The story of any hanging usually gets a place on the front page of the paper. Man has been hanging his fellow man for centuries. It has been a common mode of execution and punishment. Kings have hanged other kings. Rulers have hanged traitors. Men have committed suicide by hanging. All of these instances are found recorded in the Bible, but none of these are "The Biggest Hanging."
It is recorded in Genesis 40:22 that Pharaoh hanged his chief baker because he found him guilty of a conspiracy against the throne. Men punish evil doers and perhaps the most serious of all crimes is that of being a traitor to the ruler of the country. Those who are traitors to God and enemies of Jesus Christ will receive a worse punishment than ordinary sinners. But this was not "The Biggest Hanging."
We find that Joshua, the great general of the armies of Israel, executed his enemies by hanging. In Joshua 8:29 he hanged the King of Ai on a tree, and in chapter ten at verse 26 he hanged five great kings on trees, after he had whipped their armies and conquered their kingdoms. Even this was not "The Biggest Hanging."
An accidental hanging is recorded in II Samuel 18:10. A certain soldier came to Joab, David's commander-in-chief and said, "Behold, I saw Absalom hanged in an oak." This young man was the son of King David, engaged in a war of rebellion against his father. He and the unfaithful army of David were engaged in battle with his father David and the faithful soldiers who remained true to David. Absalom was leading his troops and was riding upon a mule. As he was charging through the thick woods his mule went under the boughs of a great oak, and his head was caught in the oak in some manner. Whether his neck was fastened in a crotch of the branches, or whether his long heavy hair became entangled in the limbs, we do not know. It is clear that the mule kept on going, leaving Absalom hanging in the air by his head. Probably Absalom's hair, which was the source of his pride, was the cause of his defeat. Joab and his men found Absalom hanging there, and soon killed him with their darts. "Pride goeth before a fall." That wherein he gloried was the means of his destruction. Neither would we call this "The Biggest Hanging."
The great Ahithophel, a wonderful counselor, and a man of unusual wisdom, ended his life by committing suicide through hanging himself. The story of this tragedy is recorded in II Samuel 17:23 and reads, "And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died." He was careful to fix up his home, but was careless about fixing up his heart. He arranged his affairs in this life, but neglected the affairs of the next life. How sad it is that a man so great should have such a shameful death. Not all, who start well, end well. Neither was this "The Greatest Hanging."
A woman was the cause of the hanging of eleven men. She was a beautiful girl named Esther. Haman and his ten sons had conspired to bring about the death of the queen and all the queen's people, the Jews. The plot was discovered and made known to the king. Haman had built a gallows seventy-five feet high, on which to hang Mordecai, who was the uncle of Queen Esther. When the king discovered Haman's wickedness, and his evil intentions against the queen, the decree went forth from the king's lips that Haman should be hanged on his own gallows. The decree was executed and is recorded in Esther 7:10. It is quite evident that Haman's sons agreed with their father and so these ten young men were hanged also. And this is described in Esther 9:14. This was a great hanging and quite unusual because a father and his ten sons were hanged for one offense. This, however, was not "The Biggest Hanging."
Judas the traitor hanged himself, after he betrayed Jesus. The sad end of this "man of opportunity" is told in Matthew 27:5. Judas had been close to Christ, but never loved Him. Judas had served Christ but never accepted Him. Judas had been in Christ's company but never let Christ into his heart. Judas was called a disciple but he followed the money instead of THE MAN. Judas' hanging was not "THE BIGGEST HANGING."
On Calvary two thieves were hanged, but these were really nailed to the cross. We would hardly call this a hanging in the strict sense of the word. They were hanging there by the nails and suffered for their sins as every one must do.
The Biggest Hanging of all hangings is the first hanging recorded in the Bible. Job, who lived in Abraham's day, wrote, "He stretcheth out the North over the empty place, and HANGETH THE EARTH upon nothing." Job 26:7. Did you notice what He hung it on? He made the earth out of nothing and then God hung it upon nothing. Did you notice carefully those words? Only a real personal, individual, living, intelligent God could make the myriads of things on earth out of nothing, and then hang them over an empty space upon nothing. Do you really believe that He did it? Perhaps you folk, who say there is no personal God, or no individual God, would like to explain how an "idea" or "mind" or "truth" or "love" or "infinite" or any other abstract nonentity could make the earth out of nothing and then hang it upon nothing.
There are ninety-eight basic chemical elements [in 1936], which in their various forms and combinations form this earth. God has made gold for beauty and aluminum for lightness, and iron for strength. God has combined these elements with other elements to give us grains, vegetables, fruits, flowers and a myriad of other products. God took nothing and made something. Then He took the something and hung it upon nothing. All of this is given to us to encourage our faith.
It is written in Romans 4:17, "God ... quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were." It is also recorded in I Corinthians 1:28, "God [hath] chosen ... things which are not, to bring to naught things which are." This is a wonderful message for the Christian heart. You do not need to have something with which God can begin to do something. You may have a very obscure life. You may have a very few gifts or talents. You may think you have no ability whatever. Just let the Holy Spirit have you in your weakness and with your emptiness and He will prove these passages to be true in your case.
If you are a lost sinner, wandering in the dark, with a heavy heart, you may come empty handed and accept the Lord Jesus Christ to be the Lord of your life and the Saviour of your soul. You may come to Him with nothing. You will find in Him everything. Bring your problems to Him in your extremity. He can make something out of nothing.
Copied for WholesomeWords.org from Strange Short Stories by Dr. Walter Lewis Wilson. Findlay, Ohio: Dunham Publishing Company, 1936.
Selections from Strange Short Stories