Chapter 8 - Extraordinary Sources of Jewish Law: the Example of Capital Punishment
Steven H. Resnicoff, Chapter 8 of Understanding Jewish Law (LexisNexis, 2012)
10 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2012
Date Written: 2012
Most Jewish law scholarship, especially that which is published in English, focuses on only one of Jewish law’s criminal law enforcement systems, namely, the operation of the rabbinic court system pursuant to the rules set forth in the Pentateuch, as interpreted in the Babylonian Talmud. In fact, this literature usually fails even to acknowledge the existence of the two other law enforcement systems: (1) enforcement by rabbinic courts functioning under their “extraordinary powers”; and (2) and enforcement by a Jewish king. These two systems vary enormously as to the procedural protections they provide and as to their practical consequences. Failing to examine them causes one to very seriously misunderstand how Jewish law functioned throughout history and paints a rather "Pollyanna-like" portrait of Jewish law.
This submission constitutes Chapter 8 of my book, "Understanding Jewish Law," published by LexisNexis in June 2012. It explains the dramatic differences among these three criminal law enforcement systems and documents the pragmatic steps taken by rabbinic authorities responsible for providing a safe and stable social environment.
Keywords: Jewish law, Judaiam, capital punishment, death penalty, execution, crime, criminal law, criminal justice, procedural protections, martial law, emergency powers, king, government, law enforcement, confession, Bible, Torah
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