Adultery in Judaism

Adultery in Judaism. Punishment, what constitutes adultery in Judaism, adultery in orthodox Judaism.

Adultery is defined by the Jewish faith as any sexual relationship between a married woman and a man other than her husband, but modifications to the Talmud further expand the definition to include women who engage in intimate relationships with men against their husbands’ wishes.

Adultery in Judaism. Punishment, what constitutes adultery in Judaism, adultery in orthodox Judaism
Adultery in Judaism. Punishment, what constitutes adultery in Judaism, adultery in orthodox Judaism

A relationship between a married man and a single woman does not technically constitute adultery, according to Jewish scripture. Nevertheless, modern interpretations of Jewish law no longer distinguish between genders when it comes to adultery.

Adultery is one of the three great sins in the Jewish faith, along with idolatry and murder. A person who violates the sacred bonds of marriage and has sexual relations outside of marriage is condemned by Jewish scripture. 

There are a few exceptions under which the Jewish religion tolerates adultery. A husband traditionally could divorce his wife if he suspected that she was having an affair, which provided an adequate amount of moral protection for a relationship with another woman. The woman cannot be considered adulterous when she was coerced or forced into adultery or mistook the other man for her husband, as she was not exercising her free will.


In traditional Judaism, adultery was punished by death for both man and woman. However, today’s followers of Judaism no longer practice this punishment.

It is important to distinguish between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The punishment for adultery in ancient Israel was death under the law given under a theocracy (Leviticus 20:10). 

Jesus introduced a new law when he became a judge (John 18:34). Although the penalty for adultery is no longer death (Romans 6:23), the wages of sin remain eternal death (Romans 6:23). Judaism does not live under the old theocracy and is not commanded to harm sinners.

Marrying and having sexual relations with a person born of an adulterous or incestuous union was a criminal offense punishable by flogging. An offspring of an illicit relationship is known as a mamzer, which can be translated as a bastard. Even so, according to Jewish law, the fact that a child is born or conceived out of wedlock does not make him a mamzer, or an illegitimate child, which means that he does not have the same status or rights as his parents.

What constitutes adultery in Judaism?

A wife and her husband are required to distinguish one from the other by abstaining from adultery, so the mitzvah against adultery also stresses a strict separation of the sexes. It is forbidden to have sexual relations with the wife of another man in accordance with this Torah code. It is necessary for the female counterpart to be new to the relationship and without a document of marriage, and the woman must formally enter into the relationship.

A person who is guilty of immoral behavior is usually defined as having sexual relations with someone other than his or her spouse or common partner voluntarily. In many jurisdictions, adulterous acts are illegal; however, they may not always be prosecuted. Adultery is generally defined by states as involving only genital contact.

In essence, going on dates is neither adultery nor tearing up your vows. According to a family lawyer, adultery does not occur when a husband has sexual contact with someone who is not their spouse but their spouse is married to them.

To prove adultery, you must show your spouse committed an adulterous act through direct evidence (such as witness accounts and/or admissions or testimony from the guilty spouse or romantic partner) or circumstantial evidence (such as accounts from a spouse, proof from the husband).

Judaism mandates that adultery is punishable to the fullest extent of the law. (Leviticus 20:10) A woman found to be engaged in intentional adultery, who commits it in front of witnesses (Leviticus 20:10), is to be put to death.

An adulterous relationship involves two people who are married to each other. As described in Genesis, God established marriage as the union to which he granted existence to his creation. A man will therefore become one with his wife, leaving his father and mother behind and becoming part of her.

Adultery in orthodox Judaism

According to Jewish law, according to traditional Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, a couple remains married even after they have obtained a civil (secular) divorce. For a religiously recognized divorce to take effect, the man must provide the woman with a document called a “get.” The get formally establishes that the woman can no longer marry or date other men (i.e., she is no longer treated as a married woman subject to the prohibition against adultery).

The get has little meaning for people outside the Jewish community, and even within the secular, Reform, and Reconstructionist communities. When Jews (or Jews and non-Jews) outside Orthodox or Conservative congregations marry and then divorce, people outside these congregations probably won’t know whether the former husband gave his ex-wife a get (or even care). Observant communities, however, change over time.

If you are an Orthodox or Conservative Jewish woman or wish to have the option of marrying someone later who is either Orthodox or Conservative Jewish, then you are probably very concerned about the get that your ex-husband has given you. Orthodox rabbis refuse to perform your ceremony if you don’t have one (because he –and he will be a man — will consider you married but not available for sexual relations with your intended partner), and Conservative rabbis almost certainly won’t perform your ceremony either.

A woman who is Orthodox or Conservative will certainly want to avoid committing the sin of adultery, which is considered a serious offense according to Judaism. As a reflection of its seriousness, adultery is one of the few offenses for which duress is not an acceptable defense, despite the fact that virtually all other Jewish requirements and prohibitions, including those concerning the observance of the Sabbath, recognize a duress defense when a person’s life is in danger.

In other words, if faced with the (admittedly improbable) choice between being killed or committing adultery, one should accept death.

In addition, even if a woman is not herself concerned about committing adultery, she may still want the sacrament to enable her to marry someone within the world of Orthodox and Conservative men, a desire common to virtually any woman from that community. Men who refuse to give their wives a get are not necessarily faced with the same dilemma, so the incentives are not aligned. But why not?

Read also: What is Polygamy; Is adultery forgivable; Can you go to jail for adultery?; Adultery consequences

External resources: Wikipedia

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