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Rehabilitative law for having sex before marriage?


I have been trying to understand Torah for a little while now. One part from the second book of Law, that has seemed unclear and perplexing for a long time is:

“If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price for her to be his wife. But if her father refuses to give her to him, he must pay a sum equivalent to the bride-price for virgins.”

And another seemingly related law, but from the 5th book of Law is:
“If a man comes upon a girl who is a virgin but who is not engaged, and he grabs her and has sexual relations with her, and they are caught in the act, then the man who had intercourse with her must give to the girl’s father one-and-a-quarter pounds of silver shekels, and she will become his wife, because he humiliated her; he may not divorce her as long as he lives.”

My questions are:

1. Are these two laws related?

2. Does it matter if it is another human who catches them in the act and is a witness against them, or is it sufficient if the male and female are aware that G-d has seen/caught them in the act and is a witness against them?

3. If they were not aware that such a law existed before they engaged in such crime, but knew only that the act itself was a crime, but then on doing Teshuvah, the male then learns about the existence of this law, and the male informs the female that they must marry due to this rehabilitative law, is it permissible for him to pursue the marriage, i.e. approach her father/family for permission to marry and inform the parents of what he/she has done?

4. If the female’s father is dead, who must the male ask for permission to marry the female and pay the bride price to?

5. If they are caught in the act, and they then marry, due to this rehabilitative law, but the male divorces the female (not due to adultery by her), and he then marries someone else:
5 (a). Is she to be seen as still married to him until he dies, as per that law stating that he must not divorce her as long as he lives?
5 (b). Is he considered to be committing adultery by divorcing her and marrying another female, when that specific law stated that he must not divorce her as long as he lives?
5 (c). If he divorces her and marries someone else, must she remain single/unmarried until he dies, since that specific law stated he was not to divorce her for as long as he lives?
5 (d). What actions should be taken against him if he does divorce her, and marries someone else, especially if it was him who taught her about this law, which was the only reason she agreed to marry him, as part of her own Teshuvah, for having committed that sexual crime?



Thank you for your question.

Before answering your questions, you should know that the answer to your questions is in the oral law. The written law, needs the explanation of oral law as there are many facets of the law that are not specified in the written law. That is why G-d gave us the oral law, as an explanation to the written one.

  1. The two laws are in a way related because they both discuss a similar topic- the restitution that the man must make to the girl for what he has done to her. There is a big difference between the two. It should be noted that the amount that the man has to pay her is equivalent to the amount that is paid to the woman as part of her ketuba. The ketuba is a Jewish marriage contract, and this amount is what the husband must pay the wife if he divorces her. In the first law (Exodus 22-15) the man who seduced a young girl (under 12 ½), who by torah law is still considered under her father’s jurisdiction. The man that seduces such a girl in a way is considered to have forced her. Now the man is given the choice of marrying her or compensating her. However, if she or her father doesn’t want the marriage then the man must pay her or her father the allotted amount. The second law (Deuteronomy 22-28) is when the man forced her. The torah does not give the man the option of marrying her, but he is forced to marry her and pay the fine to her father.
  2. God knows everything, what is meant here by “catching” them is that there are witnesses, which can prove the act in a Jewish court of law and force the mane to pay.
  3. As stated above, the penalty for seducing the woman is only when she is quite young, which will negate the issue when the two were involved in the act when she was older, therefore the rest of your question will not really be applicable nowadays. Additionally, the rules of paying this fine can only be litigated in a Jewish court of Judges that have a special “semicha”, something that we unfortunately don’t have nowadays. Nowadays if the woman is older and she consents, the man does not have to compensate her, nor marry her, as this rule wasn’t said in such an instance. Of course, the two need to do teshuva, because of the sin that they both committed, however the marriage/fine aspect is not applicable nowadays.
  4. During the times when these law were applicable, if she didn’t have a father the fine when to her.
  5. These questions are not applicable nowadays, as stated. IN the time that we had a Sanhedrin etc., a person that was forced to marry the woman and divorced her was forced to remarry her, unless she doesn’t want.

Best wishes


Rambam Hilchos Naara Besula Chapter 1.


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