A Would-Be Seducer Gets Owned and Humbled:
Or, What the Bible REALLY Says About Raping an Unbetrothed Virgin
Sami Zaatari has recently argued (*) that the case law regarding the “rape” of an unbetrothed virgin found in Deuteronomy 22:28-29, particularly when viewed in light of the way some Christians defend this law, is an “absurdity” that is “refuted” by the family of the great patriarch Jacob.
The law in question stipulates that:
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, 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. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)
Sami’s initial observations and objections to this are as follows:
So the virgin must marry the rapist. Now several explanations have been given to try and alleviate the above problem, the most common answer one would often get, is that back then, in the culture and society of when Deuteronomy was written, had a virgin been raped, she would be a sort of outcast of society, and that it was almost like she was stained by the rape thereby making future marriage very difficult for her . [sic] So in light of this, the Bible says that the rapist must now marry the virgin victim.
This response is obviously weak on so many levels, why couldn’t God have simply made a rule saying rape victims must not be viewed differently, and why couldn’t he simply make a rule, or encourage the men (NOT THE RAPIST) to marry a rape victim? In other words, if society had this view (and many societies still have this view) that a rape victim was somehow stained, then this would be a perfect opportunity for God, to get rid of this mentality, and to correct them by telling them that this is not the case and marriage with such victims should not be shunned but rather should be sought after. (Emphasis original)
Caveat: the fact that this passage is not dealing with rape as Sami is using the term will not be dealt with here as it has already been addressed in the following article: The Old Testament and Rape. I use the word rape in this article with this fact in mind.
First, a couple of quibbles:
1) The Bible does not say that “the rapist must now marry the virgin victim,” for obviously at this point the victim is no longer a virgin. If she were still a virgin, then she would not be a victim of rape; if she were a victim of rape, then she would not be a virgin.
2) In tandem with saying “if society had this view,” which makes it sound like Sami finds this questionable, he subjoins the following: “(and many societies still have this view),” which makes it sound like he recognizes that it was, indeed, the case.
More interesting than the above is how Sami gets owned and humbled by the Bible he tries to rape, as the following will show.
Sami’s first mistake is the false assumption that Deuteronomy 22:28-29 exhausts what the Bible has to say on this issue. This mistake leads to several others.
According to the following verses, we are told that a father may refuse to give his daughter to the man who humbles her even though the man still has to pay the bride-price as a punishment:
If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, and lies with her, he must pay a dowry for her to be his wife. If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the dowry for virgins. (Exodus 22:16-17)
As well, while fathers had authority according to the law to say whom their daughters could marry, we know a woman’s wishes would be taken into account and that they would not be forced to marry anyone they did not find pleasing in their own eyes (q.v. Numbers 36:6).
So when Sami tells us that the rape victim must marry her seducer or rapist, he is simply wrong: the rapist must marry the woman as a punishment only if the father insists, and only if the young woman finds him pleasing in her eyes.
As for Sami’s claim that the Lord should have said something to remove the stigma that otherwise attaches to rape victims in some societies, or by otherwise doing something to encourage men to marry a victim of rape, Sami’s inferior moral sense causes him not only to miss that God did so, but also that the Lord did what is far better: He gave a law that was calculated to discourage anyone from raping an unbetrothed virgin girl in the first place.
The Lord did this by imposing certain punishment(s) on anyone who would rape an unbetrothed virgin. As may be seen from the fact that,
a) Any person who imposes himself on a young woman may have marriage imposed on him, with the right of later getting a divorce taken away from him.
b) If marriage is not imposed in his case, due to the father or young woman’s refusal, the rapist still has to pay the bride-price.
To see just how these punishments are calculated to dissuade anyone from raping a young girl, observe the following:
First, the girl here has not been “raped” in the way that we think of rape. Ancient Israel was an agricultural society. People lived in villages in which everyone knew their neighbors. The case being described here is not analogous to our modern situation where a total stranger violently attacks a woman. Rather, it is like what has been called “date rape.” The young woman knows the man who forced himself on her. If the crime can be proved, she has the choice of forcing him to be hers (eye for eye justice), if she so wishes. She may also refuse, in which case the man would have to pay a heavy fine without obtaining a wife (cf. Ex. 22:16-17).
Second, if the girl does decide to marry the man, “he cannot divorce her all his days.” This is an important aspect of the punishment for the man. He must marry the woman, providing for her for the rest of his life. By saying that he cannot divorce her, de facto control of the family is put in her hands. She cannot be “forced to submit to him” after they are married. Even if she disobeys him, refuses to take care of the house, or even refuses to live with him, he has no right of divorce. Thus, he will have to win her affection and submission, or suffer her lordship. Again, the principle of eye for eye justice comes to play in the judgment.
This, then, is a law that takes date rape much more seriously than we take it in the modern world. This is not an example of the Old Testament showing light regard for the woman’s rights. On the contrary, her rights are protected and her future is guaranteed. (Rev. Ralph Allan Smith, “Answering Michael Martin’s ‘Atheism, Christian Theism, and Rape,’” p. 15) (Emphasis mine)
To put this in Islamic terms for Sami: if such women are disobedient to their husbands, the latter cannot “admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them” or otherwise “seek a way against them,” i.e. get a divorce (Q. 4:34). How many of Muhammad’s companions would have been willing to impose themselves on “what their right hands possess” under those conditions? Not many, I would think.
Furthermore, if the person’s heart is so hard and his reasoning so dull that, notwithstanding the prospective punishments mentioned above, he proceeds to rape a woman anyway, and if she does not marry him but “takes the money and runs,” then it should be seen that the law also does the very thing that Sami clamors for: it removes the stigma from the woman and makes her desirable for marriage.
In the case of a single girl, unbetrothed, the decision rested in the hands of the girl’s father, and, in part, the girl. If the offender, cited simply as a seducer in Exodus 22:16, 17, and as a rapist in Deuteronomy 22:28, 29, is an acceptable husband, then he shall pay 50 shekels of silver as a dowry and marry her, without right of divorce “because he hath humbled her” (Deuteronomy 22:29); but “if her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins”” (Ex. 22:17). If a man thus is rejected as a husband, the girl is compensated for the offense to make her an attractive wife to another man, coming as she will with a double dowry, his own and her compensation money. (R. J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, Vol. 1 (Philipsburgh, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1973), pp. 396-397)
As bad as the above was, Sami goes on. And if you thought it couldn’t be any worse for Sami, he saved what he considered the best part for last, which is just to say the worst part:
But here comes the most interesting part, this response is weak on so many levels, that even the VERY BIBLE REJECTS IT, namely the family of the Prophet and Patriarch Jacob. At the end of the day, if Biblical figures refute the argument, then you really have no way out. So let’s read the relevant incident that involved Jacob, an incident that directly refutes Deuteronomy’s law, and the explanation given by apologists to try and explain it off:
Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her and lay with her, and violated her. His soul was strongly attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the young woman and spoke kindly to the young woman. So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this young woman as a wife. And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter. Now his sons were with his livestock in the field; so Jacob held his peace until they came. Then Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him. And the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved and very angry, because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, a thing which ought not to be done. But Hamor spoke with them, saying, “The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter. Please give her to him as a wife. And make marriages with us; give your daughters to us, and take our daughters to yourselves. So you shall dwell with us, and the land shall be before you. Dwell and trade in it, and acquire possessions for yourselves in it.” Then Shechem said to her father and her brothers, “Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will give. Ask me ever so much dowry and gift, and I will give according to what you say to me; but give me the young woman as a wife.” But the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father, and spoke deceitfully, because he had defiled Dinah their sister. And they said to them, “We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a reproach to us. But on this condition we will consent to you: If you will become as we are, if every male of you is circumcised, then we will give our daughters to you (Genesis 34:1-15)
So Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, is taken by a man named Shechem, who proceeds to violate her by having sexual intercourse with her. Jacob and his family are obviously angered by this, but the father of Shechem tries to reconcile with them, telling them how Shechem loves her, and wants to marry her etc. Now it seems that Jacob and his family will accept the proposition, to allow the rapist, the violater [sic], Shechem, to marry the victim, Dinah, just as Deuteronomy teaches. The only condition Jacob and his family ask for, is that Shechem becomes like one of them, i.e. getting circumcised etc and then they will allow the marriage to be done. So from all of this, it seems that the apologists are right, that this seems to be the norm of the time, for the rapist to marry the victim, not quite, as we continue to read:
Now it came to pass on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came boldly upon the city and killed all the males. And they killed Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and went out. The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and plundered the city, because their sister had been defiled. They took their sheep, their oxen, and their donkeys, what was in the city and what was in the field, and all their wealth. All their little ones and their wives they took captive; and they plundered even all that was in the houses. Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have troubled me by making me obnoxious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and since I am few in number, they will gather themselves together against me and kill me. I shall be destroyed, my household and I.” But they said, “Should he treat our sister like a harlot?” (Genesis 34:25-31)
So notice what happens, the whole thing was a trick by Jacob’s family, they simply wanted to kill Shechem and his people, and they wanted them to get circumcised so they would be in a weakened state. Jacob’s family never intended to marry their daughter off to her rapist; they KILLED the rapist, and his people! Not only did they kill the rapist and his family, notice what Jacob’s family say, they openly say that if they had married their daughter to Shechem, it would have been treating her like a harlot!
So in other words, according to Jacob’s family, the rape victim having to marry her aggressor is turning her into a prostitute! Yet that is what Deuteronomy commands, it commands the rapist to marry the rape victim! So therefore, according to the family of Jacob, the command in Deuteronomy is a violation of rape victims, and is turning them into prostitutes. (Emphasis original)
With these comments Sami believes he has provided “an incident that directly refutes Deuteronomy’s law.” While I know I should not expect a lot, this is Islamic apologetics at its worst.
First, how is a law that wasn’t given until the time of Moses annulled or “refuted” by what took place centuries before the giving of the command? Are we to assume from the assumption that underlies Sami’s reasoning here that the habit of some of the early Muslims in coming to prayer drunk annuls the later prohibition of it (allegedly) by Allah? Or that the practice of adoption by the early Muslims and calling someone other than their biological progenitors their mother and father is something that annuls the later banning of such by (supposedly) Allah? Aren’t Muslims the ones who excuse Muhammad’s idolatrous practice of swearing in the name of other than God on the grounds that Muhammad was not yet told about the error of engaging in this kind of behavior? (Of course what Muhammad did when swearing by other than God was always prohibited and was never annulled by any prophet, for it violates the very essence of monotheism.)
Second, Sami’s comments here assume a moral equivalence between the judgment and actions of Jacob, who did not know what his sons Simeon and Levi thought or what they were planning, and the judgments and actions of Simeon and Levi. But there can be no question that Jacob did not agree with them, for not only does the passage not implicate Jacob in what (two of) his sons thought and did, but Jacob himself would later decry their council and actions, even to the point of cursing them:
Simeon and Levi are brothers;
Their swords are implements of violence.
Let my soul not enter into their council;
Let not my glory be united with their assembly;
Because in their anger they slew men,
And in their self-will they lamed oxen.
Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce;
And their wrath, for it is cruel.
I will disperse them in Jacob,
And scatter them in Israel. (Genesis 49:5-7)
Furthermore, even if Jacob did agree with the judgment and actions of his two sons, it takes a particularly warped mind to reason that if human beings disagree with and transgress God’s law then that “refutes” God’s law (how do you “refute” a law anyway? A law is not a proposition, after all.). From a Christian standpoint, when someone breaks a law, they are called law-breakers, not legislators. But apparently when Muslims, in hardness of heart and dullness of mind, try to argue against Christianity in the hopes of seducing those who are naive, something they do in the face of terrible consequences that ought to discourage such actions, good moral reasoning goes out the window, and they end up getting owned by those they sought to ravish.
Unfortunately for Sami, Christians are not unbetrothed virgins, but members of the body of Christ, His betrothed. And since the punishment for seducing and raping a betrothed woman in the Old Covenant is death (Deuteronomy 22:25-27), then the punishment for seeking to spiritually seduce the bride of Christ, as Sami is ultimately trying to do in the hopes that the Christian church will embrace the Islamic Isa, is eternal death.
For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully….
But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, WHOSE END WILL BE ACCORDING TO THEIR DEEDS. (2 Corinthians 11:2-4, 12-15)
Hence, far from showing that the Bible is wrong on this issue, or that it supplies an internal contradiction, Sami has only ended up showing that he has a foolish and depraved mind and is worthy of eternal judgment. May the Lord have mercy on Sami’s soul and grant him repentance that leads to the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 2:25).
I responded to an attempted reply to this article from Sami Zaatari here: Eggs Over My Sami