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God has given governments the right to send law-breakers to prison (Romans 13:4), but he forbids brutal or excessive punishments. The punishment must be in proportion to the crime (Exodus 21:23-25).

In Bible times all sorts of places were used as prisons. In some cases there were official state prisons (Genesis 39:20; 2 Kings 17:4; Mark 6:17; Acts 12:4; Acts 16:24), though in other cases a prisoner may have been locked in the soldiers’ barracks at the palace (Jeremiah 32:2), dropped into an old disused well (Jeremiah 38:6), or kept under guard in a private house (Acts 28:16; Acts 28:30). Often the prison conditions were bad (Jeremiah 37:18-20), the food poor (2 Chronicles 18:26) and the treatment cruel (Judges 16:21; Judges 16:25; Jeremiah 52:11; Ezekiel 19:9).

Such conditions were not as common in Israel as in neighbouring countries, because the law of Moses encouraged respect for justice and human life. The guilty were to be punished, but they were not to be degraded (Deuteronomy 25:3; cf. Numbers 15:34). (For further details see PUNISHMENT.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Prison'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

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