Judge Isaac Parker hanged 79 men for their crimes against humanity in the years 1875 to 1896. He was a kind and just judge once stating “in the uncertainty of punishment following crime, lies the weakness of our halting justice.” In his time as judge he oversaw 9,454 cases “resulting in guilty pleas or convictions” (legendsofamerica.com). Parker came to be known as the “hanging judge” for the manner in which capital punishment was carried out under his juristiction.
Hanging is thought of by many as hanging a body by the neck from a tree, gallows, or outcropping. However, hanging has historically also been associated with impalement or crucifixion. The first hanging read about in the Old Testament was that of Pharaoh’s chief baker in (circa 1800 BC).
Genesis 40:18-22 – And Joseph answered and said, This is the interpretation thereof: the three baskets are three days; within yet three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee. And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and the head of the chief baker among his servants.
The nation of Israel was commanded the practice of hanging by the Law of Moses:
Deuteronomy 21:22-23 – And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree; his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt surely bury him the same day; for he that is hanged is accursed of God; that thou defile not thy land which Jehovah thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.
The hanging of the body was as a sign to others for the individual had already been stoned to death for his crimes. There are numerous accounts of hanging throughout the Old Testament for crimes and in times of battle. One of the more well known hangings is the hanging of Haman, an officer of King Xerxes of the Persian Empire, who had plotted treachery against the Jews:
Esther 9:24-25 – because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them; but when the matter came before the king, he commanded by letters that his wicked device, which he had devised against the Jews, should return upon his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows.
Yet, even more famous than the hanging of Haman was that of Judas Iscariot by his own hand in the New Testament after he had betrayed Jesus:
Matthew 27:5 – And he cast down the pieces of silver into the sanctuary, and departed; and he went away and hanged himself.
The most famous hanging in the world, however, was a hanging by crucifixion. The individual hanged was Jesus who was not a criminal, though He was hanged, alongside two of them. He was the innocent lamb of God hung for the sins of mankind as seen in I Corinthians 15 and the following:
John 1:29 – On the morrow he seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world!
I Peter 2:21-24 – For hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed.
Details of His crucifixion were spoken of centuries before they occurred (Psalms 22, Isaiah 53). Though Jesus was hanged until dead, the most important part of His story is what happened afterward.
Acts 5:30 – “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree”.
In the resurrection of Christ, man was given direction for his life.
2 Corinthians 5:15 – “And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”