The Testimony of Women in the Bible


Bassam Zawadi


The following is a passage from the Old Testament:

Deuteronomy 19:15-19

One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of any crime or offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse a man of a crime, the two men involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the LORD before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against his brother, then do to him as he intended to do to his brother. You must purge the evil from among you.  

John Gill says in his commentary:

Then both the men between whom the controversy is,.... The man that bears the false witness, and the man against whom it is borne:

shall stand before the Lord; as in the presence of him, the omniscient God, and as represented by judges and civil magistrates, whose vicegerents they are; so it seems to be explained in the next words, which are exegetical of these:

before the priests and the judges which shall be in those days; which shall compose the sanhedrim, or court of judicature; and this seems to confirm it, that by priest and judge, in
Deuteronomy 17:9 are meant priests and judges; Jarchi says, this Scripture speaks of witnesses, that is, of the false witness that testifies wrong against a man, and another that contradicts his testimony, and teaches that there is no witness by women; and so it is elsewhere said {a}, an oath of witness is made by men, and not by women; on which it is observed {b} that a woman is not fit to bear witness, as it is written,

then both the men,.... men and not women; and the above writer remarks further, that it teaches that they ought to bear testimony standing.
(John Gill's Exposition to the Bible, Commentary on Deuteronomy 19:17, Source)

The following passages from the book of Numbers talk about a woman being accused of adultery:  

Numbers 5:11-31

The Test for an Unfaithful Wife

11 Then the LORD said to Moses, 12 "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'If a man's wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him 13 by sleeping with another man, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), 14 and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure?or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure- 15 then he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of a tenth of an ephah [a] of barley flour on her behalf. He must not pour oil on it or put incense on it, because it is a grain offering for jealousy, a reminder offering to draw attention to guilt. 16 " 'The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the LORD. 17 Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. 18 After the priest has had the woman stand before the LORD, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. 19 Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, "If no other man has slept with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. 20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have defiled yourself by sleeping with a man other than your husband"- 21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse of the oath-"may the LORD cause your people to curse and denounce you when he causes your thigh to waste away and your abdomen to swell. [b] 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells and your thigh wastes away. [c] "
 " 'Then the woman is to say, "Amen. So be it." 23 " 'The priest is to write these curses on a scroll and then wash them off into the bitter water. 24 He shall have the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and this water will enter her and cause bitter suffering. 25 The priest is to take from her hands the grain offering for jealousy, wave it before the LORD and bring it to the altar. 26 The priest is then to take a handful of the grain offering as a memorial offering and burn it on the altar; after that, he is to have the woman drink the water. 27 If she has defiled herself and been unfaithful to her husband, then when she is made to drink the water that brings a curse, it will go into her and cause bitter suffering; her abdomen will swell and her thigh waste away, [d] and she will become accursed among her people. 28 If, however, the woman has not defiled herself and is free from impurity, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children. 29 " 'This, then, is the law of jealousy when a woman goes astray and defiles herself while married to her husband, 30 or when feelings of jealousy come over a man because he suspects his wife. The priest is to have her stand before the LORD and is to apply this entire law to her. 31 The husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing, but the woman will bear the consequences of her sin.'

This shows that the woman is guilty unless proven innocent. Why can't they just ask the woman if she committed adultery or not and just take her word for it? Apparently, her testimony is not enough. Imagine what the wife has to go through each time her husband merely suspects he cheated on her. 

Here is another passage:

Deuteronomy 22:11-21

Marriage Violations

13 If a man takes a wife and, after lying with her, dislikes her 14 and slanders her and gives her a bad name, saying, "I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity," 15 then the girl's father and mother shall bring proof that she was a virgin to the town elders at the gate. 16 The girl's father will say to the elders, "I gave my daughter in marriage to this man, but he dislikes her. 17 Now he has slandered her and said, 'I did not find your daughter to be a virgin.' But here is the proof of my daughter's virginity." Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town, 18 and the elders shall take the man and punish him. 19 They shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver [a] and give them to the girl's father, because this man has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to be his wife; he must not divorce her as long as he lives.

 20 If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl's virginity can be found, 21 she shall be brought to the door of her father's house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father's house. You must purge the evil from among you.  

This just shows that the woman is guilty unless proven innocent. This also shows that the man who falsely accused his wife only pays a hundred shekels for ruining her reputation, and the money goes to the father and not to the woman. Not only that, she is forced to prove her virginity just because her husband accused her of not being a virgin! How on earth is she supposed to prove she was a virgin? If she can't then they stone her to death! Why can't they just ask her and take her word for it? Apparently, the mere testimony of the woman does not suffice. 

Another passage from the Bible:

Numbers 30: 4-8,16

4 and her father hears about her vow or pledge but says nothing to her, then all her vows and every pledge by which she obligated herself will stand. 5 But if her father forbids her when he hears about it, none of her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand; the LORD will release her because her father has forbidden her.  

This shows that the father can cancel his daughter's oath.  

6 "If she marries after she makes a vow or after her lips utter a rash promise by which she obligates herself 7 and her husband hears about it but says nothing to her, then her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand. 8 But if her husband forbids her when he hears about it, he nullifies the vow that obligates her or the rash promise by which she obligates herself, and the LORD will release her.  

This shows the husband can cancel his wife's oath.

This also means that it is difficult for a woman to conduct business because no one would trust her. Because if she made an agreement, then her father or husband can just easily come and annul it for you. Christians reply by saying that this is done for the woman's benefit. For if the husband or father see that the woman made a mistake in her statement they would go and cancel it for her. Well, then we can argue back and ask why the woman cannot annul the testimony of her husband if she sees it as wrong and harmful. This shows that the woman's testimony or statements are of less worth than that of the man's. 

In Surah 24, we read that if a man wants to accuse his wife of adultery, then he has to bring 4 witnesses forward, and if he cannot provide those 4 witnesses, then he has to take 5 oaths. Then if the wife wants to negate that evidence of his then she does the same. That shows that the woman's testimony is equal to that of a man. It's not equal in certain situations (e.g., financial transactions) 

If a man also wants to accuse a chaste woman of being adulterous, then he must provide witnesses; they won't take his testimony because he is a man. If he doesn't provide that testimony then he is to be lashed 80 times. Look how Islam protects the women from being falsely accused. If both of them testify, the judge will declare that they should separate and not be married anymore because of the tension between them.  

Quran says:

Surah 24:6-9

As for those who accuse their wives but have no witnesses except themselves; let the testimony of one of them be four testimonies, (swearing) by Allah that he is of those who speak the truth; And yet a fifth, invoking the curse of Allah on him if he is of those who lie. And it shall avert the punishment from her if she bear witness before Allah four times that the thing he saith is indeed false, And a fifth (time) that the wrath of Allah be upon her if he speaketh truth.

Surah 24:4

And those who accuse honourable women but bring not four witnesses, scourge them (with) eighty stripes and never (afterward) accept their testimony - They indeed are evil-doers -

Surah 24:23

Lo! as for those who traduce virtuous, believing women (who are) careless, cursed are they in the world and the Hereafter. Theirs will be an awful doom.

 According to the judgment of the Bible, if a man accuses his wife of not being a virgin, the wife's father and mother have to bring proof that she was a virgin, otherwise, the wife will be stoned to death! The wife's testimony carries no weight!

According to the judgment of the Glorious Quran, if a man accuses his wife of committing adultery, the wife can nullify the accusation as her testimony is accepted; consequently, the wife will not be punished. However, if the accuser is not her husband, he must bring four witnesses. If not, he will receive eighty lashes and his testimony will be rejected forever. 

Look how the Quran uplifts the woman!  

Note To Muslims

I do not permit any Muslim to use the information contained in this article in any negative way. I did not write this article to attack the Bible.  I rarely ever write articles with the intention to attack Christianity in a negative way. However, as Muslims we are forced to retaliate when Islamophobes start attacking our religion. They need to know how it feels to get the same treatment back. This article's information could only be used in the following cases...

If anyone ever tries to attack Islam by saying that a woman's testimony is half of a man's. You can read about it here. First, defend the honor of your religion and then, in a polite manner, show the verses contained in this article to the Christian. Ask him why he has a problem with the testimony of women in Islam but not a problem with these verses in his Bible.

I repeat, do not just go out and start attacking the Bible. This is not the way of Islam. Let's not sink down to their level. So, positively use this information to shut those critics up. Because they are attacking Islam for false reasons, and they are attacking Islam for the very thing that they can find in their own Bible.



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