[b-hebrew] Dinah raped?

Kevin Riley klriley at alphalink.com.au
Thu Jul 19 23:38:54 EDT 2007

-------Original Message------- 
From: Harold Holmyard 
Date: 20/07/2007 1:13:51 PM 
Dear Kevin, 
> I've been thinking about this assumption that because the Levitical laws 
> state that a girl should be a virgin at marriage, therefore that is what
> Israelite girls were. Are we not assuming too much - given the data from 
> the rest of Scripture - when we assume that all - or even most -
> actually lived in obedience to the laws? Does it not call into question
> many condemnations of Israel in the historical and prophetic books for 
> following pagan customs? Do we have any evidence for the culture actually 
> enforcing the ban on extra-marital sex, apart form the law codes? 
Did you see Michael Abernathy's post earlier today about the age that 
Girls married back then, with age twelve being mentioned. With a death 
Penalty for doing otherwise, it would not be that hard to wait when a 
Girl was just breaking into adolescence. I seems reasonable to think it 
Was the norm. 
Yes, but that has little to do with obedience to the commandments, and much
to do with culture.  And there are/were places where girls marry at the same
age and virginity at marriage was/is unusual.  A recent survey in southern
Africa showed that it was becoming increasingly common for girls to start
being sexually active by the age of 10.  It was not the normality of
virginity that I primarily questioned, but the reason for the assumption. 
We do actually have very few examples even in the Bible of the laws being
carried out.  Given the cultural expectation and practices, did the law
actually make much difference?  Would we see any differences between
observant Israelites and their neighbours who worshipped Ba'al and Asherah,
or the pagan Canaanites in the next village?  Can we really assume simply
because a girl was an Israelite that she would be a virgin at marriage, or
that if she were not that she would actually be in danger of being stoned to
death?  I know our data for pre-exilic Israelite culture is extremely
limited, so perhaps we will never know the answer to this question.  It was
the simple equation "being an Israelite = obeying the law" that I found
questionable.  Much like the assumption that Christians should strive to
emulate the apostolic church because it was a perfect model.  If either
assumption were true, we would probably have a very thin book to read in
Kevin Riley

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