Biblical Law Forces Rapist To Marry Victim (‘anah/inna’)

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We continue to examine the Hebrew ‘anah’ (inna) in this fourth piece. Previously (which can be seen here, here, and here) we mentioned how some have argued that the captive women mentioned in Deuteronomy 21:10-14 were treated humanely, no rape took place, they claim. However, as we looked at the Hebrew words closer, we seen that the passage gave approval and the permissibility of forced sexual intercourse (rape) with these slave-women. The GNT Bible accurately described what happened to the women:

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.”

This captures the original reading for the passage. Christian apologists have rejected this translation because it shows that the women were raped. We will look at the same Hebrew word (‘Anah/inna’) used elsewhere in the Old Testament and see whether scholars translate the word ‘anah/inna’ as ‘rape’ or forced sexual intercourse.

Before reading the translations, please check the follow link – word for word English and Hebrew text for Deuteronomy 22:29, where the word ‘anah’ is used: BlueletterBible.org

Some context in relation to Deuteronomy 22:29. If a man sees a virgin and he forcefully has sexual intercourse with her, the rapist has to pay the father of the girl ‘fifty shekels’ and must marry her (forced marriage). This was the ancient Israelite law, when a man raped a virgin which was not ‘betrothed’, the man had to marry her, even if the girl disliked this, the marriage would have still gone ahead without her wishes.

Good New Translation (GNT)
“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.” Deuteronomy 22:28-29

Different translations for Deuteronomy 22:29.

Living Bible (TLB)
“28-29 If a man RAPES A GIRL who is not engaged and is caught in the act, he must pay a fine[a] to the girl’s father and marry her; he may never divorce her.” – Deuteronomy 22:29

The Message (MSG)
“28-29 When a man comes upon a virgin who has never been engaged and grabs and RAPES HER and they are found out, the man who RAPED HER has to give her father fifty pieces of silver. He has to marry her because he took advantage of her. And he can never divorce her.” – Deuteronomy 22:29

Names of God Bible (NOG)
“29 the man who had sexual intercourse with her must give the girl’s father 1¼ pounds of silver, and she will become his wife. Since he RAPED HER, he can never divorce her as long as he lives.[a]” – Deuteronomy 22:29

New English Translation (NET Bible)
“29 The man who has RAPED HER must pay her father fifty shekels of silver and she must become his wife because he has violated her; he may never divorce her as long as he lives.” – Deuteronomy 22:29

New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)
“29 Then the man must weigh out 20 ounces of silver. He must give it to her father. The man must marry the young woman, because he RAPED HER. And he can never divorce her as long as he lives.” – Deuteronomy 22:29

Contemporary English Version (CEV)
“29 they will be forced to get married. He must give her father fifty pieces of silver as a bride-price and[a] can never divorce her.” – Deuteronomy 22:29

Footnote for CEV Translation:

“22.28,29 talks her into sleeping with him. . . bride-price and: Or “FORCES HER TO HAVE SEX.”

Expanded Bible (EXB)
29 the man who ·had sexual relations [L lay] with her must pay the girl’s father about ·one and one-fourth pounds [L fifty shekels] of silver. He must also marry the girl, because he has ·dishonored [HUMILIATED; RAPED] her, and he may never divorce her for as long as he lives [Ex. 22:16–17].” – Deuteronomy 22:29

GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)
“29 the man who had sexual intercourse with her must give the girl’s father 1¼ pounds of silver, and she will become his wife. SINCE HE RAPED HER, he can never divorce her as long as he lives.[a]” – Deuteronomy 22:29

Good News Translation (GNT)
“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.” – Deuteronomy 22:29

Let’s now turn to Bible commentaries for the verse, and see what they say in relation to Deuteronomy 22:29

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary:

NOW, IF YOU RAPED A GIRL, and she is a virgin, and she is not betrothed to someone else, then you”re to take her as your wife to pay her father fifty shekels of silver (Deuteronomy 22:23-29).” (Chuck Smith Bible Commentary – Deuteronomy 22:29 – online source)

 

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible – Unabridged:

“But if SHE WAS FORCED, THE MAN ONLY WHO COMMITTED THE RAPE was to suffer for the violence, which was regarded as a capital crime. In the case of a maiden not betrothed being seduced, the man was OBLIGED TO MARRY HER, and he forfeited the right possessed by other husbands of giving her a divorce. …”(Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible – Unabridged – Deuteronomy 22:29 – online source)

 

The following commentaries on this verse (Deuteronomy 22:29) were taken from an article on Unveiling-Christianity.net site.

Biblical scholars John Walton, Victor Matthew and Mark Chavalas in their The IVP Bible Background Commentary have the following on Deuteronomy 22:25-27 which is the context of verses 28 and 29:

“In this case, Israelite law adds another criterion by specifying the guiltlessness of the woman who is RAPED in the countryside, where her screams were unlikely to attract assistance. The assumption of her innocence is based on the implied resistance to the rape in this circumstance.” (Walton, J. H., Matthew, V. H., & Chavalas, M. W. (2000). The IVP Bible Background Commentary: The Old Testament. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press. p. 196)

Biblical scholar and historian Philip King who was professor of Biblical Studies in the Department of Theology at Boston College and Dorot Professor of the Archeology of Israel in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Hardvard University Lawrence Stager write:

RAPE IS REFERRED TO ONLY IN DEUTERONOMY, but with no sharp distinction between rape and seduction. THE RAPIST “SHALL GIVE FIFTY SHEKELS OF SILVER TO THAT 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.”(Deut. 22:29) The Payment in this case represents the mohar.” (King, P. J, & Stager, L. E. (2001). Life in Biblical Israel. In Douglas A. Knight (ed.), Library of Ancient Israel. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. p. 60)

The late conservative Biblical scholar Peter Craigie who held several top posts such as head of the religious studies department at the University of Calgary in his commentary on Deuteronomy 22:28-29 writes as follows:

“28-29 (iv) The RAPE OF A SINGLE WOMAN. THE MAN USES FORCE ON THE WOMAN, who is a virgin and is not betrothed to a man; the two are discovered while the crime is being committed. In this case, the man must pay damages to the father, in the amount of fifty pieces (shekels) of silver, and he must marry the woman.” (Craigie, P. C. (1976). The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: The Book of Deuteronomy. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. Eerdmans Publishing Co. p. 295)

The late Biblical scholar and specialist in Hebrew studies Roger Whybray writes:

“Deuteronomy 22:22-29 deals with adultery and RAPE, and make distinctions between RAPE in the open country, where the woman is defenceless, and rape in the town, where it is held that she could have shouted for help. Rape of an unbetrothed virgin is punished by a payment to her father.” (Whybray, R. N. (2002). The Good Life in the Old Testament. Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark. p. 50)

Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Salve Regina University T. J. Wray writes:

“The crime of rape in the Bible is varied and complex. In the world of biblical antiquity, RAPE is largely viewed as a crime of disordered lust. Today, we know that it is about must more, but in the Bible, if an unengaged virgin is RAPED, she may actually be required TO MARRY HER RAPIST, and the rapist may must pay the girl’s father a fee for defiling his daughter (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)! Though Deuteronomy stipulates the death penalty for the rape of an engaged female (Deut. 22:25-27, there are numerous cases of vigilante justice for victims of rape (Gen 34:25-29; Judges 19-20; 2 Sam 13:22-29), which leads us to conclude that perhaps in ancient Israel, the long arm of the law often falls short when it comes to rape.” (Wray, T. J. (2011). What the Bible Really Tells Us: The Essential Guide to Biblical Literacy. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. p. 142)

Dr. Gary Hall, Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Lincoln Christian Seminary in his commentary on Deuteronomy 22:28-29 write:

“22:28-29 If the girl who was violated was not married or engaged, the penalty was not death but a fine and the loss of the right of divorce. The law protected both the girl (economic security) and the father (loss of bride price). The girl’s loss of virginity would have made her virtually unmarriageable. In Exodus 22:16 the father could refuse to let the girl marry the seducer. There is some question whether the act in view here was rape (NIV) or consensual. The word of verse 25 (“seize”) was not used but an apparently more mild word which meant “take hold of.” However, the explanation that the man had violated the girl POINTS TOWARD RAPE. The expression was also used of Shechem’s treatment of Dinah (Gen. 34:2).” (Hall, G. H. (2000). The College Press NIV Commentary: Deuteronomy. United States: College Press Publishing Co. p. 339)

Avid Christian pastor and Bible instructor Warren W. Wiersbe writes:

“According to the law, if a man RAPED A VIRGIN not engaged to be married, he had to pay her father a fine and marry her, and he could never divorce her (Deut. 2:28-29).” (Wiersbe, W. W. (2003). The Bible Exposition Commentary: Old Testament History. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Cook Communications Ministries. p. 342)

The IVP Bible Background Commentary agrees that it is about rape:

“34:2 ravishing women. RAPE AS A MEANS OF OBTAINING A MARRIAGE CONTRACT WAS APPARENTLY ONE STRATAGEM used in the ancient Near East. Laws regulating the practice are found in Exodus 22:16-17, Deuteronomy 22:28-29, the Middle *Assyrian Laws and the *Hittite laws. These often require the rapist to pay an especially high bride price and sometimes forbid any possibility of divorce.” (Walton, J. H., Matthews, V. H., & Chavalas M. W. (2000). The IVP Bible Background Commentary, Old Testament: An indispensable resource for all students of the Bible, accessibly providing the cultural background of every passage in the Old Testament. Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press. p. 66)

Thomas P. Lowry writes:

“Deuteronomy 20:10 describes the divinely approved course of action after successfully besieging a city: kill all the men and use the women any way that pleases you. On the smaller scale of the individual victim, we are advised in 22:28 that if a man RAPES A GIRL, he must pay the girl’s father fifty pieces of silver, marry the girl, and never divorce her. Whether she wishes to marry her assailant is not in the text.” (Lowry, T. P. (2006). Sexual Misbehavior in the Civil War: A Compendium. United States: Xilbris Corporation. p. 115)

Theologian Dr David Garland who is Dean of George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University and his wife Dr. Diana Garland write:

“It is also declared in Deuteronomy 22:28-29:
If a man meets a virgin who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are caught in the act, 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.
The law implicitly assumed that the RAPED VICTIM was not damaged goods, and it was best for her to marry the assailant.” (Garland, D., & Garland, D. (2007). Flawed Families of the Bible: How God’s Grace Works Through Imperfect Relationships. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Brazos Press. p. 78)

Biblical scholar Dr. Cheryl Anderson in Women, Ideology, and Violence: Critical Theory and the Construction of Gender in the Book of the Covenant and the Deuteronomic Law which is based on her PhD thesis writes the following:

“To review briefly the provisions in Deut. 22:22-29, the penalties for a male and female who have intercourse vary according to the female’s marital status. If the female is single and had been RAPED, the man must marry the female and cannot divorce her (Deut. 22:28-29).” (Anderson, C. B. (2004). Women, Ideology, and Violence: Critical Theory and the Construction of Gender in the Book of the Covenant and the Deuteronomic Law. London: T&T Clark International. p. 67)

The late theologian and president of the conservative Dallas Theological Seminary John F. Walvoord comments on the verse and clearly identifies it as rape:

“22:28-29. A man who RAPED AN UNBETROTHED virgin was forced to marry her (after paying the bride-price of 50 shekels to her father) and had to forfeit the right of divorce.” (Wolvoord, J. F., & Zuck, R. B. (1983). The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament. Colorade Sprins, Colorado: David C. Cook. p. 303)

Regarded as one of the most influential Old Testament scholars of recent times Old Testament scholar and theologian Walter Brueggmann in his commentary on Deuteronomy 22:28-29 writes:

“22:28-29: As the laws proceed in a movement toward less severe affronts, the fifth case is, from the perspective of the text, the least severe (vv. 28-29). This case involved an unengaged virgin, that is, a woman not yet possessed by a man other than her father. The man is aggressive and seizes (tapas) her…The man is fined and forfeits his right to a future divorce. Again the settlement must be made between the two men. The WOMAN HAS BEEN RAPED, but she is not even acknowledged in the settlement, except that she is assigned to a lifelong partnership with her rapist.” (Brueggmann, W. (2001). Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries: Deuteronomy. Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press. p. 225)

Anthropologist and academic Robin Fox writes:

“Jewish law stated that a man who RAPED A VIRGIN should pay her bride-price and be required to marry her (Exodus 22:16, Deuteronomy 22:28), but it is not said how this would apply to incestuous rape.” (Fox, R. (2011). The Tribal Imagination: Civilization and the Savage Mind. United States: Harvard University Press. pp. 141-142)

Conservative Evangelical Old Testament scholar Walter Kaiser Jr. who is Colman M. Mockler distinguished Professor of Old Testament writes :

“There are two cases in Deuteronomy 22:19-29 that record that divorce was denied on the basis of whim with attempted false slander or in the case of RAPE OF A VIRGIN for whom the man then gave the bride-price.” (Kaiser Jr., W. (1991). Toward Old Testament Ethics. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House. p. 201)

Laurie L. Levenson who is David W. Burcham Chair in Ethical Advocacy at Loyola Law School in The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Ethics and Morality writes:

“The biblical laws on RAPE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT seem antiquated when they call upon women to resist their attackers, cry out for help, and be amenable to “punishment” of the defendant by requiring him to marry the victim or pay a fine.” (Levenson, L. L. (2013). Judaism and Criminal Justice. In Elliot N. Dorf & Jonathan K. Crane (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Ethics and Morality. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 479)

The above is footnoted with the following:

“Deuteronomy 22:28-29 (“and she shall be his wife, because he humbled her; and he may not put her away all his days”); Haim H. Cohn, “Sexual Offenses” (1952), in Elon, ed., The Principles of Jewish Law (at note 8 above), p. 485. He notes there that apart from specified acts, “RAPE as such is not a criminal offense in Jewish law” but requires compensation to the victim.” (Levenson, L. L. (2013). Judaism and Criminal Justice. In Elliot N. Dorf & Jonathan K. Crane (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Ethics and Morality. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 484 fn. 54)

Christian author Gary Field writes:

“F. In INSTANCES OF RAPE:
….
2) Where the woman is an unbetrothed virgin, the man was required to marry her and never divorce her (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)” (Fields, G. E. (2010). All You Ever Wanted to Know About Exodus 20… And a Little Bit More. United States: Xulon Press. p. 224)

I would like to thank Br. Ibn Anwar for allowing me to use his great material for this article. Anybody wishing to see his comprehensive article on Deuteronomy 22:28-29, please click on the following article: “Does Deuteronomy 22:28-29 teach that a female rape victim gets married to her rapist?

In conclusion, we have learned that Deuteronomy 22:28-29 gives the rapist, and gets the right to marry the rape victim. The victim had no say in this marriage.

In light of this, we can further understand when the Hebrew word ‘anah’ (inna) is used for the slave-women mentioned in Deuteronomy 21:10-14, it means the soldiers raped – had forced sex with the slaves.

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  1. “Rape” In Ezekiel 22:11 And Deuteronomy 21:14? – Discover The Truth
  2. Does Biblical Law Force Rape Victim To Marry Rapist? – Discover The Truth

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