Ketubot, Chapter Three, Mishnah One



Deuteronomy 22:28-29 states, “If a man comes upon a young girl, a virgin who is not engaged and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are discovered, the man who lay with her shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver and she shall be his wife.  Because he has violated her, he can never have the right to divorce her.”

The rabbis learn from these verses that if a man rapes a virgin he must pay her father a fine of 50 shekels, which is the equivalent of 200 dinars.  Furthermore, he must marry her.  Through a careful reading of the wording of these laws the rabbis concluded that this rule applies only to a virgin (betulah) who is also young (na’arah), which means any girl who has reached the age of 12 and has shown signs of pubery.  A girl remains in this status for only six months.  After that she is considered to have reached adulthood and one who rapes her does not pay the fine.

Before we proceed, we should remember that the fine was only one payment made by the rapist to his victim.  He also had to pay all of the damages that one pays for injuring another person.  We should also remember that society’s attitude towards rape has changed drastically in the last century.  Rape is a horrible crime and while we are discussing the technical aspects of who receives a fine and who doesn’t, we shouldn’t forget what we are talking about.

Our mishnah teaches that a man must pay the fine to a woman even if he is not allowed to marry her.


Mishnah One

These are girls to whom the fine is due:

1)                     If one had intercourse with a mamzeret, a netinah, a Samaritan;

2)                     Or with a convert, a captive, or a slave-woman, who was redeemed, converted, or freed [when she was] under the age of  three years and one day.  

3)                     If one had intercourse with his sister, with the sister of his father, with the sister of his mother, with the sister of his wife, with the wife of his brother, with the wife of the brother of his father, or with a woman during menstruation, he has to pay the fine,   [for] although these are punishable through kareth, there is not, with regard to them, a death [penalty inflicted] by the court.



Section one:  The women in this section are forbidden in marriage to an Israelite.  Our mishnah teaches that although they are forbidden in marriage, he still must pay them the fine.  A mamzeret was defined in Yevamot 4:9.  A netinah is a descendent of Temple slaves.  The Samaritans were considered a splinter group by the rabbis and Jews were forbidden from marrying them.

Section two:  It is assumed that a non-Jewish woman is not a virgin.  Captives are assumed to have been raped and slave-women are also assumed to be non-virgins.  Furthermore, as we have learned before, the rabbis thought that if a woman lost her virginity before the age of three years and one day, her physical signs would later return.  Therefore if these women made the passage into being full, free Jews or were redeemed from captivity before the age of three, they are assumed to have returned to being virgins.  Therefore, they receive the fine. 

Section three:  The women listed in this section are forbidden to a man, and having relationship with them is punishable by kareth (a punishment inflicted by God and not by the court).  Since the court does not execute the man for having had intercourse with these women, he is liable to pay the fine. 

Note that in order for him to be liable to pay the fine, these women cannot be married nor have been married.  The only situation that he will be liable to pay the fine for having intercourse with one of these women is if they were betrothed to one of these men and then divorced or widowed before proper marriage.  Had they been married when he raped them, he would be liable for the death penalty for having committed adultery.  Had they been fully married and then divorced or widowed, they would not be considered virgins, and hence he would not be liable to pay the fine.