Why did God allow the Israelites to take captive women as wives, and to let them go if they were displeasing?


Deuteronomy 21:10 - 14

LS1910 - 10 Lorsque tu iras à la guerre contre tes ennemis, si l'Eternel les livre entre tes mains, et que tu leur fasses des prisonniers. 11 Peut-être verras-tu parmi les captives une femme belle de figure, et auras-tu le désir de la prendre pour femme.

Clarify Share Report Asked November 08 2016 Mini Samuel Bourassa

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
Prior to this passage, in Deuteronomy 20:14, God had given permission to Israel to keep women, children, cattle, and other possessions of enemy nations in future wars (after the conquest of the Promised Land) as booty or spoils in war, once all the men of the enemy has been killed in battle.

The passage cited in the question expands on that, and formalizes the procedure for taking such women as wives, including such merciful provisions as giving them a month-long opportunity to mourn the loss of their previous families; taking them as wives (rather than just, for example, as concubines); and protecting them in the event that they should prove displeasing to their husbands by forbidding the husbands from selling them for money, or keeping them as slaves, but requiring their release to go wherever they wished.

(In my opinion, the provision regarding the woman not being pleasing to the man was a concession to the fact that the man would not have known the woman at all prior to taking her captive (unlike the circumstances under which he would have married a woman of Israel), and would have taken her as his wife solely on the more superficial basis of her physical attractiveness, while having no idea at all of how it might actually be to live with her as his wife.)

November 09 2016 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Kenneth Heck
In war where all the men of one side are killed, the remaining women and children are customarily taken as captives. They are regarded as the spoils of war and may be sold into slavery or perhaps become servants of the Israelites, if it is agreeable to them. 

If an Israelite saw a particularly beautiful woman among the captives he was allowed to make her his wife, but if she was not what he expected, he must then let her go without selling her as a slave, since he has humbled her through the sexual act. (Deut 21:10-14).

It may seem strange that foreign women were allowed to become Israelite wives, but foreign men, with few exceptions, were not allowed into the congregation as Israelites. This option was exclusively available to the military, not the general male population. Those Israelites in the military, normally being of younger ages, might not have been able to accumulate the bridal price for an Israelite wife. The option of a foreign wife would have been an equitable way to temporarily permit military men to enjoy the benefits of marriage - considering that they might die prematurely in subsequent battles while rendering a critical service for Israel, and never marry otherwise.

November 09 2016 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

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