I want to ask about the historical context of the value of the girl's consent in marriage in ancient Jewish culture. As old as possible. If a girl had married a man without her father's permission, was she considered a whore and possibly be killed in honour killing as happened in all ancient cultures, and even today? How much did the girl had any say in the marriage? And how much does the groom's parent has the say in this, or the groom alone has more authority in decision when to take his bride home?

  • 2
    The girl always had the ability to say no. If she said no, the engagement wouldn't work
    – Lo ani
    Commented Dec 22, 2023 at 9:26
  • I know, but in ancient times her decision was relatively valued very little compared to today. I am sure it mattered to her parents, but I need to find some sources, commentaries etc to indicate how was the custom in general. and Did they use to honour kill etc.
    – Michael16
    Commented Dec 22, 2023 at 9:42
  • 4
    @Michael16 certainly not!! Our ancestors were more righteous than we are today, not less! They would never murder their own children! Her decision was valued that's exactly what Lo Ani is saying.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Dec 22, 2023 at 9:44
  • 3
    In addition to what @RabbiKaii said, the woman's decision was valued so much, it would nullify the marriage if she said no. Whereas the parents of the bride didn't need to consent (assuming the bride was over 12)
    – Lo ani
    Commented Dec 22, 2023 at 10:00

1 Answer 1


In terms of Halacha (Jewish Law), the decision is purely for the bride and groom, not their parents, who have no legal standing in the matter. In general, children have an obligation to obey their parents wishes, but when it comes to choosing a spouse, the child is allowed to disobey the parent's wishes. In order to marry, it has to be willing for both of them (see Kiddushin 9b where there is a discussion whether a marriage contract can be valid if a woman didn't know at the time it was written and accepts it later).

The Talmud (around 200CE) has a whole tractate on the process of marriage (Kiddushin). I've not learned it that thoroughly, but as far as I know, it talks exclusively in terms of a man and woman choosing to get married without any significant import given to the opinion of their parents, which is significant as the Talmud usually includes minority opinions, even those which are quite extreme.

There is an exception in the case of a girl who is a minor who can be married off by her father without her consent (which I'm not very familiar with so I can't comment much further and suspect that there is a lot more complexity to this before anyone starts jumping the gun on the implications). I think that in that case, the father is effectively giving consent on her behalf as she isn't of legal age to do so, but that ability ends when she reaches age 12.

There has also never been a concept of "honour killing" in Judaism, as this would just be considered murder. Death penalties can only be imposed by a Beth Din, and even then, a Beth Din who execute once in seven/seventy years (depending on the opinion) is considered as destructive/violent. The only other situations which I can think of where killing someone is permitted are to save someone's life, or a very specific situation where a relative of a victim is permitted to kill someone who has accidentally killed someone out of negligence, and neither of these would apply to the concept of "honour killings".

All of this has been the position going back at least as far as the times of the Talmud and probably at least as far as the Torah being given if not all the way back to Abraham.

I'm not certain, but I don't think that a prostitute would even be punished with death, so that comparison may not be relevant either. There are a number of stories mentioning prostitutes in Tenakh and Talmud and I don't recall the prostitute being put to death in any of them. The closest that I can think of is that Yehuda (Judah) was going to put Tamar to death as he thought she had practiced prostitution, but there is a whole discussion in Rashi and Ramban as to why she would deserve the death penalty where they imply that harlotry is not punishable by death.

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    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Dec 22, 2023 at 12:54
  • @DoubleAA edited Commented Dec 22, 2023 at 14:29

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