Rape is defined as unlawful sexual intercourse without the woman’s consent, effected by force, duress, intimidation, or deception as to the nature of the act.
Jehovah warned of the consequences that would come upon Israel if the people disobeyed his law. He foretold that, besides suffering sicknesses and calamities, they would fall into the hands of their enemies, and he said: “You will become engaged to a woman, but another man will rape [form of sha·ghalʹ] her.” (De 28:30) This took place when, because of their disobedience, Jehovah removed his protection from the nation, and the pagan enemies overran their cities. (Compare Zec 14:2.) Babylon was also foretold to suffer such treatment, which occurred when it fell to the Medes and Persians. (Isa 13:1, 16) According to the Law, such would not happen to nations subjugated by Israel, for the soldiers were forbidden to have sexual relations during a military campaign.—1Sa 21:5; 2Sa 11:6-11.
A case of multiple rape in the city of Gibeah of Benjamin in the days of the Judges set off a chain of events in retribution, which resulted in nearly wiping out the tribe of Benjamin. Good-for-nothing men in the city, perverted in sex desires, demanded to have sex relations with a Levite visitor. Instead of submitting, he gave them his concubine who had previously committed fornication against him. The men abused her all night until she died. The Hebrew term ʽa·nahʹ, rendered “rape” in this account, also has the meanings “afflict,” “humiliate,” and “oppress.”—Jg chaps 19, 20.
King David’s son Amnon forcibly violated his half sister Tamar, for which Tamar’s brother Absalom brought about his death. (2Sa 13:1-18) When the scheming Haman the Agagite was exposed before the Persian king Ahasuerus for his treachery against the Jews, and especially against Ahasuerus’ queen, Esther, the king was enraged. Knowing that he could expect no mercy from the king, Haman in desperation fell down upon the couch where Esther was lying, pleading with her. When the king reentered the room, he saw Haman there and cried out: “Is there also to be a raping of the queen, with me in the house?” Immediately he sentenced Haman to death. The sentence was carried out, and evidently afterward Haman was hanged on the stake that had been erected by Haman for the hanging of Esther’s cousin Mordecai. (Es 7:1-10) In the record of the king’s statement (Es 7:8) the Hebrew word ka·vashʹ is used; it means “subdue, subject” (Ge 1:28; Jer 34:16) but can also mean “rape.”
Under the Law, if an engaged girl committed fornication with another man, both she and the man were to be put to death. But if the girl screamed for help, this was taken as proof of her innocence. The man was put to death for his sin in which he forced her, and the girl was exonerated.—De 22:23-27.