Every time I hear a feminist’s arguement about
rape culture, I hear the argument that the Bible condones rape.
Specifically, Deuteronomy, chapter 22.
The most logical answer would be “who cares”? Leviticus and
Deuteronomy were Old Testament books, and almost none of the laws
in them apply anymore with the Holy Sacrifice, barring the capital
sins listed in the Decalogue. For instance, we don’t have a
Sabbath year every seven years, we readily wear mixed fabrics, and
women aren’t forced to marry their rapists.
But that would be boring and end the discussion, and I want to
disprove this once and for all.
The contentuous text reads, “If a man find a damsel that is a
virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with
her, and they be found;
“Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's
father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because
he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.” King
The NIV puts it slightly differently: "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 (anah) her. He
can never divorce her as long as he lives."
Even a light read can pick up on several words. The most important
of these being the last sentence: “He can never divorce her as
long as he lives.”
This would imply that this is a punishment. But is it really a
punishment for a man to have easy access to the woman he raped?
Well, the answer is more complicated than that, and relies on an
understanding of ancient Jewish history, both theological and
Back in 1250 B.C., Jews didn’t have a real place to call home,
Egypt was just a port in the storm. So God waited a little, and
once Moses got out of Egypt, he sent down the Decalogue. The next
couple books are clarification of these ten rules. Because they
didn’t have a fixed home, they couldn’t send anyone to prison.
“Then why not kill the rapists?”
Firstly, rapists were killed. Secondly, if a rapist were to marry
his victim, then he was stuck with her and would have to provide
for her. There was no such thing as divorce back then.
However, this is all incidental.
Deuteronomy 22, verses 28 and 9 don’t describe a rape attack.
The NIV’s verses are mistranslated, and the KJV doesn’t really
even mention rape, it’s just assumed that way, but the wording
To quote Sam Shamoun of the website Answering Islam, “the word
which the NIV translates as rape comes from two Hebrew words,
taphas and shakab. Here are the meanings listed by the
Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon in reference to these two
1) to catch, handle, lay hold, take hold of, seize, wield
1) to lay hold of, seize, arrest, catch
2) to grasp (in order to) wield, wield, use skilfully
b) (Niphal) to be seized, be arrested, be caught, be taken,
c) (Piel) to catch, grasp (with the hands)
AV - take 27, taken 12, handle 8, hold 8, catch 4, surprised 2,
misc 4; 65
(Source: Blue Letter Bible)
Here is one example of how this word is used:
"The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD?’
Those who deal (taphas) with the law did not know me; the leaders
rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, following
worthless idols." Jeremiah 2:8
1) to lie down
1) to lie, lie down, lie on
2) to lodge
3) to lie (of sexual relations)
4) to lie down (in death)
5) to rest, relax (fig)
b) (Niphal) to be lain with (sexually)
c) (Pual) to be lain with (sexually)
d) (Hiphil) to make to lie down
e) (Hophal) to be laid
AV - lie 106, sleep 48, lie down 43, rest 3, lien 2, misc 10; 212
(Source: Blue Letter Bible)
As Brown-Driver-Briggs demonstrates, the word can be used in
relation to sexual intercourse as well as for other things. The
following examples help demonstrate that shakab does not
necessarily imply a forced sexual act:
"And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to
the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘If any man's wife goes
astray and behaves unfaithfully toward him, and a man lies
(shakab) with her carnally, and it is hidden from the eyes of her
husband, and it is concealed that she has defiled herself, and
there was no witness against her, nor was she caught—" Numbers
Here, the word shakab refers to a voluntary sexual act between two
consenting parties, in this case to a woman who voluntarily
chooses to commit adultery.”
The Book of Deuteronomy is saying, essentially, that adulterers
that aren’t already must marry.
“But that’s still sexist!”
Remember, that firstly, the men do still have to provide for the
women, and secondly, adultery is considered a high sin in
Judeo-Christian religions. Plus, contraceptives didn’t exactly
exist and it’s best for the child if both parents are present.
But as always, you can leave your own interpretation for these
verses in the comments below and I’ll be glad to read through