Deuteronomy 21:10:14 – Hebrew Word ‘Anah’ Means “Rape”?

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One of the verses that has been downplayed by Christian apologists as not endorsing or approving ‘rape’ is Deuteronomy 21:10-14:

Deuteronomy 21:10-14 Good News Translation (GNT)
10 “When the Lord your God gives you victory in battle and you take prisoners, 11 you may see among them a beautiful woman that you like and want to marry. 12 TAKE HER to your home, where she will shave her head, cut her fingernails, 13 and change her clothes. She is to stay in your home and mourn for her parents for a month; after that, you may marry her. 14 Later, if you no longer want her, you are to let her go free. Since YOU FORCED HER TO HAVE INTERCOURSE (ANAH) WITH YOU, you cannot treat her as a slave and sell her.

They claim that the word ‘anah’ used here doesn’t actually mean ‘ rape’ (forced intercourse).

What we will do in this article is look at Lamentations 5:11 where the exact Hebrew word is used and see how Christian scholars translate the word ‘Anah’ there.

Before reading translations check word for word English and Hebrew text for Lamentations 5:11, where the word ‘anah’ is used: BlueletterBible.org

Translations for Lamentations 5:11

New Living Translation
“Our enemies RAPE THE WOMEN in Jerusalem and the young girls in all the towns of Judah.” – Lamentations 5:11

English Standard Version (ESV)
“Women are RAPED in Zion, young women in the towns of Judah.” – Lamentations 5:11

English Standard Version Anglicised (ESVUK)
“Women are RAPED in Zion, young women in the towns of Judah.” – Lamentations 5:11

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
“Women are RAPED in Zion, girls in the cities of Judah.” – Lamentations 5:11

International Standard Version (ISV)
“They have RAPED women in Zion, young women in the towns of Judah.” – Lamentations 5:11

NET Bible
“They RAPED women in Zion, virgins in the towns of Judah.” – Lamentations 5:11

GOD’S WORD® Translation
“Women in Zion are RAPED, so are the girls in the cities of Judah.” – Lamentations 5:11

Common English Bible (CEB)
“Women have been RAPED in Zion, young women in Judah’s cities.” – Lamentations 5:11

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
“They have RAPED the women of Tziyon, virgins in the cities of Y’hudah.” – Lamentations 5:11

Contemporary English Version (CEV)
“On Zion and everywhere in Judah our wives and daughters are BEING RAPED.” – Lamentations 5:11

Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
“The enemy raped the women of Zion. They RAPED THE WOMEN in the cities of Judah.” – Lamentations 5:11

Expanded Bible (EXB)
“The enemy [L They] ·ABUSED [VIOLATED; RAPED] the women ·of Jerusalem [L in Zion; C the location of the Temple] and the ·girls [L virgins] in the ·cities [towns] of Judah.” – Lamentations 5:11

Good News Translation (GNT)
“Our wives have BEEN RAPED on Mount Zion itself; in every Judean village our daughters have been forced to submit.” – Lamentations 5:11

International Children’s Bible (ICB)
“The ENEMY RAPED the women of Jerusalem and the girls in the cities of Judah.” – Lamentations 5:11

Lexham English Bible (LEB)
“They RAPED women in Zion, young women[a] in the cities of Judah.” – Lamentations 5:11

Living Bible (TLB)
“They RAPE the women of Jerusalem and the girls in Judah’s cities.” – Lamentations 5:11

The Message (MSG)
“Our wives were RAPED in the streets in Zion, and our virgins in the cities of Judah.” Lamentations 5:11

Names of God Bible (NOG)
“Women in Zion are RAPED, so are the girls in the cities of Judah.” – Lamentations 5:11

New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
“Women are RAPED in Zion, young women in the cities of Judah…” – Lamentations 5:11

New English Translation (NET Bible)
“They RAPED women in Zion, virgins in the towns of Judah.” – Lamentations 5:11

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
“Women are RAPED in Zion, virgins in the towns of Judah.” – Lamentations 5:11

New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)
“Women are RAPED in Zion, virgins in the towns of Judah.” – Lamentations 5:11

New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition
“Women are RAPED in Zion, virgins in the towns of Judah.” – Lamentations 5:11

The Voice (VOICE)
“In the place where God should be— Zion and the surrounding towns of Judah— Women, young and old alike, are BRUTALLY RAPED and violated.” – Lamentations 5:11

Some may argue that the above translations are wrong. Let’s see what Christian commentaries say in regards to the passage.

Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary:

Conditions in Judah are terrible. The people have to search the barren country regions for food, and in doing so they risk death from desert bandits (9-10). Judean WOMEN ARE RAPED, former leaders are tortured, and children are forced to work like slaves (11-13). The old way of life has gone, and with it has gone all celebration and rejoicing (14-15). People everywhere are unhappy, discouraged and ashamed. They acknowledge that their sin has brought all this upon them (16-18). (Bridgeway Bible Commentary – Lamentations 5:11 – online source)

 

Coffman’s Commentaries on the Bible:

“They ravished the women … the virgins of the cities of Judah” (Lamentations 5:11). This is an accompanying vice of warfare that is just as much a part of modern wars as it was in antiquity. Nothing is more terrible and disgusting than the WHOLESALE RAPE of the women (all of them) by an army of enemies. The bestiality of wicked men unrestrained by any outside force is the utmost in depravity.
(Coffman’s Commentaries on the Bible – Lamentations 5:11 – online source)

 

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable:

“The enemy had RAPED THE WOMEN and girls in Jerusalem and Judah. Respected princes had experienced the most humiliating deaths, and the enemy gave no respect to Judah”s elderly. Since Nebuchadnezzar evidently did not torture his victims (cf. Jeremiah 52:10-11; Jeremiah 52:24-27), it may be that the Chaldeans strung up the princes by their hands-after they had died-to dishonor them (cf. Deuteronomy 21:22-23). [Note: Keil, 2:451.]” (Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable – Lamentations 5:11 – Online source)

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary:

“They ravished the women in Zion, and the maids in the cities of Judah ( Lamentations 5:11 ).
The enemies had come in. It must have been a horrible thing. The fathers to see their wives and their young daughters ravished by the enemy, RAPED and all and then murdered.” (Chuck Smith Bible Commentary – Lamentations 5:11 – online source)

 

American Old Testament scholar and the William Marcellus McPheeters Professor Emerita of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary – Kathleen M. O’Connor:

“Women’s history
As symbolic figures, women convey mixed messages in Lamentations, but when the book speaks of real women, it tells of their history in painful and illuminating ways. The book brings into the open hidden victims of war who suffer long after the war’s end. Some verses mention women’s sufferings alongside those of men and other social groups. Young women have gone into captivity with young men (2:21). Young girls and elders grieve over Zion’s destruction (2:10). Other verses attend specifically to the plight of women. The male speaker grieves over ‘the fate of all the young women in my city’ (3:11). ‘WOMEN ARE RAPED in Zion’ (5:11).” (Women’s Bible Commentary: Expanded Edition [Edited by Carol Ann Newsom, Sharon H. Ringe, WJK – Westminister – John Knox Press Louisville – Kentucky, 1998], by Kathleen M. O’Connor, page 190)

 

Dr. Charles H. Dyer:

“The first group mentioned who suffered the horrors of foreign occupation were the women of Jerusalem (Zion) and the virgins … of Judah. Women who survived the Babylonian assault on their cities were mercilessly RAPED BY THE SADISTIC SOLDIERS. In a scene of savage brutality, repeated by many conquering armies throughout history, the victors went on a wanton spree of lustful revenge against defenceless women.” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition Of the Scriptures By Dallas Seminary Faculty – Old Testament [Editors John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck, 1983] by Charles H. Dyer, page 1222)

Professor of Old Testament David L. Petersen:

The elegant literary construction stands in constrast with the devastating destruction: much will be violated. The book of Lamentations, which reflects the fall of Jerusalem, refers to all three elements, the destruction of the city, presumably its walls (2:8); plundering (1:18) and violation of dwelling places (2:2); WOMEN RAPED (5:11).” (Zechariah 9-14 and Malachi: A Commentary [Westminister – John Knox Press Louisville – Kentucky, 1995], by David L. Petersen, page 141)

Professor David W. Chapman:

“The context of 5:11-14 concentrates on the horrors that women and men faced in the exilic period. After speaking of the rape RAPE OF THE WOMEN IN 5:11, the two verses above mention in descending social order the fate of the men (a similar order is reiterated in 5:14). The Hebrew perfect verbs are translated above with the English simple past; however, many modern interpreters (going back to Lam 5:1) understand these are current afflictions for the writer. (Ancient Jewish and Christian Perceptions of Crucifixion [Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 2. Reihe – Mohr Siebeck, Tubingen, Germany, 2008], by David W. Chapman, page 158)

So there we have it – the translations for Lamentations 5:11 and the commentaries on the verse, all agree that the Hebrew word ‘anah’ signifies ‘rape’. The GNT translation for Deuteronomy 21:10-14 where it says forceful sexual intercourse (rape) did take place, they translated it correctly. The women mentioned in Deuteronomy 21:10-14 were raped.

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  1. Deuteronomy 21:10-14 – ‘Soldiers Raped Women’? – Discover The Truth
  2. Biblical Law Forces Rapist To Marry Victim (‘anah/inna’) – Discover The Truth
  3. “Rape” In Ezekiel 22:11 And Deuteronomy 21:14? – Discover The Truth

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