Institutions in the old testament

:)


Download 2.66 Mb.
Page1/21
Date conversion27.12.2016
Size2.66 Mb.
  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   ...   21
THE LEVIRATE AND GOEL

INSTITUTIONS IN THE

OLD TESTAMENT


With Special Attention to

the Book of Ruth
DONALD A. LEGGETT

1974


MACK PUBLISHING COMPANY

Cherry Hill, New Jersey


Digitized with permission by Ted Hildebrandt, Gordon College, 2006.


TO LINDA
hvhy rxry twx


Proverbs 31:30b
Acknowledgments

IT is with deep gratitude that I take this opportunity to

publicly acknowledge many who have played a key role

in the completion of my work.

It was through training received at Reformed Episcopal

Seminary, Philadelphia, and Westminster Seminary, Phila-

delphia, that I was first introduced to the Free University. A

scholarship received from the University was an impetus to-

ward taking the step of coming to Europe and tackling an

unfamiliar language. I am grateful for the happy years which

I was able to spend in Amsterdam and Dordrecht, from

1960-1964, while pursuing my studies. I would like to single

out Rev. and Mrs. Jacob Vos, fellow-students at the Free

University in those early years, who were tremendously help-

ful to my wife and me and who remain to this day our closest

friends. In Dordrecht, mention should be made of the De

Leng family who extended many kindnesses to us. Drs. Van-

noy and his family graciously allowed me to share their home

in the closing phases of my work.

Research for my thesis was carried on in numerous librar-

ies. Special mention should be made of the libraries of the

Free University and Municipal University of Amsterdam,

Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh

Theological Seminary, and McMaster University, Hamilton,

Ontario. My sabbatical year was spent in Belfast, N. Ireland,

and I am grateful to Queen's University, Belfast, for the gen-

erous use of their facilities. It was my pleasure to make two

extended visits to the Tyndale House, Cambridge, England,

and to be able to take advantage of their research facilities.

Lastly, I would not wish to omit mention of the extensive

help which I have received from the library personnel at the

Ontario Bible College.

v

vi Acknowledgments


This thesis would never have been completed without the

generous grant of a sabbatical year by Ontario Bible College.

I am also grateful for the stimulation received in my part-

time involvement at the Irish Baptist College during that

year. How can I ever thank those students of mine and their

wives who gave me substantial support during that year and

who have been a constant encouragement to me! To the

Postma, Males, Pointner, Barber, Smith, Stoute, McPhee,

Henkelman, and Taylor families, I am deeply grateful. Simi-

larly, to Dr. and Mrs. C. Wellum and Dr. and Mrs. E. Higbee,

and the congregation of Grace Baptist Church, Carlisle, Penn-

sylvania, for their kind expressions of Christian love.

To Professor Dr. N. H. Ridderbos, I wish to express my

thanks for his wise counsel and competent criticism of my

work. For the considerable time which he has given in its

supervision and for the high standard of biblical scholarship

which he has exemplified, I remain in his debt.

Finally, I wish to thank my wife and children for their

part in my thesis. Through the loving encouragement of my

wife, I was enabled to persevere in my work. She willingly

assumed the added responsibilities of typing and proofread-

ing to her already busy life. The children too have known

what it is to sacrifice vacation time and other things in the

interest of "the thesis." As a family we are thankful to God,

who has enabled us to finish this work. To Him be glory

forever.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS v

INTRODUCTION 1

Part One

THE LEVIRATE AND GOEL INSTITUTIONS IN THE OLD

TESTAMENT (EXCLUSIVE OF THE BOOK OF RUTH)

1. THE LEVIRATE IN THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST 9

Babylonia 10

Assyria 12

Hittites 21

Nuzi 24

Ugarit 25


2. THE LEVIRATE IN ISRAEL 29

The Levirate Incident, Gen. 38 29

The Levirate Law, Deut. 25:5-10 49

The Persons Involved, Deut. 25:5 42

The Purpose of the Levirate, Deut. 25:6 48

The Ceremony of Refusal, Deut. 25:7-10 55


3. THE GOEL IN THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST 63

Parallels to the Goel-Redemption of Property 63

Parallels to the Goel-Redemption of Person 68

Parallels to the God-Redemption of Blood 71


4. THE GOEL IN ISRAEL 83

Goel-Redemption of Property, Lev. 25:23-28 83

Goel-Redemption of Person, Lev. 25:47-55 98

God-Redemption of Blood, Num. 35; Deut. 19:

1-13; Josh. 20:1-9 107

Restitution to the Goel, Num. 5:8 138


vii

viii Contents


Part Two

THE LEVIRATE AND GOEL INSTITUTIONS IN

THE BOOK OF RUTH
5. THE DATE AND PURPOSE OF THE BOOK OF

RUTH 143

The Date of the Book of Ruth 143

Arguments for a Pre-Exilic Date 143

Arguments for a Post-Exilic Date 146

Argument from Purpose 147

Argument from the Place of the Book in

the Canon 152

Argument from Language 154

Argument from the Social and Legal

Customs 157

The Purpose of the Book of Ruth 163

The Interesting-Story Purpose 164

The Exemplary Purpose 165

The Theological Purpose 166

The Davidic-Ancestry Purpose 168

The Legal Purpose 170

6. NAOMI AND THE LEVIRATE 173
7. NAOMI AND THE GOEL 181

The Discovery of a Goel, Ruth 2:20 181

The Approach to Boaz, Ruth 3:1-9 188

Preparations for the Visit, Ruth 3:1-4 188

The Appeal of Ruth, Ruth 3:7-9 192

The Response of Boaz, Ruth 3:10-15 201

EXCURSUS: THE INITIATIVE OF NAOMI
8. BOAZ AND THE GOEL

The Administration of Law at the Gate, Ruth

4:1, 2 209

The Sale of the Property, Ruth 4:3 211

The Double Responsibility, Ruth 4:5, 10 222

The Refusal of the Goel and the Ceremony of

the Shoe, Ruth 4:6-8 249
Contents ix
9. OBED 255

Naomi's Goel, Ruth 4:14 255

Naomi's Son, Ruth 4:16, 17 260

Boaz' Son, Ruth 4:21 265


Part Three

GENERAL CONCLUSIONS


10. SUMMARIZING CONSIDERATIONS ON THE

LEVIRATE INSTITUTION IN ISRAEL 271

Representative Views 271

Recapitulation and Conclusion 287


11. SUMMARIZING CONSIDERATIONS ON THE

GOEL INSTITUTION IN ISRAEL AND ON THE

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BOOK OF RUTH 292
BIBLIOGRAPHICAL ABBREVIATIONS 299

BIBLIOGRAPHY 303


Introduction

IN recent years attention from different quarters has been

devoted to the subject of the goel.1 in Israel. Several

important publications can be named. In 1940 Stamm

published his work Erlösen und Vergeben im Alten Testa-


ment, which established that the verb lxg was a term taken

from the sphere of family law, as over against hdp which

belonged to the domain of commercial law.2 In 1947 the

stimulating work of Daube, Studies in Biblical Law, was pub-

lished, in which considerable attention was devoted to the

study of the goel concept and to the verb lxg. Daube made

additional contributions to these topics in his later writings;

in particular in his 1956 work, The New Testament and Rab-



binic Judaism, and in the work published in 1963, The Exo-

dus Pattern in the Bible. He presented very penetrating

studies of the goel and opened serious discussion on the sub-

ject of Yahweh as the Divine Goel. He suggested that the

specific functions of the human goel in Israel were applied in

some instances to Yahweh, although he acknowledged that

there were many general references to Yahweh as Goel where

specific nuances could not be inferred. By studying the spe-

cific functions of the goel, Daubecame to the conclusion

that "lxg primarily suggests the return of men or things into

their own legitimate place. . . The word simply denotes the

1. Throughout the course of this study the active participle of the verb lxg,

"redeem," will be transliterated simply with the word goel and the noun hlxg,

"redemption" with the word geullah.

2. J. J. Stamm (p. 45) concludes: "hdp ist ein Terminus des Handelsrechtes,

welcher einfach den Loskauf durch Stellung eines Gegenwertes ausdrückt. lxg ist

ein familienrechtlicher Begriff, der stets eine vor dem einzelnen Rechtsgeschäft

zwischen dem Loskaufenden und dem Losgekauften bestehende, durch die Zuge-

hörigkeit zu einer Sippe gegebene, Beziehung voraussetzt." Stamm dealt with

Jahweh as Goel in pp. 31-44 and made one passing remark on the goel in Ruth

(cf. p. 28).

1

2 Introduction


rightful getting back of a person or object that had once

belonged to one or one's family but had been lost."3 Daube

proposed therefore that lxg means "to recover."

Jepsen concurred in the main with Daube in his article

written in 1957. He wrote: "Go'el war der, der Besitz,

Freiheit und Leben der Sippe und ihrer Glieder wiederherste

len sollte. . . . Ga'al bedeutet danach: das, was eine Sippe an

Leben, Freiheit und Besitz verloren hat, wiederherstellen.. . .

Die Mittel der Wiederherstellung, der ge'ullah, sind verschie-

den: Blutrache, Heirat, Rückkauf . . . immer aber ist das eine

Ziel, die verlorene Lebenskraft der Sippe wiederzugewinnen."4

An opinion in general agreement with that of both Daube

and Jepsen was Snaith's, who in 1961 argued that "primarily

the root [lxg] is used with reference to the enforcement, the

restoration of a right or claim that has lapsed. . . . Generally,

whenever person or property is freed by purchase, the verb is


G'L if it is reverting to the original owner. . . . The idea of

reversion is essential to the root.”5 The goel is the agent

involved in securing this reversion to the original owner.

An article evoking wide interest on this subject was that

of Johnson, who in 1953 advanced the idea that the basic

idea underlying the varying activities of the goel was that of

protection. "When a kinsman is slain or dies childless, or

when he is forced to sell himself into servitude or to part

with his property, there is a breach of continuity, and the

normal life of both individual and society is upset. Disorder

has been introduced into the life of each, and in the case of

the corporate unit as in that of the ordinary individual, any

weakness or disorder, whether brought about by actual physi-

cal death or not, involves a certain loss of vitality and it is the

function of the lxeGo to "protect" the life or vitality of both

the individual and the kin-group and thus preserve their

3. D. Daube, Studies in Biblical Law, 1947, pp. 3940.

4. A. Jepsen, "Die Begriffe des Erlösens im Alten Testament," Solange es



"Heute" heisst, Festgabe fur R. Hermann, 1957, p. 159.

5 N. H. Snaith, "The Hebrew Root G'L (1)," ALUOS, 3, 1961-62, pp. 60,

61.
Introduction 3
standing in society by keeping intact their essential unity or

integrity."6

Johnson pointed out that lxg in several places means

"defile," and argued that the verb lxg, "to defile" may not

be divorced, as is commonly done, from lxg, "to redeem, to

lay claim to." In both cases the basic idea is that of "covering

up" an object. He seeks support for his opinion from Job

3:5, which he translates: "Let darkness, let utter blackness



cover it; Let a cloud settle upon it; Let the o'er-shadowings

of day bring terror to it." By a process of semantic polariza-

tion the original thought of covering was employed both in

the sense of protection from degradation as well as in the

sense of causing degradation or defilement.7 Johnson's opin-

ion on the root meaning of the verb did not receive wide-

spread support8 although the article as a whole was a worth-

while contribution to the growing material on the goel in

Israel.

Within more recent years, Holmgren,9 Baltzer,10 Stamm



(for the second time),11 Ringgren,12 Stuhlmueller,13 and

6., A. R. Johnson, "The Primary Meaning of lxg," SVT, 1, 1953, pp. 71, 72.

7. A. R. Johnson, op. cit., pp. 72-74. RSV translates the verb vhlxgy in Job

3:5 with "claim" as does the NV, "beslag op hem leggen"; KJV translates with

"stain" and the NEB with "sully."

8. Johnson's argument has been accepted for example, by A. Guillaume,

"Unity of the Book of Job," ALUOS, 4, 1962-63, pp. 26-46, and R. de Vaux,


Ancient Israel, 1961, p. 21, who comments that the root "means 'to buy back, or

to redeem,' ‘to lay claim to,’ but fundamentally its meaning is 'to protect.' " It is

disputed, in my opinion correctly, by J. Blau, "Uber Homonyme und angeblich

Homonyme Wurzeln," VT, 6, 1956, p. 243. Blau argues that the verb vhlxgy in

Job 3:5 is parallel with the verb vhwrdy in Job 3:4 in an abc bca parallelism, in

which case the thought is, God need not claim the day, for the darkness shall

claim it for its own. wrd is used in a sense similar to lxg in Genesis 42:22 and

Psalm 9:13 (12) which supports Blau's argument. Cf. also K. Koch "Der Spruch,

‘Sein Blut bleibe auf seinern Haupt,' und die israelitische Auffassung vom vergos-

senen Blut," VT, 12, 1962, p. 410 n.l.

9. F. Holmgren, The Concept of Yahweh as Go'el in Second Isaiah, unpub-

lished Ph.D. dissertation, Union Theological Seminary, New York, 1963.

10. D. Baltzer, Ezechiel und Deuterojesaja (BZAW, 121), 1971, pp. 84-99.

11. J. J. Stamm, "lxg," THAT, 1, pp. 383-397.

12. H. Ringgren, "lxg," TWAT, 1, pp. 884-895.

13. C. Stuhlmueller, Creative Redemption in Deutero-Isaiah, 1970, pp. 97-

131.
4 Introduction

Sklba14 have published materials relevant to the topic of the

goel in Israel. In these newer studies the question of a basic

root meaning for the verb has receded somewhat into the

background and more emphasis has been given to an exami-

nation of the usage of the terms.

It was my intention initially to seek to handle the topic

of the goel in Israel in its broadest sense, including the topic

of Yahweh as Divine God. It soon became apparent that such

a task was precluded by the sheer quantity of materials in-

volved.


It also turned out that in the literature cited above rela-

tively little was being said about the goel in the book of

Ruth. Yet of the forty-four usages of the substantive goel,

nine occur in Ruth; and of the fifty-one occurrences of the

verb lxg in the qal form, twelve are found in Ruth.15 In the

face of these statistics and the paucity of material to be

found in the general works cited above dealing with the goel

in Ruth, it seemed that a study which specialized in the role

of the goel in Ruth was needed. Further research into the

literature brought to light a considerable number of articles

and other small works which discuss the specialized questions

arising from the book of Ruth. These individual questions all

have a bearing on the basic problem of how the marriage of

Boaz as goel to Ruth is to be related to the levirate16 law of

Deuteronomy 25:5-10, which requires only the marriage of

"brothers dwelling together." It is necessary, therefore, as

well as, we trust, useful to devote considerable space to pre-

senting this literature and to sketching the views taken by

various authors.17 In addition, a thorough study of the levirate

14. R. Sklba, "The Redeemer of Israel," CBQ, 34, 1972, pp. 10-18.

15. Cf. G. Lisowsky, Konkordanz zum Hebräischen Alten Testament, pp.

299, 300 and J. J. Stamm, "lxg," THAT, 1, p. 383.

16. The term "levirate" is derived from the Latinword levir meaning "a

husband's brother."

17. The commentary of W. Rudolph, Das Buch Ruth, Das Hohe Lied, Die



Klagelieder, KAT, 17, 1962, provides considerable literature as does especially the

article by H. H. Rowley, "The Marriage of Ruth," in The Servant of the Lord,


Introduction 5
institution in Israel is indispensable to the topic of the goel in

Ruth. Some authors write that the book of Ruth has essential-

ly nothing to do with levirate marriage,18 some find it neces-

sary to coin the special term "ge'ullah marriage"19 to define

the marriage of Boaz and Ruth, and others are convinced that

this marriage is to be properly reckoned as a levirate mar-

riage.20 The strong majority of scholars seek to fit the data of

the book of Ruth concerning the levirate-type marriage into a

particular phase of the levirate development within Israel. It

seems, therefore, that the book of Ruth is crucial to the

understanding of the levirate and goel institutions in Israel.

Tentatively, two conclusions affecting methodology were

reached. In the first place, the commonly accepted methodol-

ogy of tracing the historical development of the levirate by

dating Ruth either before or after Deuteronomy was con-

cluded to be faulty. In the second place, it was decided that

the narrative sections of the Old Testament which tell of a

levitate situation (Gen. 38; Ruth) should be given as serious

consideration and weight in the study of the levirate

tion as the levirate law of Deuteronomy 25.

In addition to studying the levirate institution as the

background for the goel activity in Ruth it was deemed

imperative to examine the sections of the Old Testament law

where the duties of the goel are prescribed, to see if any

correlation might exist between these duties and the levirate

type-marriage undertaken by the goel, which was not pre-

scribed in the Old Testament laws.

In the examination of the goel and levirate institutions in

Israel a study of possible parallels to these institutions in the

ancient Near East was felt to be of interest and importance.

19652, but many significant articles appeared in more recent times. See chapter 1

nn. 2, 4.

18. Cf. for instance, K. Dronkert, Het Huwelijk in het Oude Testament,

1957, pp. 68, 69.

19. L. Epstein, Marriage Laws in the Bible and the Talmud, 1942, pp. 86,

140.


20. Cf. the definition of the levirate given by J. Mittelmann in chap. 2, n. 1.
6 Introduction

Finally, because the book of Ruth occupies the central part

of this study, it is necessary to give special attention to the

question of the date (in spite of the first of the above-named

conclusions affecting methodology) and the purpose of the

book of Ruth.

Part One discusses the levirate and goel institutions in the

Old Testament (excluding Ruth) with their Near Eastern

counterparts. Part Two, after dealing with the date and the

purpose of the book of Ruth, focuses the reader's attention

upon the light this book sheds on these important institu-

tions within Israel. Chapter 6 discusses Naomi's reference to

the levirate in Ruth 1:11-13. Chapter 7 is a study of the data

in Ruth 3 which centers on Ruth's night-time encounter with

Boaz. An excursus tackles the question, Why did Naomi take

the initiative and send the widow, Ruth, to Boaz instructing

her to request marriage from him on the basis of his being a

goel? Chapter 8 directs attention to Ruth 4: 1-8, the account

of the completion of Ruth's request by Boaz in his meeting

with the nearer kinsman and the subsequent shoe transaction

ceremony. Chapter 9 centers on Obed, who is called Naomi's

goel in Ruth 4:14, Naomi's son in Ruth 4:16, 17 and Boaz'

son in Ruth 4:21. Part Three is given over to our conclusions

on the levirate and god institutions, which have been drawn

through integrating the results of the general study in Part

One with those of the specific study of the book of Ruth in

Part Two.

PART ONE

THE LEVIRATE AND

GOEL INSTITUTIONS
IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
(EXCLUSIVE OF THE BOOK OF RUTH)

1

The Levirate In the



Ancient Near East
IN 1947, H. H. Rowley wrote, "The simple story of Ruth

abounds in problems for which no final solution can ever

be found, since the materials for this solution are denied

us."1 Anyone who seeks to penetrate beneath the surface of

the book recognizes the validity of this remark. We may be

grateful, however, that Rowley's essay has gone considerable

lengths toward clarifying the issues, if not in providing a

"final solution." Since the publication of his article a signifi-

cant number of attempts have been made to solve the legal

complexities of the book.2 Burrows has well summarized the

problem in the book of Ruth by saying, "We have in Ruth a

combination of three institutions which are not elsewhere


1. H. H. Rowley, "The Marriage of Ruth," HTR, 40, 1947, p. 77 = The

Servant of the Lord, 1965, p. 171. All references to Rowley's article will come

from the latter.

2. Since the appearance in 1947 of Rowley's comprehensive discussion of

the marriage of Ruth, the following articles more directly connected with the

legal problems in the book have appeared: S. Belkin, "Levirate and Agnate Mar-

riage," JQR, 6, 1969-70, pp. 284-287; J. R. Porter, "Legal Aspects of Corporate

Personality," VT, 15, 1965, pp. 375-377; D. R. Ap-Thomas, "Book of Ruth,"

ExpT, 79, 1968, pp. 369-373; D. R. G. Beattie, "Kethibh and Qere in Ruth 4:5,"


VT, 21, 1971, pp. 490-494; H. A. Brongers, "Enkele Opmerkingen over het

Verband tussen Lossing en Leviraat," NedThT, 2, 1947, pp. 1-7; W. McKane,

"Ruth and Boaz," GUOST, 19, 1961-62, pp. 29-40; E. Robertson, "The Plot of

the Book of Ruth," BJRL, 32, 1950, pp. 207-228; Th. and D. Thompson, "Some

Legal Problems in the Book of Ruth," VT, 18, 1968, pp. 79-99: Th.C. Vriezen,

"Two Old Cruces," 0TS, V, 1948, pp. 80-91; D. Weiss, "The use of hnq in

connection with Marriage," HTR, 57, 1964, pp. 244-248; B. M. Wambacq, "Le

Mariage de Ruth," Melanges Eugene Tisserant, I, 1964, pp. 449-459. See also J.

Schoneveld, De Betekenis van de Lossing in het Boek Ruth, 1956.
9
10 The Levirate In the Ancient Near East
found together. Levirate marriage, redemption, and inheri-

tance are all familiar to the reader of the OT, but only here

do we encounter a transaction which involves all three of"

them."3 The background for our study of the activity of the

goel in the book of Ruth must be the Old Testament institu-

tion of levirate marriage.4 Since the law of the levirate was

not an uncommon feature of ancient Semitic jurisprudence, a

summary of levirate marriage in the ancient Near East will be

in order.5
Babylonia
There is general agreement6 that the CH contains nothing

comparable to levirate marriage, though Neufeld suggests that

3. M. Burrows, "The Marriage of Boaz and Ruth," JBL, 59, 1940, p. 445.

For a detailed list of the legal difficulties encountered in the book, cf. W.

McKane, op. cit., pp. 31-32.

4. Th. and D. Thompson, op. cit., p. 79, remark, "The interpretation of

Ruth depends on the understanding one has of the levirate." For an extremely

comprehensive list of literature discussing levirate marriage in Israel, cf. W.

Rudolph, Das Buch Ruth, Das Hohe Lied, Die Klagelieder, KAT, 17, 1962, pp.

60-61. In addition to the works cited therein, cf. J. R. Porter, op. cit., pp.

375-377; S. Belkin, op. cit., pp. 275-329; 1. Mattuck, "Levirate Marriage in Jewish

Law," Studies in Jewish Literature in Honor of Kaufmann Kohler, 1913, pp.

210-222; 0. Baab, "Marriage," IDB, 1962; D. Jacobson, The Social Background


of the Old Testament, 1942, pp. 290-300; Morgenstern, "The Book of the

Covenant, Part II," HUCA, 7, 1930, pp. 159-185; I. Mendelsohn, "The Family in

the Ancient Near East," BA, 11, 1948, pp. 30-31; G. R. Driver and J. C. Miles,

The Assyrian. Laws, 1935, pp. 240-249; R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 1961, pp.

37-38; H. Schaeffer, Social Legislation of Primitive Semites, 1915, pp. 57-65.

5. E. A. Speiser, "The Biblical Idea of History in its Common Near East

Setting," Oriental and Biblical Studies, ed. J. J. Finkelstein and M. Greenberg,

1967, p. 188, correctly writes, "The Bible is first and foremost a unique distilla-

tion of history. Now no process of this kind and magnitude can unfold in a

vacuum. The people of the Bible, who were to make history in more ways than

one, were neither politically nor culturally isolated from other soci-

eties.... Hence the ultimate achievement that is the Bible cannot be properly

understood, still less appreciated, except in terms of the setting in which this

work originated, and of the initial values which it went on to transfigure and

transcend." Some indication of the pervasiveness of this custom may be gleaned

by consulting, E. Westermarck, History of Human Marriage, 3, 1925, p. 208 and

J. Scheftclowitz, "Die Leviratsehe," ARW 18, 1915, 250 ff.

6. R. de Vaux, op. cit., p. 38; E. M. MacDonald, The Position of Woman as


reflected in Semitic Codes, 1931, p. 23; M. Burrows, "Ancient Oriental Back-

ground of Hebrew Levirate Marriage," BASOR, 77, 1940, p. 7 (hereafter cited as

"Background"); G. R. Driver and J. C. Miles, op. cit., p. 246. Generally this

The Levirate In the Ancient Near East 11


the institution may have been outgrown in Hammurabi's

days, or even before his time. He affirms that such a wide-

spread custom could not have been unknown to the Baby-

lonians although he acknowledges the conjectural nature of

his conclusion.7 MacDonald concludes that "the Babylonian

woman gained by its abandonment, both in personal freedom

and economic relief, for her support was definitely arranged

for in giving her the usufruct of her husband's property dur-

ing her lifetime, and she was not forced to be dependent

upon the precarious existence of her husband's male relatives,

or, failing them, upon the charity of her own kin or the
absence of reference to levirate marriage is attributed to the practice of adoption

in Babylon (CH §185-193) or to the practice of legitimation of issue by slave

girls. Cf. M. Burrows, "Background," p. 5; D. Mace, Hebrew Marriage, 1953, pp.

116, 117; S. Belkin, op. cit., p. 276. E. Speiser, "People and Nation of Israel,"


JBL, 79, 1960, p. 161, writes, "There is not a single attested case of adoption in

the whole of the Hebrew Bible, in marked contrast to Mesopotamia. On the other

hand, the levirate, much though its hold may have been loosed through progres-

sive urbanization, is never completely eliminated." This difference, he attributes

to a differing role of the family in relation to the state. In Mesopotamia, "the

family played a part, inevitably, but its autonomy was severely restricted by

political and economic considerations. Though blood was thicker than water,

bread and taxes rated still higher. That is why adoption, which tends to loosen

blood ties, became such a prominent factor in Mesopotamian society; contrari-

wise, the institution of the levirate, which stands guard over blood relationship,

never took hold in Mesopotamia proper." Cf. W. Albright's remarks on Speiser's

position in Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan, 1968, p. 58 n. 31. For a contrary

view on adoption within Israel, see S. Feigin, "Some Cases of Adoption in Israel,"


JBL, 30, 1931, pp. 186-200. A. Phillips, "Some Aspects of Family Law in Pre-

Exilic Israel," VT, 23, 1973, pp. 359, 360, maintains, in the light of the wide-

spread practice of adoption throughout the ancient Near East, that it was also

undertaken in Israel. It was a part of family law which "took place in the home

and was a unilateral act of the adopter. It would also explain why no mention of

adoption occurs in the legal sections of the Old Testament, for as a part of family

law it did not concern the community at large, and therefore no resort was made

to the courts." R. de Vaux, op. cit., p. 52, writes, "We may conclude that the

notion of adoption, in the juridical sense, was known in Old Testament times, but

had little influence on daily life; it was unknown in later Jewish law."

7. E. Neufeld, Ancient Hebrew Marriage Laws, 1944, p. 49 (hereafter cited

as AHML). Cf. also H. D. Bracker, Das Gesetz Israels, 1962, p. 36.


12 The Levirate In the Ancient Near East

community at large."8 Despite occasional9 attempts at identi-

fying comparable laws, the consensus of scholarly opinion is

that no such institution as the levirate existed in Babylon. It

would seem to be the case that the misfortune of having no

son was solved through adoption customs.10




  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   ...   21
:)


The database is protected by copyright ©hestories.info 2017
send message

    Main page

:)