Pisqa’ 221

Pisqa’ 2211


“Now, if a man commits a sin worthy of the sentence of death,

then he shall be put to death” (Dt.21:22)—

A man is hanged,

but a woman cannot be hanged.

R. Eliezer says:

Even a woman can be hanged.
Said R. Eliezer to them:

Didn’t Shimon b. Shatach hang women in Ashkelon

[on charges of witchraft]?

They said to him:

He hung eighty women, and didn’t sentence two

on a single day!2

Actually, that was an extreme measure,

designed to instruct others,

[but it is not a legal precedent]!


“And you shall hang him” (Dt.21:22)—

is it possible to say that

all who are stoned should be hanged?  

The Teaching states:

“For the hanged one is an affront to God” (Dt.21:22)—

after an inclusive clause,

[“you shall hang him”],

the verse limits the rule

[calling it “an affront”]?

Look—we learn this from the case of the reviler3 (e.g., Nu.15:30).

Just as the reviler is distinctive,

in attacking a fundamental principle [e.g., divine justice]

and is hanged,

shouldn’t anyone attacking a fundamental principle,

also be hanged?


R. Eliezer says:

Just as the reviler is distinctive,

in being stoned and then hanged,

shouldn’t all who are stoned

likewise be hanged?4

Is it possible to say that

He should be hanged alive—Imperial-style?5

The Teaching states:

“Then he shall be put to death, and you shall hang him from a wood” (Dt.21:22)—

[the hanging, unlike a Roman crucifixion, is not a form of torture].


implying that his clothes are not hung [with the body].


implying that witnesses

[who testified falsely against him]

are not hanged [after their execution].


implying that colluding witnesses

[who have been exposed as such]

are not hanged [after their execution].


And not two on a single day!

“From a wood” (Dt.21:22)—

Is it possible that wood

can refer either to an uprooted tree

or to a tree still attached to the earth?

The Teaching states:

“You shall quickly bury it” (Dt.21:23)—

   the tree is buried with him.

On this basis you can teach:

[He is hanged ] on an uprooted tree,

but not to one still attached to the earth.


On what basis do I know that

if you permit his body to hang until morning,

you transgress a proscription?

The Teaching states:

“Do not permit his corpse to over-night on the wood” (Dt.21:23).

If you delay burial till morning, for the sake of his dignity

—to bring him a coffin or shroud—

is it possible that

you transgress a proscription?

The Teaching states:

“On the wood” (Dt.21:22)—

just as wood is distinctive,

in that it is an element of his disgrace,

so, too, anything that

disgraces him [should be proscribed].

This excludes delaying burial till morning

for the sake of his dignity,

since this is not an element of his disgrace

[but an effort to handle the corpse with respect].


Do not permit his corpse to over-night on the wood” (Dt.21:23)—

this is a proscriptive commandment.

You shall quickly bury it” (Dt.21:23)—

This is a prescriptive commandment.

So, how do they treat the corpse

[in obedience to both

the prescription and proscription]?

They wait until night-fall and hang him

[thus fulfilling the proscription].

Then they immediately untie [and bury] him,

[in fulfillment of the prescription.]

But were the corpse to over-night there,

they would be transgressing a proscription.

For it is said:

Do not permit his corpse to over-night on the wood” (Dt.21:23).

“For the hanged one is an affront to God” (Dt.21:22)—

bystanders will see him and say:

Why is this guy hanging there?

Because he reviled the [Holy] Name!

And thus, [preservation of the reviler’s memory]

profanes the Name of Heaven.6


A man is stoned naked,

but a woman is not stoned naked.

R. Judah says:

It is the same for a man and a woman,

except that they hang a man

facing toward the people

with his back towards the wood.

But a woman faces the wood,

while her back is towards the people.7

A man holds a single cloth

in front of himself ,

while a woman holds two cloths—

one in front of herself,

and one from behind, .8

For her entire body is

an enticement to sin.9


“And don’t pollute the soil which HASHEM your God is giving you for an inheritance” (Dt.21:23)—

in this matter, the court receives a warning.10

  1. H:231-233; JN2:127-129.
  2. // M. San.6:4.
  3. Heb: hamegadeif; literally, “blasphemer.”
  4. // M. San. 6:4.
  5. That is, crucified.
  6. Cf. M. San.6:4.
  7. //M.San. 6:3. Cf. T. San. 9:6.
  8. //M. San.6:4.
  9. Pisqa’ 221.5 is lacking in several mss. Cf. F:254-255, n.16.
  10. Cf. Pisqa’ 171.1 for other appearances of this trope in Sifre.