Devarim 22:13-21 discuss a case in which a husband accuses his newlywed 12-12.5-year-old wife as having cheated on him in the period between Kiddushin and Nisuin, making her a married woman at the time and therefore liable to the death penalty. Most of the passage discusses if he’s lying, but v. 20-21 discuss what happens if he’s telling the truth:

וְאִם־אֱמֶ֣ת הָיָ֔ה הַדָּבָ֖ר הַזֶּ֑ה לֹא־נִמְצְא֥וּ בְתוּלִ֖ים לַֽנַּעֲרָֽה׃ וְהוֹצִ֨יאוּ אֶת־הַֽנַּעֲרָ֜ה אֶל־פֶּ֣תַח בֵּית־אָבִ֗יהָ וּסְקָלוּהָ֩ אַנְשֵׁ֨י עִירָ֤הּ בָּאֲבָנִים֙ וָמֵ֔תָה כִּֽי־עָשְׂתָ֤ה נְבָלָה֙ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל לִזְנ֖וֹת בֵּ֣ית אָבִ֑יהָ וּבִֽעַרְתָּ֥ הָרָ֖ע מִקִּרְבֶּֽךָ׃

If this matter is true - there were no signs of virginity for the girl - then they will bring the girl out to the entrance of her father’s house, and the people of the city will stone her with stones, and she will die, for she has done an atrocity in Israel to commit harlotry in her father’s house, and you will destroy the evil in your midst.

A cursory reading of these Pesukim would seem to indicate that we don’t ask the girl for an explanation, either before or after the evidence or lack thereof is brought out. Does this indicate that the courts indeed do not ask her for a defense? Does this entire case only apply if she pleads innocent, or if she pleads that she remains a virgin? Let’s say she claims that she was raped; does that get her off the hook if they don’t find any signs of virginity?

  • There has to be witnesses and warning.to execute anyone
    – Double AA
    Sep 9, 2019 at 2:05
  • 1
    The passuk says “if this matter is true” they can’t know it is true without trying her in some way
    – Lo ani
    Sep 9, 2019 at 4:52

1 Answer 1


Rambam Hilchot Na’arah Betulah 3:6 explains the passage as follows (based on oral tradition):

The man accuses his new wife of committing adultery while she was betrothed to him and brings two witnesses who claim to have seen the adultery taking place.

The witnesses are interrogated and if the Beit Din is satisfied, she is executed.

If her father brings witnesses who disqualify the husband’s witnesses as eidim zomemin then the woman is spared and the husband incurs lashes and a fine.

If the husband brings a further set of witnesses to disqualify the father’s pair (zomemei zomemin) then the wife is once again sentenced to death.

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