[b-hebrew] Leviral marriage - prepositions & grammar

Vadim Cherny VadimCherny at mail.ru
Fri Oct 14 12:27:43 EDT 2005

Shalom Yigal,

> Herod walked a fine line between Oriental despotism and Roman "rule of 
> law". A Roman could only have one wife at a time, so Herod was careful to 
> dispose of one before marrying anothe.

Other monarchs in the Roman world did not care. Polygamy, I think, had to do 
less with fine feelings than with the practical issues of inheritance 
and--in the case of kings--of regency. Also, common people would have find 
it difficult to provide for several wives.

I do think that 'verb lo l'isha' etymologically means something like 
concubine, or property-wise lighter than marriage. In time, it might acquire 
either colloquial sense, close to concubine, or archaic and ceremonial 
sense. Russian, "take into [the circle of one's] wives" became ceremonial. 
Both interpretations are meaningful in the case of Rivka, though each 
remains a more or less possible conjecture.

The point is, however, that the preposition l in 'verb lo l'isha' is 
meaningful; not just "became a wife" (instrumental), or "took a wife" 
(accusative), but perhaps, "took for a wife," "took similarly to a wife" or 
something like that, an idiom originally different from simple "took a 
wife." Since "verb lo l'isha" is an idiom, it seemingly does not prove 
instrumental case for l'nephesh in Gen2:7. I still assert that l is always 
dative, and hih l always mean that subject becomes close to the object, but 
not strictly an object; thus, similar to it.


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