September 23rd, 2009
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.
According to Deuteronomy 22, a man may rape a virgin and as punishment for violating her, he must pay fifty shekels of silver to her father. This implies that women are property to be sought and traded, and that a virgin is only worth fifty shekels, which is approximately 0.6 kg. Then, he must never divorce her.
Deuteronomy is full of laws devoted to various things, including sexual morality. Not surprisingly, it seems as if the rights of women are never even considered in this passage. If the man obeys the law and indeed pays for and marries her, she will never be able to divorce him. Luckily, this man doesn’t seem like the type to obey the law, since he’s a rapist in the first place.
Even if he refuses, there is no suggestion as to what the man’s punishment might be. Judging by the rest of Deuteronomy, it seems that stoning may be an acceptable punishment. Even if that is the case, the rapist can easily escape death by marrying his victim.
It has been suggested that the words lay hold on her and lie with her do not necessarily mean rape. However, if you read the entire chapter, we can see other laws that refer to sexual morality and use even less violent language to suggest forceful sex. The words “lay hold” is often used in the King James Bible to suggest forcefulness. Upon researching other translations of this verse, we find that the term rape is the most commonly used, followed by lay hold and lie with and seize and lie with, all of which suggest force. Even if this verse doesn’t specifically mention rape, it works just as well for rape as it does for consensual sex. In addition, it would protect lovers and predators alike.