- First Reference: Genesis 39:20
- Last Reference: Revelation 20:7
- Included in Eastons: Yes
- Included in Hitchcocks: No
- Included in Naves: Yes
- Included in Smiths: Yes
- Included in Websters: Yes
- Included in Strongs: Yes
- Included in Thayers: Yes
- Included in BDB: Yes
- H1004 Used 16 times
- H3608 Used 4 times
- H4115 Used 2 times
- H4307 Used 13 times
- H4480 Used 6 times
- H4525 Used 1 time
- H4929 Used 1 time
- H615 Used 1 time
- H631 Used 1 time
- H6495 Used 1 time
- G1200 Used 2 times
- G1201 Used 4 times
- G3612 Used 1 time
- G3860 Used 2 times
- G5084 Used 1 time
- G5438 Used 33 times
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" (Genesis 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" (Leviticus 24:12; Numbers 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 (69:33; 79:11; 142:7). Samson was confined in a Philistine prison (Judges 16:21, 25). In the subsequent history of Israel frequent references are made to prisons (1 Kings 22:27; 2 Kings 17:4; 25:27, 29; 2 Chronicles 16:10; Isaiah 42:7; Jeremiah 32:2). Prisons seem to have been common in New Testament times (Matthew 11:2; 25:36, 43). The apostles were put into the "common prison" at the instance of the Jewish council (Acts 5:18, 23; 8:3); and at Philippi Paul and Silas were thrust into the "inner prison" (16:24; comp. 4:3; 12:4, 5).
Genesis 39:20; Genesis 42:16-19; Leviticus 24:12; Numbers 15:34; Ezra 7:26; Jeremiah 52:11; Luke 23:19; Acts 4:3; Acts 12:4-5
Public ward of
Dungeon; Imprisonment; Prisoners
[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 Antoni, was used as a prison at Jerusalem, (Acts 23:10) and at C'sarea the pr'torium 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 wall or pit. (Jeremiah 35:6-11)
PRISON, noun priz'n. [Latin prendo.]
1. In a general sense, any place of confinement or involuntary restraint; but appropriately, a public building for the confinement or safe custody of debtors and criminals committed by process of law; a jail. Originally, a prison as Lord Coke observes, was only a place of safe custody; but it is now employed as a place of punishment. We have state-prisons, for the confinement of criminals by way of punishment.
2. Any place of confinement or restraint.
The tyrant Aeolus,
With power imperial curbs the struggling winds,
And sounding tempests in dark prisons binds.
3. In Scripture, a low, obscure, afflicted condition. Ecclesiastes 4:14.
4. The cave where David was confined. Psalms 142:7.
5. A state of spiritual bondage. Isaiah 42:7.
PRIS'ON, verb transitive To shut up in a prison; to confine; to restrain from liberty.
1. To confine in any manner.
2. To captivate; to enchain.
[This word is proper, but imprison is more commonly used.]
PRIS'ON-BASE, noun A kind of rural sports; commonly called prison-bars.
PRIS'ONED, participle passive Imprisoned; confined; restrained.
PRIS'ONER, noun One who is confined in a prison by legal arrest or warrant.
1. A person under arrest or in custody of the sheriff, whether in prison or not; as a prisoner at the bar of a court.
2. A captive; one taken by an enemy in war.
3. One whose liberty is restrained, as a bird in a cage.
Genesis 39:20-23; Genesis 1:40; Genesis 41:1-44
Jeremiah 38:6-28; Jeremiah 39:14
John the Baptist
Matthew 11:2; Matthew 14:3-12; Mark 6:17; Luke 3:20
Matthew 26:47-75; Matthew 40:27; Mark 14:43-72; Mark 41:15; Luke 22:47-71; Luke 42:23; John 18:3-40; John 43:19
Acts 16:19-40; Acts 21:27-40; Acts 44:22
Required to labor
Kept on bread and water of affliction
1 Kings 22:27
Kept in chains
Kept in stocks
Proverbs 7:22; Jeremiah 29:26; Acts 16:24
Court of the palace
House of the scribe
House of captain of the guard
Visited by friends
Matthew 11:2; Acts 24:23
Bound to soldiers
Severe hardships of, mitigated
Jeremiah 38:6; Lamentations 3:53-54
Keepers responsible for
Tortured to extort self-criminating testimony
Matthew 27:26; Mark 15:15; Acts 16:23; Acts 16:33; 2 Corinthians 6:5; 2 Corinthians 11:23-24
Permitted to make defense
Acts 24:10; Acts 25:8; Acts 25:16; Acts 26:1; 2 Timothy 4:16
By the prison keeper to Jeremiah
By Philippian jailer to Paul
By Julius, the centurion
Acts 27:1; Acts 27:3; Acts 28:16; Acts 28:30-31
To be visited and ministered to
Released at feasts
Matthew 27:15-17; Mark 15:6; Luke 23:17; John 18:39
Put to death
Joshua 10:16-27; 1 Samuel 15:33; 1 Samuel 27:11; 2 Samuel 12:31; 2 Kings 25:7; 1 Chronicles 20:3; Hosea 13:16; Amos 1:13; Lamentations 3:34
Put to death by divine command
Numbers 31:9; Numbers 31:17
Thumbs and toes cut off
2 Kings 25:7
Psalms 69:33; Psalms 79:11; Psalms 102:19-20; Psalms 146:7
Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18
PRIS'ON-HOUSE, noun A house in which prisoners are confined; a jail. Judges 16:1.
PRIS'ONING, participle present tense Confining; imprisoning.
PRIS'ONMENT, noun Confinement in a prison; imprisonment.
[The latter is commonly used.]