The Bible says that at least two witnesses are needed to establish a matter. (Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6 ) But under the Law, if a man raped an engaged girl “in the field” and she screamed, she was innocent of adultery and he was not. Given that others did not witness the rape, why was she innocent while he was guilty?

Deuteronomy 22:25-27 (NASB)

25 “But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die. 26 But you shall do nothing to the girl; there is no sin in the girl worthy of death, for just as a man rises against his neighbor and murders him, so is this case. 27 When he found her in the field, the engaged girl cried out, but there was no one to save her.


3 Answers 3


In the instance of Deuteronomy 22:25-27 the girl screaming for help shows that she didn't consent to unlawfully lying with the man so she can't be deemed guilty.


In this case Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15 there are two or more witnesses against a person, the accusation can't be denied here is a word-against-word case.

This thing must have been made known by her accusing him because there is no witnesses to it and regardless if she indeed consented or not, it's not lawful to have relation to a betrohed women, so it's either rape or adultery which is a death sentence for the man!

23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; 24 then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you. (Deuteronomy 22:23-24 AKJV)

25 But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die: 26 but unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter: 27 for he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her. (Deuteronomy 22:25-27 AKJV)

But perhaps she is lying! In a word-against-word case are both the accused and the single witness tried, it might be a situation like Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife (Genesis 39). "the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness" she alone shall bear the punishment she meant to afflict on him by bearing false witness.

If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; 17 then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days; 18 and the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; 19 then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. 20 And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. (Deuteronomy 19:16-20 AKJV)


This is a sexual act which potentially creates two possible offences, namely rape or adultery, depending on the interpretation of the event. But the same strength of testimony applies to both interpretations, necessarily. If they allowed the argument "There is no case for a charge of rape, because there weren't any witnesses", they would also have to allow the argument "There is no case for a charge of adultery, because there aren't any witnesses". So enforcing the demand for witnesses would still require the girl to be judged innocent. Of course the loss of viginity would be detected on the wedding night, but there's a separate law about that.

This is an example of the law being pragmatic rather than pedantic. The "two witnesses" requirement has been tacitly set aside in order to cover a situation in which witnesses would not be available. That is, the harvest season, when the men would be out in the fields cutting, and young single women would be out gathering and gleaning, being isolated and vulnerable to sudden attacks. "Keep close to my maidens... Have I not charged the young men not to molest you?" (Ruth ch2 vv8-9).

Let us note that this slight inconsistency is deliberately leaning on the side of favouring and protecting the victim of rape, because the law takes the crime seriously. "This case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbour" (v26).

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