Have you ever been embarrassed because you said something before thinking about what you were going to say? If so, then you have some idea of the embarrassment that Muslim dawagandist Sami Zataari experiences on a regular basis when trying to defend Islam or attack Christianity. The following post will discuss a recent incident where Sami ended up with egg on his face, and how subsequent attempts to clean it off only ended up rubbing it in.
Recently Sami wrote an article attacking the wisdom and justice of what God revealed through Moses in the Torah in regard to cases of seduction and/or rape of unbetrothed virgins. I replied to that article here. Sami has now “replied” to my article and, although he ignored most of what I said in my reply and didn’t even so much as try to renew what he originally touted as his major argument, he did pick out handful of things that he thought he could reply to, but not without significant distortion of what I was arguing in the process. All of this is ironic since in his latest attack on the Law of Moses – which his own false prophet claimed to believe in (Abu Dawud, 38.4434.4431), said he came to confirm (Q. 3:3-4, 46:12, 46:30), and told Jews and Christians to judge by (Q. 5:43-47) – he titled me a “wanna-be apologist” and insinuated that I don’t know what a refutation is. Someone should take Sami aside and tell him that a refutation is not: ignoring most of what your opponent says, distorting what remains of your opponents argument, and failing to defend what you heralded as your strongest point. In any event, I am happy to hold onto Sami’s title for a day, a title he has been passing around for years with Nadir Ahmed and Osama Abdullah, because it affords me an opportunity to show that Sami’s reasoning is so abysmal that he can’t refute a wanna-be. When I am finished, I will of course insist that Sami take his well-earned and well-worn title back. Besides, I wouldn’t want Sami to be empty handed when Nadir and Osama come calling because they want their turn wearing a belt that was obviously tailor made for the three of them.
According to Sami’s original argument, the passages in question concerns rape, an act (typically) involving a male forcing himself upon a non-consenting female. This is what Sami thought could be gleaned from the following case law:
If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)
Although I continued to use the word rape in my reply to Sami, I made it clear at the outset that I disagree with what he clearly intends when he uses the term. I even linked to an article by Sam Shamoun that goes into the matter in great detail (*). But Sami ignored this all-important starting point in his response, so let me at least briefly spell it out for Sami before I proceed.
The previous verses in the book of Deuteronomy deal with the issue of adultery between two consenting parties, where at least the girl is already married. The penal sanction in cases of this sort is death for both the man and the woman:
If a man is found lying (shakab) with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel. (Deuteronomy 22:22)
The same thing applies if a man has consensual sex with a girl who is betrothed to a man, as the verses that immediately follow show:
If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies (shakab) with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor's wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 22:23-24)
In cases where a man forces a betrothed girl to have sexual relations with him, the penalty is death for the man but not for the girl, for only the man is guilty of wrongdoing:
But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her (chazaq) and lies (shakab) with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no offense punishable by death. For this case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbor, because he met her in the open country, and though the betrothed young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her. (Deuteronomy 22:25-27).
It is clear from the above that in cases of adultery and rape the penalty is death for the offending parties or party, not marriage or merely paying a fine.
In contrast to the above, when a man takes a girl who is not betrothed and has sex with her, where it is assumed that she complied or consented to the act since she is not said to have cried out, and also because the verse speaks of the man and the woman BOTH being “discovered” or “found,” an observation strengthened by a comparison with verse 22, where a man is said to be “found” having consensual sex with another man’s wife, the penalty is different. In such cases principal (though not exclusive) blame is laid upon the man who, though the girl consented, is considered to have seduced and violated her by taking her and laying with her without the consent of her father, under whose authority she was because unbetrothed, and whose right it was to give her away in marriage.
If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes (taphas) her and lies (shakab) with her, AND THEY ARE FOUND, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)
The closest analogy to this in western societies is what is called statutory rape, where it is called rape not on the grounds that the man who violated the girl forced her to do what she did not want, but on the grounds that she was under age. The disparity between this and what the Bible teaches is that “rape” is determined not on the basis of age as such but on the grounds that the girl, as unbetrothed, is still under the authority of her father and therefore incapable of independently giving her consent to the man. This is similar to the fact that a girl’s oath is not binding if her father upon hearing of it does not consent (Numbers 30:3-5).
That this involves consensual sex is also clear from the parallel verse in the Torah that I pointed out to Sami, which he dutifully ignored in his response, where the man is said to have seduced (not forced; chazaq) the woman:
If a man SEDUCES (pathah) a virgin who is not engaged, and lies with her, he must pay a dowry for her to be his wife. If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the dowry for virgins. (Exodus 22:16-17)
Dr. Bahnsen’s comments on all of this are on point:
“If a man finds a girl who is an unbetrothed virgin, an he lays hold of her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man lying down with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty pieces of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he may not put her away all his days.” [Deuteronomy 22:28-29]
This is the literal translation of the Hebrew. Unfortunately, some commentators and Bible translations….make the mistake of interpreting these words as referring to the use of force and thus to raping a virgin. Such a view is quite unacceptable, for a number of reasons. (1) This would lay a burden and penalty on the woman who had no part or consent in the act, which is as unfair and senseless as punishing the victim of attempted murder.
(2) The Hebrew word tapas (“lay hold of her,” emphasized above) simply means to take hold of something, grasp it in hand, and (by application) to capture or seize something. It is the verb used for “handling” the harp and flute (Gen. 4:21), the sword (Ezek. 21:11; 30:21), the sickle (Jer. 50:16), the shield (Jer. 46:9), the oars (Ezek. 27:29), and the bow (Amos 2:15). It is likewise used for “taking” God’s name (Prov. 30:9) or “dealing” with the law of God (Jer. 2:8). Joseph’s garment was “grasped” (Gen. 39:12; cf. I Kings 11:30), even as Moses “took” the two tablets of the law (Deut. 9:17). People are “caught” (I Kings 20:18), even as cities are “captured” (Deut. 20:19; Isa. 36:1). An adulterous wife may not have been “caught” in the act (Num. 5:13). In all of these instances it is clear that, while force may come into the picture from further description, the Hebrew verb “to handle, grasp, capture” does not in itself indicate anything about the use of force.
This verb used in Deuteronomy 22:28 is different from the verb used in verse 25 (chazak, from the root meaning “to be strong, firm”) which can mean “to seize” a bear and kill it (I Sam. 17:35; cf. 2 Sam. 2:16; Zech. 14:13), “to prevail” (2 Sam. 24:4; Dan. 11:7), “to be strong” (Deut. 31:6; 2 Sam. 2:7), etc. Deuteronomy 22:25 thus speaks of a man finding a woman and “forcing her.” Just three verses later (Deut. 25:28), the verb is changed to simply “take hold of” her – indicating an action less intense and violent than the action dealt with in verse 25 (viz., rape).
(3) The Hebrew word anah (“humble, afflict,” emphasized above) used in Deuteronomy 22:29 can sometimes be used for forcing a woman (Gen. 34:2; Jud. 20:5; 2 Sam. 13:12, 14, 22, 32; Lam. 5:11) but need not indicate a forcible rape, which is clear from the Deuteronomy passage itself at verse 24. It can simply mean to dishonor, mistreat, or afflict (e.g., Ex. 1:11; Gen. 16:6; Ex. 22:22; Deut. 8:2; Ps. 119:67), and in sexual settings can denote other kinds of sin than rape (Ezek. 22:10, 11).
We can agree with the reasoning of James Jordan: “At first sight, this seems to allow for rape of an unbetrothed girl. In Hebrew, however, the verb ‘seize’ is a weaker verb than the verb for ‘force’ used in the same passage (v. 25) to describe rape. This stronger verb is also used for the rape of Tamar (2 Sam. 13:11). Implied here is a notion of catching the girl, but not a notion that she fought back with anything more than a token resistance. Modern random rape would not be excusable under this law, and would have to come under the death penalty of Deuteronomy 22:25-27” (The Law of the Covenant, p. 149).
Accordingly, one will find that many competent authorities in Biblical interpretation understand Deuteronomy 22:28-29 to apply to cases of seduction, not forcible rape. For instance:
Meredith Kline: “The seducer of an unbetrothed virgin was obliged to take her as wife, paying the customary bride price and forfeiting the right of divorce” (Treaty of the Great King: The Covenant Structure of Deuteronomy, p. 111).
Matthew Henry: “. . . if he and the damsel did consent, he should be bound to marry her, and never to divorce her, how much soever she was below him and how unpleasing soever she might afterwards be to him” (Commentary on the Whole Bible, ad loc.).
J. A. Thompson: “Seduction of a young girl. Where the girl was not betrothed and no legal obligations had been entered into, the man was forced to pay the normal bride-price and marry the girl. He was not allowed, subsequently, to send her away (Deuteronomy: Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Series, p. 237).
In Israel’s Laws and legal Precedents (1907), Charles Foster Kent (professor of Biblical Literature at Yale University) clearly distinguished between the law pertaining to rape in Dt. 22:25-27 and the law pertaining to seduction in Dt. 22:28-29 (pp. 117-118).
Keil and Delitzsch classify Deuteronomy 22:28-29 under the category of “Seduction of a virgin,” comment that the crime involved was ‘their deed” – implying consent of the part of both parties – and liken this law to that found in Exodus 22:16-17 (Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 3, p. 412).
Even if one has some question about the applicability of Deuteronomy 22:28-29, the clear and decisive command from God when a man has seduced a virgin is found in Exodus 22:16-17: “If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall surely pay her dowry to make her his wife. If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he shall weigh out money according to the dowry for virgins.”
In this text there is no question whatsoever of forcible rape. The Hebrew verb used to describe the sin (italicized in the quotation above) is patah, used elsewhere for “coaxing” (Jud. 14:15), “luring” (Jud. 16:5; Hos. 2:14), and “enticing” (Prov. 1:10; 16:29). When a man gets a virgin to consent to have sexual relations with him, he is morally obligated to marry her – as the following commentators indicate:
John Calvin: “The remedy is, that he who has corrupted the girl should be compelled to marry her, and also to give her a dowry from his own property, lest, if he should afterwards cast her off, she should go away from her bed penniless” (Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Form of a Harmony, vol. 3, pp. 83-84.
J. C. Connell: “Although she consented, it was still his responsibility to protect her from lifelong shame resulting from the sin of the moment by marrying her, not without payment of the regular dowry” (“Exodus,” New bible Commentary, ed. F. Davidson, p. 122).
Adam Clarke: “This was an exceedingly wise and humane law, and must have operated powerfully against seduction and fornication; because the person who might feel inclined to take advantage of a young woman knew that he must marry her, and give her a dowry, if her parents consented” (The Holy Bible . . . with a Commentary and Critical Notes, vol. 1, p. 414).
Alan Cole: “If a man seduces a virgin: . . . he must acknowledge her as his wife, unless her father refuses” (Exodus: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Series, p. 173).
James Jordan: “the punishment for the seducer is that he must marry the girl, unless her father objects, and that he may never divorce her (according to Dt. 22:29)” (The Law of the Covenant, p. 148).
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.: “Exodus 22:16-17 takes up the problem of the seduction of a maiden who was not engaged . . .. Here the seducer must pay the ‘bride-price’ and agree to marry her” (Toward Old Testament Ethics, p. 107).
(Greg Bahnsen, “Pre-Marital Sexual Relations: What is the Moral Obligation When Repeated Incidents are Confessed?,” PE152, Covenant Media Foundation, 1992)
The above by itself does away with Sami’s makeshift argument, as well as his question about whether I would give my daughter in marriage to someone who “raped” her,
Mr. Anthony, if a man raped your daughter, would you ask her if she wanted to marry him? And if he she refused, would you be satisfied by merely giving him a fine that he has to pay you?
for as is apparent, the case in question is not rape in the sense that Sami is using the term, as is especially obvious from another article Sami recently wrote, where he proves that he completely glossed over the article from Sam that I linked to that would have explained this to him, thus justifying my remark that Sami speaks first and thinks (or is forced to think) later:
Sam Shamoun and his fellow missionary Anthony Rogers recently displayed their lack of critical thinking skills when they equated the act of consensual marriage, to that of a rapist marrying his rape victim. So in the eyes of these missionaries, consensual actions, are equal to nonconsensual actions, such as forced sex, i.e. rape. (*)
Sami’s entire argument (and the strength of his question to me), therefore, rests on equivocation, which is notoriously fallacious. This is the sort of thing for which a person would get laughed off of a freshmen debate team (though not, apparently, the team at MDI).
In addition to the above, Sami originally argued that according to Mosaic Law the raper had to marry the rape victim (“the punishment for the captor is that he must marry the girl”), AND the rape victim had to marry the raper (“So the virgin must marry the rapist”). So per Sami’s original reading of the text, the penal sanction for raping a woman was mutual and rested on both parties.
Unfortunately for Sami, as I pointed out, this isn’t all that the Torah tells us, for the parallel or equivalent statute as given in Exodus, quoted already above, tells us that the father can refuse:
If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, and lies with her, he must pay a dowry for her to be his wife. If her father absolutely REFUSES to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the dowry for virgins. (Exodus 22:16-17)
And since, as I also pointed out, Israelite women also had a say in who they would marry, as is evident from the fact that the person had to be “pleasing in their eyes” (e.g. Numbers 36:6), Sami was clearly shown to be wrong when he said that both parties to a case of seduction were mutually obligated to contract marriage.
But in his response Sami, still trying to get mileage out of his equivocal understanding of the kind of rape that is in view, pretends that I have simply agreed with him:
So therefore he agrees, that the Bible does teach a rapist must marry the victim, his only rebuttal is that she has to agree to it! So the main argument stands: THE BIBLE HAS A LAW THAT CALLS FOR THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN THE RAPIST AND RAPE VICTIM.
But for anyone who can follow an argument, I clearly have not “simply” agreed with Sami, and that for at least two reasons:
1) Sami originally made a compound (not a simple) claim, i.e. the rapist has to marry the victim and the victim has to marry the rapist, and at the very least it must be seen I have denied the latter part of Sami’s claim: both the woman and her father can refuse to give their consent to one who had seduced and enticed the girl into having sex, thus taking advantage of her youth and gullibility.
2) I do not believe the Bible is talking about rape in the sense Sami is using the term; so I can hardly be agreeing with what Sami means when he speaks of the Bible calling for a “rapist” to marry his victim.
In addition to the above, Sami at the first argued that instead of requiring a seducer to marry the girl he sleeps with the Lord should have given an incentive to other men to marry girls who have had their virginity taken from them.
In reply to this I pointed out that the Lord did Sami one better: He gave a law that was calculated to dissuade men from even taking and laying with girls who have not been given to them in marriage. This is the whole point of the prescribed penal sanctions.
According to the law, a man who takes a girl not betrothed or married to him can either have a dowry taken from him without the benefit of getting her as a wife in return; or he can be required to marry her without the right of divorce.
The serious implications of this were clearly spelled out for Sami. In spite of this, Sami in his reply hoped that by some fancy footwork or verbal legerdemain he could pretend that this does not involve any punishment(s) worthy of the name, or that the punishment(s) is(are) not commensurate with the crime (which Sami believes was “forced sex”). Here are some choice quotes from Sami:
But the father may also choose to not marry him to his daughter, and he will only have to pay a fine. So according to Anthony, one can rape a lady, and just get off with a fine! He basically simply had to pay for his rape services. How nice. (Italics and bold mine)
This is where Anthony can’t keep up with his own rubbish arguments, according to Anthony, MARRIAGE IS NOT AN OBLIGATION, it is an OPTION, and if the marriage is not done, he only has to pay a fine. Tell me, does that sound like a calculated law to discourage men from raping, where his only punishment is a fine? Wow, what a great calculated discouragement from rape! (Italics and bold mine)
The biggest laugh at all of this is that Anthony claims I have an inferior moral sense, when he’s the one trying to justify a rapist marrying his rape victim, and when he is the one saying the punishment for a rapist could potentially only be a fine. Yes, and I am the one with a moral inferior sense. (Italics and bold mine)
Remembering of course that the law in question is not about rape in any unqualified sense, and much less in the sense that Sami is thinking of it, there is no “only,” “just” or “simply” about the prescribed penalty as Sami flippantly states. The punishment of foregoing a wife but still having to pay 50 shekels was no light matter for the average Israelite. 50 shekels was a hefty sum of money that did not come easily for most people in ancient Israel.
Ordinarily a person would negotiate with the father on the dowry for a girl. In cases of a man seductively imposing himself on another man’s daughter without his consent, the dowry was necessarily high and non-negotiable. As one commentator explains:
Let us consider the case of seduction. There is no doubt that the father, under the jurisdiction of the judges, was allowed to establish a bride price requirement for the seducer, and even prohibit the marriage after having collected it. Obviously, only the State could have lawfully enforced such a penalty.
When the State enters the picture to enforce a private decision, there must be upper limits on the punishment if liberty under predictable law is to be preserved. At the same time, the penalty must be high enough to deter the immoral behavior. Thus, the maximum bride price that could be imposed by the father with the consent of the judges could and would be different from normally negotiated bride prices. We know what that upper limit was: 50 shekels of silver. I call this compulsory maximum the formal bride price, in contrast to the normal or negotiated bride price, in which the State was not involved. It is specified in Deuteronomy 22:28-29:
If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.
The formal bride price of 50 shekels of silver specified here was far higher than the common dowry in Israel. This was a great deal of money. It was not required of every suitor. The Old Testament did not establish a fixed price so high that only a few women could have become wives, with most of them being forced by a government- imposed price floor to settle for status as concubines (wives without dowries) instead. What the law did was to establish a penalty price so high that it discouraged seduction. It also discouraged false accusations of whoredom.
The threat of the imposition of the formal bride price was designed to restrain the present-orientation of the couple - in this case, the lure of instant sexual gratification. The bride price jumped automatically to 50 shekels of silver in such instances. This economic threat forced marriage arrangements into specific patterns as family-authorized covenants, with the parents and older brothers of the girl as the agents with primary authority to inaugurate or veto her decision. This threat also forced irresponsible, short-sighted young men to save for the future, to develop good character traits. The normal bride price was a covenantal screening instrument; the formal bride price was a covenantal disciplining instrument.
The seducer placed himself outside the normal competitive position of a suitor. He was in no legal position to bargain effectively with the girl's father. Shechem pleaded: 'Ask me never so much dowry and gift, and I will give according as ye shall say unto me: but give me the damsel to wife" (Gen 34:12). The father of a seduced girl was in a position to demand up to 50 shekels of silver from the young man, which probably would have involved many years of servitude on his part, unless his family was rich. The seducer could even be re- quired to pay her father the 50 shekels of silver, and then not be allowed to marry the girl. (G. North, Tools of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus [Institute for Christian Economics, 1990], pp. 648-649)
To see how high this was we only need to consider that: 50 shekels was two and a half times the price paid for Joseph when he was sold into slavery hundreds of years earlier (Genesis 37:28); it was also the very amount exacted by Menahem from “all the mighty men of wealth” in order to pay Pul, the King of Assyria (1 Kings 15:17-22). To quote North again:
What was the value of 50 shekels of silver? We cannot know for sure, since at different times in the ancient world, silver's value would have fluctuated, just as it fluctuates today. We know that the atonement money paid by Israelite adult males when they were numbered for military service was half a shekel (Ex. 30:15). If this was half a shekel of silver, then the maximum bride payment was a hundred times this large. An ox that killed another person's bondservant brought a payment of 30 shekels of silver to the owner of the servant (Ex. 21:32). An adult male slave was valued at 50 shekels of silver for the purpose of making a vow payment to the sanctuary (Lev. 27:3). This was a form of servitude to God. We know that the ownership of slaves was sufficiently expensive so that very few families could afford them in the ancient world.
The price of twenty shekels of silver for a male slave under age twenty (Lev. 27:5) corresponds with the twenty shekels paid to joseph's brothers by the caravan that bought joseph (Gen. 37:28). This indicates a remarkably stable monetary system throughout the Middle East, from joseph's day at least until the giving of the Mosaic law over two centuries later. Mendelsohn provides slave prices in the surrounding cultures, and these are reasonably commensurate with the prices listed in Leviticus 27. The purchase of a slave gained the buyer the net return from a lifetime of service from a slave. We are not talking about merely a Hebrew's seven-year term of service, for the caravan bought Joseph for resale into permanent servitude. Thirty shekels of silver must have been a lot of money; 50 shekels was that much more. (North, ibid., pp. 656-657)
At this point Sami think he has already detected a serious flaw in such reasoning, for he points out that the above would neither be a deterrent nor a serious punishment for a rich person.
And what if the man is rich? We know many rich men engage in rape, so paying a fine wouldn’t be a big problem for them as they would easily be able to afford it, but hey this was a ‘calculated’ law to discourage men from rape, right…
But what Sami overlooked is that a rich person who may not be deterred by the stipulated fine should certainly have been deterred by the fact that the Father (with the girl’s consent) could determine to force the man to marry his daughter, something a father would be more inclined to do in light of the man’s wealth and ability to provide for his daughter, and that without the right of divorce, which would mean that the man would have the responsibility of providing for the girl, while yet she would have no necessary reason to submit to him.
For Sami as a Muslim to say that this is not a deterrent or a punishment is laughable. What would be more humiliating to a misogynistic Muslim male than to be absolutely under the thumb of a woman? What Muslim would give up the great “blessing” of being able to put a whooping on his wife and threaten her with divorce if she does not recognize that he has charge over her and if she did not comply with his demands (Q. 4:34)?
So as it turns out, what Sami perceived as a problem for Christianity the size of the Grand Canyon turns out not even to be a crack in the sidewalk. Perhaps the error on his part is due to the fact that he is looking at the Bible (and the world) through cracked eggs.
Stay tuned. I will have much more to say in reply to Sami.