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Sex Slavery and Pedophilia in the Torah?

Did God allow or condone sex slavery and pedophilia in the Torah? ...No.

by Scott Cherry–


For the LORD your Godloves the sojourner (the foreigner)… Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”[1]

Yahweh, as He revealed to Prophet Moses, Torah, Deuteronomy 10:17-19


“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”                    

– Jesus, Gospel of Matthew 22:37–40, New Testament


Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”     

              – Jesus, Gospel of Matthew 19:14, New Testament

 

Did God condone or promote sex slavery?

Did the Israelites practice it?

Answer: No.

In light of moral codes governing slavery, sex, marriage and foreign relations, the skeptic’s claim that Yahweh condoned or permitted sex-slavery, pedophilia, or marital rape is untenable.

 

Passages in focus:

Numbers 31:17-18

וְעַתָּ֕ה הִרְג֥וּ כָל־זָכָ֖ר בַּטָּ֑ף וְכָל־אִשָּׁ֗ה יֹדַ֥עַת אִ֛ישׁ לְמִשְׁכַּ֥ב זָכָ֖ר הֲרֹֽגוּ׃ וְכֹל֙ הַטַּ֣ף בַּנָּשִׁ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹא־יָדְע֖וּ מִשְׁכַּ֣ב זָכָ֑ר הַחֲי֖וּ לָכֶֽם׃ 


Now, therefore, slay every male among the children, and slay also every woman who has known a man carnally; but spare every young woman who has not had carnal relations with a man.[2]


Deuteronomy 21:10-14

כִּֽי־תֵצֵ֥א לַמִּלְחָמָ֖ה עַל־אֹיְבֶ֑יךָ וּנְתָנ֞וֹ יְהוָ֧ה אֱלֹהֶ֛יךָ בְּיָדֶ֖ךָ וְשָׁבִ֥יתָ שִׁבְיֽוֹ וְרָאִיתָ֙ בַּשִּׁבְיָ֔ה אֵ֖שֶׁת יְפַת־תֹּ֑אַר וְחָשַׁקְתָּ֣ בָ֔הּ וְלָקַחְתָּ֥ לְךָ֖ לְאִשָּֽׁה׃ וַהֲבֵאתָ֖הּ אֶל־תּ֣וֹךְ בֵּיתֶ֑ךָ וְגִלְּחָה֙ אֶת־רֹאשָׁ֔הּ וְעָשְׂתָ֖ה אֶת־צִפָּרְנֶֽיהָ׃ וְהֵסִ֩ירָה֩ אֶת־שִׂמְלַ֨ת שִׁבְיָ֜הּ מֵעָלֶ֗יהָ וְיָֽשְׁבָה֙ בְּבֵיתֶ֔ךָ וּבָֽכְתָ֛ה אֶת־אָבִ֥יהָ וְאֶת־אִמָּ֖הּ יֶ֣רַח יָמִ֑ים וְאַ֨חַר כֵּ֜ן תָּב֤וֹא אֵלֶ֙יהָ֙ וּבְעַלְתָּ֔הּ וְהָיְתָ֥ה לְךָ֖ לְאִשָּֽׁה וְהָיָ֞ה אִם־לֹ֧א חָפַ֣צְתָּ בָּ֗הּ וְשִׁלַּחְתָּהּ֙ לְנַפְשָׁ֔הּ וּמָכֹ֥ר לֹא־תִמְכְּרֶ֖נָּה בַּכָּ֑סֶף לֹא־תִתְעַמֵּ֣ר בָּ֔הּ תַּ֖חַת אֲשֶׁ֥ר עִנִּיתָֽהּ׃ (ס)

When you take the field against your enemies, and the LORD your God delivers them into your power and you take some of them captive, and you see among the captives a beautiful woman and you desire her and would take her to wife, you shall bring her into your house, and she shall trim her hair, pare her nails, and discard her captive’s garb. She shall spend a month’s time in your house lamenting her father and mother; after that you may come to her and possess her, and she shall be your wife. Then, should you no longer want her, you must release her outright. You must not sell her for money: since you had your will  of her, you must not enslave her.

 

I. Summary

To our current Western ears these passages in the Torah generally evoke a negative emotional response but must not be viewed through a 21st century lens only. We can hardly avoid using a current lens, but we must also use an ancient Near Eastern Lens as well as broad Mosaic lens. These passages should not be construed in support of slavery, sex slavery, rape, or the objectification of women. But they do require careful thought and interpretation. In light of moral codes governing slavery, sex, marriage and foreign relations, the skeptic’s claim that Yahweh condoned or permitted sex-slavery, pedophilia, or marital rape is untenable.

 

II. Hermeneutical Principles

A. No one rightly judges a man or his birth certificate because it does not give the date of his death before his death. No one rightly judges a man who cannot jump 15 feet into the air unaided.

B. The word bible (βιβλίον) in the generic sense had the literal meaning of "paper" or "scroll" and came to be used as the ordinary word for "book". Many disciplines have a book (e.g. the ‘cooking bible’, the ‘rock climbing’ bible, etc.) In this sense, every major religion has its ‘bible’ with its own specific name (e.g. the Bhagavad Gita, the qur’an, etc.). The bible of the Jewish religion is called the Tanakh.

C. This is primarily a study of the Tanakh, or more specifically the Torah which is part of the Tanakh. Any such study is incomplete without comparison to other religions’ bibles. For example, the Torah does not prescribe the marriageable age of girls, but neither does the bible of any other religion.

  • Any passage of scripture (in the bible of any religion) is interpreted not only by the features of the immediate passage itself (i.e. vocabulary, grammar, syntax, immediate context) by but also with respect to related passages of scripture on the same or similar subject.
  • Yahweh is consistent, and his divine laws are consistent as found in the Torah.

D. Starting with Moses, the OT Era was one of accelerated prophetic activity among the Israelites.

E. It was a time of great moral improvement for them relative to those of the surrounding nations.

F. Still, the moral and cultural development of the Israelites was not only immediate but progressive.

G. All humanity is sinful, depraved and wicked. This included all the peoples of the ancient Near East who were saturated in violence, idolatry and debauchery.

H. The Israelites had a separate and unique history through Prophets Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which was a great moral advantage. But still, left to themselves, unchecked, the Israelite people were prone to many of the sins of the surrounding peoples.

I. Therefore, the Israelites required enormous, ongoing reformation by Yahweh and his prophets.

J. Moses and later prophets and leaders often chastised the Israelite people for this tendency and strove to reign in their rebellious hearts and behaviors.

K. Unlike today, the primary purpose of marriage in ancient cultures was procreation, especially in Jewish culture. In Jewish culture, this applied also to sex which was restricted to marriage. If a girl was not old enough to bear children she was considered too young for marriage and for sex.

L. The Lord Jesus was greater than Moses. He fulfilled the Mosaic Law but also surpassed it. He established a new covenant and an even better era of ethical living for the people of God.

“For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself.” 

 

Book of Hebrews 3:3, New Testament




III. General Premises


A. Throughout the Hebrew Tanakh, Yahweh presents himself as a God of goodness and justice. He explicitly set himself apart from the false gods of the surrounding nations in numerous ways. This was embodied in his miraculous acts toward his people but also through superior laws given through Prophet Moses and others. In them he introduced a superior socio-sexual morality.

B. In that era (ca. 4000 BC – 0) the surrounding peoples were all polytheists with the accompanying moral practices, i.e. vices: sexual licentiousness, child sacrifice, sorcery, violence and warfare, etc.

C. In that era there was hardly any justice or safety for people, especially children and women. There was only the “law of the land” i.e. “might makes right”.  a) Every kingdom wanted to conquer every other kingdom if they could. b) Every victorious kingdom would kill and enslave all the people of its defeated enemy. c) The younger and beautiful women were booty. They would invariably be raped and enslaved, and sold, and they fully understood that. Without male protection they were utterly helpless. Once their men were killed they knew that the best case scenario was to be desired by a man who would marry her and become her protector/provider. Second best was a concubine.

 

IV. Broad Exegesis

A. God revealed the Ten Commandments to Prophet Moses (Torah, Exodus 20:1-17). They contained monumental new laws that would define a new moral fabric for the Israelites and profoundly separate them from the surrounding nations that did not have such laws. Several of them governed their sexuality.

לֹ֥֖א תִּֿרְצָֽ֖ח׃ (ס) לֹ֣֖א תִּֿנְאָֽ֑ף׃ (ס) לֹ֣֖א תִּֿגְנֹֽ֔ב׃ (ס) לֹֽא־תַעֲנֶ֥ה בְרֵעֲךָ֖ עֵ֥ד שָֽׁקֶר׃ (ס)


"You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Exodus 20:13-16


   1. Commandment 6 prohibits adultery (and fornication by extension).

   2. Commandment 7 prohibits stealing (e.g. stealing a girl’s virtue and honor).

      By these two laws alone…

a.     Any form of adultery and all forms of sexual fornication are prohibited by Yahweh. They are offensive to Him, and they are stealing.

b.     Rape is prohibited.

Rape is both adultery and theft, i.e. the stealing of a woman’s property, i.e. her dignity and virtue. The sexual union that would take place with a captive woman would not be forced and would not be rape. The woman would fully understand that the “law of the land” afforded her very few good options. So a marriage arrangement such as that afforded her in Deut. 21was an enviable circumstance that was better than she could hope to expect from any other conquest situation. At that time Israel’s were the very best for women captives.

c.      Sex slavery is prohibited.

Any kind of sex slavery constituted adultery, fornication, rape and theft, i.e. the stealing of a woman’s property (again, her dignity and virtue, plus her freedom, and her wellbeing). Again, insofar as the Israelite man was required to marry the captive woman he also took her into his house with his protection and provision, the three most essential things. Even if there was an element of apprehension on here part, that does not constitute slavery.

d.     Pedophilia is prohibited.

Any kind of pedophilia constituted adultery, fornication, rape, and theft, i.e. the stealing of a young girl’s property—her dignity and virtue, plus her freedom, and her wellbeing.

From external Jewish sources, the customary minimum age for female marriage was 12, or the time of menstruation. Whatever younger girls were taken would have been taken into the households but left sexually untouched until they reached marriageable age (puberty). They would have been provided for and treated well as servants or children until then.

*Any claim to the contrary is mere opinion and hearsay.

 

    B.  Yahweh revealed many other moral laws to Moses regarding sexual practices.

1. Leviticus 18 is an entire chapter on sex laws. In it Yahweh proscribes various kinds of sexual relations including every form of incest (6-20), same-sex activity (22), and bestiality (23), which is also proscribed in chapter 20 plus once in Exodus (22:19) and once in Deuteronomy (27:21). All of these were practiced by the surrounding peoples who had very few sexual boundaries.

Sub-conclusion: Yahweh would not be so inconsistent and negligent as to allow what is claimed by the skeptic.

 

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2. Leviticus 18:21 also forbade child sacrifice (taph), It was repugnant to Yahweh but was common a practice among the surrounding pagan nations, probably including ritual molestation. Therefore Yahweh cared about children, and He still does. Much later Jesus made this even more evident when he said, “Let the little children come to me…for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

כִּ֚י אֶת־כָּל־הַתּוֹעֵבֹ֣ת הָאֵ֔ל עָשׂ֥וּ אַנְשֵֽׁי־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לִפְנֵיכֶ֑ם וַתִּטְמָ֖א הָאָֽרֶץ וְלֹֽא־תָקִ֤יא הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ אֶתְכֶ֔ם בְּטַֽמַּאֲכֶ֖ם אֹתָ֑הּ כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר קָאָ֛ה אֶת־הַגּ֖וֹי אֲשֶׁ֥ר לִפְנֵיכֶֽם כִּ֚י כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר יַעֲשֶׂ֔ה מִכֹּ֥ל הַתּוֹעֵב֖וֹת הָאֵ֑לֶּה וְנִכְרְת֛וּ הַנְּפָשׁ֥וֹת הָעֹשֹׂ֖ת מִקֶּ֥רֶב עַמָּֽם וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֣ם אֶת־מִשְׁמַרְתִּ֗י לְבִלְתִּ֨י עֲשׂ֜וֹת מֵחֻקּ֤וֹת הַתּֽוֹעֵבֹת֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר נַעֲשׂ֣וּ לִפְנֵיכֶ֔ם וְלֹ֥א תִֽטַּמְּא֖וּ בָּהֶ֑ם אֲנִ֖י יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃ 

…for all those abhorrent things were done by the people who were in the land before you, and the land became defiled. So let not the land spew you out for defiling it, as it spewed out the nations  that came before you. All who do any of those abhorrent things—such persons shall be cut off from their people. You shall keep My charge not to engage in any of the abhorrent practices that were carried on before you…


3. Sub-conclusion: Since child sacrifice was prohibited in Israel, by extension any form of child abuse was prohibited in Israel. Therefore, Yahweh would not be so inconsistent and negligent as to allow what is claimed by the skeptic.

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4. Deuteronomy 22 is another entire chapter on sex laws. Rape is forbidden and other sexual perversions. Here is part of that chapter (vv. 25-27):

וְֽאִם־בַּשָּׂדֶ֞ה יִמְצָ֣א הָאִ֗ישׁ אֶת־הנער [הַֽנַּעֲרָה֙] הַמְאֹ֣רָשָׂ֔ה וְהֶחֱזִֽיק־בָּ֥הּ הָאִ֖ישׁ וְשָׁכַ֣ב עִמָּ֑הּ וּמֵ֗ת הָאִ֛ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־שָׁכַ֥ב עִמָּ֖הּ לְבַדּֽוֹ ולנער [וְלַֽנַּעֲרָה֙] לֹא־תַעֲשֶׂ֣ה דָבָ֔ר אֵ֥ין לנער [לַֽנַּעֲרָ֖ה] חֵ֣טְא מָ֑וֶת כִּ֡י כַּאֲשֶׁר֩ יָק֨וּם אִ֤ישׁ עַל־רֵעֵ֙הוּ֙ וּרְצָח֣וֹ נֶ֔פֶשׁ כֵּ֖ן הַדָּבָ֥ר הַזֶּֽה כִּ֥י בַשָּׂדֶ֖ה מְצָאָ֑הּ צָעֲקָ֗ה הנער [הַֽנַּעֲרָה֙] הַמְאֹ֣רָשָׂ֔ה וְאֵ֥ין מוֹשִׁ֖יעַ לָֽהּ׃ (ס)


But if the man comes upon the engaged [betrothed] girl* in the open country, and the man lies with her by force, only the man who lay with her shall die, but you shall do nothing to the girl. The girl did not incur the death penalty, for this case is like that of a man attacking another and murdering him. He came upon her in the open; though the engaged girl cried for help, there was no one to save her.


*נַעֲרָה naʻărâh, nah-ar-aw'; feminine of; a girl (from infancy to adolescence):—damsel, maid(-en), young (woman). **Note that this word is similar to the word ‘taph’ used in Num. 31:18 in that it can be used for any age girl. So this prohibition against rape applies to any age girl regardless of her eth-nicity and status. ***The word in Deut. 21:11 is different still אִשָּׁה ʼishshâh.


a.   We can see here that the act of rape is prohibited for several reasons:

i.   It is an act of forced sex.

ii.  It is an act of violence upon another.

iii.  It is equivocated with an act of murder.

iv.  It is also an act of theft.

   o  The rapist stole from the girl’s fiancé.

And he stole from her too.

b. From the same chapter, in the case of the rape of an unengaged [betrothed] girl (vv. 28-29) all but one (a.iv.o) of the same reasons condemn this action, and only the consequence changes: marriage.


5. Sub-conclusion: Again, any kind of rape was expressly prohibited to the men of Israel, and marriage was the only permissible context for sex, i.e. the divine paradigm, the ‘gold standard’. Since Yahweh cared that much about proper sexual conduct, and he is consistent in his laws, he would not have allowed or condoned his people to compromise his sexual standards even for captive women. Therefore, Yahweh would not be so inconsistent and negligent as to allow what is claimed by the skeptic.

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6. Yahweh also revealed laws to Moses concerning the treatment of foreigners, also called aliens sojourners, and strangers. So the above law against rape did not change for captured foreigners.

a. תּוֹשָׁב tôwshâb is the Hebrew word usually translated to one of these four English words. This one is most emphatic containing Yahweh’s own posture toward foreigners in his own voice and his own words:

כִּ֚י יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֔ם ה֚וּא אֱלֹהֵ֣י הָֽאֱלֹהִ֔ים וַאֲדֹנֵ֖י הָאֲדֹנִ֑ים הָאֵ֨ל הַגָּדֹ֤ל הַגִּבֹּר֙ וְהַנּוֹרָ֔א אֲשֶׁר֙ לֹא־יִשָּׂ֣א פָנִ֔ים

וְלֹ֥א יִקַּ֖ח שֹֽׁחַד עֹשֶׂ֛ה מִשְׁפַּ֥ט יָת֖וֹם וְאַלְמָנָ֑ה וְאֹהֵ֣ב גֵּ֔ר לָ֥תֶת ל֖וֹ לֶ֥חֶם וְשִׂמְלָֽה׃

 

*Deuteronomy 10:17-18 For the LORD your God is God of gods and LORD of lords, the great, the  mighty, and the awesome God, who  is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.”

 

*Yahweh says He loves the sojourner (foreigner, alien, stranger). This indeed brings us back to the main and original idea of God’s love! 

 

b. The very next verse has Yahweh commanding his people to love the sojourner (foreigner, alien, stranger). English only this time.

Deuteronomy 10:19 – “Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”

c. Here are 16 more verses from the Torah that demonstrate this idea of love plus justice and equity for sojourners as well as for widows and orphans, or the fatherless. (English only):


Exodus 22:21 You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.


Exodus 23:9 You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

 

Leviticus 19:33 “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.”

 

Leviticus 19:34 – You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”

Leviticus 24:22 You shall have the same rule for the sojourner and for the native, for I am the LORD your God.”

Leviticus 25:35 “If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you.”

Numbers 15:15 “For the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you, a statute forever throughout your generations. You and the sojourner shall be alike before the LORD. One law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you.”

Numbers 15:26 “And all the congregation of the people of Israel shall be forgiven, and the stranger who sojourns among them, because the whole population was involved in the mistake.”

Deuteronomy 1:16 “And I charged your judges at that time, ‘Hear the cases between your brothers, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the alien who is with him.”

Deuteronomy 24:14 You shall not oppress a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns.”

 

Deuteronomy 24:17 You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner 

or to the fatherless, or take a widow's garment in pledge…”

 

Deuteronomy 24:19 “When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”

 

Deuteronomy 24:20 “When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.”

 

Deuteronomy 24:21 “When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall  not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.”

 

Deuteronomy 26:12 “When you have finished paying all the tithe of your produce in the third year, which is the year of tithing, giving it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your towns and be filled…”

Deuteronomy 27:19 “‘Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’”  

     

7. Sub-conclusion: Since Yahweh cared that much about the proper treatment of foreigners (plus widows and orphans), and he is consistent in his laws, he would not allow his people to compromise these moral standards with respect to captive women from foreign nations once taken in.

 

V. Narrow Exegesis

1. Numbers 31:17-18

וְעַתָּ֕ה הִרְג֥וּ כָל־זָכָ֖ר בַּטָּ֑ף וְכָל־אִשָּׁ֗ה יֹדַ֥עַת אִ֛ישׁ לְמִשְׁכַּ֥ב זָכָ֖ר הֲרֹֽגוּ׃ וְכֹל֙ הַטַּ֣ף בַּנָּשִׁ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹא־יָדְע֖וּ מִשְׁכַּ֣ב זָכָ֑ר הַחֲי֖וּ לָכֶֽם׃ 


Now, therefore, slay every male among the children, and slay also every woman [אִשָּׁה ʼishshâh] who has known a man carnally; but spare every young woman [אִשָּׁה ʼishshâh] טַף ṭaph who has not had carnal relations with a man.   


NKJV (for comparison’s sake):

But keep alive for yourselves all the young girls who have not known a man intimately [all the virgin girls].   

      

A. This passage means only what it says, no more and no less.

1.      All the Midianite males and women that were not virgins were to be slain.

2.      All the Midianite virgin women and girls were to be allowed to live.

3.      All these young women and girls were to be absorbed into the Israelite community.

That’s it. We can read no more into this passage. The text does not allow it. However, based on all the previous passages we have studied in this paper and from the text of   Deuteronomy 21:10-14 below we can reasonably infer the following:

4.      Certainly the young women of child-bearing age would have been taken in marriage, an act of dignity and protection toward them. This was the standard practice of Israel, and even of the surrounding peoples. This was the very best option for her, and was good.

5.      Any women of child-bearing age who were not given in marriage would have been taken into households as adopted daughters for provision/protection or daughter-like servants. Next to marriage, this was the very best option for her, and was good.

6.      The pre-pubescent girls were either 1. betrothed (engaged) for later marriage and taken into a household for provision/protection until she reached marriageable age (E to D); or 2. taken into households as adopted daughters for provision/protection or daughter-like servants (D). This was the very best option for her, and was good.

7.      She could not be sexually abused or made into a concubine or a sex slave.

8.      Any other act was forbidden by the divine principles of the passages we have studied and would have been an unlawful abuse on the part of the man/family that perpetrated it.

 

B.  Nothing to the contrary should be assumed about this passage.

1. Perhaps one charges that this is only my opinion. If it is, it is an educated opinion based on logic and reason, the broad hermeneutical framework established by the passages above.

2. Perhaps one charges that none of these inferences can legitimately be made by virtue of what the text is silent about. But then no opposite inferences should be made either.

 

2. Deuteronomy 21:10-14

כִּֽי־תֵצֵ֥א לַמִּלְחָמָ֖ה עַל־אֹיְבֶ֑יךָ וּנְתָנ֞וֹ יְהוָ֧ה אֱלֹהֶ֛יךָ בְּיָדֶ֖ךָ וְשָׁבִ֥יתָ שִׁבְיֽוֹ וְרָאִיתָ֙ בַּשִּׁבְיָ֔ה אֵ֖שֶׁת יְפַת־תֹּ֑אַר וְחָשַׁקְתָּ֣ בָ֔הּ וְלָקַחְתָּ֥ לְךָ֖ לְאִשָּֽׁה׃ וַהֲבֵאתָ֖הּ אֶל־תּ֣וֹךְ בֵּיתֶ֑ךָ וְגִלְּחָה֙ אֶת־רֹאשָׁ֔הּ וְעָשְׂתָ֖ה אֶת־צִפָּרְנֶֽיהָ׃ וְהֵסִ֩ירָה֩ אֶת־שִׂמְלַ֨ת שִׁבְיָ֜הּ מֵעָלֶ֗יהָ וְיָֽשְׁבָה֙ בְּבֵיתֶ֔ךָ וּבָֽכְתָ֛ה אֶת־אָבִ֥יהָ וְאֶת־אִמָּ֖הּ יֶ֣רַח יָמִ֑ים וְאַ֨חַר כֵּ֜ן תָּב֤וֹא אֵלֶ֙יהָ֙ וּבְעַלְתָּ֔הּ וְהָיְתָ֥ה לְךָ֖ לְאִשָּֽׁה וְהָיָ֞ה אִם־לֹ֧א חָפַ֣צְתָּ בָּ֗הּ וְשִׁלַּחְתָּהּ֙ לְנַפְשָׁ֔הּ וּמָכֹ֥ר לֹא־תִמְכְּרֶ֖נָּה בַּכָּ֑סֶף לֹא־תִתְעַמֵּ֣ר בָּ֔הּ תַּ֖חַת אֲשֶׁ֥ר עִנִּיתָֽהּ׃ (ס)


When you take the field against your enemies, and the LORD your God delivers them into your power and you take some of them captive, and you see among the captives a beautiful woman and you desire her and would take her to wife, you shall bring her into your house, and she shall trim her hair, pare her nails, and discard her captive’s garb. She shall spend a month’s time in your house lamenting her father and mother; after that you may come to her and possess her, and she shall be your wife. Then, should you no longer want her, you must release her outright. You must not sell her for money: since you had your will  of her, you must not enslave her.

 

A. This passage says more than the previous one, but certainly not enough to establish sex-slavery or pedophilia as a Jewish practice condoned by Yahweh.

 

1.      First, points A.4-8 above apply equally to this passage as well, and for the same reasons. They are reiterated and reinforced by the following explicit points:

2.      A woman captured woman could be taken “as a wife” only. (Refer to points A.4-8)

3.      In that cultural context, every woman completely understood that to be the best-case     scenario, to be taken in as a wife for provision and provision.

4.      She was allowed 30 days to mourn her parents and come to terms with her new situation. That was an especially generous provision probably unique to Israel.

5.      After that the marriage could be consummated. Since she knew that to be an enviable new situation, the woman would probably not resist; rather, she would be glad.

6.      Following that, the woman could be divorced. Sadly, easy divorce by the man was common to all NE cultures. Jesus addressed this when he taught this:

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

 

7.      This is why Jesus was greater than Moses. He assumed the divine authority to explain why Moses allowed something that was not good—divorce, and then he reasserted the original law and principle—permanence in marriage. (See hermeneutical principle L)

8.      But she had to be released. She could not be kept as a slave or sold. This was unheard of! In other nations the woman would certainly be made a slave or sold as a property.

 

B.    All of this is in contrast to the codes of at least one other religion, Islam, according to its bible, the Qur'an.

 

1.      In this unnamed religion’s bible, soldiers of war can take any girl or woman of any age to have sex with her, even prepubescent, and he is not required to marry her. (4:24)

2.      After sex he can do anything he wishes to her, e.g. enslave her, sell her, kill her, etc.

3.      The captive woman can even be married provided she has one period before sex to prove she is not pregnant. If she is unmarried she can be prepubescent.

4.      In this religion’s bible there seems to be no minimum age for either betrothal or consummation . If there was, their main prophet ignored it because he married a nine-year-old girl. (Sahih Bukhari volume 5 #234, https://bit.ly/3cFvN6e)

 

VI. Commentary: Deliberately withheld until a later time such as it becomes necessary.

 

VII.  Conclusion: The laws of Yahweh as revealed to the Israelites through Prophet Moses were, in their ancient context, the most progressive, the most humane, and the most dignifying of laws toward young women and girls, as well as foreigners of any other people group in the NE region at that time, extending even to the 7th century and beyond. In contrast to the bible of some other religions, we cannot reasonably speculate from these passages that Yahweh, through Moses, allowed or condoned prepubescent fornication or marriage aside from betrothals. Neither did he allow or condone rape or sex slavery, as at least one other religion does. Finally, Jesus put it well when he said, For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.”  (Gospel of John 5:46, New Testament)


[1] All English-only scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version. (ESV)

[2] All Hebrew-English scripture quotations are from sefaria.org.

  • 11 February 2021
  • Author: Scott Cherry
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2 comments on article "Sex Slavery and Pedophilia in the Torah?"

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yeizel

3/3/2021 2:23 AM

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yeizel

3/3/2021 2:29 AM

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