Examining Deuteronomy 22

I was glancing through Deueronomy 22 and noticed a few odd items. The first is that the dual use of an oxen and a donkey while plowing is prohibited by God (22:10). It displeases him. The second is God’s Sarah Palin-like attitude toward rape victims.

23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;

24 Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.

I guess God’s rape kit is a handful of stones and a pocket full of hatred.

Here’s the clear interpretation of this: a man who rapes a woman in a city should be stoned to death. Okay, immoral enough reaction in itself, but there’s more. The woman, because she did not scream for help, should be stoned to death as well.

and people claim God is a source of morality? I wonder if the guy even has a clear idea of what constitutes a moral system. Life is not being black & white (as most conservatives think it is, incidentally). Aside from being a rape victim, the woman could have been afraid, mute, gagged, or threatened. God seems to assume by not screaming that the woman liked it. Illogical fella, no?

But, this deity isn’t all evil. He has some empathy for country rape.

25 But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die.

26 But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter:

27 For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.

Since the woman couldn’t scream out for help, she’s in the clear. What if there was a farmer? Shouldn’t the woman have screamed to him? Simply being in a field does not necessarily change the situation. The principle in 22:23-24 seemed to be that the woman had help available to her yet did not seek it. Given that not all fields are empty and devoid of humans, she should have screamed out, even if it was to no avail. It’s almost as if people who lived in highly rural areas where it would be uncommon – in their personal experience – to see a farmer wrote this. Hey, crazy idea! Maybe people did write this fundamental evil? I’d expect God to cover a few more angles. Like, all of them.

So let’s break down what’s important here. It’s perfectly fine for my point to grant that the coming of Jesus somehow changes the immorality we see here. It’s a common tactic of Christians: the Old Testament should be interpreted through the lenses of the New Testament. Okay, sure, whatever. But there still remains the problem that at some point in time, God was telling people to stone rape victims. Even if it is granted that the New Testament changes how we should interpret these words insofar as how we should act now (i.e., we do not stone rape victims because we recognize that as evil), there still remains the problem that God told people to murder women who were raped. He still did these things. God is still guilty of these crimes, even if he corrected his misbehavior down the line.

8 Responses

  1. Also, if God corrected his behavior, that necessitates that he is not a perfect being.

  2. Your interpretation of Deuteronomy, on both matters, is false. First of all, Dt 22:10 is not a ridiculous, superfluous rule. The issue taken with the ox and the ass is one of cleanliness, which makes sense seeing as Dt is basically an Old Testament manual on how to live life as a Jew. The ox is seen as a clean animal, whereas the ass is not. By preventing an ox and an ass from plowing together, one can ensure that their crops and fields are kept clean, pure, and kosher. A full explanation of what was considered clean vs not can be found in Leviticus 11.

    Second, your interpretation of Dt 22:23-27 is flawed based upon the fact that you failed to read the Scripture closely, and therefore missed the meaning of the words.

    Dt 22:23-24 says,

    “If within the city a man comes upon a maiden who is betrothed, and has relations with her, you shall bring them both out to the gate of the city and there stone them to death: the girl because she did not cry out for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst.”

    You interpreted this passage as God encouraging village people to stone rape victims. Clearly this is not the case. This passage insinuates that the man and the women had sexual relations that were voluntary and consensual. The fact that she did not scream should not be taken as she was too scared, or that she was threatened, etc… The absence of screaming is not literal, rather, it symbolizes the fact that her actions were deliberate. Also, referring to being in the city is only a way of saying she had the opportunity to “scream”, back down, or defy her “rapist”. In this instance, since the act was readily committed by both parties, the man and the woman are stoned.

    On the other hand, the woman in the countryside in Dt 25-27 did not have the chance to get away, being that “there were none to save her.”

    If, however, it is in the open fields that a man comes upon such a betrothed maiden, seizes her and has relations with her, the man alone shall die. You shall do nothing to the maiden, since she is not guilty of a capital offense. This case is like that of a man who rises up against his neighbor and murders him: it was in the open fields that he came upon her, and though the betrothed maiden may have cried out for help, there was no one to come to her aid.”

    Also, the fact that she cried shows that she was made to act against her will, something made painfully clear by the wording in Dt 22:25; he “seizes her”. In the case of the country maiden, the man’s crime was rape, which was rightfully punished by death. Notice how the maid is not held accountable.

    In both cases, it is simply absurd to come to the conclusion that God promotes the rape of women based on their geographical location and whether or not they scream, and that He brings wrath upon those who are victimized. Also, you do not have to read the Bible through the lens of the New Testament to come to an obvious understanding of these passages. The sin of adultery was taken very seriously in the times of the Old Testament, which is what this section of Deuteronomy was ultimately trying to convey. God did not recant on this issue later, or “change His mind”.

    Perhaps it would serve you well to read with a closer eye, through the lens of logic and history if you are to continue to study the Bible so closely. It would help, too, if you could list the translation of the Bible you are using to conduct this “Biblical research.” I believe in an older post you mentioned you used the KJV. My text is taken out of the New American Bible.

  3. Reading Deuteronomy is never a good idea.
    You might get into a semantics argument with a christian.

  4. King James Version

    I see. So when God says the woman is not to be blamed for not screaming in the field it is because her scream would be useless. In other words, in this instance, screaming is relevant to being raped. In the city circumstance, screaming no longer applies to being raped.

    Again, in the city you say she is not being raped. In the country, she is being raped. According to your interpretation, we decipher this through the fact that in the city she should scream – screaming refers to willingly engaging in sex. In the country she should not scream – screaming refers to unwillingly engaging in sex.

    Your interpreation makes no sense.

    At any level, God is still encouraging people to murder via a particularly brutal method over something relatively petty.

    And I don’t care how donkeys and ox are perceived. They are roughly equal in cleanliness, or the lack thereof. The reason for plowing separation is rather silly.

  5. Let me reiterate what Michael said. As an Israeli atheist Jew, I’ve studied Deuteronomy in HEBREW. This should clear out any doubts you may have about “translations”, since I speak the original (though modernized version of) and studied the old testament in the original Hebrew. The commentary about Dvarim (Deuteronomy) I studied was of Jewish scholars, ancient and modern. The overwhelming conclusion I had of their commentary is that this part speaks of rape in the city compared to rape in the countryside. I can’t tell you which scholars specifically they were, because I matriculated in Tanach (OT) about 5 years ago, so I don’t remember whether it was, say, Rashi or Rashbam or Kasuto, but I clearly remember this heinous edict and its inevitable consequence.

    Dvarim dictated absolute and relentless devotion to a superhuman tyrant, and those who do not obey him to the letter are punished with extreme disproportion to their crimes. That he demanded to stone rapists is barbaric enough, and saying that it’s merely an “indication of what adultery meant during biblical times” is merely trying to let God off the hook. He isn’t. According to *every Jew, Muslim AND Christian, God is the moral authority behind Deuteronomy, and -everything- in it represents Him.*

  6. The King James Version does differentiate between FORCED sex –

    Deut 22:23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and LIE WITH HER;

    Deut 22:23 is referring to, at the very least, FORNICATION. The word “FORCE” does not appear here.

    Deut 22:25 But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man FORCE HER, AND LIE WITH HER: then the man only that lay with her shall die.

    Deut 22:25 is referring to RAPE by the inclusion of the word FORCE.


  7. It’s very convenient that different versions of the Bible provide different interpretations – to say nothing of the myriad interpretations just one copy can provide. But none of this matters. At one point in time, God said to kill a woman for cheating. That is far from moral.

    But to wade into the uselessness of the theological waters, 22:24 says the reason for killing the woman is that she did not cry out. If she was willingly sleeping with another man, one wouldn’t expect her to cry out. The only excuse for this would be that this verse happened to be written rather poorly with its redundancy.

  8. Dear Mr. Hawkins,
    God is LOVE. Every word in the Bible is God breathed.
    Your rendition of the gospel is such a misunderstanding, and we each owe the other in this life, the truth that we know. If I was your sister, and you were being hurt or upset by a lie, and I knew the truth, wouldn’t I tell you that truth right away , and help you in every way family is meant to? Wouldn’t you expect that from your family? Because I do. Interventions are all out of love, aren’t they? Even if we cause temporary pain by our intervening, if it saves the life of someone we love, it is worth them being mad at us for a little while…because we know we did our best to love them, and stop something from taking another day of their life. Interventions are usually at first received as interference, but down the road, the alcoholic parent, the abused friend, the drug addicted child, the deceived loved one….when they are free of the strongholds that had them, and they can see clearly what was happening, they know the ones that cared enough to “interfere” with what they were doing, were the ones that loved them the most all along…the ones who sit by and watch a person’s destruction because they want to be liked, want to be the popular one, or don’t want the hassle, or even want company to share their habits with…they were never friend or family that loved. The ones who risk anything for you are the ones who care the most. I will risk you being upset with me, or perhaps there rolling your eyes now, or even wanting to read no further…but I will keep going, praying you read all of this letter to you, because I care. I care about you. There is not one person that I ever want to see robbed of what they should have, or hurt by someone’s lies. People lie. It is the nature of flesh to have its will. And a lot of lies have caused many people to walk away from their inheritance, and walk away from the One who loves them at a cost we can never imagine.
    The scripture you refer to simply says a virgin woman who is engaged to a man can not sleep with other men. And men, knowing a woman belongs to another, are forbidden to tempt her, or to “take” her. It is the law. God’s words emphasize the severity of adultery, cheating, breaking hearts, and ripping apart families. Having made that law clear, God is saying, If the price is death, would you risk it for sex? Would you take another man’s woman if you knew it would kill you? Would a woman who has promised herself to another man, have “a roll in the hay”, knowing it would be the death of anyone? Haven’t we all died from broken hearts when someone steals away the one we love just for a thrill, or when we cheat on one who loves us, and we see them dying from the pain we caused them? And don’t all good fathers ask their daughters to remain pure, and be Daddy’s little girls until he gives them away to the man she will share the rest of her life with? Good fathers are also supposed to teach their sons to be pure until their wedding. It was supposed to always be, any man and woman willingly breaking the law will suffer death instead of having eternity with God. Accordingly, any person being forced into acts against God’s Law are victims and the perpetrator is the law breaker, and the one who will answer to the Judge. In essence, all the words, which are repeated over and over in scripture are saying,” I am God, your Father, and the creator of everything. And I love you more than you can ever compare any other love, and I will take care of your every need, and make sure you want for nothing, and to keep the perfection I have created, I have given you this Book. All you need is in it. I am all you need. But I have given you so many things to enjoy…beautiful gardens, oceans, mountains, fruits, rivers, animals, birds., I want you to be happy. It is simple. Believe and love. Just don’t do what I tell you not to do… (parents repeat themselves endlessly, because children do not listen, or forget). God knew we needed to be told over and over Simple. But God knew most people would give up their soul for a moment’s pleasure. (that in the Bible is trading life for death…trading heavenly for carnal). We want what we want when we want it, and we don’t want anyone telling us we are wrong! God knew if a woman was raped, her husband may never want to be with her again, he may think she asked for it, or she may need to be told repeatedly it was not her fault. God knew people would accuse the one who was raped of “asking for it”. He knew our world would evolve into court rooms, defense attorneys would be in the face of rape victims, accusing them of leading the man on, or not fighting enough, not screaming for help loud enough, or not telling someone. Wasn’t God right? A long time ago, rape was huge news. Hardly heard of. Entire towns would work together to hunt down a rapist and make him pay. Today, it happens every few seconds around the world. No one is stoned! Most have no punishment at all!!!! You are very intelligent, so you do know today many women don’t ever report being raped because they know they will be stoned by the public! They will be made to live the details over and over, in front of the whole world. They are left with the burden of “prove it”….Everyone will know exactly what happened to their body. And it just doesn’t seem worth it. I know. I am one that never told anyone, because I wanted to forget it. When I finally told my family, I was told it was what men do. It was no big deal. It would have happened sometime. When I finished high school, I moved to Europe, and my parents invited that man to live with them. They were friends. I could go on and on, about the lifetime of that act I live with, but it was just a moment’s thrill for him. Would he have done that if he knew God saw him and would have him put to death? That is the point of the entire gospel. Would we hurt people the way we do, would there be the crime in this world, if God truly killed everyone for ignoring their father? We would be wiped out, just as in the flood of Noah’s time. But instead, He sent His son to be born from a virgin, and set the entire theme for exactly what you have on your page. The town wanted to stone Mary. She was betrothed to Joseph, but she was pregnant and Joseph had never been with her. No one believed Mary, and she carried God’s child and was obedient to God. God let Joseph know Mary was telling the truth, and Joseph married her, loved her, and raised Jesus with her. You see, God said that was the law, but He also said, “let he who is without sin, cast the first stone”…all perfect in plan. Who can put a book together, through so many people, over thousands of years, telling what will come, and each person repeated parts of every other writer, though they didn’t live in the same time, and had no way to communicate. If you want to challenge God’s Word, please read it through. It is so intricately woven together through the hands of so many men, all with the same messages, over all those years, and the New Testament was witnessed by many. It is in history books. It has been argued by scientists and scholars, and today, they have agreed, many, many facts have been proven, and everything in the Bible that was told as prophecy, either has passed or is passing, and for sure will come to be. Look where we are today. Is this progression? People are paid to defend the rapist, to divorce a couple, to get alimony, child support, there are money hungry law twisters getting rich off “palimony”, “prenuptial agreements”….. And God knew it ALL would be. So, He made the Law to say the punishment for breaking what He created as pure and precious, was death. The Bible says, “the wages of sin is death”…. He knew He had to begin with the most severe punishment, because flesh wants what it wants, and the world would forget the Truth written so long ago, and it has. Man was made to please God. He wanted us. He made us. He made one Book to read and follow. How many books do we each read? How many people do you think have read the Bible over and over, and kept the words in their hearts? How many people have listened to the God that made them, and given Him back the love He gave us.? He gave us everything in a garden. He meant for us, His children to rule over the earth, with no shame and no sin, and no death….but right away, Eve takes the fruit off the only forbidden tree in the Garden, and Adam is standing right there, watching, listening, and Eve believed Satan over God, and bit the fruit and gave a bite to Adam…and Adam took it. You see, that is exactly the same as the scripture you used, as well. One thing is forbidden. And they waste no space on a page to get to that one thing! If we don’t have the most severe consequences, we would have been a world of barbarians completely. The nature of what the flesh wants is so extreme, that we will risk death for a thrill. …and that is where we are right now. Over and over in the Bible, God said, from the very beginning of time, our sin would cause the bloodshed of an innocent one. That is exactly what the Scripture you referred to is saying, knowing every day that passed after it was written, people would stray further from the law and just make God and Jesus a distant theory, or rumor, or fairy tale…
    There is one God and He says in the Bible, He wants not ONE person to perish. He created us and loves us and wants us all to come home. God created the Law with the reasoning, if a punishment is severe, a child will do their best to avoid it. Today on earth, parents make rules for children because they love them. If your father said to you, “son, if you do this, the punishment will be severe, you would try your best to please your father and avoid the severe punishment. WHEN you broke the rule, it would hurt your father more than you when he had to enforce the rules. Loving parents do not want to inflict any punishment on their children. We pray our children will be so good and obey rules, respect teachers, not drink and drive, etc, etc…But we are all human, and make poor choices. I am the mother of three grown daughter’s. Holding each one as infants, I thought about how amazing the creation of life is, and how awesome the love I had for each one was. Then they grow, they make mistakes, just as I did, but hoped they would not. Their mistakes hurt my heart. I did not want my children to hurt themselves or feel the shame, pain and disappointment I felt when I made wrong choices. So, I had to sit down with each one, when they were old enough to be accountable for their actions…and I had to explain what I now knew from experience, and tell them the truth of the consequences, with the hope they would listen, and try with all their might to think about their actions and avoid pain or even death…For instance…”if you drink and drive, you may be killed”, “if a boy tells you he loves you because he wants you to sleep with him, most likely, your heart will be very broken down the road, you will truly think you are dying from the pain when you learn he didn’t know what love was, and there is a vast difference between lust and love. Also, becoming pregnant because one has sex for the wrong reasons is a huge burden on a young girl and will make life for you and the child very hard. If you haven’t finished your education and had time to figure out who you are, before you brought a baby into your life, when you are still a child, it will break my heart to see you struggle and not have all I dreamed for your life to be; it will break your heart to then not be able to give your child all you dreamed of, and it will probably break your child’s heart to know they were a burden, or to be raised without a Dad. I never said those things to my daughters because I hated them, or expected the worse. I said it all out of the greatest love. I was trying to do my best, to be a parent, to tell them as much of the truth as I knew. And I also tell them, still, I am never to old to learn…I have to ask forgiveness of people, I make poor choices, still. Life is day after day, learning more as we go…wisdom should come with maturing, but it doesn’t always. It was my heart’s desire to SAVE them. Save them from hurt, heart ache, from hurting anyone else, to save their lives, and to let them know I believed in them. I believe they are each here to do what is best, honest and good, at all costs. To leave this world a better place by their existance. I raised my children to know they were created out of so much love, and created to love by the same measure, and to be loved and respected… To TRY not to break rules, laws, or hearts along the way…to take the higher ground. I told them life is hard, but never judging others, and living righteously will allow them to look back with less regret, and pass the legacy of love to their children, and their grandchildren, and so on…All of that, Iearned from God. I read the Bible since I was young, by choice. I read it to my daughters at bedtime. They weren’t frightened or angered. They know God loves them so much, that He gave His child up to save the world! And they know that love is so great because they know how much I love them, and I told them, even if it would save the world, I could never watch one of them die….so we all know God’s love is greater than any human’s. He can not lie. He is the Truth. He is the most loving God. No parent could do what He has done. But He is a God of free will. He wants us to freely say, “He is my Father, and He taught me everything even if some lessons had to hurt…He would rather me feel the sting of a lesson, than feel the sting of death. Those who follow His example, and leave His legacy to each proceeding generation make a difference for the better. God wants to SAVE every one of His children. So, He sat down and gave the rules, and said there would be serious consequences for breaking them. This whole misunderstanding is dangerous ground. Many times in the Bible when “death” is said, the writer of that book is telling all descendants forevermore, if we make choices that are against our Father’s wishes, we will be hurt or even killed; not because God kills us, but we kill each other. If the Bible actually contained simplistic modernized statements, such as, “God said if a young girl gets behind of the wheel of the car when she has already had much to drink, she will probably die, or even kill other innocent people. If she breaks this law, and lives, she will be punished, according to the law, for drinking and driving. She is the one who broke the law. But, if a person is a passenger in the car and the driver is under the influence, and causes an accident or death, the passenger is not the guilty one. Whoever is driving will be held accountable. The wisest choice is just not to drink at all. Also, wise not to let anyone drive drunk. If you can not stop someone from doing so, NEVER get in the car with them, for that is putting your fate in their hands.”…….if the bible said that, you would not have gotten so upset, would you have?
    Well, God is my Father and your Father. It breaks His heart for each child that choses not to acknowledge Him, and it could cost the life of any of His children for ignoring Him and all He worked so hard to warn us about. Having written a manual to life, listing every single thing we could wrongly do, and explaining how badly it would hurt us and those we love, or cause our death; He gave the ultimate example of losing His only begotten son, to prove He knew, as a parent, and by experience and knowledge that surpassed any of His children’s knowledge. In that manual to life, He also writes of the blessings and amazing things that are ahead of us when we do what is right and try to be loving and as much like Him as possible. He has hope for our lives to be what He wanted them to be when He made us. All children think they are smarter than their parents, or their outcome will be different…Every one of my daughters has lived to regret many actions, and come home to say, “Mom, you were right. I wish I would have listened.” And I say to them , “No matter what happens, you can’t lose me, I will love you no matter what you do or don’t do. You are my child. I would give my life in a heartbeat for any one of my children. But it would kill me to lose one of you. ”
    God says, “I don’t care what you have done. Just call out to me, and I will save you. No matter how far you roam, I want you all to come home! I am your Father! Please come back to me.” He is telling the truth in that Book! That is the book of life, and of a God who is more love than any human can hold.
    I have somehow found your website….and I sat here and prayed about it. And I AM your sister. Whether you believe or not, I am your sister. Satan is just as real as God, and he has deceived you. It is his nature to steal and kill. He hates God, and he hates us. His time is short, and he is pulling out every trick, and many in the world have turned on the God who blessed America so greatly and created every single being. I pray for you, that you read the words I have sat here for over ten hours, and prayed about, and wrote to an estranged brother, to tell you the truth, because you have been lied to by someone that cares nothing about you, and wants you to be in hell. But somehow, when I got home from fishing with my husband late at night, I came out to the garage, threw laundry in the dryer, my girls came out and said “good night”…my husband said “good night”, and I walked over to this old computer out here, and pulled up your website…don’t remember what I was looking for…and here I sit, 9:22 a.m…..I am exhausted and still in my stinky fishing clothes. God also says, “Be a fisher of men”….guess I spent the whole night on one fish. Carefully consider the kind true nature of God and of true Christ followers. This is nothing I have ever done. God certainly wore me out to reach you. You have an amazing purpose here to fulfill.
    and you know….if unbelievers chose to remain that way, and read the Bible just because it is the most interesting and fascinating Book in creation and just lived life the way God said, they would have wasted nothing, but gained everything…because if you take God out of the equation, you still have all the laws of loving unconditionally, and forgiving, no matter what. Living honestly, with no hostility, loving people, smiling, enjoying everything everyday, enjoying children, pets, being thankful that someone loves us, having a car, job, whatever….if you just strive to do what the book says, life is so much better, and you are drawn to others like you, and others are drawn to you. IF there was no God, you would have just been an incredible man who lived well, not for himself, but for everyone he touched. But there is ONE God, and I wish you could speak with me…He saved my life. And He healed the pain of so many things that happened to me. That boy that raped me; he was just walking around with no worries and no pain, enjoying life..he went on to marry, and have kids, abused his wife and divorced…and now who knows where he is? Every now and then I would hear something about him, and then …nothing. I was the one locked in prison…with so much hurt, and so much pain. No one knew. And when I spoke, no one cared. It was ruining me for anyone. I don’t need to say what I did, but I promise you, God loves, and He saved my life when I had no desire to live or believe in anyone! Here I am. The Scripture isn’t even about rape. It is about a Law God gave with a condition, that only PERFECT people could throw the stones. He knew there were no perfect people. If someone threw the stone, it was them…not God. The world has twisted and confused almost everything….Do you believe that all the founders of our government, and our nation believed in a God that was a killer? He is the giver of life. Do you see when you research history how great the faith of the first President was , then the second, and so many after….but today the one who rules the nation with no belief in the One true God….has the nation in an uproar. But God already knows the ending. He wins.
    God has blessed you and pursued you. I will pray for you. I am exhausted and my crippled hands are in very bad shape. I can’t even believe that my body could do this. If you knew my medical state, and my history, you may open your heart so much to this. I pray you just do. I write all this to you, in love, because God willed it. From your sister, in Christ.

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