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Adultery (Heb: נָאַף, na'aph) is a act or state of sexual unfaithfulness to one's husband or wife. It is a sin against the sacred bond between a man and his wife[1]. It is a major sin, first forbidden outright as the seventh commandment as written on stone by Yahweh[2]. Under the Levitical code, those convicted of this crime were subject to the death penalty[3]

The related sin of fornication (זָנָה zanah, "to commit whoredom"), often with hired lovers[4], led to Yahweh calling acts of idolatry spiritual adultery[5].

Laws

The first and clearest prohibition of adultery by God is the seventh commandment which simply states, "You will not commit adultery".

Death Penalty

Testing for Adultery

Main article: Law of Jealousy

Adultery Accounts

In Proverbs

Adultery, specifically the adulterous woman is a major theme in Proverbs. Near the beginning of the book, several lengthy expositions are provided concerning adultery as well as many maxims throughout the collection.

Second Exposition

Continuing the second exposition against committing adultery, the author of the Proverb (presumably Solomon) offers a story to warn against adultery- whether real or imagined. As the narrator peered through the lattice of his home, he noticed a young man on the street corner where an adulteress lurks. She meets the man wearing seductive clothing and kisses him. Enticing him through the promises of pleasure and avoiding the wrath of her traveling, merchant-husband, she convinces him to come into her bed chambers.

Table

Symbol Meaning Verse
Her lips drip oil, speech smother than oil; yet bitter like worm wood, sharp as a two-edge sword and a staircase to Sheol An adultress speaks smoothly, yet she only causes harm and death 5:3-5
Can a man hold fire next to his chest and not burn his clothes OR walk on coals without burning his feet? A person who engages with an adulteress cannot avoid damage from the natural consequences of the act, specifically the wrath of a husband 6:27-29
A young man follows an adultress, like an ox heading to the slaughter house or a stag shot in the entrails by a hunter or a bird in a trap One seduced by an adulteress will be lead away to her bed chambers without sense, heading into a situation that will harm him 7:21-23
Her slain are a great gathering. Her house is the way to Sheol

Verses

  1. Gen. 2:24 (Link)
  2. Exo. 20:14 (Link)
  3. Lev. 20:10 (Link)
  4. Eze. 16:33 (Link)
  5. Eze. 16:17-34 (Link)
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