(as a punishment), a mark of infamy inflicted on the dead bodies of criminals ( Deuteronomy 21:23 ) rather than our modern mode of punishment. Criminals were first strangled and then hanged ( Numbers 25:4 ; Deuteronomy 21:22 ). (See 2 Samuel 21:6 for the practice of the Gibeonites.)
Hanging (as a curtain).
Generally, where the word is used in connection with punishments, it appears to have reference to the hanging of the corpse after execution. We find but two clear instances of death by hanging, i.e. strangulation--those of Ahithophel and Judas ((2 Samuel 17:23; Matthew 27:5), and both these were eases of suicide, not of execution. The foregoing Hebrew word is clearly used for "hanging" as a mode of execution in Esther 5:14; 6:4; 7:9; 8:7; 9:13,14,25; but probably the "gallows" or "tree" ('ets) was a stake for the purpose of impaling the victim. It could be lowered for this purpose, then raised "fifty cubits high" to arrest the public gaze. The Greek word used in Matthew 27:5 is apagchesthai, "to strangle oneself." See HDB, article "Hanging," for an exhaustive discussion.
Frank E. Hirsch
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