Christians and Jews are accused of worshiping a God who demands that a woman who was raped must marry the rapist. Consider: ‘Legitimate Rape’ in the Bible.
They use ill translated passages of Scripture:
B1 Deuteronomy 22:25-29 NRSV But if the man meets the engaged woman in the open country, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. 26 You shall do nothing to the young woman; the young woman has not committed an offense punishable by death, because this case is like that of someone who attacks and murders a neighbor. 27 Since he found her in the open country, the engaged woman may have cried for help, but there was no one to rescue her. 28 If a man meets a virgin who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are caught in the act, 29 the man who lay with her shall give fifty shekels of silver to the young woman’s father, and she shall become his wife. Because he violated her he shall not be permitted to divorce her as long as he lives.
B2 Deuteronomy 22:25-29 GNB Suppose a man out in the countryside rapes a young woman who is engaged to someone else. Then only the man is to be put to death; 26 nothing is to be done to the woman, because she has not committed a sin worthy of death. This case is the same as when one man attacks another man and murders him. 27 The man raped the engaged woman in the countryside, and although she cried for help, there was no one to help her. 28 “Suppose a man is caught raping a young woman who is not engaged. 29 He is to pay her father the bride price of fifty pieces of silver, and she is to become his wife, because he forced her to have intercourse with him. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.
The above misses some important points. I rendered this passage:
25 ¶ If a man finds a betrothed young woman in the field, and the man overpowers her, and has sex with her, then only the man who had sex with her will die. [Compare Judges 19:25 and 2 Samuel 13:11 and 14].
26 But to the young woman yous must do nothing. There is in the young woman no sin worthy of death. It is similar to when a man rises up against his neighbor, and kills him, even so is this matter.
27 For he found her in the field, the betrothed young woman yelled [for help], and there was no one to save her.
28 ¶ If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin and not betrothed, grabs her, and has sex with her, and if they are discovered, [Compare Genesis 39:12].
29 Then the man who had sex with her will give to the young woman’s father fifty shekels of silver. She should be his wife because he has humiliated her. He may not divorce her for as long as he lives.
There are two different words in verse 25 and verse 28. Note that I rendered verse 25 as overpowers and verse 28 as grabs. Verse 25 implies force against one’s will, while verse 28 implies consent.
B1 We need to study the context.
B2 We need to study the cultural setting.
B3 We need to pay attention to the words and wording.
B4 We need to consult the understanding of the rabbis who have studied this for millennia.
Compare: Exodus 22:16-17 If a man seduce a virgin that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he will surely endow her to be his wife. 17 If her father utterly refuse to give her to him, he will pay money according to the dowry of virgins.
B1 She can refuse.
B2 Her father can refuse.
B3 He must pay money for the bride price.
B1 This is the suspicious husband.
B2 This might also be the husband looking for an excuse to divorce his wife, so slanders her character. Compare Matthew Henry’s comments. Compare GNB: Deuteronomy 22:13-14 “Suppose a man marries a young woman and later he decides he doesn’t want her. 14 So he makes up false charges against her, accusing her of not being a virgin when they got married.
B3 He accuses his wife of having sex before marriage without his knowledge.
B4 The test
C1 If she fails, she dies. Reason? Because
D1 She was unfaithful.
D2 She did not inform him.
D3 Note she would have had to be betrothed when this incident happened. Compare verse 23-24. If not betrothed, then 25-29 would apply.
C2 If she passes the test, then the husband
D1 Has to pay a fine.
D2 Receives physical punishment.
D3 Has to financially support her (his wife) until he (or she) dies.
D4 She does not have to stay with him.
B5 The husband does not have to do follow this procedure. Compare Joseph and Mary in Matthew 1:19-20 NLT Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. 20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
B1 Having sex with a married woman.
C1 According to the text, this is consensual.
C2 The penalty is for both to die.
B2 Adultery is wrong. Compare Leviticus 20:10.
B1 Having sex with a betrothed woman (so considered married at the time of this writing) in the city.
B2 Appears to be consensual due to the wording “didn’t cry (shout, scream) out.” If she screamed but no one heard, she is innocent.
B3 The word find has the idea of meeting whether planned or not.
B4 The text does not say she was “forced” that is against her will.
B1 Having sex with a betrothed woman in the countryside.
B2 The same word “find” is here as in verse 23.
B3 The word forced is used. Force (H2388) is to overpower against the will. See Genesis 19:16, Judges 19:25, etc.
B4 This is something against the will. There is no consent.
B5 This is rape.
B6 The penalty is death. The rapist is stoned to death.
B7 Rape is wrong
B8 There is no judicial punishment to the woman.
B1 Having sex with a virgin (or young woman of marriageable age) who is not betrothed, in the countryside.
B2 The same word “find” is here as in verse 23.
B3 Lay hold is used here. Lay Hold (H8610) is to grab something. See Genesis 39:12 (and others as Genesis 4:21 (handle), Numbers 5:13 (taken), etc.
B4 They are found, that is, discovered. Thus, it appears to be consensual.
B5 This may have consent. Other possibilities are grooming, sex abuse, etc.
B6 They should marry, if there was consent to marry. They do not have to marry.
B7 The woman can refuse.
B8 In either case, the man must provide for her as long as he lives. He cannot stop financial support (the text calls it divorce). Even if she refuses to marry him, he must support her. Compare Exodus 22:16-17.
B1 Having sex with a woman who was married to the man’s father.
B2 This is not his birth mother, though incest would be worthy of death.
B3 The “discover the skirt” wording is that when the son sees the nakedness of his stepmother.
B4 This, even the desire, is worthy of death. Compare 1 Kings 2:19-25. (The full story is 1 Kings 1:1 to 1 Kings 2:25).
A few articles:
This is my personal understanding of this situation from the Scriptures. I find it most reasonable. For those who disagree, study the Scriptures for yourself.
Tags: Rape in the Bible, Marry rapist, Sex laws in the OT