[b-hebrew] virginity

michaelabernat9001 at sbcglobal.net michaelabernat9001 at sbcglobal.net
Fri Jul 20 13:38:09 EDT 2007


I believe the totality of what I quoted over the last few days does preclude deceiving the groom as being the only crime. Please, note the following points


1. The crime was both deception and failure to preserve her virginity

Deuteronomy 22:21 defines the offense as sexual.

Deuteronomy 22:21 לִזְנוֹת בֵּית אָבִיהָ 


To play the harlot or be promiscuous in her father’s house.

Josephus also defines this as a sexual offense in Antiquities 4:8:23

“but if the damsel be convicted, as having been corrupted, and is one of the common people, let her be stoned, because she did not preserve her virginity till she were lawfully married; but if she were the daughter of a priest, let her be burnt alive.” [emphasis mine]


In  The Special Laws III Philo defines the offense as both sexual in nature and as a matter of deceit.

“For in such a case, not only are their daughters themselves in danger, as to their reputation as having preserved the chastity of their bodies, but their guardians are likewise imperilled, not only because they have not kept them safe till the important period of their marriageable age, but because they have given in marriage as virgins those who have been defiled by others, deceiving and imposing upon those who have taken them to wife.”


2.      The condemned sexual act occurred before their engagement.

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.”

 Thus, this was not a case of the bride having committed adultery after her engagement.


3. The penalty was death. 

Deuteronomy 22:21

See also Josephus Antiquities 4:8:23


Now, concerning deception.

The Mishnah states that when a person has become engaged to another on the basis of a falsehood, the betrothal is invalid. Kiddushin 2:2-5.


If a couple entered into marriage under false pretenses, such as the bride was under a vow but claimed she wasn't, the marriage may be terminated. If the wife has deceived her husband, he does not have to return her Ketubah. See Ketuboth 7:7.


I suspect we will continue to disagree on this subject but would you mind answering two questions?

First, I know you are basing your conclusions on oral law, but is there any text you could cite for me? I would appreciate being able to see what has been written on the subject.


Second, why do you believe the girl warranted the death penalty as Deuteronomy 22 required?


Michael Abernathy


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