[b-hebrew] Leviral marriage

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Mon Oct 17 07:42:03 EDT 2005

On 12/10/2005 21:34, Bill Rea wrote:

> ...
>It was probably more common than we moderns believe. In ancient
>society males tended to die younger than females, particularly
>through warfare whether that be on raiding parties or as state
>sanctioned wars, but also through disease and accidents. In
>so-called ``primitive'' societies the male-female ratio is
>often around 1 to 1.2. This would make polygamous marriages
>quite common. I believe the Torah provisions are there because
>there were enough polygamous marriages in Israelite society to
>require regular legislation to deal with them and the problems
>of inheritance and so on which are unique to them.

Also, men tended to marry much later in life than women, as indeed they 
still do in Middle Eastern societies, where men commonly do not marry 
until their thirties or forties, whereas their brides are usually still 
in their teens. So each man had a much shorter period of marriage, 
compensated (at least numerically!) by having several wives when he did 
get married.

I think we can make a good argument that, although this was tolerated by 
God, it was not his original purpose, which seems to have been 
mongamous, as in Genesis 2:24 which mentions only one wife.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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