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Harmony of the Law - Volume 3
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Deuteronomy 22

Deuteronomy 22:13-21

13. If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her,

13. Quum acceperit quis uxorem, et ingressus fuerit ad eam, et odio habuerit eam,

14. And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her I found her not a maid:

14. Et imposuerit ei occasiones verborum, et traduxerit eam, dicendo: Uxorem hanc accepi, et accessi ad eam, et non inveni in ea virginitatem:

15. Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel’s virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate:

15. Tunc accipiet pater puellae et mater ejus, et proferent signa virginitatis puellae eorum senioribus urbis ad portam.

16. And the damsel’s father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her:

16. Dicetque pater puellae senioribus, Filiam meam dedi viro huic in uxorem, et odio habet eam.

17. And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.

17. Et ecce, imposuit occasiones verborum, dicendo: Non inveni in filia tua virginitatem: Ecce autem signa virginitatis filiae meae. Et expandent vestimentum coram senioribus urbis:

18. And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him:

18. Tunc apprehendent seniores urbis virum, et castigabunt eum.

19. And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel; and she shall be his wife: he may not put her away all his days.

19. Et mulctabunt eum centum argenteis, quos dabunt patri puellae, quoniam traduxit virginem Israelis: habebitque eam uxorem, nec poterit dimittere omnibus diebus suis.

20. But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:

20. Quod si vera fuit accusatio ista, et non inventa fuerit virginitas in puella:

21. Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die; because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

21. Tunc educent puellam ad ostium domus patris sui, et lapidabunt eam homines urbis ejus lapidibus, donec moriatur: quia perpetravit nequitiam in Israele, fornicando in domo patris sui: et auferes malum e medio tui.

 

13. If any man take a wife. This passage also tends to the exaltation of chastity. God provides against both cases, lest a husband should unjustly bring reproach upon a chaste and innocent young woman, and lest a young woman, having been defiled, should escape punishment, if she pretended to be a virgin. A third object is also to be remarked, viz., that parents were thus admonished to be more careful in watching over their children. This is, indeed, an act of gross brutality, that a husband, wittingly and willingly, should seek a false pretext for divorcing his wife by bringing reproach and infamy upon her; but, since it does not infrequently happen that the libidinous become disgusted with their vices, and then endeavor to rid themselves of them in every way, it was needful to correct this evil, and to prescribe a method whereby the integrity of the woman should be safe from the calumnies of an ungodly and cruel husband; whilst it was also just to give relief to an honest man, lest he should be compelled to cherish in his bosom a harlot, by whom he had been deceived; for it is a very bitter thing to ingenuous minds silently to endure so great an ignominy. An admirable precaution is here laid down, i e., that if a woman were accused by her husband, it was in the power of her parents to produce the tokens of chastity which should acquit her; but if they did not, that the husband should not be obliged against his will to keep her in his house, after she had been defiled by another. It is plain from this passage, that the tokens of virginity were taken on a cloth, on the first night of marriage, as future proofs of chastity. It is also probable that the cloth was laid up before witnesses as a pledge, to be a sure defense for pure and modest young women; for it would have been giving too much scope to the parents if it had been believed simply on their evidence; but Moses speaks briefly as of a well-known custom.

18. And the elders of that city shall take that man. Calumny in this case received a threefold punishment; first, that he, who had invented the false accusation, should be beaten with stripes; secondly, that he should pay an hundred pieces of silver to the father of the girl; thirdly, that he should never be allowed to put her away; and tie reason is given, “because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel.” God here shows Himself to be the protector of virgins, that young women may be the more encouraged to cultivate chastity. If any should object that it was a bad provision for the unhappy woman that she should be subjected for ever to tyrannical rule, I reply, that this was done because there was no means for her release; for although, as we shall presently see, men were permitted to obtain a divorce from their wives, still it was neither just nor right to overthrow God’s earliest institution. Besides, it was necessary to obviate the trick of the husband who would have gloried in her divorce, as having gained what he desired.

20. But if this thing be true. If the punishment should seem to anybody to be somewhat too severe, let him reflect that no kind of fraud is more intolerable. A false sale of a field or a house shall be accounted a crime, as also the utterance of false money; and, therefore, she who abuses the sacred name of marriage for deception, and offers an unchaste body instead of a chaste one, much less deserves to be pardoned. The cause of severity, however, which is expressly mentioned, is much more extensive, i e., because she hath wrought wickedness, or filthiness in Israel. The translation which some. give, folly, is poor; for although the word. is derived from נבל, nabal, it still means something more atrocious than folly; just as Simeon and Levi, in excuse for their slaughter of the Shechemites, call the defilement of their sister 8383     “Folly, that which is contrary to sound reason, wickedness.” — Simon’s Heb. Lex. — W. Taylor, in his Concordance, says, “Folly, rather vice:, villany, or what can be supposed in bad morals to be answerable to sapless, withered flowers, leaves, or fruit. Genesis 34:7; Joshua 7:15; Judges 19:23, 24.” נבלה, nebalah, that is, filthiness in Israel. (Genesis 34:7.) Whence it appears once more how greatly acceptable to God is chastity.


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