Biblical – Historical Research Aid

A text found at Qumran requires the examination of a bride who is accused of premarital intercourse. The text is an adaptation of the Biblical law in Deuteronomy  22:13-22.  According to the law in Deuteronomy, if a newly-married man claims that he found his bride not to be a virgin, her parents must rebut the charge by producing a bloodstained garment or bedcloth proving that her hymen had been broken at the consummation of the marriage:

The girl’s father and mother shall produce the evidence of the girl’s virginity before the elders of the town at the gate.  And the girl’s father shall sy to the elders, “I gave this man my daughter to wife, but he had taken an aversion to her; so he has made up charges, saying, ‘I did not find your daughter a virgin.’ But here is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity!”  And they shall spread out the cloth before the elders of the town (Deut. 22:15-17; New JPS translation). Learn WAY more ⇒

Learn More Kethuboth

Literally, “one struck by a piece of wood,” a woman who claims that she did not have hymenal bleeding at the time of her first sexual experience, because she had previously been “struck by a piece of wood” and caused to bleed at that time. As mentioned in Halachah 10, the term is used to refer to any woman who claims that her failure to have hymenal bleeding resulted from causes other than intercourse.

An injury to the hymen made by a piece of wood (a picket fence injury) causes loss of the status of virginity, according to the Sages (Ketubbot 1:3)     See also Halacha 10


Babylonian Talmud – Kethuboth – Kesubos

CHAPTER I, The minimum amounts of the kethubah [alimony?] to which virgins, widows, divorcees or other women belonging to the various strata of social and religious life are entitled, and the conditions governing the forfeiture of her kethubah by a wife in the absence of her virginity, are duly indicated.

CHAPTER II deals with disputes on the amount of a kethubah, arising from a disagreement between husband and wife as to whether the latter was married as a virgin or a widow.

Some one came before Rabban Gamaliel [and] said to him, I have found an ‘open opening’. He [Rabban Gamaliel] answered him: Perhaps you moved aside.38  I will give you an illustration: To what is this like? To a man who was walking in the deep darkness of the night39  [and came to his house and found the door locked];40  if he moves aside [the bolt41  of the door] he finds it open, if he does not move aside [the bolt of the door] he finds it locked. Some say [that] he [R. Gamaliel] answered him thus: Perhaps you moved aside wilfully42  and you tore away the door and the bar.43  I will give you an illustration: To what is this like? To a man who was walking in the deep darkness of the night [and came to his house and found the door locked]; if he moves aside [the bolt of the door] wilfully44  he finds it open, if he does  Come &

Halacha 9

What is meant by a claim [denying a woman’s] virginity? [A man] married a woman on the assumption that she was a virgin, and [after the wedding] claims that he did not find signs of virginity.

For there are two signs of virginity:

a) [hymenal] bleeding at the conclusion of her first sexual experience;

b) tightness that is felt during sexual relations at that time.19

Halacha 10

When [a man] weds a virgin who is granted a ketubah of 200 [zuz], and claims that he did not discover signs of her virginity, the woman is questioned [regarding the matter]. If she says, “It is true that he did not find me a virgin, but this is because I fell, and I was struck by a piece of wood or the ground, and my hymen was damaged,” her word is accepted and she is entitled to a ketubah of [100 zuz].20

Although [her husband] claims: “Perhaps you engaged in intercourse, and I am under no obligation to you,”21 his claim is not accepted, for his claim is not absolute.22 He may, however, have a ban of ostracism issued, conditional on her having engaged in relations with another man.

Halacha 12

If he claims, “I did not find her a virgin,” and she claims, “He has not had intercourse with me and I am still a virgin,” she should be examined. Alternatively, he should have relations with her under the surveillance of witnesses [and the truth will be clarified].24   they should inspect the sheet before and after the couple engage in relations for signs of hymenal bleeding.

If she claims, “He had relations with me and he found me a virgin like all others, and his claim is false,” he is questioned [and asked to clarify his statements]. We ask him: “Why do you say that she was not a virgin?” If he answers: “Because she did not have hymenal bleeding,” we check her family [history]. Perhaps [the women of] this [family] are known not to have [vaginal] bleeding at all: neither menstrual bleeding nor hymenal bleeding. If this was found to be true, we presume [that she was a virgin, and she is entitled to a ketubah of 200 zuz].

If the women in her family are not known to have such a condition, we check her [physical state]; perhaps she is afflicted by a serious infirmity that has parched her body’s natural fluids, or [perhaps] she was afflicted by hunger. Therefore, we have her bathe, eat and drink until she becomes healthy. At which point, [the couple] engage in relations again to see if she manifests hymenal bleeding or not.

If she is not hampered by sickness, hunger or the like, the [husband’s] claim that she was not a virgin [is accepted]. [This applies] even if he felt tightness during relations. Since there was no hymenal bleeding, her hymen was not intact. For every virgin will manifest hymenal bleeding, whether she is a minor or above the age of majority, whether a na’arah or a bogeret, unless [this is prevented by an external factor,] illness or the like, as explained.

If [the husband] said: “[I claim that she was not a virgin,] because I did not feel tightness [during intercourse]. Instead, I found an open passageway,” we inquire with regard to [the woman’s] age. Perhaps she is a bogeret, and most bogrot do not have tightness that can be felt substantially [during intercourse], for as she grew older [the adhesion of] her limbs lessened, and the virginal [tightness] disappeared.

If she had not become a bogeret yet, we ask him: “Perhaps you leaned on the side or [entered] gently during intercourse, and therefore you did not feel any tightness?” If he replies: “No. I found an open passageway,” [his] claim that she was not a virgin [is accepted] with regard to any woman who has not reached the age of bagrut, regardless of whether she was a minor or a na’arah, or whether she was healthy or sick. For the vaginal channel of every virgin is closed. Even if she manifests hymenal bleeding, she is not considered to be a virgin, because the vaginal channel was open.

Halacha 13

There are geonim who rule that for a bogeret, the claim that she did not have hymenal bleeding is not valid, but the claim that her vaginal channel was open is valid. This does not appear [to be based on the proper text of] the Talmud. They had inaccurate versions of the text. I have investigated many texts, including those of an early era, and I have discovered the version to be as I ruled. For a bogeret, the only valid claim is [that she did not manifest] hymenal bleeding.

Rape Laws

Shouse Law – California Law

forensic pathology – rupture of hymen not required – scroll down and see “rape on a virgin” & child – hymen shows tears.

Wikipedia  Where in a rape case doctor’s found hymen intact, merely because doctors stated that partial penetration was possible, no such inference could be drawn in favor of the prosecution and the conviction in the rape case was set aside by the High Court.

Click here for Medical Definitions and Textbook pictures of the hymen


Deuteronomy 22:13-21 New International Version (NIV)

Marriage Violations

13 If a man takes a wife and, after sleeping with her, dislikes her 14 and slanders her and gives her a bad name, saying, “I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity,” 15 then the young woman’s father and mother shall bring to the town elders at the gate proof that she was a virgin. 16 Her father will say to the elders, “I gave my daughter in marriage to this man, but he dislikes her. 17 Now he has slandered her and said, ‘I did not find your daughter to be a virgin.’ But here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.” Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town, 18 and the elders shall take the man and punish him. 19 They shall fine him a hundred shekels[a] of silver and give them to the young woman’s father, because this man has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to be his wife; he must not divorce her as long as he lives.

20 If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the young woman’s virginity can be found, 21 she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done an outrageous thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you.


  1. Deuteronomy 22:19 That is, about 2 1/2 pounds or about 1.2 kilograms

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


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