Purity In The Camp

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2. Where do the laws ofIsha Sotahappear?

  • Bamidbar5:1-4:
    • Tells Bnai Yisrael to remove from the camp anyone who is impure from skin diseases, discharges (sexually transmitted diseases?) and corpse contamination
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3. Whats next?

  • Bamidbar5:5-10:
    • Discusses a person who defrauds another and must expiate for the sin through repayment
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4. Then comesisha sotahfollowed by the laws of thenazir What links all these situations? 5.

  • 12Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them: If any man's wife go aside, and act unfaithfully against him,13and a man lie with her carnally, and it be hid from the eyes of her husband, she being defiled secretly, and there be no witness against her, neither she be taken in the act;14and the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be defiled; or if the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be not defiled
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6. Adultery in the Torah

  • 10And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
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Leviticus 20:10 You shall not commit adultery. Exodus 20:13 7. And in Deuteronomy 22:22:

  • 22If a man be found lying with a woman married to a husband, then they shall both of them die, the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so shalt thou put away the evil from Israel.
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8. Adultery in the Ancient World

  • 9Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him: 'What hast thou done unto us? and wherein have I sinned against thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done.'
  • 10And Abimelech said unto Abraham: 'What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing?'
  • 11And Abraham said: 'Because I thought: Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife's sake.
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9. The Ancient Near East:The Code of Hammurabi

  • 129. If a man's wife be surprised (in flagrante delicto) with another man, both shall be tied and thrown into the water, but the husband may pardon his wife and the king his slaves.
  • 130. If a man violate the wife (betrothed or child-wife) of another man who has never known a man and still lives in her father's house and sleep with her and be surprised, this man shall be put to death, but the wife is blameless.
  • 131. If a man bring a charge against one's wife, but she is not surprised with another man, she must take an oath and then may return to her house.
  • 132. If the "finger is pointed" at a man's wife about another man, but she is not caught sleeping with the other man, she shall jump into the river for her husband.
  • 133. If a man is taken prisoner in war and there is a sustenance in his house but his wife leave house and court and go to another house, because this wife did not keep her court and went to another house, she shall be judicially condemned and thrown into the water.
  • 135. If a man be taken prisoner in war and there be no sustenance in his house and his wife go to another house and bear children, and if later her husband return and come to his home, then this wife shall return to her husband, but the children follow their father.

10. Middle Assyrian Law

  • I.13.If the wife of a man go out from her house and visit a man where he lives, and he have intercourse with her, knowing that she is a man's wife, the man and also the woman they shall put to death.
  • I.14.If a man have intercourse with the wife of a man either in an inn or on the highway, knowing that she is a man's wife, according as the man, whose wife she is, orders to be done, they shall do to the adulterer. If not knowing that she is a man's wife he rapes her, the adulterer goes free. The man shall prosecute his wife, doing to her as he likes.
  • I.15.If a man catch a man with his wife, both of them shall they put to death. If the husband of the woman put his wife to death, he shall also put the man to death. If he cut off the nose of his wife, he shall turn the man into a eunuch, and they shall disfigure the whole of his face.


  • I.18.If a man say to his companion, "They have had intercourse with thy wife; I will prove it," and he be not able to prove it, and do not prove it, on that man they shall inflict forty blows, a month of days he shall perform the king's work, they shall mutilate him, and one talent of lead he shall pay.

More from Middle Assyrian law 12. Adultery in Ancient Egypt

  • Women had more rights in ancient Egypt than they did in other ancient cultures and than they do in some parts of the world today
  • Women could own property and be involved in legal transactions

13. And what about adultery?

  • The ancient Egyptian concept of adultery consisted of a married person having sex with someone other than that person's spouse. It was just as "wrong" for a man to commit adultery as for a woman. The Egyptian system was family centered, and the terminology for marriage and divorce was the same for both sexes; adultery was defined in family terms and condemned for both men and women, and sex by unmarried individuals seems not to have been a major concern.--Janet H. Johnson, professor of Egyptology, University of Chicago

Webpage 14. The Tale of Two Brothers

  • Different versions of the taleexist
  • Similar to the story of Joseph
  • In the end, the wife gets it for being a seductress and a liar

Sheet from the Tale of Two Brothers, Papyrus D'Orbiney 15. Adultery in the Torah: A Summary

  • Always a sin against God
  • Man does not decide on the issue since the issue remains in Gods realm
  • Placement ofIsha Sotahwith other issues of purity and impurity reinforces this notion
  • Priest guards Gods holiness, so priest presides over ordeal

16. What is the only other instance in the Torah of an issue that must be resolved in an ordeal by a priest, because an earthly judge has insufficient evidence? What does the instance have in common withisha sotah ?