6ו׳
1 א

נִגְמַר הַדִּין, מוֹצִיאִין אוֹתוֹ לְסָקְלוֹ. בֵּית הַסְּקִילָה הָיָה חוּץ לְבֵית דִּין, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כד) הוֹצֵא אֶת הַמְקַלֵּל. אֶחָד עוֹמֵד עַל פֶּתַח בֵּית דִּין וְהַסּוּדָרִין בְּיָדוֹ, וְאָדָם אֶחָד רוֹכֵב הַסּוּס רָחוֹק מִמֶּנּוּ כְּדֵי שֶׁיְּהֵא רוֹאֵהוּ. אוֹמֵר אֶחָד יֶשׁ לִי לְלַמֵּד עָלָיו זְכוּת, הַלָּה מֵנִיף בַּסּוּדָרִין וְהַסּוּס רָץ וּמַעֲמִידוֹ. וַאֲפִלּוּ הוּא אוֹמֵר יֶשׁ לִי לְלַמֵּד עַל עַצְמִי זְכוּת, מַחֲזִירִין אוֹתוֹ אֲפִלּוּ אַרְבָּעָה וַחֲמִשָּׁה פְעָמִים, וּבִלְבַד שֶׁיֵּשׁ מַמָּשׁ בִּדְבָרָיו. מָצְאוּ לוֹ זְכוּת, פְּטָרוּהוּ, וְאִם לָאו, יוֹצֵא לִסָּקֵל. וְכָרוֹז יוֹצֵא לְפָנָיו, אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי בֶּן פְּלוֹנִי יוֹצֵא לִסָּקֵל עַל שֶׁעָבַר עֲבֵרָה פְלוֹנִית, וּפְלוֹנִי וּפְלוֹנִי עֵדָיו, כָּל מִי שֶׁיּוֹדֵעַ לוֹ זְכוּת יָבֹא וִילַמֵּד עָלָיו:

When the trial has ended in a guilty verdict and the condemned man has been sentenced to be stoned, he is taken out to be stoned. The place of stoning was outside the court and a little beyond it, as it is stated with regard to a blasphemer: “Take out him who has cursed to outside the camp, and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him” (Leviticus 24:14). One man stands at the entrance to the court, with cloths [vehasudarin] in his hand, and another man sits on a horse at a distance from him but where he can still see him. If one of the judges says: I can teach a reason to acquit him, the other, i.e., the man with the cloths, waves the cloths as a signal to the man on the horse, and the horse races off after the court agents who are leading the condemned man to his execution, and he stops them, and they wait until the court determines whether or not the argument has substance. And even if he, the condemned man himself, says: I can teach a reason to acquit myself, he is returned to the courthouse, even four or five times, provided that there is substance to his words. If, after the condemned man is returned to the courthouse, the judges find a reason to acquit him, they acquit him and release him immediately. But if they do not find a reason to acquit him, he goes out to be stoned. And a crier goes out before him and publicly proclaims: So-and-so, son of so-and-so, is going out to be stoned because he committed such and such a transgression. And so-and-so and so-and-so are his witnesses. Anyone who knows of a reason to acquit him should come forward and teach it on his behalf.

2 ב

הָיָה רָחוֹק מִבֵּית הַסְּקִילָה כְּעֶשֶׂר אַמּוֹת, אוֹמְרִים לוֹ הִתְוַדֵּה, שֶׁכֵּן דֶּרֶךְ הַמּוּמָתִין מִתְוַדִּין, שֶׁכָּל הַמִּתְוַדֶּה יֶשׁ לוֹ חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. שֶׁכֵּן מָצִינוּ בְעָכָן שֶׁאָמַר לוֹ יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, בְּנִי שִׂים נָא כָבוֹד לַה' אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְתֶן לוֹ תוֹדָה וְגוֹ' וַיַּעַן עָכָן אֶת יְהוֹשֻׁעַ וַיֹּאמַר אָמְנָה אָנֹכִי חָטָאתִי לַה' אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְכָזֹאת וְגוֹ' (יהושע ז). וּמִנַּיִן שֶׁכִּפֶּר לוֹ וִדּוּיוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שם) וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוֹשֻׁעַ מֶה עֲכַרְתָּנוּ יַעְכָּרְךָ ה' בַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה. הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה אַתָּה עָכוּר, וְאִי אַתָּה עָכוּר לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. וְאִם אֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ לְהִתְוַדּוֹת, אוֹמְרִים לוֹ, אֱמֹר תְּהֵא מִיתָתִי כַפָּרָה עַל כָּל עֲוֹנוֹתָי. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר, אִם הָיָה יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁהוּא מְזֻמָּם, אוֹמֵר תְּהֵא מִיתָתִי כַּפָּרָה עַל כָּל עֲוֹנוֹתַי חוּץ מֵעָוֹן זֶה. אָמְרוּ לוֹ, אִם כֵּן, יְהוּ כָל אָדָם אוֹמְרִים כָּךְ כְּדֵי לְנַקּוֹת אֶת עַצְמָן:

When the condemned man is at a distance of about ten cubits from the place of stoning, they say to him: Confess your transgressions, as the way of all who are being executed is to confess. As whoever confesses and regrets his transgressions has a portion in the World-to-Come. For so we find with regard to Achan, that Joshua said to him: “My son, please give glory to the Lord, God of Israel, and make confession to Him” (Joshua 7:19). And the next verse states: “And Achan answered Joshua, and said: Indeed I have sinned against the Lord, God of Israel, and like this and like that have I done.” And from where is it derived that Achan’s confession achieved atonement for him? It is derived from here, as it is stated: “And Joshua said: Why have you brought trouble on us? The Lord shall trouble you this day” (Joshua 7:25). Joshua said to Achan as follows: On this day of your judgment you are troubled, but you will not be troubled in the World-to-Come. And if the condemned man does not know how to confess, either from ignorance or out of confusion, they say to him: Say simply: Let my death be an atonement for all my sins. Rabbi Yehuda says: If the condemned man knows that he was convicted by the testimony of conspiring witnesses, but in fact he is innocent, he says: Let my death be an atonement for all my sins except for this sin. The Sages who disagreed with Rabbi Yehuda said to him: If so, every person who is being executed will say that, to clear himself in the eyes of the public. Therefore, if the condemned man does not make such a statement on his own, the court does not suggest it to him as an alternative.

3 ג

הָיָה רָחוֹק מִבֵּית הַסְּקִילָה אַרְבַּע אַמּוֹת, מַפְשִׁיטִין אוֹתוֹ אֶת בְּגָדָיו. הָאִישׁ, מְכַסִּין אוֹתוֹ מִלְּפָנָיו. וְהָאִשָּׁה, מִלְּפָנֶיהָ וּמֵאַחֲרֶיהָ, דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי יְהוּדָה. וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים, הָאִישׁ נִסְקָל עָרֹם וְאֵין הָאִשָּׁה נִסְקֶלֶת עֲרֻמָּה:

When the condemned man is at a distance of four cubits from the place of stoning, they take off his clothes. They cover a man’s genitals in the front, and a woman is covered both in the front and in the back; this is the statement of Rabbi Yehuda. But the Rabbis say: A man is stoned naked, i.e., wearing only that cloth covering, but a woman is not stoned naked, but is stoned while clothed.

4 ד

בֵּית הַסְּקִילָה הָיָה גָבוֹהַּ שְׁתֵּי קוֹמוֹת. אֶחָד מִן הָעֵדִים דּוֹחֲפוֹ עַל מָתְנָיו. נֶהְפַּךְ עַל לִבּוֹ, הוֹפְכוֹ עַל מָתְנָיו. אִם מֵת בָּהּ, יָצָא. וְאִם לָאו, הַשֵּׁנִי נוֹטֵל אֶת הָאֶבֶן וְנוֹתְנָהּ עַל לִבּוֹ. אִם מֵת בָּהּ, יָצָא. וְאִם לָאו, רְגִימָתוֹ בְכָל יִשְׂרָאֵל, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יז) יַד הָעֵדִים תִּהְיֶה בּוֹ בָרִאשֹׁנָה לַהֲמִיתוֹ וְיַד כָּל הָעָם בָּאַחֲרֹנָה. כָּל הַנִּסְקָלִין נִתְלִין, דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר. וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים, אֵינוֹ נִתְלֶה אֶלָּא הַמְגַדֵּף וְהָעוֹבֵד עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה. הָאִישׁ תּוֹלִין אוֹתוֹ פָּנָיו כְּלַפֵּי הָעָם, וְהָאִשָּׁה פָּנֶיהָ כְלַפֵּי הָעֵץ, דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר. וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים, הָאִישׁ נִתְלֶה וְאֵין הָאִשָּׁה נִתְלֵית. אָמַר לָהֶן רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר, וַהֲלֹא שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן שָׁטָח תָּלָה נָשִׁים בְּאַשְׁקְלוֹן. אָמְרוּ לוֹ, שְׁמֹנִים נָשִׁים תָּלָה, וְאֵין דָּנִין שְׁנַיִם בְּיוֹם אֶחָד. כֵּיצַד תּוֹלִין אוֹתוֹ, מְשַׁקְּעִין אֶת הַקּוֹרָה בָאָרֶץ וְהָעֵץ יוֹצֵא מִמֶּנָּה, וּמַקִּיף שְׁתֵּי יָדָיו זוֹ עַל גַּבֵּי זוֹ וְתוֹלֶה אוֹתוֹ. רַבִּי יוֹסֵי אוֹמֵר, הַקּוֹרָה מֻטָּה עַל הַכֹּתֶל, וְתוֹלֶה אוֹתוֹ כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁהַטַּבָּחִין עוֹשִׂין. וּמַתִּירִין אוֹתוֹ מִיָּד. וְאִם לָן, עוֹבֵר עָלָיו בְּלֹא תַעֲשֶׂה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כא) לֹא תָלִין נִבְלָתוֹ עַל הָעֵץ כִּי קָבוֹר תִּקְבְּרֶנּוּ כִּי קִלְלַת אֱלֹהִים תָּלוּי וְגוֹ'. כְּלוֹמַר, מִפְּנֵי מָה זֶה תָלוּי, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁבֵּרַךְ אֶת הַשֵּׁם, וְנִמְצָא שֵׁם שָׁמַיִם מִתְחַלֵּל:

The place of stoning from which the condemned man is pushed to his death is a platform twice the height of an ordinary person. He is made to stand at the edge of the platform, and then one of the witnesses who testified against him pushes him down by the hips, so that he falls face up onto the ground. If he turned over onto his chest, with his face downward, the witness turns him over onto his hips. And if he dies through this fall to the ground, the obligation to stone the transgressor is fulfilled. And if the condemned man does not die from his fall, the second witness takes the stone that has been prepared for this task and places, i.e., casts, it on his chest. And if he dies with the casting of this first stone, the obligation to stone the transgressor is fulfilled. And if he does not die with the casting of this stone, then his stoning is completed by all of the Jewish people, i.e., by all the people who assembled for the execution, as it is stated: “The hand of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people” (Deuteronomy 17:7). The corpses of all those who are stoned are hung after their death; this is the statement of Rabbi Eliezer. And the Rabbis say: Only the corpse of the blasphemer, who has cursed God, and the corpse of the idol worshipper are hung. The corpse of a man is hung facing the people, but the corpse of a woman, out of modesty, is hung with facing the tree; this is the statement of Rabbi Eliezer. And the Rabbis say: the corpse of a man is hung, but the corpse of a woman is not hung. Rabbi Eliezer said to the Rabbis: Did Shimon ben Shataḥ not hang in Ashkelon women who were found guilty of witchcraft, proving that the corpse of a woman who is executed is also hung? They said to him: No proof can be brought from here, as he hanged eighty women on that day, and the halakha is that the same court may not judge even two people charged with capital transgressions on the same day. It is therefore clear that he was not acting in accordance with Torah law, but rather his execution of the eighty women was an extraordinary punishment necessitated by unusually pressing circumstances. How do they hang the corpse of one who was put to death by stoning? They sink a post into the earth with a piece of wood jutting out, forming a T-shaped structure. And the court appointee then places the dead man’s two hands one upon the other, ties them, and hangs him by his hands. Rabbi Yosei says: The post is not sunk into the ground; rather, it leans against a wall, and he hangs the corpse on it the way that butchers do with meat. The dead man hangs there for only a very short time, and then they immediately untie him. And if he was left hanging overnight, a prohibition is transgressed, as it is stated: “His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but you shall bury him that day, for he that is hung is a curse of God” (Deuteronomy 21:23). That is to say: Were the corpse left hanging on the tree overnight, people would ask: For what reason was this one hung after he was put to death? They would be answered: Because he blessed God, a euphemism for blasphemy. And therefore the name of Heaven would be desecrated were the dead man’s corpse to remain hanging, reminding everybody of his transgression.

5 ה

אָמַר רַבִּי מֵאִיר, בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁאָדָם מִצְטַעֵר, שְׁכִינָה מַה הַלָּשׁוֹן אוֹמֶרֶת כִּבְיָכוֹל, קַלַּנִי מֵרֹאשִׁי, קַלַּנִי מִזְּרוֹעִי. אִם כֵּן הַמָּקוֹם מִצְטַעֵר עַל דָּמָם שֶׁל רְשָׁעִים שֶׁנִּשְׁפַּךְ, קַל וָחֹמֶר עַל דָּמָם שֶׁל צַדִּיקִים. וְלֹא זוֹ בִלְבַד, אֶלָּא כָּל הַמֵּלִין אֶת מֵתוֹ, עוֹבֵר בְּלֹא תַעֲשֶׂה. הֱלִינוֹ לִכְבוֹדוֹ לְהָבִיא לוֹ אָרוֹן וְתַכְרִיכִים, אֵינוֹ עוֹבֵר עָלָיו. וְלֹא הָיוּ קוֹבְרִין אוֹתוֹ בְּקִבְרוֹת אֲבוֹתָיו, אֶלָּא שְׁתֵּי בָתֵּי קְבָרוֹת הָיוּ מְתֻקָּנִין לְבֵית דִּין, אַחַת לַנֶּהֱרָגִין וְלַנֶּחֱנָקִין וְאַחַת לַנִּסְקָלִין וְלַנִּשְׂרָפִין:

Rabbi Meir said: The phrase “for he that is hung is a curse [kilelat] of God” should be understood as follows: When a man suffers in the wake of his sin, what expression does the Divine Presence use? I am distressed [kallani] about My head, I am distressed about My arm, meaning, I, too, suffer when the wicked are punished. From here it is derived: If God suffers such distress over the blood of the wicked that is spilled, even though they justly deserved their punishment, it can be inferred a fortiori that He suffers distress over the blood of the righteous. And the Sages said not only this, that an executed transgressor must be buried on the same day that he is killed, but they said that anyone who leaves his deceased relative overnight with-out burying him transgresses a prohibition. But if he left the deceased overnight for the sake of the deceased’s honor, e.g., to bring a coffin or shrouds for his burial, he does not transgress the prohibition against leaving him unburied overnight. After the executed transgressor is taken down he is buried, and they would not bury him in his ancestral burial plot. Rather, two graveyards were established for the burial of those executed by the court: One for those who were killed by decapitation or strangled, and one for those who were stoned or burned.

6 ו

נִתְעַכֵּל הַבָּשָׂר, מְלַקְּטִין אֶת הָעֲצָמוֹת וְקוֹבְרִין אוֹתָן בִּמְקוֹמָן. וְהַקְּרוֹבִים בָּאִים וְשׁוֹאֲלִין בִּשְׁלוֹם הַדַּיָּנִים וּבִשְׁלוֹם הָעֵדִים, כְּלוֹמַר שֶׁאֵין בְּלִבֵּנוּ עֲלֵיכֶם כְּלוּם, שֶׁדִּין אֱמֶת דַּנְתֶּם. וְלֹא הָיוּ מִתְאַבְּלִין, אֲבָל אוֹנְנִין, שֶׁאֵין אֲנִינוּת אֶלָּא בַלֵּב:

Once the flesh of the deceased had decomposed, they would gather his bones and bury them in their proper place in his ancestral burial plot. And soon after the execution, the relatives of the executed transgressor would come and inquire about the welfare of the judges and about the welfare of the witnesses, as if to say: We hold no grudges against you, as you judged a true judgment. And the relatives of the executed man would not mourn him with the observance of the usual mourning rites, so that his unmourned death would atone for his transgression; but they would grieve over his passing, since grief is felt only in the heart.