I have recently seen someone try to argue that God has no problem with men raping women. They used a few scriptures to “support” this opinion and each one was unfaithfully paraphrased. However upon looking at these scriptures I noticed that Deuteronomy 22:25 says the man should be put to death, but in verse 28 of the same chapter the man has to pay and marry the women. What I am confused about is the consensuality or these scriptures. Is the topic rape or sexual immorality? I only found the word rape in the NIV and not KJV or others. I see words like seiezed instead in other translations. Is this a euphemism? Also the NLT version speaks of rape in Deuteronomy 22:25 and then says intercourse in verse 28. I am a bit confused I would like to know how accurate these different translations of the Hebrew Bible are. And is the topic rape through these verses or does it change in verse 28?  Thank you


It really is quite absurd to propose that God does not care about the raping of women.  Whoever said this is just trying to make trouble.  The question is not a sincere one.  However, the Bible tells us to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you profess.” (1 Peter 3:15) and we are told to do it with gentleness and respect, so even such an outrageous question ought to be answered with gentleness and respect.  Actually, although it is totally obvious that God hates rape with all of his heart, it is true that Deuteronomy 22:25-28 is somewhat hard to understand.  In this passage the Bible is dealing with adultery and with rape.  The biblical command concerning adultery was very strict in the Old Testament.  We know from John 8:1-11 that that God wants to show mercy, even to one caught in adultery, and I am sure that stoning for this offense was extremely rare in Israel.  The problem is that in some cases it is a matter of (as we say in modern idiom) “he said, she said” if the event happens away from a village.  Men can surely overpower women, so if a man has sex with a woman he is not married to away from a populated area, it will be almost impossible to prove that the woman consented.  For this reason, in the Old Testament, God told his people to only hold the man responsible.  Whether he raped the woman or whether he committed consensual adultery with her, the punishment for the man would be the same, but the benefit of the doubt is given to the woman.  This is a common-sense way of dealing with such a situation. The problem is that in ancient cultures women were rarely given the benefit of the doubt, which is why God commanded the Jews to give the woman the benefit of the doubt. This is a compassionate and fair way to treat such a situation. It is one which probably saved many women from unjust treatment by men.

Because the subject of  violent rape was already dealt with in Deuteronomy 22:25, it is apparent that 22:28 is dealing with a different situation.  I am no expert in Hebrew, so I cannot comment on the exact meaning of the Hebrew word used in Deuteronomy 22:28, but given that this occurs just a couple of sentences after the other statement, we can assume that the context of Deuteronomy 22:28 is different.  We need to have the context of the ancient Near East in mind as well.  I agree with your attempt to understand this passage in that you see a likely “softer” interpretation of the event anticipated in the second passage (v. 28).  I believe that the phrase “siezed” may be a good suggestion.  This may be a case of a young couple being “carried away” with passion.  The woman may not have given consent, but perhaps, although she did not give permission, the two are attracted to one another and this was not a situation of an extremely violent sexual assault where the woman was screaming out to stop.  As we all know, the question of consent is a complicated one, but the Bible comes down solidly on the side of given benefit of doubt to the woman.  Also, we need to bear in mind the role of the parents.  I imagine that the second scenario is one in which there was a sexual act in which there is some question of consent, but in this second case, I imagine that the two sets of parents are in agreement that the young man and woman may be married.  In this case, the Bible allows that the offense can be dealt with by the parents of the offending man paying a sum of money to the parents of the offended young woman.  This would not make much sense in our modern society, but it would make sense in the paternal society of the Near East in ancient times.

John Oakes

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