When I saw the words “Sexual relationships” in my header, it kind of caught me off guard. I honestly said, “This is the Bible. My grandmother reads this. Well, this is awkward.”
Sex is a big deal in our culture. Sex is everywhere. According to Deuteronomy 22:13-29, it was a big deal then too. It was big enough to get mentioned in the Bible.
I had questions throughout the section. So, the way I’m going to do this is give the verses and then my questions.
“If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then hates her and accuses her of misconduct and brings a bad name upon her, saying, ‘I took this woman, and when I came near her, I did not find in her evidence of virginity,’ then the father of the young woman and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of her virginity to the elders of the city in the gate. And the father of the young woman shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man to marry, and he hates her; and behold, he has accused her of misconduct, saying, “I did not find in your daughter evidence of virginity.” And yet this is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the cloak before the elders of the city. Then the elders of that city shall take the man and whip him, and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name upon a virgin of Israel. And she shall be his wife. He may not divorce her all his days.” –Deuteronomy 22:13-19
That is intense and embarrassing. When reading this, I kind of got embarrassed for the Israelite women. If her husband didn’t like her for whatever reason, he could just say, “Oh, she’s not a virgin.” Then, her parents would have to defend not only her honor, but theirs as well. To do so, they would have to produce the bloody sheet. How would the woman’s parents get this “evidence”?
According to a Jewish website, the newly married man occupied a nook in his father’s house. Getting this bloody sheet might be difficult for the woman’s parents. One, it isn’t their house. Two, the accusatory husband could get rid of or wash the sheet.
If the woman’s parents were able to produce the evidence of her virginity, the husband was beaten for giving the woman a bad reputation and must pay the woman’s father. In addition to his beating and the money, he was forced to remain with his wife. One website offers this explanation as to why he must not divorce his wife.
“When the man slanders his wife and causes her to be humbled and brought her good name into disrepute. He is required to spend the rest of his life with the woman who has been publicly humiliated. He has destroyed any hope of her being a loving and supportive wife. And He will have to eat whatever she sets before him. Not to mention all the other aspects of a foul relationship and its repercussions that will come back upon his own head. He has been proven publicly to be a liar and his own reputation is publicly defamed.”
“But if the thing is true, that evidence of virginity was not found in the young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father’s house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.” –Deuteronomy 22:20-21
If the woman’s parents couldn’t produce evidence of her virginity, she was stoned. That is a tad bit overdramatic. Can you imagine all of the stonings we would have today if this law was still in effect?
“If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.”-Deuteronomy 22:22
This is very straightforward. Adultery = bad. But this is just for the woman right? What about a man who is married? Is it only adultery if the woman is married? I had so many questions about this one verse. Adultery is considered a sin in all religions. In Islam, adultery is when a married man or woman has a sexual relationship with someone other than his or her spouse. However, in the Bible, adultery is only when a man sleeps with a married woman.
Why the double standard? The wife was the husband’s possession, and adultery constituted a violation of the husband’s exclusive right to her; the wife, as the husband’s possession, had no such right to him.
Both people who are involved in the adultery are stoned.
“If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no offense punishable by death. For this case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbor, because he met her in the open country, and though the betrothed young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her.” –Deuteronomy 22:23-27
This section is about rape. If the rape occurs in the city, the engaged woman is stoned because she didn’t scream for help loud enough thus consenting to the sex, and the man is stoned because he had sex with another man’s “wife”. But I thought they were engaged; now, they are husband and wife. What?
This website explained this to me. At this time, a marriage consisted of two ceremonies. One ceremony, the betrothal, was the couple being “legally” married, but she remained in her father’s house. Later, the marriage ceremony would take place and they would consummate their marriage.
If the rape occurred in the country, only the man shall be stoned. The woman could have screamed, but no one could have heard her to help her. This might be the only thing that made sense.
“If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.” – Deuteronomy 22:28-29
People quote this verse a lot saying this allows the rapist to marry his victim. Well, yes, it does. But take it in context. One website puts it this way, “When a man had raped an unmarried/young woman in old Israel, he had literally turned her into “damaged goods”. She would not have been able to find a “respectable” husband afterwards and therefore she would also not have been able to start a family of her own. Another site says taking a wife was a tremendous burden and compares it to The Scarlet Letter.