What Happened To The Woman In Deuteronomy 21:10-14?

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Kaleef K. Karim

It is often the case among Christian missionaries to twist and misrepresent the Bible in order to suit their 21st-century worldview. Christian missionaries, too embarrassed of certain verses they want to make the Bible adapt to liberal, and Secular values. In doing so, they go out of their way to give an alien and deceptive interpretation of verses. One such example is Deuteronomy 21:10-14, they claim that the women that were captured in warfare weren’t raped. But a closer look at the text, it tells us that these women were taken forcefully and raped:

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.”

The above (GNT) was translated by a number of American Biblical scholars, and they agree that the soldier had “forced her to have intercourse” (rape). Not long we looked at the Hebrew word anna (annah, inna), all translations have translated this Hebrew word as “rape”.  “forceful intercourse” for other verses in the Bible as well: “2 Samuel 13:14 And Deuteronomy 21:14

With our attention on the arguments already presented, we will delve into the following excerpts from scholars on Deut. 21:10-14.

Carolyn Pressler is the Harry C. Piper Professor of Biblical Interpretation at United Theological Seminary, writes that the aim of the law in the verse (Deut. 21:1-14) was not to prohibit rape but rather that the verse refers to an “act of rape”:

“Commentators frequently understand the purpose of this law as a prohibition against RAPE on the battlefield. It is UNLIKELY THAT THIS WAS THE AIM OF THE LAW. We have argued that the law should not be translated to read: ‘If you desire her, then you shall marry her.’ Rather, the man’s desire to marry the woman is part of the protasis. The law has to do with a case where a man wishes to marry a foreign captive; it then provides a means for him to do so. Moreover, the law is concerned with what happens within the household, not what happens on the battlefield. All of the actions commanded by the law take place within the household. Finally, such a prohibition would not be keeping with the tenor of Deut 20:14 which instructs the soldiers PLUNDER THE WIVES and children of the ENEMIES: ‘DEVOUR THE SPOIL OF YOUR ENEMES.’ …
It is not possible to say whether DEUT 21:10-13 had yet a third purpose, that is, to protect the captive woman by providing her with marital status. Presumably male and female captives were brought back to serve as SLAVES. Did the law intend to prohibit a man from having sexual relations with a captive female slave whom he did not marry? We have already suggested that the phrase … belongs to the protasis rather than to the apodosis. That being the case, THERE IS NOTHING IN THE LAW WHICH PROHIBITS THE MAN FROM ENGAGING IN SEXUAL RELATIONS WITH THE WOMAN WITHOUT MARRYING HER. Rather, the law simply sets forth a procedure for marrying the woman, should that be what the man chooses. The motive clause given IN 21:14 …, ‘because you have had your way with her,’ is problematic. The verb …, here translated ‘you have had your with her,’ is used of sexual intercourse twelve times in the Hebrew Bible. In none of these instances (with the possible exception of our passage) does it refer to legally sanctioned sexuality. Most often it REFERS TO AN ACT OF RAPE (2 Sam 13:12, 14, 22, Lam 5:11, Judg 19:24; 20:5); once to adulterous sex with a consenting woman (Deut 22:24); twice to violating an unbetrothed girl whose consent or lack is not mentioned (Gen 34:2; Deut 22:29); once to sexual intercourse with a woman during her menstrual period (EZ 22:10); and once to incest (Ez 22:11). The word refers to sexual acts which are in some way illicit and are seen as DEBASING the woman. The relationship established by Deut 21:10-13, however, is legal not illicit. It may be that the drafters of the law viewed the marriage as an imposition on the woman since she was a captive, or they may have regarded marriage by cohabitation rather than by contract as not quite valid. In any case, the motive clause seems to indicate that while the law provides a way for the man to marry a captive woman and later to divorce her if he no longer desires her, it sees the marriage or the divorce as in some way VIOLATING HER.” (The View of Women Found in the Deuteronomic Family Laws [Walter de Gruyter – Berlin – New York, 1993] by Carolyn Pressler, page 11 – 15)


Kathy L. Gaca Associate Professor of Classical and Mediterranean Studies says that Deut. 21:10-14 is where a wife that is raped:

“As another revealing part of the martial religious outlook, DEUTERONOMY 21:14 RECOGNIZES THAT SEXUAL COPULATION WAS RAPE in ravaging spear-conquest marriage, and yet condones the practice. DEUTERONOMY 21:10-14 prescribes the rites that ravaged young female war-captives must go through to become FORCED WIVES, spear-conquered inmates of ravaging Israelie forces. For example, the young woman must have her head shaved, her nails clipped, and be given a month to mourn the deaths of her father and mother, and then the man can sexually copulate with her. Even though Deuteronomy allows this sexual activity, it makes no pretense that this was legitimate husband-wife sex of the conventionally recognized civil religious sort. In and since antiquity, legitimate marriage and its inauguration by wedding rites presume the approval of the parents and kin of the betrothed, not, as in the Israelite war ravaging of the Midianites and Jabesh-gilead, the massacre of the girls’ parents and many of their relatives, and the forcible commandeering of their unmarried daughters by ravaging soldiers. Deuteronomy 21:14 does not try to conceal or make light of this fact. Instead it openly refers to the permitted copulation as the Israelite man DEBASING his slavishly treated wife by RAPING HER. Similarly, the root signifies Shechem debasing Dinah by raping her (Gen. 34:2); the Benjamite thugs debasing the Levite’s concubine by RAPING HER (Judg. 19:25, 20:5), leaving her to die; Ammon debasing Tamar by raping her (1 Sam. 13:14); and martial forces of Assyrians and other martial groups debasing the women in Zion and the virgins in Judah by raping them (Lam. 5:11). (Feminism and Religion: How Faiths View Women and Their Rights: How Faiths View Women and Their Rights [2016, editors: Michele A. Paludi, J. Harold Ellens] by Kathy L. Gaca, page 189)


Dr. Thalia Gur-Klein writes that the passage as a whole denotes forceful “sexuality” (Rape):

“In corroboration, Frymer-Kensly relates to the verb inna in the case of the captive wife (DUET. 21:14), CONTENDING THAT INNA MEANS WRONGDOING. Referring to the phrase: ‘If thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go wither she will’ (Deut. 21:14), Frymer-Kensky reads a captor’s refusal to marry his captive woman, dismissing her with naught, as wrongdoing, causing her to lose face (Frymer-Kensky 1999: 302, n.9). However, referring to marriage by capture, JEWISH COMMENTATORS suggest that the word inna denotes the manifold WRONG INFLICTED ON THE CAPTIVE: capturing her, and dispatching her after FORCING SEXUALITY and, by inference, unwanted marriage by capture and cohabitation upon her. Here exegesis shows awareness that marriage by capture itself is COERCIVE AND WRONGS A WOMAN (Cassuto Numbers 1961: 71; Ariel 1971: 320) In the sense of wrongdoing, the root inna in pieel, the kittle, may mean RAPE, ABDUCTION, or seduction leading to shame. Naomi Graetz cites Moshe Weinfield (1972) to claim that inna in kittel form could mean intercourse by imposition or seduction; while inferiing that INNA MEANS RAPE in the context of Judges 19:24, 20:5, 2 Samuel 13:12, 14, 22, 32, Ezekiel 22:11 and Lamentations 5:11 (Graetz 1993:307). The term inna consistently resurfaces in the sense of mental and/or PHYSICAL ABUSE and anguish in Biblical Hebrew as it does in contemporary Hebrew. In Genesis 34:2 (Dinah), Judges 20:6 (the Levite’s mistress), 2 Samuel 13:14 (Tamar) and DEUTERONOMY 21:14 (the captive wife), the verb inna denotes the PLIGHT OF THE SEXUALLY, mentally physically or SOCIALLY ABUSED WOMAN. As regards the captive woman, the captor conceivably appropriates the woman as his beula wife, consummating her sexuality which he legitimately claims as his own. His dismissal points to loss of further interest after the event – after all, sexual possession was the captor’s original motive. In this case, inna has a multifaceted meaning; captivity, COERCIVE SEXUALITY and humiliating desertion in the aftermath. As a corollary, the texts employ the term inna in the pattern of kital to denote an intensified activity on the part of the acting man while subjectifying a woman’s feelings. For comparison, we could correlate the term inna in confluent grammatical patterns. In reflexive passive hitkatel, the root changes into hitana meaning: being tortured. It describes Hagar suffering under her mistress, Sarah (Gen. 16:10). Conversely, the same root in the active patterns katal, anna and passive nikatal neenna both mean to answer and respond to another person. These examples corroborate the proposition that the verb inna in piel means COERCIVE ACTION WHICH IS UNPLEASANT AND HARMFUL TO A PERSON SUBJECTED TO IT, contrary to other forms that infer awareness and interrelationality.” (Sexual Hospitality in the Hebrew Bible: Patronymic, Metronymic, Legitimate and Illegitimate Relations [Routledge – Taylor & Francis Group, London And New York, 2014] by Thalia Gur-Klein, page 97)


T. M. Lemos (Tracy Maria Lemos) is a Biblical scholar, Historian, she is also the Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible at Huron University College and a member of the graduate school faculty at the University of Western Ontario, writes in her footnote 34, that Deut 21:10-14 is in relation to rape:

“34. For BIBLICAL TEXTS DISCUSSING RAPE, see particularly Gen 19:8; 34; Exod 22:15-16 (Eng., 16-17); DEUT 21:10-14; 22:23-29; and Samuel 13.” (Worship, Women and War: Essays in Honor of Susan Niditch [Edited by John J. Collins, T. M. Lemos, Saul M. Olyan, Brown Judaic Studies 357, 2015], by T. M. Lemos, page 238 (footnote 34))

Violence and Abuse in Society:

“Given that ‘the widespread and systematic rape of girls in war zones is increasingly a characteristic of conflict in many parts of the world… and that such violations are often perpetrated in a rule of law vacuum as a result of conflict, there often exists a prevailing culture of impunity for such crimes,’ it would seem that in contrast, Deuteronomy 21:10-14 presents a law that regulates rape on the battlefield. … But one can also view it as CONDONDING RAPE, for the soldier is free to ‘desire’ and ‘take’ an enemy woman in combat.” (Violence and Abuse in Society: Understanding a Global Crisis, [Editor Angela Browne-Miller – Praeger, An Imprint of Abc-Clio, LLC, 2012] by Shin-ich Ishikawa, Satoko Sasagawa, and Cecilia A. Essau, volume 1, page 312)

Dr. Sandra Jacobs:

“The Context Of Deuteronomy 21:10-14
Not Surprisingly, the deuteronomic provision in 21:10-14 is invariably justified by the view that the law of the female captive is located in the context of war, and that during such times a different ethical standard was both acceptable and necessary. This justification – however valid – stil leaves important questions unresolved and does little to diminish the inevitable concern that the humanitarian aspects of deuteronomic law did not extend to prohibiting the physical or secual assault of women. Indeed as Harold Washington (1996: 211) argues, the deuteronomic traditions ‘institute and regulate RAPE so that men’s proprietary sexual access to women is compromised as little as possible. The laws do not interdict sexual violence; rather they stipulate the terms under which a man may commit RAPE, provided he pays reparation to the offended male party. Once again male violence is constrained not of consideration for potential victims, but to secure a more fundamental form of male control.’” (Exodus and Deuteronomy [Editors by Athalya Brenner, Gale A. Yee, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2012], by Sandra Jacobs, page 241)

Rev. Professor Cheryl Kirk-Duggan:

“Raymond Brown posits that the foreign WOMAN HAS NO POWER, no voice, and no capacity to refuse or obey. … The LAW DOES NOT INHERENTLY PROTECT THE WOMAN from having to submit to unwanted sexual intercourse. Dt. 21:14 where the man has had his way with her pertains to illicit sex, where the man has VIOLATED THE WOMAN. While the captive wife is a subject at the behest of her captor husband… Carolyn Pressler’s interpretation focuses on the regulation where a male soldier desires marriage with a captive woman after the war, hinting at this LEGISLATION AS RAPE LAW. While Harold C. Washington situates Deut 21 in an ancient context, without dealing with the reader’s response, he does interpret the text AS RAPE LAW.36 (36 Susanne Scholz, Sacred Witness: Rape in the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2010), 109-112)” (Precious Memories: Rule of Law in Deuteronomy as Catalyst and Contradiction of Domestic Violence by Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, page 18 – 25)


The Biblical verse and the academic sources agree that the law encouraged a soldier in ancient of days to rape a captured woman.

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Related articles:

(1) – “How Lee Kaplan allegedly brainwashed a former Amish family” – “Middle-aged abuser kept young sisters as sex slaves” http://www.pennlive.com/news/2017/05/lee_kaplan_gifting_case_amish.html

And: http://metro.co.uk/2017/06/07/middle-aged-abuser-kept-young-sisters-as-sex-slaves-6691889/




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6 Responses »

  1. Reblogged this on Blogging Theology and commented:

  2. Another Excellent article 🙂

  3. It’s incredible how covert atheists twist scriptures to their own destruction.

    1. Can whoever wrote this “discover the truth (sic)” article please the phrase “AFTER THAT” in the verses in question – Deuteronomy 21:10-14?

    2. Also please explain the process as stated in the verses 10-13 of Deuteronomy 21.

    Truthful answers to these questions will show you how deep the faceless writer of this article is in error.

    • [Edit]

      1. Can whoever wrote this “discover the truth (sic)” article please explain the phrase “AFTER THAT” in the verses in question – Deuteronomy 21:10-14?

  4. 1 Month of mourning. Heads shaved, Nails Clipped, Jewelry removed and Cheeks Red from crying.

    Really kills the mood for Rape. And this is compared to leaving them to their fate and ensuing that they end up starving to death, sold into slavery or being killed along with their children as many people have done in history.

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