Harmonizing Divergent Purposes of Punishment in Jewish Criminal Law: Integrating Religious, Criminological, and Legal Perspectives

47 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2023 Last revised: 10 Mar 2024

See all articles by Jonathan Hasson

Jonathan Hasson

University of Haifa - Faculty of Law

Date Written: January 20, 2023

Abstract

This article investigates the purposes of punishment in Jewish law, a subject that has been contentious in recent scholarly discussions. It scrutinizes whether these punishments align with religious, educational, or conventional punitive principles like deterrence, retribution, rehabilitation, and prevention. A historical examination shows that contemporary punitive goals such as retribution, deterrence, prevention, rehabilitation, compensation, and atonement have roots in Hebrew law throughout various epochs. Notably, each advocated objective faced counterargument in a certain era, with none achieving supremacy. The article posits that the theoretical underpinnings of punishment in Hebrew law are fundamentally akin to those in general punitive theory. This similarity extends to the nature of the queries posed, the challenges encountered, the argumentative styles, and the fragmented and inconsistent answers offered. Consequently, the pursuit of a unique punitive theory within Hebrew law is deemed unproductive, as no such distinctive framework exists or has existed. Modern theories of punishment, akin to their historical Jewish law counterparts, are plagued by inherent paradoxes that appear unresolvable. Jewish legal texts add to the complexity and disarray in categorizing punitive objectives, as different goals frequently conflict. This mirrors the larger domain of penal theory policies, which constantly grapple with reconciling opposing objectives to find an appropriate equilibrium in each case.

Keywords: Punishment, Purposes of Punishment, Jewish Law, Halacha, Complementary Systems Theory, Jewish Criminology, Spiritual Criminology, Bible, Capital Punishment, Deterrence, Retribution, Rehabilitation, Prevention

Suggested Citation

Hasson, Jonathan, Harmonizing Divergent Purposes of Punishment in Jewish Criminal Law: Integrating Religious, Criminological, and Legal Perspectives (January 20, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4331915 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4331915

Jonathan Hasson (Contact Author)

University of Haifa - Faculty of Law ( email )

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