Question

Hello,

During a discussion on Twitter about the lady who returned to Italy from Somalia, I was sent some images taken from a site with biblical passages, which are said to be very harsh towards women. There was the passage and then under the comment of the author / blogger of the site (comment clearly in contrast). One passage is from Deuteronomy, the other is not quoted. In the passage that I could see, with the quote, I found it decontextualized from what is said next.

Can you explain these biblical verses to me?

Thank you.


Answer of priest

Dear,

1. The passage that you managed to decipher is that of Dt 21: 10-15.

And it is the following: “When you go out to war against your enemies and the LORD, your God, delivers them into your hand, so that you take captives, if you see a comely woman among the captives and become so enamored of her that you wish to have her as wife,  you may take her home to your house. But before she may live there, she must shave her head and pare her nails and lay aside her captive’s garb. After she has mourned her father and mother for a full month, you may have relations with her, and you shall be her husband and she shall be your wife. However, if later on you lose your liking for her, you shall give her her freedom, if she wishes it; but you shall not sell her or enslave her, since she was married to you under compulsion.”If a man with two wives loves one and dislikes the other; and if both bear him sons, but the first-born is of her whom he dislikes

2.    The comment that was made: “Women’s opinion and will has no value”.

And then: “The key thing here is that it looks good. Then he can also kidnap her, take her home, shave her up, undress her and finally marry her. In practice she can be treated like an object “.

3.    The first comment is completely out of place.

Here it is not a question of going out of context, but out of the text itself which begins like this: “If you go to war against your enemies and the Lord, your God, will have placed them in your hands and you will have taken them prisoners”.

They are therefore prisoners of war.

How can the commentator say: “Women’s opinion and will has no value”?

Among prisoners of war not only “the opinion and the will of the woman has no value”, but also “the opinion and will of the man, the soldier, the captain, the King “has no value”.

4.    As you can see, very often only time is wasted arguing with people who are unable to understand.

And now I go on to comment on the rest of the passage which, only superficially, seems to reveal an incomprehensible and gratuitous humiliation of the woman taken prisoner.

5.    I read in a Biblical Commentary: “Law of war relating to women taken prisoner”.

Before marrying her, “the woman must submit to some symbolic purification rites intended to make her understand the renewal that is about to take place in her in passing from the condition of a slave to that of a bride and from the pagan religion to that of the people of Israel”.

It was therefore a question of conferring on her a great dignity: to pass from slave to wife and from a pagan religion that served idols and demons to worship the one true God.

6.    She then had to shave her head and cut her nails: these two acts were signs of mourning and also of purification (Lv 14.8; Num 8.7; Jos 4.8).

In our case it is a sign of purification because she passes from a pagan religion considered impure to a holy people, which here means separated from other peoples.

7.    She had to relinquish her dress to indicate that she no longer wanted to be a pagan but to belong to the people of God, the chosen people.

She was allowed a month to weep and console herself for the loss of her loved ones, and forget her paternal home (Ps 44:11) and acquire the necessary tranquility.

8.    It was therefore not a question of humiliating the woman who, by the way, was intended to be raised to the dignity of a bride, but of submitting her to some purification rites.

9.    At the same time (the space of a month) the future husband also had the opportunity to testify his affection to her.

10.  In the event that she changed her mind and had to resign from her home, she had to do so in an amicable way because she had been admitted to the conjugal union (cf. Ex 21: 8)

11.  The Biblical Commentary concludes: “On this point the Mosaic legislation is far superior to that of other ancient peoples who did not recognize any rights to prisoners of war”.

12.  As you can see, the comment of the author / blogger of the site you are talking about not only ignored the circumstances mentioned (the prisoners of war), but did not understand anything about the rites to which the prisoner was subjected.

The commentator mistook them for gratuitous humiliation while on the contrary they showed the groom’s affection for her who raised her from a slave to a bride and from a pagan religion made her pass to the cult of the true God.

I thank you for giving me this opportunity, I remind you to the Lord and I bless you.

Father Angelo


Translated by Emanuele Menchiari

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