Abstracts

LEVIRATE

E.W. Davies, "Inheritance Rights and the Hebrew Levirate Marriage. Part I", VT 31 (1981), 133-144. - Although the primary purpose of levirate marriage in Gen. 38, Deut. 25:5-10 and Ruth was to provide an heir for the deceased husband, this was not its sole purpose. It is clear that a man's "name" (Deut. 25:6) was closely connected with his property (Num. 27:1-11; 2 Sam. 14:4ff; Ruth 4:10). The levirate marriage was not simply to ensure the continuity of the family but also to prevent the alienation of the ancestral estate. Furthermore, the widow by marrying the brother-in-law or nearest kinsman would have ensured her protection and support even if she remained childless. (K.W.W.)

E.W. Davies, "Inheritance Rights and the Hebrew Levirate Marriage. Part 2", VT 31 (1981), 257-268. - The main purpose of Levirate marriage was to provide a male heir for the deceased husband's estate and to ensure protection for the widow. However, this may have been limited by the kinsman's attempts to evade responsibility for a variety of reasons. The levirate obligation may have been contrary to his own interests since if there was no male heir the inheritance would normally pass to the dead man's brother (Num. 27:8-11), or it may have diminished and divided his own estate (cf. Ruth 4:6) and that of his children. The Deuteronomic provision (25:5-10) was no longer binding (cf. Gen. 38) and also provided a ceremony by which the obligation would be renounced. It placed further restriction on the application of the law since it was now confined to brothers living together on the undivided family estate. The book of Ruth probably represents an attempt to extend this restrictive practice to include more distant relatives where the immediate family was unable or unwilling to oblige. (K.W.W.)

H.F. Richter, "Zum Levirat im Buch Ruth", ZAW 95 (1983), 123-6. - The relation between Ruth and Boaz in Ruth c.4 fits more a case of Levirate marriage than that of a "Redeemer" (gÙ'el) marriage. The practice seems to reflect a situation earlier than that of Deut. 25:5-10, Ruth 4:14f, represents an erroneous attempt to restore the text. (R.A.M.)

 

 

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