The Number of Lashes
The number (of lashes) thirty-nine fits with that given in Makkoth 3:11, “forty (less one).” And the severity of the affliction is evident from the description of, or prescription for it in Makkoth 3:12. The body was to be laid bare and the victim flogged by a man with a leather scourge standing on a stone. According to Blackman the reason for standing was “so that the blows came down with great force” (n. 8). In 3:13 it is stated, “And he who smites must smite with his one hand with all his might.” In 3:14 it is indicated that the punishment was sometimes so severe that men died under it.