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Holman Bible Dictionary


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Crime of engaging in sexual intercourse with another without consent by force and/or deception. Mosaic law required a man who had seduced a virgin to pay the bride price and offer to marry her (Exodus 22:16-17 ). The forcible rape of an engaged woman was a capital offense (Deuteronomy 22:25-27 ). In other cases of forcible rape, the offender was required to marry his victim and was not permitted to divorce her (Deuteronomy 22:28-29 ). Lot's daughter made their father drunk and then raped him (Genesis 19:30-35 ). Shechem raped Dinah by force (Genesis 34:1-2 ). The men of Gibeah gang raped a Levite's concubine and so brutalized her that she died (Judges 19:25 ). Amnon's rape of his half sister Tamar was a premeditated act involving both deception and force (2 Samuel 13:1-22 ). This account reveals the mind of the rapist whose uncontrolled desire quickly turned to fierce hatred for his victim (2 Samuel 13:15 ). Rape was one horror associated with the fall of Jerusalem (Lamentations 5:11 ; Zechariah 14:2 ).

Today victims of rape are too frequently made to feel they are on trial. The Mosaic code highlighted the victim's rights, both to monetary compensation and to recovery of dignity. This quest for dignity was a driving force behind acts of retaliatory violence recorded in the narrative texts. These texts, however, suggest the ease with which the victim is forgotten in the spiral of vengeful violence. See Sex, Biblical Teaching On .

Chris Church

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Rape'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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