^ Numbers 35:9-34
  38. ^ Exodus 21:15
  39. ^ Exodus 21:17
  40. ^ Leviticus 20:9
  41. ^ Deuteronomy 21:18-21
  42. ^ Exodus 21:16
  43. ^ Deuteronomy 24:7
  44. ^ Deuteronomy 17:8-13
  45. ^ Deuteronomy 19:15-21
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