Saturday, February 13, 2010


Chapter 22
Summary:Moses' speech continues:
"If you see another man's ox or sheep go astray, you are not to pretend as if you did not see it, but you must take them back to its owner. If you do not know the owner, then you shall bring it back to your own house until the owner comes looking for it and you are able to return it to him. The same applies to donkeys, clothing, or any lost item that belongs to someone else that you have found. You are not to keep them for yourself. If you see someone's donkey or ox fall down by the way, you are also not to pretend as if you didn't see it happen, but you are to help him lift it up again.

"A woman shall not wear men's clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman's garment. All who do so are an abomination unto the Lord your God.

"If you spot a bird's nest in a tree or on the ground, and there are young ones or eggs as well as their mother, you are not to take the mother with the young. You shall let the mother go and take the young, so that it may be well with you, and you may prolong your days.

"When you build a new house, you must make a guardrail for the roof so that you do not bring upon an accidental death upon your house if anyone were to fall from it.

"You are not to sow your vineyard with other seeds, lest the fruit of your seed that you've sown, and the fruit of your vineyard be defiled.

"You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.

"You shall not wear a garment made of mixed fibers, such as wool and linen together.

"You are to make fringes upon the four corners of your clothes.

"If any man takes a wife, sleeps with her, hates her, and speaks out against her, bringing an evil name upon her, by saying, 'I took this woman and when I slept with her, I found that she was not a virgin', then the woman's parents shall take and bring forth the 'tokens of virginity'* to the elders of the city. The woman's father shall explain to the elders that he gave his daughter to this man as a wife, that he hated her and spoke against her claiming that she was not a virgin, and present the 'tokens of his daughter's virginity'* and shall then spread the cloth before the elders of the city.

"The elders of that city shall take the man and whip him and fine him one hundred shekels of silver to be paid the woman's father, because he had brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel. The woman shall remain his wife and he shall not be permitted to divorce her.

"However, if the man's accusations are true, and there are no 'tokens of virginity'* for the woman, then the woman shall be brought to the door of her father's house and the men of the city shall stone her to death, for she has brought folly to the nation of Israel, by playing the whore in her father's house. So shall you purge the evil away from among you.

"If a man is found having sexual relations with an already married woman, then they both shall be killed - both the man that slept with the married woman, and the married woman herself. So shall you purge the evil away from among you.

"If a woman who is a virgin and is engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and rapes her, then both of them shall be brought out to the outskirts of the city and are to be stoned to death; the woman because she didn't cry out for help in the city, and the man because he humiliated his neighbor's wife. So shall you purge the evil away from among you.

"But if a man finds an engaged woman out in the fields, and the man rapes her, then only the man who raped her shall die. The woman is not to be punished because the woman committed no sin worthy of death. For this matter is similar to that of a murder victim, for he found her out in the field and the engaged woman cried, and there was no one to save her.

"If a man finds a woman that is a virgin, who is not engaged to another man, and rapes her, and they are found, then the man that raped her is to pay the woman's father fifty shekels of silver, and she is to become his wife, because he has humiliated her, and he may never divorce her.

"A man shall not take his fathers wife, nor dishonor his father's bed."
Notes:1.) Meaning the bloodstained sheets from when the woman's hymen was broken during intercourse.
Thoughts:This chapter begins on what appears to be a fairly positive note, but goes downhill awfully fast. Moses starts out telling the Israelites that if they see another man's ox or sheep go astray that they are not to ignore it, but are to return it to its owner. If they don't know who owns it, they are to take the animal back to their house until the owner comes looking for the animal. Moses adds that this applies to donkeys, clothing, and anything other lost item. Also if someone's donkey or ox falls under the load it's carrying, again you're not to ignore this, but you are to go help the animal get back up.

Moses then strikes out at transvestites calling it an "abomination" to wear clothes meant for the other sex. Why God would be so bothered by people's fashions to declare it an "abomination" just for wearing a piece of clothing intended for the opposite sex is beyond me. In the bronze age days of flowing tunics, who would even really know whether a garment was a man's or a woman's?

Next Moses states that if you find a bird's nest with both a mother bird and either its young or its eggs, you can keep the eggs and the young, but you must set the mother bird free.

Following that, Moses states that when building a house you must put up a guardrail on the roof to ensure that no one falls off.

Moses then spits out a few brief but strange laws:
  • Don't sow your vineyard with other seeds, or the fruit of the seed as well as the grapes of the vineyard will be defiled.
  • Do not plow your field with both a donkey and an ox together.
  • Do not wear a garment made with mixed fibers, such as wool and linen together.
  • Make fringes upon the corners of your clothes
The rest of this chapter gets pretty misogynistic and concerns itself primarily on the importance of a woman's virginity to her husband.

If a man suspects that his wife was not a virgin when they were married, the woman's parents must bring their "tokens of virginity" (meaning the bloodstained bedsheets) to the elders of the city. The woman's father is to present the stained bedsheets to the elders as proof of his daughter's virginity.

Obviously the problem is that not every woman bleeds from her first experience of sexual intercourse, and sometimes her hymen isn't even broken immediately either. Stained sheets only serve as proof that her hymen was broken, not of her virginity.

Now what happens when a man falsely accuses his wife of not being a virgin on their wedding night? Well he gets a couple of lashes with a whip, he has to pay 100 shekels of silver to his father in law for shaming his wife and her family, and he's not allowed to divorce his wife. Now what happens if the woman can't prove her virginity? Well, she gets dragged out to her father's house and gets stoned to death by the men of the city for "being a whore" and shaming her father. Under these laws, it's very possible and quite likely that many women were stoned to death because they were unable to prove their innocence. Perhaps their "token" was stolen, perhaps it was lost, perhaps it was destroyed accidentally in a fire, perhaps the woman simply didn't bleed during her first sexual experience, and perhaps her husband was unable to perform himself. There are a plethora of reasons why a woman could wrongfully die because of her husband's accusations, yet we're to believe that such a flawed law was mandated by the supreme. all knowing, all powerful, "loving", and "merciful" "creator of the universe" which basically puts a woman's life down to a gamble as to whether she bled properly on a bed sheet.

Next, Moses states that if a man sleeps with an already married woman, then they are both to be killed. This law obviously doesn't operate the other way around - if a married man sleeps with an unmarried woman, he simply has just taken on another wife.

If you've been reading along since the beginning (or at least since the book of Numbers) you should recognize the next three laws as points that were discussed in my "Apologist Rebuttal" to the events of Numbers: Chapter 31 concerning the topic of rape. The apologist claimed that "rape was (and still is) abhorrent to God", citing Deuteronomy 22:23-28, and putting special emphasis on Deuteronomy 22:25. However, we see that this chapter paints quite a different picture of rape than what the apologist was suggesting.

What Moses says, is that when a woman who is a virgin and engaged to another man is raped in the city, then both the woman and the rapist are to be brought out to the outskirts of town and are to be stoned to death. Moses states that it's the woman's fault that she was raped because she didn't cry out loud enough to stop her rape from happening. This law is not condemning rape, according to Moses the woman is condemned for not preventing her own rape, and the rapist because he took away the woman's fiancee's "right" to consummate his marriage.

Moses then explains that if a woman who is a virgin and engaged to another man is raped out in the countryside, then only her rapist is to be put to death, for Moses reasons that it's impossible to determine whether she screamed for help or not out in the fields, so it must be assumed that she did cry for help but that nobody heard her. Again, unlike what the apologist was trying to lead us to believe, this law applies only to virgin women who are engaged to be married.

When the apologist cited Deuteronomy 22:23-28, he stopped short of verse 29 which explains what happens to a virgin who is raped and isn't engaged to be married. Moses says that the rapist is to pay the victim's father 50 shekels of silver, and that the victim is to become the rapist's wife(!) and he cannot divorce her because he has devalued her by taking her virginity.

It's easy to see why the apologist didn't include this verse in their referencing, but the irony is that the apologist was attempting to defend Numbers: Chapter 31 by claiming that it was being "taken out of context" by not reading also Numbers: Chapter 25, when clearly we see that Deuteronomy 22:29 completes Moses' overall point that he was making in Deuteronomy 22:23-28. These verses aren't concerned with rape, more than they are concerned with robbing a man of his right to deflower the woman he's engaged to. In other words, the verses are more about vindicating the male fiancee's right to take his wife's virginity, not that a woman's virginity was taken without her consent, otherwise a raped virgin without a fiancee wouldn't be forced to marry her rapist.

Finally, Moses ends the chapter by stating that a man is not to take his father's wife nor dishonor his father's bed.

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