The Romans appear to have at least two types of whips for flogging. The more serious of the two, the flagellum, consisted of a handle with leather straps attached to it. Knots were tied into the straps with bone or sharp metal bits tied onto them. This was the device used prior to crucifixion to brutalize those condemned so severely that they would be incapable of effective resistance. There was no limit to the number of blows that could be struck, and the beating often continued until the flesh hung down in bloody strips.

This is the kind of punishment Jesus anticipated when he spoke to the disciples about their final trip to Jerusalem, and it is what he received prior to his crucifixion (Matt 20:19; 27:26; Mark 10:34; 15:15; John 19:1).

The other types of Roman whips, the scutica and the virga, lacked the metal and bone fragments and consisted only of a handle with thongs made of twisted parchment or leather. These devices were deployed when the goal was to get better information during an interrogation or punish a crime that was not serious enough to merit crucifixion. Paul was about to receive such a flogging in Jerusalem in connection with an interrogation over an uproar that had occurred in the temple complex. But just before it was administered, Paul used his Roman citizenship to stop the process (Acts 22:24-29). END OF PART 2

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