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What is the Nature of the Crime of the Delinquent Daughter in Deuteronomy 22:13-21? A Rejoinder to J. Fleishman's Suggestion

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The exact nature of the girl's crime in the law of the delinquent daughter in Deut 22:13-21 is examined, starting by a detailed critique of J. Fleishman's previous suggestion in this journal (vol. 58, pp. 191-210) to construe it in the light of the law of cursing the parents in Exod 21:17 and understand it as an innovation and restriction of the latter law. In his view, the girl's sin is tantamount to cursing her parents, which, like the sin of the glatton and drunkard son according to Deut 21: 18-21, meant the undermining of the parents' authority and status, for which both boy and girl deserved the death penalty. In the following critique, it is underlined that the girl's sin is, first, not one of omission but of commission, and, second, it is not against her parents but against her husband, who is also the one to initiate the legal proceedings. A new interpretation is suggested, according to which the girl's crime, defined in v. 21 as an act of and a deed of, consisted not only in concealing her previous loss of virginity from her husband, thus deceiving him and her parents, but also in duping her husband into committing a sin comparable to that of lying with a menstruating, and thus desolate, woman. Being deprived of virginity, and thus of the socially recognized status of a virgin, she became, like Tamar (2 Sam 13:20), “desolate, forlorn”, an unenviable state from which only her seducer/ravisher could redeem her (thus are the sense and goal of the laws of the seduced virgin in Exod 22:15-16 and Deut 22:28-29). Trying to dupe her husband into steping in and performing what custom and law dictated the other man—the seducer/ravisher—should have done, and thus to arrogate to herself a social status she did not deserve, was then tantamount to undermining social structure and striking at the fibers that constituted the essence and integrity of the social community (cf. Prov 30:21-23).

Affiliations: 1: University of Haifa, Israel


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