Bestiality is forbidden in several verses of the Old Testament. For example:

Exodus 22:19 Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death.

Leviticus 18:23 Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.

Deuteronomy 27:21 Cursed be he that lieth with any manner of beast. And all the people shall say, Amen.

However, bestiality is never mentioned in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20). The closest one is Exodus 20:14, which establishes the popular prohibition "thou shalt not commit adultery".

Is bestiality implicitly included in the concept of "adultery" used in Exodus 20:14?

  • No, it is not forbidden there, for at all evidence Moses addresses the audience who does not even entertain such an idea as to consider such a thing as normal. If a priest says to his parish in a sermon: "Dear brothers and sisters, never sleep with cattle, especially with sheep", I do not think he will be not considered a lunatic Dec 10, 2020 at 21:28
  • Interesting. If you are right adultery was the norm of the day in ancient Israel. Dec 10, 2020 at 22:23
  • 1
    @Constantthin Right objection. I agree, "normal" is not a correct term, but "a bad habit that was more or less widespread" is a correct term. So, since sleeping with cattle was not such in Moses' time, maybe because in the desert wilderness there was anyhow a shortage of such, therefore there was no need to put it in Decalogue. Otherwise, my comment stands: no priest in modern Churches will devote a part of their sermons to an issue of lewd relationships between men and brutes, I havent' heard about such anyhow Dec 11, 2020 at 7:46

1 Answer 1


Let us be very clear about three things:

  1. The word used in Ex 20:14 is נָאַף (naaph) which is literally "adultery", that is having intercourse with someone other than a spouse. See BDB.
  2. HOWEVER, both Deuteronomy in its expansion of the 10 commandments (22:9 - 23:19 and elsewhere) AND Jesus in His remarks in Matt 5:27-32 expands this law to mean ANY unlawful sex.
  3. That is, the 10 commandments were only ever intended as a summary of the much broader moral law as the book of Deuteronomy and Leviticus makes clear. For example we have Moses expansion of the moral requirements:

1 & 2: Deut 12:1 – 31 – Worship

3: Deut 13:1 – 14:27 – name of God

4: Deut 14:28 – 16:17 – Sabbath

5: Deut 16:18 – 18:22 – Authority

6: Deut 19:1 – 22:8 – Homicide/murder

7: Deut 22:9 – 23:19 – Adultery

8: Deut 23:20 – 24:7 – Theft

9: Deut 24:8 – 25:4 – False Charges

10: Deut 25:5 – 16 – Coveting

Thus, in the broader sense, the "adultery" of the seventh commandment should be understood as any illicit or illegal sexual activity, including bestiality.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.