Forty Stripes – No More

Here we have a summary of comparison of the two by Truth Magazine website by David McAlister on the Scourging of Jesus:

“The beating administered by synagogues was not nearly as drastic as a Roman scourging. First, the instrument used in the synagogues was a lighter whip and was not weighted with metal or bone. Second, according to the tradition recorded in the Mishnah (tractate Makkot), the judges would determine if the victim could survive the full measure of the beating required by the law (forty lashes). If he could not, the number of lashes was reduced. Third, the Law of Moses limited whippings to forty lashes (Deut. 25:3), which was a provision to prevent excessive humiliation. The Jews usually stopped at thirty-nine (lest they counted wrong and violated the law by giving more than forty; cf. Paul’s reference to “thirty-nine stripes” in 2 Cor. 11:24). Scourging, however, was much more traumatic, even to the point of being fatal. The flagellum was a much more torturous instrument, the lashes were delivered without any compassion or consideration for the victim’s health, and Roman law imposed no limit to the number of lashes inflicted at scourging. The Roman law mandated scourging as part of capital sentences, but this probably had the effect of shortening the victim’s agony once on the cross. The victim would have been so weak from blood loss and pain that the Crucifixion was an agonizing, torturous death, but Jesus endured a torture that was nearly as, or perhaps equally, excruciating before he ever got to the cross. This was the pain he suffered when he was scourged.

Scourging, called verberatio by the Romans, was possibly the worst kind of flogging administered by ancient courts. While the Jews administered whippings in the synagogues for certain offenses, these were mild in comparison to scourging. Scourging was not normally a form of execution, but it certainly was brutal enough to be fatal in many cases. A person certainly could be beaten to death by the scourge if that was desired. Its purpose was not only to cause great pain but to humiliate as well. To scourge a man was to beat him worse than one would beat a stupid animal. It was belittling, debasing, and demeaning. It was considered such a degrading form of punishment that, according to the Porcian (248 B.C.) and Sempronian (123 B.C.) laws, Roman citizens were exempt from it. It was, therefore, the punishment appropriate only for slaves and non-Romans, those who were viewed as the lesser elements in Roman society. To make it as humiliating as possible, scourging was carried out in public.  The person would die more quickly than if he had not been scourged. This seems to have been the case with Jesus (although the scourging was probably not the only thing that caused him to die relatively quickly).”

In light of this knowledge above, when we read Isaiah 52:14 we understand the extent of His suffering better, yet not completely unless we went through it. In any case, I pray this will help someone out there to see the true picture of YAHSHUA’S suffering enough to stop the teaching of forty lashes in relationship with His ordeal. Playing down the extent and the method in which He suffered, it is not only to deny Isaiah’s and David’s prophecies but also disregard in the obscurity of one’s ignorance, the mercilessness of those who inflicted terrible pain in His entire body. The Bible confirms the extent of His suffering through the gospels, but Isaiah and David describe in details the results of YAHSHUA flogging: His face and His whole appearance were marred more than any man’s and His form beyond that of the sons of men- but just as many were astonished at Him (Isaiah 52: 14; And Psalm 22:14-15: I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax; it is softened [with anguish] and melted down within me. My strength is dried up like a fragment of clay pottery; my tongue cleaves to my jaws and You have brought me into the dust of death.

When did forty lashes disfigure a person’s face and body? The law says: forty lashes and no more unless your brother should seem low and worthless to you (Deut.25:3). YAHSHUA was for a short time not at the mercy of His Father, but at the mercy of sinful and ignorant men who knew nothing about the Jewish law, neither had knowledge of the true God to fear Him and show compassion to a human in their opportunity to do so. Psalm 22:16-18 describes the type of men in their abusive power scourged YAHSHUA: Like dogs they have encompassed me; a company of evildoers has encircled me, they pierced my hands and my feet; I can count all my bones; [the evildoers] gaze at me; they part my clothing among them and cast lots for my raiment. But be not far from me, O Lord; O my Help, hasten to aid me!

I believe deep in my heart that God would not have allowed His people to scourge His Son in the manner in which the Romans did without serious consequences, for to them was given the law in which the manner and how many lashes should be applied to a person. It was bad enough for them that they had rejected YAHSHUA as their Messiah, and had handed Him to the Romans to die through the death of their choice – by crucifixion. The corporal pain was inflicted on Him by the Romans, not by the Jews. Therefore, He received under the Romans’ cruelty 120 stripes, not 39 + 1! That makes 40 x 3= 120. The number three was present in most of the trials YAHSHUA went through. For its meaning has to do with resurrection, divine completeness, and perfection according to Ed F. Vallowe, the author of the Biblical Mathematics book. So, God was, through the trials and death of His Son, reconciling man to Himself in perfect completeness of His plan of salvation in harmony with the Trinity as Peter puts it together: who were chosen and foreknown by God the Father and consecrated by the Spirit to be obedient to YAHSHUA the Messiah and to be sprinkled with [His] blood! (Peter 1:2).


Author: Jacinta da Cruz Rodgers

I have been committed to teaching the truth of the Word of God beginning with Trans World Radio on Bonaire, N.A and Swaziland, Africa (1969-1980), then through churches in the United States in both English and Portuguese and then through ministry in Israel (2005-2006). This ministry continues through local Bible studies and outreach to the world via the internet. I have written a book about my life from that of an orphan in Brazil to missionary in 5 countries. You can find out more on the "Book" page of our blog site.

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