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28 Suppose a man comes across a virgin who is not engaged and takes hold of her[a] and sleeps with[b] her and they are discovered. 29 The man who has slept with her must pay her father fifty shekels of silver and she must become his wife. Because he has humiliated her, he may never divorce her as long as he lives.

30 (23:1)[c] A man may not marry[d] his father’s former[e] wife and in this way dishonor his father.[f]

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Footnotes

  1. Deuteronomy 22:28 tn The verb תָּפַשׂ (taphas) means “to sieze, grab.” In all other examples this action is done against another person’s will, as in being captured, arrested, attacked, or grabbed with insistence (e.g. 1 Sam 23:26; 1 Kgs 13:4; 18:40; 2 Kgs 14:13; 25:6; Isa 3:6; Jer 26:8; 34:3; 37:13; 52:9; Ps 71:11; 2 Chr 25:23.) So it may be that the man is forcing himself on her, which is what leads the NIV to translate the next verb as “rape,” although it is a neutral euphemism for sexual relations. However, this is the only case where the object of תָּפַשׂ is a woman and the verb also also refers to holding or handling objects such as musical instruments, weapons, or scrolls. So it possible that it has a specialized, but otherwise unattested nuance regarding sexual or romantic relations, as is true of other expressions. Several contextual clues point away from rape and toward a consensual relationship. (1) The verb which seems to express force is different from the verb of force in the rape case in v. 25. (2) The context distinguishes consequences based on whether the girl cried out, an expression of protest and a basis for distinguishing consent or force. But this case law does not mention her outcry which would have clarified a forcible act. While part of what is unique in this case is that the girl is not engaged, it is reasonable to expect the issue of consent to continue to apply. (3) The penalty is less than that of a man who slanders his new wife and certainly less than the sentence for rape. (4) The expression “and they are discovered” at the end of v. 28 uses the same wording as the expression in v. 22 which involves a consensual act. (5) Although from a separate context, the account of the rape of Dinah seems to express the Pentateuch’s negative attitude toward forcible rape, not in advocating for Simeon and Levi’s actions, but in the condemnation included in the line Gen 34:7 “because he has done a disgraceful thing in Israel.” This is very like the indictment in v. 21 against the consenting woman, “because she has done a disgraceful thing in Israel.” (6) The penalty of not being allowed to divorce her sounds like v. 19, where the man is punished for disgracing his wife unfairly. His attempted divorce fails and he must provide for her thereafter (the probable point of not being allowed to divorce her.) Here too, if his holding her is not forced, but instead he has seduced her, he is not allowed to claim that his new wife is not pure (since he is the culprit) and so he must take responsibility for her, cannot divorce her, and must provide for her as a husband thereafter.
  2. Deuteronomy 22:28 tn Heb “lies with.”
  3. Deuteronomy 22:30 sn Beginning with 22:30, the verse numbers through 23:25 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 22:30 ET = 23:1 HT, 23:1 ET = 23:2 HT, 23:2 ET = 23:3 HT, etc., through 23:25 ET = 23:26 HT. With 24:1 the verse numbers in the ET and HT are again the same.
  4. Deuteronomy 22:30 tn Heb “take.” In context this refers to marriage, as in the older English expression “take a wife.”
  5. Deuteronomy 22:30 sn This presupposes either the death of the father or their divorce since it would be impossible for one to marry his stepmother while his father was still married to her.
  6. Deuteronomy 22:30 tn Heb “uncover his father’s skirt” (so ASV, NASB). This appears to be a circumlocution for describing the dishonor that would come to a father by having his own son share his wife’s sexuality (cf. NAB, NIV “dishonor his father’s bed”).

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