IMPALEMENT, method of execution employed in the Ancient Near East, whereby a living body was pierced between the legs or in the solar plexus by being thrust upon a spike fixed on the ground. The Code of Hammurabi (§153, in Pritchard, Texts, 172) prescribes impalement for a woman who caused her husband's death because of another man; and the Middle Assyrian Laws (§53, in Pritchard, Texts, 185), for a woman convicted of inducing her own abortion. Assyrians and Persians used to impale chiefs of a city that had revolted against them. In Ezra 6:11 the punishment to be incurred by anyone who would change Darius' edict about the rebuilding of the Temple is probably impalement. The same Darius threatens Arakha, pretender to the throne of Babylon, with impalement: "This Arakha and the nobles, his main followers, shall be impaled in Babylon" (see Roux in bibl.). Herodotus (3:159) reports that he actually impaled 3,000 of them. Since impalement was an established practice in Persia, it may be that talah in Esther 2:23; 5:14 (LXX 7:9, σταυρωθήτω, "impale"); 7:10; 9:13–14 refers to this method of execution. It is also possible that the religiously motivated executions of Numbers 25:4 and II Samuel 21:6–13 refer to impalement. However, the meaning of the verb used in these passages to describe the execution, hokiʿa (הוקיע, hiphʿil of יקע), cannot be determined with certainty. The Septuagint renders it as either παραδειγματίζω, "make an example of," or ὲζηλιάζω, "expose to the sun." While the hanged man should be buried the very day of his execution (Deut. 21:22–23), the corpses of the victims in II Samuel 21:6–13 were exposed for about six months before being buried. It is worth noting that the body of the impaled mother convicted of abortion was denied burial (Middle Assyrian Laws, 53). Unless new data will become available one cannot, however, say with certainty that impalement was practiced by the Israelites. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: S.R. Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text of the Books of Samuel (19132), 351; R. Dussaud, Les origines cananéennes du sacrifice israélite (1921), 287ff.; G. Roux, Ancient Iraq (1966), 371.

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Impalement — Im*pale ment, n. 1. The act of impaling, or the state of being impaled. Byron. [1913 Webster] 2. An inclosing by stakes or pales, or the space so inclosed. H. Brooke. [1913 Webster] 3. That which hedges in; inclosure. [R.] Milton. [1913 Webster]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • impalement — (n.) 1590s, from Fr. empalement, from empaler (see IMPALE (Cf. impale)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Impalement — For other uses, see Impale (disambiguation). Vertical impalement Impalement is the traumatic penetration of an organism by an elongated foreign object such as a stake, pole, or spear, and this usually implies complete perforation of the central… …   Wikipedia

  • impalement — Empalement Em*pale ment, n. [Cf. F. empalement, fr. empaler. See {Empale}.] [Written also {impalement}.] 1. A fencing, inclosing, or fortifying with stakes. [1913 Webster] 2. A putting to death by thrusting a sharpened stake through the body.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • impalement — impale ► VERB ▪ transfix or pierce with a sharp instrument. DERIVATIVES impalement noun impaler noun. ORIGIN Latin impalare, from palus a stake …   English terms dictionary

  • Impalement arts — are a type of performing art in which a performer plays the role of human target for a fellow performer who demonstrates accuracy skills in disciplines such as knife throwing and archery. Impalement is actually what the performers endeavour to… …   Wikipedia

  • Impalement (heraldry) — In heraldry, Impalement is the practice of joining two coats of arms side by side in one shield. Per pale is a vertical division in heraldry, and an impaled shield is divided straight down the middle vertically, top to bottom, with the two coats… …   Wikipedia

  • impalement — noun see impale …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • impalement — See impale. * * * …   Universalium

  • impalement — noun a) The act of torturing or executing someone by impaling them on a sharp stake. b) The joining of two coats of arms on one shield …   Wiktionary

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