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Signs of VirginityTesting Virgins and Making Men in Late Antiquity$
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Michael Rosenberg

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190845896

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190845896.001.0001

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“Trustworthy Women” and Other Witnesses

“Trustworthy Women” and Other Witnesses

Tweaking Deuteronomy in Pre-Rabbinic and Early Rabbinic Judaism

Chapter:
(p.44) 3 “Trustworthy Women” and Other Witnesses
Source:
Signs of Virginity
Author(s):

Michael Rosenberg

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190845896.003.0004

Second Temple and early Rabbinic texts modify and adapt the virginity test of Deuteronomy 22 to fit their own legal concerns as, for example, by replacing bloodied sheets with midwives’ examinations. However, all of these works maintain the fundamental assumption of Deuteronomy, namely, that a woman’s virginity can be read through the remainders of physical violence committed in the act of first-time penetrative intercourse. The measures of virginity—bloodied sheets and ruptured genitalia—thus come to define the very meaning of virginity. At the same time, uncertainty about the sufficiency of such measures to establish the chastity of the bride emerge in the recognition that nonvaginal intercourse leaves behind no measurable physical traces.

Keywords:   Dead Sea Scrolls, Palestinian Talmud, midrash, midwife, Sifrei Devarim, anal sex

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