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The Delinquent Daughter and Legal Innovation in Deuteronomy xxii 20-21

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image of Vetus Testamentum

In this article I attempt to demonstrate that the part of the law in Deut xxii 20-21, which concerns the sin and punishment of a daughter who harms the honor of her parents and their authority over her, includes a legal innovation. The girl's behavior is tantamount to cursing her father and mother, a crime punishable by death according to Exod xxi 17. The girl's delinquency while still in her father's house led to her loss of virginity; it undermined her parents' authority, and consequently she deserved that severe penalty. The new law in Deuteronomy significantly restricts the applicability of such a sentence. Only in cases where a daughter has 'cursed' her parents by delinquent behavior (as in Deut xxii 20-21) is she sentenced to death.

Affiliations: 1: Ramat-Gan, Israel


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