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God's Law; Your daughters

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posted on Feb, 28 2014 @ 05:04 PM
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The social laws of the Pentateuch were not designed for the modern world,
They were clearly designed for a different kind of world, a mainly agricultural society.
But since they were published in the name of the Biblical God, they can still throw light on his nature and intentions.
Which gives us a new reason for reading this collection even if the laws themselves have been superseded.

Let’s take, for example, what God’s law says about daughters.
I’ve already looked at the laws on wives.
For the purposes of these laws, unmarried women are seen chiefly as future wives.
The only economic alternative is prostitution, which the law forbids, or at least discourages, for the daughters of Israelites;
“Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot, lest the land fall into harlotry and the land become full of wickedness”- Leviticus ch19 v29

The concern for the chastity of the daughter relates to the fidelity of the wife.
In fact the significance of virginity can best be understood as “fidelity in advance”, to an unknown future husband.
So the man who takes a wife, unless she is widowed or divorced, will be expecting her to be a virgin.
If he claims that she was not, and her parents cannot prove him wrong, then she will be stoned to death in front of their door.
That is, she will suffer the penalty of adultery for what happened before her marriage, when she was “playing the harlot in her father’s house”.
They can prove him wrong, if the charge is unjust, because they’re holding “the tokens of her virginity”, in the form of a blood-stained garment which they will be able to display to the elders of the city.
Once they have done so, then “the elders of that city will take that man and whip him; and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver, and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought an evil name upon a virgin of Israel; and she shall be his [un-divorceable] wife; he may not put her away all his days.”- Deuteronomy ch22 vv13-21

I suspect that few of these cases would ever come to trial.
Knowing that the “tokens” had been collected, as they normally would be, what sane man would expose himself to the penalties of this law?
So the fact that the evidence existed should have meant that the evidence would never need to be used.
And this law would the effect of deterring, and protecting women from, unjust accusation.

This is a society in which the bridegroom pays a bride-price to the woman’s parents, instead of expecting them to pay him a dowry.
So the man who takes the virginity of an unmarried woman is causing injury in three ways.
He injures her prospects of marriage, he injures any prospective husband by an act of adultery with his wife, and he causes financial injury to the family, by spoiling their chance to collect the bride-price.
The law on rape and seduction tries to deal with all three kinds of injury.

The most straightforward case is the man who rapes or seduces a woman who is not betrothed.
Since he has destroyed her chances of marriage, and her father won’t get the bride-price from anyone else, the man must pay the bride-price (fifty shekels, in Deuteronomy) and marry her himself.
He also, again, loses the right to divorce her; “He may not put her away all his days”.
While if her father utterly refuses to give her to him, “he shall pay money equivalent to the marriage present for virgins”- Exodus ch22 vv16
“Money equivalent” implies that the present would normally be paid in kind, which would be more convenient in an agricultural society.

But if the woman is betrothed, the man will suffer death by stoning as for adultery, “because he violated his neighbour’s wife; so you shall purge the evil from the midst of you”.

The woman will die at the same time, as an adulteress, unless the court accepts that she was forced into the act against her will.
The rule of thumb is to ask if the event took place in the city or in the open country.
If the couple were found in the city, then her claim to be non-consenting faces the awkward fact that she could have called for help and did not do so.
It should be remembered that these are not modern cities; with children, slaves, and neighbours all over the place, besides the young woman’s mother, it can’t have been easy to find a woman on her own unless she wanted to be found.
If the event took place in the open country, then help would have been out of earshot, and her defence is to be accepted- “for this case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbour” - Deuteronomy ch22 vv28-29
This possibility is not mentioned in the case of ordinary adultery, which suggests that married women don’t go out into the fields.
The people harvesting in the fields of Boaz are his young men and his maidens- reaping and gathering, respectively- (Ruth ch2), and this law is obviously designed to meet that kind of situation.

What can these laws tell us about the God who endorses them?

The chastity of the daughter, as I’ve said, is an aspect of the fidelity of the wife, and that reflects a concern for the stability of the marriage relationship.

As I observed about the laws on wives, the society which generated these laws is clearly male-dominated, and in that respect it resembles other societies of the time.
So this shows us a God who deals with people as he finds them, starting with the customs they’ve got already and allowing time to improve them.

We should also be noting how, within the constraints of the society that existed at the time, these laws do much towards the protection of women.
There are laws which give them a way of defending themselves against unjust accusation.
The victim of a rape is to be understood as the victim of an act of violence, just like the victim of a murder.
In some circumstances the rapist will receive the death penalty.
Otherwise the man who rapes a woman, and so makes her unmarriageable, is obliged to support her for life, instead of leaving her to starve in poverty.

But what about the use of the death-penalty for the equivalent of adultery?
It reflects a zeal for thoroughness in “purging this evil from the midst of you”, removing threats to the all-important marriage relationship.
At the same time, though, it also suggests a very human impatience with more “gradual” ways of dealing with bad practices.
In other laws, we find the principle that life is forfeit only in exchange for another life; that’s the value of human life in God’s eyes.
So the use of the death-penalty for a lesser offence may not match God’s final intentions, and may be as much a compromise with human “hardness of heart” as was the permission to divorce.

God’s willingness to compromise with his people in this way is in keeping with what I’ve already observed.
Instead of making a completely fresh start, he takes the customs that they’ve got already and allows time to change them in a gradual way.
He is prepared to deal with people in ways that they can understand, before trying to lead them further.




posted on Feb, 28 2014 @ 05:05 PM
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Instead of making a completely fresh start, he takes the customs that they’ve got already and allows time to change them in a gradual way.
He is prepared to deal with people in ways they can understand, before trying to lead them further.


I am the son of two schoolteachers and the grandson of a third.
I may have mentioned this before.
This provides me with a very accessible analogy for the way God approaches the question of giving laws to the people of Israel.
He behaves like a teacher.

A good teacher is always conscious of the capabilities and limitations of his pupils, and he tries to give them teaching at the appropriate level.
He talks to them in terms which they will be able to understand, and sets out to improve their understanding in gradual ways.
If their reading abilities have taken them to the end of the first of the “Janet and John” books, then he offers them the second book.
If their mathematical skills have taken them as far as adding up and “taking away”, then he might begin showing them how to multiply and divide.
What he’s not going to do is start scribbling Einstein’s equations on the blackboard.
Teaching is not about “zapping” people with instantaneous advanced knowledge (except in science fiction stories).
It is the slow and patient work of gradual training.

We find a similar patience in the way the God of Israel deals with his people.
Thus his intention for marriage was that “a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife and they become one flesh” (Genesis ch2 v23).
Yet in the Old Testament laws he accepts, for the time being, the practice of divorce, which Jesus blames on “the hardness of their hearts” (Matthew ch19 v8).
And why does God allow them to fall short of the intended standard?
Because their minds are not yet ready for the intended standard.
They are still in training.

He finds this people living in a very patriarchal society, like all the other societies of the time.
Whatever he thinks about this, he does not try to change it at a stroke.
He modifies their behaviour gradually, beginning with mild restraints on the husband’s power.
He finds them loving their brothers and other kinsmen and encourages them to treat the rest of the nation in the same way.
However, they are not yet ready to extend the concept of “brothers” to the world at large, so that part of the training is postponed for a later stage.

In short, what we see in the laws of the Old Testament, and in the overall history of the Old Testament, is the slow and patient work of gradual training.
God does not “zap”. He teaches.

When modern critics are assailing the laws and the culture of the Old Testament, this is precisely what they are complaining about.
They don’t think God should have been giving his people this patient teaching.
They think he should have “zapped” them , instantly, to a state of spiritual maturity comparable to their own.
If they had been in God’s place (and they would certainly have done the job better) they would have “zapped”.

The God of the Old Testament is much more patient than they are.
He finds his people at the “cuh-ah-tuh-CAT” level of spiritual education, and he lifts them gradually.
A lot of work will be required before they can reach the kind of spiritual heights from which these critics can look down haughtily at the junior versions of themselves.
The fact that God is willing to undertake this slow and patient work is very revealing.
It shows us that God is a teacher.

This has a bearing on the question of whether these laws can be changed.
We find in the classroom that lessons vary according to the age and circumstances of the pupils.
The books used in the infants’ class are not the books used in the university lecture hall.
I’ve heard a physics graduate complaining that he had to re-learn the laws of physics at every stage in his education.
In the same way, the guidance which God gives to his people might be expected to change according to the level of their understanding as well as the condition of their society.
And the fact that these laws are so closely bound up with the needs of a particular kind of society is another reason for regarding them as temporary.
They can only be “God’s laws”, if at all, for a period in Israel’s history, rather than for all time.
The details of the laws might be variable, as long as the principles which lay behind them were respected.
In other words, as Paul might put it, the letter of the Law would be less binding than the spirit of the Law.



posted on Feb, 28 2014 @ 05:34 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 





They can prove him wrong, if the charge is unjust, because they’re holding “the tokens of her virginity”, in the form of a blood-stained garment which they will be able to display to the elders of the city.




What can these laws tell us about the God who endorses them?


It tells us that he knows very little about female anatomy!

First of all, not every girl is born with a hymen, and the hymen wears aware, usually during adolecesence. The hymen can "break" for no reason at all, or from strenuous activity or athletics.

Also, the hymen doesn't always break during intercourse, and sometimes, size does matter. A woman can still become pregnant even though her hymen didn't break, and sometime the hymen had to be broken by a midwife before a woman gave birth.

SOURCE
SOURCE



edit on 28-2-2014 by windword because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 28 2014 @ 05:37 PM
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reply to post by windword
 

Female athletes were probably less common in those days.
It may not have been an absolutely foolproof solution, but they were doing their best to provide one.



posted on Feb, 28 2014 @ 05:38 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


I have a feeling that females back then worked a whole lot harder that young girls do today!



posted on Feb, 28 2014 @ 05:47 PM
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reply to post by windword
 

So do you have a better solution to the question of proving that the girl had been a virgin?
The one they were using was, I still maintain, better than nothing.



posted on Feb, 28 2014 @ 06:00 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


A better solution than stoning to death girls that don't bleed?

What's the main purpose for wanting a virgin? Is it to ensure that the offspring will be the husband's? If so, don't have sex for three months after the wedding, just to make sure she wasn't pregnant at the time of the wedding.

Otherwise, the only thing to ensure that a man's wife was truly carrying his child, was to force to drink the bitter water in the purity ritual, which most likely would've resulted in an abortion whether the child was his or not.



posted on Feb, 28 2014 @ 06:11 PM
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windword
don't have sex for three months after the wedding, just to make sure she wasn't pregnant at the time of the wedding.

Evidently they did not think of that one, and once "virginity" had been established as an ideal, that would not have been enough.
The law in the text is, in good faith, attempting to provide an alternative to the woman being stoned automatically. It should be given credit for that.



Otherwise, the only thing to ensure that a man's wife was truly carrying his child, was to force to drink the bitter water in the purity ritual, which most likely would've resulted in an abortion whether the child was his or not.

I've never been convinced that the bitter water would have this effect automatically, given that it was basically water mixed with dust.
Without being a medical expert, it seems to me that her chances of escaping without side-effects ought to have been pretty good.



posted on Feb, 28 2014 @ 06:28 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 





I've never been convinced that the bitter water would have this effect automatically, given that it was basically water mixed with dust.
Without being a medical expert, it seems to me that her chances of escaping without side-effects ought to have been pretty good.


I think that would depend on the discretion of the priest. There was no shortage of herbal "teas" that caused abortion in those days.



posted on Feb, 28 2014 @ 06:35 PM
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reply to post by windword
 

The actual recipe given in Numbers ch5 is "the priest shall take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle". Whether this caused harm or not would surely depend on what bacteria were present, and whether it caused loss of child would depend on the variety of bacteria. I see no reason why the chances of that specific result should have been high.
The logic of the choice is probably that the dust from the tabernacle has been in contact with God, and so can help to express his verdict.



posted on Feb, 28 2014 @ 06:50 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


Oh, okay. So you believe that magic water and God's justice alone caused unfaithful women, and only the unfaithful, to abort.

I don't buy it.


edit on 28-2-2014 by windword because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 28 2014 @ 06:57 PM
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reply to post by windword
 

No, I don't make that claim at all.
But the fact that the people of the time did have that belief gave a woman a realistic chance of rebutting the charge of unfaithfulness.
Especially if I am right in thinking that her chances of escaping without ill-effects were good.
And, as i suggested in the OP, giving a woman some way of rebutting the charge was a great deal better than allowing her to be condemned automatically because the man was infected by jealousy.
It gave her an escape route, which was better than not having an escape route.




edit on 28-2-2014 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 28 2014 @ 07:02 PM
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windword
reply to post by DISRAELI

It tells us that he knows very little about female anatomy!

First of all, not every girl is born with a hymen, and the hymen wears aware, usually during adolecesence. The hymen can "break" for no reason at all, or from strenuous activity or athletics.

Also, the hymen doesn't always break during intercourse, and sometimes, size does matter. A woman can still become pregnant even though her hymen didn't break, and sometime the hymen had to be broken by a midwife before a woman gave birth.


You may be misinformed or spreading misinformation due to your own agenda but what you stated here is absolutely incorrect. It also does not matter if the hymen breaks. Its still there until worn away during intercourse. The Hymen is also not the end all be all its only there to protect the entrance. Even if a female had no Hymen you could definitely tell shes never had intercourse.

It is also of note to point out this society was of a small genetic makeup. Their genetics are different or were from the rest of the world and breeding with gentiles was no encouraged. Anyhow just wanted to point out what you said is complete myth and more than likely made up somewhere to explain away someones previous sexual behavior.

I could get into it in detail but its a bit much for these forums.



edit on 28-2-2014 by Pimpintology because: of formatting purposes.



posted on Feb, 28 2014 @ 07:03 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


Again, that chance to escape, if she was pregnant, whether or not the child was her husband's depended on the what the priest put in the water. If she wasn't pregnant, even if she had been unfaithful, there would be no problem at all.



edit on 28-2-2014 by windword because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 28 2014 @ 07:05 PM
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reply to post by windword
 

As I said, the only thing he was supposed to put in the water, as far as the law is concerned, is the dust from the floor of the tabernacle, which makes it a matter of chance



posted on Feb, 28 2014 @ 08:00 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


I don't believe in magic "smart" water.

I also don't believe in a "God" that would support the stoning of young women because they didn't bleed on their wedding night.



posted on Feb, 28 2014 @ 08:06 PM
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reply to post by Pimpintology
 





You may be misinformed or spreading misinformation due to your own agenda


I MAY? How about you check the two medical sources I linked before you accuse of spreading misinformation.

And, I can't tell you how happy I am that you can tell if a girl was virgin or not, after you have had sex with her! I guess all Jewish boys back in the day could too!



posted on Feb, 28 2014 @ 08:07 PM
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DISRAELI
reply to post by windword
 

As I said, the only thing he was supposed to put in the water, as far as the law is concerned, is the dust from the floor of the tabernacle, which makes it a matter of chance



Chance? Seems like God could have come up with a better idea than that.



posted on Feb, 28 2014 @ 08:07 PM
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What about a man's wife's handmaid?

I guess her virginity didn't matter. If a man lies with his wifes handmaid and she bears him a child, he must treat that child as his own.

Doesn't mention any punishments a man should face if he has sex with his wife handmaiden.



posted on Feb, 28 2014 @ 08:20 PM
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The dust on the floor was probably mostly ashes from the burnt offerings. Burnt animal fats with frankincense and the such to atone sins or to give praise to the Lord. A sweet savor for the Lord.

I don't know why but I love that phrase. Sweet savor. Sounds yummy.



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