What does the Bible say about stoning?

The Bible’s Perspective on Stoning: A Biblical Discussion of the Practice of Stoning in the Bible

What does the Bible say about stoning? The Bible explicitly condemns stoning in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:13). Stoning is also not mentioned in the Torah, which was given to Moses. The Bible has a lot to say about stoning. In the Old Testament, the practice of stoning was prescribed by God as a form of punishment for a variety of offenses, such as adultery, idolatry, blasphemy, and rebelliousness. In the New Testament, Jesus was himself put to death by stoning.

So what does the Bible say about stoning? First and foremost, the Bible is clear that stoning is a form of capital punishment that is to be carried out by the state. In the Old Testament, the punishment of stoning was typically carried out by the community as a whole. The offender was brought to the center of the community, and everyone who wished to participate in the stoning would throw a stone at the offender. The offender was not allowed to defend themselves, and the punishment was often fatal. In the New Testament, we see that Jesus was put to death by stoning.

The Bible is clear that this was not an act of vigilante justice, but was carried out according to the legal process of the day. Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin, and they determined that he deserved to be put to death. He was then turned over to the Roman authorities, who carried out the sentence.

It is not mentioned in the New Testament either, but some scholars believe that Jesus disapproves of it.

“You shall not stone anyone to death.” – Exodus 20:13

Introduction: What is stoning?

The stoning of Saint Stephen (1863) by Gabriel-Jules Thomas

It is a very old practice with evidence of its existence dating back to the times of the Bible. “stoning” is also known as lapidation too. Stoning is practiced by different religions for different purposes.

The religion that practices stoning the most, Christianity, considers it to be a form of capital punishment for those who have committed crimes that are punishable by death.

Some sins that resulted in stoning in the Old Testament were murder (24:17), idolatry (Deuteronomy 17:2–5), and approaching God’s presence at Mount Sinai. (Exodus 19:12–13), practicing necromancy or the occult (Leviticus 20:27), and blaspheming the name of the Lord (Leviticus 24:16). Stoning was probably the punishment for various types of sexual sin, as well (Deuteronomy 22:24); the related passages in Leviticus 20 do not specify the method of execution, only that the guilty party was to be “put to death.”

The Bible defines stoning as being “thrown from a height so that they are dashed to pieces on the ground”.

The act of stoning was common practice in many ancient societies, including biblical times. According to one source, the Bible defines stoning as being “thrown from a height so that they are dashed to pieces on the ground.” The most common reasons for a person to be executed by stoning were blasphemy, idolatry, and adultery.

The Stoning of an Adulteress, illustration to a manuscript of 1001 Nights by Abu’l Hasan Ghaffari or his atelier. Tehran, 1853–1857.

Exodus 21 – The Law of Jealousy – What Does the Bible Say about Stoning?

Exodus 21 was written in the year 1440 BC when Moses was the leader of the Israelites. It is one of the oldest and most important books in all of scripture. This chapter has some laws that are no longer followed today, but one law that is still followed is stoning.

The Law of Jealousy states that if a wife commits adultery, both she and her lover should be stoned to death. This law is still part of Jewish law today because it states that no punishment for adultery should be less than death by stoning. And while this law may not be part of Christian law, many Christians trace its inspiration back to Moses.

Bible say about stoning

The Sabbath-breaker Stoned. Artistic impression of episode narrated in Numbers 15. James Tissot c.1900

Leviticus 20 – Punishment for Sin – Where does it say about Hitting Someone on the Head with a Stone?

The book of Leviticus outlines a number of punishments for different sins. One of these is hitting someone on the head with a stone.

This punishment is prescribed for a number of different offenses, including:

  • Cursing one’s parents
  • Committing adultery
  • Having sexual relations with an animal

The book of Leviticus does not specifically state that hitting someone on the head with a stone is the only punishment for these offenses. It is possible that other punishments could be prescribed for these offenses as well.

In Leviticus 20, verse 13, says that if a person commits a sin they should be punished by death. In some instances, the punishment is by stoning. This is where we get the biblical meaning of hitting someone on the head with a stone.

The biblical significance of hitting someone’s head with a stone in Leviticus is to punish them for their sins. The person would be punished with death and in some cases, this would be done by stoning them.

Deuteronomy 17 – Judicial Process and Oaths – Where Does It Say That A Case That Cannot Be Decided Must Be Punished with Death by Stoning

Bible say about stoning

Saint Stephen, the first martyr of Christianity, painted in 1506 by Marx Reichlich (1460–1520) (Pinakothek of Munich)

Deuteronomy 17:18-19

“If a case arises requiring a decision between one kind of homicide and another, one kind of legal right and another, or one kind of assault and another, any such issues that cannot be resolved must be brought to the attention of the local judges. They shall hear the case on its merits and then decide it. You may not execute a person because he has committed a crime or is charged with a crime, but you must punish him as prescribed by law.”

This passage from Deuteronomy 17 states that if two parties have claimed different versions of events in an incident where they cannot be resolved then it needs to go before the judges for them to decide what happened.

Stone death is a horrible way to die. That particular manner of execution must have been a strong deterrent against committing the sins deemed offensive enough to merit stoning. God cares very much about the purity of His people. The strict punishment for sin during the time of the Law helped deter people from adopting the impure practices of their pagan neighbors and rebelling against God. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and Israel was given a stern commandment to stay pure: “You must purge the evil from among you” (Deuteronomy 17:7).


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