Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 2 Cor. 11: 24.
To explain this singular custom of inflicting " forty stripes save one " a few words from Moses may be quoted.
" And it shall be, if the wicked man (brought to the judges for trial) be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number. Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed; lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother shall seem vile unto thee. " Deut. 25:2, 3.
On this subject, as on most others, the Jews refined, and affected great concern. And lest they should accidentally inflict more than forty stripes, they resolved to stop short at thirty-nine.
And to insure exactitude both ways they invented a scourge of thirteen thongs, and with this instrument the culprit was struck three times. By this ingenious method the law's demands were met, and the prisoner was secured against excessive punishment. This explains the nature and details of Paul's punishment.