Prison: 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
(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
(Acts 5:18,23; 8:3) and at Philippi Paul and Silas were
thrust into the "inner prison"
(Acts 16:24) comp.
(Acts 4:3; 12:4,5)