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Penal Laws in Scripture

1. Introduction

In almost every country, crime is rising at an alarming rate and the authorities stand helpless in controlling it. Years ago reasons such as poverty, ignorance, bad housing and unemployment were put forward as the main causes for crime. But those arguments carry little weight these days. Modern criminals come from all classes of society: the rich, the educated, the upper classes and those in good jobs. No nation or social strata is exempt: all produce their share of criminals. Indeed the more wealthy, educated and sophisticated a society, the more dangerous the criminal it produces.

It may come as a surprise to learn that this rise in crime and violence was predicted in the Bible some two thousand years ago. Bible prophecy said that a rising crime rate would be yet another sign of the return of YAHUSHUA the Messiah. And yet a similar state of affairs existed thousands of years ago in the days of Noah when Elohim destroyed the world by a flood. In Noah's day sexual license and violence filled the Earth and the Almighty's patience ran out. He wiped out the human race with a world-wide flood sparing only a few souls. Consider this passage from Genesis; the first book in the Bible.

Genesis 6: 11: The Earth also was corrupt before Elohim, and the Earth was filled with violence.
12: And Elohim looked upon the Earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the Earth.
13: And Elohim said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the Earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the Earth.

2. Imprisonment

The CREATOR has given mankind detailed rules for controlling crime. The AIM of this article is to bring a few of those rules to the reader's attention. In the past men have endeavored to control crime by human methods, all of which have miserably failed. The rising crime rate in every country is proof that mankind, with all its boasted knowledge, is incapable of controlling crime. Currently the forms of punishment include:

  • Imprisonment
  • The Payment of Fines
  • And Community Service.

The oldest and, arguably, the most popular form of punishment is imprisonment. Criminals are locked away in jails for years at a time, many for their entire life. There are few countries on earth which do not have prisons of some kind and prison populations in most are rising. But is imprisonment the answer to crime? Many authorities now doubt it. Prisons they contend are:

  • Extremely expensive to build and maintain.
  • They break up families causing untold misery for innocent wives and children.
  • They are training grounds where young offenders perfect criminal skills.
  • They are hotbeds of homosexuality, bullying and drug abuse
  • They are degrading.
  • And they are ineffective in reducing crime.

It may come as a surprise to learn that imprisonment is not the Almighty's answer to human crime. Nowhere in Scripture will you find divine commandments about locking human beings away in prison cells. The only prison built by YaHuWaH is a place known as the Bottomless Pit, the Abyss: a prison currently housing evil angels awaiting their Day of Judgement. Satan is scheduled to be imprisoned in the Abyss during the millennium. Currently there are no human beings in the Abyss or in Hell.

2 Peter 2: 4: For if YaHuWaH spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment ...
Jude 5-6 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Master, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
Luke 8: 30: And YAHUSHUA asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. And they besought Him that He would not command them to go out into the deep (Abyss).
Revelation 20: 1: And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
2: And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
3: And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

3. Penal Laws in Scripture

What, then, are the Almighty's directions for dealing with crime? After all it's one thing to lay down rules as to how we humans are to behave: it's quite another dealing with those who blatantly break those rules. Believe it or not YaHuWaH the Almighty Elohim of Israel has given the human race detailed instructions as to how to deal with criminals. His penal laws are recorded in the Scriptures for all to see. But, strangely enough, they have seldom been applied by any nation - even ancient Israel. The reason was because the authorities (kings, priests and judges) were often as guilty as the law-breakers.

Nevertheless, YaHuWaH 's Torah is still on the statute books of heaven and will find fulfillment during the coming millennium. (see Section 6) Indeed Heaven and Earth will pass away before YaHuWaH 's Torah is cancelled. In short the Torah of the Most High still exists and He is soon to demonstrate to the universe that it works when applied as directed. Listed below are a few examples of YaHuWaH's instructions (Torah).

False Worship

The first of the ten commandments is: "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." (Exodus 20:3)

The scriptural punishment for worshiping false (pagan) gods and for teaching others to do so is death!

Deut.13: 1: If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
2: And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
3: Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for YaHuWaH your Elohim proveth you, to know whether ye love YaHuWaH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul.
4: Ye shall walk after YaHuWaH your Elohim, and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice, and ye shall serve Him, and cleave unto Him.
5: And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from YaHuWaH your Elohim, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which YaHuWaH thy Elohim commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.


Blasphemy is contemptuous or irreverent talk about YaHuWaH, His Name and His sacred things.

The scriptural punishment for blasphemy is death!

Leviticus 24: 16: And he that blasphemeth the Name of YaHuWaH, he shall surely be put to death , and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the Name, shall be put to death. , and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the Name, shall be put to death.

Shabbat Breaking

The fourth commandment reminds us to keep the seventh day Shabbat. The seventh day Shabbat, incidentally, is Saturday not Sunday. For proof of this astonishing fact also see the article Sunday: Is it the Christian Shabbat?

The scriptural punishment for breaking the seventh day Shabbat is death!

Exodus 31: 14: Ye shall keep the Shabbat therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
15: Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the shabbat of rest, holy to YaHuWaH : whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

Respect for Parents

Juvenile delinquency is a major problem these days. Many parents find it quite impossible to control their disobedient offspring. The command: 'Honor thy father and thy mother' is treated by youngsters with bemused contempt. Nevertheless here is YaHuWaH 's instruction concerning the punishment of unruly children. Prepare yourself for a surprise; because the scriptural punishment for absolute disobedience is death!

Proverbs 23: 13: Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.
14: Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

Deut.21: 18: If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
19: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;
20: And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
21: And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

Exodus 21: 15: And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.
Leviticus 20: 9: For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him ...


YaHuWaH 's punishments always fit the crime. The scriptural punishment for murder, even that of an unborn child, is death!

Exodus 21: 12: He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.
Exodus 21: 22: If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
23: And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,
24: Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
25: Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.


The sixth commandment says: "Thou shalt not commit adultery." Millions of adults throughout the world treat this law with utter contempt. Adultery is extremely popular these days and is even advocated on the Internet. But did you know that the scriptural punishment for committing adultery is death?

Leviticus 20: 10: And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death."
Deut. 22: 22: If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.


The scriptural punishment for rape is death!

Deuteronomy 22: 25: But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die:
26: But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbor, and slayeth him, even so is this matter:


The scriptural punishment for homosexual acts is death!

Leviticus 20: 13: If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.


Beastiality is sexual intercourse between a human being and an animal.

The scriptural punishment for bestiality is death!
Exodus 22: 19: Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death.


Few people have not had something stolen. Theft, burglary and housebreaking are common these days. The scriptural punishment for theft requires the thief to pay the victim at least double the value of the goods stolen.

Exodus 22: 7: If a man shall deliver unto his neighbor money or stuff to keep, and it be stolen out of the man's house; if the thief be found, let him pay double.
8: If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges, to see whether he have put his hand unto his neighbor's goods.
9: For all manner of trespass, whether it be for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, or for any manner of lost thing, which another challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; and whom the judges shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbor.

Exodus 22: 1: If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.

The principle here is that repayment to the victim rises in direct proportion to the value of the goods stolen: the more valuable the goods, the greater the payment.


The scriptural punishment for kidnap is death!
Exodus 21: 16: And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.

False Witness

Deut. 19: 16: If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong;
17: Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before YaHuWaH, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days;
18: And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother;
19: Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you.
4. Forgiveness

I must commend the reader for having read thus far. Most people will have switched off by now, muttering words like barbaric, ridiculous, farcical or obsolete.

Yes, violation of virtually every major commandment in Scripture attracts the death sentence! The Apostle was absolutely right when he wrote: the wages of sin is death! False worship, blasphemy, Sabbath-breaking, adultery, fornication, rape, murder and kidnap: they all attract the death sentence! Moreover, every soul on earth is guilty of breaking one or more of these sacred commandments. No one is free of guilt. In other words we are all under sentence of death, because we have all sinned! I repeat: We are all sinners under divine sentence of death! Many may delude themselves into thinking that YaHuWaH 's Torah is obsolete: that it was done away with on the cross by His Son. These folk delude themselves. On the Day of Judgment they, along with billions of others, will realize that YaHuWaH the Almighty Elohim of Israel means what He says and says what He means: and that they are to be judged by these very laws.

Now to an important question: Is the Almighty going to wipe out the whole human race because all of us have sinned and deserve the death sentence? The answer is: No, He isn't! The Most High is a Being of infinite love and mercy. He doesn't want any soul to perish: so he has made a way of escape. Christians through the ages call it the Way of Salvation: and it has been preached in virtually every Gospel sermon since the Savior ascended to heaven. The Way of Salvation, also called the Gospel of Salvation, is the good news of how - by faith in YaHuWaH 's Son you and I can escape the death sentence and live for all time. Details of the Gospel of Salvation and how you can escape the death sentence through faith in YAHUSHUA the Messiah are given in our Everlasting Gospel Library.

5. Present Chaos

The world is suffering greatly for rejecting YaHuWaH 's commandments. Crime is advancing in every country and the victims often include the wives and children of the criminal. Rape, murder, child-abuse, adultery, desertion, fornication and homosexuality now go virtually unpunished: or the punishments handed out are farcical to say the least. Just try to imagine the life-long disgrace and rejection by the community an innocent wife suffers when her husband is found guilty of rape. Think about the agonies of a faithful wife whose marriage is devastated by her husband's adultery or visits to the brothel! Pause awhile and consider - if you can - the torment of a parent whose child has been sexually abused. Ponder for a few moments the agonies of a man whose wife has been brutally raped and then murdered. Only the victims of such crimes are able to fully appreciate what I am writing. Politicians, solicitors, judges and juries should all stand aside - in silence: because few of them understand the pain of the victims and their cry for justice to be done.

If, as directed in Scripture, rapists, murderers and adulterers were put to death, their innocent wives would then be free to remarry without having to divorce. As man's laws now stand, these poor women are obliged to file for divorce (an act the Almighty hates) and then remarry while their former husbands are still alive (which scripturally renders them guilty of adultery). This travesty of justice, all too common these days, would not be the case if God's penal laws were applied. The sad truth is, as they now stand the penal laws of most countries are hopelessly inadequate. The punishments handed out seldom if ever fit the crime: and the victims, which often include the wives of the criminal, suffer life-long misery.

Will YaHuWaH 's Torah ever be applied as He intended? I am delighted to tell the world via the Internet, that it will - during the soon-coming millennium.

6. The Millennium

The millennium is the one thousand year reign of Messiah on earth prophesied in the Bible. When we write of the millennium we do not mean the year 2000. We mean the Savior's one thousand year reign on earth. Many events are scheduled to occur during the millennium: a time when YaHuWaH 's Torah ( including these same penal instructions ) will be in force. Let me list a few facts about the coming millennium.

7. The Rod of Iron

YAHUSHUA the Messiah is the man child and coming king pictured in Bible prophecy. When He comes He will rule all nations with a rod of iron (His Father's Torah).

Revelation 12: 5: And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto YaHuWaH, and to His throne.
Revelation 19: 15: And out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty YaHuWaH.

Overcomers to Rule on Earth with Messiah

Messiah's government will consist of overcomers who respect YaHuWaH 's Torah. The Savior's millennial reign over all nations will take place on Earth: where else would you find rebellious nations which needed to be ruled with a rod of iron?

Revelation 2: 26: And he that overcometh, and keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
27: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of My Father.

Revelation 5: 9: And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to YaHuWaH by Thy Blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
10: And hast made us unto our YaHuWaH kings and priests: and we shall reign on the Earth.

Luke 19: 17: And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
18: And the second came, saying, Master, thy pound hath gained five pounds.
19: And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.

Every Earthly Kingdom will be Under Messiah's Rule

Psalm 2: 1: Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
2: The kings of the Earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against YaHuWaH, and against His anointed, saying,
3: Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
4: He that sitteth in the Heavens shall laugh: Adonai shall have them in derision.
5: Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasure.
6: Yet have I set My king upon My holy hill of Zion.
7: I will declare the decree: YaHuWaH hath said unto me, Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten thee.
8: Ask of Me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
9: Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
10: Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the Earth.
11: Serve YaHuWaH with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12: Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.

The Harvest Feast of Tabernacles

Nations that refuse to keep this feast during the millennium will have no rain and, therefore, no harvest. Carefully note this prophecy about the Savior's return, his reign over all nations and his enforcement of the Feast of Tabernacles.

Zechariah 14: 1: Behold, the day of YaHuWaH cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.
2: For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
3: Then shall YaHuWaH go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
4: And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
5: And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and YaHuWaH my Elohim shall come, and all the saints with thee.
6: And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark:
7: But it shall be one day which shall be known to YaHuWaH, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.
8: And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.
9: And YaHuWaH shall be King over all the Earth: in that day shall there be one YaHuWaH, and His Name one.

verse 16: And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, YaHuWaH Tz'va'ot, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
17: And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the Earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, YaHuWaH Tz'va'ot, even upon them shall be no rain.
18: And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith YaHuWaH will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
19: This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.


When you consider the penal laws of your own particular country, remember what you have learned in this article. It is of great importance: because we are fast approaching the millennium when the Torah is going to be proclaimed from Jerusalem and administered throughout the Earth.

Isaiah 2: 3: And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of YaHuWaH, to the house of the Elohim of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the Torah, and the word of YaHuWaH from Jerusalem.

To summarize we can say that:
  • The penal laws of all nations have miserably failed. Punishments seldom fit the crime, so can never eradicate evil.
  • Imprisonment of human beings is not a Biblical punishment. Prisons are expensive to build and run. They break up families. They are hot-beds of vice and homosexuality and they are ineffective.
  • The Penal laws of YaHuWaH the Almighty Elohim of Israel may appear severe on first sight. But in actual fact they have never been properly applied. This is because the kings, priests and judges in authority were often as guilty as the criminals: so leniency became the order of the day. Nevertheless, according to divine law the penalty for paganism, blasphemy, Shabbat-breaking, murder, adultery, fornication, rape, sodomy, prostitution, child-abuse and kidnap - is death!
  • The whole human race is under a death penalty: for all have sinned. That is, all have broken one or more of the Almighty's commandments. The only way a sinner can escape the death penalty is to accept YaHuWaH 's offer of mercy, made available through His Son's death on Calvary. If you refuse to accept His offer of salvation you will be condemned on the Day of Judgement and die for your own sins.
  • The penal laws of most nations have led to chaos on a monumental scale. The wives and children of convicted murderers, rapists, adulterers and child-abusers live in undeserved shame and misery. Men whose wives or daughters have been raped live out their lives in mental torment. All this would never happen if YaHuWaH 's Torah was applied and criminals removed from society by the death sentence!
  • During Messiah's Millennial Reign, the penal laws of the Most High will be fully implemented. The Savior, and the over-comers who make up his government, will at first be looked upon as ruling with "a rod of iron." But gradually the full benefits of YaHuWaH 's Torah will dawn on human society and the millennial reign will become a time of peace and prosperity for all nations.