An ancient instrument of confinement and punishment, consisting of a wooden frame in which a seated victim’s feet were locked (2Ch 16:10; Jer 20:2, 3), often while he was exposed to public gaze and ridicule. Roman stocks had several holes so that, if desired, the legs could be widely separated, adding to the torture. Stocks for confining the feet are called sadh in Hebrew (Job 13:27; 33:11), and since they are made of wood, they are designated by the Greek term xyʹlon (wood). While imprisoned at Philippi, Paul and Silas were confined in stocks that held their feet.—Ac 16:24.
Elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures another word, mah·peʹkheth, is rendered “stocks.” Since it carried the thought of turning, it appears that the person so confined was forced into a bent or distorted bodily posture. This device may have held the feet, hands, and neck, or perhaps it could have been used with other means for holding the neck and arms. The stocks and the pillory might have been combined to hold the legs as well as the neck and arms. (Jer 29:26, NE, NW) None of such instruments were prescribed by the Law given by God to Israel, nor did the Law provide for prisons.