Adultery in the Old Testament

Adultery in the Old Testament. The Old Testament is one of the most central references for the development of faith in God, because in this writing we can find a variety of books – the variety depending on the church that distributes it – that explain the promises and actions of God before his people.

Adultery in the Old Testament
Adultery in the Old Testament

Similarly, it is possible to find different historical passages that describe the way in which morality and faith responded to different phenomena of society. One of these is adultery, which highlights a different processing than we might find today in the New Testament. On this point we will develop the next sections.

We will know how adultery was processed in the Old Testament, where we can find different passages that explain the fate of all those people who broke their oaths of monogamy. Death would be the most common punishment for all those adulterers, but not only this. Let’s continue in the next sections to learn more.

The Punishment for Adultery in the Old Testament

Without having to go very far, many of us will know that the punishments or sentences to which people who committed adultery were subjected had a great religious charge. Morality, at that time, greatly influenced by beliefs, had a procedure based on biblical principles respectively.

This allows us to note that the case of adultery, considered a very serious crime before the church, was condemned with serious consequences. But How serious were those consequences? We can make a revision to the books of the Old Testament for this. We begin with the reading of the book of Leviticus.

Leviticus 20:10-12

“If a man commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall be punished by death.”

Deuteronomy 22, 22

“If a man is caught lying with a married woman, both of them will die: the man who slept with the woman and also the woman. Thus you will make evil disappear from Israel.”

As we observe, adultery was punishable by death, committing both parties to the same extent. Let us remember that this act supposes a rupture to the oath made by the married before the church, or more specifically, before God. Therefore, adultery represents a direct disrespect for God.

People who committed adultery were seriously stigmatized, therefore, if they were forgiven, they faced many problems at the social level. It was difficult for them to find new partners, access jobs and have a good coexistence with their family. This is why adultery is a very different subject when viewed from the Old Testament.

Adultery by a virgin woman

Sentences could also vary based on the circumstances of the adultery. If a virgin woman and also committed to her future husband was caught committing adultery, she, along with her adulterer, had to face death from stones. The reading from Deuteronomy 22-23 quotes it as follows:

“If a young virgin is betrothed to a man and another man finds her in the city and sleeps with her, you will take them both to the gate of that city and stone them until they die.”

This type of scenario allows us to understand the degree of valuation that religion highlights in the face of value judgments in ancient societies. There could not be, at that time, an institution of greater weight that would give an answer to adultery.

Spiritual Death: Adultery in the Old Testament

We talk about the death sentence, which can be carried out in different ways, specifically assessing the details of the adultery case. However, there is another death that is punishable by adultery, and that is spiritual death.

At present, the New Testament does not provide for the death penalty for persons who commit adultery. It has not ceased, therefore, to be considered a grave sin in the eyes of God. Many churches condemn this act, and although it is not possible to speak of a physical death, adultery speaks of spiritual death, because it leads to it.

Only through repentance and faith in God can people be revived in the spirit, accepting Jesus into their hearts. This is only to commend mistakes once adultery has been committed.

In the face of earthly death, spiritual death is eternal. The latter consists in the separation of the soul from the one who sins from God. Therefore, there will be no eternal life next to the kingdom of heaven, condemning the soul to suffer eternally. Adultery can, in this sense, be one of the acts that lead to spiritual death.

This, though it may seem less scathing, is actually a death far worse than any physical suffering. In this way, we could understand that the punishment for adultery was not softened, but, on the contrary, transcended until it reached the spirit. However, Jesus’ forgiveness keeps its promise, and therefore can be the way even for those who have committed adultery.

In Romans 6:23 We can read that: “For the wages of sin is death, while the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The Search for Christ, according to biblical sources, is the only channel to save the soul from sin caused by adultery or by another type of act with nonsense before the commandments of God.


Adultery in the Old Testament is one of the most negative values of faith in God, as it is considered a direct betrayal of the church. A reason that made many people lose their lives, for seeking carnal pleasure where they should not seek it, breaking their oath once shouted before the witnesses.

There were even procedures that, although they did not involve death, carried out certain rituals in the face of jealousy or suspicions of adultery. This, unlike the cases mentioned above, involves women to a greater extent. In any of these scenarios, adultery was and is an aberration for faith in God.


Read also. What is adultery in the Bible? Differences between concubinage and adultery; Adultery in the United States; What is a deacon? What is their role?

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