Tractate Sanhedrin, Herbert Danby tr. , at sacred-texts.com
M.VI. I. When the trial is finished, the man convicted is brought out to be stoned. The stoning place was outside the court, for it is written: SEND FORTH HIM THAT HATH CURSED WITHOUT THE CAMP. 1 A man is stationed at the door of the court with a handkerchief in his hand, and a horseman distant just so far as to be able to see him; so that if some one in the court say, "I have something to plead in his defence," that man may wave the handkerchief and the horseman run to bring the proceedings to a standstill. Even if the convicted one say, "I have something to plead in my own defence," he is to be brought back, it may be four or five times, provided his plea is reasonable; then if he be acquitted he is set free, and if not, he is again taken out to be stoned. A herald goes before him (crying), "N. son of N. is going forth to be stoned, in that he has committed such and such an offence. N. and N. are his witnesses. Any one knowing ought in his defence, let him come and urge it."
M.2. When ten cubits from the stoning-place they say to him, "Confess: for it is the custom of all about to be put to death to make confession; and every one who confesses has a share in the world to come; for so we find it in the case of Achan. Joshua said to him: MY SON, ASCRIBE GLORY TO THE LORD, THE GOD OF ISRAEL, AND MAKE CONFESSION UNTO HIM; AND TELL ME NOW WHAT THOU HAST DONE; HIDE IT NOT FROM ME. AND ACHAN ANSWERED JOSHUA, AND SAID, OF A TRUTH I HAVE SINNED AGAINST THE LORD, THE GOD OF ISRAEL, AND THUS AND THUS HAVE I DONE. 1 Whence do we know that his confession expiated his crime? It is written: AND JOSHUA SAID, WHY HAST THOU TROUBLED US? THE LORD SHALL TROUBLE THEE THIS DAY 2;--this day thou art to be troubled, but thou art not to be troubled in the time to come."
If he does not know how to make confession, he is told to say, "May my death be an expiation of all my sins." According to R. Jehuda, if he know himself to be condemned wrongfully, he says, "Let my death be an expiation of all my sins save this." But it was replied, "If so, every one would say so to clear himself."
3. Four cubits from the stoning-place the criminal is stripped. A man should be covered in front, and a woman in front and behind,--so R. Meir; but the majority hold that a man should be stoned naked but not a woman.
4a. The drop from the stoning-place was twice
M.the height of a man. 1 One of the witnesses pushes the criminal from behind, so that he falls face downward. He is then turned over on his back. If he die from this fall, that is sufficient. If not, 2 the second witness takes the stone and drops it on his heart. If this cause death that is sufficient; if not, he is stoned by all the congregation of Israel, for it is written: THE HAND OF THE WITNESSES SHALL BE AGAINST HIM FIRST TO PUT HIM TO DEATH, AND AFTERWARD THE HAND OF ALL THE PEOPLE. 3
And (as showing that Achan has a share in the world to come) it is written: AND THE SONS OF ZERAH ARE ZIMRI AND ETHAN AND HEMAN AND CALCOL AND DARDA, 4 FIVE OF THEM IN ALL 5; and we cannot understand how that they are (still) five
6a. Four cubits from the stoning-place they strip off his clothes. They covered a man partially in front, and a woman in front and behind, because a woman is all nakedness,--so R. Jehuda who spoke in the name of R. Eliezer; 2 but the majority hold that a man is stoned naked, but not a woman.
The drop from the stoning-place was twice the height of a man, or three times his height if we include the height of the man himself. R. Shimeon says, "There was a stone there so heavy as to require two men to lift it; this was taken and dropped on the heart of the condemned man in order to carry out what the law of stoning demands."
87:1 Lev. 24. 14.
88:1 Josh. 7. 19 ff.
88:2 Josh. 7. 25.
89:1 Cf. Luke 4. 29.
89:2 C omits "the second witness." R N P insert: "he takes the stone and drops it on his heart. If this cause death that is sufficient; if not . . .. Note, according to Tosefta and also Gemara (45a) the stones require two men.
89:3 Deut. 17. 7.
89:4 Dara in 1 Chron. 2. 6.
89:5 1 Chron. 2. 6.
90:1 According to rabbinical exegesis, the Achan of Josh. 7 is to be identified with the Zimri of Numb. 25. 14, who in his turn is presumed to be identical with the Zimri of 1 Chron. 2. 6. Cf. B. Sanh. 44b, "in one place the name is written Zimri, and in another Achan. Rab and Samuel [Babylonian Amoraim, c. 230] argued the point: the one maintained that his real name was Achan, and that he was called Zimri because he did the works of Zimri; the other maintained that his real name was Zimri, and that he was called Achan because he made the sins of Israel to rest on them like a circle" [word-play on ’Achan and ’ikken].
90:2 R. Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, C. 90-130 A.D., was a pupil of Jochanan ben Zakkai, who describes him (Pirke Aboth, II. 10) as "a plastered cistern which loseth not a drop." He set up a college at Lydda, was the teacher of R. Akiba, and a member of the Sanhedrin at Jabne under Gamaliel II. He was, however, so conservative, that his fellow-members found it necessary in the interests of religious progress to excommunicate him from their debates. It is also reported of him that on one occasion he was tried before a Roman court on suspicion of being a Christian.