27 August 2014

Yahweh's Unwanted

 Moses turns from teachings on sanctification of the home to sanctification of the tribe. He lists several groups excluded from participation in the tribal cult. All of them violate the traditional understanding of justice as rendering all persons their due.

First up, eunuchs. Although Yahweh actually demands partial modifications of a man's privates through circumcision in order to join the cult, complete modification is grounds for permanent exclusion.

"He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD." Deuteronomy 23:1 (KJV)

Next up, those whose birth was not legitimate. This only occurred when incidents of sexual intercourse went undetected. Otherwise the law required marriage between the unmarried partners or death for adulterers. It is another case of the the children suffering for the sins of the parents.

 "A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD." Deuteronomy 23:2 (KJV)

Finally, Ammonites and Moabites. Although related the the Hebrews through Abraham's nephew Lot, they refused passage of the Hebrews in their journey to the promised land. Because of the sins of that generation, no Ammonite or Moabite can participate in the cults religious rites for ten generations--er--forever.

 An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever:  Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee.  Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee.  Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever." Deuteronomy 23:3-6 (KJV)

Interestingly, Edomites (Arabs) and Eqyptians can enter the congregation. Although Yahweh excluded the Ammonites and Moabites in spite of the fact that they are "brothers" of the Hebrews, Yahweh welcomes the Edomites on the grounds that they are "brothers." (He apparently failed to foresee the current war the Arabs wage against the Hebrews. Many of them not only desire that the Hebrews leave their "promised land" but also their extermination.) And Yahweh welcomes their ancient oppressors, the Egyptians as well.

25 August 2014

To Rape,Honor, and Obey

 After Moses details those cases when a man engages in sexual relations with a married woman or rapes a married woman, (both cases of which result in capital punishment), he turns to the case of raping a single woman.

 "If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;  Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days." Deuteronomy 22:28-29 (KJV)

When an ancient Hebrew man rapes an unmarried woman, he has not violated the rights of a husband--only the father of the woman in question. Consequently, the penalty is much less severe. The perpetrator must pay the "bride price" to the father and then marry the girl. Mosaic Law forbids him from ever divorcing her.

Note that there seems to be little concern about the rights of the woman. She has merely been "humbled."

This vile law allows a Hebrew man to secure the bride of his dreams despite the opposition of the bride's family. If he or his family proposes an arranged marriage and the family of the virgin rejects the proposal, all he has to do is rape her. Then she is his bride forever.
That might provide incentive for early arranged marriages. If a man rapes her after she has been betrothed, the perpetrator suffers the death penalty.

That would be the only way to provide legal protection for a daughter in a tribe where they enjoy few rights.

23 August 2014

Conviction by Contingency

 Moses lays out the case law on determining whether or not a forcible rape has occurred and the appropriate punishment. Like in the case covered in the previous post, Moses makes no mention of the marital status of the man. (As will become clear after a look at all of Moses' case law examples, the status of the woman is determinative.)The case this time involves a women who has not yet married but has been betrothed in an arranged marriage. She is treated as if the marriage has been consummated.

"If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;  Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.  But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die:  But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter:  For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her." Deuteronomy 22:23-27 (KJV)

In the first example, if a couple is caught in a sexual liaison within the village gates, the elders are to presume that the act was consensual. According to the logic of Moses, every woman would have been able to cry out and would have been rescued. Because villagers heard no cries, no rape could have occurred. That is why in the introduction to the case, Moses makes no mention of force.

The second example is more interesting. If a sexual liaison takes place in the fields outside the village gates, the elders are to presume that  no one would have heard a woman cry out. They are to concludes that a forcible rape occurred. Again, the contingency as described by Moses implies the guilt of the man.

In the cases of consensual sex, the elders are directed to execute both parties.

The basic principle again appears to be that sexual relations with a married woman constitutes adultery.

22 August 2014

Moses and a Man's Rights

After Moses explains Yahweh's procedures for conducting an honor killing, he moves on to case law regarding other sexual crimes.

Readers will note as we examine these cases,that adultery as a capital crime only occurs when a married woman is involved. Adultery constitutes a crime against another man by violating his rights regarding a wife. No clear examples exist of a married man suffering capital punishment as a result of a sexual liaison with an unmarried woman.

First up, the case of a married woman:

 "If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel." Deuteronomy 22:22 (KJV)

Notice that the marital status of the man is unmentioned. It appears that it has no bearing on the case. It is only incidental whether or not the man is married to another woman. What matters it that the woman is married to another man. Consequently, the woman and her lover have shamed the husband and violated his rights.

The penalty, of course, seems excessive.One might understand an enraged husband murdering an adulterer in an act of uncontrolled passion. For the state to execute someone for adultery after due deliberation mocks the idea of justice.

That is why the purpose is not justice but  to  "put way evil from Israel." It is not clear what this means. Does the phrase refer only to this particular evil? Or does the phrase suggest the idea of a deterrent: death to one pair of adulterers will prevent the emergence of others.

21 August 2014

Moses on Honor Killings

 The expansion of Muslim terrorism against the West and the increased immigration of Muslims to the West had led to an explosion of another sort--that of interest in the teachings of Islam and the cultural practices of Muslims. One of the more barbaric practices of the Islamic faith or Muslim culture is honor killings: the murder of a wife or daughter over alleged shaming of the family. It has even attracted the attention of scholarly journals.

Westerners, especially Western Christian should note that so-called "honor killing" endure as a long standing practice of Middle Eastern cultures. Even the ancient Hebrews, the Semitic cousins of today's Arab Muslims, provides directions on how to carry one out.

If a superstitions Hebrew man who believes that every woman bleeds on the first occasion of sexual intercourse suspects that his bride has made false claims about her chastity, he can bring an accusation against her to the village elders. We older men know everything. If the brides parents product the bloody bed coverings, however, the husband must pay the equivalent of the bride price to the bride's parents because he has shamed them.

"If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her,  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:  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:  And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her;  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.  And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him;  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." Deuteronomy 22:13-19 (KJV)

If, on the other hand, the parents cannot produce the bloody bed coverings, the bride stands guilty. Because she has shamed her parents, the elder must bring her to her parents' house and, along the with other men of the village, stone her to death.

"But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:  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." Deuteronomy 22:20-21 (KJV)

Of course, the Arabs expand the scope of honor killings to include a woman loving the "wrong" man, resisting an arranged marriage to the "right" man, or enduring rape a the hands of someone who merely calls himself a man.

20 August 2014


Moses forbids various sorts of of mixing:

"Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled.  Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.  Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together.  Thou shalt make thee fringes upon the four quarters of thy vesture, wherewith thou coverest thyself. " Deuteronomy 22:9-12 (KJV)

I bet some minister used this verse at sometime in the past to forbid mixing races.

Or maybe even in the present.

19 August 2014

Mosaic Building Codes

Moses establishes some building codes, or a building code, for the Hebrews once they establish themselves in their promised land.

Hebrew homes probably had exterior stairs or ladders for access to the roof. Why someone would climb on another persons roof is not explained. Anyway, Moses requires that the Hebrews build parapets to prevent someone from falling from the roof. If that happens, the homeowner has blood guilt.

 "When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence." Deuteronomy 22:8 (KJV)

That will prevent something like this from happening: