RE: Challenge #2

From: Shuan Rose (
Date: Fri Jul 12 2002 - 20:03:48 EDT

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            Hi, Burgy,
    I vote for #4 &5. BTW, I think humanity is still immature( witness the
    Palestine, Kashmir, Bosnia, Rwanda, and 911, not to mention Enron).I see God
    as preferring to persuade, rather thjan force(although he will club you from
    time to time), so I don't think it denigrates God. I wait with interest the
    explanations of those who buy #1. Maybe the women are sinners, and deserve
    to be forced into concubinage?(Technically, its not quite rape)
    Off to scope out some good looking enemy babes,


    -----Original Message-----
    From: []On
    Behalf Of John W Burgeson
    Sent: Friday, July 12, 2002 5:56 PM
    Subject: Challenge #2

    Bob Rogland keeps bugging me (off line) to respond to challenges 2 and
    3. I did promise to do so -- and so here are my comments on #2.

    This is the scripture (NIV). In it, Moses (presumably) is

          DT 21:10 When you go to war against your enemies and the LORD your
    God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, 11 if you notice
    among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may
    take her as your wife. 12 Bring her into your home and have her shave her
    head, trim her nails 13 and put aside the clothes she was wearing when
    captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and
    mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and
    she shall be your wife. 14 If you are not pleased with her, let her go
    wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since
    you have dishonored her.

    The Bible is, many say, a book of ethics. Is there any person here,
    however, who would say that the advice above ought to be given today to
    our soldiers who fight abroad? If not, why not?

    The advice given above assumes that women are property. Is this an
    ethical stance anyone here would take today? Should women be regarded as
    property? If not, why not? Could Moses be wrong here?

    The advice given above says to a young man that it is OK to capture a
    young woman, forcibly rape her, and then, if she does not satisfy, turn
    her loose. There is no indication that he has any particular
    responsibility for her after that. I read recently that several states in
    Mexico follow the advice above. The usual fate of the women so treated is
    prostitution. I suppose that was the fate of those captured, raped and
    turned loose in biblical times also.

    What are the options for this particular section? I see five; there may
    be others:

    1. One can accept it as the very word of God, spoken/written through
    Moses, and, therefore, conclude that God sees women as property (at least
    in the time of Moses) and rape is no big deal.

    2. The section may have been the perception of Moses, and Moses could
    have misapprehended God.

    3. The section could be in error -- a late addition to the inspired text.

    4. One may see it as God doing the best he could with an immature

    5. One may read it as a record of how ancient people apprehended God,
    doing the best they could, but very much caught up in a male-dominated
    society where women were, in some sense, subhuman.

    These are the five options I can think of. They are not entirely separate
    from one another, #1 and #4 might be spliced. #3 seems farfetched. #2 and
    #5 sort of go together. #4 alone sort of denigrates God.

    I am left with #2 plus #5 as the most reasonable position. Now that
    upsets some people here; I know that. They see me denigrating holy
    scripture by taking that (tentative) position. I don't see that at all --
    I see it as simply asking questions about the text, and reading it for
    what it seems to be. Just as Psalm 137 is perfectly clear when read as a
    mournful lament of people in exile, this section makes sense if read as
    Moses giving instructions to his people, not "from the mouth of God," but
    simply as best he could do so, given his obvious belief that women are
    inferior and of little consequence.

       I note also a few verses that follow in the speech Moses makes which are

          DT 22:5 A woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's
    clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.

    I wonder when he quit detesting this. Or maybe he still does?

          DT 22:11 Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together.

    No reasons given. maybe the tribes around them did this?

          DT 22:12 Make tassels on the four corners of the cloak you wear.

    Anyone here still wear a cloak? Or put tassels on his coat?

          DT 22:13 If a man takes a wife and, after lying with her, dislikes
    her 14 and slanders her and gives her a bad name, saying, "I married this
    woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity,"
    15 then the girl's father and mother shall bring proof that she was a
    virgin to the town elders at the gate. 16 The girl's father will say to
    the elders, "I gave my daughter in marriage to this man, but he dislikes
    her. 17 Now he has slandered her and said, `I did not find your daughter
    to be a virgin.' But here is the proof of my daughter's virginity." Then
    her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town, 18 and
    the elders shall take the man and punish him. 19 They shall fine him a
    hundred shekels of silver and give them to the girl's father, because
    this man has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to
    be his wife; he must not divorce her as long as he lives.

    I always wondered what proof the parents can bring? This part makes no

          DT 22:20 If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl's
    virginity can be found, 21 she shall be brought to the door of her
    father's house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death.
    She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while
    still in her father's house. You must purge the evil from among you.

    Getting married in the time of Moses could be a risky thing.

          DT 22:28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be
    married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay the girl's
    father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has
    violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

    This seems to be primarily a male-oriented list. What do females say
    about this? The raped girl gets nothing -- she is property -- her daddy
    gets the 50 shekels. I presently have one (of 4) unmarried daughter. If
    she were to be violated by some cretin, I would not be terribly
    interested in seeing him marry her, nor would I accept his money. Is
    there any father of a daughter here that would think differently?

    Conclusion: Is scripture inspired? I affirm that it is. Does every
    command of Moses come from God? I have trouble affirming that. Should all
    the commands of Moses be used for ethical decisions today? I surely hope
    not. Some do make sense; others do not. We all pick and choose. But then
    I've said that before.


    John Burgeson (Burgy)
             (science/theology, quantum mechanics, baseball, ethics,
              humor, cars, philosophy, ethics and much more)

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