What was the view on extramarital relations in the times of the gemara? To be clear, this is not a question of what is or isn't permitted. This is a question about historical practices; historically how did Jewish communities view the idea of cohabitation or relations out of wedlock?

  • that depends if concubines were ever allowed for the laymen, as according to the Rambam, only kings were allowed to have them Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 2:05

1 Answer 1


Ketuvot 3a, 73a discuss the two types of "pre-marital intercourse" defined in the Gemara.

One is "marriage through intercourse", that is, the man has intercourse with the intention of making her his wife by so doing. This practice is rabinically prohibited- they are liable for lashes from the Beit Din for getting married in this fashion- but by Torah law, it is effective, and they are considered married and require a get to divorce.

The other type of pre-marital intercourse is called "Z'nut", which gets translated as "prostitution" or "promiscuous sex" or "promiscous relations". This type of pre-marital intercourse is also prohibited but does not create a marital relationship.

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    It's worth adding that the former is prohibited only rabbinically; not only is it effective according to Torah law but it's actually permissible. The latter type is prohibited even according to the Torah (though there may be disagreement as to which specific prohibition/violation of a possible commandment it is. I don't remember the opinions off-hand.).
    – Binyomin
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 8:27
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    @Josh K, I appreciate you taking the time to answer this question. Thanks. Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 14:11
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    There are also Rabbinic marriages which aren't Biblically valid, but are still allowed. Like for a cheireish or a girl whose father passed away ch"v. @Binyomin
    – Heshy
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 15:35
  • "that is, the man has intercourse with the intention of making her his wife by so doing." Does the intercourse plus marriage intent by itself make her his wife immediately after the intercourse, without requiring witnesses, or documents? Or are those required? What is required from the woman? Consent to sex plus intent of marriage? One but not the other? And same question relating to witnesses and documents applies to her. Commented Apr 4, 2022 at 23:57
  • @ShipBuilding you've got the sources, in English, linked in the answer. Read through the gamarra and find out! Commented Apr 5, 2022 at 15:00

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