After Shaul promised his daugther to Dovid,he required him to pay the dowry for his daugther this was paid with the foreskins of the Plishtim(Philistines). The question that remains is that there is a Halacha that you are not allowed to gain any enjoyment monetary or otherwise from the body or the parts of a dead Person so how was he able to pay his dowry with the foreskins if it was against Halacha?

  • 1
    Do you have a source for this halacha?
    – Menachem
    Commented Jun 30, 2011 at 5:37
  • Anyone know if there is a midrash to suggest that he converted the Plishtim instead of killing them?
    – avi
    Commented Jun 30, 2011 at 15:25
  • @avi: or maybe he disabled them (so they couldn't resist), then cut off their foreskins, then killed them - so that it wouldn't be a body part of a corpse anyway.
    – Alex
    Commented Jun 30, 2011 at 16:34
  • That raises a whole other slew of questions. But you can't deny that foreskins have special symbolic meaning, as apposed to the unsual death trophy of scalps.
    – avi
    Commented Jun 30, 2011 at 17:32

1 Answer 1


The law prohibiting any benefit from the deceased is learned from a long series of gezeirot shavot (a hermeneutical principle involving use of similar words) in Avoda Zarah 29b beginning with the death of Miriam. Because Miriam was Jewish, some only apply this law to Jewish people. Thus the foreskins of a Philistine may be used as part of a bride-price.

I believe the Talmud somewhere discusses of what use is a foreskin, such that it is worth money. It can be fed to a carniverous animal seems to be the conclusion there.

  • I am not sure if it is a gemara i Think it is a tosfos I cant remebe where I think in one of the Baba's Commented Jun 30, 2011 at 5:49
  • Sanhedrin 19B brings the worth of a foreskin as a possible root of the disagreement between David and Shaul regarding the betrothal of Shaul's daughter to David. e-daf.com/index.asp?ID=3648&size=1 . It says that we could say that David held that it had worth because it could be fed to dogs and cats.
    – Menachem
    Commented Jun 30, 2011 at 6:28
  • Where do we learn the laws of deriving benefit from the deceased? Do you have a source?
    – Menachem
    Commented Jun 30, 2011 at 6:29

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