Anyone reading the Old Testament list of 36 capital crimes might think that Judaism is in favour of capital punishment, but they would be wrong.

During the period when Jewish law operated as a secular as well as a religious jurisdiction, Jewish courts very rarely imposed the death penalty.

The state of Israel has abolished the death penalty for any crime that is now likely to be tried there.

One classic Old Testament quote does justify capital punishment;

Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth … Exodus 21:23-24

In 1954, Israel abolished capital punishment except for those who committed Nazi war crimes.

In the 54 years that Israel has existed as an independent state, only one person has been executed. This person was Adolf Eichman, a Nazi war criminal with particular responsibility for the Holocaust.

(Content sourced from BBC: Ethics)


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