“You are not to approach a woman in order to have sexual relations with her when she is unclean from her time of niddah. You are not to go to bed with your neighbor’s wife and thus become unclean with her.”-Leviticus 18:19-20
We are continuing on with our study of immoral sexual deeds in Leviticus 18 that are NOT about incest.
In verse 19, we are told that a man is not to have sex with a woman during her period.
We’ve already learned that a woman enters into a state of impurity when she is on her monthly cycle.
It’s interesting that this particular command is lumped in together with those actions considered sexually immoral instead of UNCLEAN.
But let’s not misunderstand.
The woman was of course not guilty of any wrongdoing due to her natural bodily function.
It is the man who has sex with the woman while she’s on her cycle that is committing an immoral deed.
Moving on, in verse 20 we are told that a man is NOT to have sex with another man’s wife.
This is the very definition of adultery and this verse is actually a good example of how the original Hebrew is actually much more explicit than what it says in our English Bibles.
What it literally says is that a man is not to inject his “seed” into his neighbor’s wife.
The Hebrew word for seed being used here is LEZARA.
And the two defining elements for adultery are indicated with legal precision: Penetration and Ejaculation.
Robert Alter’s Torah commentary renders this verse as follows:
“And you shall not put your member into your fellow man’s wife to spill seed, to be defiled through her.”
The reason for the emphasis on “seed” is that if a woman produced a child of dubious paternity, this would be a huge problem in a patrilinear society like ancient Israel.
This command really means the man is not to get this married woman pregnant.
Aside from the fact that this is full-blown adultery, children born from such illicit affairs where shunned and were considered social outcasts pretty from the day of their birth.