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How would stoning of an adulterer actually be carried out under the Law of Moses?

In John Chapter 8 there is the familiar story of how Jesus prevented a stoning of a woman who had committed adultery. I know that many think this was not in the original scriptures; even the NIV notifies the reader on this. My question is not whether this is ‘scripture’. My question is how would stoning for adultery have ever been carried out before Christ? I am specifically looking for rabbinic historical accounts. The image in my mind, usually portrayed in movies, is that the crowd ‘drops their stones’ after Jesus speaks. It is all very heart moving, but I am not sure if that is realistic, or maybe it is?

I have noticed that for ‘blasphemy’ people would literally pick up stones and kill someone, for they started to do that with Christ himself on two occasions. (John 8:59, 10:31)

I also have noticed that the punishments of the Law were often not carried out when people in the Bible sinned. At the very giving of the law, when Moses threw the tablets away (Exodus 21:19), the whole camp should have probably been stoned at the strict letter of the law he just received! That’s seems to be why we find this thing about God revealing his nature to Moses and declaring his ‘mercy’, to reconcile this extreme contradiction of law compared to Israel’s behaviour. (Exodus 34:7) King David, the pride of Israel’s moral history, was worthy of death by stoning, but God was merciful to him as he really was a model believer. I assume, therefore, that the mercy by God, or the person offended in any crime, was allowed to spare a person under the penalty of the law, somehow? But when the penalties are declared in Exodus, they do not imply any leeway? This will lead me to posting a different question, if not actually answered by the entitled question: ‘How would stoning of an adulterer actually be carried out under the Law of Moses?’

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For what it's worth, most modern text critics and commentators that I am aware of regard John 7:53-8:11 as inauthentic (i.e. not originally part of the Gospel of John), and thus, probably not "inspired Scripture" -- although the question of whether it is true (historically accurate) is more difficult to answer. – Jas 3.1 Jun 11 '13 at 19:53
@Mike Please see: Note also the apparent contradiction between the fact that Rome did not permit the Jews to kill people so they asked Pilate to do it and the stoning of Stephen. – WoundedEgo Mar 26 at 20:46

The Mosaic law didn't explicitly write anything about stoning, but it did state that the adulteress shall be put to death.

“If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10 ESV)

But, the prophet Ezekiel wrote interesting analogy, Israel as the unfaithful bride of God.

38 And I will judge you as women who commit adultery and shed blood are judged, and bring upon you the blood of wrath and jealousy. 39 And I will give you into their hands, and they shall throw down your vaulted chamber and break down your lofty places. They shall strip you of your clothes and take your beautiful jewels and leave you naked and bare. 40 They shall bring up a crowd against you, and they shall stone you and cut you to pieces with their swords. 41 And they shall burn your houses and execute judgments upon you in the sight of many women. I will make you stop playing the whore, and you shall also give payment no more. (Ezekiel 16:38-41 ESV, emphasize mine)

While it was not specified in the Torah, Ezekiel was a major prophet in both Bible and Tanakh. It wouldn't be too far stretched if the religious leader of that time established the stoning 'law' (or tradition).

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As far as I can tell, the most important aspect of stoning in the Torah is that at least 2 witnesses stone the condemned first, and then the rest of the people of the area where crime has occurred. See Deut 17:6-7

6 Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness. 7 The hands of the witnesses shall be the first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So you shall put away the evil from among you.

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The Priests were to hold a "court" and recieve accusers and evidence ( if any ) and hear all sides, and then consult the Lord ( through the Urim and Thummim ) as to the Verdict, death or no. Then the execution by stoning was I believe to be conducted outside the Camp and/or city performed by a gathering of peers of the guilty. As far as burning, whether alive or not, or bound or what, I am not so sure. As to the above process, it is buried within the texts of the pentateuch somewhere. BTW, one of the best texts of the Letter of James has oh ye adulteresses, and not adulterers and adultresses.

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I'm very grateful for your participation here. We're a little different from a forum, so do take the site tour if you haven't already. Answers are expected to have informed argument, cite evidence (primary and secondary), and not simply offer speculation. I think you can benefit a lot if you see the kind of answers that this site is looking for. – Paul Vargas Apr 8 '15 at 14:21
The four methods of execution are not buried at all. The rabbis (aka the Pharisees) preserved the details of practices in the Second Temple in the Mishna, and they are discussed at length (a great deal of length) by later generations of the rabbis in the Gemara (together the Gemara and Mishna are published in what we know today as the "Talmud." None of the executions were what you commonly expect. I'll write an answer. – Bruce James Apr 9 '15 at 18:03
By the time Jesus, the character in question was present, it is widely known, according to jesus' own comments, that the rabbis along with all of the extra biblical literature was corrupt and not valid for reasoning concerning what Jesus should have, would have or did do. Don't you read the bible? That "coruption" was the primary reason for Jesus arrival and revelation as The Meshiach Joshuah. – reidh Apr 11 '15 at 20:00

The story of Jesus and the parishes bringing a women who was an adulterer before him in order to deceive him. Their intent was to stone her, but Jesus asked her accusers who had not sinned to throw the first stone. Thank goodness, there were some honest people there because no one was left to stone her.

Jesus did not make adultery a less serious sin when he told her since no one is left to accuse you neither do I. The important sentence here is when he told her, go and sin no more( quit her adulterous relationship).

Then Jesus replied to the parishes who had reminded him, Moses gave the Israelite a writ of divorcement by saying Moses did so because they were hard hearted and it wasn't so from the beginning when God made Adam and Eve and they were twain(one).

Jesus announced therefore, whatever God joined together, let no man put asunder.

It is not necessary to stone adulterers according to Jesus, but it is necessary to remember that adultery is not acceptable to God. In fact, those in Moses days got writs because they were Hard Hearted.

Then for a Christian who is married in the sight of the Lord, not having anything to do with a man made civil authority that issues marriage licenses although Christians are required to keep the law and not to be lawless; Such a marriage is Sanctified(joined by God Himself), who would dare assume they had authority to undo what God joined together.

Adultery can be cheating on a spouse but remaining in the Sanctity of the marriage or it can be a choice to live a live as an adulterer and even if the new spouse has never married cause them to sin with someone still bound to the marriage God joined together. It is not a sin that can be confessed and forgiven, unless like Jesus told the adulteress, sin no more.

A sin that puts a hard hearted person against God's Will.Every day an adulterer remains in an unsanctified marriage, he or she lives in opposition to God.

It says in the Bible a person who brings a soul to the Lord covers a multitude of sins.

Can you imagine the responsibility anyone takes who takes one of the Lord's Sheep away?

So even though adulterers were stoned under Moses' Law, mercy and repentance should be contemplated, but forgiveness can not happen until an adulterer quits their adultery.

The Bible only allows divorce in the case of fornication which might of happened when young men and women were given to marriage like Joseph and Mary were and subsequently, it's found out infidelity happened during that betrothal or engagement after they were married, divorce was possible.

Paul told us in the case of a Christian marrying a non-believer, if such a marriage fails because of their beliefs, a divorce can happen,

What makes it even worst, Churches turn a blind eye to adultery yet will throw stones nevertheless at other sinners they will not turn a blind eye to.

The hypocrisy turns Christianity into something God hates.

Didn't Jesus tell the pharisees, you changed the law to rob widows of their inheritance making God's Law into nothing with the commandments of men?

Churches are filled with adulterers because God's House has become a den of thieves when it's more profitable to turn a blind eye to those living in adultery because of the money they give to church clergymen.

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Welcome to BHSE! We're a little different, please read our Site Directives as they will help you in asking or answering questions-Thank you! – Tau Mar 30 at 3:21
@CharlesSlakin You answered the question(albeit-without citing sources) and then started started 'preaching a sermon on adultery. We ask that you simply "Answer the Question", explaining the meaning of the text, quoting whatever sources are relevant to your answer, and then let the 'text speak for itself'. Thank you! – Tau Mar 30 at 3:29

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