Crime; Crimes

krim, krimz: This. term is used in English as the equivalent of the Hebrew mishpaT, "judgment," "verdict" (Eze 7:23); zimmah, "a heinous crime" (Job 31:11); 'asham = "a fault," "sin" (Ge 26:10, English Versions of the Bible "guiltiness"); and Greek aitia, "case," "cause" (Ac 25:27, the Revised Version (British and American) "charges"). In the King James Version Joh 18:38; 19:4,6, the rendition is "fault."

egklema, "indictment," "charge" (Ac 25:16 the King James Version) is changed in the Revised Version (British and American) to "matter." A crime is a transgression against the public right; serious offense against the law; a base weakness or iniquity, all of which are regarded by the Bible as offenses against (1) God, or (2) man, or (3) both. An injury to the creature is regarded as obnoxious to the Creator. Specific forms of crime are the following:


See separate article.


This term does not occur in the English Versions of the Bible, but, of course, is included in the more general "to kill," or "to slay" (haragh = "to smite with deadly intent" "destroy," "kill," "murder," "put to death"). The law distinguished between unpremeditated and premeditated slaying, pronouncing a curse upon the latter (De 27:25). David expresses the deepest abhorrence of such an act (2Sa 4:9-12). Instances are found recorded in Jg 3:15-22; 2Sa 3:27; 4:5-7; 13:28-29; 20:9-10; 2Ki 12:20; 19:37; Isa 37:38. See also separate article.


According to Webster: "unnatural connection with a beast." This form of vice was treated by the Mosaic law as something exceedingly loathsome and abhorrent, calling for extreme language in its description and rigorous measures in its punishment. Both the beast and the guilty human were to be put to death (Ex 22:19; Le 18:23; 20:15-16; De 27:21), in order, as the Talmud says, to obliterate all memory of the crime.


See separate article.

Breach of Covenant.

Breach of Covenant (parar 'eth ha-berith).--According to Poucher (HDB, article "Crimes"), this term included: (1) failure to observe the Day of Atonement (Le 23:29); work on that day (Le 23:28); (2) sacrifice of children to Moloch (Le 20:3); (3) neglect of circumcision (Ge 17:14; Ex 4:26); (4) unauthorized manufacture of the holy oil (Ex 30:33); (5) anointing an alien therewith (Ex 30:33); (6) neglect of the Passover (Nu 9:13). Note also the following: Ge 17:14; Le 26:15-44; De 29:25; 31:16,20. Paul (Ro 1:31) speaks of asunthetoi = "Convenant--breakers."

Breach of Ritual.

A term not found in the Scriptures, but designed to cover a number of acts prohibited by the ceremonial law. They have been exhaustively enumerated by Poucher (HDB, article "Crimes"): (1) eating blood, whether of fowl or beast (Le 7:27; 17:14); (2) eating fat of the beast of sacrifice (Le 7:25); (3) eating leavened bread during the Passover (Ex 12:15,19); (4) failure to bring an offering when an animal is slaughtered for food (Le 17:4); (5) offering sacrifice while the worshipper is under the ban of uncleanness. (Le 7:20-21; 22:3-4,9); (6) making holy ointment for private use (Ex 30:32-33); (7) using the same for perfume (Ex 30:38); (8) neglect of purification in general (Nu 19:13,10); (9) slaughtering an animal for food away from the door of the tabernacle (Le 17:4,9); even the alien must comply, so that the introduction of worship at other places might be avoided; (10) touching holy things illegally (Nu 4:16,20 the Revised Version (British and American) "the sanctuary"). The punishment for the non-observance of these prohibitions was the "cutting off" from the transgressor's people (nikhrath miqqerebh = "cut off from among," i.e. excommunicated).

Breach of Trust.



See separate article.


This term does not occur. The corresponding act is defined as "thievery accompanied by breaking," and it places the offender beyond protection from violence (Ex 22:2). The crime might be committed in various degrees, and to burglarize the "devoted things" was punishable by death (Jos 7:25), as was also man-stealing (Ex 21:16; De 24:7).


See separate article.


See separate article.


See separate article.


See separate article.


See separate article.

Evil Speaking (Slander).

See Speaking Evil.


Occurs as the rendition of ma`al = "treachery," "sin," "trespass" (Job 21:34); and of sheqer = "a sham," "deceit," "lying" (2Sa 18:13; Ps 7:14; 119:118; 144:8,11; Isa 28:15; 57:4; 59:13; Jer 10:14; 13:25; Ho 7:1; Mic 2:11). In every case willful perversion of the truth or preference for the untruth is at least presupposed, hence, falsehood always marks an evil disposition, enmity against truth, and hence, against God; consequently is criminal in the fullest sense.

False Swearing.

"Swearing to a lie or falsehood" (sheqer) is mentioned in Le 6:3,1; 19:12; Jer 5:2; 7:9; Ho 10:4; Zec 5:4. From these passages and their context, it appears that this crime was considered in the twofold sense of a wrong against (1) the neighbor, and (2) against God, for the oath was an appeal to God as a witness to the truthfulness of the statement; hence, to swear falsely was to represent God as supporting a false statement.


Hebrew, zanah = "to commit adultery," especially of the female, and less frequently of mere fornication, seldom of involuntary ravishment; also used figuratively in the sense of idolatry, the Jewish people being regarded as the spouse of Yahweh (2Ch 21:11; Isa 23:17; Eze 16:26). Once we find the derivative noun taznuth (Eze 16:29). In the New Testament, with both the literal and the figurative application, we find porneia, and porneuo (Mt 5:32; 15:19; Joh 8:41; Ac 15:20; 1Co 5:1; 6:13,18; 7:2; 10:8; 2Co 12:21; Ga 5:19; Eph 5:3; Col 3:5; 1Th 4:3; Re 2:14,20-21; 9:21; 14:8; 17:2,4). The intensive ekporneuo = "to be utterly unchaste" is found in Jude 1:7. Every form of unchastity is included in the term "fornication."


Found only in Mt 5:33 in the sense of committing perjury (epiorkeo).


The avocational or at least habitual, notorious practice of unchastity. In most instances the ordinary term for unchaste living, zanah, is employed (Ge 34:31; 38:15,24; Le 21:14; Jos 2:1 (Rahab); Jg 11:1; 16:1; 1Ki 3:16; Pr 7:10; 29:3; Jer 5:7; Am 7:17). For the publicly known woman of the street and the professional devotee in the pagan temple-worship, the term kedheshah, was employed (Ge 38:21-22 the King James Version; Ho 4:14). The Greek porne, occurs in Mt 21:31 f; Lu 15:30; 1Co 6:15-16; Heb 11:31; Jas 2:25). Figurative: Often used metaphorically of idolatry or any defection from the Divine covenant, and applied particularly to Jerusalem (Isa 1:21); the Jewish nation (Jer 2:20; 3:1,6 ff; often in Eze 16:1-63 and Eze 23:1-49; Mic 1:7); Israel (Ho 4:15); Nineveh (Na 3:4); Tyro, with reference to the various arts employed to renew her commerce (Isa 23:16) and to her restored traffic (Isa 23:17); and to antiChristian "Babylon" (Re 17:5,15; 19:2). See also Fornication.


"Manslayer" (ratsach, "to dash in pieces," "to kill," "to murder"; Greek androphonos, with the same meaning): Mentioned in Nu 35:6,12; 1Ti 1:9. The Hebrew law distinguished between the premeditated and the unpremeditated slaying. See separate article.


See separate article.

Ill-treatment of Parents (Ex 21:15,17; Le 20:9; De 21:18 ff).

See below.

Injuries to the Person (Ex 21:18 ff; Le 24:19 f; De 25:11).


Lack of respect for God or His natural representatives, the parents or governmental officers. See also Parents, Crimes against; Blasphemy.


Designated in Hebrew by zimmah, "vice," "wickedness," "refined immorality" (Le 18:17; 20:14); also "unnatural vice," tebhel, the same word that is used to designate the unnatural commingling with beasts. Amnon's deed is designated as checedh, indicating the degradation of the tenderness natural between brothers and sisters into a tenderness of an immoral character (2Sa 13:1-39). The crime of sexual relation of persons within the degrees of relationship forbidden by the Levitical law, as for instance, that of Lot's daughters with their father (Ge 19:33); the son with his father's concubines, as for instance, Reuben (Ge 35:22), and Absalom (2Sa 16:22; compare 1Co 5:1); that of the father-in-law with his daughter-in-law (Ge 38:15 ff; compare Eze 22:11); of the brother with the sister or half-sister, as for instance, Amnon (2Sa 13:14); of the brother-in-law with the sister-in-law (Mt 14:3); with the wife's mother, or the wife's daughter while living in apparent marriage with the mother (Le 20:14; 18:17). Illicit relation with the brother's widow is designated (Le 20:21 ) as a disgraceful deed, literally, "uncleanness" (excepting the levirate marriage). Such acts were forbidden on the ground that the Jews were to avoid the evil practices of the Canaanites and the Egyptians in regard to marriage within the specified limits, because this would naturally result in breaking down the sanctity of the bonds connecting near relatives, and in throwing open the flood gates of immorality among them. It is the Divine plan that the unions based on mutual choice and love, mingled with carnality, shall become clarified more and more into the purer love of close consanguineal relations; not vice versa. Then, too, such provisions would secure higher results in training and in the production of mentally and physically healthy children, the balancing and evening up of contrasts of Nature, and the production of new and improved types. The principle on which the prohibitions are imposed seems to be this: Marriage is forbidden between any person and a direct ancestor or a direct descendant or any close relative, such as brother or sister of either himself or any of his ancestors or any of his immediate descendants.


This crime, in the form in which it has been and is prevalent among barbarous nations, seems to have been quite foreign to the minds of the Hebrews, for they had too lofty a conception of the value of human life, and children were considered a blessing; their absence in the home, a curse (compare Ex 1:17,21; Ps 127:1-5; 128:1-6). For this reason, there appeared to be no reason to prohibit it by law, except as the Israelites might be influenced to sacrifice their children to Molech when following the religious customs of the Canaanites.


Kidnapping (Man-Stealing).

andrapodistes = "man-stealer," "slave-dealer" (1Ti 1:10). This was a mortal offense; but it seems that it, like some other forms of iniquity, was unknown to the Hebrews, except as they came in contact with it through their intercourse with other nations, such as the Romans and the Greeks, whose mythology frequently alludes to such acts.

Lying, Malice, Manslaughter, Murder, Oath.

See separate articles.

Parents, Crimes against.

The law enjoined upon the infant all the reverence toward his parents, especially the father, that he could bestow on a merely human being. The reason for this lay in the fact that the heads of families were expected to transmit the Divine law to their household, and thus to stand in the place of God. That the mother was to share this reverence practically on equal terms with the father is shown by the fact that each is mentioned separately whenever obedience and reverence are enjoined upon the child (De 5:16). As the specific crime against Yahweh consisted in blasphemy and open rebellion against the law, so the crime against parents consisted in deliberate disobedience and stubbornness (De 21:18). And here again both the father and the mother are directed to lay hands upon him and bring him unto the elders for punishment. How greatly such conduct was held in horror is seen in many of the Proverbs, especially De 30:17. It would be hard to specify all the acts which, in view of the above, would be considered crimes against the parents, but it is evident that everything which would lower their dignity and influence or violate their sense of just recognition must be carefully avoided, as witness the curse visited upon Ham (Ge 9:20 through Ge 27:1-46).


See False Swearing; Forswear above; also article OATH.

Prophesying, False.

By reason of his position as the recognized mouthpiece of Yahweh, the prophet's word was weighty in influence; hence, to prophesy falsely was equivalent to practicing fraud publicly. Jeremiah described the condition as "wonderful and horrible," which made such things possible (5:30,31). See also Jer 23:1-40,12; 29:8-9; Eze 21:23; Zec 10:2; Mt 7:15; 24:11,24; Mr 13:22; Lu 6:26; Ac 13:6 (Bar-Jesus); 2Pe 2:1; 1Jo 4:1; Re 16:13; 19:20; 20:10. See also separate article.


Hebrew and Christian morality never condoned this practice, though the Bible recognizes its existence as a fact even among God's people. The Hebrew father was forbidden (Le 19:29) to give his daughter over to a life of shame (chalal, "to profane a person, place or thing," "to pollute"). See also Fornication, Harlotry, and Whoredom below.


chazak = "to seize," "bind," "restrain," "conquer, "force," "ravish." The punishment for this crime was greater when the act was committed against a betrothed woman (De 22:25-29). See also Seduction.

Removing Landmarks.

(De 19:14).


Reviling (Ex 22:28).

See Irreverence above and article REVILE.


gazal = "to pluck off," "strip," "rob," "take away by force or violence"; forbidden in the law and frequently referred to as despicable (Le 19:13; 26:22; 1Sa 23:1; Pr 22:22; Isa 10:2,13; 17:14; Eze 33:15; 39:10; Mal 3:8-9).


As the Hebrew Sabbath was regarded as a day of rest, all acts absolutely unnecessary were considered a violation, a "breaking" of the Sabbath, which appears sufficiently from the commandment (Ex 20:8-11); and the head of the household was held responsible for the keeping of this commandment on the part of all sojourners under his roof.

No other law gave the sophistical legalists of later Judaism so much opportunity for hair-splitting distinctions as did this. In answer to the question what labors were forbidden, they mentioned 39 specific forms of work, and then proceeded to define what constituted each particular form. But as even these definitions would not cover all possible questions, special precepts were invented. In order that one might not be caught in the midst of unfinished labors, when the Sabbath began (at sunset), certain forms of work must not be undertaken on Friday. Thus it was forbidden to fry meat, onions or eggs, if there was not sufficient time for them to be fully cooked before evening. No bread, no cakes, must be put into the oven, if there was not sufficient time remaining for their surface to brown before night.



ta`ah, "to dissemble," "seduce," and Ta`ah, with the same meaning; apoplanao, "to lead astray"; planao, "to go astray," "deceive," "err," "seduce"; and goes, "a wizard," "an impostor," "seducer." In all the passages in which the idea of seduction is expressed in the English the term is used not in the modern sense of a trespass against a woman's person, but in the more general and figurative sense of leading into sin generally (2Ki 21:9; Pr 12:26 the King James Version.; Isa 19:13 the King James Version; Eze 13:10; Mr 13:22 the King James Version; 2Ti 3:13 the King James Version; 1Jo 2:26 the King James Version; Re 2:20). However, the modern English idea of the word is expressed in the law found in Ex 22:16-17.


See separate article.


See Unnatural Vice.

Speaking Evil.

"To bring an evil (ra`) name upon" (De 19:15; 1Ki 22:23; Ps 34:13; 41:5; 50:19; 109:20; 140:11; Pr 15:28; 16:30). Evil speaking is considered a crime because it is simply the expression of the evil intents of the heart. This is brought out more clearly in the New Testament (Mt 7:17-18; 12:34-35; Mr 9:39; Lu 6:45). As such, evil speaking (blasphemia) is represented as entirely unworthy a Christian character (Eph 4:31; 1Pe 4:4,14; 2Pe 2:2,10,12; Jas 4:11; Jude 1:10); and katalaleo = "babble against," "gossip." It will be noticed from the above that evil speaking against those in authority is designated with the same word ("blasphemy") as raillery against God, they being considered God's representatives on earth.



Hebrew ganabh = "to thieve" (literal, or figurative); by implication, "to deceive," "carry away," "secretly bring," "steal away" (Ge 44:8; Ex 20:15; 21:16; 22:1; Pr 6:30; Zec 5:3; Ge 31:20,26 f; 2Sa 15:6; 19:3; Job 27:20; Pr 9:17 ("Stolen waters are sweet"; the forbidden is attractive; compare Ro 7:7)). Greek klepto = "to filch," "steal" (Mt 6:19-20; 19:18; Joh 10:10; Ro 2:21; 13:9; Eph 4:28). See Theft.


No special law is found against this crime, for it is included in the prohibition against killing. Contrary to the practice and the philosophy of paganism, the act was held in deep abhorrence by the Hebrews because of the high value placed on human life. It was held inexcusable that any but the most degraded and satanic should lay hands on their own lives. Only the remorse of the damned could drive one to it, as witness Saul (1Sa 31:4) and Judas (Mt 27:5).


Hebrew genebhah "stealing" (concrete), "something stolen," "theft" (Ex 22:3,1); mentioned in connection with other wickedness (klope) in Mt 15:19; Mr 7:21; and (klemma) in Re 9:21. All three words are used abstractly for the act and concretely for the thing stolen.



No other form of sin is mentioned with disapproval and threats more frequently than the various forms of carnal vice, for no other sin is more natural or widespread.


Unnatural Vice (Sodomy).

Alluded to with delicacy, but positively condemned as an abomination (Ge 13:13; 19:5,7; Le 18:22; 20:13). It was the specific form of wickedness through which Sodom became notorious, so that "sodomite" is the regular translation of qadhesh, "a (quasi) sacred person," i.e. (technically) "a (male or female) devotee to licentious idolatry" (De 23:17; 1Ki 14:24; 15:12; 22:46; 2Ki 23:7; Job 36:14 margin). Though permitted and even encouraged in heathen cult, it was never to be tolerated in the worship of Yahweh.


See separate article.

Witnessing, False.

The Hebrew idiom is `edh sheqer, "witness of a falsehood," "lie" (Ex 20:16; De 19:16,18; Pr 6:19; 14:5,25; 19:5,9); Greek pseudomartureo, "to bring false testimony"; -marturia, "bearing of false testimony" (Mr 10:19; 14:56-57). It goes without saying that the law was emphatic in its denunciation of this practice, and in order that the innocent might be protected against the lying accuser, a criminal was to be convicted only on the testimony of at least two or three witnesses, testifying to the same facts (Nu 35:30). If one be found testifying falsely, he was to be punished by suffering the penalty which would have been inflicted on him against whom he testified, had he been convicted (De 19:16-19).


Hebrew zanah = "to commit adultery," "fornication or illicit incontinence of any kind"; and its derivative taznuth = "fornication," "harlotry," "whoredom"; Greek porneuo (verb), and porneia (noun), of the same meaning. The following passages will reveal the estimate in which such uncleanness was held, and the fact that men and women given to it were held in equal abhorrence and designated by the same terms: Ge 38:24; Le 19:29; Nu 14:33; 25:1; Eze 16:1-63; 23:3,7-8,11,27,29,43; 43:7,9; Ho 1:2; 2:4; 4:11-12; 6:10; Na 3:4; Mt 5:32; Ro 1:26 f; 1Co 5:1; 7:2; 10:8; Jude 1:7; Re 2:14,20 f; Re 18:9; 19:2.

Figurative: Because of the infidelity to the lifemate and to right living involved in such acts, the practice became symbolical of infidelity to God and His law, and thus served as a frequent figure of speech for Israel's error and apostasy.


Frank E. Hirsch

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