Friday, June 27, 2008

Marying your rapist continued.

On the verse in Deuteronomy where we are told that the unbetrothed victim of a rapist must become her rapist's wife with no possibility of divorce[*], Robert Alter says:

It might seem a dubious recompense... [b]ut in this society the condition of a woman who is not a virgin and has no husband is quite desperate (witness Tamar's sense that her life is virtually ended after she has been raped, 2 Samuel 13). The law is no prescription for her happiness, but at least it guarantees her social and economic security.
Alter thinks the Bible is man-made so he is impressed with the provisions of this law. I think the Bible is divine, so I am not.

If God wanted to "guarantee [the victim's] social and economic security, is forcing her to marry her rapist really the best way to do it? Couldn't the same God that imposes fines for various offenses have required a rapist to guarantee his victim's "economic security" by paying her? When a man rapes an unbetrothed woman the law grants her father a payment of 50 weights of silver. Couldn't it have likewise provided for a payment to the victim?

Or as a comment writer put it yesterday: What would have been even more protective of the girl would have been for God to have said, 'If a woman is raped, punish the man and do nothing to the woman, for the act was not her fault, neither should you shun her, nor consider her unfit for marriage, if she was a virgin she shall still be as virgin in your eyes for what she had was not given freely, etc.'

Amen, brother (or sister.)

[*] I'm aware that Talmud might mitgate this, but I an unfamilair with the view of the Rabbis here.

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