. Make a Donation

Index Page
About The Author
Bible Quiz
Holy Day Calendar
Free Online Bibles
Bible Reading Plan

Quick Search the thousands of Bible studies on this website.
Just type in topic word(s) or a question.
Get Daily Bible Study on Facebook
Get Daily Bible Study on Twitter


In early Bible History, stoning was the (perhaps surprising to many) God-commanded Israelite method of executing those found guilty of the most serious offenses against His Law. The Bible does not describe in specifics which form of restraint was used while the very gory process of stoning was done, however some manner of keeping the condemned individual from escaping was used (as documented by witnesses, and participants, over the centuries), ranging from being thrown before the stoning from an elevation of some sort that caused incapacitating injury, to being tied to a post (or simply tied hand and foot), to being buried with just the head and shoulders left above ground, to just being surrounded by a large crowd of stone throwers in an enclosed area. Unlike most other forms of capital punishment, stoning had no specific executioner, "all the congregation shall stone" (see verses below).


Stoning God commanded stoning for violations of The Ten Commandments, any of them:

"And The Lord [see Rock Of Ages] said to Moses ... He who blasphemes the Name of The Lord shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him; the sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death." (Leviticus 24:13,16 RSV)

"If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son, or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, entices you secretly, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods ... You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from The Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." (Deuteronomy 13:6,10 RSV)

"While the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day ... And The Lord said to Moses, "The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp." (Numbers 15:32,35 RSV)

By the time of the New Testament, stoning for blasphemy was still a part of Israelite thought (the people of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin that is, the rest of the people of Israel were by then lost to history, and to themselves (as most of them still are) - see When Israel Became "Israel" and "Judah"). The people of Judah (i.e. the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, who became knows as "Jews"), like the people of the northern kingdom of Israel, were conquered and sent into exile as a punishment for their unfaithfulness to God (see Why Babylon? and The Galilee Captivity). When The Lord permitted the return of the southern kingdom, the Jews, they vowed to never again bring God's wrath upon themselves because of disobedience to His Law, which was good, but they accomplished that, in their own eyes, by adding all sorts of their own laws and traditions, much of which had nothing to do with the intent of the Law that God actually gave them, and all of the rest of Israel, when they were all still together.

By the time of Jesus Christ, many of those man-made laws and traditions were viewed nearly on the same level as God's actual Law - and it was for this that Jesus rebuked them for worshiping God according to their own traditions:

"Now when the Pharisees gathered together to Him, with some of the scribes, who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of His disciples ate with hands defiled, that is, unwashed. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they wash their hands, observing the tradition of the elders; and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they purify themselves; and there are many other traditions which they observe, the washing of cups and pots and vessels of bronze. And the Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with hands defiled?"

"And He said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you Hypocrites, as it is written, 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' You leave the Commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men." And He said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the Commandment of God, in order to keep your tradition!" (Mark 7:1-9 RSV)

Along with the self-righteousness was spiritual blindness; not all Jews recognized the long-awaited Messiah when He came. Instead, they accused Him of blasphemy (which was itself blasphemous), and on at least one occasion attempted to stone Him to death even though, while under Roman rule, they had no lawful authority to do so, as they themselves well knew ("It is not lawful for us to put any man to death" (John 18:31 RSV), but ignored:

"Jesus answered, "If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of Whom you say that he is your God. But you have not known Him; I know Him. If I said, I do not know Him, I should be a liar like you; but I do know Him and I keep His Word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see My day; he saw it and was glad."

"The Jews then said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?"

"Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am."

"So they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the Temple [see "My Father's House"]." (John 8:54-59 RSV)

This deadly persecution of believing Jews by non-believing Jews continued after the Messiah's crucifixion. In one of the greatest ironies (and one of the most powerful lessons about persecution, and persecutors) of the Bible, among those who stoned Stephen (who is regarded as the first Christian martyr) was a fanatical Christian-hating Pharisee named Saul, a man who, after his conversion On The Road To Damascus, became the apostle Paul, who later wrote much of what is today the New Testament. Paul became one of the greatest Christians the world will ever know, a beacon of light in a religion that he at one time fiercely persecuted and tried to destroy.

The stoning of Stephen:

"But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God."

"But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul."

"And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep [see What Happens When You Die?].

"And Saul was consenting to his death. And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen, and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison." (Acts 7:55-8:3 RSV)

Fact Finder: Was the former Pharisee Saul, by then the Christian apostle Paul, himself stoned and left for dead as a "blasphemer" by the very same kind of people that he himself once was?
Acts 14:19

Bible Quiz Daily Bible Study Library
Thousands of Studies!

Jesus Christ
Bible History
Christian Living
Eternal Life
By The Book
Bible Places
The Spirit World


Copyright © Wayne Blank