The pasuk in Devarim 22:25 says

But if a man finds the betrothed girl in the field, and the man overpowers her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die.

Now, the man can only be executed if there were witnesses and warning. But from 22:27

Because he found her in the field. The betrothed girl had cried out, but there was no one to save her.

it doesn't seem like there were witnesses, since there was no one to save her. So how can he be executed?

Even if we say there were witnesses, but they saw this from afar and we unable to help, still there was no warning. Unless we say that they were shouting the warning from afar as well. But that seems a stretch, since the intent of the pasuk seems to be that there were no people around in the field, and that it is that factor which makes the situation different from if it happened in the city.

  • Maybe there were witnesses but they couldn't prevent the rape? Maybe they were old or he was armed? Sep 10, 2019 at 20:09
  • 1. Must be executed and can be executed are not the same. The Torah could spare the rapist claiming he didn't know, for example. 2. Witnesses are not discussed every time a corporal punishment is instituted in the Torah, implying that the rule holds for all cases.
    – Al Berko
    Sep 10, 2019 at 21:11
  • @AlBerko The question is in what case can he possibly be executed, if there are no witnesses. How do we know there are no witnesses? Because it's in the field and 22:27 says "there was no one to save her". [Which also seems to be how this situation is different from the city, where there are people around].
    – user9806
    Sep 10, 2019 at 21:51
  • I have a strong hunch that the verse that compares this case to the situation of a murderer would solve this dilemma. B"N, I'll see what I can find, but, perhaps, you should look at explanations on that verse.
    – DanF
    Sep 11, 2019 at 1:59

2 Answers 2


There are people - at least according to some opinions - who do not need a warning.

As we learn in Makos 6b that Rabbi Yossi bar Yehuda says that a Chaver [a learned person] does not need a warning [by witnesses,] since the concept of warning was only introduced to be able to differentiate between accidental sins and those done on purpose. [And we assume that a learned person knows what is allowed.]

רבי יוסי בר יהודה אומר חבר אין צריך התראה לפי שלא ניתנה התראה אלא להבחין בין שוגג למזיד

So if the rapist was a Chaver, he wouldn't need to be warned.

  • I'm also wondering what the law would be if the rapist were a non-Jew. IIRC he wouldn't need to be warned to be killed, but I can't source that right now. Sep 11, 2019 at 11:00
  • 1
    Do we paskin this way?
    – Double AA
    Sep 11, 2019 at 13:10
  • IMSMC, if he were not Jewish, than even "in the city", i.e. with witnesses and warning, i.e. she was willing in the act, she would not be killed.
    – Loewian
    Sep 11, 2019 at 13:29
  • @DoubleAA - IDK, I was pointing out (or trying to) that man can only be executed if there were witnesses and warning is not a given, as the OP posits. Sep 11, 2019 at 15:32
  • 1
    A chaver might not need a warning, but does he still at least need [two] witnesses? Even if a chaver doesn't need both warning nor witnesses, and we say the pasuk is only talking about a chaver, that still feels somewhat forced. If the pasuk was only meant to apply to a specific class of people it should have said that explicitly. Unless it's an oral tradition...but was that recorded anywhere?
    – user9806
    Sep 11, 2019 at 17:06

The Gemara (Kesubos 51b) presents a machlokes between Avuha Dishmuel and Rava as to whether תחלתה באונס וסופה ברצון makes her assur to her (non-Kohen) husband. According to Avuha Dishmuel, it does; According to Rava (whom the halacha follows), no - as long as it was oness at the beginning, then what she says afterwards has no halachic consequence.

So the scenario here could be that the witnesses heard her screams from afar, thus establishing that it was oness for her. Afterwards they come closer (and maybe even close enough to kill him - but at that point, once he did haaraah, they're not allowed to (Rambam, Hil. Rotzeach 1:12)), and give him hasraah.

(In fact, Sforno on the posuk does mention that Gemara, although just to explain why the Torah has to stress אין לנערה חטא מות.)

  • I mentioned the possibility of witnesses from afar in the OP, and you can even say they scream the warnings from a far distance as well. But, again, the intent of the pasuk seems to be that there were no people around in the field at all (in contradistinction to the city). Your scenario should apply equally to the city as well - the witnesses heard cries from a distance, run up to a building, then warned him. But in the case of city, the girl is chayav. Why should that be (since she might have cried for help, but the witnesses were too far away)?
    – user9806
    Sep 11, 2019 at 20:56
  • @user9806 Because in the city, their not hearing screams indicates that it was ברצון (the houses are close enough for them to have heard), while in the field it's very possible that she screamed but no one was around to hear. Fact is that in both cases she needs hasraah in order to be chayav misah, but there are after all other consequences of it being באונס vs. ברצון, such as whether she's assur to her husband.
    – Meir
    Sep 12, 2019 at 3:10
  • I guess what I'm trying to say is : 1. As you imply, the pesukim dealing with the field situation are saying that the girl is presumed innocent because she people are usually far enough to not hear her cries, so we assume she did cry but no one heard her 2. But then these very same pesukim - which we would assume are dealing with the very same situation (sincethere was no change of context) - say that the man should die 3. How could he die if in this situation there was no one around to hear the girl [and so certainly no witnesses either].
    – user9806
    Sep 12, 2019 at 16:07
  • @user9806 Because they were around, and maybe even fairly close (no need for them to scream their warnings); they just weren't around at the beginning, which is the critical time for establishing whether it was oness or ratzon for her. Once that critical time has passed, there is never any way that they can convict her, even with hasraah (because even if she says אלמלא נזקק לה היתה שוכרתו, it makes no difference), whereas there can be a conviction for him, if they gave him hasraah.
    – Meir
    Sep 12, 2019 at 16:20
  • Whereas in the city, if they didn't hear her screams at the beginning, there was no תחלתו באונס, so they can give hasraah to both of them, and if she accepts it (התיר עצמו למיתה), then she can be convicted.
    – Meir
    Sep 12, 2019 at 16:20

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