Why was King David not stoned?

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Why was King David not stoned?

Postby DaveB » Tue Apr 19, 2016 2:02 pm

After all, adultery and murder were harshly judged under the Law of Moses.
Yes, David was punished, and severely, but the Law was not followed - was it?
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Re: Why was King David not stoned?

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Tue Apr 19, 2016 2:58 pm

You will find some answers here:


Let's look at some answers, from the first link:

The punishments had been defined, but they were very rarely fulfilled. I can't remember a single passage where an adulterer was stoned, even though there's a lot of adultery reported.

David murdered Uriah, but did it by proxy. He did not kill Uriah, rather he set up a situation in which he would fall in battle. Beyond that, yes David "killed his ten thousands," but did so in battle, and thus it isn't murder. And as Caleb pointed out, God punished David.

Yes, there was a special provision. God personally enacted a punishment.

In the case of David, God caused his son to die and did not permit him to be the one to build the temple.



This question isn't really a Christian doctrinal question, I think. But, the most obvious answer here is that they were both kings. And the literal letter of God's law is always enacted by people (like the King's army or guards), who are generally under the rule of the king -- notably as a sort of proxy for God in the case of the Jews.

So, the king probably has guards, for one. And these guards probably don't question the king's actions or authority. The people, therefore, are not likely going to form a clan and go up against the king's armed guards because he slept around. They'd just be slaughtered.

I.e., no one's going to stone the king unless God explicitly tells the people to do so via a prophet, even if the king should rightfully be stoned according to the letter of the law! And even then, the king's guards probably need to be in cahoots with the rebels, so to speak, before the people will actually take action -- or at least any successful action.

So, regardless of whether there was a good or strictly legal reason that David and Solomon shouldn't have been stoned, there's no practical reason they would have been. And there are plenty of practical de-motivators at work.


None of these answers address the apparent conflict of a just king who is above the law and not accountable to its penalties- even to God. They also seem to underestimate the commitment of the Hebrew people to justice and impartiality of the law (we can't conclude that the courts contemporary to David's rule were corrupt), and disregard that the law was both a spiritual agreement with God and a legally binding criminal code within their society.

The answer in David's case is that the law condemned his actions as worthy of death, but did not allow for his execution. We can't just go around stoning people and claim that it's justified by the law. A legal system is unjust that does not permit due process and allows judgement and sentencing of death to be carried out without a trial. Thus, God gave specific instructions concerning a sentence of death in the Torah. The traditional interpretation (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 2a-b) of those instructions maintain that even an ox that is worthy of the death penalty (eg. for killing a person) should be tried by a court of 23 judges.

According to this Judaism.SE question, in order to be eligible under the law for the death penalty on either charge, David would have had to continue in his sin after being confronted by more than one witness that could testify in a court of 23 judges that he saw David persist in his sin after being confronted. This is the very reason for the observation in a previous answer that "not many people were put to death." According to the linked question, a court was considered murderous if it executed a person more frequently than 7 years (some accounts say 70 years).

Nathan, filled with the word of God, convinced David with a parable that he is worthy of death. David does not continue in his sin. He repents Uriah's murder and legitimizes his relationship with Bathsheba, and so he is not eligible to be sentenced to death for his sins (crimes).
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Re: Why was King David not stoned?

Postby DaveB » Tue Apr 19, 2016 3:07 pm

Thanks for the links Randy - though I did not find the answers 'satisfying'.
If I were about to be executed, I would repent also. Did the Law mention repentence in relation to capital crimes?
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Re: Why was King David not stoned?

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Tue Apr 19, 2016 3:14 pm

DaveB wrote:Thanks for the links Randy - though I did not find the answers 'satisfying'.
If I were about to be executed, I would repent also. Did the Law mention repentance in relation to capital crimes?


Hi, Dave. I'm not an expert in ancient Jewish law. You probably need to ask a Jewish Rabbi, Jewish historian or some expert in these matters - from this forum. If you do find "a satisfying answer", please be sure to share it with us. :D

But there is a Jewish Rabbi talking about this at David and Bathsheba. I found this interesting:
Undeniably, the law gave David the right to bring Uriah before the Sanhedrin and demand his execution. Nevertheless, David worried (for good reason) that the people would question the integrity of a king who ordered a man’s death and immediately married his widow, and David sought to avoid the public appearance of conspiracy and impropriety when he married Bathsheba.10 Therefore, rather than demanding Uriah’s execution from the Sanhedrin, David instructed his general, Joab, to arrange Uriah’s death in battle.11

It is clear, therefore, that David was neither an adulterer nor a murderer. Indeed, when the prophet Nathan presented David with the parable of the rich man who stole the poor man’s sheep, he alluded to theft but to neither murder nor adultery.12 Had David been truly guilty of murdering Uriah, what possible explanation could there have been for the prophet to employ a parable that implied theft but not murder?

What was David’s crime? Some say David erred by arranging Uriah’s death himself and circumventing the formal process of indictment and sentencing. Although David had the authority to invoke the death penalty, he should have gone to the Sanhedrin and confirmed that Uriah’s actions constituted an act of rebellion before executing justice.13 According to this, it was David’s desire to avoid the appearance of wrongdoing that, ironically, resulted in his real transgression.
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Re: Why was King David not stoned?

Postby DaveB » Tue Apr 19, 2016 4:41 pm

Perhaps the absolute last possible answer I could have imagined in a feverish drug-induced pathological break with reality.
Maybe I overstated? But still, that explanation seems way off-base. What do you think?
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Re: Why was King David not stoned?

Postby Geoffrey » Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:22 pm

I do not think that the Law's death penalties are any more literal than Christ's commands that we gouge out our eyes and cut off our hands. Just as the history of Christendom isn't one of a great mass of people with no hands and no eyes, so the history of the Israelites isn't one of daily mass executions.

In fact, I can not think of a single, clear-cut case in the Bible of someone being executed for breaking Law X from book such-and-so, chapter Y, verse Z. I don't think any Israelite ever thought of those death penalties as literal, nor do I think Moses thought of them as literal, nor do I think that God intended for them to be literal.

In a nutshell, the death penalty in the Law is an illustration of the fact that sin causes spiritual death, and a foreshadowing that only the death of Christ can atone for sin.

But the idea of Israelites stoning or otherwise executing people right and left is just as crazy as the idea of Christians all gouging out their eyes and cutting off their hands. (Make sure you gouge out your eyes before cutting off your hands, else how can you gouge out your eyes? :lol: )

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Re: Why was King David not stoned?

Postby Gabe Grinstead » Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:37 pm

DaveB wrote:Perhaps the absolute last possible answer I could have imagined in a feverish drug-induced pathological break with reality.
Maybe I overstated? But still, that explanation seems way off-base. What do you think?


Randy rarely gives opinions and just links to other sites. Anyone can google, so I usually just gloss past his responses. That said, the Jewish response he posted is bogus. Totally ridiculous viewpoint in my opinion.
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Re: Why was King David not stoned?

Postby Paidion » Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:40 pm

There is no doubt that the Mosaic Law was carried out literally, and people were stoned to death.

Leviticus 24:23 Then Moses spoke to the children of Israel; and they took outside the camp him who had cursed, and stoned him with stones. So the children of Israel did as the LORD commanded Moses.
Numbers 15:36 So, as the LORD commanded Moses, all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him with stones, and he died.
Joshua 7:25 And Joshua said, "Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day." So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.
1 Kings 12:18 Then King Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was in charge of the revenue; but all Israel stoned him with stones, and he died. Therefore King Rehoboam mounted his chariot in haste to flee to Jerusalem.
1 Kings 21:13 And two men, scoundrels, came in and sat before him; and the scoundrels witnessed against him, against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, "Naboth has blasphemed God and the king!" Then they took him outside the city and stoned him with stones, so that he died.
2 Chronicles 10:18 Then King Rehoboam sent Hadoram, who was in charge of revenue; but the children of Israel stoned him with stones, and he died. Therefore King Rehoboam mounted his chariot in haste to flee to Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 24:21 So they conspired against him, and at the command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the LORD.
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Re: Why was King David not stoned?

Postby DaveB » Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:41 pm

Geoffrey wrote:In a nutshell, the death penalty in the Law is an illustration of the fact that sin causes spiritual death, and a foreshadowing that only the death of Christ can atone for sin.


That is a lot to think about - I'd not thought of it in those terms. You may very well be correct but if so, a lot of interpretive principles that I've taken for granted will have to be re-thought.

Excellent point re: eyes first. :lol: :lol:

But now I've read Paidion's response and I'm back to the OP.
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Re: Why was King David not stoned?

Postby Geoffrey » Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:20 pm

DaveB wrote:
Geoffrey wrote:In a nutshell, the death penalty in the Law is an illustration of the fact that sin causes spiritual death, and a foreshadowing that only the death of Christ can atone for sin.


That is a lot to think about - I'd not thought of it in those terms. You may very well be correct but if so, a lot of interpretive principles that I've taken for granted will have to be re-thought.

Excellent point re: eyes first. :lol: :lol:

But now I've read Paidion's response and I'm back to the OP.


Two points:

1. I'm not denying that people in ancient Israel were sometimes literally stoned. Rather, I'm denying that anyone was stoned in accordance with the Law (since the Law does not demand literal stoning, even as Christ does not demand literal amputations). To take just two of Paidion's seven passages as examples: King Rehoboam's revenue man clearly wasn't stoned for breaking law X in book such-and-so, chapter Y, verse Z. The Israelites simply didn't want anything to do with King Rehoboam!

2. The Bible is a subtle and intelligent text. All too often some think of the Old Testament as barbaric and moronic. It is neither. It was written by men of God filled with the Spirit of Christ. We readers are barbaric and moronic, but not the scriptures! For example, where did the Amalekites in I Samuel 30 come from? A literal reading of I Samuel 15 will reveal that the Israelites killed all the Amalekites about 15 to 20 years earlier. Unless, of course, nobody was ever meant to believe that God commanded Israelites to literally chop-up Amalekite babies.

I have a whole thread on the Amalekites, which gets into this general topic:
viewtopic.php?f=14&t=6303

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Re: Why was King David not stoned?

Postby DaveB » Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:50 pm

Geoffrey wrote:We readers are barbaric and moronic,


Hey, I resemble that remark!! :lol: But yes, I see your point.

But - is there any doubt that quite a bit of the Mosaic corpus was adopted, sometimes word-for-word, from other sources, from cultures who were not strangers to barbaric activity - sacrificing children, etc? Can we automatically assume that the Israelites were NOT taking the capital crimes seriously, even if they were misunderstanding what Yahweh was commanding?

I'll read your link re:Amalekites. Sounds interesting.
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Re: Why was King David not stoned?

Postby davo » Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:51 pm

Geoffrey wrote:Rather, I'm denying that anyone was stoned in accordance with the Law (since the Law does not demand literal stoning, even as Christ does not demand literal amputations).

Lev 20:10 ‘The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.

Jn 8:5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”

Quite apart from the texts above Paidion provided it sure seems to me that popular belief/practice in Jesus’ day might just be at variance from what you’re postulating.
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Re: Why was King David not stoned?

Postby DaveB » Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:57 pm

I did read your link, and that is a thought provoker for certain.

Someone on the forum used the term 'the Jesus Hermeneutic' and I really like it; it reminds me quite a bit of the essay by Channing that I link to so often - stating in effect that we understand the Old in terms of the New (progressive Revelation) and above all we interpret God's actions in the O.T. through the fulles t revelation of what He is like - as revealed in His son.
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Re: Why was King David not stoned?

Postby Geoffrey » Wed Apr 20, 2016 8:08 am

Paidion wrote:There is no doubt that the Mosaic Law was carried out literally, and people were stoned to death.

Leviticus 24:23 Then Moses spoke to the children of Israel; and they took outside the camp him who had cursed, and stoned him with stones. So the children of Israel did as the LORD commanded Moses.
Numbers 15:36 So, as the LORD commanded Moses, all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him with stones, and he died.
Joshua 7:25 And Joshua said, "Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day." So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.
1 Kings 12:18 Then King Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was in charge of the revenue; but all Israel stoned him with stones, and he died. Therefore King Rehoboam mounted his chariot in haste to flee to Jerusalem.
1 Kings 21:13 And two men, scoundrels, came in and sat before him; and the scoundrels witnessed against him, against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, "Naboth has blasphemed God and the king!" Then they took him outside the city and stoned him with stones, so that he died.
2 Chronicles 10:18 Then King Rehoboam sent Hadoram, who was in charge of revenue; but the children of Israel stoned him with stones, and he died. Therefore King Rehoboam mounted his chariot in haste to flee to Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 24:21 So they conspired against him, and at the command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the LORD.


The two events recounted in the above verses from Kings and Chronicles have nothing to do with the Law of Moses. The word used in I Kings 21:13 is appropriate: "scoundrels".

Joshua 7:25 also has nothing to do with the Law of Moses. This passage deals with a special command given to Joshua.

The first two (from Leviticus and from Numbers) also deal with special commands given to Moses.

What I have been looking for and have been unable to find anywhere in the Bible is basically the following:

"Hey, we caught Tamiphaz doing such-and-so. If you consult Exodus/Leviticus/Numbers/Deuteronomy chapter X, verse Y, you'll see that what Tamiphaz did is forbidden in the Law of Moses. We need to try him according to the Law."

That done, then:

"OK. We found Tamiphaz guilty of such-and-so. If you consult Exodus/Leviticus/Numbers/Deuteronomy chapter X, verse Y, you'll see that the penalty for such-and-so is death."

Then they put Tamiphaz to death according to the Law of Moses.

Now THAT would be something. But all we get are various accounts of slayings, unconnected and vague references to "laws" or "commandments", and never a simple, clear account of judging someone by the Law of Moses and thereafter putting him to death. Sometimes God strikes someone down. Sometimes God says, "Hey, that fellow right there: kill him." But never, and I mean never, a clear-cut example of an execution done according to the Law.

I think we moderns are stupid. Christendom never applied wholesale, literal executions in conformity with a "literal" reading of the Law of Moses, and neither have the Jews ever done so. If you look at a history of Jewish lands, you will find that executions were vanishingly rare. This is entirely at variance with a simplistic, "literal" reading of the Law, which would leave huge piles of corpses with no one left to be an executioner. The idea is so monstrous that I think it refutes itself. It is as repugnant to common sense and decency as is all of Christendom cutting off our hands and gouging out our eyes (and, for good measure, telling all our loved ones that we hate them).

Is the entirety of Christendom and all of Judaism wrong? Should they have been slaughtering and maiming, all supposedly in conformity with divine Law? Or is it just us moderns who are being embarrassingly obtuse? (And yes, I include myself in that number.)
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Re: Why was King David not stoned?

Postby davo » Wed Apr 20, 2016 5:29 pm

Geoffrey wrote:…also deal with special commands given to Moses.

QED… such then qualifies as “the law of Moses”.

Geoffrey wrote:Sometimes God strikes someone down. Sometimes God says, "Hey, that fellow right there: kill him." But never, and I mean never, a clear-cut example of an execution done according to the Law.

That might then show you God’s overriding *law* was MERCY… mercy trumps condemnation every time.

Again I reference back to Jn 8:5 above… Jesus did NOT challenge their statement regarding Moses with the likes of “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” which he had used elsewhere, IF what they were saying was false.
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Re: Why was King David not stoned?

Postby DaveB » Wed Apr 20, 2016 5:51 pm

Could it be that the Law was an effective prophylactic, thus ensuring that we do not read about hordes of people being stoned for coveting their neighbor's ass? In the middle east today, laws are in place, and the punishments for them are sure and swift - so much so that bank tellers leave money in the open during prayer time. Steal a few bucks and lose a hand? There is very little crime there, showing perhaps the efficacy of laws that are actually punished in a timely manner.
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Re: Why was King David not stoned?

Postby Geoffrey » Wed Apr 20, 2016 6:44 pm

davo wrote:
Geoffrey wrote:…also deal with special commands given to Moses.

QED… such then qualifies as “the law of Moses”.


Those are two different things:
A. God telling Moses, "Hey, you see Tithael over there? Have some of your boys kill him." That's simply God telling A to kill B. That is what we have in the two passages under discussion. That's God bypassing any written Law and just getting down to the nitty-gritty.
B. The Law written by Moses as contained in the Pentateuch, applied in a manner consistent with the Law.

davo wrote:
Geoffrey wrote:Sometimes God strikes someone down. Sometimes God says, "Hey, that fellow right there: kill him." But never, and I mean never, a clear-cut example of an execution done according to the Law.

That might then show you God’s overriding *law* was MERCY… mercy trumps condemnation every time.

Again I reference back to Jn 8:5 above… Jesus did NOT challenge their statement regarding Moses with the likes of “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” which he had used elsewhere, IF what they were saying was false.


I think the scribes and Pharisees were basically saying to themselves, "Let's catch this ignorant yokel with an application of the Law. We'll make him expose himself as a fraud and a fool by saying to either ignore the Law or to literally kill the woman. Ha ha ha!"

But then Christ gave the interpretation that the scribes and Pharisees knew was the correct one. Only a sinless one can mete out death. If the scribes and Pharisees didn't agree with that interpretation, they would have jumped down Christ's throat, proving in half a dozen ways why his answer was silly. Why else would they silently walk away? Christ beat them at their own game. He is the great Rabbi.

Jesus didn't tell them that they were mistaken because He knew well and good that the scribes and Pharisees knew the true interpretation of the Law on this point. Jesus didn't have to tell them that the Law never intended for sinful men to mete out death, because they already knew that. They weren't mistaken, they were tricky and were underestimating Christ (thinking him a stupid hick from Galilee).
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Re: Why was King David not stoned?

Postby Geoffrey » Wed Apr 20, 2016 6:52 pm

DaveB wrote:Could it be that the Law was an effective prophylactic, thus ensuring that we do not read about hordes of people being stoned for coveting their neighbor's ass?


I don't think so. Virtually the entirety of the Old Testament is a record of the children of Israel and of Judah ignoring the Law. Most of the time they were at least half-pagan. How many righteous kings did they ever have? Three (out of about forty monarchs)? And as Stephen said, what prophet was not persecuted by the Israelites? I'd go so far as to say that most of them didn't even know that the Law existed. When righteous King Josiah's men found a copy of the Law, they acted as though they had never seen anything like it, and I suspect they didn't. For the most part, I suspect that after Moses placed the Law in the Ark, there it stayed, unread and unobeyed.

(For example, look at the Jubilee, which is commanded and given quite a bit of attention in the Law of Moses. As far as we can tell from the Bible, the Jubilee was never celebrated.)

And when a righteous king (such as Hezekiah or Josiah) came to power, I don't remember them engaging in wholesale slaughter of the men of Judah (which is what they'd have to do if they thought the Law commanded literal executions).

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Re: Why was King David not stoned?

Postby davo » Wed Apr 20, 2016 7:25 pm

Geoffrey wrote:Jesus didn't tell them that they were mistaken because He knew well and good that the scribes and Pharisees knew the true interpretation of the Law on this point.

And the question IS… what Law? :o :mrgreen:
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