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An oddity of History and religion: Levirate marriages. - Printable Version

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An oddity of History and religion: Levirate marriages. - Going strong - 09-27-2019 03:54 PM

Inspired by Hunter Biden's lurid shenanigans ( ) Dodgy, I researched the matter - at first reluctantly but then with interest - and discovered that, in History, there actually are examples of civilizations allowing (or requiring under some circumstances) a surviving brother to marry the widow of his recently deceased brother.

"Levirate marriage is a type of marriage in which a woman marries one of her husband's brothers after her husband's death. The term is a derivative of the Latin word levir, meaning "husband's brother."

Levirate marriage has been practiced by societies with a strong clan structure in which exogamous marriage—martial unions outside of the clan—was forbidden. It is best known from stories in the Hebrew Bible, where it was practiced among the early Israelites. In Jewish tradition, the most famous levirate marriages took place in the family of Judah, whose daughter-in-law Tamar ultimately married Judah himself after two previous marriages resulted in the deaths of her husbands. The story of Ruth and Boaz describes a derivative form of levirate marriage, involving relatives more distant than brothers. Later and current Jewish tradition allows for the parties to opt out of levirate marriage through a process known as halizah.

Levirate marriage is or was also known in many other societies, including the Punjabis, Jats, Huns, Apache, Mongols, and Tibetans. Some, but by no means all, cultures that practice levirate marriage also practice the related custom of soroate marriage, in which a deceased wife’s sister marries the dead woman's husband.

So, those were called Levirate marriages. Well, what do you think of them and the old cultures and often lost civilizations that enabled these marriages? Can we learn something from their ancient wisdom, or should we just dismiss their peculiarities?

[Image: judah_tamar.jpg]
^Judah and Tamar

RE: An oddity of History and religion: Levirate marriages. - BlueMark - 09-27-2019 06:57 PM

This only seems like an oddity to our "enlightened" modern sensibilities because we have lost sight of the original purpose of marriage: to ensure paternity-based inheritance. In other words, to make sure that when a man dies, his property will be passed down to those who have his genes.

In light of that original goal, it makes perfect sense: practices like Levirate marriage is a further insurance policy in case a man gets married but dies before having any children, or maybe before having a son.

Today we have replaced all that with the modern state to take care of children and the elderly, while we are taught to think of marriage as for love and companionship.

RE: An oddity of History and religion: Levirate marriages. - RoastBeefCurtains4Me - 09-27-2019 08:22 PM

My brother has a fine wife, but I'm not interested in having her if he dies.

RE: An oddity of History and religion: Levirate marriages. - Simeon_Strangelight - 09-28-2019 06:18 AM

That's not so strange. Men died early in previous times - not only as warriors, but due to sickness, dangerous travel etc.

Women without a husband faced poverty and hardship. So marrying your brother's wife was the legal precdent of securing her future.

RE: An oddity of History and religion: Levirate marriages. - Bienvenuto - 09-28-2019 11:12 AM

From a Christian theological point of view this is interesting..

From History

Catherine of Aragon was the first wife of King Henry VIII; she was previously Princess of Wales as the wife of Henry's elder brother, Arthur.

Catherine was three years old when she was betrothed to Arthur, Prince of Wales, heir apparent to the English throne. They married in 1501, but Arthur died five months later.

To settle the matter, it was agreed that Catherine would marry Henry VII's second son, Arthur's brother, - Henry, Duke of York, who was five years younger than she was.

Marriage to Arthur's brother depended on the Pope granting a dispensation because canon law forbade a man to marry his brother's widow (Lev. 18:16[a]).

Catherine testified that her marriage to Arthur was never consummated as, also according to canon law, a marriage was not valid until consummated.

5 months of marriage and No Sex? Hmmm..

Leviticus 18:16 King James Version (KJV). 16 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife: it is thy brother's nakedness.

Leviticus 18:16-18 New International Version (NIV). 16 “'Do not have sexual relations with your brother's wife; that would dishonor your brother."

RE: An oddity of History and religion: Levirate marriages. - NoMoreTO - 09-28-2019 01:59 PM

If you're gonna be a White Knight and raise someone elses' kids, they might as well be your brothers.

In Ancient times Jewish men could have multiple wives also, so it wouldn't limit you having your own wife.

On the other side of the coin, these women may have had no one who would take them in the old days, especially with children, from a 'Darwinian' perspective the kids would be seen as liabilities.

RE: An oddity of History and religion: Levirate marriages. - Simeon_Strangelight - 09-28-2019 02:09 PM

We also have to remember that up until the early 20th century there was generally a shortage of marriageable men. So even in socities which stressed monogamy a few exceptions were made.

Gender-ratio has multiple effects in society that are missed. When you have female shortage, then even feminism likely would be 80% less effective in the West. Consider that female behavior changes instantly when entering a sausage-fest nightclub - and that is just the instant reaction. Male shortages are generally good for society on all accounts and strengthen the patriarchy as well as good behavior - obviously on top of a good monogamous framework. Even an extra wife married is forgivable in this general circumstance.

RE: An oddity of History and religion: Levirate marriages. - Mage - 09-28-2019 02:34 PM

I have always been a proponent of this system. It is like middle ground between strict monogamy and polygamy, which both have pros and cons.

Today the society with all the single moms hanging around practices serial monogamy, which is even worse then open polygamy. Clearly strict monogamy is not working without strictly enforced religious code. Completely unrestricted polygamy on the other hand would lead to unstable society with too much angry unmarried men.

I theorize that solution would be a system with monogamy on basis, but with the charitable option for each monogamous couple to take in another 2nd wife with her kids from a deceased or absent husband. Blood relation is not that important. This charitable couple would have to prove to be financially and psychologically ready to do that.

Everyone would gain something, but also would have to give something back:

- The husband would get some sexual variety but would have to be ready to feed 2x women and children.
- The first wife would get a domestic helper and a female friend, but would have to sacrifice some pride. Actually she could get more exclusive romantic time with husband if the 2nd wife takes time to watch children of both women.
- 2nd wife would not be lonely and would get a man, both for sex and financial support, but would have to recognize her subordination to the 1st wife.
- children of 2nd wife would have father figure, would not have to tolerate the endless pumpers and dumpers of their mother, they gain the most.
- children of 1st wife would lose some temporal resources that would otherwise be spent only on them, but could gain new brothers and sisters for life. They probably gain the least, therefore this option would have to be open only for wealthy families.
- society (provided it is not suicidal like modern west) would make sure no womb stays empty and birthrates go up.

It would be a good system, there are some ill chance it would be misused but so does the standard monogamous marriage anyway.

Of course for this system to work marriage laws would have to change drastically, generally they would have to favor men more and either completely abolish divorce and alimony or make them much more just.