Deuteronomy 21:10-14 – ‘Soldiers Raped Women’?

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In this second piece, we look at the Hebrew word ‘anah’ once again. And see what the original intended meaning for it was. As mentioned in the previous article here, Christian apologists have argued for years that the women captured in war, in Deuteronomy 21:10-14 were treated humanly. There was no rape, they claim.

One of the best translations to illustrate that rape did indeed take place in Deuteronomy, is the GNT translation. It reads:

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.”

Christian apologists, however have argued that those scholars who translated the GNT are wrong in translating the Hebrew word ‘anah’ as ‘forced intercourse’ (‘rape’).

In this article we will look at Judges 20:5, where the Hebrew word ‘anah’ (inn) is used. We will look and see how Biblical scholars have translated the word for that verse (Judges 20:5). Does the word carry the meaning of ‘rape’ or sexual intercourse by ‘force’?

Before reading the translations, please check word for word English and Hebrew text for Judges 20:5, where the word ‘anah’ (inna) is used here: BlueletterBible.org

Some context surrounding the verse we are examining:

“4 So the Levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, replied, “I had come with my concubine to spend the night in Gibeah, [a town] which belongs to [the tribe of] Benjamin. 5 But the men of Gibeah rose up against me and surrounded the house at night because of me. They intended to kill me, but instead they RAPED (ANAH) my concubine [so brutally] that she died.” – Judges 20:4-5

We will focus only on verse 5 and see how the scholars have translated the word (Anah) here.

Translations for Judges 20:5

Amplified Bible (AMP)
“5 But the men of Gibeah rose up against me and surrounded the house at night because of me. They intended to kill me, but instead they RAPED my concubine [so brutally] that she died.” – Judges 20:5

Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
“5 And the men of Gibeah rose against me and beset the house round about me by night; they meant to kill me and they RAPED my concubine, and she is dead.” – Judges 20:5

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
“5 and the men in Giv‘ah attacked me and surrounded the house I was staying in at night. They wanted to kill me, but instead they RAPED my concubine to death.” – Judges 20:5

Contemporary English Version (CEV)
“5 Later that night, the men of Gibeah surrounded the house. They wanted to kill me, but instead they RAPED and killed my wife.” – Judges 20:5

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
“5 And behold the men of that city in the night beset the house wherein I was, intending to kill me, and abused my wife with an incredible FURY OF LUST, so that at last she died.” – Judges 20:5

Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
“5 But during the night the men of the city of Gibeah came to the house where I was staying. They surrounded the house, and they wanted to kill me. They RAPED my slave woman, and she died.” – Judges 20:5

Expanded Bible (EXB)
“5 During the night the ·men [leaders; lords] of Gibeah came after me. They surrounded the house and wanted to kill me. They FORCED MY SLAVE WOMAN TO HAVE SEXUAL RELATIONS [abused/RAPED my concubine] and she died.” – Judges 20:5

GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)
“5 The citizens of Gibeah came to attack me. They surrounded the house where I was staying that night. They intended to kill me, but instead, they RAPED my concubine until she died.” – Judges 20:5

Good News Translation (GNT)
“5 The men of Gibeah came to get me and surrounded the house at night. They intended to kill me; instead they RAPED my concubine, and she died.” – Judges 20:5

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
“5 Citizens of Gibeah ganged up on me and surrounded the house at night. They intended to kill me, but they RAPED my concubine, and she died.” – Judges 20:5

International Children’s Bible (ICB)
“5 During the night the men of Gibeah came after me. They surrounded the house and wanted to kill me. They RAPED my slave woman. And she died!” – Judges 20:5

Lexham English Bible (LEB)
“5 The lords of Gibeah rose up against me and surrounded the house at night. They intended to kill me, and they RAPED my concubine, and she died.” – Judges 20:5

Living Bible (TLB)
“5 “That night the men of Gibeah surrounded the house, planning to kill me, and they RAPED my wife until she was dead.” – Judges 20:5

The Message (MSG)
“That night the men of Gibeah came after me. They surrounded the house, intending to kill me. They GANG-RAPED my concubine and she died.” – Judges 20:5

Names of God Bible (NOG)
“5 The citizens of Gibeah came to attack me. They surrounded the house where I was staying that night. They intended to kill me, but instead, they RAPED my concubine until she died.” – Judges 20:5

New Century Version (NCV)
“5 During the night the men of Gibeah came after me. They surrounded the house and wanted to kill me. They FORCED MY SLAVE WOMAN TO HAVE SEXUAL RELATIONS and she died.” – Judges 20:5

New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)
“5 During the night the men of Gibeah came after me. They surrounded the house. They were planning to kill me. They RAPED my concubine, and she died.” – Judges 20:5

New International Version (NIV)
“5 During the night the men of Gibeah came after me and surrounded the house, intending to kill me. They RAPED my concubine, and she died.” – Judges 20:5

New International Version – UK (NIVUK)
“5 During the night the men of Gibeah came after me and surrounded the house, intending to kill me. They RAPED my concubine, and she died.” – Judges 20:5

New Living Translation (NLT)
“5 That night some of the leading citizens of Gibeah surrounded the house, planning to kill me, and they RAPED my concubine until she was dead.” – Judges 20:5

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
“5 The lords of Gibeah rose up against me, and surrounded the house at night. They intended to kill me, and they RAPED my concubine until she died.” – Judges 20:5

New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)
“5 The lords of Gibeah rose up against me, and surrounded the house at night. They intended to kill me, and they RAPED my concubine until she died.” – Judges 20:5

New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition (NRSVACE)
“5 The lords of Gibeah rose up against me, and surrounded the house at night. They intended to kill me, and they RAPED my concubine until she died.” – Judges 20:5

New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)
“5 The lords of Gibeah rose up against me, and surrounded the house at night. They intended to kill me, and they RAPED my concubine until she died.” – Judges 20:5

Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)
“5 And the ba’alei haGiv’ah rose against me, and surrounded the bais upon me by lailah, and intended to have murdered me; and my pilegesh have they RAPED, that she is dead.” – Judges 20:5

Tree of Life Version (TLV)
“5 Then men of Gibeah rose against me and surrounded the house over me at night. They intended to kill me, but instead, they RAPED my concubine until she died.” – Judges 20:5

The Voice (VOICE)
“5 but the leaders of the city came to the house where we were staying and surrounded it, wanting to attack me. They intended to kill me, but they RAPED my mistress until she died.” – Judges 20:5

World English Bible (WEB)
“5 The men of Gibeah rose against me, and surrounded the house by night. They intended to kill me, and they RAPED my concubine, and she is dead.” – Judges 20:5

Let’s now read some Bible commentaries for Judges 20:5.

Peter Pett’s Commentary on the Bible:

“The testimony was clear and straightforward, although protecting his honour. The main motive of the men is not mentioned, possibly because he did not want to be associated with such an idea, or possibly as being something he was ashamed to mention in public, but he had had no doubt as to what would have been the end result, especially when he resisted. All present would understand what he meant by the humbling or forcing of his concubine, MULTIPLE RAPE. And it had been so vicious that she had died as a result.” (Peter Pett’s Commentary on the Bible – Judges 20:5 – online source)

 

The New Interpreter’s Bible:

“The Levite’s testimony (20:4-7) is correct in labelling the RAPE of the concubine as a ‘vile outrage,’ but several features of his testimony are less than honest. He reports that the ‘lords of Gibeah’ rose against him (20:5), but the account indicates the perpetrators were a perverse group in the city (19:22), not necessarily the city’s leaders. The Levite also says the men of the city intended to kill him (20:5). Judges 19:22, however, only says they wanted to have intercourse with him. He also does not report that he ‘seized’ his concubine and put her out to the crowd (19:25), which, as already noted, implicates the Levite in the RAPE as well as the men of Gibeah. By distorting the story in these ways, the Levite creates a conflict between the tribe of Benjamin and the other Israelite tribes that diverts attention from his own guilt.” (The New Interpreter’s Bible: One-Volume Commentary [Editors: Beverly Roberts Gaventa and David Peterson – Abingdon Press – Nashville, 2010] by Jerome F. D. Creach, page 311)

John Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Bible:

“And the men of Gibeah rose against me,…. Not all of them, but some that dwelt in that city; he forbears giving them the character they justly deserved, sons of Belial. These came in a tumultuous and violent manner: and beset the house round about upon me by night; that he might not make his escape, resolving if possible to get him into their hands, and do with him according to their will: and thought to have slain me; their first intention was to commit the unnatural sin on him, and, if he resisted, to slay him; but this he modestly conceals, as being a sin not to be named in an assembly of saints; and besides he might say this, because he himself chose rather to be slain than to submit to their lust, which he knew must be the case upon his refusal and resistance; and even if he had yielded, being overpowered, this would have been the consequence, that he should have been abused even unto death, as his wife was: and my concubine have they forced, that she is dead; or “afflicted”, or “humbled”F4 her; which is a modest expression for CARNAL knowledge of her, and WHICH THEY HAD TO SUCH EXCESS THAT SHE DIED THROUGH IT. (John Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Bible – Judges 20:5 – online source)

 

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann:

“v. 5. And the men of Gibeah, the lords of the city, for they were guilty with their whole city, since they had not prevented the excess, rose against me, and beset the house round about upon me by night, and thought to have slain me. The crime which the men of Gibeah had intended was really worse than murder, and it would probably have resulted in the Levite’s death; he may have been ashamed to speak of the crime by its right name. And MY CONCUBINE HAVE THEY FORCED that she is dead, a victim of their BESTIAL LUSTS. (The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann – Judges 20:5 – online source)

 

As we finished reading the above evidences, the soldiers in Deuteronomy 21:10-14 did get married to the women, however, the captive women were raped. They did not consent to the marriage. As we have seen the true intended meaning for ‘anah’ (inna) in Deuteronomy 21:10-14, the whole passage relays how soldiers were given the green light to rape slave-women.

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

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