It appears that the Jews did not continue to confine themselves to the rod but later used the scourge. (Heb 11:36) This is a more severe punishment than beating with rods, and while it was a legalized punishment during the time Jesus was on earth, it was not based on the Law. (Mt 10:17; 23:34) The Mishnah, which is supposed to be a development of the oral tradition, describes the procedure of scourging:
“They bind his two hands to a pillar on either side, and the minister of the synagogue lays hold on his garments—if they are torn they are torn, if they are utterly rent they are utterly rent—so that he bares his chest. A stone is set down behind him on which the minister of the synagogue stands with a strap of calf-hide in his hand, doubled and re-doubled, and two [other] straps that rise and fall [are fastened] thereto.
“The handpiece of the strap is one handbreadth long and one handbreadth wide; and its end must reach to his navel. He gives him one-third of the stripes in front and two-thirds behind; and he may not strike him when he is standing or when he is sitting, but only when he is bending low, for it is written, The judge shall cause him to lie down. And he that smites, smites with his one hand with all his might.
“ . . . If he dies under his hand, the scourger is not culpable. But if he gave him one stripe too many and he died, he must escape into exile because of him.”
“How many stripes do they inflict on a man? Forty save one, for it is written, By number forty; [that is to say,] a number near to forty.”—Makkot 3:12–14, 10; translated by H. Danby.