If any man take a wife, and go in to her, and hate her,…
We have here various wise expedients to control the licentiousness of the people, and secure, so far as possible, social purity.
I. DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER WAS SEVERELY PUNISHED. A husband could not, with impunity, defame a newly married wife; for should there be proof forthcoming that his charge was false, he was to be publicly chastised, to pay a fine of one hundred shekels of silver to his father-in-law, whoso good name and peace he had threatened, and to be bound to his wife all his days.
II. WHOREDOM WAS MADE A CAPITAL CRIME. If the charge made against his wife prove true, then she is to be stoned to death for her sin. Immorality was really treason towards the Divine King, it was incompatible with his kingdom, and so was put into the category of capital crimes. The morale of the theocracy was really higher in idea than that of any other kingdom then or now existing.
III. ADULTERY WAS ALSO A CRIME FOR WHICH BOTH OFFENDERS MUST SUFFER DEATH. Here the two parties are criminals against the theocracy, and such a flagrant crime cannot be tolerated within it. The morality is severe and wholesome.
IV. ADULTERY COMMITTED WITH A BETROTHED DAMSEL IS TREATED JUST AS ADULTERY WITH A MARRIED WOMAN, FOR SHE IS AS GOOD AS MARRIED. Both parties in this case also must pay the penalty of death. Such severe measures were the wisest expedients in the end.
V. IN CASE OF ADVANTAGE BEING TAKEN OF A BETROTHED DAMSEL, THE RUFFIAN IS TO PAY THE PENALTY OF DEATH. If the taking away of life is justly punished with death, so should the murder of virtue. As a rule, our laws are too lenient towards ruffians that ruin women. Were a few of them sent to the gallows it would be no more than they deserve.
VI. IN CASE OF A VIRGIN THAT IS NOT BETROTHED, THE MAN WHO TAKES ADVANTAGE OF HER IS COMPELLED TO MARRY HER, AND TO PAY TO HER FATHER A SUBSTANTIAL FINE. The case thus dealt with is different from the preceding. It proceeds upon inquiry. The man is not carried by his passion into an act of great wrong towards one whom he can never hope to have as his wife, which was the last case; but he takes the case into his own hand, where no previous betrothal bars the way. He can make reparation, and he is compelled to do so. Again we say that our laws would be greatly improved if a spice of the severity of the Jewish law went to make the cowardly ruffians who disgrace society suffer more severely for their deeds.
VII. INCEST WAS FORBIDDEN. There is no mincing of matters, since all these abominations abounded among the Canaanites, and must be checked in Israel.
VIII. PURITY IS THUS SEEN TO BE GOD'S AIM. "Be ye holy; for I am holy," is God's direction. We must be as "chaste virgins" presented unto Christ. The social purity of Israel was only to reflect their spiritual purity as towards God. Our own lesson in these regulations is clear. We must not even in the slightest thought prove unfaithful to our Savior and Lord. He is the Husband of the Church, and requires a faithful wife. - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her,