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Dictionary of Bible Themes – 5711 marriage, restrictions concerning
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5711 marriage, restrictions concerning

5711 marriage, restrictions concerning

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.

Intermarriage with foreigners

Examples of marriages to foreigners Ge 38:2; Ge 41:45; Ex 2:21; Lev 24:10; Ru 1:4; 1Ch 2:34-35; Ezr 10:18-44

Warnings against marrying foreigners Ex 34:16 See also Dt 7:3-4; Jos 23:12-13

Intermarriage with foreigners led to idolatry Jdg 3:5-6; 1Ki 11:1-8 Royal marriages to foreigners brought disastrous consequences. See also 1Ki 16:31; Mal 2:11 Intermarriage among returning exiles was a major problem facing Ezra and Nehemiah: Ezr 9:1-2,14; Ezr 10:1-2; Ne 13:23-27

Parents sought to avoid their children marrying foreigners Ne 10:30 See also Ge 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 permissible Ru 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.

Foreign wives were put aside after the exile Ezr 10:3 See also Ezr 10:10-17

Marriages between Christians and unbelievers

Christians should not marry unbelievers 1Co 7:39; 2Co 6:14

Christians should not leave an unbelieving spouse 1Co 7:12-16

Restrictions on marriage to close relatives

Sexual relations with close relatives is forbidden Lev 18:6-18 See also Lev 20:11-12,14,19-21; Dt 22:30; Eze 22:10-11; Mt 14:3-4 pp Mk 6:17-18

Examples of marriage to close relatives Ge 20:12 Abraham was married to his half-sister; 2Sa 13:13 Tamar suggests marriage with her half-brother, Amnon.

Levirate marriage

The levirate law was instituted to preserve the dead father’s name Dt 25:5-10; Ru 4:10 Levirate 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 also Ge 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

Unwillingness to fulfil the levirate law Ge 38:9,14,26; Ru 4:6

Regulations governing seduction and rape

Ex 22:16; Dt 22:28-29


Widows are free to remarry Ro 7:2-3 See also Ru 1:9; 1Co 7:8-9; 1Ti 5:14

Remarriage after divorce may be adultery Lk 16:18 pp Mt 19:9 pp Mk 10:11-12 See also 1Co 7:10-11

Remarriage after divorce permissible in certain circumstances Dt 24:1-4; Mt 5:32; 1Co 7:15,27-28

See also


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