God is not Silent: What the Bible Teaches About Sexual Assault

Biblical law was revolutionary for the dignity of women. Scripture recognized rape as a violent crime. In fact, biblical law  considers rape on par with murder. She was the non-consenting victim of premeditated violence. The attacker alone is held guilty. Because she was overpowered and did not consent, the victim is considered blameless.

 

The Bible neither covers up nor ignores sexual assault. In fact, biblical law shows how the Lord takes up the cause of the victim and the vulnerable. Deuteronomy 22:25-27 safeguarded the survivor of sexual assault from being unjustly blamed or ignored. In ancient Israel, this law established a pattern, an ethical framework by which God’s people could discern specific situations that it didn’t specifically address. And, like all of God’s laws, it reveals his character.

Isolated and Overpowered

Deuteronomy 22:25-27 presumed the innocence of the unbetrothed woman who was sexually assaulted. This law notes that she was found in a field, a contrast to the previous law in vv. 23-24, which occured in a (presumably) populated city. The scenario describes a woman who was isolated from help.

Along with the location described in this law, the language is also significant. Unlike either of its two surrounding laws—both of which address the category of a woman’s guilt or innocence in sexual integrity (vv. 23-24; 28-29)—Deut 22:25-27 includes the Hebrew verb chazaq, which, in this form, implies violence.[1]Chazaq can refer to the violent overpowering of another person,[2] and, in the context of this text, describes coercive force, i.e. rape.[3] The two accounts of rape in the Bible that occurred after the Law was given—The Unnamed Concubine in Judges 19, and Tamar in 2 Samuel 13—both include this word, chazaq.[4]

Biblical law was revolutionary for the dignity of women.[5] Scripture recognized rape as a violent crime. In fact, biblical law  considers rape on par with murder. She was the non-consenting victim of premeditated violence.[6] The attacker alone is held guilty. Because she was overpowered and did not consent, the victim is considered blameless.[7]

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The post God is not Silent: What the Bible Teaches About Sexual Assault appeared first on The Aquila Report.



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