To the three modes of capital punishment explicitly mentioned in the Pentateuchal laws, rabbinic law adds a fourth; viz., strangulation. This is the penalty incurred by the perpetrator of any one of the crimes to which the Pentateuch affixes death, without specifying the mode of death and where no conclusions from Gezerah shawah can be deduced. The Rabbis argue thus: No death-sentence pronounced in the Bible indefinitely may be construed with severity; on the contrary, it must be interpreted leniently. And since the Rabbis viewed strangulation as the easiest of deaths, they decided that the undefined death-sentence of the Pentateuchal code means strangulation. Moreover, the Bible frequently speaks of death sent "by Heaven" for certain sins (e.g. Gen. 38:7,10; Lev. 10:7,9); and as the death visited by Heaven leaves no outward mark, so must the death inflicted by a human tribunal leave no outward marks, and that is possible only in an execution by strangulation.
By strangulation the following six crimes are punished: 1. Adultery (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22). 2. Bruising a parent (Exo. 21:15). 3. False prophecy (Deut. 18:20). 4. Insubordination to supreme authority; "Zaḳen mamre," (Deut. 17:12). 5. Kidnaping (Exo. 21:16; Deut. 24:7). 6. Prophesying in the name of heathen deities (Deut. 18:20).
- Wilhelm Bacher and Lewis N. Dembitz, Capital Punishment, Jewish Encyclopedia (1901), at http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=128&letter=C.