Ketubot, Chapter One, Mishnah Ten



The previous two mishnayoth discussed the ability of a woman to marry into the priesthood.  The final mishnah of chapter one continues to discuss this subject. 


Mishnah Ten

1)                     Rabbi Yose said: it happened that a young girl went down to draw water from a spring and she was raped.

a)                                 Rabbi Yohanan ben Nuri said: if most of the inhabitants of the town marry [their daughters] into the priesthood, this [girl] may [also] marry into the priesthood.



The question in this mishnah is can this girl marry into the priesthood.  If the man who raped her was forbidden to marry an Israelite, then she is forbidden to marry a priest. This is true even though she did not willingly engage in intercourse with the man.  Although this sounds like the woman is being punished for having been raped, we would do well to keep in mind that priests were extremely cautious about the “purity” of their lineage.  The laws of who can and cannot marry a priest have nothing to do with morality, at least not as we understand it.  Rather they have to do with the prohibition of defiling the priestly line. 

Rabbi Yohanan ben Nuri rules that if most of the inhabitants of the town are men who are allowed to marry into the priesthood, meaning that their wives and daughters are allowed to marry priests, then this girl is allowed to marry a priest.