Thomas Hieke, «Das Alte Testament und die Todesstrafe», Vol. 85 (2004) 349-374
Rather than understanding the Old Testament sanction tmwy twm ("he shall surely be put to death") as a death penalty edict, one should see it as a parenetic warning. Comparing the verses which contain mot yumat with the few references to death sentences and executions, it is to be doubted whether this condemnation was indeed applicable. The ‘death edicts’ are therefore not ‘law,’ but divine dicta functioning as deterrents. They formulate things that should not happen under any circumstances. Hence, they underscore the most important ethical and cultic maxims.