[b-hebrew] Leviral marriage - prepositions & grammar

Read, James C K0434995 at kingston.ac.uk
Tue Oct 11 17:33:09 EDT 2005

And what about David and Solomon?

-----Original Message-----
From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org on behalf of Yigal Levin
Sent: Wed 10/11/1905 7:06 PM
To: b-hebrew
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Leviral marriage - prepositions & grammar
Vadim, I don't know where you get these ideas.

The "Hebrews were monogamous"? Who said? Not just the patriarchs. Elkanah, 
Moses (well, maybe him). The Torah makes several provisions for co-wives and 
their children. I admit, polygamy was probably rare, since the population is 
divided pretty evenly, but it certainly was not unheared of.
"Leviral marriage was "like a marriage": a lonely intercourse to restore the 
seed, and then support of the relatives living together"? Again, who said? 
Why should the widow and her former brother in law not enjoy a married life 
together, whether he has another wife or not?
Rebekka was not Isaac's first wife? Then what's the point of the whole 
story? Abraham is worried because Isaac has not married, and he doesn't want 
him to marry a native. Se he sends his servant to get him a woman from his 
own clan. If Isaac had been married, either Abraham would not be worried, or 
the story would find a reason to critisize the woman.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Vadim Cherny" <VadimCherny at mail.ru>
To: "Yigal Levin" <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>; "b-hebrew" 
<b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, October 10, 2005 8:56 PM
Subject: Leviral marriage - prepositions & grammar

>>>>>> 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.
>> Come on, Vadim. Gen. 24:67 uses exactly the same terminology to describe 
>> Isaac "taking" Rebekah. Was she also "not a real wife"?
> This becomes a very interesting question. Why, indeed, Deut25, Ruth4, and 
> Gen24 haves l'isha, while, for example, Gen25:1 has simply isha? Both 
> Deut25 and Gen25 have lkh. Is the difference isha/ l'isha incidental? I 
> don't know.
> Some things may be remarked upon, though. Deut25 emphasizes that the 
> brother should take l'isha only if brothers lived together. Why the 
> qualification? Even a distant brother might equally well restore the seed. 
> Living together or not was, as I understand, irrelevant for inheritance. I 
> think, the obligation was applicable only for live-ins to avoid the 
> difficult issue of marriage. Hebrews were monogamous (yes, I know, Abraham 
> and Jacob...) and I don't expect Deut25 to command polygamy. Rather, the 
> leviral marriage was "like a marriage": a lonely intercourse to restore 
> the seed, and then support of the relatives living together. If a distant 
> brother would have entered leviral marriage, that would bring the issue of 
> "marriage or like marriage" to the fore. With live-ins, the issue was 
> sidestepped. Just a thought.
> What could be wrong with marrying Rebekka? Isaac, an important son of a 
> wealthy man Abraham, married her when he was forty. Likely, she was not 
> his first wife; recall how lightly he took her to the tent of his mother. 
> When Jacob took Rachel for a second wife, that was also l'isha. Could the 
> writer call them "like wives"?
> Semantic difference between isha and l'isha might or might not be there.
> Using l with isha is irrelevant to hih verb (someone suggested idiomatic 
> meaning of hih l, to become). The writer calls Rebekka l'isha whether with 
> hih (Gen24:67) or without (Gen25:20).
> Could it be simply an idiom 'verb lo l'isha'? Something like, "gave her to 
> him for a wife." I can try to see a remote sense in such idiomatic usage: 
> lo, 'to him,' is a bit of distancing, and thus 'for a wife' instead of 
> 'wife,' a parallel bit of distancing. Not quite sure, but possibly 
> something along these lines.
> Vadim Cherny

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