Stoning, or lapidation, refers to a form of capital punishment whereby an organized group throws stones at the convicted individual until the person dies.

Stoning has been used throughout history in a number of places, both in the form of community justice and also as a judicial form of capital punishment. The practice is referred to in Greek history, as well as Christian, Jewish, and Islamic texts. In the Bible it often occurs, or almost occurs, to righteous people or as the result of mob action (see lists below).

ecular use

Non-religious persons and secular governments almost never use lapidation as a form of punishment. The practice tends to be prescribed as a punishment for religious/sexual crimes.

Religious use

Bible and Judaism


The Torah of the Jews, which is contained in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible and as such serves as a common religious reference, prescribes death by stoning for a long series of offenses, namely:
* Touching Mount Sinai while God was giving Moses the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19:13)
* An ox that gores someone to death should be stoned (Exodus 21:28)
* Breaking the Shabbat (Numbers 15:32-36)
* Giving one's "seed" (presumably one's offspring) "to Molech" (Leviticus 20:2-5)
* Having a "familiar spirit" (or being a necromancer) or being a "wizard" (Lev. 20:27)
* Cursing God (Lev. 24:10-16)
* Engaging in idolatry (Deuteronomy 17:2-7) or seducing others to do so (Deut. 13:7-12)
* "Rebellion" against parents (Deut. 21,21)
* Getting married as though a virgin, when not a virgin (Deut. 22:13-21)
* Sexual intercourse between a man and a woman engaged to another man (both should be stoned, Deut. 22:23-24)


The Mishna gives the following list of persons who should be stoned (Sanhedrin Chapter 7, p. 53a [] )
* A man who has sexual intercourse with one of the following (see Lev. 20, which however does not specify the form of execution):::his mother::his father's wife::his daughter-in-law::another man::an animal ("bestiality")
* A woman who allows an animal to have sexual intercourse with her
* A blasphemer
* An idolater
* One who gives his seed to Molech
* A necromancer or wizard
* One who desecrates the sabbath
* One who curses his father and mother
* One who has sexual intercourse with a betrothed maiden
* One who incites or instigates (toward idolatry)
* A sorcerer
* A wayward and rebellious son

In practice

There are, however, only scarce mentions of such a punishment being actually inflicted. A detailed recorded case of stoning occurs in the Book of Joshua (7, 24) when a man named Achan (עכן) was found to have kept loot from Jericho, a conquered Canaanite city, in his tent. Under the mores reflected in that book, massacring the Canaanites was an acceptable and indeed praiseworthy act, but disobedience to God's command by taking loot to oneself was an act heinous enough that not only Achan himself but also his entire family were stoned to death by the gathered Hebrews, as a punishment.As manifest also in Jewish sources contemporary with and prior to early Christianity, particularly the Mishnah, doubts were growing in Jewish society about the morality of capital punishment in general and stoning in particular. For example, according to Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel in the time when the religious courts had authority over capital punishment, a court that executed more than 1 person in 70 years was a "bloody court".makkot 1:10 March 11 2008] In the following centuries the leading Jewish sages imposed so many restrictions on the actual implementation of capital punishment - especially, many difficult to fulfill conditions for a testimony to be admissible (Sanhedrin) - as to make the imposition of capital punishment virtually impossible in practice.

According to the Talmud stoning should be an instant death with the first stone being so heavy it must be heaved off a cliff to inflict the fatal blow.

In Islam

"Within shari'a law, there is a specific set of offenses known as the Hadd offences. These are crimes punished by specific penalties, such as stoning, lashes or the severing of a hand. The penalties for Hadd offences are not universally adopted as law in Islamic countries."Susie Steiner, " [,6512,777972,00.html Sharia Law] ", March 25, 2007 ]

As with many religions today, not all holy books reference a particular topic. Islamic scholars argue both sides of stoning within Islam, but regardless, many cases of stoning continue to this day. However, unlike Judaism where for capital punishment to take place two reputable witnesses must witness the Hadd offense including stoning Hadd, in Islam stoning (which is the penalty for committing adultery under marriage wedlock only)] and Human Rights Watch, oppose all capital punishment, including stoning. Other groups, such as and RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan), oppose stoning "per se" as an especially "cruel" practice.

Specific sentences of stoning, such as the Amina Lawal case, have often generated international protest. Groups like Human Rights Watch,cite news | first= | last= | pages= | title=Nigeria: Debunking Misconceptions on Stoning Case |date=2003| publisher=Human Rights Watch| url=] while in sympathy with these protests, have raised a concern that the Western focus on stoning as an especially "exotic" or "barbaric" act distracts from what they view as the larger problems of capital punishment. They argue that the "more fundamental human rights issue in Nigeria is the dysfunctional justice system."

In Iran, the Stop Stoning Forever Campaign was formed by various women’s rights activists after two individuals were stoned to death in Mashhad Iran in May of 2006. Their main goal is to legally abolish stoning as a form of punishment for adultery in Iran. []

toning in literature

*Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" depicts a lottery in which one member of a small, isolated American community is stoned to death ritually each year as a sacrifice. It explores themes of scapegoating, man's inherent evil and the destructive nature of observing ancient, outdated rituals.
*Robert A. Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land" reaches its climax with a stoning execution.
*Friedoune Sahebjam's "The Stoning of Soraya M." Is a true story of woman who was stoned to death in Iran in 1986.

toning in film and television

*"Seven Sleepers" ("English translation"), 2005 - A series running on Iranian TV, in which medieval (300-400 AD) Jews stone Christians.cite news | first= | last= | pages= | title=Iran TV: 'Evil' Jews stoning Christians |date=January 5, 2005| publisher= | url=]
*"A Stoning in Fulham County", 1988 - A made-for-TV movie surrounding the vigilante stoning in an American Amish community.cite news | first= | last= | pages= | title=A Stoning in Fulham County | date= release date 1988 | publisher= | url=]
*"Sleeper Cell", 2005 - A Showtime original series. Members of the cell execute (by stoning) one of their members for talking openly with his uncle about planned terrorist attacks.cite news | first= | last= | pages= | title=Sleeper Cell | date= release date December 2005 | publisher= Showtime | url=]
*"Monty Python's Life of Brian" presents a Jesus of Nazareth-era stoning in a humorous context, ending with a massive boulder being dropped on the Jewish official, not the victim.
* In the "Doctor Who" story "The Mysterious Planet", the Sixth Doctor is stoned.
* On the HBO prison show "Oz", inmate William Giles was sentenced to death. Giles requested that he be stoned to death. This request caused capital punishment to be briefly overturned, only to be brought back with stricter rules.
* Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" made into a short (20 minute) film by Larry Yust [] in 1969 as part of an educational release for Encyclopaedia Britannica's "Short Story Showcase".
* In the cartoon "American Dad!" the family was sentenced to be stoned after many sins done by various members of the family.
* The film "The Kite Runner" depicts the stoning of an adulteress in a public stadium during a football match, by the Taliban.
* The film "Mission Istanbul" depicts the stoning of an adulteress in Kabul, by the fictional terrorist group Abu Nazir until it is interrupted by the protagonist Vikas Sagar. After Vikas leaves, the adulteress is shot dead.

ee also

*Amina Lawal
*Capital punishment in Iran - Stoning
*Malak Ghorbany
*Pressing (another form of execution using stones)
*Rajm (Islamic stoning)
*St. Stephen (Christian martyr who died by stoning)
*Stocks (a generally non-lethal punishment that sometimes involved pelting with stones)
*Stoning of the Devil
*Shab Qadar Incident


External links

* [ Frequently Asked Questions About Stoning]
* [ Stoning and Human Rights]
* [ Stoning and Islam]
* [ Stoning Cases]
* [ Report on Stop Stoning Forever Campaign in Iran]
* [ Extract of the Kitab Al-Hudud] (The book pertaining to punishments prescribed by Islam)
*1991 Video of Stoning of Death in Iran: [ WMV format] | [ Real Player] (Note: may be disturbing to some viewers)
* [ Khaleej Times] (United Arab Emirates: Fujairah Shariah court orders man to be stoned to death for adultery - 11 June 2006)
* [ Muslims against stoning]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Stoning — Stone Stone, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Stoned}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Stoning}.] [From {Stone}, n.: cf. AS. st?nan, Goth. stainjan.] 1. To pelt, beat, or kill with stones. [1913 Webster] And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • stoning — noun Lapidation: punishment by throwing stones, usually resulting in death …   Wiktionary

  • Stoning —    A form of punishment (Lev. 20:2; 24:14; Deut. 13:10; 17:5; 22:21) prescribed for certain offences. Of Achan (Josh. 7:25), Naboth (1 Kings 21), Stephen (Acts 7:59), Paul (Acts 14:19; 2 Cor. 11:25) …   Easton's Bible Dictionary

  • stoning — Synonyms and related words: bane, beheading, blood, bloodletting, bloodshed, braining, burning, capital punishment, crucifixion, dealing death, decapitation, decollation, defenestration, destruction, destruction of life, dispatch, electrocution,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • stoning — Capital punishment [[➝ punishment, everlasting]] for blasphemy (Lev. 24:15–16) or idolatry (Deut. 17:2–7) and other crimes. It took place outside a city and the victim was pelted with stones by the whole community (Deut. 13:10). The death of… …   Dictionary of the Bible

  • stoning — n. form of punishment in which stones are thrown at the condemned until he is dead stəʊn n. rock; piece of rock shaped or cut for some purpose; pebble; gem; seed, pit; unit of weight equal to fourteen pounds or 6.36 kilograms (British) v. put… …   English contemporary dictionary

  • stoning — noun the act of pelting with stones; punishment inflicted by throwing stones at the victim (even unto death) • Syn: ↑lapidation • Derivationally related forms: ↑lapidate (for: ↑lapidation), ↑stone • Hypernyms …   Useful english dictionary

  • Stoning of the Devil — or stoning of the jamarat (Arabic: ramy al jamarāt ) is part of the annual Islamic Hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Muslim pilgrims fling pebbles at three walls called jamarat in the city of Mina just east of Mecca. It… …   Wikipedia

  • Stoning in Scripture — • At first an expression of popular fury analogous to lynching , later came to be a natural and legally recognized method of execution Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Stoning in Scripture     Stoning in Scripture …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Stoning of Du'a Khalil Aswad — Du’a Khalil Aswad Du’a Khalil Aswad دعاء خليل أسود Born 1990 Died c. April 7, 2007 Bashika, Ninawa, Iraq …   Wikipedia

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