[b-hebrew] virginity

Shoshanna Walker rosewalk at concentric.net
Sun Jul 22 22:24:12 EDT 2007

Dear Tory

a)  Your question is proof that this can only be talking about a 
woman who has had sex AFTER she was betrothed, ie; adulteress, since 
otherwise she would not be subject to death penalty if her husband 
were proven right, ie; that he is accusing her of sex AFTER their 
betrothal. She is not stoned because of sex BEFORE betrothal, since 
everybody knows that is not a capital offense.

Again, the text does not begin this passage by saying that the 
husband has sex with his new wife, and finds that she is not a 
virgin, and then goes and reports her, but only that he has sex with 
his new wife and hates her (Ramban says he hates her because he 
didn't like sex with her) and THEN accuses her, using that as an 
excuse to divorce her without "the dowry of virgins" (Sh'mot 22:16) 
The Torah does not say that he hates her because she is not a virgin, 
but that this accusation is wanton and slanderous.  And an 
investigation has to be made.

Quoting from Ramban:  "If his accusation is found to be true (verse 
20), as the husband said, they shall stone her (verse 21).  The truth 
cannot be known except by the testimony of two witnesses.  And 
because, concerning the illicit relations of virgins, Scripture will 
clarify (verses 23-24 and 28-29) that if she were betrothed she is 
stoned, and if she were not betrothed, she is absolved from 
punishment, it was unneccesary to explain here "But if this thing be 
true" that she was unchaste while betrothed, and [what is more] she 
so acted willingly [with anyone other than her lawful spouse] "they 
shall stone her".  And instead it says by allusion "because she has 
done a base deed in Israel, to play the harlot in her father's 
house", the base deed being that she did so voluntarily.  The 
expression "to play the harlot" signifies "when a wife being under 
her husband goeth aside" (Numbers 5:29), for an unbetrothed maiden is 
not termed a harlot if she lies with one of the people, but the 
betrothed one is espoused to him [her future husband and therefore 
she is termed a harlot if she commits adultery with another man]"

b) "And they shall spread the cloth" Rashi says that this is a 
figurative expression meaning, the matter is as white (ie; as clear) 
as a sheet.  Ramban disagrees, and his explanation is more than I can 
type now.


Dear Shoshanna,

I'm in agreement with you that pre-marital sex was per se no capital 
offense, illicit sex could be. But if a woman claims -- after the 
wedding night -- that her hymen was broken through no fault of her 
own before the wedding night but subsequent to the bretrothal, the 
husband can dispute her testimony. Bed-linen from the wedding night 
wont help her case because of her admission and because the unstained 
linen is the husband's evidence against her: "I did not find BTWLYM 
in her" (Dt. xxii 14). But then, if no BTWLYM are produced, she is 
stoned to death (vv. 20-21), and in this case she is stoned precisely 
for having sex before the betrothal. Lying is not a capital offense. 
The big question, however, is what kind of BTWLYM could she then 
possibly be expected to submit in refutation of the husband's claim? 
What are BTWLYM?

Tory Thorpe

On Jul 22, 2007, at 5:03 PM, Shoshanna Walker wrote:

> Because only a woman who has committed adultery, not sex without
> marriage/betrothal, is subject to the death penalty.  "Played the
> whore" refers to that, not to modern day ideas of what promiscuity
> consists of.
> Shoshanna

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list