And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten
There were four kinds of death criminals were put to by the Jews, stoning, strangling, burning, and slaying with the sword; and such crimes not as severe as these were punished with beating or scourging; and who they were that were worthy to be beaten is at large set forth in the Misnic treatise called Maccoth F24, or "stripes", which are too many to be transcribed. Maimonides says F25, that all negative precepts in the law, for the breach of which men are guilty of cutting off, but not of death by the sanhedrim, are to be beaten. They are in all twenty one, and so all deserving of death by the hand of heaven; and they are eighteen, and all negative precepts of the law broken, for which there is neither cutting off nor death by a court of judicature, for these men are to be beaten, and they are one hundred and sixty eight; and all that are to be beaten are found to be two hundred and seven;
that the judge shall cause him to lie down;
which seems to be on the floor of the court, since it was to be done immediately, and in the presence of the judge; and the Jews gather F26 from hence, that he was to be beaten neither standing, nor sitting, but bowed; that is, ye shall command or order him to lie down, or to fall upon the ground with his face towards it:
and to be beaten before his face;
in the presence of the judge, that the sentence might be properly executed, neither exceeded not diminished; and indeed all the judges were to be present, especially the bench of three; while he was beating, the chief of the judges read the passage in ( Deuteronomy 28:58 ) ; and he that was next to him counted the strokes, and the third at every blow said Smite F1: of the manner of beating or scourging, (See Gill on Matthew 10:17);
according to his fault, by a certain number;
as his crime and wickedness was more or less heinous, more or fewer stripes were to be laid on him; as ten or twenty, fewer or more, according to the nature of his offence, as Aben Ezra observes, only he might not add above forty; though he says there are some who say that according to his fault the stripes are larger or lesser, but all of them in number forty.
F24 Ib. c. 3. sect. 1. 2, 3
F25 Hilchot Sanhedrin, c. 19. sect. 1.
F26 Misn. Maccot, c. 3. sect. 13.
F1 Maimon & Bartenora in ib. sect. 14.