[b-hebrew] virginity

michaelabernat9001 at sbcglobal.net michaelabernat9001 at sbcglobal.net
Thu Jul 19 12:32:00 EDT 2007


I considered the possibility that someone might argue "that SHE HAD COHABITED WITH ANOTHER MAN AFTER KIDDUSHIN." That's why I looked it up in the Mishnah before commenting. Note Ketuboth 1:6,

"He who marries a woman and did not find tokens of virginity- `she says, "After you  betrothed me, I was raped, and your field has been flooded," `and he says, "Not so, but it   was before I betrothed you, and my purchase was a bargain made in error"- `Rabban  Gamaliel and R. Eliezer say, "She is believed." `R. Joshua says, "We do not depend on her     testimony. But lo, she remains in the assumption of having had sexual relations before she   was betrothed and of having deceived him, `"until she brings evidence to back up her             [contrary] claim." 


This passage makes it evident that this law was applied to any sexual relationship prior to the consummation with her husband.


I have to wonder if we are imposing modern standards on these passages. Edwin Yamauchi wrote an article  entitled Cultural Aspects of Marriage in the Ancient World for Bibliotheca Sacra  in 1978. He noted, "In the Jewish Talmud marriage was recommended for girls at the age of puberty, which would be at twelve or twelve and one-half (Yeb. 62b). Males were advised to marry between fourteen and eighteen. In Talmudic law a girl before the age of twelve and one-half could not refuse a marriage decided on by her father. After that age her assent was essential (Kidd. 2b).  Sepulchral inscriptions of Jewish families buried in the catacombs at Rome give the actual ages of brides in six cases; two married at twelve, two at fifteen, one between fifteen and sixteen, and one between sixteen and seventeen."


I should hope that it was considered normal for these girls to enter marriage as virgins.



Michael Abernathy

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