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In Deuteronomy 22:28-29 it speaks of a woman who is forced into sex and it says that the women must then marry her husband, in this verse does God condone the act of rape? Deuteronomy 22:28-29 says:

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.

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    I don't think this mentions God condoning it, just how at that time a man should make some restitution-according to the laws laid forth at that time
    – depperm
    May 19, 2022 at 13:28
  • Also - this question is option based. Asking “did God condone x” in reference to a specific verse can yield very different answers depending who you ask.
    – Luke Hill
    May 19, 2022 at 13:49
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    'And they be found' indicates the woman was consenting and not screaming for help. They were 'found' in this state. Fifty shekels of silver is a huge amount of money. And the man is committed to a lifetime marriage with a woman he presumably only expected to know for a short time. None of this is 'condoning' and there is no suggestion that it is 'rape'.
    – Nigel J
    May 19, 2022 at 13:53
  • gotquestions.org/Deuteronomy-22-28-29-marry-rapist.html This helped me understand what it meant
    – Anonymous
    Mar 22 at 18:40

2 Answers 2

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No, this command does not condone rape. In fact, this act was meant to protect women.

Let’s examine the specific context surrounding this verse. Stating in verse 23, we see that the next couple verses refer to specific circumstances surrounding rape.

If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. “But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no offense punishable by death. For this case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbor, because he met her in the open country, and though the betrothed young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her. “If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days. ‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭22:23-29‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Here we see several different instances of rape. What’s important to note is that it takes into account the woman’s ability to cry for help and resist the circumstances she is put in. Look at the first command, and notice how the first command says the woman was able to cry out for help, implying the woman acted consensually.

In the circumstances you mention, the women is mentioned as “being found”, which is a bit ambiguous, but probably implies that the woman consented.

The way Israel’s culture was at the time required women to be virgins prior to marriage. So what this command is doing is guaranteeing this women a husband. Because if she was raped and not forced to marry the man, she would be destitute, unable to be married in the future.

What the man is doing by paying the father is paying him a bride price, which was a common practice in normal marriages. So this man is essentially forced into marriage for his crime, with no opportunity for divorce.

In this, we see a command that seeks to preserve a form of marriage sanctity when a great evil is committed, so no, this verse does not condone rape.

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  • I understand your view that this would be protecting the woman, but if she was raped, it seems likely that she might not want to marry her rapist and would perhaps rather be destitute or stay in her father’s house for all her life rather than marry him? Does this text prevent her from choosing a better/safer option for her? May 24, 2022 at 19:23
  • If she were raped, the rapist would have been executed. This is unlike what happens in the U.S. where less than 5% of rapists are even incarcerated.
    – Dieter
    Mar 22 at 18:58
  • Also, if the father didn’t want his daughter to marry the rapist then he could say ‘No’ and the rapist would still have to pay money to the father. Mar 22 at 22:23
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These verses are an example of the importance of the Oral Tradition accompanying the text. The Oral Tradition is clear that it is her choice (or if she is a minor, her father's) whether to marry her rapist.

The verse states:

וְ֠נָתַ֠ן הָאִ֨ישׁ הַשֹּׁכֵ֥ב עִמָּ֛הּ לַאֲבִ֥י הַֽנַּעֲרָ֖ חֲמִשִּׁ֣ים כָּ֑סֶף וְלֽוֹ־תִהְיֶ֣ה לְאִשָּׁ֗ה תַּ֚חַת אֲשֶׁ֣ר עִנָּ֔הּ לֹא־יוּכַ֥ל שַׁלְּחָ֖הּ כׇּל־יָמָֽיו

The literal translation is:

And the man that lay with her shall give to the father of the young maiden 50 pieces of silver. And to him she will be for a wife in compensation for having hurt her--he cannot send her away all his days.

The context implies that it is meant to be a punishment to the man--married men had various obligations to their wives--but taken literally it could be read to mean that she is forced to be married to him. Why would she be punished as compensation for him having "hurt her"?

The Talmud (Ketubot 39b) writes that one should not make that mistake. These two verses are talking to him and telling him what his responsibilities after having raped someone. The focus is his punishment so the verses simply do not address her options. The verses are not discussing her perspective because she did not do anything wrong.

Rather from her perspective or her father's perspective (the verses are discussing a minor still subject to her father's control) they have a choice as provided in Exodus 22:16. They can refuse the marriage or they can force the rapist to marry and support her. In addition, he obligated to pay her pain and suffering on top of the 50-silver fine. See Ketubot 3:4.

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  • Helpful response, thanks! Are you saying in that case, that the woman has no choice but to marry this person? If she was raped, I can imagine she might rather be destitute or live in her father’s house forever rather than with someone who raped her? May 24, 2022 at 19:22
  • @Gremosa I'm saying the opposite. It is her choice. If she wants to marry the rapist, he must marry her. If she does not want to marry the rapist, she does not have to. I will edit to clarify. May 24, 2022 at 19:51
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    Ahhh yes, thank you for clarifying! Exodus passage super helpful/relevant here. Thanks again!! May 24, 2022 at 20:22

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