Numbers 31:18 And Moses’s Child Brides

Kaleef K. Karim


1. Introduction
2. The Hebrew word “taph” (children)
3. The Hebrew word “lachem” (“for yourselves”)
4. The Ancient Interpretation of Numbers 31:18
5. Contemporary Interpretation of Numbers 31:18
6. “Forced” – Deuteronomy 21:14
7. Conclusion

1. Introduction

The details that are given in Numbers 31:18 about the female captives caught and distributed to Moses’s men is disturbing for many reasons, as we read the verse closer. I have written about this verse before, however, I think we need to look at the Hebrew words closer and see how the verse was interpreted by classical ancient scholars.

Now, this article by no means is to bash or disrespect those who believe and follow the Bible. My intention is to analyse Numbers 31:18, on whether this verse is historical, came from God or was it inserted by men to satisfy their own lusts. I am leaning towards the latter camp. I don’t believe God in all His Mercy would allow the things described in there.

2. The Hebrew word “taph” (children)

Although many of the translations for Numbers 31:18 render the females as being “women”, a closer look at the verse, it refers to “children”, prepubescent girls who have not hit puberty. This is what the Hebrew text reveals. The Hebrew word ‘taf’ (taph) refers to children



The Hebrew word “taf (taph) according to Lexicons.

An English and Hebrew Lexicon – Professor Selig Newman:

CHILD , an INFANT … טַף… an offspring,… get with-……” (An English and Hebrew lexicon composed after Johnson’s directory, containing fifteen thousand English words, rendered into Biblical, or rabbinical Hebrew, or into Chaldee. To which is annexed a list of English and Hebrew words the expressions and meanings of which appear to be the same in both languages (1832), by Professor Selig Newman page 61)

A complete Hebrew-English pocket-dictionary to the Old Testament (1905) – Karl Feyerabend:

“טַף (TAF) ., i.p. .., w.s…. coll. CHILDREN, LITTLE ONES. (A complete Hebrew-English pocket-dictionary to the Old Testament (1905]) By Karl Feyerabend page 118)

A Compendious Hebrew-Lexicon – Samuel Pike:

“טַף LITTLE ONES or CHILDREN… mincing in a childish manner, Isai. Iii. 16. –… to drop, or distil… to prophecy, or distil instruction, Micah ii. 6, 11.” (A Compendious Hebrew Lexicon, Adapted to the English Language, and Composed upon A New and Commodious Plan [Second Edition (1811)] by Samuel Pike page 59)

Here are three accurate translations which show that the verse only speaks about ‘female children’:

Jubilee Bible 2000 – “But all the FEMALE CHILDREN that have not known a man by lying with him KEEP ALIVE FOR YOURSELVES.” – Numbers 31:18

Webster’s Bible – “Translation But all the FEMALE CHILDREN that have not known a man by lying with him, KEEP ALIVE FOR YOURSELVES.” – Numbers 31:18

Living Bible (TLB) – “Only the LITTLE GIRLS may live; you may KEEP THEM FOR YOURSELVES.” – Numbers 31:18

3. The Hebrew word “lachem” (“for yourselves”)

The next line we need to look at, what does “keep alive for yourselves” mean? When we read the verse, it does not give us much information what is meant by that. The first time I came across the verse, reading the ending, I believed it was sexual. When I got into few discussions with Christians what the end “for yourselves” means, they all said that the girls had to be taken care of, and wait until they grow up before they could marry an Israelite. Although such interpretation at the time was possibly plausible (so I thought), however, upon further investigation, I realized that this was not what the verse was relaying.

The words “for yourselves” in Hebrew is “lachem” (lakham):

Hebrew word "lachem" (lakham)

Although the word is unexplained, and deliberately left blank on Christian websites which explain the Bible word for word – when we consult Hebrew-English Lexicons, they give us the following meaning(s) for “lachem” (lakham).

A complete Hebrew and English critical and pronouncing dictionary – Professor William L. Roy:

“לָכֶֽם la-chem. The bread, flesh. P. N.
לָכֶֽם la-cham. 1 He ate, devoured; 2 partook of, participated; 3 accepted, received; 4 sustained, preserved; 5 CONSUMED, DEVOURED, swallowed up; contended, warred, as with an enemy. 3. M. s. Pret K. pl. Prob. 4:17. F. Ps. 141: 4. Prov. 23:6. Imp. 33:1. Pres. Part. Ps. 56: 2, pl. ver. 3. Paul. Pl. const. Deut. 32: 4. Inf. Prov. 23: 1. Niph. Num. 21: 26. Jud. 9: 17. Part. Deut. 3: 22. Pl. Jos. 11: 25. Inf. Exod. 17: 10. As a n. m. s. לָכֶֽם Food, bread, sustenace, a feast, or banquet, ANYTHING WITH WHICH WE ARE PLEASED, OR SATISFIED; figuratively, the Messiah, or bread of eternal life; also, the gospel, or salvation. Prov. 6: 17. 23: 6. Gen. 3: 19. Num. 28: 2. Job 6: 7. Ps. 105: 40. John 6: 31. 41: 50. 1 Cor. 10: 3. LXX. …, To feed, sustain, fatten, as with corn. Arab. … Lah-ma. Ro TO DEVOUR, AS FLESH, to make firm, strong.
לָכֶֽם le-cham. Fight, content thou. 2. M. s. Imp. K. aff. .. Ye, 2. M. p. .. my. R. –“ (A complete Hebrew and English critical and pronouncing dictionary: on a new and improved plan,containing all the words in the Holy Bible, Both Hebrew and Chaldee, with the vowel points, prefixes and Affixes, as they stand in the original text: Together with their derivation, literal and etymlogical meaning, as it occurs in every part of the Bible and illustrated by numerous citations from the Targums, Talmud and cognate Dialects. [New York: Published by Collins, Keese & Co., 230 Pearl Street, University Press – J. F. Trow, Printer, 1837] by William L. Roy (profesor of oriental Languages in New York), page 394)


Hebrew-English Lexicon:

“לָכֶֽם (fut. לָכֶֽם; inf. לָכֶֽם; imp. לָכֶֽם).
– I. EAT, feast upon, DEVOUR; with … of … consummed of fever.
II. Make, WAGE WAR, with .. Niph. … (Inf. Abs. …; fut. Pl. …). – I. make war; with … against with … for. – for. With … besiege.” (Hebrew-English Lexicon – Containing all the Hebrew And Chaldee words in the Old Testament Scriptures, with their meanings in English [BJT – Maltae terricolis linguae, coelestibus una – London: Samuel Bagster And Sons, Limited, New York – james Pott & Co., 1898], page 135)

A Complete Hebrew-English Pocket-Dictionary to the Old Testament – Profesor Karl Feyerabend:

““לָכֶֽם 1 (LACHA’M) imp. לָכֶֽם, fut. לָכֶֽם, pt. לָכֶֽם, pl. … to compress, to FIGHT, to make war. – Ni. …, inf. …, … imp. …, fut. …, to fight. …, to fight, to make war.
לָכֶֽם 2 (lacha’m) fut. … pt. p. …, pl. c. …, to EAT, to CONSUME.
… (lache’m) m, c. לָכֶֽם, war, fight, siege.
… (le’chem) m, i.p. … w.s. …, food, grain, wheat, bread, loaf.” (A Complete Hebrew-English Pocket-Dictionary to the Old Testament, [Third edition, Berlin – Schoneberg (Prof. G. Langenscheidt), Langenscheidtsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, London, W. C. H. Grevel & Co. New York, The International News company – Johannesburg: Hermann Michaelis] by Profesor Karl Feyerabend, Ph, D. page 158)


A Manual Hebrew And English Lexicon, Including The Biblical Chaldee – Josiah W. Gibbs:

“לָכֶֽם, fut. …, to EAT, CONSUME; to war, fight. – Ni. …, infin. Absol. …, to fight, contend.
… or … m. a contest, siege. Judg. 5:8. (A Manual Hebrew And English Lexicon, Including The Biblical Chaldee – Designed Particularly for Beginners [Second edition revised and enlarged – New Haven: Published And sold By Hezekiah Howe: Also by Jonathan Leavitt, New-York; Crocker & Brewster, Boston; And Glagg & Gould, Androver, 1832] by Josiah W. Gibbs, A. M. (Prof. of Sacred Liter. In the Theol. School in Yale College), page 107 – 108)

An Hebrew And English Lexicon, Without Points, In Which The Hebrew And Chaldee Words Of The Old Testament Are Explained In Their Leading And derived Senses:

The radical idea of this wod may, I think, with the late learned Profsoor Robertson, be expressed by the Latin conseriut, inseruit, and in Eng. By insert, JOIN, LAY put, or ENGAGE TOGETHER, as the V. likewise signifies in Arabic.
I. As a N. לָכֶֽם, Food, victual, in general, which is added or inserted into the ody for the sustenance of life, whether of men; see Gen. iii. 10. 1 Sam. Xx. 27. Job xx. 14. Ps. Xli. 10. Cii. 5. Prov. Xxxi. 14. Comp. Dan. V. 1. – or of other animals, ps. Cxxxvi. 25. Cxlvii. 0. Prov. Vi. 8. xxx. 25. Hence as a V. in Kal, to EAT, Vesci. Occ. Job xx. 23.
Ps. Cxli. 4. Prov. Iv. 17. Ix. 5. Xxiii. I, 6, … Eaten up, consumed, with burning heat. Occ. Deut. Xxxii. 24. Comp. under … II. And … II.
… is aplied to that part of the sacrifice which was burnt upon the altar, and which is called … the food of God. See Lev. Iii. 11, 16. xxi. 6. Comp. Mal. i. 7, and Lowth’s note there.
Zeph. i. 17. … Their carcases (so Targ. …), literally, Their food, what might be so for the wild beasts of the field, and the fowls of the air. See Jer. Vii. 33. xix. 7.
… Fruiy, what is eatable, of a tree. Jer. Xi. 19, Let us destroy the three … with his fruit, i.e., the Prophet with hi Prophecies or doctrine. Comp. Mat. Vii. 16; and see Noldii Particul. Heb. Annot. 684. Chald. As a N. … An eating, a feast. Occ. Dan. V. 1. Comp. Job xx. 23.
II. As a N. … Bread, which was and is the principal part of the food of men in alsmost all countries, particularly of the eastern nations, who, Dr. Shaw observes (Travels, p. 230), ‘are great eaters of bread; it being computed that three persons in four live entirely upon it, or else upon such compositions as are made of bareley or wheat flour. Frequent mention is made of this simple diet in the Holy scriptures.’ So Niebuhr, Voyage en Arabie, tom. i. p. 188, tells us that “the principal nourishment of the Orientals in general is fresh-baked bread, and that therefore they take especial care not to want for meal when they travel in the desert.” Freq. occ. Hence
III. Bread-corn. Occ. Isa. xxviii. 28. Comp. Isa. xxx. 23. Num. iv. 7. Job xxvii. 5. Eccles. Xi. 1, and Bp. Lowth’s Note on Praelect. X. De Sacra Poesi Heb. P. 120, edit. Oxon, svo. And p. 211, edit. Gotting.
IV. In Kal, RO ENGAGE in fighting, to fight, Manum seu praelium conserere. Occ. Ps. Xxxv. 1. 1vi. 2, 3. Comp. Jud. V. 8. In Niph.TO BE ENGANGED in war or battle to fight. In this form it occurs very frequently; and with … following, it denotes To Fight for one, or one his side. Exod. xiv. 14, 25. Josh. X. 14. (comp. Ps. 1vi. 3.) But followed by … Num. xxi. 1, & al. freq. – by … Deut. xx. 4. …” (An Hebrew And English Lexicon, Without Points, In Which The Hebrew And Chaldee Words Of The Old Testament Are Explained In Their Leading And derived Senses, the Derivative Words Are ranged Under Their Respective Primitives, And The Meaning Assigned To Each Authorized By references To Passages of Scriptures, And Frequently Ilustrated And Confirmed By Citations From various Authors, Ancient And Modern. To This Word are Prefixed, An Hebrew And Chaldee Grammar, Without Points. [the Eighth Edition, Corrected And Improved. London: Printed for C. And J. Rivington; J. Cuthell; Longman, Hurst, Bees, Orme, And Brown; T. Cadell; John Richardson; J. Mawman; Baldwin, Cradock, And Joy; Ogle, Duncan, and Co.; G. And W. B. Whittaeker; W. Mason; R. Scholey; Baynes And Son; Simpkin And Marshall; J. Nisbet; J. Bohn; G. Mackie; R. Saunders; T. Tegg; T. Redshaw; Hurst, Robinson, And Co.; E. Edwards; And Stirling And Slade, 1823], page 357)

An Exposition of the Prophet Ezekiel: With Useful Observations Thereupon – Rev. William Greenhill (b. 1581):

“’And of Phut.’ Phut was one of the sons of Ham, Gen. x. 6, from whom both posterity and country were so named. Ezek. xxxviii. 5, Phut is translated Libya, and Jer. Xlvi. 9, Libyans, the Libyabs; so the Vulgate; and these were famous warriors, and therefore hired to be defenders of the city of Tye. Those joined with their own men, made up their army, fighting for them at sea when occasion was, and constantly guarding their city. The word for ‘war’ is milchamah, from LACHAM, TO EAT, and to fight, because wars do EAT UP men, AND THEIR ESTATES; hence the sword is said to DEVOUR, and that from one end of the land to the other, Jer. xii. 12; and to be drunk with blood Jer. xlvi. 10. War is bloody, consuming, and DEVOURING.” (An Exposition of the Prophet Ezekiel: With Useful Observations Thereupon [London: Samuel Holdsworth, Amen Corner, Paternoster-Row. Stereotyped And Printed by J. R. And C. Childs, Bungay. MDCCCXXXVII.] by Rev. William Greenhill (b. 1581), James Sherman (editor), page 605)

So as we read from the above Lexicons and a commentary, the Hebrew ‘lacham (Lechem) means to “engage”, “eat” or “devour”, this definitely is sexual in the context for Numbers 31:18. It could not mean that the verse commanded Moses’s men to commit cannibalism, rather to “engage”, “eat” and “devour” is understood to mean sexually. This is how the earliest of scholars and historians understood the verse to mean.

4. The Ancient Interpretation of Numbers 31:18

The ‘Voice’ Translation of the Bible which was produced by a two dozen or more scholars and pastors, give an accurate rendering for “yourselves”, to mean that the warriors can do anything they “desire” to the female children:

As for the virgins, you can take them, as you DESIRE.” – Numbers 31:18

Shaye J. D. Cohen who is the Littauer Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations of Harvard University, explains that “ for yourselves” is clear that that Moses’s soldiers could use the females “sexually”:

“Moses enjoins upon the returning warriors to kill their Midianite female captives who have lain with a man, but ‘spare for yourselves every young woman who has not had carnal relations with a man’; WE MAY BE SURE THAT ‘FOR YOURSELVES’ MEANS THAT THE WARRIORS MAY ‘USE’ THEIR VIRGIN CAPTIVES SEXUALLY.52 The law in numbers differs from the law in Deuteronomy- perhaps the most significant distinction is that the law in Deuteronomy does not care whether the captive is a virgin or not- but it too permits Israelite warrior to marry (or ‘marry) a foreign woman.” (The Beginnings of Jewishness: Boundaries, Varieties, Uncertainties [University of california Press, Berkeley / Los Angeles / London, The Regents of the University of California, 1999] by Shaye J. D. Cohen [chapter 8] page 255 – 256)

In footnote 52, Professor Shaye J.D. Cohen continues, this time explaining the Hebrew word “lakhem” (lachem) that it is “sexual” and this is how it was the understood by ancient scholars:

“I do not know why the new Jewish version omits ‘for yourselves’; the Hebrew LAKHEM IS UNAMBIGUOUS. That the intent of ‘FOR YOURSELVES’ IS SEXUAL OR MATRIMONIAL IS OBVIOUS; the passage is correctly understood by Rabbi Simeon Yohai in the Sifrei ad loc (177 212H).” (The Beginnings of Jewishness: Boundaries, Varieties, Uncertainties [University of california Press, Berkeley / Los Angeles / London, The Regents of the University of California, 1999] by Shaye J. D. Cohen [chapter 8] page 255 – 256 – [Footnote 52])

The Talmud Of The Land of Israel (also known as ‘Palestinian Talmud’) mentions how the earliest (ancient) of scholars interpreted Numbers 31:18 to mean that the females could be kept as “slave girls”:

“[H] R Simeon says, ‘The requirement is that her [age of] virginity [that is, three years] occur within the sanctity of Israel.’
[I] It was taught [along these same lines] in the name of R. Simeon, ‘A girl who converted at the age of less than three years and one day is valid for marriage into the priesthood.’
[J] What is the scriptural basis for this view? ‘But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, ‘keep alive for yourselves’ (Num. 31:18).
[K] And Phineas [a priest] was with them, [and hence they are valid for marriage into the priesthood, since he was a priest].
[L] How do rabbis interpret ‘KEEP ALIVE FOR YOURSELVES?’ To them it says that they SHOULD KEEP THEM ALIVE FOR THEMSELVES AS SLAVE boys and SLAVE GIRLS.
[M] R. Yosa, R. Yosa in the name of R. Yohanan, R. Jonah, R. Hiyya in the name of R. Yohanan: ‘The law is in accord with the position of R. Yose.’
[N] Hanin bar Ba in the name of Rab: ‘The Law is in accord with the opinion of R. Yose.’
[O] But the priests for their part acted in accord with R. Eliezer b. Jacob.” (The Talmud Of The Land of Israel – Qiddushin: A Prelimnary Translations and Explanation [Translated by Jacob Neusner, University of Chicago Press, 1984], volume 26, page 239 – 240 [Qiddushin 4:6. Chap. 4])

This is also mentioned in Tractate Bikkurim – [Chap. 1] Halakhah 5:

“It was stated in the name of Rebbi Simeon: “A girl which became a proselyte being less than three years and one day of age if acceptable for the priesthood since it was said (NUM. 31:18): ‘All the female children unfit for sleeping with a male you shall let live for yourselves,’ and Phineas was with them.’ But the Rabbis [say] YOU SHALL LET LIVE AS SLAVES and SLAVE GIRLS FOR YOURSELVES.” (The Jerusalem Talmud – First Order: Zeraim, Tractates Ma’aser Seni, Hallah, Orlah, And Bikkurim [WDEG – Studia Judaica – Forschungen Zur Wissenschaft Des Judentums, (Editor, Translation and, commentary by Herausgeben Von E. L. Ehrlich) – (BAND XXIII) Walter De Gruyter – Berlin – New York, 2003], page 565)


“R. ELIEZER B. JACOB SAID: A PROSELYTE [etc.}. It was taught: R. Simeon b. Yohai said: A female proselyte less than three years and a day is ELIBLE to the priesthood, as it is said: But all the women children … keep alive for yourselves; now, was not Phineas among them? But the Rabbis [interpret] ‘KEEP THEM ALIVE FOR YOUR SELVES’ AS bondwomen AND BONDWOMEN. (Talmud – Mas. Kiddushin 78a:45 – page 261 – 262, online source)


In the Footnote section for the above it says that these female “children” were “permitted in marriage”, meaning they could be married off:

“(34) Num. XXXI, 18; it refers to the war captives.
(35) And though he was a priest, these CHILDREN were PERMITTED IN MARRIAGE.” (Talmud – Mas. Kiddushin 78a:45, page 261 – 262 – online source)


Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth Folio 60a, goes into a little more detail. The ancient scholars say that marriage with these female children is “permitted” as long as they are “fit for cohabitation”. In other words, the females did not have to hit puberty before the warriors slept with them:

‘”Unto him”, includes one who is adolescent’. But surely R. Simeon stated that ‘virgin’ implied a perfect virgin!12 — His reason there is also derived from here, because he makes the following exposition: since [the Scriptural text], ‘unto him’, was required to include one who is adolescent, it is to be inferred that ‘virgin’ implies a perfect virgin.
It was taught: R. Simeon b. Yohai stated: A proselyte who is UNDER THE AGE OF THREE YEARS AND ONE DAY IS PERMITTED TO MARRY A PRIEST,13 for it is said, But all the women children that have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves,14 and Phinehas15 surely was with them. And the Rabbis? 16 — [These were kept alive] as bondmen and BONDWOMEN.17 If so,18 a proselyte whose age is three years and one day19 should also be permitted! — [The prohibition is to be explained] in accordance with R. Huna. For R. Huna pointed out a contradiction: It is written, Kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him,20 but if she hath not known, save her alive; from this it may be inferred that children are to be kept alive whether they have known or have not known [a man]; and, on the other hand, it is also written, But all the women children, that have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves,14 but do not spare them if they have known. Consequently 21 it must be said that SCRIPTURE SPEAKS OF ONE WHO IS FIT 22 FOR COHABITATION.23
It was also taught likewise: And every woman that hath known man;20 Scripture speaks of one who is fit 23 for cohabitation. You say, ‘Of one who is fit for cohabitation’; perhaps it is not so but of one who had actual intercourse? — As Scripture stated, But all women children, that have not known man by lying with him,24 it must be concluded that Scripture speaks of one who is fit for cohabitation.23
Begins Whence did they know?25 — R. Hana26 b. Bizna replied in the name of R. Simeon the Pious: They were made to pass before the frontplate.27 If the face of anyone turned pale28 it was known that she was fit for cohabitation; if it did not turn pale28 it was known that she was unfit for cohabitation.” (Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth Folio 60a – online source)


We may infer from this, although marriage is permitted with these female children who have not hit puberty, the condition for the marriage to be consummated rests on the female being “fit for cohabitation”, this, however, is vague, how would one know if one is fit?

The Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth Folio 60a footnote section, for the above quote, says some scholars disputed that one has to be “fit for cohabitation” since the text is clear:

“14 Num. XXXI, 18.
15 Who was a priest.
16 How could they, contrary to the opinion of R. Simeon b. Yohai, which has SCRIPTURAL SUPPORT, FORBID THE MARRIAGE OF THE YOUNG proselyte?
17 Not for matrimony.
19 So long as she has ‘not known man’.
20 Num. XXXI, 17.
21 To reconcile the contradiction.
22 I.e., one who had attained the age of three years and one day.
23 Not one who had actually experienced it.
24 Implying that any grown-up woman is not to be spared, even if she hath not known man.
25 Which of the Midianite women, referred to in the texts quoted, was, or was not fit for cohabitation.
26 Cur. [edd.], ‘Huna’.
27 [H] the gold plate which was worn by the High Priest on his forehead. V, Ex. XXVIII, 36ff.
28 Lit., ‘(sickly) green’. (Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth Folio 60a FOOTNOTE: – online source)


In other words, there were other scholars who ruled that the female does not even have to be “fit” for sexual intercourse.

In the Targums of Onkelos And Jonathan Ben Uzziel On The Pentateuch it states that the girls were used as “prey” [1] for the men:

“And Mosheh and Elazar the priest did as the Lord commanded Mosheh; THE BOOTY, the rest of the PREY which the people went forth to the war HAD TAKEN, was, sheep six hundred and seventy-five thousand, oxen seventy-two thousand, asses sixty-one thousand, persons, WOMEN WHO HAD NOT KNOWN MAN, EVERY SOUL THIRTY-TWO THOUSAND. …” (The Targums of Onkelos And Jonathan Ben Uzziel On The Pentateuch; with the fragments of the Jerusalem Targum: From the Chaldee – Leviticus, Numbers, And Deuteronomy [London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, And Green, 1865] by J. W. Etheridge, M.A., page 326)

The above translation inferring “women” is incorrect as the text clearly, states that these females were “children”. The above is corrected 100 pages further down.

The Targums of Onkelos And Jonathan Ben Uzziel On The Pentateuch continues:

“Now, therefore, slay every male among the children, and every woman who hath known a man; but every FEMALE CHILD STAND BEFORE THE CROWN OF HOLINESS, (THE PRIEST’S TIARA),) AND LOOK UPON HER: SHE WHO IS A VIRGIN WILL BLUSH IN THE FACE, LIKE FIRE; THEM YOU SHALL SPARE. But as for you, abide without the camp seven days; whoever hath slain a man, or touched the dead, you shall sprinkle on the third; and on the seventh day, both you and your captives, and every garment, and whatever is made of skin, goats’ hair, horn, or bone, and every vessel of wood, you shall sprinkle.

And the Lord spake with Mosheh, saying: Take the sum of the PREY of the captives, both of man and beast, and take their amount, thou and Elazar the priest, and the chiefs of the fathers of the congregation; and divide the spoil between the men of war who took the spoil in the conflict of battle, having gone forth with the host, and between all the congregation; and separate that which is to be given up to the Name of the Lord by the men of war who went firth with host: one woman out of five hundred; so, likewise, of oxen, asses, and sheep. From their half, the portion of the men of war, shalt thou take them, and give to Elazar the priest, as a separation unto the Name of the Lord; but of the half (failing to) the children of Israel thou shalt take one out of fifty of fifty of the women, and of the oxen, the asses, and of all the cattle, and give them to the Levites who keep charge of the Lord’s tabernacle; and Mosheh and Elazar the priest did as the Lord commanded Mosheh. (The Targums of Onkelos And Jonathan Ben Uzziel On The Pentateuch; with the fragments of the Jerusalem Targum: From the Chaldee – Leviticus, Numbers, And Deuteronomy [London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, And Green, 1865] by J. W. Etheridge, M.A., page 453 – 454)

The historian Flavius Josephus (37 – 100 AD) also confirms the above account:

“The Hebrew War With The Midianites, And Overcome them. Num. xxxi.
1. Now Moses sent an army against the land of Midian, for the causes forementioned, in all twelve thousand, taking an equal number out of every tribe, and appointed Phineas for their commander; of which Phineas we made mention a little before, as he that had guarded the laws of the Hebrews, and had inflicted punishment on Zimri when he had transgressed them. Now the Midianites perceived beforehand how the Hebrews were coming, and would suddenly be upon them: so they assembled their army together, and fortified the entrances into their country, and there awaited the enemy’s coming. When they were come, and they had joined battle with them, an immense multitude of the Midianites fell; nor could they be numbered, they were so very many: and among them fell all their kings, five in number, viz. Evi, Zur, Reba, Hur, and Rekem, who was of the same name with a city, the chief and capital of all Arabia, which is still now so called by the whole Arabian nation, Arecem, from the name of the king that built it; but is by the Greeks called Petra. Now when the enemies were discomfited, the Hebrews spoiled their country, andTOOK A GREAT PREY, and destroyed the men that were its inhabitants, together with the women; only they let the VIRGINSalone, as Moses had commanded Phineas to do, who indeed came back, bringing with him an army that had received no harm, and a great deal of PREY; fifty-two thousand beeves, seventy-five thousand six hundred sheep, sixty thousand asses, with an immense quantity of gold and silver furniture, which the Midianites made use of in their houses; for they were so wealthy, that they were very luxurious. THERE WERE ALSO LED CAPTIVE ABOUT THIRTY-TWO THOUSAND VIRGINS. (14) So Moses parted the PREY into parts, and gave one fiftieth part to Eleazar and the two priests, and another fiftieth part to the Levites; andDISTRIBUTED THE REST OF THE PREY among the people. After which they lived happily, as having obtained an abundance of good things by their valor, and there being no misfortune that attended them, or hindered their enjoyment of that happiness.” (The Works of Flavius Josephus: Comprising The Antiquities Of the Jews; A History Of The Jewish Wars; And Life Of Flavius Josephus, Written by himself [Translated from the original Greek by William Whiston, A. M., (Professor In the University of Cambridge) together With Numerous explanatory Notes – Philadelphia: Porter & Coates], page 133 – 134)

There is also a passage from the Christian Saint, Justinian the great (483 – 565 AD) which suggests, where males have to hit puberty, it was not necessarily required for a female to contract a marriage if she did not hit puberty. [2] We may infer that he took this law from Numbers 31:18,

“Roman citizens form the tie of lawful marriage with each other when they are united according to law, the males having attained the age of puberty, and the FEMALES A MARRIAGABLE AGE, whether they are patresfamilias or filiifamilias; but if the latter, they must first obtain the consent of their ascendants, in whose power they are. For both natural reason and the law require this consent so much so, indeed, that it ought to precede the marriage. Hence the question has arisen, whether the daughter of a madman could be married, or his son marry. And as opinions were divided as to the son, we decided that as the daughter of a madman might, so may the son of a madman marry without the intervention of the father, according to the mode established by our constitution.” (The Institutes Of Justinian With English Introduction, Translation, And Notes, [Fifteenth Impression, Seventh Edition, – Longmans, Green And Co. 39 Paternoster Row, London, E.C. 4 – New York, Toronto, Bombay, Calcutta And Madras, 1922] by Thomas Collett Sandars, M. A. (Barrister-At-Law, Fellow Of Oriel College, Oxford), page 30 [LIB. I. TIT. X.])

A more accurate translation:

“Roman citizens contract valid marriages with each other, if they come together in accordance with the bidding of the laws, the males physically mature, the FEMALES CAPABLE OF TAKING A MAN [i.e., of sexual intercourse].” “Justinian Institutes, 1. 10 pr) (cited in, Gentile Impurities and Jewish Identities: Intermarriage and Conversion from the Bible to the Talmud, [Oxford University Press, 2002] by Christine E. Hayes page 277 – 278)

The foregoing evidence from the Hebrew Lexicons  shows that the verse was speaking about children who were either married to warriors or sexually used outside of marriage (i.e., rape). We also have seen from the ancient scholars that they understood the verse giving permission to Moses’s men to use these females for their own sexual desires or be married to them, as “child brides”.

5. Contemporary Interpretation of Numbers 31:18

The contemporary (few hundred years to date) commentaries also highlighted that the females were used as slaves or Moses’s men married the prepubescent girls.

A Commentary Upon The Fourth Book Of Moses, Called: Numbers – Symon Lord Bishop Of Ely [Simon Patrick]:

“Ver. 18. But all the women-Children that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive.] Being young, there was some hope they might be brought off from idolatry, and become proselytes to the true Religion. FOR YOURSELVES.] To be sold asSLAVES to any other nation; or to be kept as servants; or TAKEN TO BE THEIR WIVES, after such preparation as the Law required, XXI Deut. 16, 17, &c. This was a peculiar case, wherein the middle course was held, between those that were of the seven Nations of Canaan, and those that were not. If they were not of those seven Nations, the Israelites take the women, and little ones unto themselves, XX Deut. 14, 15. If they were, everything that breathed was to be destroyed, v. 16, 17. But here the Midianites being guilty of a very great Crime against the Lord, and against his people, are punished more heavily than other nations; though not so heavily as those of Canaan were to be. For they killed all the women that were not virgins, as well as all the males, both little and great; but spared the rest, together with the cattle, &c. Such an execution was made, in after times, upon one of the cities of Israel, upon an high contempt of Publick authority, in a very great Exigency, XXI Judges 11. …” (A Commentary Upon The Fourth Book Of Moses, Called: Numbers, [London: Printed for Ri. Chitwell at the Rose and Crown in St. Paul’s Church Yard. MDC XCIX] by Symon Lord Bishop Of Ely [Simon Patrick], Page 592 – 593)

A Bible Commentary For English Readers – Charles John Ellicott:

“(18) Keep alive for yourselves.—The Israelites were ALLOWED TO MAKE SLAVES OF THEIR CAPTIVES. Shortly after the capture of these Midianitish women, and, it may be, as arising out of it, the law concerning MARRIAGE WITH CAPTIVES was enacted. (SEE DEUT. XXI. 10-14.)” (A Bible Commentary For English Readers by various writers (Genesis To Numbers), [Cassell And Company, Limited – London, Paris, New York & Melbourne] by Charles John Ellicott, D.D., volume 1, page 563)


A Commentary On The Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal And Homiletical – John Peter Lange:

“The women were certainly the cause of the great sin and fall of Israel, and associated with the Israelitish families they might have become more destructive to the people than before. But how was it with the boys? Knobel reminds us, that they would have risen up later as the avengers of their slain fathers. But they might also, according to their Midianitish nature, have corrupted the Israelitish women. The terrible result of the command was the death penalty to every male, and also to EVERY FEMALE, except those whose virginity could be established, and who might become fused into the popular life of Israel without danger, in the position of SLAVES, handmaids.” (A Commentary On The Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal And Homiletical, With special reference to Ministers and Students – Numbers And Deuteronomy. by John Peter Lange, D. D., [Translated, Enlarged And Edited by Philip Schaff, D. D., (professor of sacred Literature In the Union Theological seminary, New York) – New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1884], volume 3, page 168)

Rev. Dr. Mary Donovan Turner:

“A comprehensive survey of practices in ancient Israel to gender and sexuality is not possible here. Yet, the identification of some of the more problematic aspects will demonstrate the difficulty of ‘transporting’ Old Testament practices into contemporary, healthy practices. In ancient Israel sex was political, something tied to war treaties, and definitely related to power. In the Old Testament, Moses encourages his men to use captured virgins FOR THEIR OWN PLEASURE. After urging his men to kill male captives and female captives who are not virgins, he says, ‘But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves’ (Num. 31:18) This implies that women were commodities, a SPOIL OF WAR, property that could be bartered or won, used, and EXPLOITED after the last battle is fought and the goods are conquered or divided. …” (Parental Guidance Advised: Adult Preaching from the Old Testament [Editors: Alyce M. Mckenzie and Charles L Aaron Jr, Chalice Press – St. Louis, Missouri, 2013], Rev. Dr. Mary Donovan Turner, page 49)

Theological Bible Commentary – Samuel E. Balentine:

“…those ‘who have not known a man by sleeping with him’ (31:18), must be spared. The text does specify what keeping them ‘ALIVE FOR YOURSELVES’ (31:18) means, but we may reasonably assume from other legislation concerning the treatment of women captured in war (cf. DUET. 21:10-14) that sparing their lives opens possibility that they may be incorporated into Israelite community and, upon MARRIAGE TO AN ISRAELITE, be granted full citizenship.” (Theological Bible Commentary: [WJK – Westminster, John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 2009] (editors: Gail R. O’Day, David L. Petersen), by Samuel E. Balentine page 55)

Joseph Benson’s Commentary of the Old and New Testaments:

“Verse 17
Numbers 31:17. Kill every male among the little ones — Which they were forbidden to do to other people, (DEUTERONOMY 20:14,) except the Canaanites, to whom this people had equalled themselves by their horrid crimes; and therefore it is not strange, nor unjust, that God, the supreme Lord of all men’s lives, who, as he gives them, so may take them away when he pleaseth, did equal them in the punishment. Kill every woman, &c.— Partly for punishment, as having, in general, either prostituted themselves to the Israelites, or some way been accessary in enticing them to idolatry, in which they were so confirmed that there was no hope of reclaiming them; and partly for prevention of the like mischief in future; for had they been saved alive, they would probably have continued to lead the Israelites into the sin of fornication, and have poisoned their minds by their superstitions. THE FEMALE CHILDREN were to be spared, because, being young, there was some hope they might be reformed from idolatry, and become proselytes to the true religion. These they might have as servants, or might MARRY THEM. (Joseph Benson’s Commentary of the Old and New Testaments – Numbers 31:18 – online source)


Study Bible: English Standard Version (ESV):

NUMBERS – Note on 31:13-18 Moses anger with his officers. Normally in wars outside Canaan, the women were spared (DEUT. 20:14). But as these women were responsible for seducing the Israelites, they had to be killed. In addition, if every male among the little ones were killed, this would preclude the perpetuation of the Midianite people and eliminate the Midianites as a nation forever. GIRLS WITHOUT SEXUAL EXPERIENCE (NUM. 31:18), who were not involved with the sin of Baal-peor, were allowed to live and MARRY ISRAELITE WARRIORS.” (Study Bible: English Standard Version (ESV) [2008 by Crossway Bibles], page 688)

Professor of the Old Testament, Carolyn J. Sharp:

“The implicit suggestion of threatened sexual violence in this story begs for analysis as well. The practice of sexual violation of enemy women for the purpose of long-term destabilization of the enemy is a well-known and amply documented strategy of male warriors in many cultures, from ancient times to today. Scripture testifies to this abhorrent practice in holy-war texts such asNUMBERS 31:18, in which Moses commands the execution of non-virgin Midianite women but allows his army to ‘keep alive for’ themselves MIDIANITE VIRGIN GIRLS, AND DEUTERONOMY 20:14, WHICH INSTRUCTS THAT ENEMY WOMEN MAY BE TAKEN AS BOOTY. …” (Wrestling the Word: The Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Believer, [First edition, WJK – Westminster, John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 2010] by Carolyn J. Sharp, Page 131)

Professors Ronald M. Holmes, and Stephen T. Holmes:

In Old Testament times, women were seen as property, (Deuteronomy 22). In the Old Testament, Moses encouraged his men to use the CAPTURED VIRGINS FOR THEIR OWN USE AND SEXUAL PLEASURE. Moses encouraged his men to kill the male captives and female captives who were not virgins: ‘But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves’ (NUMBERS 31:18). …” (Fatal Violence: Case Studies and Analysis of Emerging Forms [CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, Boca Raton, London, New York, 2012] by Ronald M. Holmes, Stephen T. Holmes, page 130)

Thus as we have read the above exegesis, these female children were used as “slaves”, or “married” to the warriors.

6. “Forced”  – Deuteronomy 21:14

If you read closely, many of the exegesis refer to Deuteronomy 21:10-14 as evidence that they were married off (child brides). The verse reads:

Deuteronomy 21:10-14 Good News Translation (GNT) – “When the Lord your God gives you victory in battle and you take prisoners, 11 you may see among them a beautiful woman that you like and want to marry. 12 TAKE HER to your home, where she will shave her head, cut her fingernails, 13 and change her clothes. She is to stay in your home and mourn for her parents for a month; after that, you may marry her. 14 Later, if you no longer want her, you are to let her go free. Since YOU FORCED HER TO HAVE INTERCOURSE WITH YOU, you cannot treat her as a slave and sell her.”

So we read from the Law of Moses, spells out the purification ritual to prepare female captives. The verses require that the warrior shaves her head and trim her nails and give one month for her to mourn, before sexual intercourse.

Although some of the translations try to give it a rendering (meaning) that no rape took place, a closer look at the verse tells us that these female captives were “forced” to have intercourse with the warriors. The GNT translations give an accurate portrayal of what happened.

In fact, the Hebrew word “annah” (inna) that is used for Deuteronomy 21:14, as “forced” intercourse (rape), the same word is used inLamentations 5:11, Judges 20:5, Genesis 34:2, Deuteronomy 22:29, Ezekiel 22:11 and 2 Samuel 13:14, in all these verses, the scholars who translated them, rendered the word “anah” as “rape”.

7. Conclusion:

As we looked in the Book of Numbers (31:18), Moses’s warriors were to keep all the female children for themselves. The Hebrew lexicons rendered “yourselves”, it was understood to be sexual. The ancient scholars further interpreted the verse (Num. 38:18) to mean that Israelites, Moses’s soldiers were to keep the female children for themselves, to be used sexually. Furthermore, the text does lean towards that no marriage took place when the warriors kept the females for themselves.

The piece of evidence we looked at is very disturbing and ungodly for one to believe, and say that it came down from God Almighty.

I did mention at the beginning of this piece, that I do not believe that God in all his Mercy would, could allow or permit such heinous crimes against these female children.

There are few alternatives for Bible believers in relation to this story:

1. Don’t judge what happened few 1000s of years ago.

2. Find manuscripts or other evidence that tell us that these children were not used by Moses’s warriors for their own sexual needs.

3. Or reject this story as not being historically true, not from God, was inserted by men to satisfy their own evil lustful desires.


[1] The word “prey” used in some of the ancient commentaries for the verse (Num. 31:18), means “booty”, something that is “snatched” in warfare, “women” taken as spoils of war:
“PREY. – Prey, from Lat. Praeda, BOOTY (perhaps from prae-hendo, TO SEIZE beforehand), though Old Fr. Praie, preie, is now narrower in meaning than formerly. In AV it includes booty or spoil. Heb. Words properly denoting a wild beast’s prey are (1) … tereph, from … to tear, to rend (the verb itself is tr. ‘prey’ in Ps 17:12 like as a lion that is greedy of his prey,’ …, AVm ‘THAT DESIRETH TO RAVIN,’ Cheyne ‘longing to tear in pieces’). Tereph is tr. ‘prey/ in Gn 49:9, Nu 23:24, Job 4:11, 24:5 (RV ‘meat’), Ps 76:4, 104:23, 124:6, Is 5:25, 31:4, Ezk 19:3, 6, 22:25-37. Am 3:4, Nah 2:12, 13, 13. This is also the proper meaning of (2) … hetheph (from […]] TO SEIZE), and it is so tr. In its only occurrence, Pr 23:28 ‘she also lieth in wait as for a prey, AVm ‘as a robber,’ which is the RV text, RVm ‘as for a prey.’
Also (3) … ad (from … to attack?, means ‘prey,’ and is so tr. In Gn 49:27, Is 33:23, Zeph 3:8, its only occurrences (against the view of Hitzig and others that it is … in this sense that appears in … of Is 9:5 (6), see Dillmann, ad loc.). And (4) … okhel, which means ‘food,’ is legitimately tr. ‘prey’ in Job 9:36, 39:29. But all the remaining words mean BOOTY or SPOIL TAKEN IN WAR or SNATCHED AS ONE’S SHARE. The chief word is … baz TO PLUNDER, TAKE AS SPOIL; the verb itself is rendered ‘TAKE FOR A PREY’ in Dt 2:35, 3:7, Jos 8:2. 27, 11:14, Est 3:12, 8:11; ‘make a prey’ in Ezk 26:12; and ‘Prey upon’ in Neh 4:4 (‘give them for a prey,’ RV ‘give them up to spoiling,’ Amer.RV ‘for a spoil’), Est 9:15, 16 (RV ‘spoil’), Dn 11:24 (so RV). The common word … shalal (from … to plunder, the Hithpolel is tr. ‘make oneself a prey’ in Is 59:15), which over sixty times is rendered ‘SPOIL,’ is tr ‘prey’ in Jg 5:30, 8:24, 45:5 (so RV). The only remaining word is … malkuah, which simply means something captured (from … TO TAKE), which is given as ‘prey’ in AV and RV in Nu 31:11, 12, 26, 27. Is 49:24, 25: in Num 31:22 AV gives ‘BOOTY,’ RV ‘prey.’ (A Dictionary of the Bible – Dealing with its language, Literature, and Contents, including the Biblical Theology – [Edited by James Hastings, M. A., D. D., university Press of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii, 2004], volume 4 [part 1 – Pleroma – Shimon], page 66)
[2] Some may object, and say the female children (in Num. 31:18) grew up when they were married off, and use Ezekiel 16:1-8 as evidence. There are a few issues, (1) This verse (Ezek. 16:1-8) does not prohibit the things that were permitted in Numbers 31:18. (2) Ezekiel passage is a “parable”, how could a parable override (abrogate) a command direct from YHWH? (3) The last point is the biggest issue, how is the verse relevant to Moses and his warriors when Ezekiel came 700 years after Moses?

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Jacob’s 7-Year-Old Daughter Dinah, Married To Shechem

Kaleef K. Karim

What was Dinah’s age when Shechem raped her? Was Dinah given away in marriage to Shechem? This will be elaborated further down in the article.

I do a lot of research about the Quran, Hadith and the Bible, I have to read a lot of commentaries on these books – to get a better understanding of how scholars understood the passages.

Recently, I was writing an article on a verse in Genesis. I read through nearly 40 commentaries on the particular verse I was examining. Every time Dinah was mentioned, the scholars explained how old she was at the time she was ‘raped’ by Shechem. One thing that I noticed, there was a repeated pattern from all the commentaries about Dinah’s age. The ages given were not consistent and was contradictory. Some proposed that she was 10, others higher, 12, 13, 14, 15, and even 16. Not only was it contradictory but they supplied no evidence for their claims, how they came to the conclusion for her age. They didn’t present any verses from Genesis to substantiate what they asserted.

The scholars’ views on how old she was, got me thinking. I was asking myself, why are they so adamant proving that she was at a certain, particular age at the time of the rape and marriage?

This got me to open my GNT Bible translation in the morning at home and went through Genesis 29 all the way to the end of Genesis 34. I read through the chapters three times until I seen the exact age that was given by Genesis account. And it was not 10, 12, 13, 14, 15 or 16. It was actually anything below 9. How did I get to that?

Well for this, we have to read and follow the evidence from the verses in Genesis.

We begin by the response of Jacob telling Laban that he was with him and served for him for twenty long years. In that time he got married and had nearly two dozen children (bear in mind this is the episode when Jacob and his family fled from Laban):

Good News Translation (GNT)
“36 Then Jacob lost his temper. “What crime have I committed?” he asked angrily. “What law have I broken that gives you the right to hunt me down? 37 Now that you have searched through all my belongings, what household article have you found that belongs to you? Put it out here where your men and mine can see it, and let them decide which one of us is right. 38 I HAVE BEEN WITH YOU NOW FOR TWENTY YEARS; your sheep and your goats have not failed to reproduce, and I have not eaten any rams from your flocks.” – Genesis 31:36-38

Bear the above information in your mind, as we go through the passages showing how young Dinah was at the time of her rape and subsequent marriage to Shechem.

At the beginning of Genesis 29:15 it tells us how Jacob was loved up and attracted to Rachel. Jacob’s love for Rachel, made him ask Laban that he would work 7 years if he could marry Rachel at the end. Laban agreed that he wanted to give Rachel to him and no one else (Gen. 29:18-19).

The following verses tell us that Jacob worked the 7 years so that he could have Rachel when the time came – Jacob asked Laban, the time he waited (seven years) is “up” and now he wants what was promised to him (Gen. 29:21).

“18 Jacob was in love with Rachel, so he said, “I WILL WORK SEVEN YEARS FOR YOU, if you will let me marry Rachel.”
19 Laban answered, “I would rather give her to you than to anyone else; stay here with me.”
20 JACOB WORKED SEVEN YEARS so that he could have Rachel, and the time seemed like only a few days to him, because he loved her.
21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “THE TIME IS UP; let me marry your daughter.” – Genesis 29:18-21

That same night, a wedding feast was made and all the people around were invited:

“He went to Laban and said, “Why did you do this to me? I worked to get Rachel. Why have you tricked me?” Laban answered, “It is not the custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older.
27 Wait until the week’s marriage celebrations are over, and I will give you Rachel IF YOU WILL WORK FOR ME ANOTHER SEVEN YEARS.” – Genesis 29:26-27

After the wedding was over, Rachel supposed to have been sent over to Jacob’s tent, however, Laban deceptively sent Leah to his tent. He had intercourse with her, all the time unbeknown to Jacob that is Leah, not Rachel. He only finds out that he was sleeping with Leah, the next morning when there was daylight.

As soon as Jacob found out that it was Leah and not Rachel, he went to Laban and said, why did he have to do this to him? Laban responded by saying that it is not the ‘custom’ to marry the younger daughter before the older one.

So Laban told Jacob to give it a week or more when the marriage celebrations are over and he will give Rachel to him, but he has to work another seven years. After the week’s celebrations were over Laban gave Rachel to Jacob (Gen. 29:28). At the same time, Laban also gave his daughter Rachel, his slave, Bilhah.

From Genesis 29:31 on is where the real story begins as to how old Dinah was when her ‘rape’ and marriage took place.

Year 8

Bear in mind before we begin, Jacob here has already been with Laban for seven years. Jacob’s first child to Leah was born:

“32 LEAH BECAME PREGNANT AND GAVE BIRTH TO A SON. She said, “The Lord has seen my trouble, and now my husband will love me”; so she named him REUBEN.” – Genesis 29:32

Year 9

In the year 9 Leah gives birth to Simeon:

“She became pregnant again and gave birth to another son. She said, “The Lord has given me this son also, because he heard that I was not loved”; so she NAMED HIM SIMEON.” – Genesis 29:33

Year 10

Leah gives birth to Levi:

“Once again she became pregnant and gave birth to another son. She said, “Now my husband will be bound more tightly to me, because I have borne him three sons”; so SHE NAMED HIM LEVI.” – Genesis 29:34

Year 11

Then she gave birth to another son, this time, she named him ‘Judah’:

“Then she became pregnant again and gave birth to another son. She said, “This time I will praise the Lord”; SO SHE NAMED HIM JUDAH.” – Genesis 29:34

It says from here on that Leah stopped having any children.

Year 12

Rachel became really frustrated and angry – she was not getting pregnant. As a result of her frustration and anger, Rachel decided and told Jacob to sleep with her slave Bilhah, so he could impregnate her. As a result of this, Bilhah became pregnant and a son was born. They named him, ‘Dan’:

30 But Rachel had not borne Jacob any children, and so she became jealous of her sister and said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I will die.”
2 Jacob became angry with Rachel and said, “I can’t take the place of God. He is the one who keeps you from having children.”
3 She said, “Here is my slave Bilhah; sleep with her, so that she can have a child for me. In this way I can become a mother through her.” 4 So she gave Bilhah to her husband, and he had intercourse with her. 5 Bilhah became pregnant and bore Jacob a son. 6 Rachel said, “God has judged in my favor. He has heard my prayer and has given me a son”; SO SHE NAMED HIM DAN.” – Genesis 30:1-7

Year 13

Bilhah became pregnant again, and named the child ‘Naphtali’:

“Bilhah became pregnant again and bore Jacob a second son. 8 Rachel said, “I have fought a hard fight with my sister, but I have won”; SO SHE NAMED HIM NAPHTALI.” – Genesis 30:7

Year 14

Leah realized that she could not have any children, she decided to give her slave Zilpah to Jacob as his wife. The verses reveal that Zilpah became pregnant and bore a son, they named him ‘Gad’:

“9 When Leah realized that she had stopped having children, she gave her slave Zilpah to Jacob as his wife. 10 Then Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 Leah said, “I have been lucky”; so SHE NAMED HIM GAD.” – Genesis 30:9

Year 15

Zilpah became pregnant again, and this time, they named the child, ‘Asher’:

“12 Zilpah bore Jacob another son, 13 and Leah said, “How happy I am! Now women will call me happy”; so SHE NAMED HIM ASHER.” Genesis 30:12-13

Year 16

Leah and Rachel got into an argument, Rachel settled it by saying to Leah that she could sleep with Jacob tonight if she gave her son’s ‘mandrakes’. The story goes that Leah that night slept with Jacob, and she became pregnant. They named the son, ‘Issachar’:

“14 During the wheat harvest Reuben went into the fields and found mandrakes, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”
15 Leah answered, “Isn’t it enough that you have taken away my husband? Now you are even trying to take away my son’s mandrakes.”
Rachel said, “If you will give me your son’s mandrakes, you can sleep with Jacob tonight.”
16 When Jacob came in from the fields in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You are going to sleep with me tonight, because I have paid for you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he had intercourse with her that night.
17 GOD ANSWERED LEAH’S PRAYER, AND SHE BECAME PREGNANT AND BORE JACOB A FIFTH SON. Leah said, “God has given me my reward, because I gave my slave to my husband”; so SHE NAMED HER SON ISSACHAR.” – Genesis 30:14-17

Year 17

Another child was born to Leah, they named him ‘Zebulun’:

“19 LEAH BECAME PREGNANT AGAIN and bore Jacob a sixth son. 20 She said, “God has given me a fine gift. Now my husband will accept me, because I have borne him six sons”; SO SHE NAMED HIM ZEBULUN.” – Genesis 30:19-20

Year 18

In the following year Leah was pregnant again, and this time, she gave birth to ‘Dinah’:

“LATER SHE BORE A DAUGHTER, whom she named DINAH.” – Genesis 30:21

Year 19

Then Rachel was ‘remembered’ by God, then she gave birth to child, and named him ‘Joseph:

“22 Then GOD REMEMBERED RACHEL; he answered her prayer and made it possible for her to have children. 23 SHE BECAME PREGNANT AND GAVE BIRTH TO A SON. She said, “God has taken away my disgrace by giving me a son. 24 May the Lord give me another son”; so she named him JOSEPH.” – Genesis

With the above evidence from the verses, we can see that Dinah was born the 18th year of Jacob serving, and working for Laban.

In the following episode, the verses tell us that Jacob ‘bargained’ with Laban, wanted to go back to his homeland.

Jacob’s Bargain with Laban
25 After the birth of Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Let me go, so that I can return home.
26 Give me my wives and children that I have earned by working for you, and I will leave. You know how well I have served you.”
27 Laban said to him, “Let me say this: I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you.
28 Name your wages, and I will pay them.”
29 Jacob answered, “You know how I have worked for you and how your flocks have prospered under my care.
30 The little you had before I came has grown enormously, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I went. Now it is time for me to look out for my own interests.”
31 “What shall I pay you?” Laban asked.
Jacob answered, “I don’t want any wages. I will continue to take care of your flocks if you agree to this suggestion:
32 Let me go through all your flocks today and take every black lamb and every spotted or speckled young goat. That is all the wages I want.
33 In the future you can easily find out if I have been honest. When you come to check up on my wages, if I have any goat that isn’t speckled or spotted or any sheep that isn’t black, you will know that it has been stolen.”
34 Laban answered, “Agreed. We will do as you suggest.”
35 But that day Laban removed the male goats that had stripes or spots and all the females that were speckled and spotted or which had white on them; he also removed all the black sheep. He put his sons in charge of them,
36 and then went away from Jacob with this flock as far as he could travel in three days. Jacob took care of the rest of Laban’s flocks. Genesis 30:25-36

God told Jacob to go back the land of his fathers, and his relatives. So Jacob packed up and went:

31 Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything that belonged to our father. He got all his wealth from what our father owned.” 2 He also saw that Laban was no longer as friendly as he had been earlier. 3 Then the Lord said to him, “GO BACK TO THE LAND OF YOUR FATHERS AND TO YOUR RELATIVES. I will be with you.” …
17-18 So Jacob got ready to go back to his father in the land of Canaan. He put his children and his wives on the camels, and drove all his flocks ahead of him, with everything that he had GOTTEN IN MESOPOTAMIA.” – Genesis 31:1-18

As a result of Jacob fleeing with his wife, and his children, he was pursued by Laban:

“22 Three days later Laban was told that Jacob had fled.
23 He took his men with him and PURSUED JACOB FOR SEVEN DAYS until he caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead.” – Genesis 31:21-22

Eventually, Laban caught up with Jacob, and the following was said between themselves:

“26 Laban said to Jacob, “Why did you deceive me and carry off my daughters like women captured in war?
27 Why did you deceive me and slip away without telling me? If you had told me, I would have sent you on your way with rejoicing and singing to the music of tambourines and harps.
28 You did not even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters good-bye. That was a foolish thing to do!
29 I have the power to do you harm, but last night the God of your father warned me not to threaten you in any way.
30 I know that you left because you were so anxious to get back home, but why did you steal my household gods?”
31 Jacob answered, “I was afraid, because I thought that you might take your daughters away from me.
32 But if you find that anyone here has your gods, he will be put to death. Here, with our men as witnesses, look for anything that belongs to you and take what is yours.” Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen Laban’s gods.
33 Laban went and searched Jacob’s tent; then he went into Leah’s tent, and the tent of the two slave women, but he did not find his gods. Then he went into Rachel’s tent.
34 Rachel had taken the household gods and put them in a camel’s saddlebag and was sitting on them. Laban searched through the whole tent, but did not find them.
35 Rachel said to her father, “Do not be angry with me, sir, but I am not able to stand up in your presence; I am having my monthly period.” Laban searched but did not find his household gods.
36 Then Jacob lost his temper. “What crime have I committed?” he asked angrily. “What law have I broken that gives you the right to hunt me down?
37 Now that you have searched through all my belongings, what household article have you found that belongs to you? Put it out here where your men and mine can see it, and let them decide which one of us is right.
38 I HAVE BEEN WITH YOU NOW FOR TWENTY YEARS; your sheep and your goats have not failed to reproduce, and I have not eaten any rams from your flocks.”
39 Whenever a sheep was killed by wild animals, I always bore the loss myself. I didn’t take it to you to show that it was not my fault. You demanded that I make good anything that was stolen during the day or during the night.
40 Many times I suffered from the heat during the day and from the cold at night. I WAS NOT ABLE TO SLEEP.
42 If the God of my fathers, the God of Abraham and Isaac, had not been with me, you would have already sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my trouble and the work I have done, and last night he gave his judgment.” – Genesis 31:26-42

The above account is very interesting information that we have read. Few facts from the verses:

1. Jacob worked and served Laban for a whole twenty long years.
2. For fourteen years he worked for Laban’s two daughters (Rachel and Leah).
3. Dinah was born in the eighteenth year as we calculated all the kids that were born. This would tell us that Dinah was no more than three years old when Jacob fled from Laban, to go back to his homeland.

Jacob arrives back in his homeland:

“18 ON HIS RETURN FROM MESOPOTAMIA JACOB ARRIVED SAFELY AT THE CITY OF SHECHEM in the land of Canaan and set up his camp in a field near the city.
19 He bought that part of the field from the descendants of Hamor father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of silver.
20 He put up an altar there and named it for El, the God of Israel.” Genesis 33:18-20

With Jacob arriving back at his homeland and building a house for him and his family – at this stage, he has just left Laban and met Esau.

Coming back to Dinah, the calculation would tell us that she was around 3-4 years old when Jacob arrived home. Even if we are generous and say that every child that was born to Rachel, Leah, Bilhah and Zilpah, were born every 9-10 month, which would calculate to us that Dinah to being around 7 years old when Jacob arrived in his homeland.

The first time we hear of Dinah again is as soon as Jacob arrived back in his homeland. Dinah’s episode begins:

“1 One day Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, went to visit some of the Canaanite women.
2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, who was chief of that region, saw her, HE TOOK HER AND RAPED HER.
3 But he found the young woman so attractive that he fell in love with her and tried to win her affection.
4 He told his father, “I WANT YOU TO GET DINAH FOR ME AS MY WIFE.” – Genesis 34:1-4

Dinah is set to have gone out to see some Canaanite women. While on her way, Shechem, the son of Hamor, saw her and was really attracted to her. With him not holding himself back, he grabbed Dinah, forced himself on her i.e., raped her. With Shechem ‘falling’ in love with Dinah, he tried being affectionate afterwards. And to mend the wrong he had done, he wanted to marry her. Shechem went to his father, who was the chief of the land and had asked that he wanted to marry Dinah, and become a wife to him.

Jacob and his son learn that Dinah has been raped, they are furious about this:

“5 Jacob learned that his daughter had been disgraced, but because his sons were out in the fields with his livestock, he did nothing until they came back.
7 just as Jacob’s sons were coming in from the fields. When they heard about it, they were shocked and furious that Shechem had done such a thing and had insulted the people of Israel by raping Jacob’s daughter.” – Genesis 34:5-7

Hamor responded by saying to Jacob and his sons, that Shechem has fallen in love with Dinah and wanted his son to marry her. He was urging them to accept this and would give anything for this marriage to take place:

9 Let us make an agreement that there will be intermarriage between our people and yours.
10 Then you may stay here in our country with us; you may live anywhere you wish, trade freely, and own property.
12 Tell me what presents you want, and set the payment for the bride as high as you wish; I will give you whatever you ask, if you will only let me marry her.”
13 Because Shechem had disgraced their sister Dinah, JACOB’S SONS ANSWERED SHECHEM AND HIS FATHER HAMOR in a deceitful way.
16 Then WE WILL AGREE TO INTERMARRIAGE. We will settle among you and become one people with you.
18 These terms seemed fair to Hamor and his son Shechem,
19 and the young man lost no time in doing what was suggested, because he was in love with Jacob’s daughter. He was the most important member of his family.
20 Hamor and his son Shechem went to the meeting place at the city gate and spoke to the people of the town: 21 “These men are friendly; let them live in the land with us and travel freely. The land is large enough for them also. Let us marry their daughters and give them ours in marriage. 22 But these men will agree to live among us and be one people with us only on the condition that we circumcise all our males, as they are circumcised. 23 Won’t all their livestock and everything else they own be ours? So let us agree that they can live among us.” 24 All the citizens of the city agreed with what Hamor and Shechem proposed, and all the males were circumcised.
” – Genesis 34:8-10

We see that Jacob does not condemn the whole affair, nor did he object to Hamor’s proposal for his son Shechem to marry Dinah. Instead, he prepares with his sons to do a deal with Shechem’s father. Jacob was willing to give his daughter to them. Although Dinah’s brothers had agreed to the deal they proposed to Shechem’s father, that they become circumcised first before they can give their sister away, they did this deceptively as the passage reveals.

Furthermore, a closer look at Genesis 34:17 suggests that Dinah was already in Shechem’s house, this in some way tells that the agreement was half way met for her to be married off – Genesis 34:27 corroborates that Dinah was given away by her father and lived in Shechem’s house.
What I find intriguing in this story, Jacob, and his sons’ faces did not drop to the floor at the suggestion from Hamor proposing for Dinah to marry his son. It some way shows that pre-twentieth century, people got married very early. We have documented cases in the US and Europe, where seven to ten years old were married off. So the proposal of Shechem’s father, for his son to marry seven-year-old Dinah does show that such marriages were common and accepted in such societies. In fact, scholars in the past have said that Dinah was below the age of 9, at the time of the incident with Shechem. [1] [2]

With Shechem’s father agreeing to the conditions Dinah’s brothers put forward, they agreed to circumcise themselves:

25 Three days later, when the men were still sore from their circumcision, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, the brothers of Dinah, took their swords, went into the city without arousing suspicion, and killed all the men,
26 including Hamor and his son Shechem. THEN THEY TOOK DINAH FROM SHECHEM’S HOUSE AND LEFT.
27 After the slaughter Jacob’s other sons looted the town to take revenge for their sister’s disgrace. 28 They took the flocks, the cattle, the donkeys, and everything else in the city and in the fields.
29 They took everything of value, captured all the women and children, and carried off everything in the houses.
30 Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have gotten me into trouble; now the Canaanites, the Perizzites, and everybody else in the land will hate me. I do not have many men; if they all band together against me and attack me, our whole family will be destroyed.”
31 But they answered, “We cannot let our sister be treated like a common whore.” – Genesis 34:25-31

While they finished from the circumcision that was imposed on Shechem and his family, Dinah’s brothers went there with their swords and murdered all the men. They looted the town, robbed everything in it and enslaved all the women and children.

Jacob was not happy at what his sons did to Shechem and his family. He was worried that he could not defend his own family. It seems Jacob was happy that Dinah was given away in marriage. Dinah’s brothers in response said that their sister was treated like a ‘whore’, hence deserve what befall them.

While we looked at all the evidence in this article, we calculated precisely that at the time of Dinah’s incident with Shechem and the marriage proposal, she was no more 7 years old. Reading the verses, it seems to tell us that Jacob had no problem given her daughter away at that age, nor was Dinah’s brothers. Their main issue here was, that Shechem had raped her, treated her like a “whore”.

In the next line, we look at where the verses tell us if she was married off when Shechem’s father came over. The following verse does seem to incline towards that:

“25 Three days later, when the men were still sore from their circumcision, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, the brothers of Dinah, took their swords, went into the city without arousing suspicion, and killed all the men, 26 including Hamor and his son Shechem. THEN THEY TOOK DINAH FROM SHECHEM’S HOUSE AND LEFT.” – Genesis 34:25-26

The verse tells us that when Shechem’s father went over to Jacob, for Dinah’s marriage, she was given away and settled in Shechem’s house.

Now, we need to look at Christian commentaries on this verses to get a better understanding.
Gary H. Everett’s Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures:

“Genesis 34:26 — “and took Dinah out of Shechem”s house, and went out” – Comments- After having read this passage, I asked the question, “What was Dinah doing in the house of Shechem?” John Gill gives us the account and manner of the New Testament JEWISH CUSTOM OF BETROTHING A WIFE BY QUOTING MAIMONIDES. HIS COMMENT TELLS US HOW MARRIAGES DURING THIS ANCIENT CULTURE WERE TRANSACTED IN A VERY SIMPLE MANNER BY TAKING A WOMAN INTO A MAN’S HOME WITHOUT THE TRADITIONAL WEDDING CEREMONY:
“Before the giving of the law, if a man met a woman in the street, if he would, he might take her, and bring her into his house and marry her between him and herself, and SHE BECAME HIS WIFE; but when the law was given, the Israelites were commanded, that if a man would take a woman he should obtain her before witnesses, and after that she should be his wife, according to Deuteronomy 22:13 and these takings are an affirmative command of the law, and are called אירוסין או קידושין “espousals” or “betrothings” in every place; and a woman who is obtained in such a way is called מאורסת או מקודשת “espoused” or “betrothed”; and when a woman is obtained, and becomes מקודשת”espoused,” although she is not yet נבעלה “married, nor has entered into her husband’s house,”YET SHE IS A MAN’S WIFE.” 244]
244] John Gill, Matthew , in John Gill’s Expositor, in e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), comments on Matthew 1:18.” (Gary H. Everett’s Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures – Genesis 34 – online source)


Wallace Eugene March::

“Such proposal may seem out of line to us, but it was totally in accord with the legal codes of the ancient Near East (including Israel’s). If a man raped an unbetrothed (or unengaged) virgin, the ‘legal’ and proper way to right the wrong was for that MAN TO PAY THE BRIDE-PRICE TO THE WOMAN’S FATHER, MARRY THE WOMAN, AND AGREE NEVER TO DIVORCE her (see Exod. 22:16-17; Deut. 22:28-29). This was the context in which Dinah’s future was considered.
In contrast to the ‘legal’ and positive efforts of Hamor and Shechem to correct a terrible wrong, Jacob’s sons responded ‘deceitfully’ or ‘treacherously’ (the Hebrew word carries both connotations) (34:13). It seems, perhaps, that they were more concerned about ‘an outrage in Israel’ (34:17), or somehow disgracing themselves (34:14), than caring for their sister. After all, Shechem had willingly come forward to make restitution as best he could and had announced his love for Dinah. But the brothers set a conditions: only if all the non-Israelite men in the city were circumcised could Dinah become Shechem’s wife. Then, and only then, might other women be given in marriage as well (34:14-17).
Hamor and Shechem were ‘pleased’ by the offer and accepted the terms. They did so in good faith not knowing (as we the readers do) that it was ‘deceitful’ (34:18; see 34:13). Thus they persuaded the other men in the community also to be circumcised. They pointed out that the land was large enough for the Shechemites and the Israelites to live together. They would trade together and intermarry, and as Hamor noted, ‘Will not their livestock, they property, and all their animals be ours?’ After all, the Shechemites were clearly the majority population and the Israelites the minority. So, all the Shechemite men agreed to be circumcised (34:18-24). Of course, the story did not end with everyone living together happily ever after. While the Shechemite men were still painfully recovering from their circumcision, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, snuck into the city and killed all the men (34:25). They also forcibly took Dinah out of Shechem’s house (34:26). The text does not indicate Dinah’s reaction to all the violence, but THERE IS ALSO NO SUGGESTION THAT SHE WAS BEING HELD AGAINST HER WILL BY SHECHEM. Next the sons of Jacob (the RSV says ‘other sons,’ which would exclude Levi and Simeon, but the term ‘other’ is not in the Hebrew text) pillaged the city, taking all their wealth, livestock, and women and children (34:27-29). Jacob was greatly displeased by what his had done. They claimed that it was a matter of revenging the honor of their sister, who had been defiled and ‘treated like a whore’ (34:27, 31). But Dinah was not a whore; she had not sold herself to Shechem, and everyone knew that. She had been raped and the proper legal act of restitution had been made. Shechem had willingly married Dinah. Moreover, the Shechemites had willingly agreed to be circumcised. Jacob recognized what his sons had done and understood the long-term consequences of their treacherous action. He castigated them, especially Simeon and Levi, for their act. To gain ‘honor’ and wealth for themselves they had put the whole clan into potential danger. The Israelites were few in number relative to the Canaanites. Should the people of the land decide to join together, they could easily overwhelm the Israelites (34:30).“ (Genesis from Scratch: The Old Testament for Beginners [WJK – Westminster, John Knox Press – Louisville – Kentucky, First edition, 2010], by Wallace Eugene March, page 51 – 52)

Jonathan Burnside:

“At this point in Biblical period, intercourse is not regarded as inherently creating kiddushin (betrothal). However, it is an act that should, in the normal course of events, lead to serious negotiation over the creation of Kiddushin. GENESIS 34:26 refers to the brothers taking Dinah out of Shechem’s house. Mignon Jacobs thinks that this ‘IMPLIES THAT DINAH WAS IN SOME SENSE ALREADY MARRIED TO SHECHEM, although she does not identify this as inchoate marriage. At any rate, it was possible to rectify this unusual situation, provided there was willingness on both sides regarding the mohar. This is why ‘Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him’ (34:6). Shechem subsequently offers to pay any ‘marriage present (mohar) and gift’ to the family to set the matter right (34:12). The magnitude of his offer indicates his desire to compensate for the harm done. At this point, the reader expects negotiations between the house of Jacob and the house of Hamor leading to a settlement and damages. …” (God, Justice, and Society: Aspects of Law and Legality in the Bible [Oxford University Press, 2011], by Jonathan Burnside page 331)


“You have troubled me: Heb. עִכַרְתֶּם, an expression denoting murky water [meaning that] now my mind is not clear [without worry]. The Aggadah (Gen. Rabbah 80: 12) [explains]: THE BARREL WAS CLEAR, BUT YOU HAVE MADE IT MURKY. (I.e., I SAW OUR WAY CLEAR TO CO-EXIST WITH THE CANAANITES, BUT NOW YOU HAVE SPOILED THE POSSIBILITY TO DO SO.) The Canaanites had a tradition that they would fall into the hands of Jacob’s sons, but they said [that this would only happen],“Until you are fruitful and inherit the land” (Exod. 23:30). Therefore, they have been silent.” (Bereishit – Genesis – Rashi – Chapter 34, online source)


John Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Bible:

“And Shechem spake unto his father Hamor,…. And told him the whole affair, at least what a strong affection he had for Dinah:
saying, get me this damsel to wife; by which he meant not only that he would give his consent that he might marry her, but that he would get her parents’ consent unto it, and settle the matter with them; by which it appears how early, and that even among Heathen nations, consent of parents on both sides was judged necessary to marriage. It seems by this as if Dinah was now detained in the house of Hamor or Shechem, and was upon the spot, or near at hand, when Shechem addressed his father about her, see Genesis 34:26.

and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went out; where she was kept from the time of her being ravished by Shechem, with AN INTENTION TO MARRY HER, could the consent of her parents and relations be obtained; for it DOES NOT APPEAR THAT HE KEPT HER TO CARRY ON A CRIMINAL CONVERSATION WITH HER, BUT A COURTSHIP IN ORDER TO MARRIAGE. …
And Hamor, the father of Shechem, went out unto Jacob,…. Unto the tent of Jacob without the city: to commune with him; to talk with him about the affair of Dinah, to pacify him, and endeavour to gain his consent, that his son might marry her, and to settle the, terms and conditions of the marriage.

because he had delight in Jacob’s daughter; he really loved her, and delighted in her person and company: it was not the effect of a brutish lust, but a true affection he bore to her, that he desired her in marriage:
and he was more honourable than all the house of his father; for though he had done a base thing in defiling Jacob’s daughter, yet in this he was honourable, that he sought to marry her, and to do any thing that was in his power to recompence the injury; and he was honourable in keeping covenant and compact with men; and was honest, upright, and sincere, to fulfil the condition imposed on him, and he had agreed to, as well as he was in greater esteem among the citizens than any of his father’s house, which made it the more easy to him to get their consent to be circumcised; they having a very high and honourable opinion of him, and ready to oblige him in anything they could.” (John Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Bible – Genesis 34 – online source)



As the evidence stands, Dinah was most probably given away in marriage at the age of seven. She could not have been older, as the texts do not support this. The verses tell us that Dinah was a very young girl when the incident of her and Shechem took place. And the subsequent deal being made by Jacob and his sons inclines us to believe that she was already given away in marriage. This whole incident does demonstrate that pre-twentieth century marriages took place at a very young age. This was common, as we have documented cases of such marriages taking place in the US and Europe by Law.

I may add, I have read through a lot of commentaries, those that agree with the age 7 being the accurate age for Dinah when the incident took place with Shechem. I have also read the opposing arguments and set her age a lot higher. The latter camp, lack evidence for Dinah’s age. The text from Genesis is very clear, she could not be more than 9 years old.

There are few alternatives:

1. The first alternative, this may be harsh, rejecting the whole episode of Genesis 29 to chapter 34, as not being historically true.

2. The second alternative is to find an earlier manuscript(s) for Genesis that sets Dinah’s age higher, at the moment this does not exist. Even if these manuscripts were available, it would create more problems and questions beyond chapter 34.

3. So we are left with the evidence that she was 7 at the time of her being married off. To modern people and scholars this may be hard to accept because of the world-view, and the times we are living in. I personally think those scholars who do not want to accept what the Genesis account states, should take a step back and not impose their 21st-century lens on to a people who lived 1000s of years ago. One could accept that the marriage did happen, however, at the same time say this marriage took place for those times and hence is not to be followed today. It was only in the 1800s in America and some European countries that the age of consent was 7 to 10 years. There ae even documented cases of people being married at the age of 10 and below, these cases only occurred just over 100 years ago. In fact, in India girls are being married off below the age of ten in this very century. So the age of Dinah with Shechem’s would not have raised eye-browns then.


[1] Although, the Pulpit commentary writers don’t agree that she was 7, they do however provide scholars such as Tuch and Bohlen that said that she was six or seven at the time of the incident with Shechem: “she was only six or seven years of age when the incident about to be described occurred (TUCH, BOHLEN).” (The Pulpit Commentaries – Genesis 34 – online source)
[2] John Gill states that Rabbi David Ganz  was of the opinion that Dinah was either 9 or 10 when the incident of Shechem took place (R. Ganz. Tzemach David, par. l. fol. 6. 2.). Bear in mind that John Gill does not agree with him. (John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible – Genesis 34 –online source)

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Mariyyah Al-Qibtiyya Buried Next To The Wives Of Muhammed [P. 4]

This is the fourth piece on Mariya the Copt, the Prophet Muhammed’s wife. The other three pieces can be seen here, here, and here.

In this piece, we try to give a statement from Aisha, the wife’s Prophet (p). Before Aisha died, she had asked Abdullah bin Zubair, that she did not want to be buried next to the grave of the Prophet (p) and his companions, rather, she wanted to be buried with her companions. Who are the companions? According to the scholars, the statement she made was referring to the wives of Prophet Muhammed (p). Aisha wanted to be buried next to the wives of the Prophet:

Aisha narrated that she made a will to `Abdullah bin Zubair, “Do not bury me with them (the Prophet and his two companions) butbury me with my companions (wives of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) ) in Al-Baqi as I would not like to be looked upon as better than I really am (by being buried near the Prophet).” (Sahih al-Bukhari Volume 2, Book 23, Hadith 474)

So what is important about this report? Well, Mariya, who some claim she was not a wife but a ‘slave’, was buried in al-Baqi. The same cemetery Aisha wanted to be buried in. This the cemetery where all the wives of Prophet Muhammed (p) were buried in:

“That same year Mariyah, the mother of Ibrahim son of the Prophet, died. Umar b. al-Khattab said the prayer over her bier. Her grave is in al-Baqi.” (The History of al-Tabari (“Tarikh al-Tabari”): Biographies Of The Prophet’s Companions And Their Successors – Al-Tabari’s Supplement to His History [Translated & Annotated by Ella Landau-Tasseron (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem), State University of New York Press, Albany, 1998], volume 39 [Vol. XXXIX], page 22)

We may infer from this report and the previous that Aisha, Companions of Prophet Muhammed (p) accepted that Mariyah was among the wives of the Messenger. And the evidence in previous articles showed that she was married to the Prophet (p).

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Mariyya Al-Qibtiyya Was No Concubine [P. 3]

In previous articles on Mariyah, which can be seen here and here, I presented many classical to contemporary sources that Mariyah was indeed married to Prophet Muhammed (p). The claim that she was a slave, we found this historically untenable.

In this third series on Mariyah, we look at a dozen reports after Prophet Muhammed’s demise – wherein the companions and his wives of Prophet Muhammed (p) state that he did not leave any slave or slave-women behind (past tense).

From these reports we will deduce a further proof that when he was alive he did not have any slave or slave-women in his possession nor did he leave one after his death.

Sahih al-Bukhari:

Narrated ‘Amir bin Al-Harith: Allah’s Apostle (Prophet Muhammad) did not leave a Dinar or a Dirham (Arab form of currency or money) or a male or a female slave. He left only his white mule on which he used to ride, and his weapons, and a piece of land which he gave in charity for the needy travelers. (Bukhari volume 5, Book 59, Number 738)

Sahih al-Bukhari:

Narrated Amr bin Al-Harith: (The brother of the wife of Allah’s Apostle. Juwaira bint Al-Harith) When Allah’s Apostle (Prophet Muhammad) died, he did not leave any Dirham or Dinar (i.e. money), a slave or a slave woman or anything else except his white mule, his arms and a piece of land which he had given in charity .(Bukhari volume 4, Book 51, Number 2)

Sunan an-Nasa’i:

It was narrated that ‘Amr bin Al-Harith said: “The Messenger of Allah did not leave behind a Dinar nor a Dirham, or any slave, male or female; except his white mule which he used to ride, his weapon and some land which he left to be used for the cause of Allah.” (One of the narrators) Qutaibah said on one occasion: “In charity.” (Sunan an-Nasa’i 3594 volume 4, Book 29, Hadith 3624, Sahih Darussalam)

Riyad as-Salihin:

‘Amr bin Al-Harith the brother of Juwairiyah, (the Mother of believers) reported: (When he died) Messenger of Allah left neither a dinar nor a dirham nor a male slave nor a female slave, nor anything else except his white riding mule, his weapons and his land which he had given in charity to wayfarers. (Riyad as-Salihin Book 1, Hadith 475)

Bulugh al-Maram

’Amro bin al-Harith, the brother of Juwairiyah the mother of Believers (the wife of the Prophet narrated, ‘When Allah’s Messenger died, he did not leave a Dinar or a Dirham, a slave or a slave-woman, or anything but his white she-mule, his weapons and a piece of land which he appointed as Sadaqah.’ (Bulugh al-Maram Book 15, Hadith 1478)

Ahmad Ibn Hanbal:

“Imam Ahmad stated that Ishaq b. Yusuf related to him, from Sufyan, from Asim, from Zirr b. Hubaysh, from A’isha, who said, ‘The Messenger of God (SAAS) did not leave a dinar, a dirham, a slave-girl, a slave, a sheep or a camel.” (Al-Sirah Nabawiyya volume 4, page 403)

Ahmad Ibn Hanbal:

Imam Ahmad stated that Waki related to him, quoting Mis’ar, from Asim b. Abu al-Nujud, from Zirr, who quoted A’isha, as having said, ‘The Messenger of God (SAAS) did not leave a dinar, a dirham, a slave, a female slave, a sheep or a camel. (Al-Sirah Nabawiyya volume 4, page 403)


Al-Bayhaqi went on to state that Mis’ar informed him, from Adi b. Thabit, from Ali b. al-Husayn, who said, ‘The Messenger of God (SAAS) did not leave a dinar, a dirham, a slave or a slave-born female.’ (Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyya volume 4, page 403)

Ahmad Ibn Hanbal:

“Imam Ahmad stated that Abd al-Samad related him, quoting Thabit, quoting Hilal, from Ikrama, from Ibn Abbas who said, ‘The Prophet (SAAS) gazed towards Mt. Uhud and said, ‘By Him who holds my soul in His hand, how it would please me if Mt. Uhud belonged to Muhammad’s people and I could spend it in God’s cause! The day I die I would have two dinars worth of it; these, however, I would set aside for debt.’ He did die, but did not leave a dinar, a dirham, a slave, nor a slave-born female. He left his armour still pledged to a Jew for thirty sa’s weight of barley.’” (Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyya volume 4, page 404)

The above Hadith reports tell us that he did not leave any slave behind him (past tense), the reports does not say they were released after his death. There is a big difference between he did not leave any slave (paste tense) and he did leave slaves only to be released after his death. The Hadith does not show that he had any slaves even before his death.

Furthermore, what it is intriguing about these authentic reports are that the companions report what he left behind after his death. They all mention that he did not leave any slave or slave-women. But at the same time mention what he left behind i.e., mule, his weapons and some land and an armour who he left to a Jew.

Surely, if Mariyah was a slave and she is undeniably far more important than a shield, mule or land, shouldn’t she be mentioned in clear words that she was a slave, left behind and set free after his demise? This was Mariya we are speaking about, the woman who gave birth to the Prophet’s son, Ibrahim.

Some may claim that the Prophet (p) freed Mariyah after his death, but there is absolutely no evidence from these reports to suggest that. The only explanation that is more plausible is that she was not a slave to begin with, as the evidences I have shown from the two articles before, and this piece as well.

We see that she not mentioned, and this should give us a clear indication that she was not considered to be a slave by the Prophet’s companions nor his wife Aisha.


From the evidences presented in these reports we can deduce clearly that when Prophet Muhammed (p) was alive, before his death – he did not have any slave or slave-women in his possession, nor did he leave one after his death.

Prophet Muhammed (p) lived a modest and simple life as a poor man. Furthermore, the Prophet (p) living such a simple and modest life, how could any sensible person, then accuse a man like him of being infatuated with materialistic gains and possessions of this World? Emperors, Kings and Presidents, they seek glory from materialistic world. The facts however show and prove that the aim of Prophet Muhammed (p) was to spread Islam to everyone peacefully, for the benefit of mankind.

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marriage wallpaper

Prophet Muhammed’s Wife Mariyah (Maria) Al-Qibtiyya [P. 2]

Kaleef K. Karim


1. Introduction
2. Honey Or In Bed
3. Mariyah And Hagar
4. Slave Or No Slave
5. Prophet Muhammed Married Mariyah
6. Conclusion

1. Introduction

Prophet Muhammed has drawn a lot of Christians to study his life. Some of them have spoken positive of him, and that he came back to bring the true monotheism that was practised by early Christians. Other times the Prophet has been from earliest of days to contemporary being smeared, degraded and have lied about him personally.

In every instance, some of these extremist critics don’t really counter the message he brought, rather, they focus on small details on his personal life. One such event that has been brought up, to show him in bad light is the story of Mariya the Copt and Muhammed’s relation with her.

It is claimed from few reports that Mariya the Copt was a slave, she was sent as a gift to Prophet Muhammed by the Byzantine King in Egypt.

2. Honey Or In Bed

The incident that has been brought to my attention from Christian missionaries is of Hafsah, Mariyah and Muhammed. The story goes something along the lines of, Muhammed (p) was sleeping with Mariyah in Hafsah’s house (the house is owned by Muhammed). Hafsah comes home to find out that they were intimate. Hafsah questions Prophet Mohammed why he had to sleep with her and pushed Muhammed to say that he will never have any sexual relations with her again. The Prophet (p) responds by saying that he will never sleep with her again. He made something forbidden for himself which was lawful. God Almighty sent down Quranic revelation stating why he (Muhammed) had forbidden something that was lawful? The Prophet (p) cannot make something unlawful which God had made lawful.

Basically Hafsah was jealous that Prophet Muhammed (p) had spent time with her, as a husband should be doing, catering the needs of all his wives.

This story in relation to Surah 66:1 is only mentioned in one report [1] and few commentaries. Other than that, every single report from the earliest of times say, and agree that Surah 66:1 was revealed in relation forbidding food for himself. Please read the following link for the dozen or more reports on the verse’s revelation: “Commentary On Quran 66:1-2

3. Mariyah And Hagar

But let’s for a moment agree that this was the line of event that occurred with relation to Quran 66:1. Why do missionaries bring this story up? They bring this incident up to show him in bad light that he had sexual relations with her as a ‘slave’ (as claimed by them).

The argument for the ‘slave’ narrative they try to throw at readers is the one which Christian Europeans subjected Africans and Native Indians too. Where beating a slave senseless was allowed and endorsed from scripture. [2] Where continuous rape of slaves was ordained and had Divine blessing from the Bible. [3] [4]

In reality much of what they present is smoke screen to veil the truth about Islam. All of the above heinous crimes against slaves was categorically forbidden in Islam. The Prophet had forbidden slapping captives and anybody doing so had to free such people from captivity. This was a direct command from our Noble Prophet (p):

Hilal b. Yasaf reported that a person got angry and slapped his slave-girl. Thereupon Suwaid b. Muqarrin said to him: You could find no other part (to slap) but the prominent part of her face. See I was one of the seven sons of Muqarrin, and we had but only one slave-girl. The youngest of us slapped her, and ALLAH’S MESSENGER COMMANDED US TO SET HER FREE. (Sahih Muslim Book 15, Hadith 4082)


Narrated Suwaid bin Muqarrin Al-Muzani: “We were seven brothers without a servant except one, and ONE OF US SLAPPEDher, so THE PROPHET ORDERED US TO FREE HER.” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi volume 3, Book 18, Hadith 1542)

Anybody being harsh or harming such person will never enter paradise:

“Sayyidina Abu Bakr narrates from the Holy Prophet that the person who does not treat his slave well shall not enter Heaven(Jannah) . [Tirmidhi]” (Anwarul Bayan, volume 1, page 555) [5]

Raping or any heinous crime against a captive or slave person is tantamount by Allah to harming His creatures, which is the worst crime in God’s eyes. [6]

The story that is mentioned by Christian critics on Mariyah, has semblance to the story of Abraham and Hagar.

It is said that Hagar was a handmaid of Sarai, who gave her as a gift to Abraham. Christians have for years said that she was a slave, not married to Abraham. Whatever the reality of this, Christians surely wouldn’t argue that Abraham – who is praised in the Old and New Testament – was raping Hagar every-time he went to bed with her?

About Abraham in the New Testament: the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, came from the seed of Abraham (Matthew 1:1). The same New Testament praises Abraham as being ‘righteousness of the faith’ (Romans 4:11). [7]

Some may argue that the horrible verses on slaves and rape are only mentioned in the Old testament, as such, those are not binding on Christians today, since they follow Jesus. This may be a fair point to consider, but the reality of the matter is, those Laws were ordered by Jesus who is God of the Old Testament, as trinitarian belief goes.

4. Slave Or No Slave

Coming back to Mariya and Muhammed. Although some of the scholars in the past have said that Mariyah the Copt was a ‘slave’, the reports which predate their claims inclines us to believe that she was not.

The report says the following on Mariyah when she was sent to Prophet Muhammed (p):

“To Muhammad Ibn Abdullah fom Muqauqis, the chief of Qibt. Peace to you. I have read your letter and have noted the contents. I knew this much that a Prophet was to come. But I had expected him to appear in Syria. I have extended an honourable welcome to your messenger and I am sending two girls (jariyyatun) who are highly respected among the Qibtis (Egyptians) and I offer as a present some cloth and a mule to ride on.” (Sirat-un-nabi, volume 2, page 131) [8]

Some of the translators have wrongly translated the word ‘jariyya’ as ‘slave’. Slave in Arabic is ‘Abd’ for men or ‘amah’ (or amati) for female slave. Jariyya according to classical usage denotes young girl, or young women in this context of the report (Shaykh Allama Shibli Numani, volume 2, page 131, footnote).

The language used in the report cannot refer to slave, but rather someone who is a free woman. The particular words used by the Egyptian King about Mariah and Sirin, ‘who are highly respected among the Qibtis (or Egyptians)’, these are not the words that may possible be applied to a slave.

The Arabic word jariyya is used in many Hadith reports, and in many they refer to young girls. Jariyya (جَارِيَةً):

Sahih al-Bukhari:

Narrated Anas: The daughter of An-Nadr slapped a girl and broke her incisor tooth. They (the relatives of that girl), came to the Prophet and he gave the order of Qisas (equality in punishment).
حَدَّثَنَا الأَنْصَارِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا حُمَيْدٌ، عَنْ أَنَسٍ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ أَنَّ ابْنَةَ النَّضْرِ، لَطَمَتْ جَارِيَةً، فَكَسَرَتْ ثَنِيَّتَهَا، فَأَتَوُا النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَأَمَرَ بِالْقِصَاصِ‏.‏
(Sahih al-Bukhari volume 9, Book 83, Hadith 32)

Sunan an-Nasai:

“It was narrated from Anas that: a Jewish man killed a young girl for her jewellery, so the Messenger of Allah killed him in retaliation for her.
أَخْبَرَنَا إِسْحَاقُ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ، قَالَ أَنْبَأَنَا عَبْدَةُ، عَنْ سَعِيدٍ، عَنْ قَتَادَةَ، عَنْ أَنَسٍ، رضى الله عنه أَنَّ يَهُودِيًّا، قَتَلَ جَارِيَةً عَلَى أَوْضَاحٍ لَهَا فَأَقَادَهُ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم بِهَا ‏. (Sunan an-Nasa’i volume 5, Book 45, Hadith 4744, Sahih Darrusalam)


Jami at-Tirmidhi:

Jabir bin Abdullah narrated: “I married a woman and went to the Prophet, he said: ‘O Jabir! Have you married?’ I said: ‘Yes.’ He said: ‘A virgin or a matron?’ I said: ‘A matron.’ He said: ‘Why didn’t you marry a young girl, so that you may play with her and she with you?’ I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Abdullah (his father) died and left behind seven – or nine – daughter, so I have brought someone who can look after them.’” (He said:) “So he supplicated for me.”
حَدَّثَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ، حَدَّثَنَا حَمَّادُ بْنُ زَيْدٍ، عَنْ عَمْرِو بْنِ دِينَارٍ، عَنْ جَابِرِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، قَالَ تَزَوَّجْتُ امْرَأَةً فَأَتَيْتُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ ‏”‏ أَتَزَوَّجْتَ يَا جَابِرُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ فَقُلْتُ نَعَمْ ‏.‏ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ بِكْرًا أَمْ ثَيِّبًا ‏”‏ ‏.‏ فَقُلْتُ لاَ بَلْ ثَيِّبًا ‏.‏ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ هَلاَّ جَارِيَةً تُلاَعِبُهَا وَتُلاَعِبُكَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ فَقُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنَّ عَبْدَ اللَّهِ مَاتَ وَتَرَكَ سَبْعَ بَنَاتٍ أَوْ تِسْعًا فَجِئْتُ بِمَنْ يَقُومُ عَلَيْهِنَّ ‏.‏ قَالَ فَدَعَا لِي ‏.‏ قَالَ وَفِي الْبَابِ عَنْ أُبَىِّ بْنِ كَعْبٍ وَكَعْبِ بْنِ عُجْرَةَ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى حَدِيثُ جَابِرِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ ‏.‏
(Jami` at-Tirmidhi Volume 2, Book 6, Hadith 110, Sahih Darussalam)

Sahih al-Bukhari:

“Narrated Jabir: “Allah’s Messenger said to me, “Have you got married O Jabir?” I replied, “Yes.” He asked “What, a virgin or a matron?” I replied, “Not a virgin but a matron.” He said, “Why did you not marry a young girl who would have played with you?” I replied, “O Allah’s Messenger! My father was martyred on the day of Uhud and left nine (orphan) daughters who are my nine sisters; so I disliked to have another young girl of their age, but (I sought) an (elderly) woman who could comb their hair and look after them.” The Prophet said, “You have done the right thing.”
حَدَّثَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ، حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ، أَخْبَرَنَا عَمْرٌو، عَنْ جَابِرٍ، قَالَ قَالَ لِي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ هَلْ نَكَحْتَ يَا جَابِرُ ‏”‏‏.‏ قُلْتُ نَعَمْ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ مَاذَا أَبِكْرًا أَمْ ثَيِّبًا ‏”‏‏.‏ قُلْتُ لاَ بَلْ ثَيِّبًا‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ فَهَلاَّ جَارِيَةً تُلاَعِبُكَ ‏”‏‏.‏ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ، إِنَّ أَبِي قُتِلَ يَوْمَ أُحُدٍ وَتَرَكَ تِسْعَ بَنَاتٍ كُنَّ لِي تِسْعَ أَخَوَاتٍ، فَكَرِهْتُ أَنْ أَجْمَعَ إِلَيْهِنَّ جَارِيَةً خَرْقَاءَ مِثْلَهُنَّ، وَلَكِنِ امْرَأَةً تَمْشُطُهُنَّ وَتَقُومُ عَلَيْهِنَّ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ أَصَبْتَ ‏”‏‏.‏
(Sahih al-Bukhari volume 5, Book 59, Hadith 382)

Sunan Ibn Majah:

“It was narrated from Ibn Umar that: when Uthman bin Mazun died, he left behind a daughter. Ibn Umar said: “My maternal uncle Qudamah, who was her paternal uncle, married me to her, but he did not consult her. That was after her father had died. She did not like this marriage, and the girl wanted to marry Mughirah bin Shubah, so she married him.”
حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الدِّمَشْقِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ نَافِعٍ الصَّائِغُ، حَدَّثَنِي عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ نَافِعٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ، ‏.‏ أَنَّهُ حِينَ هَلَكَ عُثْمَانُ بْنُ مَظْعُونٍ تَرَكَ ابْنَةً لَهُ ‏.‏ قَالَ ابْنُ عُمَرَ فَزَوَّجَنِيهَا خَالِي قُدَامَةُ وَهُوَ عَمُّهَا وَلَمْ يُشَاوِرْهَا وَذَلِكَ بَعْدَ مَا هَلَكَ أَبُوهَا فَكَرِهَتْ نِكَاحَهُ وَأَحَبَّتِ الْجَارِيَةُ أَنْ يُزَوِّجَهَا الْمُغِيرَةَ بْنَ شُعْبَةَ فَزَوَّجَهَا إِيَّاهُ ‏.
(Sunan Ibn Majah, volume 3, Book 9, Hadith 1878, Sahih Darussalam)

Adab al-Mufrad:

Kathir ibn ‘Ubayd said, “When someone in the family of ‘A’isha had a child, she did not ask, ‘Boy or girl?’ She asked, ‘Was he created well-formed?’ If the answer was ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.’”
حَدَّثَنَا مُوسَى بْنُ إِسْمَاعِيلَ، قَالَ‏:‏ حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللهِ بْنُ دُكَيْنٍ، سَمِعَ كَثِيرَ بْنَ عُبَيْدٍ قَالَ‏:‏ كَانَتْ عَائِشَةُ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهَا إِذَا وُلِدَ فِيهِمْ مَوْلُودٌ، يَعْنِي‏:‏ فِي أَهْلِهَا، لاَ تَسْأَلُ‏:‏ غُلاَمًا وَلاَ جَارِيَةً، تَقُولُ‏:‏ خُلِقَ سَوِيًّا‏؟‏ فَإِذَا قِيلَ‏:‏ نَعَمْ، قَالَتِ‏:‏ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ‏.‏ (Adab al-Mufrad Book 53, Hadith 1256)

Even Aisha describes herself as being a ‘girl of tender age’, everyone knows that she was never a ‘slave’:

“A’isha reported: We entered into the state of. Ihram for Hajj till we were at Sarif and I was in menses. The Messenger of Allah came to me and I was weeping. The rest of the hadith is the same but (with this portion) that there were sacrificial animals with Allah’s Apostle and with Abu Bakr, Umar and with rich persons. And they pronounced Talbiya as they proceeded on. And there is no mention of this (too):” I was a girl of tender age and I dozed off and my face touched the bind part of the Haudaj.”
وَحَدَّثَنِي أَبُو أَيُّوبَ الْغَيْلاَنِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا بَهْزٌ، حَدَّثَنَا حَمَّادٌ، عَنْ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، – رضى الله عنها – قَالَتْ لَبَّيْنَا بِالْحَجِّ حَتَّى إِذَا كُنَّا بِسَرِفَ حِضْتُ فَدَخَلَ عَلَىَّ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَأَنَا أَبْكِي ‏.‏ وَسَاقَ الْحَدِيثَ بِنَحْوِ حَدِيثِ الْمَاجِشُونِ ‏.‏ غَيْرَ أَنَّ حَمَّادًا لَيْسَ فِي حَدِيثِهِ فَكَانَ الْهَدْىُ مَعَ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَأَبِي بَكْرٍ وَعُمَرَ وَذَوِي الْيَسَارَةِ ثُمَّ أَهَلُّوا حِينَ رَاحُوا وَلاَ قَوْلُهَا وَأَنَا جَارِيَةٌ حَدِيثَةُ السِّنِّ أَنْعُسُ فَتُصِيبُ وَجْهِي مُؤْخِرَةُ الرَّحْلِ ‏.‏
(Sahih Muslim Book 7, Hadith 2774)


Reading from the above reports on the word ‘Jariyya’ and the context of the letter in relation to Mariah shows that she was not a slave.

5. Prophet Muhammed Married Mariyah

The following historical reports tell us that Prophet Muhammed (p) married Mariyah:

“It is reported from ‘Abdullah al-Zubairi who said: that after this the Noble Prophet married (tazawwaju) Mariah daughter of Sham’un. This is the same Mariyah who was sent by Maqauqis, the ruler of Alexandria to the Prophet as a gift” (Sahih al-Mustadarak Hakim [Published Hyderabad, Deccan], volume 4, page 36).

Tabari (838 – 923 AD):

“God granted Rayhanah bt. Zayd of the Banu Qurayzah to his Messenger. Mariyah the Copt was presented to the Messenger of God, given to him by al-Muqawqis, the ruler of Alexandria, and she gave birth to the Messenger of God’s son Ibrahim. THESE WERE THE MESSENGER OF GOD’S WIVES, six of them were from the Quraysh.” (Tabari volume 9, page 137) [9] [10]


Professor of Law Khaled Abou El Fadl also has a report from the Companion of Prophet Muhammed that he had freed her and then married Mariyah:

“MARIYAH (D.16/637)
Known as Umm Ibrahim. Anas reported that she was among the closest to the Prophet. She was a Coptic maiden given to the Prophet Muhammad as a gift from the Egyptian governor of Alexandria, al-Muqawqis, in 6-7/627-629. Ibn Abbas reported that the Prophet freed her and THEN MARRIED HER. Mariyah bore the Prophet his son, Ibrahim, who died as an infant shortly before the Prophet’s own death. Reportedly, the Companion Hatib Ibn Abi Balta’a played a major role in Mariyah’s conversion to Islam. After the Prophet’s death, Mariyah continued to live in Medina until she died during Umar’s Caliphate.” [11]

Besides the above, classical to contemporary scholars also were of the view that Muhammed (p) married Mariyah.

Ibn Kathir (1301 – 1373 AD):

“MARIA al-Qibtiyya
Maria al-Qibtiyya (may Allah be pleased with her) is said to have married the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and certainly everyone gave her the same title of respect as the Prophet’s wives, ‘Umm al Muminin’ ‘Mother of the Believers‘. Maria was born in upper Egypt of a Coptic father and Greek mother and moved to the court of the Muqawqis when she was still very young. She arrived in Medina to join the Prophet’s household just after the Prophet returned from the treaty with Quraish which was contracted at al-Hudaybiyya. Maria gave birth to a healthy son in 9 AH, the same year that his daughter Zaynab died, and the Prophet named his new son Ibrahim, after the ancestor of both the Jews and the Christians, the Prophet from whom all the Prophets who came after him were descended. Unfortunately, when he was only eighteen months old, Ibrahim became seriously ill and died. Even though he knew that his small son would go to the Garden, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) could not help shedding some tears. When some of his Companions asked him why he was weeping, he replied, “It is my humanness.”
As Ibrahim’s body was being buried, the sun was eclipsed and it grew dark and gloomy. Some people thought this was connected with Ibrahim’s death, but the Prophet soon clarified this. “The sun and the moon are two of Allah’s signs,” he said, “they are not eclipsed because of anyone’s birth or death. When you see these signs, make haste to remember Allah in prayer.” Although the kafirun used to mock the Prophet Muhammad because he had no sons, and say that he was ‘cut off’ , Allah made it clear in the following surah that the station of the Prophet Muhammad was far above that of any other man; In the name of Allah, The Merciful, the Compassionate: Surely We have given you AL Khawthar, so pray to your Lord and offer sacrifice. Surely he who mocks you is the one cut off. (Quran 108:1-3)
Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets, and Allah has knowledge of all things. (Quran 33:40)
Maria was honored and respected by the Prophet and his family and Companions. She spent three years of her life with the Prophet, until his death, and died five years later in 16 AH, (may Allah be pleased with her) For the last five years of her life, she remained a recluse and almost never went out except to visit the grave of the Prophet or her son’s grave. After her death, Umar ibn al Khattab led the prayer over her and she was buried in al Baqi. [12]

Dr. Hammudah `Abdul-`Ati in his book Islam in Focus. He states:

“4. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) contracted some of his marriages for sociopolitical reasons. His principal concern was the future of Islam. He was interested in strengthening the Muslims by all bonds. That is why he married the young daughter of Abu Bakr, his First Successor, and the daughter of `Umar, his Second Successor. It was by his marriage to Juwayriyyah that he gained the support for Islam of the whole clan of Bani Al-Mustaliq and their allied tribes. It was through marriage to Safiyyah that he neutralized a great section of the hostile Jews of Arabia. By accepting Mariyah, the Copt from Egypt, as his wife, he formed a political alliance with a king of great magnitude. It was also a gesture of friendship with a neighboring king that Muhammad married Zaynab who was presented to him by the Negus of Abyssinia in whose territory the early Muslims found safe refuge.
5. By contracting most of these marriages, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) meant to eliminate the caste or class system, racial and national pride and superiority, and religious prejudices. He married some of the humblest and poorest women.There was his marriage to Mariyah from Egypt, a Jewish woman of a different religion and race, and a girl from Abyssinia. He was not satisfied with merely teaching brotherhood and equality: actions speak louder than words.” (Islam In Focus, by Dr. Hammudah `Abdul-`Ati – Online source)

Dr. Shawqi Abu Khalil:

The Messenger of Allah married Mariyah al-Qibtiyyah, who became the mother of his son Ibrahim, and Hassan Ibn thabit married Shireen. The rest of the gifts of Al-Muqawqis included the grey mule Duldul who lived until the time of Mu’awiyah Ibn Abi Sufyan. He also sent some honey from Binha, some perfume, twenty garments of the fine Egyptian linen and a glass cup which the Prophet used to drink from. He also sent to him a doctor, but the Prophet said to him: ‘Go back to your people, for we are a people who do not eat until we get hungry and when we eat we do not our fill. (al-Tabaqat Al-Kubra, volume 1, page 260) [13]

Al-Fawz al-Kabir fi Usul al-Tafsir – Shah Waliyullah (1703 – 1762 AD) [Footnote 11]:

“11. Mariyah was a Copt girl, presented to the Holy Prophet by al-Muqawqis, a Roman governor of Egypt (629). The Holy Prophet married her and from her was blessed with his son Ibrahim who died in infancy.” [14]

Shaykh Allama Shibli Nomani:

“in reply to the Prophet’s letter, the Potiphar or the Aziz of Egypt (also known as Mqauqis) addressed the following in Arabic:
To Muhammad Ibn Abdullah fom Muqauqis, the chief of Qibt. Peace to you. I have read your letter and have noted the contents. I knew this much that a Prophet was to come. But I had expected him to appear in Syria. I have extended an honourable welcome to your messenger and I am sending two girls (jariyyatun) who are highly respected among the Qibtis (Egyptians) and I offer as a present some cloth and a mule to ride on. Notwithstanding all that, the Potiphar of Egypt did not embrace Islam. Of the two girls sent by him, one was Mariya Qibtiya, who was married to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and the other Sirin, who was married to Hasan the mule was named Duldul, frequently mentioned in books on traditions. In the battle of Hunain, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was on the back of this very animal. Tabari says that Mariya Qibtiya and Sirin were real sisters, and through the teachings of hatib Ibn Abi Balta’a, who had been sent as messenger to the Potiphar of Egypt, both had embraced Islam before reaching the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
What one has to note here is that these ladies were not slave girls and that they had already accepted Islam. We should hence conclude that Mariya Qibtiya entered the Prophet’s household as a duly wedded wife, and not as a slave girl.” [15]

Robert Henry Charles who an was an Irish biblical scholar and theologian, he states the following on Mariyah:

“Muhammad must have come in contact with many of these Copts and listened to their stories. Muhammad’s friendship to Christians of Coptic faith is reflected in many aspects of his life. He is known to have had cordial relations with the Negus of Abyssinia, as indicated by the fact that he advised his followers at a time of persecution to flee there. He married a Coptic wife named Mariya, and he is reported to have advised his followers to be especially kind to the Copts of Egypt, considering them his in-laws.” [16]

6. Conclusion

From the evidences we have seen, one thing that can be drawn is that Prophet Muhammed (p) married Mariyah.

The shallow and deceptive history missionaries try to present on ‘slavery’ [17] [18] and connecting it to Mariyah is alien to the Islam, Muhammed (p) brought 1400 years ago.

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[1] “It was narrated from Anas, that the Messenger of Allah had a female slave with whom he had intercourse, but ‘Aishah and Hafsah would not leave him alone until he said that she was forbidden for him. Then Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, revealed:
“O Prophet! Why do you forbid (for yourself) that which Allah has allowed to you.’ until the end of the Verse.” (Sunan an-Nasa’i volume 4, Book 36, Hadith 3411, Sahih Darussalam)
[2] Exodus 21:20,
20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.”
[3] Deuteronomy 21:10-14 Good News Translation (GNT)
10 “When the Lord your God gives you victory in battle and you take prisoners, 11 you may see among them a beautiful woman that you like and want to marry. 12 TAKE HER to your home, where she will shave her head, cut her fingernails, 13 and change her clothes. She is to stay in your home and mourn for her parents for a month; after that, you may marry her. 14 Later, if you no longer want her, you are to let her go free. Since YOU FORCED HER TO HAVE INTERCOURSE WITH YOU, you cannot treat her as a slave and sell her.”
Does Deuteronomy 21:10-14 condemn rape or does it sanction rape-forced marriage?
[4] Rape victims are commanded to be married to their rapists. Deuteronomy 22:28-29,
“If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and RAPES HER and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. HE MUST MARRY THE GIRL, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.” (New International Version) and
[5] Illuminating Discourses on the Noble Quran – Tafseer Anwarul Bayan – By Shaykh Muhammed Ashiq Ilahi Muhajir Madni (r.a), volume 1, page 555
[6] A narration reported by Abu Dharr tells us that:
“The Prophet (p) said: “Feed those of your captives who please you from what you eat and clothe them with what you clothe yourselves, but sell those who do not please you and DO NOT punish Allah’s creatures.” (Sunan Abu Dawud, Hadith 5142. Albani classified it as Sahih)
This report tells us if a captive-woman were to refuse to please her master, by making food or getting intimate, he was NOT allowed to force her. God orders Muslims to sell her and move away from her. The Prophet also recommended to set free captives. They were NOT to punish. From leaving each other, maybe the second person she goes to may have a better relationship. The idea about ‘raping’ captive-women is described by God to be “punishing Allah’s creatures”, which is the most heinous crime to do.
[7] Romans 4:11
“and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them.”
[8] Sirat-Un-Nabi (The Life Of The Prophet) [Rendered into English by M. Tayyib Bakhsh Budayuni, Idarah-I Adabiyat-I Delli, 2009 Qasimjan St. Delhi (India)] by Shaykh Allama Shibli Nu’mani, volume 2, page 153
[9] History of al-Tabari: The: The Last Years of the Prophet, volume 9, page 137
[10] Some critics have pointed out that Tabari further down FROM volume 9, does say that Mariyah was a ‘concubine’, what they deceptively leave out is the fact that volume 39, page 193-194 is not Tabari’s own words, but rather the translators for the English translations of al-Tabari.
[11] The Search for Beauty in Islam: A Conference of the Books [Copyright 2006, by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.], by Khaled Abou El Fadl, page 384
[12] Muhammad’s Life – The Wives of the Prophet Muhammad, By: Ibn Kathir, [translated by: sheikh Muhammad Gemeiah, Office of the Grand Imam, Sheikh Al Azhar, Edited by: Aelfwine Acelas Mischler], Online source
[13] Atlas on the Prophet’s Biography – Places, Nations, Landmarks (Al-sirah Al-Nabawiyah) [Darussalam, 2004] by Dr. Shawqi Abu Khalil, page 191
[14] Al-Fawz al-Kabir fi Usul al-Tafsir (Being a translation of Shah Waliyullah’s treatise on Principles of Quranic Exegesis) [Islamic Books Trust, 2013], by Shah Waliyullah, page 31, footnote 11.
Please bear in mind, we cannot confirm whether this was the opinion of Shah Waliyullah or the translator of the Book, who made this statement in regards to Mariya.
[15] Sirat-Un-Nabi (The Life Of The Prophet) [Rendered into English by M. Tayyib Bakhsh Budayuni, Idarah-I Adabiyat-I Delli, 2009 Qasimjan St. Delhi (India)] by Shaykh Allama Shibli Nu’mani, volume 2, page 153
[16] R.H. Charles, “Vitae Adae et Evae,” The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha [Oxford, 1963] Volume 2, page 294, quote retrieved from one of br. Bassam’s article,
[17] LRA rebels step up attacks, abduct children in C.Africa: UN. Brief statement on what the LRA do by Radio Vaticana: “The Lord’s Resistance Army rebels, who mutilate civilians and kidnap children to use as fighters and SEX SLAVES, stepped-up attacks and abductions in the Central African Republic during the first three months of this year, the United Nations said on Wednesday.” – 13th June 2016
[18] Christian Militia Rape And Kill Muslim Children In Central African Republic,

Mariyah The Copt And Muhammed [P. 1]

Kaleef K. Karim


1. Introduction
2. Brief History On Captives
3. Mariyah: Captive Or No Captive
4. Mariyah The Wife – Sahih Muslim
5. Conclusion

1. Introduction

Previously in the article entitled, “Prophet Muhammed’s Wife Mariyah (Maria)”, I presented a number of historical quotes showing that Mariya was married to Prophet Muhammed (p).

This article will further focus on Mariyah’s relationship to Prophet Muhammed (p), by giving new evidence that she was indeed the Prophet’s spouse.

2. Brief History On Captives

Historically speaking, there is no issue if Prophet Muhammed (p) or his companions brought women into their home(s) who were ‘malakat amainukum’ (those whom right-hand possess) to care for them, 1400 years ago.

Prisons didn’t exist in Madinah, nor Makkah in those days, 1400 years ago. When women were captured who were aiding enemies in war, the Muslim government would have allocated them to households to be servants. This was done only, vast majority of the time when the woman had no family left to cater for her needs. If the family of the woman came to ransom her, the government would have handed her back to her family, as long as she didn’t pose no threat to citizens in the society i.e., she wouldn’t take up arms against the State, she was set free immediately.

We have to understand also, that the men in those days were the breadwinners. The re-allocation of the female captives was the most humane thing to do, compared to how previous nations and religions would kill women captured in warfare. In Islam, such was categorically forbidden.

Similarly, another way to understand this – sometimes through war the husband may be killed. The wife may have no involvement in war, but since her husband was killed, who was going to provide for her and the kids? The man those days was the breadwinner, providing his wife and kids with food, clothing and shelter. It would have been inconceivable and inhumane for the Muslims then to leave a family alone to fend for themselves. The Muslim government was there to re-allocate her to a Muslim family’s home, so that she and the kids needs be catered for.

3. Mariyah: Captive Or No Captive

Coming back to Mariya: the issue in regards Mariya is that she was not captured in warfare. Egyptians and the Muslims, 1400 years ago had good relations. The Prophet (p) encouraged his companions to take care of the Egyptians and to be kind to them, since he had blood ties, and in-law relations. This report will be further discussed further down.

The late respected scholar Syed Abul Aala Maududi states the following in regards to female captives:

“…according to the Qur’an a slave girl is that woman who falls in the hands of Muslims as a prisoner during the course of war waged in the way of God” (Rasa’il wa Masa’il [3rd edition], volume 3, page 102).

This is the definition of ‘right hand possesses’ (Malakat amainukum), the problem that arises in relation with Mariya is that she was not captured through warfare. She wasn’t even a slave. Historical reports tell us that she came from a very respectable family:

“To Muhammad Ibn Abdullah from Muqauqis, the chief of Qibt. Peace to you. I have read your letter and have noted the contents. I knew this much that a Prophet was to come. But I had expected him to appear in Syria. I have extended an honourable welcome to your messenger and I am sending two girls (jariyyatun) who are highly respected among the Qibtis (Egyptians) and I offer as a present some cloth and a mule to ride on.” (Sirat-un-nabi, volume 2, page 131) [1]

We argued in previous article that the words used in the above report, by no means can refer to a ‘slave’, but rather to a free woman. The particular words used by the Egyptian King on Mariah, ‘who are highly respected among the Qibtis (or Egyptians)’, these are not the words that may possible be applied to a slave, as Shaykh Allama Shibli Nu’mani rightly pointed out too in his book.

Furthermore, the words ‘Jariyya’, some wrongly translated for the report as ‘slave’, historically referred to ‘young girl’. The same exact word is used by Aisha for herself in number of Hadith, we know that Aisha was never a slave. To impose such meaning on to the Hadith would distort the true intended meaning the Hadith wanted to convey.

Abu Nu’aym has a more explicit report wherein he mentions that Mariya was from the Egyptian royal family.

“A King of the Byzantine patriarchs (sic) called al-Muqawqis presented a Coptic girl of ROYAL DESCENT named Mariya, along with a young male cousin of hers. The Messenger of God (SAAS) went in to see her one day when he would go to his private room and consummated with her. (Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya, volume 4, page 433) [2]

This report tells us clearly that when Mariya was sent over to Prophet Muhammed, she was part of the Egyptian royal family, most probably a Princess.

4. Mariyah The Wife – Sahih Muslim

There are explicit Hadith wherein Prophet Muhammed (p) ordered his companions to treat Egyptians well. Why did he say this? According to the statement made, he said so because he was married to a woman from Egypt.

Sahih Muslim:

“Abu Dharr reported Allah’s Messenger as saying: You would soon conquer Egypt and that is a land which is known (as the land of al-qirat). So when you conquer it, treat its inhabitants well. For there lies upon you the responsibility because of blood-tie or relationship of MARRIAGE (WITH THEM). And when you see two persons falling into dispute amongst themselves for the space of a brick, than get out of that. He (Abu Dharr) said: I saw Abd al-Rahman b. Shurahbil b. Hasana and his brother Rabi’a disputing with one another for the space of a brick. So I left that (land). (Sahih Muslim Book 31, Hadith 6174)


Riyad as-Salihin:

“Abu Dharr (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah said, “You will soon conquer a land where people deal with Qirat.” And according to another version: Messenger of Allah said, “You will soon conquer Egypt where Al-Qirat is frequently mentioned. So when you conquer it, treat its inhabitants well. For there lies upon you the responsibility because of blood ties orMARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP (with them)“. (Riyad as-Salihin Book 1, Hadith 328)

Abd al-Hakam:

“Omar, the Commander of the Faithful, told me that he heard the Apostle of God say: ‘God will open Egypt to you after my death. So take good care of the Copts in that country; for they are YOUR KINSMEN and under your protection. Cast down your eyes therefore, and keep your hands off them.” [3]


“The Copts are the noblest of foreigners; the gentlest of them in action; the most excellent of them in character, and the nearest of them in KINSHIP to the Arabs generally, and to the tribe of Kuraish in particular.” (Al-Mahasin, volume 1, page 33) [4]

Abd al-Hakam, Futuh Misr:

“‘When you conquer Egypt take charge [of the inhabitants], for truly they may claim your protection, AND KINSHIP WITH YOU. (Abd al-Hakam, Futuh Misr… As-Suyuti, Husn al-Muhadarah, vol. 1, p. 50. Cf. Ibn Hisham, Sirah Muhammad, vol. 1, p. 5, and Abu l-Mahasin, vol.1, p. 50) [5]


”…The Apostle of God fell sick and swooned, and when he recovered, he said: Take charge of the men with curling hair. Then he swooned a second time, and when he recovered said the same words. Again he swooned for the third time, and he said the same words. So the bystanders said: Apostle of God commits to our charge the men with curling hair; and when he recovered they asked him his meaning. So he said: The Copts of Egypt are OUR UNCLES AND OUR BROTHERS-IN-LAW, and they shall be your auxiliaries against your enemy and on behalf of your religion. …” (Al-Muhadarah, As-Suyuti, volume 1, page 7) [6]

This woman who Prophet Muhammed (p) is speaking about is none other than Mariya the Copt, who was from Egypt.

Classical Scholars in the past to contemporary times have recognised and acknowledged that these reports (especially Sahih Muslim) clearly tell us that Prophet Muhammed (p) married Mariya.

Scholar Abu Zakariya Yahya Bin Sharaf An-Nawawi Dimashqi (1233 – 1277 AD):

“In this Hadith, the Prophet PBUH) had urged his Companions to treat the Egyptians nicely for the reason of maintaining the ties of kinship and for the fact that Egypt was the country OF HIS IN-LAWS (Mariyah, the mother of Ibrahim, and one of the Prophet’s wives was from that place). This is why this Hadith has been included in the present chapter which deals with the subject of maintaining the ties of kinship. This Hadith is also a Prophecy of the Prophet (PBUH) due to the fact that the Prophecy he had made came true. A short time after his death, Egypt became part of the Muslim empire.” [7]


“The scholars say, “The ties of kinship come from the fact that Hajar, the mother of Isma’il, was one of them, and the TIES OF MARRIAGE COME FROM THE FACT THAT MARIA THE MOTHER OF IBRAHIM, the son of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was one of them.” (Riyad as-Salihin (The Meadows of the Righteous) 40. Chapter: On dutifulness to parents and maintaining ties of kinship, by An-Nawawi, Aisha Bewley translation, online source)

According to 13th century scholar Imam Nawawi, this hadith tells us that Prophet Muhammed (p) had a wife from Egypt, the only woman who was from Egypt was Mariya.

Similarly, later scholars acknowledged that the Hadith explicitly gives proof that Prophet Muhammed (p) had married Mariya.

The late Pakistani scholar, in his commentary on Sahih Muslim, Abdul Hameed Siddiqui (1923 – 1978) states:

“…The reference in this Hadith is to Maria the Copt, Allah be pleased with her, who was the WIFE of the Messenger of Allah and was a native of Egypt.” [8]

Dr. Muhammad Ali al-Hashimi:

“The Ulama explained that rahm here referred to Hajar, the mother of Isma’il, and sihr referred to MARYAH, the mother of Prophet’s son Ibrahim – both of whom came from Egypt. What a display of loyalty, faith found good treatment, which extends to the kinsfolk and countrymen of those two noble women down throughout the ages! The Muslim woman who hears these teachings of the Prophet (PBUH) cannot but uphold her ties with her relatives, offering them her sincere love, keeping constant contact with them and treating them with kindness and respect.” [9]

James Robson, D. Litt., D.D. Emeritus Professor of Arabic comments on this particular Hadith under discussion:

“The reference is to Abraham’s son Ishmael having Hagar as mother, and to MARIYA THE COPT who was sent to the Prophet.”[10]

Dr. Okasha El-Daly:

“…The Prophet of Islam was himself MARRIED TO AN EGYPTIAN NAMED MARIA who was sent to him from Egypt, accompanied by her sister and a servant, carrying with them various gifts. About a dozen of the Prophet’s Hadith (sayings attributed to him) are reported as being in praise of Egypt itself, its produce and its people (Ibn Zahira Mahasin: 74f). According to this tradition, the Copts had kinship (silat Rahim …) with the Arabs and hence enjoyed a close relationship with the new regime (Bashear 1997: 69). The Prophet’s Hadith on the subject of Egypt and its inhabitants probably played an important role in forming the general Moslem view of the country and its people.
The number of Hadiths relating to Egypt and attributed to Prophet varies from one authority to another. Ibn Zahira (Mahazin: 75-77) narrated 10 Hadiths on the virtues of Egypt. An example of this is:

‘You are going to enter Egypt a land where qirat (money unit) is used. Be extremely good to them as they have with us close ties and MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP (dhimah wa Rahim…).

The Prophet is referring here to ties between Arabs and Egyptians that go back to the marriage of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to the Egyptian woman Hajar, the mother of Ismael. Ismael is regarded as Father of the Arabs, whilst Hajar is seen as their mother. It was Ismael and his father who were credited with building the Ka’aba, the most holy place in Islam (Q2:127) and Moslem sources refer to Egyptian craftsmen rebuilding it (Al-Kindi Fadail: 14:12). The Prophet is widely quoted in Moslem sources (eg Al-Kindi Fadail: 14; cf; Gottheil 1907) as having uttered these five Hadiths:

When you enter Egypt after my death, recruit many soldiers from among the Egyptians because they are the best soldiers on earth, as they and their wives are permanently on duty until the day of Resurrection.

Be good to the copts of Egypt; you shall take them over, but they shall be your instrument and help.

Egypt has the best soil on earth and its people are the most generous of all people.

Blessing (al-baraka) was divided into ten parts, nine for Egypt and one for the other lands. This will be always manifest (Baraka…) in Egypt more than other lands.

Be Righteous to Allah about the Copts (itaqu Allah fi al-qibt…)

The Arabs’ respect for and appreciation of these ties with the Copts was not merely an emotional response to the Prophet’s praise, but certainly this very early interest in Egypt on the part of no less an authority than the Prophet would have encouraged writers an travellers not only to observe its monuments, but also to study its history, and contemporary knowledge and practice. This is often explained by the writers themselves in the introduction to their works (eg Ibn Abd Al-Hakam Futuh; Al-Idrisi Anwar; Al-Suyuti Husn). [11]

Besides the above commentaries on the Hadith, other classical scholars in the past to contemporary times have also said that Mariya was a wife of Prophet Muhammed (p), not a concubine.

Ismail Ibn Kathir (1301 – 1373 AD) [12]:

“He also had two WIVES donated to him. The first of these were MARIYA AL-QUBTIYYA al-Misriyya, from Kawrat Ansina, who was the mother of his son Ibrahim, upon whom be peace. The second was Rayhana al-Quraziyya, daughter of Sham’un; she accepted Islam and he manumitted her. She then rejoined her family. …” (Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya, volume 4, page 415 – 416) [13]

Ahmad Muhammad El Hawfy (Al-Hufi), Ph.D.,

“Maria was sent to him personally and the Prophet could neither send her back nor offer her to somebody else. Had he done that, he would have hurt the feelings of al Muqawqas and Maria; he would be either refusing the present or too haughty to accept it.HE HAD TO MARRY HER to please them both, and to be an example of a Muslim marrying a believer in the scriptures; such marriage would be an advantage to Islam and an effective means to its propagation.” [14]

Mahmood Ahmad Ghadanfar:

“The Prophet had three sons, two by Khadijah and Ibrahim, a third son by Maria Qabtiiyah. The first son was named Qasim and the Prophet came to be known as Abu Qasim. The second son, Abdullah was also known as Tahir (the pure) or Tayyab (the good). Both died in their childhood and the disbelievers were overjoyed that the Prophet had no heirs to carry on his noble mission. The third son, Ibrahim was born by HIS WIFE, MARIA QABTIYYA. He also died in infancy. When he saw Ibrahim dieing, he gently picked him up and said that he was helpless and cloud do nothing before the Will of Allah.” [15]

Salem Al-Hasi:

“Mariya was honored and respected by the prophet (pbuh), as well as his family and companions. She also gave birth to the prophet’s son Ibrahim. As any of the prophet’s wives, she is known as Um al-Mo’meneen (Mother of the believers). She spent three years of her life with the prophet, until his death, and died five years later in 16 AH.” (Fatwa – Salem Al-Hasi – online source)


Christopher James Wright:

“…Hatib goes on to say that he remained there several nights and then had a friendly exchange with the Patriarch. As a result of the meeting, the Patriarch sent him back with guards to protect him on his journey home and three slave girls. One of these slaves was MARYA, also known as Umm Ibrahim, who BECAME A WIFE to the Prophet and bore him his favorite son, Ibrahim. 69 (Ibn Abd al-Hakam, page 50) [16]

Encyclopaedia Of Islam:

“836. Ibrahim was the Prophet’s son by his Coptic WIFE Mariyah.” (Encyclopaedia Of Islam, new ed. Ed. H. A. R. Gibb et al. Leiden, 1960) [17]

Professor Paul Gwyne:

“Marriage is considered to be of the utmost importance in Islam and there is extensive material in both the Qur’an and the Hadith on the vital role it plays in the life of faith. It is often described as having both a vertical and a horizontal dimension. On the vertical plane, marriage is understood as an act of worship in that it is pleasing to Allah and fulfils the divine plan. According to tradition, Muhammad declared that no institution is more loved by Allah. Moreover, when a person marries he has completed ‘half of his religious obligations.’ On the horizontal plane, marriage is a legal contract between two individuals. In this sense, it requires the usual elements of any contract: mutual consent between the parties, specified conditions, and public witness.
Khadijah – Widow and Muhammad’s employer who bore him four daughters and two sons but only the girls survived infancy.
Sawda – Widow and early convert to Islam.
Aisha – Daughter of Abu Bakr.
Hafsa – Widowed daughter of Umar.
Zainab bint Khuzayama – Widow from the battle of Badr.
Umm Salama Hind – Widow from the battle of Uhud. …
Juwairiya – Daughter of the leader of the Mustaliq leader. …
Safiyah – Daughter of the leader of the Jewish Nadir tribe. …
MARIA AL-QIBTOYAH – Coptic Christian sent to Muhammed, who bore him a son who died in infancy.” [18]

Dr. Ragheb Elsergany:

MARIA AL-QIBTIYYA (may Allah be pleased with her) is said to have MARRIED THE PROPHET (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and certainly everyone gave her the same title of respect as the Prophet’s wives, ‘Umm al Muminin’ ‘Mother of the Believers’. Maria was born in upper Egypt of a Coptic father and Greek mother and moved to the court of the Muqawqis when she was still very young. She arrived in Medina to join the Prophet’s household just after the Prophet returned from the treaty with Quraish which was contracted at al-Hudaybiyya. (MARIA al-Qibtiyya by Dr. Ragheb Elsergany – online source)



We want to conclude our discussion from this article that the evidences presented historically show that Mariyah was married to Prophet Muhammed (p).

In light of the foregoing evidences presented it supports and concludes that Mariyah was Muhammed’s spouse, not a ‘concubine’ as some claim. [19]

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[1] Sirat-Un-Nabi (The Life Of The Prophet) [Rendered into English by M. Tayyib Bakhsh Budayuni, Idarah-I Adabiyat-I Delli, 2009 Qasimjan St. Delhi (India)] by Shaykh Allama Shibli Nu’mani, volume 2, page 153
[2] This report cited from Abu Nu’aym is “weak”, as one brother informed me. Cited from: The Life of the Prophet Muhammed (‘Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya’) [Translated by Professor Trevor Le Gassick, Garnet Publishing – Copyright 2000, The Center for Muslim Contribution To civilization], by Ibn Kathir, volume 4, page 433
[3] The Arab Conquest Of Egypt And The Last Thirty Years Of The Roman Dominion [Oxford – At The Clarendon Press, 1902] by Alfred J. Butler, D. Litt., F.S.A., Fellow Of Brasenose College, Author Of ‘The Ancient Coptic Churches Of Egypt’. Etc., page 436
[4] The Churches And Monasteries Of Egypt And Some Neighbouring Countries, Attributed to Abu Salih, The Armenian, [Edited And Translated: B. T. A. Evetts, M. A., With Added Notes: Alfred J. Butler, M. A., F.S.A., – Oxford: At The Clarendon Press, 1895], page 99 – 100
[5] The Churches And Monasteries Of Egypt And Some Neighbouring Countries, Attributed to Abu Salih, The Armenian, [Edited And Translated: B. T. A. Evetts, M. A., With Added Notes: Alfred J. Butler, M. A., F.S.A., – Oxford: At The Clarendon Press, 1895], page 99
[6] The Churches And Monasteries Of Egypt And Some Neighbouring Countries, Attributed to Abu Salih, The Armenian, [Edited And Translated: B. T. A. Evetts, M. A., With Added Notes: Alfred J. Butler, M. A., F.S.A., – Oxford: At The Clarendon Press, 1895], page 99
[7] Riyad Us-Saliheen: The Paradise Of The Pious, by Imam Abu Zakaruya Yahya Bin Sharaf An-Nawawi Dimashqi, page 110
[8] The Qur’an And Slavery [Translated by Dr. Kaubab Siddique, America; BOOK Review In The ‘New Trend’, America, volume 5, No. 4 January 1983 – Rabiul Awwal 1402, Maudoodi’s Serious Error in Quranic Commentary], by Hafiz Muhammad Sarwar Qureshi, page 3
[9] The Ideal Muslimah: The True Islamic Personality Of The Muslim Woman [Translated into English: Nassrudin Al-Khattab], by Dr. Muhammad Ali al-Hashimi, page 107
[10] Mishkat Al-Masabih: English translation with Explanatory notes [Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, Publishers, Bookselleres & exporters – 7-Aibak Road (New Anarkali) Lahore, 1991] by Professor James Robson, volume 2, Page 1289
[11] Egyptology: The Missing Millennium: Ancient Egypt in Medieval Arabic Writings [2016, Routledge] by Dr. Okasha El-Daly, [Chapter 2] page 17 – 18
[12] Ibn Kathir went as far as to say that Mariya was above and among the ‘mother of the believers’, an honorific title given to the wives of Prophet Muhammed:
“Mariya al-Qubtiyya, the mother of Ibrahim, was one of them; she has been considered ABOVE among ‘THE MOTHER OF THE BELIEVERS’.”
The Life of the Prophet Muhammed (‘Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya’) [Translated by Professor Trevor Le Gassick, Garnet Publishing – Copyright 2000, The Center for Muslim Contribution To civilization], by Ibn Kathir, volume 4, page 467
[13] The Life of the Prophet Muhammed (‘Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya’) [Translated by Professor Trevor Le Gassick, Garnet Publishing – Copyright 2000, The Center for Muslim Contribution To civilization], by Ibn Kathir, volume 4, page 415 – 416
[14] Why the Prophet Muhammed married more than one: A study, [Translated by Ahmad Ibrahim El Orfaly, Cairo, 1414 – 1993 – AD.] by Ahmad Muhammad El Hawfy (Al-Hufi), Ph.D., page 46
[15] Great Women Of Islam: Who were given the good news of Paradise [Translated by Jamila Muhammad Qawi, and Revised by. Sheikh Safur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri, Darussalam, Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia], by Mahmood Ahmad Ghadanfar, page 27
[16] Ibn ‘Abd al-Hakam’s “Futuh Misr” : an analysis of the text and new insights into the Islamic conquest of Egypt[A dissertation submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree Doctor Of Philosophy. University Of California, Santa Barbara, 2006], by Christopher James Wright, page 58
[17] The History of al-Tabari: ‘Abbasid Authority Affirmed: The Early Years of al-Mansur A.D. 753-763/A.H. 136-145 [Translator: Jane Dammen McAuliffe, SUNY series in Near Eastern Studies – State University of new York, 1995]. Volume 28, page 171, footnote 836
[18] World Religions in Practice: A Comparative Introduction [Blackwell Publishing, 2009] by Professor Paul Gwynne, [Chapter 6] page 174
[19] Some have claimed that the latter part of Sahih Muslim in regards to Mariya’s marriage to Prophet Muhammed is doubtful. The claim is, that when ‘aw’ (‘or’) it gives doubt to if Muhammed (p) said the latter part. ‘aw’ also means ‘and’, ‘aw qala’ has been used in a number of Hadith as, ‘And he said’. For the sake of argument, even if we were to dismiss the latter part of the Hadith, the first part where it mentions ‘rahim’ (rahm) gives us proof that Prophet Muhammed had a wife from Egypt. The Arabic word used denotes, ‘in-Laws’ and ‘relatives on the maternal side’, as the following Arabic-English Lexicons/dictionaries explain:


Jews Did Not Get Expelled From Arabia

Holy Ground: Jews And Christians Expelled From Arabia?

We wrote not long ago on the Hadith where it is presumed by some that Prophet Muhammad (p) and Umar Ibn al-Khattab wanted to ‘expel all Christians and Jews from Arabia’, as a result of their beliefs. In the article we showed that this was a wrong understanding of the Hadith. Where it mentioned ‘Arabia’, was actually understood by some of the earliest Muslims to be Hijaz region. Some of the early scholars pointed out that it was not even the whole of Hijaz, but rather the southern part only.

Arthur Stanley Tritton, D. Litt. who was a British historian and scholar of Islam – has unearthed many early evidences where even after Umar ordered the expulsion of some Jews from Hijaz, for breaking the treaty and fighting Muslims, there were still many Jewish and Christian tribes who resided in Arabia. Particularly in Yemen and other places in Arabia. Some of them even were allowed to work and live in Madinah and Makkah. Furthermore, the claim by some that all Jews and Christians were expelled from Arabia, is an “exaggeration”, says Scholar Arthur Stanley Tritton.

Scholar Arthur Stanley Tritton

The accepted version of history is that, in obedience to the tradition,

‘Two religions shall not remain in the land of the Arabs,’

Umar drove all Jews and Christians out of Arabia, because that was the land of Islam and Islam alone. This is an exaggeration. The dhimmis were never banished from Yemen, and Hamdani mentions a village with two hundred Jewish inhabitants in east Peninsula. (Geography Of Arabia, Hamdani, p. 152; and Kitab al-Umm, Shafe’I, vol. 4, p. 100)

Dhimmis were excluded from the Hedjaz, but even this was contrary to the practice of the Prophet, was opposed to the views of the some of the great lawyers, and was not carried out consistently.

During the Prophet’s lifetime, dhimmis lived in Medina, Mecca, Khaibar, Yemen, and Nejran, and a Christian, named Mawhib, is specially mentioned as living in Mecca. (Al-Tabaqat al-kabir, Ibn Sa’d, vol. 3, 1, p. 250)

Umar did not allow adult male captives – non-Muslims – to enter Medina, but he made an exception in favour of Abu Lulua, at the request of Mughira b. Sha’ba, as he was a skilled workman. (Kitab ul Aghani., vol. 11, p. 23)

The rule that Nabataeans trading with Medina paid only five per cent instead of ten probably implies that they visited the two. (As-Suli, Adab ul Kuttab (A.H. 1341), page 214; and Kitab al Umm, Shafe’i, volume 4, page 101)

Abu Zubaid, the Christian poet, certainly visited it, for Uthman drew him near to him and made him sit beside him. (Kitab al Umm, Shafe’i, vol. 4, page 125; and Khitat, Makrizi (A.H. 1270), vol. 2, page 121)

Hunain, the Christian singer of Hira, stayed in Medina. (Kitab ul Aghani, vol. 2, p. 122)

Abu l Hakam, a Christian, accompanied Yazid to Mecca, when he led the pilgrimage during the reign of his father, Mu’awia. (Tabakat ul Atibba, Ibn Abi Usaibi’a vol. 1, p. 116)

Abd ul Malik sent a Christian engineer to build dams in Mecca to ward off floods. (Baladhuri, Futuh ul Buldan, p. 54)

In 87 or 88 Walid sent eighty Greek and Coptic masons to rebuild the Prophet’s mosque; it is even said that he wrote to the emperor for them. (Baladhuri, Futuh ul Buldan p. 7; and Kitab ul A’lak Un Nafisa, Ibn Rusteh p. 69)

In the Papyri are frequent references to dhimmis labourers engaged in work on Mosques. [1]

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[1] The Caliphs And Their Non-Muslim Subjects: A Critical Study Of The Covenant Of Umar [Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press – London Bombay Calcutta Madras, 1930], page 175 – 176

Red area is the Hejaz region.

Red area is the Hejaz region.

Quran 9:49 “The Blonde Women” [P. 1]

Kaleef K. Karim


1. Introduction
2. Background: Surah 9:49
3. Banu Asfar’s Impending Army
4. The Report of Jadd b. Qais, And Excuse of Staying
5. Where is “Enslavement of the Blonde Women”?
6. Conclusion

1. Introduction

It is really worrying how some Christian missionaries use our Quran and Hadith text to deliberately and deceptively twist our scriptures for their own propagandist’s gains. This type of malicious lies has real affect on those who have no knowledge of our scripture. This may even lead some to extremism, all thanks to some Christian missionaries who want to lead innocent people astray to make few shekels on Youtube.

Not long ago the Yazidi minority group were persecuted and subjected to all kinds’ of horrendous treatment by Daesh in Iraq, who claim to follow Islam. Muslim scholars around the world have condemned this cultish group, who are no different from Christian missionaries who twist Islamic scripture for their own evil gains. The missionaries and this cult group are two sides of the same coin. The only difference is, one carries out the evil work, while the missionaries’ reinforce their cult interpretation online and giving them a pat on the back.

Coming back to the minority Yazidi group in Kurdistan-Iraq: as mentioned, they have been persecuted by Daesh.

I don’t know why there is no mention of the fact that Yazidis have been protected by Muslims in Kurdistan for centuries. To the present day, it is the Kurdish Muslim forces who rescue and have protected Yazidis from this cult. It seems ‘Muslim’ only gets mentioned when there is bad, but when there are 10.000s of Kurdish Muslims fighting against Daesh, they are not mentioned.

The claim by this particular missionary is that the Yazidi women who were raped by Daesh, have Islamic scriptural backing. [1]

The evidence presented for this claim is Surah 9:49. The critic claims that Prophet Muhammed (p) enticed and ‘promised’ his men to do Jihadagainst the Banu Al-Asfar (Byzantines/Romans), by giving them ‘blonde female slaves’. His assertion is that the sole purpose for this war was to enslave ‘blonde women’.

The next line of evidence he presents comes from a commentary on Surah 9:49, that Qays didn’t want to participate in the war because he may be tempted by the Byzantine women, and may “sin”. The Prophet (p) allowed him to stay.

The critic’s conclusion from this is that Muhammed (p) enticed and encouraged his men to go to war, basically to enslave/rape ‘blonde women’.

2. Background: Surah 9:49

Let’s read Quran 9:49,

“And among them is he who says:”Grant me leave (to be exempted from Jihad) and put me not into trial.” Surely, they have fallen into trial. And verily, Hell is surrounding the disbelievers.” – Quran 9:49

This verse was revealed about Jadd b. Qays. The commentators of the Quran say that he was requested by Prophet Muhammed (p) to join the expedition to Tabuk, but instead made excuses that he didn’t want to come because he wouldn’t be able to hold back if he sees the ‘Banu Asfar’ women. He was excused from joining this expedition, hence for the revelation of this verse.

As mentioned, Surah 9:49 was revealed in connection with the expedition of Tabuk, this is reported to us by many of the classical scholars (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas, and Ibn Juzayy).

We have written a comprehensive article on the Tabuk expedition. Please click on the following article: “Answering Jihad: ‘Fight Against Those Who Do Not Believe’ – Quran 9:29“. This expedition took place as a result of the aggression and impending army of Byzantine (Roman) Empire, who had reached Balqa, ready to attack the Muslim community. The Prophet (p), upon receiving news of them got his people ready to engage the enemy.

3. Banu Asfar’s Impending Army

The evidence of the impending army by the Byzantines (Banu Asfar) is related to us in a number of authentic reports.

Sahih Muslim:

“I never remained behind Allah’s Messenger from any expedition which he undertook except the Battle of Tabuk and that of the Battle of Badr. So far as the Battle of Badr is concerned, nobody was blamed for remaining behind as Allah’s Messenger and the Muslims (did not set out for attack but for waylaying) the caravan of the Quraish, but it was Allah Who made them confront their enemies without their intention (to do so). I had the honour to be with Allah’s Messenger on the night of ‘Aqaba when we pledged our allegiance to Islam and it was more dear to me than my participation in the Battle of Badr, although Badr was more popular amongst people as compared with that (Tabuk). And this is my story of remaining back from Allah’s Messenger on the occasion of the Battle of TABUK. Never did I possess means enough and (my circumstances) more favourable than at the occasion of this expedition. And, by Allah, I had never before this expedition simultaneously in my possession two rides. Allah’s Messenger set out for this expedition in extremely hot season; the journey was long and the land (which he and his army had to cover) was waterless and HE HAD TO CONFRONT A LARGE ARMY, so he informed the Muslims about the actual situation (they had to face), so that they should adequately equip themselves for this expedition, and he also told them the destination where he intended to go. …” (Sahih Muslim Book 37, Hadith 6670)

Riyad as-Salihin:

“Abdullah bin Ka’b, who served as the guide of Ka’b bin Malik (May Allah be pleased with him) when he became blind, narrated: I heard Ka’b bin Malik (May Allah be pleased with him) narrating the story of his remaining behind instead of joining Messenger of Allah when he left for the battle of Tabuk. Ka’b said: “I accompanied Messenger of Allah in every expedition which he undertook excepting the battle of Tabuk and the battle of Badr. As for the battle of Badr, nobody was blamed for remaining behind as Messenger of Allah and the Muslims, when they set out, had in mind only to intercept the caravan of the Quraish. Allah made them confront their enemies unexpectedly. I had the honour of being with Messenger of Allah on the night of ‘Aqabah when we pledged our allegiance to Islam and it was dearer to me than participating in the battle of Badr, although Badr was more well-known among the people than that. And this is the account of my staying behind from the battle of TABUK. I never had better means and more favourable circumstances than at the time of this expedition. And by Allah, I had never before possessed two riding-camels as I did during the time of this expedition. Whenever Messenger of Allah decided to go on a campaign, he would not disclose his real destination till the last moment (of departure). But on this expedition, he set out in extremely hot weather; the journey was long and the terrain was waterless desert; and HE HAD TO FACE A STRONG ARMY, so he informed the Muslims about the actual position so that they should make full preparation for the campaign.” (Riyad as-Salihin Book 1, Hadith 21)

Notice, the Prophet and his companions had to confront Banu Asfar’s army, who were ready and equipped to go to war against the Muslim community.

Let’s look further in other reports, that the real reason behind Tabuk expedition was to do with aggression and hostility of Byzantines, who were ready and equipped to attack the Muslim community.

Ibn Sa’d (784-845 AD), in his book Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir states that news had reached Prophet Muhammed that the Byzantine (banu Asfar) had ‘concentrated large forces’, and Heracluis had sent some his military to ‘Balqa’. This is when the Muhammed (p) ‘summoned’ his people to the expedition of Tabuk:

“They (narrators) saud: It (report) reached the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him, that the ROMANS HAD CONCENTRATED LARGE FORCES IN SYRIA had, that Heraclius had disbursed one year’s salary to his soldiers, and that tribes of Lakhm, Judham, ‘Amilah and Ghassan had joined hands with him. THEY SENT HAD SENT THEIR VANGUARDS TO AL-BALQA. THE MESSENGER Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him, SUMMONED THE PEOPLE TO MARCH. He set out and informed them about the place which he intended, so that they could make necessary preparations. He sent (messengers) to Makkah and to the tribes of Arabia (asking them) to send help. This took place in the days of intense heat.” (Ibn Sa’d, Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, vol. 2, pp. 203-204) [2]

9th Century historian Ahmad Ibn Yaḥya al-Baladhuri (D. 892 AD), also reports in his book, ‘Kitab Futuh Al-Buldan’, in clear words that the Prophet (p) learned that the Byzantine army ‘had assembled against him’:

“Tabuk make terms. When in the year 9 AH the Prophet marched to TABUK in Syria for the invasion of those of the Greeks, Amilah, Lakhm, Judham and others WHOM HE LEARNT HAD ASSEMBLED AGAINST HIM, he met no resistance. So he spent a few days in Tabuk, whose inhabitants made terms with him agreeing to pay poll-tax.” (Kitab Futuh Al-Buldan, vol. 1, p. 92)[3]

This is also reported in al-Zurqani:

“…the Apostle was informed by the Nabataeans that Heraclius was, after stocking one year’s provisions for his army and drafting the pro-Byzantine tribes of the Lakhm, Judham, Amla and Ghassan under his banner, INTENDING TO COME UPON and that his advance columns had already reached Balqa.” (Al-Zurqani, commentary on Al-Mawahib, volume 3, page 63 – 64) [4]

From this section we get a clear picture that the war was about one side (Banu Asfar) trying to attack and overthrow the Muslim power In Madinah, while the other group (Muslims) tried defending themselves against the aggression of the Banu Asfar, by fighting back in self-defence.

4. The Report of Jadd b. Qais, And Excuse of Staying

Let us now look at the second claim why Qays did not participate in this expedition, and the claim that Muhammed (p) only went to war because of ‘blonde women’. The report from Tabari says,

“…Everyone transmitted what he had learned about the expedition to Tabuk and some people reported whats others did not. All the reports agree, however, that the Messenger of God ordered his companions to prepare for the military expedition against the Byzantines. This was a season when people were hard pressed; the heat was oppressive and the country was passing throuhg a dry spell. At the time, fruit was ripe and shade was dearly sought. People love to stay where they have shade and fruit [trees], and find leaving them distasteful. The Messenger of God would seldom go out on a military expedition without alluding to a destination and announcing [publicly] that he meant [a place] other than that intended.
The Tabuk expedition was the exception, in that he explained [the particulars of the expedition openly] to the people. This was because of the long distance, the difficult season, and THE ENEMY’S NUMERICAL SUPERIORITY. He wanted the people to be fully prepared, so he ordered them to make ready and informed them that his objective was the Byzantines. They prepared themselves despite their dislike for that approach and what it entailed, as well as their respect for the Byzantines and their fighting ability. One day, while the Messenger of God was making preparations for this expedition, he said to Jadd b. Qays, brother of the Banu Salimah: ‘Would you like, O Jadd, to fight the Banu Asfar this year?’ He said: ‘O Messenger of God, please excuse me [from this] and do not tempt me. By God my folk know no better admirer of women than I. I fear that if I see the women of the Banu of Asfar I shall not be able to control myself.’ The Messenger of God turned away from him saying, ‘I excuse you.’ It was about al-Jadd that the following verse was revealed:
‘Among them is a man who says, ‘Grant me exemption [to stay at home] and tempt me not [into trial].’ Have they not already fallen into trial? Indeed hell encompasses the unbelievers.’ [‘Tempt me not’] meant that he feared temptation from the women of the Banu Asfar. But was it not [also] temptation that he had fallen into, by staying behind [while] the Messenger of God [went to battle]? By falling prey to human desires, he had fallen into a greater temptation. Indeed, hell is at his back. (Tabari vol. 9, page 47 – 48[5]

This report on Jadd b. Qays mentions nothing about Muhammed going to war for the enslavement of “blonde women”.

Furthermore, towards the end of Tabari’s quote it says that Qays didn’t want to go because he may be tempted by the Banu Asfar women, and may lead him to sin. If as the critic claims that rape of these women were allowed, why would Qays say that he didn’t want to go, as it may lead him to touch women? Doesn’t this report show that rape was forbidden, for why would Qays not be willing to join the expedition if this heinous act was permissible?

The critic’s sole claim that Muhammed (p) went to this expedition to ‘enslave blonde women’, has no historical backing from the report.

5. Where is “Enslavement of the Blonde Women”?

As we have seen from the above evidences, the expedition of Tabuk was started as a result of Banu Asfar’s impending army. Let’s look at a further evidence when the Muslims got to the territory of Banu Asfar, what did the Muslims do to the enemy? Did their ‘blonde’ women get enslaved?

Historical Reports

Sahih al-Bukhari:

“We accompanied the Prophet in the Ghazwa of Tabuk and the king of ‘Aila presented a white mule and a cloak as a gift to the Prophet. And the Prophet wrote to him a peace treaty allowing him to keep authority over his country.” (Sahih al-Bukhari volume 4, Book 53, Hadith 387)

Kitab Futuh Al-Buldan:

“Tabuk make terms. When in the year 9 AH the Prophet marched to Tabuk in Syria for the invasion of those of the Greeks, Amilah, Lakhm, Judham and others whom he learnt had assembled against him, he met no resistance. So he spent a few days in Tabuk, whose inhabitants made terms with him agreeing to pay poll-tax.” (Kitab Futuh Al-Buldan volume 1, page 92) [10]


“In the name of Allah, The most Merciful, The Most Compassionate. This is a covenant of security from Allah and Muhammed, the Messenger of Allah, to Yuhanna Ibn Ru’ba and the people of Alya. Their ships and their journeys by land and sea shall be under the safe protection of God and Muhammed, as shall the people of Syria and Yemen and the coastal dwellers who accompany them. His assets shall not protect the perpetrator of a crime and it shall be lawful to confiscate his wealth.” (Kitab al-Maghazi, by al-Waqidi, volume 3, page 1031)

Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya:

“Then the Governor of Ayla came to the Messenger of God (SAAS) and presented to him a while mule. The Messenger of God (SAAS), presented him with a robe of honour and wrote a document for him giving them protection.” (Al-Sira an-Nabawiyya, volume 4, page 14)

With the Prophet (p) and his army’s arrival in Banu Asfar’s territory, we read that he made peace treaties with the tribes that had allegiance to them. These reports are very interesting! It thoroughly debunks the myth perpetuated by the critic that Prophet Muhammed (p) conquered, and sole purpose was to enslave ‘blonde women’.

We have to also remember that these tribes were guilty of siding with the Byzantine (Banu Asfar) in harming the Muslims, yet when the Prophet (p) had the opportunity to avenge them for what they did (i.e., siding with Byzantine in killing Muslims), he left them alone.

Furthermore, if the claim as the critic claims that the sole purpose of this expedition was for women as he quotes one commentary, why do our most authentic reports tell us the opposite of what he claims? Why is that none of the perverted assertions he made is not backed historically?

6. Conclusion:

The conclusion that can be drawn from all the above proofs is that the purpose of Tabuk expedition was to do with the Byzantine (Banu Asfar) preparing their people to attack the Muslim community. The claim that Muhammed (p) and his companions set out on the expedition to Tabuk to ‘enslave blonde women’, has no historical truth to the event.

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[1] A narration reported by Abu Dharr tells us that:
“The Prophet (p) said: “Feed those of your captives who please you from what you eat and clothe them with what you clothe yourselves, but sell those who do not please you and DO NOT punish Allah’s creatures.” (Sunan Abu Dawud, Hadith 5142. Albani classified it as Sahih)
This report tells us if a captive-woman were to refuse to please her master, by making food or getting intimate, he was NOT allowed to force her. God orders Muslims to sell her and move away from her. The Prophet also recommended to set free captives. They were NOT to punish. From leaving each other, maybe the second person she goes to may have a better relationship. The idea about ‘raping’ captive-women is described by God to be “punishing Allah’s creatures”, which is the most heinous crime to do.
[2] Ibn Sa’d’s Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, Translated by S. Moinul Haq (New Delhi: Kitab Bhavan, 2009) Volume 2, page 203-204
[3] The origins of the Islamic State, being a translation from the Arabic accompanied with annotations Geographic and historic notes of the Kitab Futuh Al-Buldan of al-Imam Abu’l Abbas Ahmad Ibn Jabir Al Baladhuri, By Phillip Khurti Hitti, PHD, [1916], volume 1, page 92
[4] Muhammad Rasulullah: The Apostle Of Mercy, [Translated by Mohiudin Ahmad, Academy of Islamic Research And Publications, Lucknow (India) – Series No. 126 – Edition English 2nd Lucknow, 1982]S. Abul Hasan Ali, page 349
[5] History of al-Tabari: The Last Years Of The Prophet – [Translated And Annotated By Ismail K. Poonawala, Suny – Series in Near Eastern Studies, University Of California, Los Angeles – State University of New York, 1990], volume 9, page 47 – 48
[6] The origins of the Islamic State, being a translation from the Arabic accompanied with annotations Geographic and historic notes of the Kitab Futuh Al-Buldan of al-Imam Abu’l Abbas Ahmad Ibn Jabir Al Baladhuri, By Phillip Khurti Hitti, PHD, [1916], volume 1, page 92

Prophet Muhammed (P) On Priests

Another day, more innocent lives are taken by extremist savages. I really don’t know how to respond to the dreadful murders that has took place in Kabul, Iraq, Munich and now in a church in Rouen, in northern France.

Few days ago was the mass murder of nine innocent souls in Munich, Germany. It was carried out by David Sonboly, a right-wing neo-Nazifollower, who was inspired by Andres Breivik. Then there was the killing of 80 Muslims by Daesh, in Kabul.

Today in France, reports have emerged that two men slit Abbe Jacques Hamel’s throat, an 84-year-old priest.
While the perpetrators killed Abbe Jacques they shouted ‘Daesh’ (an offensive word used by Arabs against ISIS).

As Muslims we pray for the families in Kabul, Iraq, Munich and Rouen, France. We hope God Almighty brings peace to those who are going through this dreadful time.

These savages who have perpetuated these heinous crimes against innocent people, whether they call themselves ‘Muslim’ or ‘Christian’ do not represent, nor follow the teachings that is enshrined in our scriptures.

What happened to father Abbe Jacques Hamel, has no relation to Islam’s teachings. These men are barbarians that are far from the core teachings Prophet Muhammed (p) brought.

The Prophet and his Companions categorically forbade and abhorred any killing of women, children, monks and hermits.

“…DO NOT transgress by killing women, Children, monks and the like,’ as will be explained. … there is a Hadith reported by Ibn Ibn Umar that, during one of his expeditions the Messenger of Allah, saw a woman who had been killed and he ABHORRED THAT and FORBADE the killing of women and children. As for logic, it applies to children and those like them, like MONKS, the chronically ill, OLD MEN and hirelings WHO CLEARLY SHOULD NOT BE KILLED. When Abu Bakr sent Yazid Ibn Abi Sufwan to Syria, he commanded that he should not do harm to certain groups. Malik and others transmitted this. …” (Tafsir Al Qurtubi, Classical Commentary Of The Holy Qur’an, [Dar al-Taqwa], volume 1, page 490 – 491)

When Caliph Abu Bakr Siddique sent his soldiers to Syria, he said to have given the followings commandments:

“When you enter that country, KILL NEITHER OLD MAN, nor little child, nor woman. Do not pull down a pillar saint from his place. DO NOT INJURE THE MONKS, FOR THEY HAVE SET THEMSELVES APART TO WORSHIP GOD. Do not cut down a tree nor uproot a plant. Do not rip up any ox, cow, or sheep. If a province or people receive you, make an agreement with them and your promise. Let them be governed by their own laws and established customs, and take tribute from them as is agreed between you. Leave them in their religion and their land.” (The Caliphs And Their Non-Muslim Subjects: A Critical Study Of The Covenant Of Umar [Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press – London Bombay Calcutta Madras, 1930], by Arthur Stanley Tritton, page 137)

The good and kind treatment by Prophet Muhammed and his successors to Priests has been attested by early non-Muslim sources.

Isho-yahbh the Bishop, who was a Christian patriarch in the years 647 to 657 A.D., states:

“The Arabs, to whom God gave the dominion over the World, behave to us as you know. They are not hostile to Christianity, but praise our religion, honour the priests and saints, and help the Churches and Monasteries.” (The Book of Governors: The Historia Monastica of Thomas, Bishop of Marga A.D.840. [Edited From Syriac manuscripts In The British Museum And Other Libraries by E. A. Wallis Budge, Litt. D., F. S. A., – London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., LTD. Paternoster House, Charing Cross Road. 1893], volume 2, page 126)

The kind and just treatment towards non-Muslims by Muhammad (p) and his successors is the true essence of Islam. Islam is based on peace and tolerance towards others. These barbarians who continue to cause havoc against innocent Muslims and non-Muslims, are evil. These evil individuals seek to divide and spread hate amongst us.

Don’t let these barbarians make you hate another person who comes from a particular faith. Stand firm, and be one of those who brings people together in humanity.

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Abbe Jacques Hamel, picture credit: P. Cédric BURGUN

Abbe Jacques Hamel, picture credit: P. Cédric BURGUN

New Testament And Marital Rape

Note: This article by no means is to disrespect our Christian brothers/sisters or their faith. We only endeavoured to write this article because of some extremist Christians who lie and charge the Islamic faith with rape – that Islam as a religion sanctions or endorses rape, a claim which has no backing from our Islamic sources. We have already responded to these claims in the following Link: “Islam on Rape

Since some of these extremists have made this false charge against our Scriptures, let’s see what the New Testament has to say on this issue.

In this piece we seek to analyse a very disturbing New Testament verse. The verse before this give instructions to Christian households, mainly to woman how to conduct themselves with their husband’s. The verses read:

I Corinthians 7:3-4

3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.
4 The WIFE DOES NOT HAVE authority over her own body but HER HUSBAND DOES. …

The verse was understood by classical and modern exegesis that the husband should give his wife her ‘conjugal’ rights, same goes for the wife. This verse (v 3.) is not disturbing. It is the right of the wife for her needs to be met. However, the disturbing and I would say ‘evil’ part comes from verse 4, let’s read:

“4 The WIFE DOES NOT HAVE AUTHORITY over her own body (private part), but HER HUSBAND DOES. …” – I Corinthians 7:4

This verse commands that a Christian wife has no authority over her body. The ‘body’ part mentioned here is reference to her ‘private parts’. Basically, the husband has full right to have sexual relations with his wife even when she refuses. The Christian husband can have forceful sexual intimacy even if the wife refuses. For the wife to refuse this, is a major sin. This in modern terms would be called ‘marital rape’.

Furthermore, the wife in Christianity cannot divorce her husband, even if her husband beats her, and rapes her. There are a number of verses in the New Testament that reiterate, and directly command that under no circumstances can divorce take place (only if the husband dies is the wife free).

“For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress.” Romans 7:2-3

“A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord” 1 Corinthians 7:39

This command is also taught by Jesus himself, if divorce were to take place, the woman would be called an “adulteress”:

“But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, causes her to become an adulteress, andanyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.” Matthew 5:32
“I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Matthew 19:9

“Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Luke 16:18

“When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” Mark 10:10-12

In these verses, under one circumstance can a wife get divorce, that is if the husband is caught cheating, being unfaithful i.e., committing adultery. Under no other circumstances is divorce allowed.

This may be hurtful for some our readers to read, but we would go as far as to say that continual rape, beating your wife senseless, none of these evil actions would by the Law of Jesus, allow for divorce.

There is only one time when wife gets rest, even this is very vague, this rule only applies to praying (1 Corinthians 7:5). Christian scholars here argue that not even prayer could stop the husband from enjoying herself. He can still go into her wife immediately after the prayer.

Coming back to I Corinthians 7: 3-4, the exegesis from the past to present day have reiterated that the wife has no right over her private part. The husband can go into her any day, any time he pleases. When the wife got married, her right to her body is longer binding, this right is passed to the husband. The following commentaries are from Christian scholars, commenting on the verse.

Pastor and Bible teacher David Guzik:

“b. On the same idea, also the wife to her husband: The wife is not to withhold marital affection from her husband. Paul strongly puts forth the idea that there is a mutual sexual responsibility in marriage. The husband has obligations toward his wife, and the wife has obligations toward her husband.
i. Render to his wife: The emphasis is on giving, on “I owe you” instead of “you owe me.” In God’s heart, sex is put on a much higher level than merely the husband’s privilege and the wife’s duty.
c. The wife does not have authority over her own body: In fact, these obligations ARE SO CONCRETE, IT COULD BE SAID THAT THE WIFE’S BODY DOES NOT EVEN BELONG TO HERSELF, BUT TO HER HUSBAND. The same principle is true of the husband’s body in regard to his wife. …”
(David Guzik Commentary on the Bible – online source)


Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges:

“Verse 4
4. οὐκ ἐξουσιάζει. A.V. hath not power. Better, HATH NO RIGHT. ἐξουσία sometimes stands for power, as in Revelation 9:3. But the more usual sense of the word is AUTHORITY. τοῦ ἰδίου σώματος. OVER HER OWN BODY. Because in everything connected with the duties of married life each should consult the comfort, well-being, and happiness of the other before their own, and should be especially careful that they do not, by any selfishness on the part of either, ‘cause their brother to offend’” (Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges – online source)


Heinrich Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament:

“Verse 3-4
ἡ γυνὴ τοῦ ἰδίου σώμ. κ. τ. λ(1073)] Explanatory of 1 Corinthians 7:3. THE WIFE HAS NO POWER OVER HER OWN BODY, NAMELY, AS REGARDS COHABITATION, but THE HUSBAND HAS THAT POWER; likewise ( ὁμοίως) also, on the other hand, the converse holds, so that “neutri liceat alteri conjugale debitum poscenti denegare,” Estius. Corresponding statements of the Rabbins may be seen in Selden, uxor. Hebr. iii. 6, 7. Bengel says happily respecting ἰδίου, that it forms with οὐκ ἐξουσιάζει, an elegans paradoxon.” (Heinrich Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament – online source)


Henry Mahan’s Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament:

“1 Corinthians 7:3. ‘Let the husband render unto the wife all the offices of love – tenderness, kindness, provisions, protection and respect.’ But the chief reference here is to the marriage BED AND HER SEXUAL NEEDS. Likewise, the wife is to be aware of the needs of her husband and to meet those needs willingly; otherwise, she is called by the ancient writers ‘A REBELLIOUS WIFE.’ According to the Song of Solomon, this relationship, when properly understood (free from traditional guilt and false piety, and knowing it is ordained of God with his blessings), ceases to be a duty and becomes joy and pleasure.
1 Corinthians 7:4. A WIFE DOES NOT HAVE EXCLUSIVE AUTHORITY OVER AND OWNERSHIP OF HER BODY TO REFRAIN THE USE OF IT FROM HER HUSBAND, to give it to someone else, to neglect it, nor to abuse it. THE HUSBAND HAS A POWER OVER AND RIGHT TO HER BODY. The same is true of the husband’s body, to which the wife has certain rights. Better to recognize this as a joy rather than a duty or an unpleasant task. Happy are the wife and husband who find delight in pleasing each other with an attractive, clean and loving person and personality.” (Henry Mahan’s Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament – online source)

Albert Barnes’

“Verse 4
The WIFE hath not power … – By the MARRIAGE covenant that power, in this respect, IS TRANSFERRED TO THE HUSBAND…” (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible – online source)

Adam Clark:

Verse 4
The wife hath not power, etc. – Her person belongs to her husband; her husband’s person belongs to her: NEITHER OF THEM HAS ANY AUTHORITY TO REFUSE what the other has a matrimonial right to demand. The woman that would act so is either a knave or a fool. It would be trifling to attribute her conduct to any other cause than weakness or folly. She does not love her husband; or she loves some one else better than her husband; or she makes pretensions to a fancied sanctity unsupported by Scripture or common sense.” (Adam Clarke Commentary – online source)

Thomas Coke:

Verse 4
1 Corinthians 7:4. Also the husband hath not power, &c.— The woman, who in all other rights is INFERIOR, has here the same power given her over the man, that the MAN HAS OVER HER.
(Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible – online source)

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible:

“Verse 3-4
The DUTY OF COHABITATION on the part of the married. due benevolence — The oldest manuscripts read simply, “her due”; that is, the CONJUGAL COHABITATION due by the marriage contract (compare 1 Corinthians 7:4). (Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible – online source)

John Dummelow:

3. Due benevolence] RV ‘her due’; i.e. PRIMARILY, COHABITATION. (John Dummelow’s Commentary on the Bible – Online source)

Matthew Henry:

“f3Porneiascf0 – Fornications, all sorts of lawless lust. To avoid these, Let every man, says he, have his own wife, and every woman her own husband; that is, marry, and confine themselves to their own mates. And, when they are married, let each render the other due benevolence (1 Corinthians 7:3), consider the disposition and exigency of each other, and render CONJUGAL DUTY, which is owing to each other. For, as the apostle argues (1 Corinthians 7:4), in the married state NEITHER PERSON HAS POWER OVER HIS OWN BODY, but has delivered it into the power of the other, THE WIFE GIVES HERS INTO THE POWER OF THE HUSBAND…”(Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Bible – online source)


“Women’s rights advocates lobbied during the 1977 Oregon legislative session and secured the passage of a law that allows a wife to charge her own husband with rape. This law was tested in the Rideout case and, although the husband was acquitted in December 1978, the law was allowed to stand. By April 30, 1988, all fifty states had similar laws that made it a crime for a man to rape his wife. Under these laws, the husband was treated like any other man who forced a woman to have sex. But some, about twenty States, later made some allowances, which made wife rape a lesser crime than rapes. The ancient custom as explained by St. Paul states: ‘The wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does…’ (1Corinthians 7:4). And by Moses ‘… Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. Genesis 3:16). The prevalence of marital rape is estimated between 7 percent and 14 percent, and the women are just as likely to suffer psychological problems as those raped by strangers. (The Sex Offenses and their Treatments: The Problem–The Solution—Commentary [Author house, 2004] by Victor T. Cheney, page 54)

The church in Bahamas said there is no such thing as ‘rape’ within marriage:

“…’CAN A SPOUSE WITHIN MARRIAGE BE FOUND GUILTY OF RAPE AS AN OFFENCE PUNISHABLE BY LAW?’ … However, THE CHURCH IN BAHAMAS SAID, NO. Some POINT TO ST. PAUL IN 1 CORINTHIANS 7:3-5 where he says, ‘Let the husband render to his wife the affection or benevolence due to her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does.’ … Paul’s statement served as the foundation of the Common Law, in both the United States and the United Kingdom for hundreds of years, these jurisdictions have expanded their interpretation on marriage to say that marital rape is a reality vis-a-vis domestic violence and should now be criminalized. Obviously, this position was not arrived at easily or overnight…” (Capital Punishment In The Bahamas: The Privy Council’s Moratorium – Culture, Politics, Religion [Author house, 2013] by Dr. Michael D. Toote, page 107)

What we have gathered from the above commentaries on 1 Corinthians 7:3-4 is, that a Christian woman has no right over her own private part. She is commanded from the Bible to give herself to her husband anytime he wishes, even if that means, she may dislike it. The husband, on the other hand, has full rights of her, to the extent that he could have forceful sexual relations and there would no sin on him.

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