[b-hebrew] Leviral marriage - prepositions & grammar

Vadim Cherny VadimCherny at mail.ru
Fri Oct 14 05:17:00 EDT 2005


> 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.

Proverbs 5:18 exemplifies the attitude, and the position of rabbis is 
similar.
Elkanah, David, Solomon... You know the historical value of these examples. 
Polygamy was largely reserved for kings, and even Herod seemingly divorced 
one wife before marrying another.

> "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?

He should come to her, restore the seed, that's it. Why, otherwise, are 
distant brothers exempt from the obligation? If that were a marriage, there 
would be no reason for exemption. Brothers might often marry sisters, and 
even for that reason (prohibition of marrying the wife's sister) marrying 
borther's wife is impossible.
Also note, it has to be his brother's offspring, not his. If he would marry 
the brother's widow, the offspring would be formally his. But the whole 
point was to restore the brother's line. This is, actually, the strongest 
argument to show that leviral relationship was not marriage.

> 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.

Well, I cannot strictly defend this opinion. But let me again point out a 
few strange things: Isaac just couldn't be bachelor at the age of forty; he 
took her to his mother's tent.

What is your opinion about the suggestion that 'verb lo l'isha' is an idiom? 
Something like "took for a wife" or Russian, lit., "Took into wives." 
Russian originally implied many wives, but came to mean one only. Something 
similar could take place in Hebrew.

Vadim Cherny 




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