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Daily manna from the Torah by Dr Ketriel Blad

Ki Tetzeh 49-3

When you go out

Deuteronomy 22:8 – 23:6 (Heb. 23:7)

If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl's virginity can be found, 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... If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 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.

Deut. 22:20-21, 28-29 NIV

Why is penalty of death applied in one of the cases and not in the other one?

HaShem considers fornication and adultery as very serious sins, and the ultimate consequence for committing them is death sentence so that this kind of evil is taken away from among Israel.

However, in this text we find two different kinds of fornication. In the first case, there is a woman that fornicated with a man before getting married to another one and the sin wasn't discovered until after the marriage. In the second case, there is a man who fornicates with a single woman and they are discovered. In the first case, the Torah dictates penalty of death and in the second case, the Torah just commands that the man pays the money for the dowry so she can become his wife. We are not going to talk about circumstances and halachic rules that may avoid the penalty of death or avoid the marriage in the second case now; we are only going to learn an important principle from the Torah from these two examples.

Why does the Torah not dictate the same sentence for both cases? What is the difference between them?

The difference between them is light. In the first case, the woman didn't bring to light, i.e. expose, what she had done; but in the second case, what the man did to the woman came to light, i.e. was disclosed.

To cover up a sin is a very serious thing. In the first case, the woman acted as a virgin without being one, and she married a man faking virginity. If she had revealed beforehand what she had done, she wouldn't have had to suffer the deadly consequences of her sin.

In the second case, the sin was disclosed before the woman started a new relationship with another man. In this way, a legal marriage could be arranged between them, and there woud be no death penalty.

This teaches us two very important things; first, that fornication is a very serious thing and; second, that it is worse to hide sin than to reveal it and try to fix the damage through legal means.

No one who practises fornication will enter the kingdom to come or take part in the resurrection unless he discloses his sin to be able to receive mercy and be forgiven.

"For you know this, that no fornicator, or unclean person, or covetous one (who is an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of the Anointed One and of God." (Eph. 5:5 MKJV revised)

"Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor abusers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Yeshua, and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Cor. 6:9-11 MKJV revised)

"He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy." (Prov. 28:13 NIV)

"This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Yeshua, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives... My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence‹Yeshua the Anointed One, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 1:5 – 2:2 NIV revised)

Kol tuv,


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