[b-hebrew] virginity

Shoshanna Walker rosewalk at concentric.net
Thu Jul 19 19:47:57 EDT 2007

Everything you quote below still supports what I wrote earlier - that 
the issue is whether she misrepresented herself or not before she got 
"betrothed".  The issue is not whether or not she slept with another 
man before she got "betrothed", but whether she deceived her husband 
or not ("bargain made in error"), and told him she had never had sex 
with another man when she did, and this was relevant re: whether she 
was entitled to her divorce settlement or not - in this case, from a 
man who had taken a disliking to her after marriage and was trying to 
get rid of her without having to pay the settlement.  If she really 
did deceive him, it would be a good excuse to try to say that she was 
raped after she was betrothed, so an investigation has to be made.



I considered the possibility that someone might argue "that SHE HAD 
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 


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



Michael Abernathy
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