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I am an Italian gentile believer in HaShem, who engages in the observance of the noahide precepts, as commanded by the Creator in the Torah.

I have never understood the exact meaning of Devarim 22:13-21 (translation from chabad.org)

If a man takes a wife, is intimate with her and despises her, and he makes libelous charges against her and gives her a bad name, saying, "I took this woman, and when I came to her, I did not find any evidence of virginity for her." Then the girl's father and her mother shall obtain evidence of the girl's virginity, and take it out to the elders of the city, to the gate. And the girl's father shall say to the elders, "I gave my daughter to this man as a wife, and he despised her; And behold, he made libelous charges, saying, 'I did not find evidence of your daughter's virginity.' But this is the evidence of my daughter's virginity!' And they shall spread the garment before the elders of the city. Then, the elders of that city shall take the man and chasten him. And they shall fine him one hundred [shekels of] silver because he defamed a virgin of Israel, and he give it to the girl's father. And she shall be his wife; he shall not send her away all the days of his life.

But if this matter was true: [indeed,] no evidence of the girl's virginity was found they shall take the girl out to the entrance of her father's house, and the men of her city shall pelt her with stones, and she shall die, for she did a disgraceful thing in Israel, to commit adultery [in] her father's house. So shall you clear away the evil from among you.

My questions are these:

Is it correct to state that this is a case of adultery? In Italian translations it translates as "prostituting herself in her father's house"

If I am not mistaken, according to the Torah the obligation of sexual fidelity of a woman arises with the celebration of "Kiddushin", by virtue of which the woman becomes "arusah", and commits adultery if she joins carnally with a man different from her promised groom. In the circumstance described by the aforementioned Devarim passage, how do you know if the woman had sexual relations before or after the celebration of Kiddushin?

If I am not mistaken Jewish Law provides that the death penalty may be applied, in the cases provided by the Torah, only in the presence of two witnesses, and prior warning against the offender, on the part of the same, on the criminal consequences of the his action. In the case in question, do we not miss the two witnesses who have seen the illicit sexual relationship, and consequently also miss the preliminary warning?

  • related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/28988/11501 – mbloch Dec 16 '17 at 18:56
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    Amos74, please do not use questions to answer challenges from others, especially now that Al Berko's answer is deleted, people won't understand what you are responding to. You can comment on an answer if you want to answer it. You can rollback to the previous version through the rollback feature (click rollback next to the number of the version you want to keep) – mbloch Dec 17 '17 at 4:35
  • You're right, I've changed the question. I'm still not very practical about this forum... – Amos74 Dec 17 '17 at 9:23
  • No problem, we were all beginners one day – mbloch Dec 17 '17 at 9:24
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You are right that this is a case of adultary that happenned after she was betrothed to her Husband who Defamed her. Thos is evident from Deuteronomy 24,1: "The man took a wife"
You are also right that there are 2 witnesses to make her liable to death by stoning.

This is all clear from Babilonian Talmud Ketubot 44b (the oral law see source below). The only way for the testimony not to be true, is if the father brings 2 other witnesses that say the first pair of witnesses fabricated their testimony, because they were with them at the same time in a place where it was impossible for those defaming witnesses to testify on that woman i.e what they "saw" was fabricated (zommem). Ketubot 45b says Those original witnesses are punished by stoning in her place, and if the husband had brought the eidim to testify (i.e they didn't come voluntarily), he pays 100 silver shekalim and gets lashes according to Chachamim. Rabbi Yehuda says he only pays 100 shekalim only if he hires the false witnesses with money.

Source Ketubot 44b:

תני שילא שלש מדות בנערה באו לה עדים בבית חמיה שזינתה בבית אביה -
Sheila taught in a baraita: There are three different circumstances with regard to a young woman who has been defamed. If witnesses came to testify about her when she was in her father-in-law’s house, i.e., after she was married, and stated that she committed adultery in her father’s house, when she was betrothed,
סוקלין אותה על פתח בית אביה כלומר ראו גידולים שגידלתם באו לה עדים בבית אביה שזינתה בבית אביה סוקלין אותה על פתח שער העיר סרחה ולבסוף בגרה תידון בחנק -
one stones her at the entrance to her father’s house, as though to say: See what you have brought up. If witnesses came to testify about her when she was in her father’s house, i.e., when she was betrothed, and testified that she committed adultery in her father’s house, one stones her at the entrance to the gate of the city. If she went astray and sinned when she was a young woman and subsequently reached majority, i.e., she became a grown woman, she is sentenced to strangulation, which is the punishment for a grown woman who committed adultery.
או היא או זוממיה מקדימין לבית הסקילה
Either she or her conspiring witnesses are brought early in the morning to the place of stoning.

  • Thank you so much for the answers. A final clarification: in the sources cited, including the Mishneh Torah, there is no reference, except my mistake, to the preliminary warning that the witnesses must have given to the offender so that the death penalty can be executed. But is not the warning an essential condition for putting the guilty to death according to the Halakhah? – Amos74 Dec 16 '17 at 22:33
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    Maimonidies in hilchot Sanhedrin 12,1 says that you always need warning in capital punishment cases: כיצד דנין דיני נפשות. כשיבואו עדים לבית דין ואומרים ראינו פלוני זה שעבר עבירה פלונית. אומרין להן מכירין אתם אותו התריתם בו. אם אמר אין אנו מכירין אותו או נסתפק לנו או שלא התרו בו הרי זה פטור: How do you judge a case involving death? when the witness testify that someone did a sin they (the sanhedrin 23 judges) ask: "do you know the guilty person, did you warn him?" If the witnesses answer "no" the guilty man/woman is exempt from death – user15464 Dec 16 '17 at 22:56
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The Torah speaks here of two different cases happening between Kiddushin and Nisuin. At this stage, the woman is already promised to a man and cannot have relations with others. The translation you mention ("in her father's house") is because the woman still lives with her family until Nisuin.

  1. If the husband, after Nisuin decides he doesn't want the woman anymore, the Torah protects her by ensuring she cannot be divorced anymore

  2. If the husband finds the woman has indeed had a relation between Kiddushin and Nisuin, she is condemned to death. As you mention, this is only if there are two witnesses (the Rambam mentions this explicitly, see Hilchot Naarah Betulah 3:12 and Hilchot Issurei Biah 3:9)

See e.g., here for more.

  • Thank you so much for the answers. A final clarification: in the sources cited, including the Mishneh Torah, there is no reference, except my mistake, to the preliminary warning that the witnesses must have given to the offender so that the death penalty can be executed. But is not the warning an essential condition for putting the guilty to death according to the Halakhah? – Amos74 Dec 16 '17 at 22:32
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    This is correct, it takes two witnesses warning of the transgression and its punishment, see e.g., the gemara in Makot 6b. Since people studying the Mishne Torah know this, it doesn't get repeated every time death penalty is mentioned. There is a lot of context required in learning Torah and it doesn't get repeated all the time. This is one of the reasons that learning Talmud alone is nearly impossible as so much is interlinked with other passages – mbloch Dec 17 '17 at 4:19

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