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9 "But you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. Deuteronomy 13:9

Did all the people included minors?

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  • Expected ? No.
    – Lucian
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 20:34

2 Answers 2

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The wording of Deuteronomy 13:9 is ambiguous since "all the people" is used to mean "all the men" in some instances and "all the people including women and possibly children" elsewhere. For example:

  • Genesis 19:4. Before they went to bed, the townsmen of Sodom, both young and old—all the people to the last man—surrounded the house.

  • Exodus 32:3. So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron.

But children, as well as women and slaves, were excluded from acting as jurors or witnesses in judicial proceedings, so we can rule out their participation as executioners. One might argue that children would participate when Israel was still in the wilderness and courts were conducted in the open air, but once they settled in the land, Israel was commanded to establish formal courts of justice.

In all the communities which the Lord, your God, is giving you, you shall appoint judges and officials throughout your tribes to administer true justice for the people. 19 You must not distort justice: you shall not show partiality; you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes even of the wise and twists the words even of the just. 20 Justice, justice alone shall you pursue, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord, your God, is giving you. (Deut 16:18-20)

Legal stoning was an extremely rare event. But when it is described in the Bible, no children are mentioned. Since women and children were excluded from participating as witnesses or jurors we may conclude that they did not participate in stoning as well, when it was done legally.


Addendum: Sources on this issue are virtually non-existent for the period prior to the establishment of the kingship in Israel. By the time of Jesus, the primitive practice had been refined, and

Capital punishment in rabbinic law... must not be inflicted, except by the verdict of a regularly constituted court (Lesser Sanh.) of three-and-twenty qualified members (Sanh. i. 1; Sifre, Num. 160), and except on the most trustworthy and convincing testimony of at least two qualified eye-witnesses to the crime... The culprit must be a person of legal age and of sound mind... The Pentateuchal law (Lev. xix. 18) prescribes, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy-self"; and the Rabbis maintain that this love must be extended beyond the limits of social intercourse in life, and applied even to the convicted criminal who, "though a sinner, is still thy brother" (Mak. iii. 15; Sanh. 44a): "The spirit of love must be manifested by according him a decent death" (Sanh. 45a, 52a). source

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The Israelites held roughly to an 'age of consent'. Basically You were under your father's household until you left and started your own family (see Matt 19:5, Eph 5:31, Gen 2:24 etc). It was sufficient for each family to be represented in the process (either father or older brother).

The 'modern' idea of personal independence and individualism is a Greek idea, and not a Hebrew one. So NO - children were not expected to participate since they were represented by their family's participation.

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    The examples that you bring from Matt 19:5, Eph 5:31 are anachronistic with respect to the OP's reference to Deuteronomy 13:9. Genesis 2:24 says nothing about the age of marriage and has no relation to the OP's question regarding stoning. You have brought some text in a quote format but not references its source. Apparently you are using quote formating to present your own answer. You have brought no verse to support your claim. Are you aware of the verses that include women and children in the "congregation" that can be used to counter your claim? How would you account for them?
    – user17080
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 10:41
  • You err. If you know of the God of Abraham you'll know the Abrahamic religions believe Him to be timeless, and so are his precepts. The Matt 19:5, Eph 5:31 show that the Gen 2:24 principle was still thought to be true (hence quoted). Were this not the case modern Imams quoting the Quran would also be guilty of being 'anachronistic'. Also, the commandments given in Deuteronomy were community commandments say 'rule of law'. Whose responsibility do you believe it was to enforce rule-of-law? Family elders or children? Your answer will reveal either you know of Abraham's God or you don't.
    – user34445
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 13:12

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