A lot of people take issue every time I say that adultery is based only on the marital status of the woman.
Yet it is true.
A married man sleeping with an unmarried woman is NOT adultery per Torah definition.
And there are plenty of scholarly resources that support what I am saying is true, such as the following:
“Adultery (sexual intercourse between a married woman and a man other than her husband [the biblical prohibition does not include sex between a married man and an unmarried woman]) is the only sexual offense recorded in the Ten Commandments.”-Taken from http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/adultery/
“For example, if a married man had sex with an unmarried woman, that was not considered adultery, which differs from our understanding. In Biblical law having sex with an unmarried and unengaged virgin was prohibited, but it was not adultery in the narrow legal sense of the commandment, probably because it was a violation of father’s rights rather than a husband’s; in such a case, the man had to marry the woman (see Exodus 22:16; Deuteronomy 22:28-29).”-Taken from The Ten Commandments: A Short History of An Ancient Text, By Michael Coogan
“One other rule to understand: in general, as far as the OT era was concerned, men couldn’t commit adultery; that was looked upon as a female crime. A man having sexual relations out of wedlock was usually looked down upon; but it was not something one would be necessarily be penalized for.”-Taken from Tom Bradford’s Torah Class at www.torahclass.com
Now where people misunderstand me is to think I’m saying it’s perfectly fine and dandy in God’s eyes for a married man to go off and sleep with as many unmarried women as he’d like to his own heart’s content.
My answer to that notion is no.
Actually HEEELLLLLLLLLLLLL NO!!!
Look, just because per the Torah definition a married man sleeping with a unmarried woman is not adultery doesn’t mean it’s not wrong
A married man who sleeps around with other women besides his wife has broken faith with the marriage covenant he has entered into.
I know I’m gonna tick off a lot of dudes out there but sorry adultery really only has meaning IF BOTH PARTIES ARE FAITHFUL TO THE MARRIAGE COVENANT.
And I’m now going to show you this is true both from Scripture and the writings of the Rabbis.
First, let’s take a look at what the prophet Hosea said about this matter:
“I won’t punish your daughters
when they act like whores,
or your daughters-in-law
when they commit adultery;
because the men are themselves
going off with whores
and sacrificing with prostitutes.
Yes, a people without understanding
will come to ruin.”
Do you see what God is saying through the prophet Hosea here?
He’s saying why should I only punish the women for committing adultery when the men themselves have broken faith by “going off with whores and sacrificing with prostitutes“.
This is one negative canceling out another.
World renowned Bible scholar and Conservative Rabbi Jacob Milgrom said the following:
“IF the man is clear of sin, THEN the woman (convicted of adultery) shall suffer her guilt”.
I think the point is pretty clear.
Faith to the marriage covenant is a two-way street folks.
And this is precisely why Rabbi Yochanon ben Zakkai abolished the water-ritual in Numbers 5 not long before the Temple was destroyed.
It was deemed ridiculous to put their wives through the water-ordeal for suspected adultery when the husbands themselves were sleeping around like unkosher pigs in a candy store.
I mean the hypocrisy was so thick you could cut it with a wooden butter knife.
It’s important to remember that marriage is intended to symbolize the relationship between HASHEM and mankind.
Whenever we encounter a betrayal of the marriage covenant in the Scriptures, the expression often used is “breaking faith“.
In other words, adultery is the breaking of faith between the two parties who formerly were ONE FLESH!
And we see the same expression leveled against Israel when she fell into idolatry.
The same goes for us.
Whenever we choose the things of this world over HASHEM, we are breaking faith with our Creator.
Whenever we worship other other gods, we are breaking faith with our Creator.
And that would include clinging to manmade traditions and doctrines instead of the pure unadulterated (pun intended) of God’s Word.
Fortunately for us, although we may break faith with HASHEM, the opposite is NOT true.
God never breaks faith.
God is NOT a man who is frail, changes and can be tempted.
HASHEM is always just!
HASHEM is always loving!
And here’s another interesting thought to chew on.
If HASHEM were to ever be unfaithful to us, it would in one swift stroke invalidate the Biblical definition of adultery.
The very foundation of our relationship with God is premised on His Faithfulness.
And this is EXACTLY what Yeshua was talking about when he said “everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of fornication, makes her commit adultery“.
Yeshua was going to the heart of the problem by letting us know that ultimately it is UNFAITHFULNESS that destroys a marriage.
As adultery was just as rampant in Yeshua’s time as it is today, his words are just as relevant to us now as it was to the people then.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“It was said,
‘Whoever divorces his wife
must give her a get.’
But I tell you that anyone
who divorces his wife,
except on the ground of fornication,
makes her an adulteress;
and that anyone who marries
a divorcee commits adultery.”
NEXT TIME WE BEGIN NUMBERS CHAPTER SIX