[b-hebrew] virginity

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Mon Jul 16 02:17:31 EDT 2007

----- Original Message ----- 
From: John Steven <Brak at neo.rr.com>

> The Torah does in fact forbid a woman to have pre-marital sex.
> Deu 22:20-21 "But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be
> not found for the damsel:
> Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house,
> and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die:
> because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her
> father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you."

Dear John,

I'm not so sure. Might the issue here not be honesty? That is, if a man 
marries a woman whom he thought was a virgin, and then found out she wasn't, 
he would have a right to demand retribution. However, if he knew and agreed, 
no problem.

I do agree that the social situation, as well as we can understand it, was 
that "maidens", that is young unmarried women, were usually assumed to be 
virgins, and that virgins were "worth" more than non-virgins. And since many 
marriages were arranged without the young bride having any say in the 
matter, it was basically her father who made the committment. So if she was 
found not a virgin, then she had been "playing the whore in her father's 

BTW, someone along the way pointed out that if her parents did manage to 
produce the bloody sheets, the husband would be "punished" by having to stay 
married to her forever. I can't think of a more horrible life for the girl, 
who was proven to be innocent, than to have to remain with the man who had 
tried to have her killed. But the social circumstances were that such a girl 
would be unmarriable: she was now no longer a virgin, and any potential 
husband would wonder what she HAD done to make her previous husband hate her 
so much as to want to kill her.

> Not only the wives and concubines lived in the harem, but the other
> women of the household as well. So his daughters would be part of the
> harem. The common western vision of a harem being a sex-room filled with
> scantily clad/naked women is very incorrect.

Here I agree.

Yigal Levin 

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