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Bible Rape, Sex Slavery and the Abuse of Girls and Women

The Bible commands and/or condones rape, sex slavery and the abuse of girls and women in a number of verses. As the Wikipedia page "The Bible and Slavery" explains, "The Bible nowhere condemns slavery, but allows a regulated practice of it, especially under the Old Testament, but also in the New Testament. Male Israelite slaves were to be offered release after six years of service, with some stipulations. However, girls, women and foreign slaves and their offspring became the perpetual property of the owner's family, except in the case of certain injuries. The regulation of slavery in the Bible, and absence of outright condemnation of it as an institution, was later used to justify slavery by its defenders [such as American Christians who owned slaves in the southern states]."

The New Testament never condemns the institution of slavery. Indeed, Saint Paul's epistle to Philemon became an important text in regard to slavery; as it was used by American slaveowners to require Northern Christians to return escaped slaves to their Southern masters. In the epistle, Paul returns Onesimus, a runaway Christian slave, to his Christian master Philemon. Neither Jesus Christ, nor Paul, nor any apostle or Hebrew prophet ever clearly condemned the institution of slavery. Here are examples of Bible passages that clearly command or condone slavery, sex slavery and/or rape:

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

Here, a father can sell his own daughter as a slave for life. If she doesn’t “please” the man who bought her, her father has the option to buy her back again. The girl’s owner can “arrange” for her to marry his sons, giving her no choice in the matter and thus forcing her to become a sex slave. Or he can marry her, while taking other wives, forcing her to become part of his harem. If he fails to have sex with her (i.e., rape her), she can become free.

Only slaves who were Hebrew men were to be freed after six years, so the slavery commanded in the Bible was both racist and sexist. Virgin girls were given to "men of God" as the spoils of war, or sex slaves:

So they sent twelve thousand warriors to Jabesh-gilead with orders to kill everyone there, including women and children. "This is what you are to do," they said. "Completely destroy all the males and every woman who is not a virgin." Among the residents of Jabesh-gilead they found four hundred young virgins who had never slept with a man, and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh in the land of Canaan. The Israelite assembly sent a peace delegation to the little remnant of Benjamin who were living at the rock of Rimmon. Then the men of Benjamin returned to their homes, and the four hundred women of Jabesh-gilead who were spared were given to them as wives. (Judges 21:10-24)

If everyone is killed except the virgin girls, and the virgin girls are forced to become “wives” to the men who wiped out their families, that is a form of sex slavery. As we will see below, the "wives" were not really wives, but could be put out on the street if the "men of God" grew tired of them:

They attacked Midian just as the LORD had commanded Moses, and they killed all the men ... Then the Israelite army captured the Midianite women and children and seized their cattle and flocks and all their wealth as plunder. They burned all the towns and villages where the Midianites had lived. After they had gathered the plunder and captives, both people and animals, they brought them all to Moses and Eleazar the priest, and to the whole community of Israel, which was camped on the plains of Moab beside the Jordan River, across from Jericho. Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all the leaders of the people went to meet them outside the camp. But Moses was furious with all the military commanders who had returned from the battle. "Why have you let all the women live?" he demanded ... Now kill all the boys and all the women who have slept with a man. Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves. (Numbers 31:7-18 NLT)

If everyone is killed except the virgin girls, and the men who did the killing can keep the virgin girls “for themselves,” it seems more than obvious what will happen to the girls, who will serve the conquering warriors as sex slaves.

The Tannaïtic Midrash Sifre to Numbers in §157 comments on the commandment of Moses to kill the Midianite women as well as the male children. According to the Tannaïte Rabbis, Moses had ordered the Israelites to kill all women older than three years and a day, because they were "suitable for having sexual relations." According to Rabbi Joseph, "Come and take note: A girl three years and one day old is betrothed by intercourse." According to Rabbi Meir, "A girl three years old may be betrothed through an act of sexual intercourse."

As you approach a town to attack it, first offer its people terms for peace. If they accept your terms and open the gates to you, then all the people inside will serve you in forced labor. But if they refuse to make peace and prepare to fight, you must attack the town. When the LORD your God hands it over to you, kill every man in the town. But you may keep for yourselves all the women, children, livestock, and other plunder. You may enjoy the spoils of your enemies that the LORD your God has given you. (Deuteronomy 20:10-14)

Women and children are “spoils of war” to be “enjoyed” by the victorious warriors.

If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father.  Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NLT)

Girls who have been raped become the sex slaves of their rapists, once the rapists pay cold cash to the girls’ fathers. A rich man could acquire a harem of sex slaves, by raping them, then paying cash to their fathers. Such was the wisdom of God and Moses, according to the writers of the Bible.

When you go out to war against your enemies and the LORD, your God, delivers them into your hand, so that you take captives, if you see a comely woman among the captives and become so enamored of her that you wish to have her as wife, you may take her home to your house. But before she may live there, she must shave her head and pare her nails and lay aside her captive's garb. After she has mourned her father and mother for a full month, you may have relations with her, and you shall be her husband and she shall be your wife. However, if later on you lose your liking for her, you shall give her her freedom, if she wishes it; but you shall not sell her or enslave her, since she was married to you under compulsion. (Deuteronomy 21:10-14 NAB)

After warriors have killed a girls’ family, they can rape the girls, and if they grow tired of the girls, they can kick them out with no further obligation.

They must be dividing the spoils they took: there must be a damsel or two for each man, Spoils of dyed cloth as Sisera's spoil, an ornate shawl or two for me in the spoil. (Judges 5:30 NAB)

Victorious “men of God” can take a damsel or two, with the girls being spoils of war, equated with pieces of cloth.

Lo, a day shall come for the Lord when the spoils shall be divided in your midst.  And I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem for battle: the city shall be taken, houses plundered, women ravished; half of the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be removed from the city. (Zechariah 14:1-2 NAB)

According to the writers of the Bible, God himself metes out rape as a form of punishment.

However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46)

God and Moses were racists, proscribing slavery for Gentile women and children, but not for Hebrews, who were to be favored by luck of birth.

Slaves, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the unjust and cruel. (1 Peter 2:18)

Slaves, be obedient to your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;  with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:  knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. (Ephesians 6:5-8)

Let as many slaves as are under the yoke count their masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. (1 Timothy 6:1)

Exhort slaves to be obedient to their masters, and to please them well in all things; not talking back; not purloining, but being obedient; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. (Titus 2:9-10)

Both the Old Testament and the New Testament repeatedly and explicitly command and/or condone the evil institution of slavery.

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