Hanged or impaled?

In the book of Esther, Haman the enemy of the Jews is hanged on a gallows in some Bible versions ( king James, American standard, English standard and amplified) and in other versions ( new international, new living) they impale him on a sharpened pole :grimacing:
These two things are very different, and I guess they don’t matter much since the point is that what he designed for Mordachi was what he reaped , but the difference in the translations is confusing ( and impaling is more disturbing to me ) Any insights here?


Hanged on a pole? IDK this is usually how these contradictions work out in my experience.

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I can’t answer the why with authority but the word had a dual meaning, one meaning, public impalement and left for public viewing was a thing, (think Brave Heart) would be understood in King James era.

The other meaning was public hanging (think the Nuremberg trials).

Here are two different definitions from Bible dictionaries that I have:

Gallows. Upright frame with a crossbeam and a rope for hanging criminals. In the Book of Esther, a gibbet is mentioned, upon which men were impaled and left to hang in scorn.

Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Gallows. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 838). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

And this one which I lean towards.

GALLOWS (Heb. ‘ēṣ, ‘tree’). Found only in the book of Esther (nine times). Haman had a gallows (AV mg. ‘tree’) made on which to execute Mordecai, but the mode of the intended execution has been much debated. Hanging was not usual in Persia, where the events took place; it is suggested that the Heb. word means ‘pole’ or ‘stake’ (which seems likely), and that, following Persian custom, the victim was to be impaled. (*CROSS.)

Douglas, J. D. (1996). Gallows. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., p. 395). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Hope this helps.


Thank you, I figured it had to be something like that, maybe that hanging was more familiar in other areas of the world who would get those translations, and being impaled actually what may have happened there. Since it mentions that hanging was not common in Persia, that makes sense ( if such things make sense)

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This is what I found in strongs concordance.
I know KJV is translated from original languages.

Hebrew: תּלה
Transliteration: tâlâh
Pronunciation: taw-law’
Definition: A primitive root; to suspend (especially to gibbet ): - hang (up).
KJV Usage: hang (25x), hang up (2x), variant (1x).
Occurs: 28
In verses: 27

Hope it helps


Thanks Mike, I am always interested in how words are translated…I guess that makes it seem like hanged or impaled could be right. Like I said earlier, it’s not that it is a need to know, but always piques my curiosity when translations use two words that seem so different. Thanks for the input!