As I read through the Old Testament I can’t help being surprised by the sexual regulations of the Hebrew people. I also can’t help thinking, I’m sure glad I didn’t live back then!
Here is some of what I discovered:
If a father gave his daughter for marriage and claimed she was a virgin, but the new husband claimed she turned out not to be a virgin, the girl’s parents had to produce a bed cloth with blood on it (from the consummation) to prove her virginity. If they could not, the daughter would be stoned to death at the door of her father’s house.
Presumably, the bride was killed and not her father since it was possible he didn’t know.
There was no virginity test for men; however, if it was discovered that a man slept with a virgin, he then had to pay the bride price to her father and marry her. If the father disapproved of the man, he could forbid the marriage but still collect the bride price. If a father knew his daughter was not a virgin, he would have to tell this to suitors and he would charge a lower bride price since few men would want to marry her. (As in many other cultures, virgins were prized. When the Hebrew army destroyed the Midianites, they killed all of the men, boys, and married women but kept the virgins.)
It was illegal for a father to force his daughter into prostitution; however, it was not illegal for a Hebrew woman who had been widowed or divorced to become a prostitute (unless she was the daughter of a priest) or for a Hebrew man to sleep with a prostitute. (It was forbidden for Hebrew men or women to become temple prostitutes.)
Hebrew men could sleep with their female slaves since they owned them, but if a Hebrew man slept with a slave who had been acquired for another man, he would be punished for the offense, but not killed since it was a slave.
Sleeping with a married or betrothed (free) woman would result in death for both the man and the woman. If a betrothed woman were raped in the city, both the woman and the rapist would be put to death unless the woman cried out for help. If it happened in the countryside, only the man would be put to death since there would be no one around to hear the cry and rescue the woman.
Old Testament law forbade incest, bestiality, and homoerotic sex but not polygamy.