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Dictionaries :: Prison

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Below are articles from the following 3 dictionaries:
Easton's Bible Dictionary


The first occasion on which we read of a prison is in the history of Joseph in Egypt. Then Potiphar, "Joseph's master, took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound" (Gen 39:20-23). The Heb. word here used (sohar) means properly a round tower or fortress. It seems to have been a part of Potiphar's house, a place in which state prisoners were kept.

The Mosaic law made no provision for imprisonment as a punishment. In the wilderness two persons were "put in ward" (Lev 24:12; Num 15:34), but it was only till the mind of God concerning them should be ascertained. Prisons and prisoners are mentioned in the book of Psalms (Psa 69:33; 79:11; 142:7). Samson was confined in a Philistine prison (Jdg 16:21,25). In the subsequent history of Israel frequent references are made to prisons (1Ki 22:27; 2Ki 17:4; 25:27,29; 2Ch 16:10; Isa 42:7; Jer 32:2). Prisons seem to have been common in New Testament times (Mat 11:2; 25:36,43). The apostles were put into the "common prison" at the instance of the Jewish council (Act 5:18,23; 8:3); and at Philippi Paul and Silas were thrust into the "inner prison" (Act 16:24; Act 4:3; 12:4,5).

Smith's Bible Dictionary


For imprisonment as a punishment, SEE [PUNISHMENTS]. It is plain that in Egypt special places were used as prisons, and that they were under the custody of a military officer (Genesis 40:3; 42:17). During the wandering in the desert we read on two occasions of confinement "in ward"-(Leviticus 24:12; Numbers 15:34) but as imprisonment was not directed by the law, so we hear of none till the time of the kings, when the prison appears as an appendage to the palace, or a special part of it (1 Kings 22:27). Private houses were sometimes used as places of confinement. By the Romans the tower of Antonia, was used as a prison at Jerusalem (Acts 23:10) and at Caesarea the praetorium of Herod. The royal prisons in those days were doubtless managed after the Roman fashion, and chains, fetters and stocks were used as means of confinement. (See Acts 16:24). One of the readiest places for confinement was a dry or partially‐dry well or pit (Jeremiah 35:6-11).


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.