[b-hebrew] prepositions & grammar

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Mon Oct 10 01:55:34 EDT 2005

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Vadim Cherny" <VadimCherny at mail.ru>
>>>> Ruth 4:13 VAYYIQAX BO`AZ ET RWT VATT:HIY-LW = and Boaz took Ruth and 
>>>> she
>>>> became to him.
>>> you know, she did not actually become his wife
>> WHAT? Of course she did. Look at the next word: Le'i$$ah. Look also at 
>> vss. 10-11. You might not like the idea of "buying" a wife, but wife she 
>> was.
> It's odd to hear such things from you, Yigal. Boaz took Ruth to restore 
> the seed of Elimelech (4:6). That was a standard procedure regarding a 
> childless wife of one's brother. It wasn't marriage proper. Buying that 
> obligation is not prescribed in Torah, but was apparently practiced.
> Vadim Cherny
Come on, Vadim. Gen. 24:67 uses exactly the same terminology to describe 
Isaac "taking" Rebekah. Was she also "not a real wife"?

Elimelech was not Boaz' brother - he was at most a second cousin. He first 
had to "free" Ruth from a closer relative, so that he could marry her. But 
there is no indication in the text that their union was anything less than a 
full marriage.

The relationship of this story to the levarate marriage law of Deut. 25:5-10 
is problematic at best. Deut. only refers to the wife of a brother, only if 
he was childless and only if the two brothers lived together, in the same 
extended household. None of these conditions were true in this case. 
Historically speaking, we have no idea when the law in Deut. was written and 
if and when it was practiced. As I'm sure you know, most modern critical 
scholars believe Ruth to be post-exilic. In any case, while both appeal to 
similar social concepts, it's impossible to draw a direct line from one to 
the other.

Plus, your claim that despite its not being perscribed in the Torah, what 
Boaz did was "standard procedure regarding a childless wife of one's 
brother" (which Ruth wasn't) is unbased. Where else do you find this 
"standard procedure" mentioned?

And finally, who says that taking a dead brother's widow is "not marriage 
proper"? In the society of ancient Israel, the whole purpose of marriage was 
to provide offspring and to provide a place in which a woman could be 
"useful". Read any book on biblical society. Yes, it was recognized that the 
man and the woman had to like each other, and even Deut. 25 provides an 
"escape clause", but such a marriage, once done, was no less a marriage than 
any other.

Num. 19:21 (and dozens of other places): "And it shall be a perpetual 
statue" - lexuqqat 'olam - "not really a statute"?

You whole proposition, that the preposition l- means "like" doesn't hold 


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