Biblical Principle #278: Israelite Marrying a Captive of War

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The Law of Moses gave instructions for an Israelite to marry a woman from a nation taken captive in war.


10 “Now if you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands, and you take them captive, 11 and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and desire her and would take her for your wife, 12 then you shall bring her home to your house, and you shall shave her head and trim her nails. 13 You shall take the clothes of her captivity from her; and she shall remain in your house and mourn her father and mother a full month; after that you may go in to her and dwell with her, and she shall be your wife. 14 But it shall be, if you do not want her, then you shall send her away free, but you certainly shall not sell her for money; you shall not treat her brutally, because you humbled her.

Deuteronomy 21:10-14 OSB

The Israelite was to:

  • Take the woman to his home.
  • Shave her head.
  • Trim her nails.
  • Let her live in his house for one month. During this time she was to mourn her father and mother.

After this one-month period:

  • The Israelite was allowed to have sex with the woman, and she would become his wife.
  • If the Israelite decided he did not want her thereafter, he was to send her away free (divorce).

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