Deuteronomy 22:28-29 “If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days."

Exodus 22:16-17 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride price for her and make her his wife. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the bride price for virgins."

Is it the full bride price or fifty shekels of silver?

What about if the bride price is 100 shekels?

Is the bride price decided by market mechanism, or by statues? I mean, prettier daughter, would command higher price right?

If the bride price is not statutory, how can the parents convince the judges that the man has to pay up more? By estimate just like any tort?

What about inflation? Do silver shekels inflate? Or should it be 100 shekels for all eternity. What happens latter when silvers are cheaper and virgins are scarce?

We have 3 possible sense of an answer here

  1. What's the text truly mean? 50 shekels of silver or bride price. Which one is right
  2. How it was actually implemented in ancient israel because it must be close to 1
  3. How it should be implemented now if jews still follow torah

I mean all 3 senses of answers are fine.

  • The question is of course about how the torah law was implemented in ancient time. However, if someone wants to add on how the law "should be" implemented now if we still follow Torah, you're welcome
    – user4951
    Oct 14, 2016 at 8:53
  • if jews still follow torah Consider revising. This could be viewed as a challenge as to whether or not Observant Jews observe the Torah. Especially given your history of presenting such "challenges", this might not be taken too positively.
    – mevaqesh
    Oct 14, 2016 at 13:25

1 Answer 1


The standard dowry in Biblical times was 50 shekels = 200 zuz; that was fixed into the law at 1 shekel = half a troy ounce of silver.

Note that it says "like the dowry of maidens", not "this maiden's dowry"; thus, the standard dowry at the time.

Note that this penalty is an addition to the fines for pain and suffering that would be required for any assault, which could be a lot more.

  • Ah. That way the judges can avoid having to "estimate" the maiden's dowry. So if a girl is extremely beautiful and her dowry worth 50k shekels instead of just 50 shekels, it's more profitable to rape than to ask for marriage.
    – user4951
    Oct 14, 2016 at 11:35
  • And what about inflation? Is the penalty remain at 50 shekels all the way to kingdoms' period? Where does it says, "like the dowry of maidens"
    – user4951
    Oct 14, 2016 at 11:36
  • 1
    "Like the dowry of maidens" [Heb. ke-mohar habetulot] is Ex. 22:17. Your translation was "like the bride-price of virgins." May I remind you in all these cases, the option/obligation to marry the young lady only applies if she consents to it!
    – Shalom
    Oct 14, 2016 at 12:24
  • @Shalom are you saying that בתולה doesn't mean virgin? Consider clarifying.
    – mevaqesh
    Oct 14, 2016 at 13:27
  • So if one day typical dowry of virgin go up to 1000 shekels then the fine would be 1000 shekels too?
    – user4951
    Nov 7, 2016 at 6:49

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