I hope my email finds you doing well my friend.  I wanted to see if you could help with a previous question I had originally asked you.  Here’s the question “What about the charge that God demands his people to force or sell their daughters into prostitution?   The scripture that I believe is taken out of context is Exodus 21:7. A good friend of mine sent me this question and I need help trying to explain the The right interpretation and meaning.  Thank you       Here is her question: “So xxxxx    xxxxxxxxx,  according to your interpretation … As long as a Jew sells his daughter to another Jew then it’s not prostitution?  She is just an indentured servant ?    You state that you will not stand for slander … But, What do you think the man who bought her did with her ??   Do you really think she just did his laundry ?                     Also, what do you think is implied by the phrase “pleases him”?  Does this mean pleases him sexually or pleases him in general, not sexually?


The regulation in Exodus 21:7 is for the selling of what is, essentially, an indentured servant.  There is certainly no implied right of the owner of the servant to have sex with the woman.  This regulation is designed to protect the rights and particularly the right to avoid being sexually taken advantage of.  The regulation says (or implies) that the one who takes her into his home should either marry her or have his son marry her.   If he does not provide her with the opportunity to be married, then he must set her free.  Also, he is not to sell her to another party–especially a non-Jew, as this would likely deprive her of her rights.

One thing I can say for sure is that this regulation definitely prohibits anything even remotely approaching prostitution.   She must either be given the opportunity to be married or she must go free.   If she does not please him means that if he chooses not to marry her, then he must let her be redeemed.  In other words he must take back the money and send her home to her parents if he decides that he does not want to marry her.  He CERTAINLY was not allowed to “check her out” sexually to see if she was sexually pleasing.  This would be blasphemy under Jewish law.  The idea that this allows for prostitution is a gross abuse of what the scripture says.  In fact, it is to make the scripture say exactly the OPPOSITE of what it says.   Did any Jew ever abuse this law and use the woman?  I am sure it did happen, but in that case, we certainly should not blame God or the law, as the law was intended specifically to prevent such a thing.

The answer to the sarcastic question from your friend is that God did not ever intend such a thing to allow for a woman to just do the laundry.   If a woman were to be taken as an indentured servant but not allowed to be married, then that would be a kind of abuse, as it would condemn her to a perpetual life of remaining unmarried.   That is why the regulation said that she should be given the opportunity to be married within the family who take her in.   Neither does this law anticipate allowing anything like prostitution, nor does it allow for a woman to simply be a washer woman.  The only options allowed by this law are that a woman would be married to a male in the house or she would be returned to her original family.   The entire intent of this law is to prevent abuse of women and to construe it any other way is to be disingenuous.

John Oakes

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