What the world needs now in addition to love is wisdom.
Sunday, April 2, 2017
King Solomon on Punishment for Fools
Who should pay to incarcerate criminals?
Illinois has not sued any prisoners for costs of their incarnation even though Illinois Law provides they may. Most cannot pay anyway, or the costs to sue are more burdensome than practical. The issue is controversial. In my opinion, with 3 million prisoners, and the loss of many industrial jobs to overseas sources, perhaps it is time to review the cost of imprisonment to taxpayers. This previous post of 6/3/2014 is a starting point to explore a series of future posts on this subject..
Should we return to whipping as a means of punishment for fools?
I read an article in Freshly Pressed about Free Will which the writer also expressed his views about prisons.
There are approximately three million prisoners incarcerated today in the USA. While I do not personally believe whipping should be returned as a punishment, it may interest you to understand ancient beliefs about punishment. Perhaps it may stimulate some wise legislators to consider and seek to find a better solution to an ancient problem that still exists three thousand years later.
In a novel excerpt, I surmised what King Solomon based on his proverbs, may have explained to the Queen of Sheba his views about punishment. The novel is a contemporary application of a story form to promote understanding of proverbs and ancient wise sayings in relation to our modern times.
“Solomon, I believe I understand your reasoning for punishing lawbreakers as examples to caution others from doing the same. What I am still having difficulty comprehending is the effectiveness of cruel punishments. You whip, stone and hang offenders. My father threw all his seditious adversaries and their families from a tower to their deaths. Others impale, stab with swords, gibbet, cut off limbs, burn on stakes, drown, or other similar cruel methods and deadly punishments. Yet despite all the harsh punishments, offenders continue to break laws. Please explain why you punish most offenders with whipping and scourging. I seem to remember in your story about the harlots and the baby that you stated weals are a massage for evil, and strokes for the chambers of the belly. Tell me more about the meaning of your statement.”
“Bilqis, we believe that the belly is the deepest part of a human’s character that resides in this chamber. The belly is the repository of all thoughts, motives, words and actions of a person. Both good and evil reside within the belly. We believe if necessary, the best way to effect a radical change, educate, or reform a person is to address the core area of their behavior.”
“As oil and massage is a remedy to heal, a whip is the same as a massage to heal the person by inflicting pain to penetrate and remedy the roots of the problem. For example, a terrified person will become sick within their belly and vomit. However, vomit will not expel the evil within them. The purpose of the beating is to heal the person by using pain and fear to motivate them to control and drive out the evil within them.”
“Solomon, what would happen if you instead punished offenders with confinement in a prison for a set period? Perhaps time will instead heal and motivate them to change as well.”
I began smiling when I heard her question.
“Why are you smiling Solomon? Are my questions amusing you?” Bilqis asked in a somewhat belligerent tone.
“No Bilqis, your question brought back a pleasant thought of a discussion I once had with a wise man about the creation of women. His belief was that when Adam slept, Yahweh also took a portion of Adam’s stony heart along with his rib to make Eve. He then perfected her heart by inserting mercy and benignity. That that is how the conjunction of male and female, although distinct and separate of masculine and feminine, became the perfect union of Yahweh’s creation.”
Bilqis dwelt on my answer for a while and then smiled. My answer seemed to placate her concern of the reason for my smile.
“Bilqis, I agree with you that whipping and beating are harsh and cruel. However, it is more practical than confining a person in hope that the person will change. While there are some people that may heal on their own in time without any medicine, others need oil and massage to cure them. The purpose of the beating is to quickly punish and hopefully heal the person as well as bring about closure to the matter.”
“Your suggestion of confinement as an alternative means of punishment is valid but not always practical. The issue a community must face when they confine a person is the burden of feeding and guarding them. They must find a way for the prisoner to produce something of value to pay for their keep. If they do not, they will in effect be punishing the righteous that must work to pay for the subsidence of the wicked. Often, the prisoners wind up suffering more as slave laborers with cruel overseers who whip them anyway to maintain order. Remember also that punishment teaches others by example. Weal markings upon backs serve to remind all the consequences of their actions.”
Bilqis face became stolid as she listened. It was obvious she still was not in total agreement with my explanations on the subject of punishment.
“Bilqis, you commented correctly that in spite of harsh punishments, wickedness continues. We Ibelieve that evil exerts powerful influences that we must recognize and learn to deal with in our lives. Evil enticement is a persistent and effective force to use on fools who fail to understand how susceptible they really are.”
“However Bilqis, keep this in mind as you rule. We live in a non-perfect community of humankind and as leaders have a responsibility to maintain order in our communities. We try to emulate Yahweh with our justice. We first strive to be understanding, loving, and merciful in our dealings with each other. When that is not effective because we are dealing with fools, we punish the fools according to our laws to maintain order in our community. Our corporal punishments do not inflict lasting pain that will cause a permanent impairment to prevent the punished from continuing to earn an honest livelihood.”
Bilqis turned again to look out the window for a while before she turned again to face me with her next question.
“Solomon, how does allowing avengers to settle domestic matters bring about order in your community? I would surmise that the result of revenge as a remedy for family feuds that spew hatred would only serve to increase more revengeful actions.”
“Bilqis, you may be right, however, we have no way of knowing for certain. On the other hand, because we understand all domestic acts against their neighbors are subject to family revenge rather than courts, an Israelite will think twice before committing any offense against a neighbor.”