Sex, Lies, And Virginal Rape: The Slandered Bride and False Accusation in Deuteronomy. - Journal of Biblical Literature

Sex, Lies, And Virginal Rape: The Slandered Bride and False Accusation in Deuteronomy.

By Journal of Biblical Literature

  • Release Date: 2005-03-22
  • Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines
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Deuteronomy 22:13-21 recounts a statement that a newly married husband makes concerning his wife. (1) The scandalous nature of the statement has led some to dub this text "the case of the slandered bride." (2) The gist of the statement is that the woman was not a virgin at the time of the wedding, as the man expected her to be. The main section of the text (vv. 13-19) prescribes a course of action if the husband is lying and his statement turns out to be false. The two concluding verses (vv. 20-21) stipulate what to do if the husband is telling the truth. The text states: (3) Most analyses of this passage, for both rhetorical and source-critical reasons, maintain a distinction between the pericope's two basic parts: vv. 13-19 (part A) and vv. 20-21 (part B). (4) The first section, part A, describes the husband's negative conclusions regarding the condition of his wife. The implication is that another man has had sexual intercourse with her, thereby depriving the groom of exclusive right to the woman's sexual and reproductive services. (5) The woman's parents go before the elders of the city and present the evidence necessary to disprove the charge. (6) The text then lays down a threefold penalty for the man: a flogging, a fine of one hundred shekels of silver, and a prohibition against divorcing this particular woman. (7) The second section, part B, describes what should happen if the man's suspicions turn out to be true. If the woman was not a virgin at the time she was given to the man for consummation of the marriage, the text calls for her death by stoning in front of her father's house.

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