Logos resources on 'very' difficult Hebrew scripture passages please

Page 1 of 1 (10 items)
This post has 9 Replies | 0 Followers

Posts 739
Kevin A Lewis | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Sep 1 2021 8:04 AM

I have consulted commentaries most seem to describe the passage not really explain from a philosophical or theological point of view, These are VERY challenging, particularly in a appologetical context.

Samples of the kind of passages are

Stoning children to death for cimes (Deuteronomy 21:18–21).

Stoning girls to death if they can't prove virginity on their wedding night (Deuteronomy 22:13–21).

In the case of raped, the girl can be murder or sold to her rapist (Deuteronomy 22:22–31).

I am aware the descriptions themselves betray a kind of negative interpretation, but isn't a stretch!

What I am looking for is a Logos resource (or resources) that covers these specific examples in a satisfactory manner or ideally one that covers these 'types' of problematic OT legal teaching. Ideally without the simplistic platitudinous treatments that some do.

If I haven't been clear please ask.

Also I am not asking for anything other that Logos materials.

Shalom

Posts 25771
Forum MVP
Graham Criddle | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Sep 1 2021 8:12 AM

Do either of these help at all? Apologies if you have already consulted them and they don't provide what you are looking for

Posts 106
GregW | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Sep 1 2021 8:38 AM

I don't have specific resource suggestions but would start this sort of thing by using the "Cited By" tool. If you go to the passage you are concerned about and open the CB tool, it will bring up every resource in your library that references that verse, so should catch any apologetics resources that deal with them. My Logos is reindexing at the moment so I can't search but there are various encyclopaedias of Bible difficulties and similar resources that are part of some base packages, so Cited By is quite likely to throw up something useful. 

I'll refrain from suggesting non-Logos resources! 

Posts 63
fr.paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Sep 1 2021 8:55 AM

Dear Kevin A Lewis,

Maybe one of rabbinic interpretations would be helpful for you. Shalom!

Deuteronomy 21:18–21

Deuteronomy 21:18

RASHI

Wayward. One who turns aside from the “way.” Defiant. Refusing to do what his father tells him: “From the day that you left the land of Egypt until you reached this place, you have continued defiant toward the Lord” (9:7). Even after they discipline him. By issuing a warning to him before a court of three and having him flogged. The Sages say that he cannot be called wayward and defiant until he steals and eats half a mina’s weight of meat and drinks half a log of wine, making him “a glutton and a drunkard” (v. 20): “Do not be of those who guzzle wine, or glut themselves on meat” (Prov. 23:20). The wayward and defiant son is executed not on account of what he has done, but on account of what he will end up doing, for the Torah has penetrated his ultimate intentions: he will eventually use up his father’s money and, wanting what he is used to and not getting it, will wait at a crossroads to rob people. Said the Torah: Let him die an innocent man, not a guilty one.

RASHBAM

Defiant. Deliberately provocative: “I know how wrong I was to disobey” (Lam. 1:20).

IBN EZRA

Wayward and defiant. Both with respect to the Lord and with respect to his parents, assuming they are God-fearing people. But the Hebrew does not mean “wayward”; it means “stubborn” (OJPS), as in “Israel has balked like a stubborn cow” (Hosea 4:16). He “stubbornly” refuses to perform the positive commandments, and “defiantly” violates the prohibitions. Even after they discipline him. In front of witnesses.

NAHMANIDES

A wayward and defiant son. Our Sages rule that he cannot be a minor, since a child is not subject to any punishment listed in the Torah or the commandments. He must be a boy who has produced two pubic hairs.  This son commits two violations: one, cursing his father and mother and rebelling against them; and two, being a glutton and a drunkard, which violates Lev. 19:2, “You shall be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.”  We are told in 13:5 to “worship none but Him, and hold fast to Him,” which (as I explained in my comment to 11:22) means that we must know Him in all our ways—and a glutton and a drunkard does not know God’s way. To be sure, these are not capital crimes; he is being put to death on account of what he will eventually become, as the Sages have said, which explains why “all Israel will hear and be afraid” (v. 21). He is not being put to death for the enormity of his crime, but to chasten the multitudes and to prevent him from becoming a danger to others. The text often takes this course. The “rebellious elder” of 17:12, for example, has not by his false teaching committed a crime deserving of death; he is executed to remove controversy from the realm of Torah (see my comment to 17:11). The scheming witnesses of 19:16–20, too, are likewise killed even though they have not killed anyone themselves. Again, one who entices someone to commit idolatry is put to death even if his victim has not gone ahead and done so, just to make sure that “such evil things will not be done again in your midst” (13:12).

With regard to our commandment, it may be a new one, or it may be an elaboration of “Honor your father and your mother” (Exod. 20:12) and “You shall each revere his mother and his father” (Lev. 19:3).

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

A wayward and defiant son. Consuming the quantities laid down by the Sages just once does not make him “wayward and defiant,” any more than healing someone once turns a man with no medical training into a doctor (Gersonides). He is “wayward” (really, “stubborn”) with respect to God, and “defiant” to his parents (Abarbanel).

Deuteronomy 21:19

IBN EZRA

His father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him out. It is a commandment for them to do so, and what tradition says about this is true.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

His father and mother shall take hold of him. They must both agree to do so (Gersonides). They are commanded to do so, for compassion toward the wicked is really cruelty (Abarbanel).

Deuteronomy 21:20

IBN EZRA

A glutton. Prov. 23:30 speaks of being gluttonous for meat, but in fact the word can apply to anything one has an appetite for. A drunkard. Not merely a drinker, but actually a drunkard. Someone who is a glutton and a drunkard is literally an Epicurean,  for he is not even interested in the life of this world except to indulge hedonistically in food and drink. You see that this passage follows naturally after the one about the “beautiful captive”; this wayward son is the product of a mixed marriage, like “the son of the Israelite woman [who] pronounced the Name in blasphemy” (Lev. 24:11). I alluded to this in my comment about the sons of Aaron. 

Deuteronomy 21:21

RASHI

All Israel will hear and be afraid. We learn that there must be an official announcement in court: “So-and-So has been stoned for being a wayward and defiant son.”

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

Thereupon the men of his town shall stone him to death. No witnesses or investigation are required; the mind cannot conceive of parents who would bring this accusation against their son if he were innocent (Abarbanel).[1]

 

Deuteronomy 22:13

IBN EZRA

A man marries a woman. The deniers think this passage follows because of the reference in v. 12 to (as they claim) “covering up” at night. The truth, at least midrashically,  is that one naturally first builds a house, then acquires clothes and other goods, and then takes a wife.

NAHMANIDES

A man marries a woman and cohabits with her. Then he takes an aversion to her. The Hebrew refers merely to a man who “takes” a woman (see OJPS), but the implication is that she is legally engaged to him (as in v. 23). The situation being described here is that when, eventually, they are married and he first sleeps with her, he takes an aversion to her because she does not please him sexually. He gets up in the morning, goes to court, and announces that he found her not to be a virgin. His intention is to divorce her without having to pay the amount he specified in the marriage contract. She became engaged to him under the presumption that she was a virgin, and his claim is that she must have committed adultery since their engagement. The situation where “the charge proves true” (v. 20) will be discussed later.

Deuteronomy 22:14

RASHI

Makes up charges against her. One transgression leads to another. When he “hates her” (v. 13; compare OJPS), he violates “You shall not hate your kinsfolk in your heart” (Lev. 19:17). That inevitably brings him to the sin of harmful speech—making up these charges. This woman. We learn that accusations can only be leveled in the presence of the accused.

IBN EZRA

Makes up charges. Literally, he “puts trumped-up things” on her. (“Things” can be false as well as true.) I found that she was not a virgin. Literally, “I did not find virginities with respect to her.” In Biblical Hebrew, some abstract nouns take the plural and have no singular form: “So appreciate your vigor in the days of your youth” (Eccles. 12:1); “he was the child of his old age” (Gen. 37:3); “you shall forget the reproach of your youth” (Isa. 54:4). 

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

Makes up charges against her. Rather, “he puts her to wanton remarks” about him, for she will curse and defame him because of this allegation (Abarbanel). I married this woman. Since he says “this woman,” we understand that he must be willing to confront her in open court (Gersonides).

Deuteronomy 22:15–20

ABARBANEL’S QUESTIONS

♦  How does displaying a cloth with blood on it (v. 17) prove anything about a woman’s virginity?

♦  Why does the rule about the girl who cries for help apply only to “a virgin who is engaged” and not to any married woman?

♦  Since adulterers can only be put to death on the testimony of witnesses, the witnesses can say whether or not the girl cried for help! What difference does it make whether they were in the city or in the open country?

Deuteronomy 22:15

RASHI

The girl’s father and mother. If they raised her badly, they end up by having to disgrace themselves on her account.

RASHBAM

The evidence of the girl’s virginity. The Hebrew simply says “they shall produce her virginity,” but the straightforward sense must be that they are producing a cloth with the bloodstains of her deflowering.

IBN EZRA

The girl’s father and mother shall produce the evidence. Assuming they are still alive; if not, it can be done by anyone the court designates.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

The girl’s father and mother shall produce the evidence. The shame and the damage are theirs, since it is they who are expected to discipline her and protect her (Bekhor Shor).

Deuteronomy 22:16

RASHI

The girl’s father shall say. But not her mother; we learn that a woman is not allowed to speak in front of her husband in public situations.

Deuteronomy 22:17

RASHI

They shall spread out the cloth. This is metaphoric. They lay out the facts as one might spread a cloth.

NAHMANIDES

They shall spread out the cloth. Rashi’s comment (attributed in the Sifrei and the Mekilta to R. Ishmael) is not really necessary. The ancient custom in Israel was that they would escort the bride and groom to the wedding chamber and search them. The witnesses would wait outside. When the couple left the room, the witnesses would enter and take the cloth on which he had sex with her and see the blood. This is known both from the Talmud and from midrash. The cloth that her parents would spread out was this cloth, which they would have taken from the witnesses. Here is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity! Obviously they would have to lay out the facts in various ways that the text does not describe at length. But there is no “metaphor” here except in a situation where the man tries to claim that the lack of blood proves she was not a virgin when he in fact did not have sex with her. The straightforward sense of the text, however, presumes that he did. R. Eliezer b. Jacob says on B. Ket. 46a that we are talking about a real cloth—and the halakhah follows him. And they shall spread out the cloth. The father alone speaks of “my daughter’s virginity,” for this is a monetary claim that involves him alone, but “they” both spread out the cloth because that sort of thing is a women’s affair, in which the mother participates. Women are the ones who have expertise about bloodstains. Since the mother has no standing in the monetary claim, she would not be mentioned here at all unless it was a real cloth, as I have explained.

Deuteronomy 22:18

RASHI

Flog him. OJPS translates literally, but NJPS understands the sense correctly.

Deuteronomy 22:19

IBN EZRA

He shall never have the right to divorce her. He is responsible for her until the day he dies.

NAHMANIDES

They shall fine him a hundred [shekels of] silver. After the flogging mentioned in v. 18. The custom was that the bride-price for a virgin was 50 shekels. Since the Torah expects one to “pay double” (Exod. 22:3) for violations, the man is fined 100 shekels. Even though the marriage contract is strictly rabbinic, and the man could marry her without one, the custom was to write such things down “in accordance with the bride-price for virgins” (Exod. 22:16), and most people did so. If this woman had no marriage contract, why “make up charges against her” (v. 14)? Let him simply write her a bill of divorcement and be done with her!

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

They shall fine him a hundred [shekels of] silver and give it to the girl’s father. If she has no father, they give it to the girl herself (Gersonides).

Deuteronomy 22:20

RASHI

If the charge proves true. If what he charged really took place—if the girl had sex with someone else after becoming engaged to him, and there were witnesses, and she was legally warned.

Deuteronomy 22:21–24

Deuteronomy 22:21

RASHI

To the entrance of her father’s house. “See what kind of child you raised!” The men of her town shall stone her to death. It must be done in their presence.  Under her father’s authority. Literally, while “in her father’s house” (OJPS).

RASHBAM

While under her father’s authority. Rather, “against her father’s house”—when there are witnesses that she committed fornication after becoming engaged.

IBN EZRA

The men of her town shall stone her to death. For perhaps after she became engaged to him some other man slept with her. He would not have betrothed her unless she told him she was a virgin. Those who have handed down our tradition explain this matter very well. In any case, the presumption of virginity exists only until a certain age, as part of a girl’s natural physical development.

NAHMANIDES

Then the girl shall be brought out to the entrance of her father’s house, and the men of her town shall stone her to death. If “the charge proves true” (v. 20), which can only occur if there are two witnesses. For she did a shameful thing in Israel. If she lost her virginity before being engaged, she “did a shameful thing” by doing so willingly—but she is not punished for it. Committing fornication while under her father’s authority. Again (see my comment to v. 13), it is fornication only if she was engaged at the time she lost her virginity to another man. If she was not engaged, she did “a shameful thing” but did not “commit fornication” as does a girl who is engaged and therefore designated for a particular man.

Deuteronomy 22:22

RASHI

Both of them … shall die. Literally, “even both of them.” Since these words are unnecessary for the straightforward sense, they are open for further explication. They are to die only if “both of them” participated; if the man rubs himself against her without having vaginal intercourse, the woman gets no pleasure. On the other hand, “even” both of them must add someone else to those who die—either those who follow after them  or (following another reading) the child she is pregnant with at the time. That is, we execute her without waiting for her to give birth.

IBN EZRA

If a man is found lying with another man’s wife. This verse and vv. 23–27 follow naturally after the previous section. Both of them. Both the man who is found lying with another man’s wife and the man who lies with a girl who is engaged.

NAHMANIDES

Both of them—the man and the woman with whom he lay—shall die. I have no idea what Rashi means about “adding” to those who must die. Is this woman a virgin, so that it would matter whether he is the first, second, or third? Moreover, he should have said “those who follow after him.” According to the Sifrei (in our version of it) what is “added” here is unnatural (i.e., anal) intercourse, and we derive from here that it is equally forbidden in all other illicit relationships. The straightforward sense of the verse is that both the man and the woman shall die, even though the man, as the initiator and the more active partner, is the greater sinner. This is how the text generally frames it; see the end of my comment to Lev. 20:17. Some think the words “the man and the woman with whom he lay” are simply added for clarity; there are examples of such additions in Exod. 35:5 and Jer. 27:8. According to the Sifrei, what is “added” here by the phrase “both of them” is the case where either he or she is a minor. Whichever of the two of them is the adult is still put to death.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

Another man’s wife. This particular phrase for “another man’s wife” is found also only in Gen. 20:3 (Masorah). Both of them … shall die. Rashi’s comment that the Hebrew expression adds “those who follow after them” is to be explained as follows: once they are condemned to death, they are considered actually dead for most legal purposes; but if others sleep with them before they are executed, this is nonetheless also considered adultery and the subsequent adulterers shall also die (Hizkuni).

Deuteronomy 22:23

RASHI

If a man comes upon her in town. That is why he slept with her—because she was out and about. An open door invites a thief. Had she stayed home, this would not have happened to her.

IBN EZRA

In the case. Literally, “if it be” that the following occurs. It cannot mean “if there be a damsel” (OJPS), since the verb is masculine. The text returns to explain more about the virgin who is engaged to be married.

NAHMANIDES

Because she did not cry for help. With regard to this “crying for help,” I must say that if we see that a girl who has been grabbed by a man fights him with all her strength, crying and pulling at his clothes and his hair to try to escape his clutches but does not call out to others for help, I do not see why she should be stoned. The text is simply referring to what commonly happens. In the case of a virgin who is engaged to a man.When witnesses at a distance see a man seize a girl and lie with her (in the city), and they raise their voices and warn them that they are committing a sin (in accordance with rabbinic ruling), then the two of them are to be stoned—the woman under the presumption that, since she did not cry out, she fornicated with him willingly. In the city, a woman who is being raped will cry out for help. But if the witnesses see this in the country, the presumption is that he has forced her.

Deuteronomy 22:24

IBN EZRA

The gate. Where the elders are. Another man’s wife. Notice that she is called this even though she is as yet only engaged to the other man. The biblical text explains nothing about “engagement”; we can know about it only by means of tradition.

NAHMANIDES

Because he violated another man’s wife. Only rape is called “violation.” Here, though he seizes her by force, she is nonetheless considered willing because she might have saved herself from him by crying out. The man is still considered to have “violated” her because he did not attempt to seduce her—he just grabbed her.

Deuteronomy 22:25–23:1

ABARBANEL’S QUESTIONS

♦  Why is the man who “seizes [a virgin] and lies with her” (v. 28) punished more severely than the man who “seduces a virgin for whom the bride-price has not been paid” (Exod. 22:15)?

♦  Why does v. 1 bother to tell us that “No man shall marry his father’s former wife” but say nothing of all the many other varieties of incest listed in Leviticus 18 and elsewhere?

Deuteronomy 22:26

RASHI

This case is like that of a man attacking another and murdering him. The straightforward sense is this: She was raped. He had his will of her by force, just like someone who attacks another man with intent to kill him. But the Sages say it is “like” the case of a murder in that both the potential murderer and the potential rapist may be killed to stop them from sinning. (See B. Sanh. 73a.)

IBN EZRA

This case is like that of a man attacking another and murdering him. For she may not have agreed to sleep with him—may not even have known he was there until suddenly he grabbed her and raped her. That is the sense in which it is “like” murder.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

The girl did not incur the death penalty. Even if by the end she is willingly cooperating. The man lay with her by force, and if eventually she has pleasure from the encounter we rule that her desire has taken control of her (Sforno).

Deuteronomy 22:27

RASHBAM

The engaged girl cried for help. She may have cried for help.

IBN EZRA

The engaged girl cried for help. It’s possible she called for help.

NAHMANIDES

The engaged girl cried for help. She is presumed to have done so. Or perhaps it means that even had she cried out there would have been no one to save her. For even if witnesses at a distance could hear that she did not cry out, she is not punished; there was no one close enough to save her. The rule is that if there was someone who could have saved her, she is guilty, and if there was not, she isn’t—no matter whether they were in the city or in the open country. In describing her as crying for help in town but not in the countryside, the text, as usual, is merely presenting the more common circumstance. In town, the presumption is that she was seduced; in the countryside, that she was raped.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

The engaged girl cried for help. She is given the benefit of the doubt (Sforno).

Deuteronomy 22:28

IBN EZRA

If a man comes upon a virgin who is not engaged and he seizes her and lies with her. This refers specifically to rape, not to seduction.

Deuteronomy 22:29

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

Because he has violated her. He has both damaged and shamed her (Bekhor Shor). As with any case of physical assault, he must compensate her for damages, for shaming her, for the emotional pain he caused, and (if the attack injured her physically) for her medical expenses and lost wages (Gersonides).[2]

 



[1] Carasik, M. (Ed.). (2015). Deuteronomy: Introduction and Commentary. (M. Carasik, Trans.) (p. 145). Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society.

[2] Carasik, M. (Ed.). (2015). Deuteronomy: Introduction and Commentary. (M. Carasik, Trans.) (pp. 150–153). Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society.

Posts 1174
DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Sep 1 2021 10:22 AM

It's a little difficult to see what you're looking for.

Even the Johnine adulterous woman insert presented the problem of punishment as straight-forward, but the accusation/judgement as problematical.

One resource I like, is the Anchor Yale Dictionary's discussion of 'Punishment'. It's quite lengthy, but scrolling down, there's a discussion by prohibited-acts (including even herim, surprisingly).

- Interestingly, death by stoning is specific to the hebrew. Other cultures used other devices.

- There tends to be a match between OT punishments, and Meso punishments ... meaning, 'those were the times' (granted, too easy)

- Also interestingly, extreme punishment works its way into NT times ... foreigners violating a diety's precincts (the Temple), and of course Stephan's fate.

Posts 5921
SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Sep 1 2021 12:03 PM

Kevin A Lewis:
What I am looking for is a Logos resource (or resources) that covers these specific examples in a satisfactory manner or ideally one that covers these 'types' of problematic OT legal teaching. Ideally without the simplistic platitudinous treatments that some do.

The JPS Commentary on Deuteronomy, which addresses these matters seriously and at length, may be very helpful to you.

Please use descriptive thread titles to attract helpful posts & not waste others' time. Thanks!

Posts 739
Kevin A Lewis | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Sep 1 2021 1:00 PM

These responses are all heading in the right direction. I am not so concerned about the punishment type aside from it being capital in so many cases.

More in terms of 'to our minds today" these seems like minor infractions - or at least nowhere near warranting a capital mandate.

So why are they SO IMPORTANT to God.

Does that help?

These Logos resources are certainly heading in the right direction - thank you all

Shalom

Posts 1174
DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Sep 1 2021 7:25 PM

Kevin A Lewis:
More in terms of 'to our minds today" these seems like minor infractions

Ok, not trying to argue, etc. But staying strictly within the context of the Writings, are you over-laying modern if/then constructions over legal instructions (how laws were written out, then vs now). I suspect, if you spent some time on ancient law (how constructed and then assigned to the 'gates'; elder courts), the dissonance might not be so strong.

Posts 5921
SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Sep 3 2021 6:37 PM

Kevin A Lewis:
Does that help?

I continue to recommend the JPS Commentary on Deuteronomy.

Please use descriptive thread titles to attract helpful posts & not waste others' time. Thanks!

Posts 1033
Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Sep 16 2021 5:55 AM

Kevin, seems like to a modern worldview, some passages are hard to swallow.

Maybe looking for a different angle can hint a way to understand better the worldview that such practices (like capital punishment) implied to them.

An interesting resource for looking from a different angle seems to be:

https://ebooks.faithlife.com/product/202596/the-end-of-sacrifice-the-capital-punishment-writings-of-john-howard-yoder

Cultic sacrificial rite seems to be a concept to explore to see if it sheds light on the practice.

I did a basic search on your first difficult passage within a quick "capital punishment" collection, and interesting hits came up.

So maybe checking resources available for "captial punishment"in L9 will show interesting resources to explore.

Page 1 of 1 (10 items) | RSS