28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; 29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.
-- Deuteronomy 22:28-29

Some say that the woman's father was able to refuse marriage in this case, based on a related passage in Exodus:

16 And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. 17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins."
-- Exodus 22:16-17

But what evidence is there for this claim? How can one say that the father could refuse the marriage in this case, even if Exodus 22:16-17 has nothing to do with it?

Thank you.

  • 1
    @NigelJ It is widely accepted that Deuteronomy 22:28-29 is referring to rape. Some argue that it is not, but most commentatora agree that it is. You should have asked me first.
    – CMK
    Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 10:34
  • @NigelJ You should have asked because I am the one who posted the question.
    – CMK
    Commented Oct 5, 2019 at 13:00
  • 1
    @NigelJ I didn't know that. In that case, sorry; there's no issue.
    – CMK
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 13:16
  • 1
    Thank you. No offence was intended, I assure you.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 15:37
  • 1
    See sefaria.org/Ketubot.39b?lang=bi There seems to be no biblical evidence for it, but is rather a logical reasoning of "let the sinner not profit from his sin!"
    – bach
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 2:08

3 Answers 3


One has to be careful not to imagine that this law was about rape, when in fact it was a means of thwarting a man who would woo (entice)1 a virgin, i.e. telling her that if she loved him she would let him have sex with her. It was pretty much a means of deterring such men from imagining they could neglect their responsibilities.

Engaging in sex in Hebrew society at the time was equivalent to making a commitment to marriage. In other words, there was no way the community was going to allow a man to bypass his obligation to pay (i.e. "he may not put her away all his days") for what he wanted. The law said, whether or not the man took the girl for his wife, he would pay as if he had.

  1. יְפַתֶּ֣ה (Strong's H6601 - pathah) is the Hebrew verb given in the KJV as "entice", and is parsed piel/imperfect/third person/masculine singular*, so it means persuade/seduce/deceive. It most certainly doesn't mean "rape".
  • 1
    You need to provide textual evidence that it was not rape.
    – CMK
    Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 13:17
  • @CMK I will add to my answer in order to identify the textual evidence it contains that you may have missed.
    – enegue
    Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 8:18
  • @enegue The Hebrew word is תָּפַשׂ H8610 ("tâphaś"), not H6601. It means to seize, handle, capture by force, etc. It is never used in the OT to imply consent. Commented Sep 27, 2023 at 21:35
  • My answer refers to the second of the two passages, which I should have stated in my answer. It shouldn't have been an issue for you though, as I did refer to the relevant English word in the OP's quote as 'entice'.
    – enegue
    Commented Sep 28, 2023 at 9:34

In Deuteronomy 22:28-29, the phrases "lay hold on" and "humbled her" imply forcible rape, and the definitions of the original Hebrew bear this out. In Ex 22:16-17, something quite different is happening, there's no mention of "laying hold on" or "humbling" the maiden. Instead, the maiden is "enticed" into an act of sex with the young man, rather than forced. She consented to the act, even as Eve was enticed by the serpent and willingly took of the fruit of the forbidden tree. Adam didn't have to follow her in rebellion against God's command, he could have rebuked her for taking from the wrong tree. According to Numbers 30, a husband can annul a vow rashly made by his wife. But when Adam took and ate also, he effectively validated Eve taking the wrong fruit, and the deal was done. As a previous poster noted, sexual intercourse between two virgins constituted a vow of marriage, so the girl's father had the right to annul the marriage vow his daughter made, or confirm the vow by saying nothing, also from Numbers 30. If the father annulled the vow, then the young man had to pay for taking the girl's virginity. But in Deut 22:28-29, if this was forcible rape, and most scholars agree that it is, then the girl made no vow of marriage, her virginity was taken from her against her will, and therefore there is no vow for her father to annul to forbid the marriage. They become one flesh, in other words married, and it's a done deal, consent or no consent. You broke it, you bought it, so to speak, and the "punishment" for the young man is, he cannot put her away all his days, he's going to have to provide for the young woman he "humbled", which is only fair to her.


Is the father of the raped woman in Deuteronomy 22:28-29 able to refuse marriage?

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 (NIV)

28 "If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels[a] of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives."

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 (NASB)

28 “If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days."

In short to your question , the answer is "NO"

When a virgin was raped by an immoral person ,it is obvious that victim is the big loser, for the following reasons

1/ She may have an illegitimate child.

2/ Most Israelites would not want to marry her as she is no longer a virgin , because her value as a bride diminished.

3/ Humiliation of the victim.

The Mosaic law allowed a man to divorce his wife for certain reasons, however for rape Deuteronomy 22:28-29 shows that such an option was no longer applicable.

To deter the occurrence of fornication by either party, man or woman , God decreed that:

1/Deuteronomy 23:2

" No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the Lord.

So, since the man who sexually assaulted a virgin had to marry her, the child would not be considerate "of illegitimate birth."

2/ The fact that the Law did not allow for divorce after an act of seduction, would make either person think twice of the long term consequences ,of having to stay with the other party for the rest of his life.

3/ The man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver.

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