Deuteronomy 22:28-29


Deuteronomy 22:28-29
If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days.

In a conversation with an athiest. he threw above passage at me saying it supports cruelty towards women and slavery of the wife.

Curious as to what this passage refers to, is it written as such in the bible, and how may we convey its message?


That verse is in the Bible.

God’s law as given to the Israelites were the first controls on a completely out of control situation. Murder, child sacrifice, incest, bestiality, homosexuality, cannibalism and selling your children were all the norm.

God is putting the first guard rails in place. It is not meant to be the final solution. Love your neighbor as yourself and do unto others is the final solution. God himself becoming man to die for us is the final solution. Jesus is the final solution.



Suggest to your friend he learn how to read the bible before reading it. Usually there is a nice explanation in the front section. Rule one is to understand whom was the intened audience.


This is one of those passages in which Bible study from the Torah perspective comes into play. On the face of it, it may seem that the woman here is degraded since she is obliged to marry a man who has violated her, whether or not there is rape involved, which is not clearly stated in the verse. (If rape is indeed involved, there is a severe penalty meted out toward the man.) However, if the verse is interpreted in context together with Exodus 22: 16-17, since Deuteronomy is a kind of summation of the previous four books of the Law, one can see that the young girl’s father must first give his consent to marriage, which is unlikely under the circumstances, particularly if rape was involved. (Further, the woman also has a say regarding whether she wants to marry the man.) If the woman’s father or the woman herself rejects the man who violated her, the man must still pay the father money for his unsavory action as well as support the father’s daughter thereafter. Thus, in point of fact, the burden in this situation falls on the man who is an aggressor in a premarital relationship of either mutual consent or of statutory or forcible rape.


A similar law concerning the seduction of a virgin appears in Exodus 22:16-17:

16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall give the marriage present for her, and make her his wife. 17 If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equivalent to the marriage present for virgins.

It is likely that in the case of the rape of a virgin her father could also refuse to give her to him.


There are probably many ways to look at these verses.

First, there are so many conditions here (“if she is a virgin”, “if they are discovered”, etc.)

Second, what’s a shekel, especially in those days? What is 50 shekels? – the price of a slave, or something?

Third, unattached women had very low status, so forcing her to marry is a form of “social security” for her. It’s also some social security for the child who might probably be assumed to result from the intercourse and this is no small matter.

Fourth, this precept of the law is surely intended to be a deterrent to what it describes.

Fifth, to an atheist, in modern times, it may seem that what is described here is just a normal variant of behavior. After all, with an atheist, we’re dealing with someone who inconsistently might assert absolutely that there are no absolutes (duh). So, the atheist is saying this ex-virgin should not have to get married to this sex offender and maybe other more modern and purely pragmatic actions should take place, like legal prosecution, morning-after contraception, abortion, etc.

Although it is popularly contested, Judeo-Christian beliefs point to the equal dignity of men and women. Again, one has to seriously consider the deterrent purpose of this law and that the Torah, in fact, metes out a certain measure of divine justice (and mercy) here, for example, that the sex offender is not put to death for his action. Rather, there is, as we might say, a fine and an automatic life sentence imposed – unsavory as the whole mess might be.

Atheist or otherwise, we should not jump to hasty (or any) judgments of God’s laws.


I recognize the truth is what you said about this, in that God was trying to get things under control, but when you look at society today, seems like maybe God should enact certain laws again, to reign us in a bit, as the world is getting out of control pretty quick nowadays. I know his death on the cross was the new covenant, just saying this half jokingly.


That makes a lot of sense at the time this was written. Wouldn’t it be nice if we enacted a law like this today and eliminate a large part of welfare as well as making an improvement in the responsibility for what we do.


The old laws reigned nothing in. Israel failed over and over and over. They kept falling in to sin over and over.

***Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” *(Matthew 22:36-40)

The only thing that has ever reigned me in is putting myself last.



This law is to primarily protect the woman. A non-virginal woman has no chance of getting a proper husband. Deu 22:13-21 and her long term survival chances would be minimal. Since one can not undo a rape (assuming this to be a rape), the law forces the man to take care of this girl for the rest of her life with no possibility of divorce.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit