By: Emil G. Hirsch
A framework consisting of one or more upright posts supporting a cross-beam, and used for executing those sentenced to death by hanging. In the Hebrew Bible (="tree") is the word. used for "gallows" (Gen. xl. 19; Deut. xxi. 22; Josh. viii. 29, x. 26; Esth. ii. 23, v. 14, vi. 4). The "tree" or gallows erected by Haman, and upon which he himself died, is described as fifty cubits high (Esth. vii. 9, 10); probably it was a stake on which the culprit was impaled (see Haley, "Esther," pp. 122 et seq.), corresponding to the "zeḳifa" of the later Hebrew (comp. Meg. 16b; B. M. 83b), which was certainly a simple stake. In the Mishnah (Sanh. vi. 3) the gallows is described as in two parts: , the upright, which was firmly fixed in the ground; and , the transverse beam ( in the commentaries), from which the condemned was suspended by the hands. This contrivance was not employed to kill by strangulation. According to R. Jose, the post must not be fixed in the ground, but must be rested obliquely against a wall, and be buried immediately with the, body of the executed. The consensus of authorities does not favor Jose's interpretation of the law, but holds that the gallows may rest in the ground, though it must not be permanently fixed, a new post being erected on each occasion (see Crucifixion).