Deuteronomy 22:28New English Translation (NET Bible)
28 Suppose a man comes across a virgin who is not engaged and takes hold of her[a] and sleeps with[b] her and they are discovered.
Deuteronomy 22:28tn The verb תָּפַשׂ (taphas) means “to sieze, grab.” In all other examples this action is done against another person’s will, as in being captured, arrested, attacked, or grabbed with insistence (e.g. 1 Sam 23:26; 1 Kgs 13:4; 18:40; 2 Kgs 14:13; 25:6; Isa 3:6; Jer 26:8; 34:3; 37:13; 52:9; Ps 71:11; 2 Chr 25:23.) So it may be that the man is forcing himself on her, which is what leads the NIV to translate the next verb as “rape,” although it is a neutral euphemism for sexual relations. However, this is the only case where the object of תָּפַשׂ is a woman and the verb also also refers to holding or handling objects such as musical instruments, weapons, or scrolls. So it possible that it has a specialized, but otherwise unattested nuance regarding sexual or romantic relations, as is true of other expressions. Several contextual clues point away from rape and toward a consensual relationship. (1) The verb which seems to express force is different from the verb of force in the rape case in v. 25. (2) The context distinguishes consequences based on whether the girl cried out, an expression of protest and a basis for distinguishing consent or force. But this case law does not mention her outcry which would have clarified a forcible act. While part of what is unique in this case is that the girl is not engaged, it is reasonable to expect the issue of consent to continue to apply. (3) The penalty is less than that of a man who slanders his new wife and certainly less than the sentence for rape. (4) The expression “and they are discovered” at the end of v. 28 uses the same wording as the expression in v. 22 which involves a consensual act. (5) Although from a separate context, the account of the rape of Dinah seems to express the Pentateuch’s negative attitude toward forcible rape, not in advocating for Simeon and Levi’s actions, but in the condemnation included in the line Gen 34:7 “because he has done a disgraceful thing in Israel.” This is very like the indictment in v. 21 against the consenting woman, “because she has done a disgraceful thing in Israel.” (6) The penalty of not being allowed to divorce her sounds like v. 19, where the man is punished for disgracing his wife unfairly. His attempted divorce fails and he must provide for her thereafter (the probable point of not being allowed to divorce her.) Here too, if his holding her is not forced, but instead he has seduced her, he is not allowed to claim that his new wife is not pure (since he is the culprit) and so he must take responsibility for her, cannot divorce her, and must provide for her as a husband thereafter.
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