Many critics of the Bible hold that the OT views women as property and is demeaning toward women. OT scholar Dr. Sandra Richter looks at the parts of the Mosaic law that deal with sexual violence toward women and concludes that, "far fewer lives were ravaged by sexual misconduct in the central hill country of Israel in the Iron Age than in southern California in 2019." Join us as Scott interviews Dr. Richter on this fascinating topic.

More About Our Guest

Dr. Sandra Richter, Ph.D (Harvard), holds the Robert H. Gundry Chair in Biblical Studies at Westmont College. She is recognized for her The Epic of Eden: A Christian Entry into the Old Testament and is currently working on a second in that series The Fifth Gospel: A Christian Entry into the Book of Isaiah (IVP Academic).

Episode Transcript

Scott Rae: Welcome to podcast Think Biblically, conversations on faith and culture. I'm your host, Scott Rae, Dean of Faculty and Professor of Christian ethics at Talbot School of Theology, here at Biola University. We're here with our guest today, Doctor Sandy Richter, whose Professor of old testimony at Westmont College, and a specialist in a very interesting area of old testament study. In fact, I think some of her work has gone under the heading of "Does the God of the old testament hate women?".

Sandra Richter: Yes.

Scott Rae: Because there's some pretty anastigmatic texts, or scripture, that would seem to indicate that God may have a problem with women.

Sandra Richter: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Scott Rae: And you've provided some really good answers to some of those things. So welcome, great to have you with us. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this.

Sandra Richter: It is great to be here, thank you for the invitation.

Scott Rae: So maybe the best place to start would be to tell us a little bit about the culture of the Ancient Near East, and the status of women in that culture.

Sandra Richter: It really is the essential place to start. Because for modern readers, western readers, especially American readers, what we're experiencing when we step into the old testament is a cross cultural experience. And because we've come to know and love our bibles for so long, we don't necessarily anticipate that we're stepping into somebody else's world. And we wind up evaluating these old testament texts as though they belong in the suburbs of San Diego, as opposed to the central hill country of Ancient Israel.

Scott Rae: Okay. So be a little more specific, how would you summarize what the status of women was in the hill country of Ancient Israel?

Sandra Richter: Okay. So the era we're looking at is called the iron age. So this is running somewhere from 1200 to 586 BC. This is where most of our biblical texts come from. And we can quantify this culture, it's practices, it's architecture, what they ate for dinner, via the disciplines of archeology and epigraphy. I think I want to say right off the back that we're not grabbing at straws here. We actually know what their world looked like.

And the place really to start, is with the formation of their communities, their society. And it's important for us to realize that most of Ancient Israel comes to us in small villages. When I say small, I mean 200 to 250 people. Small villages that were formed around kinship circles. This is a tribal culture, it's a traditional culture. And so if you're thinking about some of the stuff you're seeing on TV coming out of Iraq, or rural India, or even the Blackfoot versus the Suez, you're thinking right.

So this is a tribal culture, and in that tribal culture kinship alliance is everything. So one of the things I've pointed out at our most recent conference, the Evangelical Theological Society, is that in Israel's legal set up, there really was no such thing as individual rights. And right of the bat, that's going to make an America say, "What? No individual rights?". There really wasn't even a perception, per se, of individuals. Now obviously individual people are populating all of these narratives and all of these laws, but when it comes to legal status, legal status is attributed to something called the Bed of the father's household.

So for an American, let me explain. That means an extended family of grandparents, parents and minor aged children, all living under the same roof. And so for us, really that's a turn of the century farming or ranching family. Where the older couple has got the farmhouse, their oldest son has already married and has got a couple of kids, and has built a house on the back ten. The second son is married and is still living in a trailer upwind of the dairy barn, and the minor sons are still under the roof. So that's the legal entity.

Scott Rae: Okay.

Sandra Richter: And inside that legal entity, we've got the women. And one of the first things you're going to encounter, in Israelite law, is that women aren't accorded the rights of an individual. And that's going to be our first stumbling block as 21st century Americans, but we need to realize that neither does anybody else have individual rights.

So in my field, I speak of this as a patriarchal, patrilineal, patrilocal culture, where everything is circling around this extended family and the oldest living male in the family has both authority and responsibility. That's a very important balancing term. For making sure that everybody in the household is fed, housed, safe, an is moving forward in their subsistence economy.

Scott Rae: Okay. Now, would there be some familiarities between that and some places in the Middle East today?

Sandra Richter: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Scott Rae: Or in Africa, some parts of developing world, today?

Sandra Richter: Yeah, absolutely. And the Middle East is rapidly becoming very modernized, very what I would call bureaucratized. And that's what our government is, in the States. We're a bureaucratic society. We turn to the state for everything. If somebody loses their job, the first thing they do is file for unemployment. If that runs out, they can file for an array of state-based economic safety net realities, to help their family through this hard time.

A tribal society, a traditional society, doesn't have that. And so all of those standard safety net issues, be they economic or legal, are going to come to the extended family.

Scott Rae: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sandra Richter: So India, actually, is still a very traditional society. There are many places in Africa that are still traditional, Nigeria for sure. And let me think, the Palestinians would be more traditional. But really it would be the bedouin, not so much the urban dwellers, that are still living with this kinship idea. And if any of your listeners are first or second generation Korean, Chinese, Japanese, definitely they've got that same deference to the oldest living male.

Scott Rae: Okay.

Sandra Richter: I had a student when I was teaching in Jackson, Mississippi. He was 25 years old, he was from Japan. His family was a part of the Wesleyan church in Japan, which means half of a percentage point of the population. And he was in love with another Japanese girl who was from the same denomination, and his parents didn't approve. And so in 2015, this young man actually deferred to his parents guidance. He's being educated in the States, and he broke up with the girl he was in love with and he married the girl they chose.

Scott Rae: Wow.

Sandra Richter: And India would be the same story, arranged marriages are still all over the place. So this is not an anomaly.

Scott Rae: Yeah.

Sandra Richter: For a traditional culture, it's just not our culture.

Scott Rae: Yeah, it's not the west.

Sandra Richter: Yeah.

Scott Rae: Okay, I think that's really helpful background to set on this. So what are some of the top, say two or three, texts out of the mosaic law that critics of Christian faith, critics of Judaism would conclude that the God of the old testament hates women?

Sandra Richter: Hates women, yeah. So when it comes to issues of marriage and sexuality. First of all, the old testament is full of material on these topics. Which I always find interesting in a western environment, we don't talk about these things. Or if we do, we talk about them through lenses that are very conflicted. We've got a pornography epidemic, but we can't actually talk about sexuality. It's not proper conversation. Which I find very intriguing.

So the bible talks about all this stuff, and recognizes that sexuality is a major part of human existence. And generally this very traditional, patriarchal, patrilineal, patrilocal culture is going to come at human sexuality from the perspective that sex happens, it needs to happen, reproduction is essential. Sex is an important part of a society being happy and stable, but there have to be guard rails. Guard rails on the highway of life. And so a lot of those laws are going to be laid down, and they're going to involve women.

And because Israel is a patriarchal culture, not a matriarchal culture... Which it could have been. God could of chosen to manifest himself in a matriarchal culture, but he didn't. He chose a patriarchal one. I tell my students all the time, that he's not endorsing this culture, he's incarnating into this culture.

Scott Rae: Very helpful distinction.

Sandra Richter: Yeah, and if he's going to help himself be known, he's going to have to be known through real people, real places, real faith. And so this is the culture he manifests himself through. So there's going to be a lot of critique of this culture, but he's not going to dismantle it. Because if he does, there's no means of communication.

Okay, so when we get into the old testament, one of the things that is going to be very obvious to a female reader, is that the men in this world seem to have all the power. And the genealogies are all going to list men, and there are not going to be any women named. You're going to wind up, if you're paying close attention, realizing that a women is born into this society as her fathers daughter. She's going to eventually become her husband's wife, and then she's going to become her son's mother.

And the reason for this is, again, in this real functioning legal system and economy, and women's link into the economy and into the legal system is going to be through the men in her life. So when she is a daughter, she is the minor member of a male's household. One of the primary responsibilities of a father in this world is to make sure that his daughter marries well. This is critical, it's one of his primary responsibilities. And in fact, if you were to talk to the patriarch of a current tribal society, they would be appalled at the idea that American parents sent their young adults off into the world without arranging a marriage for them. How incredibly irresponsible of a father not to take care of that most basic life need.

So her marriage is going to be arranged for her. Her father is going to work very hard to find an appropriate match. One that will be a happy match, but that is also economically advantages for both families. And interrupt me if I'm running too long-

Scott Rae: Which is important, being in basically a subsistent style economy.

Sandra Richter: Absolutely.

Scott Rae: That they lived in.

Sandra Richter: Absolutely. And subsistence, by the way, [inaudible] is an Israeli archeologist and he's actually quantified what subsistence looks like. And talk about OCD, he's actually predicted how many calories the average-

Scott Rae: Oh, no kidding?

Sandra Richter: Iron two village would need to get through the year. And if you take his statistics and extrapolate how much a family needs, based on birth rates and infant mortality, and all that sort of stuff, you wind up with the average Israelite family coming up 60 days a year short on their food supply. 60 days. So an anthropologist would call that the hungry season. If you know that you're facing that type of hungry season, or hunger season, you're going to be planning for it.

Scott Rae: For it.

Sandra Richter: And the planning is going to involve everybody going a little bit hungry every day, slaughtering extra animals from the flock, which is going to put you behind the eight ball next spring. Hunting, trying to get just a little bit more out of your fields. So yes, the economic system is very serious, and human mortality is serious as well.

I was on a dig with David Alan and Dan, and we dug up an entire graveyard. And the anthropologist there, there was not one person in that graveyard after 45 years old. And there were two women with their children in that graveyard, and one of them probably died in childbirth. And the other was in her 20s, and shortly after she died her child died, and they opened the grave and laid the child on her.

Scott Rae: That's really helpful.

Sandra Richter: Yeah. All that to say we need to get our girls married, they need to be married as young as they can be. Partly because we can't afford to keep feeding them. They need to be married into a family that can support them and give them offspring, and it needs to be an alliance between two families that are really to ally both relationally and economically.

So one thing that the average 17 year old in So Cal is going to freak out about is that daddy gets to chose my boyfriend, not me. And hopefully I know him and hopefully I like him, but even if it don't, if dad says marry, I marry. And that's a very awkward reality for a modern woman.

Scott Rae: Let me ask you about some specific passages of scripture. [inaudible] that you recall the exact chapter and verse, but women prisoners of war.

Sandra Richter: Ah, yes.

Scott Rae: Were treated really differently under the mosaic law. Although that's kind of an odd way of treating them. So tell us a little bit of how women POWs were treated?

Sandra Richter: Okay. And I'm going to back peddle just a little bit, because the way a female POW is treated still has a lot to do with marriage law and virginity law as well.

Scott Rae: Okay.

Sandra Richter: Because this is a patrilineal society, which means inheritance moves through the male line. And again, God is not canonizing this culture, he is incarnating in it. So if inheritance is going to move through the male line, this is where the virginity issue comes up. This is why girls have to be virgins on the wedding night, because the family that is welcoming them needs to be absolutely sure that the heir that is produced belongs to their ongoing kinship identity.

The idea of passing the resources of the clan on to an outsider is a [Nathamer] I often joke with my students about a job interview in the ancient world, and how in a kinship based society it doesn't matter how qualified the candidates are, you have to hire your niece. Because you can't move the resources of the clan to strangers.

So all that to say, a girl needs to enter her marriage as a virgin. The negotiations are going to happen between her father and the father of the groom. The groom and the bride are going to have nothing to say about this, unless that conversation happens in the privacy of their own dining room. Which didn't actually exist. So that the parents can be assured that there's potential for happiness.

There's actually going to be a bride price exchanged, which is called a mohar. And that is the groom's family paying a sum to the bride's family, and the bride's family is going to keep that amount of money or gifts or jewelry in trust, for an economy safety net for their daughter, in case a divorce happens. So this is going to be the normal exchange.

So when you get into the POW situation, there has been a war, and the war has involved the siege of somebody else's city. So when the siege is successfully accomplished, the military men or either dead already or they're going to be executed, because they're a threat. So they'll either die in battle, run away or get executed by the conquering army. And then we've got women and children, what are we going to do with these? And the women and children in ancient warfare would typically be sold as slaves. So they become part of the loot from the battle.

And Israel, unlike surrounding nations actually, has some very specific laws about how those women and children can be treated. And I can tell you, all over the Ancient Near East, there would have been plundering and rape, and probably torture, and definitely sale at the end of the story. When we take a look at Deuteronomy, and specifically chapter 21, there is this interesting little law about a soldier, who taking a look at the pool of captives, actually finds a young woman that he would like to marry. And that's unusual, because part of the nasty history of warfare is that typically women who are captured are disposable. And disposable in that all you have to do is take a look at the news that these women are typically raped and discarded. And I'm sorry to be so blunt, but it's happening all over our planet.

Scott Rae: It's the way it is.

Sandra Richter: So the law in Deuteronomy makes the statement that if a soldier sees a young woman in the crows that he's attracted to and he wants to marry, that he's allowed to marry her. And this would be an enormous transition for her. She would go from the potential of being a slave, and who knows if her master is going to be a human slave. And as a slave, as a woman, her fertility would be enslaved as well. So a slave woman, throughout the ancient world, throughout the Greco Roman world, has to be accessible, sexually, to her master as well.

So this young man is taking a look at the young woman, and he says, "I actually want to marry that one". Israelite law makes it possible for him to marry her, but the rule is, and this is exceptional, in each world I know of no parallel. If he chooses to marry her, he takes her home. So she comes to live in bed of, in his little four-room pillared house. It is required that she shave her head, trim her nails, discard of her clothing and receive new clothing. Which, as I pointed out in my paper yesterday, probably has multiple purposes.

One, it allows her to mourn. Because all of these actions of shaving the head, trimming the nails, tearing clothing, these are standard mourning rituals. It also takes care of basic hygiene. Because if she's been trapped in a siege for the last three and a half years, she is probably carrying lice and scabies and bed bugs, and all sorts of other stuff. It also, as the rabies point out, takes care of the standard accoutrements of female attractiveness. Which, the rabies are kind of funny about this, they're hoping that the good Jewish boy is not going to want to marry the pagan girl after she shaves her head and trims her nails.

But the thing that's most unique, is she's allowed 30 days in her new household to mourn her parents. And during those 30 days she is neither a slave, ie she's not doing the dishes and laundry. Nor is she a concubine, she is not servicing her new master. She is a woman with the rights of a wife. And for those 30 years she is in betrothal stage, and then after the 30 days he may marry her. When I compare this with militarized rape across our plant, it is unbelievably humane.

Scott Rae: Yeah, that sounds like a pretty good idea to protect women.

Sandra Richter: Yeah, yeah.

Scott Rae: Let me ask you about another one. In Deuteronomy 22, when a woman is raped, if I read that correctly, she's given the option to marry her rapist. Which I think strikes most people as a really odd perception. But I take it part of that is because if a man violates a woman sexually, he is responsible for caring for her. Since virginity is so important, she would be "damaged goods", and he would be responsible for taking care of her for the rest of her life.

Sandra Richter: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Scott Rae: But that sounds really odd, that a woman would be forced to marry her rapist. How do you make sense out of that?

Sandra Richter: How does that work? Yeah. Well actually in Deuteronomy, and we're looking at 22, 23 through 27, she actually is not responsible to marry her rapist. So standard for ancient near eastern law, these are casuistic cases, which means that it's a list of potential cases with the prescribed outcome, and the judges are supposed to take this list of detailed cases and come up with justice. So not every case it going to be addressed, and the judges job is to try to navigate for the sake of justice and fairness based on these various cases.

So the first case that's offered is, again, we're dealing with a young woman, she's a virgin so she's under her father's authority. I can tell you, based on [inaudible] estimates of marriage age, that she's 15 or younger. So this is a young girl, and it makes a statement that if she is in the city... And keep in mind that we're dealing with villages of 200, 250 people, they live very densely. You really can't do anything privately in an Israelite village. So a man finds her and he lies with her in the city. And then the situation is assumed to be consensual, and the narrator actually makes a statement that if she was in the city and if she had resisted or cried out, someone would know about it-

Scott Rae: Somebody would have seen, yeah.

Sandra Richter: And someone would have intervened, and because she didn't, if she is single, not betrothed, then the man is responsible to marry her. So the scenario is basically what I like to call a walk away Joe. The guy who's found a young impressionable girl, he's talked her into having sex, she at some level has consented, when the judges get their hands on him, he has to marry her. No choices. And on top of that, he has to pay her father the top notch mohar. So whereas he could've gotten away with 20 shekels of silver, 15 shekels of silver, or even no mohar whatsoever depending on his level of impoverishment. He's got to pay 50 shekels of silver, which as we investigate the rest of the old testament, is the redemption price of an adult male in his prime. Which is a pretty good price.

So the walk away Joe has to marry her, he's got to pay the mohar and he cannot divorce her. That's not a case of rape. Now, in our legal system, we might be able to prove that she didn't consent or that she was underage or some such thing, and we might name it rape. But in this world, she's not forced, she's not beaten-

Scott Rae: But that's still very protective of a woman-

Sandra Richter: I think so.

Scott Rae: It's guarding her welfare instead of... I mean, it's restricting her choices.

Sandra Richter: Yeah.

Scott Rae: But I mean you're in a world where you didn't have many choices to begin with-

Sandra Richter: Exactly.

Scott Rae: When it comes to marriage, so I can see where the imagery you use of the law putting guard rails up to prevent women from being mistreated and abused in those situations, is pretty significant.

Sandra Richter: Well because what would happen to these young women is, if she went home and no one found out about it, and then her father did arrange a match for her... First of all, somebody knows this happens, and it will come up during the negotiations. And the receiving family will be outraged that another paterfamilias is trying to offer them a young woman who isn't a virgin, and the marriage arrangement's going to fall through. And she's going to wind up with a scarlet letter on her for the rest of her life, probably not be marriageable. That's going to put her family of origin at serious economic risk, because they're not going to be able to marry her off, she's never going to be able to produce heirs, and she's going to be a single woman in this household for the rest of her life.

And then the other law that comes to bare is the law of the slandered virgin. Which is the family does manage to marry her off to a young man, he takes her in good faith, and he discovers on the wedding night that he's not marrying a virgin. So he then has the right to drag her to the town square, humiliate her in the midst of the village, and she can be executed. So really, although it's very strange to us, the fact that the seducer is required to marry her and cannot divorce her, gives her a secure status in society for the rest of her life. So let's talk out the-

Scott Rae: Very protective.

Sandra Richter: Yeah. Well, at least protective. So let's talk about the rape case. The rape case follows closely and this is verses 25 through 27 of the same chapter in Deuteronomy 22, and it makes a statement; but if in the field the man finds the girls who's engaged. And we've got to keep in mind that once a girl is engaged, there's a year long betrothal period, the mohar has been paid. So this man's family has come up with a big chunk of change to secure this young woman as a wife for their son. A standard arranged marriage.

The woman's family has received the mohar and has committed to keep her for this young man until the wedding day. So she's already been paid for. And this is not an exchange of chattel, I really don't want the listeners to hear this, but it is a commitment. And a legal commitment. So she's called wife. From the moment the mohar is received, she's called wife. So she's betrothed.

She's out and about doing her tasks, out in the fields. Maybe she's keeping sheep, maybe she's getting water, who knows what she's doing. Maybe she's visiting her friends. And a man sees her and thinks, "Oh, here's an opportunity". So he finds her and he forces her. And so the words here are that he seizes her, and it is the verb that's used with the rape of Tamara, it's the word used with the rape of-

Scott Rae: It's no doubt it's non-consensual.

Sandra Richter: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. He seizes her, he lies with her. And it says then the man who lay with her shall die, and he alone. To the girl you should do nothing, she's committed no capital crime. For just as a man rises up against his neighbor and murders him, so is this case. When he found her in the field, the engaged girl cried out but there was no one to save her.

So there are a couple of assumptions in this passage. One is that everyone is recognizing that a betrothed girl is already committed, stay away from her. A betrothed girl, if she commits a crime, if she has sex with anyone besides her fiance, it's adultery. And this is the big 10, adultery makes the 10 commandments. And in Israel and the rest of the Ancient Near East, adultery is a capital crime. And it's a capital crime throughout the rest of the Ancient Near East, because the husband deserves revenge.

Here's a very important moment when the Deuteronomy law critiques the rest of the Ancient Near Eastern law. This isn't about revenge. According to Deuteronomy, if she commits adultery, if he commits adultery, they have committed a crime against the community. They have wronged the young man who is waiting for her, they have wronged her family that has promised her, and they've wronged their larger village which is trying to survive under extenuating circumstances.

So the end of this law is you'll execute because you're going to purge the evil from your midst. So it's a crime against the covenant, it's a crime against the community. And whereas in the middle of Syrian laws, if a man's fiance is or wife is raped, get this one, he has the right to take the wife of the rapist-

Scott Rae: Oh my.

Sandra Richter: And have her raped as retaliation. So he dishonors the man who raped his wife the way he's been dishonored. So this innocent wife sitting at home, who's busy baking bread and taking care of her toddlers, is dragged out into the public square and raped quite possibly publicly, because of her husband's crime.

Scott Rae: Yeah.

Sandra Richter: This doesn't come anywhere close to Deuteronomy.

Scott Rae: No, it's very different.

Sandra Richter: So this young woman, who truly has been raped, her rapist is executed. So there's no possibility of her marrying him. She is declared innocent publicly. And I also want to point out, that she's expected to report. And when we look at standard rape legislation in the States, we're down around 40%. Out of a standard 100 rape cases, 40 are reported to the police. And on a college campus, where forced sexual encounters become the norm, it's 12 out of 100.

Scott Rae: Oh, wow.

Sandra Richter: 12 out of 100. So this young woman is expected to report. She's assumed innocent until proven guilty. And again, Deuteronomy goes on to say that after the rapist is executed, and after the rapist family comes up with a mohar, which I find interesting as well-

Scott Rae: So there is compensation.

Sandra Richter: Because she might not be able to draw as good a mohar. Then the father can marry her as he chooses. So yes she's had this horrible traumatic experience, but for everyone who's listening to this podcast who has been sexually violated, her rapist is executed and her name is cleared. So her nightmares, at least when she wakes up she can say, "That man's dead and my name is cleared".

Scott Rae: Yeah, it's very protective of the woman.

Sandra Richter: And she is not shamed.

Scott Rae: Yeah.

Sandra Richter: And I think there's something very powerful about that.

Scott Rae: Just to conclude, I love the statements you've made and I'm quoting from your work, "Far fewer lives were ravaged by sexual misconduct in the central hill country of Israel in the Iron Age, than in Southern California in any given year".

Sandra Richter: Yeah.

Scott Rae: I think that underscores what often is looked at critically as the God of the old testament having it in for women, actually turns out to be nothing of the sort. It's actually very protective. Granted, the fact there's not an individual, is a totally different set of lenses through which we have to view the old testament world. And I think that's still way underestimated about how important that is.

And your idea that God was not condoning the culture, he was just incarnating himself in it, is super helpful important distinction. But I think the idea that these guard rails are set up like they are, to protect women in the culture that they were in-

Sandra Richter: Yes, yes.

Scott Rae: Is, I think, just a really important contribution.

Sandra Richter: Well, and I actually altered the paper that you dealt with in my final version of it. And I compared what's going on in Israel, which is indeed a tradition culture, right? We're dealing with the fact that women do not freely make these choices. And I compared it with India, where women are not making these choices as well. And I don't know if you're familiar with the 2012 Deli rape story-

Scott Rae: Yes.

Sandra Richter: It finally hit international news, where a 23 year old woman is gang raped on a bus, and the driver actually has other passengers drive so that he can take part.

Scott Rae: Oh my gosh, yeah.

Sandra Richter: And by the time they were done with this girl, she was so brutalized, she died from the assault. 5% of her intestines were left in her body when they were done. An American journalist went over the interview the rapists, right? For her project. And she says in her interview, "I was expecting to meet derelicts, I was expecting to meet mentally ill human beings". She said, "I didn't. I met average men". Average men who actually thought this girl deserved it because she was out and about at 9 o'clock at night. That if she simply wouldn't of fought back, she probably would have survived the assault.

The rape is always the girls fault. These are modern commentaries from a traditional culture. Now Israel are traditional culture is saying no, no. This woman's sexual identity is sacred. This woman's sexual identity might not belong exclusively to her, it belongs to her family, but it is not to be violated.

Scott Rae: It's protected.

Sandra Richter: It's protected. And what I wound up saying in my closing sentence in that paper, was that I as a mother of teenage girls, when I look at these laws in Deuteronomy, I anticipate that my daughters would be safer wandering around the central hill country of Israel in the Iron Age, than they would be attempting to cross the quad at UCLA. And that was my final statement.

This is not my culture, I'm not necessarily promoting the culture, but I'm seeing within this culture very careful laws that protect these young women in the midst of a world that would not naturally have protected them.

Scott Rae: Right. That's a really rich conclusion to this, and I think that's the verdict on the old testament law. God, far from hating women-

Sandra Richter: Oh gosh, no.

Scott Rae: God's protecting women and looking out for their best interests. Sandy, thank you so much.

Sandra Richter: Oh, you're welcome.

Scott Rae: This was a really rich deep dive-

Sandra Richter: Thank you.

Scott Rae: Into the culture of the ancient world, and to some of these biblical texts as well. So this has been really rich. Thank you very much for-

Sandra Richter: Thank you for having me.

Scott Rae: For being with us.

Sandra Richter: Yes.

Scott Rae: This has been an episode of the podcast Think Biblically, conversations on faith and culture. To learn more about us and today's guest, Doctor Sandy Richter, and to find out more episodes, go to That's If you enjoyed today's conversation, give us a rating on your podcast app and please share it with a friend. Thanks so much for listening, and remember; think biblically about everything.