If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.
no ideas! (Right now it just makes me mad, LOL.) Care to share your thoughts?
I was researching the original language of this for someone recently, who also got angry at it.
Apparently it could also be translated something like “has sex with” instead of “rapes,” especially since it says if “they” are found out, not just him. I can’t remember what violated came out to be, the translation I was using was a different wording. I’ll look up my research later if I’m not too tired.
Geez, this was tough, because that thread (from another message board) ended up being more than forty pages long in the end, and my research was scattered over several successive pages partially because of new findings but I think mostly because the person just wasn’t getting it.
And actually, I don’t think I did any kind of in-depth analysis on that particular verse (at least I can’t find it if I did), but I did find that the word translated “rape” is “taphas” which means to “take” and is not always used in a completely forcible sense. I must’ve been thinking about another verse earlier.
In any case, if it DID mean “rape” this particular law wouldn’t seem to flow well with the rest of the Torah, given that rapists were generally put to death and all.
This quote was a summary of several verses in that general vicinity of the chapter, comparing a couple of them.
I’m elated that this Old Testament law never found a place in the Apostolic Church. Anyway, the same chapter includes the following example:
- A married/betrothed woman voluntarily sleeps with a man other than her husband/betrothed, and they both get the death penalty.
- A married/betrothed woman gets raped, and the adulterous rapist gets the death penalty.
- A single woman gets rapes, and the rapist is obligated to care for his victim till death do they part.
I suppose that the focus of the death penalty in this chapter is for adultery. And given the status of the bronze/iron age women at the time, this law helped to protect the single women.
Overall, I feel embarrassed by this Old Testament law while I suppose that the life-long obligation for the rapist was a step up for women in the bronze/iron age context.
I just don’t see how being married to a rapist is being protected. He’s likely to force himself on her plenty of times after that. I really do think with the other, less violent word being used (which reduces clarity at best), the topic being discussed is not rape but a man “taking” a virgin, perhaps through seduction or mutual consent, from her father. Yes, virgins were seen as property, and it seems to me that God was just using their language to speak to them. And it’s not completely dishonorable - in fact, perhaps there’s more honor in the idea, based on the father’s preserving his child as a treasure. However, the wording used doesn’t seem to incorporate our modern notion of everyone’s equal right and ability to choose. But in action it does, as the virgin is “given to” the man she chose to become one with.
Remember, it says if “they” are found out.
I agree with stellar renegade. Paul says, it is better to be married than to burn with lust. A sexual union was the consummation of a marriage. It seems, that being done, the payment for the bride, etc., is also done to fulfill the marriage covenant. The Torah is good and for the good of God’s people. It was never a way to oppress but, to show people what is holy and help them to understand that holiness and purity are highly valued by God. In fact, it is His very image and it is that image He wanted His people to reflect to the nations around them.
From my studies, it simply meant if a man and has sex with a virgin woman he is not pledge to marry, and they are discovered he is forced to marry her and pay her father the sum of her dowry.
What I find interesting is how legalistic the Hebrews really were, and that the key to this was ‘if they were discovered’. If they were never discovered, these two could have had plenty of sex and then parted ways without any consequence and lead future successful lives and families without incident with others as their spouses.
This passage is not Hebrew legalism, this is Yehovah’s Torah. It is not legalistic in the sense you would call religious dogmas (traditions of men) legalistic. Yehovah’s Torah is just. It is perfect holiness. It is His Image.
The reason they would would have to be “discovered” is, according to Torah, any charge laid against another must be established by 2 witnesses. If it didn’t have to be, you better make sure you don’t anger some virgin in town, huh?
Also, if they have both consented, then, the dowry should be paid and it should be a done deal. Remember, it was not necessarily like today, where we have ceremony, have a paper signed by a government church and that is marriage. The “act”, with proof of virginity(blood), consummated the covenant of marriage. Also, who in their right mind would go to their death for this act if it were not a provision for the two consenting? They are risking being stoned to death because of their sin against God and their “neighbor”. If they didn’t get caught and didn’t marry, the woman would be stoned if she ever did try to marry another because she would be “discovered” to not be a virgin. “Be sure your sin will find you out.”
divorce was also included in this “perfect” law, as well as many dietary requirements, to say nothing of clothes. the law given to the Israelites served to keep them healthy and to distinguish them from their neighbour nations, to make them holy.
the time was obviously not right for God to just winnow through the culture of the time and demand equal rites, as He did later (somewhat ironically through Paul), so some of these laws treated women as property.
i’d have thought, if this doesn’t mean rape, that this is to ensure that girls were taken care of and not taken advantage in a paternalistic society.
just my take, but i’m not a massive adherent to traditional sexual views as they still, to some degree, make people out to be property.
My understanding on this stuff is that those laws were there in order to keep people and especially women from being exploited, and that they had at least some protection under the law. My impression is also that this is not God’s “ideal” (that was revealed in Jesus), but his concession dealing with this particular people at this particular period in history.