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Chapter 22:13-30 (ESV)

Posted on March 26, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 22:13-30 (ESV) - “If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then hates her and accuses her of misconduct and brings a bad name upon her, saying, ‘I took this woman, and when I came near her, I did not find in her evidence of virginity,’ then the father of the young woman and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of her virginity to the elders of the city in the gate. And the father of the young woman shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man to marry, and he hates her; and behold, he has accused her of misconduct, saying, “I did not find in your daughter evidence of virginity.” And yet this is the evidence of my daughter's virginity.’ And they shall spread the cloak before the elders of the city. Then the elders of that city shall take the 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 a bad name upon a virgin of Israel. And she shall be his wife. He may not divorce her all his days. But if the thing is true, that evidence of virginity was not found in the young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father's house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

“If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.

“If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor's wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

“But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no offense punishable by death. For this case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbor, because he met her in the open country, and though the betrothed young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her.

“If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.

“A man shall not take his father's wife, so that he does not uncover his father's nakedness.”

Question to consider: Why do you think God allows people to continue to sin against Him and one another?

Often when I see objections to the decrees of the LORD given through Moses, the subject relates to God’s ability to intervene in the world to end injustice and inequality. The question is usually along the lines of, “If God is all powerful, why doesn’t He stop those who would abuse, subjugate or rape a woman?” The follow-up question is then, “If He has the ability to stop these things, then how can He allow them and still be called ‘good’?”

The simple, yet unsatisfying, response is to point out that God’s ways are not our ways. Rather than turning all of humanity into automatons or having to work like an eternal superhero to constantly intervene to save the day, God has instituted a plan of redemption that will result in Him having a people for Himself who genuinely love Him and will one day live eternally without sin and death. Until that day, God allows the unjust to live among the just, and the Holy Spirit uses the Law and works through the injustices of this age to show people their need for Christ.

The philosophies of this world work with a different definition of basic truth, a different set of morals, and a different culmination of history. Scripture describes everything as created according to the goodness of God. Rather than accepting what God called good, those who were created to be stewards of His creation– mankind and angels– rebelled against God with a desire to follow what was good in their own eyes.

Regardless of whether we agree with the customs at that time concerning marriage, these laws were put in place to protect the young woman from being mistreated by her husband, and it presented a high view of the marital covenant which mirrored the relationship between Israel and the LORD. 

As I’ve mentioned before, all of these examples that Moses gave seem to have occurred in the historical writings of Moses. Reuben laid with his father’s concubine and lost his rights as firstborn. Jacob’s daughter, Dinah, was raped by the prince of Shechem, and he was required to pay a fine and was set to marry her when Simeon and Levi killed him (which also disqualified them from the firstborn rights). Again, it would be unthinkable today for a woman to marry the man who violated her, but we live at a time in which women are able to find gainful employment. At this time, there were no women landowners or tradespeople.

This does not mean that God was pleased with how people acted toward one another in these situations. Because people rebel against God and harden their hearts against His ways, Moses had to at least make sure to minimize the damage that was done by the hard-hearted. The relationship which God has called "very good" is defined in Genesis 2:24, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."


Dear heavenly Father, please give us a servant’s heart toward our family and neighbors and treat one another with dignity and respect. When we fail to do this for one another, please renew in us a spirit of repentance and forgiveness like You have shown to us through Christ Jesus. Amen.