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Deuteronomy: Chapter 22

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1You shall not watch your neighbor's ox or sheep straying away and ignore them; you shall take them back to their owner. 2If the owner does not reside near you or you do not know who the owner is, you shall bring it to your own house, and it shall remain with you until the owner claims it; then you shall return it. 3You shall do the same with a neighbor's donkey; you shall do the same with a neighbor's garment; and you shall do the same with anything else that your neighbor loses and you find. You may not withhold your help.

4You shall not see your neighbor's donkey or ox fallen on the road and ignore it; you shall help to lift it up.

5A woman shall not wear a man's apparel, nor shall a man put on a woman's garment; for whoever does such things is abhorrent to the LORD your God.

6If you come on a bird's nest, in any tree or on the ground, with fledglings or eggs, with the mother sitting on the fledglings or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. 7Let the mother go, taking only the young for yourself, in order that it may go well with you and you may live long.

8When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof; otherwise you might have bloodguilt on your house, if anyone should fall from it.

9You shall not sow your vineyard with a second kind of seed, or the whole yield will have to be forfeited, both the crop that you have sown and the yield of the vineyard itself.

10You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together.

11You shall not wear clothes made of wool and linen woven together.

12You shall make tassels on the four corners of the cloak with which you cover yourself.

13Suppose a man marries a woman, but after going in to her, he dislikes her 14and makes up charges against her, slandering her by saying, “I married this woman; but when I lay with her, I did not find evidence of her virginity.” 15The father of the young woman and her mother shall then submit the evidence of the young woman's virginity to the elders of the city at the gate. 16The father of the young woman shall say to the elders: “I gave my daughter in marriage to this man but he dislikes her; 17now he has made up charges against her, saying, ‘I did not find evidence of your daughter's virginity.’ But here is the evidence of my daughter's virginity.” Then they shall spread out the cloth before the elders of the town. 18The elders of that town shall take the man and punish him; 19they shall fine him one hundred shekels of silver (which they shall give to the young woman's father) because he has slandered a virgin of Israel. She shall remain his wife; he shall not be permitted to divorce her as long as he lives.

20If, however, this charge is true, that evidence of the young woman's virginity was not found, 21then they shall bring the young woman out to the entrance of her father's house and the men of her town shall stone her to death, because she committed a disgraceful act in Israel by prostituting herself in her father's house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

22if a man is caught lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman as well as the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.

23If there is a young woman, a virgin already engaged to be married, and a man meets her in the town and lies with her, 24you shall bring both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death, the young woman because she did not cry for help in the town and the man because he violated his neighbor's wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

25But if the man meets the engaged woman in the open country, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. 26You shall do nothing to the young woman; the young woman has not committed an offense punishable by death, because this case is like that of someone who attacks and murders a neighbor. 27Since he found her in the open country, the engaged woman may have cried for help, but there was no one to rescue her.

28If a man meets a virgin who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are caught in the act, 29the man who lay with her shall give fifty shekels of silver to the young woman's father, and she shall become his wife. Because he violated her he shall not be permitted to divorce her as long as he lives.

30 a Heb a dog A man shall not marry his father's wife, thereby violating his father's rights. b A term for several skin diseases; precise meaning uncertain


a Heb a dog

a A term for several skin diseases; precise meaning uncertain

Text Commentary view alone

22.1–12 : Various moral and religious responsibilities of citizenship.

The rationale for the sequence and selection of these laws is often unclear.

22.1–4 : Moral duties toward the neighbor.

Two laws (vv. 1–3,4 ) that develop two corresponding laws from the earlier Covenant Collection.

1–3 :

The earlier law governing the return of wandering animals (Ex 21.1–3 ) is here revised and extended.

1 :

Your neighbor's ox, in contrast to “your enemy's ox” (Ex 23.4 ). Neighbor, lit. “brother”; see 20.8n.

3 :

Anything else, the earlier law is universalized to apply to any lost property.

4 :

Reworking Ex 23.5 to emphasize the neighbor, as in v. 1 .

22.5–12 : Miscellaneous laws.

5 :

The prohibition against cross‐dressing seeks to maintain gender boundaries; a similar concern for boundaries is evident in vv. 10–12 .

6–7 :

Avoiding simultaneous consumption of two generations of the same creature is also evident in other laws ( 14.21; Ex 23.19; 34.26; Lev 22.28 ).

8 :

The roof was used as living space (Josh 2.6; Judg 3.20–25; 2 Sam 11.2 ). Bloodguilt, criminal negligence; a capital offense (see 19.10n. ).

9–10 :

Corresponding to Lev 19.19 , these laws attempt to maintain specific boundaries between categories seen as incompatible (as in v. 5; 14.3–20 ).

9 :

For‐feited, not permitted for human consumption.

12 :

Tassels, this may reflect an application of royal garb, seen, for example, in Neo‐Assyrian palace reliefs, to the nation as a whole. Num 15.37–40 gives a theological rationale.

22.13–30 : Violations of marriage law.

In the ancient Near East, marriage was a contractual relationship. The woman could not act independently: She remained in her father's household until a suitor paid a brideprice (vv. 28–29; Ex 22.16–17 ) to compensate for the reduction of the household. At that point she became formally “engaged,” although still residing with her father (v. 21 ). Later, at the marriage feast, the union was consummated (Gen 29.22–25 ) and the woman took up residence in her husband's house.

22.13–21 : False accusation of breach of marital contract.

14 :

Makes up charges against her, possibly for mercenary reasons, since nonfulfillment of the marital contract would entail refund of the bride‐price and possibly a payment of a penalty for breach of contract. The evidence, the blood‐stained cloth of v. 17 .

15 :

Elders, see 16.18n.; 21.19n.

17 :

The cloth upon which husband and wife slept upon consummation of the relationship. It was understood that the cloth should have been bloodstained from the couple's first intercourse; there is scant medical support for this widespread assumption.

19 :

They shall fine him, the penalty for his slanderous accusation is financial, although the penalty for her infidelity, if proven true, is capital (vv. 20–21 ); contrast 19.19 . One hundred shekels, about 1.1 kg ( 2.5 lb ), twice the fine for rape (v. 29 ).

21 :

Entrance of her father's house, at the very site of the offense. Stone her to death, see 13.10n. Disgraceful act in Israel, a violation of basic community sexual and religious norms (Gen 34.7; Josh 7.15; Judg 19.23–34; 20.6,10 ). Purge the evil, see 13.5n.

22.22–30 : Adultery and rape.

22 :

Adultery is a violation of the seventh commandment ( 5.18 ) and a capital offense (Lev 18.20; 20.10 ). Both of them shall die, a contrast with ancient Near Eastern norms, which required the male's death but left the wife's fate to her husband. The law removes the wife from her husband's authority and defines her as a legal person accountable for her actions.

23–27 :

Two laws to determine culpability (vv. 23–24 ) or nonculpability (vv. 25–27 ) in cases of rape. Both laws show detailed points of contact with Middle Assyrian Laws (M.A.L.; ca. 1076 BCE).

23 :

Engaged to be married, this legal status permits the transition from adultery to rape: Although the woman still resides with her father, she is contractually bound to her future husband. In the town, where there are potential witnesses (M.A.L. § A 12).

25 :

The assault in open country, where there are no likely witnesses, suggests planned malice.

26 :

Like … someone who attacks and murders a neighbor, i.e., premeditated ( 19.11–13 ). Rape is a criminal assault rather than a sex crime.

28–29 :

These conditions correspond to M.A.L. § A 55, which implies forced rape. In contrast, Ex 22.16–17 specifies intercourse with, but not forced rape of, a “virgin who is not engaged.” The conflation of these two models in this law leaves it unclear whether or not it refers to consensual intercourse.

28 :

And lies with her, as in Ex 22.16 , placing the woman in a legally ambiguous position, unavailable to others (v. 14 ).

29 :

Fifty shekels, presumably the bride‐price. In contrast to Ex 22.17 , the father's consent is not sought. Postbiblical Jewish law granted both father and daughter the right to refuse.

30 :

A transition to the next section. Father's wife, i.e., a widowed step‐mother (see Lev 18.7–8 ). Violating his father's rights, lit. “uncovering his father's skirt” (text note b); i.e., even indirect sexual contact with him must be avoided (Gen 9.23–24; 49.4; Lev 18.8; 20.11 ).

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