The OT law forbade intermarriage with people who worshipped idols because it threatened the covenant relationship with God and his people. Marriage with close relations was also forbidden. Remarriage is permissible following the death of a spouse and, in certain circumstances, following divorce.
Parents sought to avoid their children marrying foreignersNe 10:30See alsoGe 24:3-4 Abraham seeks a bride for Isaac from among his own people. Esau’s foreign wives are a source of grief to his parents:Ge 26:34-35; Ge 27:46 Ge 28:1-2 Isaac forbids Jacob to marry a Canaanite woman; Jdg 14:3 Samson’s parents encourage him to marry an Israelite.
Marriage to foreigners may be permissibleRu 4:13 Boaz’marriage to Ruth the Moabitess was acceptable because Ruth embraced the Israelite faith. Restrictions were on the grounds of religion not of race.
Examples of marriage to close relativesGe 20:12 Abraham was married to his half-sister; 2Sa 13:13 Tamar suggests marriage with her half-brother, Amnon.
The levirate law was instituted to preserve the dead father’s nameDt 25:5-10; Ru 4:10Levirate marriage refers to the legal obligation of a brother-in-law to produce heirs for his dead brother by marrying his widow. When there was no brother-in-law responsibility fell to a near relative, also described as a “kinsman-redeemer”. See alsoGe 38:8,11; Ru 1:11-13; Ru 3:9; Ru 4:5; Mt 22:24-26 pp Mk 12:19-22 pp Lk 20:28-31
Dictionary of Bible Themes Scripture index copyright Martin H. Manser, 2009. As Editor, Martin Manser wishes to thank all those who compiled or edited the NIV Thematic Study Bible, on which this work is based.
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