The Marriage and Incest Laws of Leviticus 18: 1-18 and the Influences That Helped to Shape and Inspire Them

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The Marriage and Incest Laws of Leviticus 18: 1-18 and the Influences That Helped to Shape and Inspire Them
Raduns, Jenna
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Bible. Leviticus
Jewish law
Narratives ( jstor )
Incest ( jstor )
Daughters ( jstor )
Undergraduate Honors Thesis


The biblical laws of Leviticus 18:1-18 prohibit illicit sexual practices, specifically incest. In spite of appearing to be a simple list of statutes imposed on ancient Israelite culture, which apparently participated in such relations, there were many influencing factors that contributed to the creation of these bans. This thesis closely examines the incest laws of Leviticus 18:1-18. First, the relationship between marriage and illicit sexual practices and the issues of morality and pollution that these laws bring into question are addressed and explained. Next, the influences of ancient Near Eastern law codes, familial structure, and most importantly, biblical narrative are examined as motivational forces behind these laws. Ultimately, this paper concludes that the narrative cases of incestuous relationships in the book of Genesis (and one in Exodus) clearly transgressed the laws of Leviticus 18 and are actually the catalysts that inspired their creation. ( en )
General Note:
Awarded Bachelor of Arts; Graduated May 8, 2012 magna cum laude. Major: Religion

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Raduns 1 The Marriage and Incest Laws of Leviticus 18 : 1 18 and the Influences T hat Helped to Shape and Inspire Them Jenna Raduns UF ID: 1844 0260 Honor s Thesis Department of Religion


Raduns 2 Abstract The bibli cal laws of Leviticus 18: 1 18 prohibit illicit sexual practices, specifically incest. In spite of appearing to be a sim ple list of statutes imposed on ancient Israelite culture which apparently participated in such relations, there were many influencing factors that contributed to the creatio n of these bans. This thesis closely examines the in cest laws of Leviticus 18: 1 18 First the relationship between marria ge and illicit sexual practices and the issues of morality and pollution that these laws bring into question are addressed and explain ed. Next, t he influences of ancient Near Eastern law codes, familial structure, and most importantly, biblical narrative are examined as motivational forces behind these laws Ultimately, this paper concludes that the narrative cases of incestuous relationships in the book of Genesis (and one in Exodus) clearly transgressed the laws of Leviticus 18 and are actually the catalysts that inspired the ir creation


Raduns 3 Introduction her wedding day, the beginning of her fulfilling relationship with her ma le counterpart and companion, to the economic motivation s for creating a social unit of identity in ancient Near Eastern cultures is a comp licated task. T he role of marriage and companionship has changed significantly over time. Marriage in contemporary culture represents a public declaration of the private love that bonds two people in a quasi permanent relationship replete with children and joint tax returns. M arriage in the anc ient world however, represented a very different social institution The function of marriage in ancient Near Eastern cultures, as understood in the present scholarly consensus was to bear children and ther e by mainta in a large familial structure for iden tity and security This understanding is ex emplified by King and Stager: King and Stager 2001: 36). Additionally marriage was an opportunity to fortify relationships with extended kin encouraging solidarity of a people. Firstly, t romantic. The chief goal of marriage was to have and rais Stager 2001: 54). Marriage was a form of civil contract that allowed two people, in legal terms and within the socio cultural norms of the time, to copulate and procreate. The importance of this contract and occasion marriage because the bride was not to be seen by her intended husband until their entry into the 2001: 54). As stated previously, the economic motiv ation of marriage was to bear many children and raise large families. This contributed to not only the economic security but also to the political


Raduns 4 security as well (King and Stager 2001: 42). Additionally, it was common societal practice among ancient Near Eastern cultures that residential unit of the sma 2001: 36). Essentially, s uch a familial unit becomes a national political entity, which depended upon the continuation of marriage for the means of procreation to maintain this identity and security For this reason, in terms of political governance, or at least, perhaps on a more rudimentary level, to simply maintain organization within different communities of people a large family was of the upmost importance. Another main feature of the bi blical family and of families in archaic Near Eastern cultures in general, is that they were endogamous. T his is the traditional custom of marrying only within the limits of a lo cal community or familial tribe, or as described more explicitly by King King and Stager 2001: 38). This particular aspect of ancient families is not especially surprising considering the importance placed upon large families for reasons of economic and politica l security, and of the contributions made to the functioning of the entire social nexus by extending and joint families Due to the fact that such importance was placed upon marriage for the purpose of having large families there is a number of laws found within ancient Near Eastern cultures that govern s such behaviors and occasions. Concerning ancient Israelite culture th ere are numerous explicit statutory laws regarding whom exactly one (specifically a male member) cannot marry and with whom one cannot copulate and procreate. The laws of Leviticus 18 : 1 18 focus upon illicit sexual practices between family members of spec ified relations. It is interesting that given the necessity of large families in addition to the key practice of endogamy within the tribe there are numerous restrictive laws. Further, it is t roubling that those who appear to k en laws were the very patriarchs of the ancient Israelite religion who according to tradition, formed


Raduns 5 the ancestral foundation and sustained the nation This paper undertakes a close reading of the incest la ws of Leviticus 18 : 1 18 and will explore the following: the specific details of the aforementioned laws, the relationship between marriage and illicit sexual practices the issues of morality and pollution that these laws bring into question and the influences of ancient Near Eastern law codes, familial structure, and, finally and perhaps most importa ntly, biblical narrative. Ultimately, this paper will present the scholarly opinions of Jacob Milgrom, Calum Carmichael, as well as others, and will argue that the narrative cases of the Patriarchal incestuous relationships of the book of Genesis (and one in Exodus) that clearly infringe upon the Levitical laws of chapter 18 are actually the accounts which inspired the ir creation Discussion of Leviticus 18 Initially the laws of Leviticus 18 must be disclosed before they can be discussed in great detail. It must be noted, however, that despite the fact that Leviticus 20 (and other priestly laws found elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible ) also refer to illicit sexual practices, for the purposes of the issu es examined within this paper, only the laws of Leviticus 18:1 18 will be considered. Further, all biblical verses provided, with the exception of those quoted by specified authors, are taken from the New Revised St andard Version translation. Lastly, Hebrew words used throughout this paper, even when cited in specific quotes, are simply designated by italics, altered by the removal of transliteration symbols. The laws of Leviticus 18:1 18 are as follows: 1 The L ORD spoke to Moses, saying: 2 Sp eak to the people of Israel and say to them: I am the L ORD your God. 3 You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not follow their statutes. 4 My ordinances you shall observe and my statutes you


Raduns 6 shall keep, following them: I am the L ORD your God. 5 You shall keep my statutes and my ordinances; by doing so one shall live: I am the L ORD 6 None of you shall approach anyone near of kin to uncover na kedness: I am the L ORD 7 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father, which is the nakedness of your mother; she is your mother, you shall not uncover her nakedness. 8 wife; it is the nakedness of your father. 9 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your abroad. 10 You shall not uncov 11 You shall not uncover sister. 12 You shall not un flesh. 13 14 you shall not a pproach his wife; she is your aunt. 15 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter in 16 nakedness. 17 You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, and you they are your flesh; it is depravity. 18 And you shall not take a woman as a rival to her sister, uncovering her nakedness while her sister is still alive. (Attridge and Meeks 2007: Leviticus: 1 18) of this address to the nation of Israel consists of the followin


Raduns 7 (v. 3), command (v. 4a), close (v.4b, an inclusio with opening, v. 2b), coda (v. 5a, chiastic with Milgrom 200: 1517). The opening, as signaled by Jacob L ORD 2b), is considered as such not simply because it is the beginning of the chapter, arbitrarily starting this passage of Leviticus, but more so because it is used in the same fashion in ot her contexts, especially those requiring a motive fo r observing specific laws. It is very important to the national identity of Israel and serves, in part, as the rationale behind the enforcement of the supposed strict observance of these laws. gypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not 3), refers to the ostensible illicit sexual practices of the Egyptians and the Canaanites. For a variety o f reasons (that will be addressed later) it is clear that God insists that the Israelites not behave in the same sexually immoral manner as their neighbors and my statues you shall 4 a) solidifies the prohibition, invoking not logical rationale, but authority. ORD 4b) is it is clearly a repetition of verse 2b and encloses keep my statu 5a) is demonstrated by the literary technique of a chiasmus with v erse 4a to give emphasis by means of reverse repetition. Lastly, these final ORD (Lev 18: 5b) illustrates such importance of the motive for abiding by these laws in su ch a way that provides the rationale of the prohibition with the authority of divine ordination.


Raduns 8 Following the opening exhortation is the list of prohibitions of sexual relations between kin to uncover nakedness: I am the L ORD This law clearly bans any sexual activities it actually refers to specific family members, those that are not actually mentioned in the following prohibitions, namely the full sister and the daughter. According to Milgrom, using closest blood re forbidden women that follow are mainly affines, and some are even unrelated. Thus, v. 6 Milgrom 1528) Therefore the law is a generalization, but not of the relationships noted i n the statutes of Leviticus 18: 7 18, but rather of the nuclear familial relationships not explicitly mentioned in those verses. The prohibitions that succeed the opening exhortation, verses six through eighteen, can be simplified to patterns such as the following offered by Jacob Milgrom : A. Primary relationships (vv. 6 17a) 1. General law (v. 6) 2. With a mother (v. 7) 3. With a f 4. With a half sister (v. 9) 5. With a granddaughter (v. 10) 6. With a stepsister (v. 11)


Raduns 9 7. With a paternal aunt (v. 12) 8. With a maternal aunt (v. 13) 10. With a daughter in law (v. 1 5) 12. With a mother and daughter (v. 17a) B. Additional prohibitions (vv. 17b 18) 1. Against sexual relations with a woman and her granddaughter ( Milgrom 2000: 1523 4 ) While the syntax, diction, and semantics of each and every verse will not be addressed in explicit detail, there are a couple of these elements of significant importance that must be taken into consideration. First, the grammatical person of Leviticus 18 shifts from the second person plural of the opening exhortation to the second person singular of the prohibitions. This is inte resting in that although both are gendered as male in the Hebrew language, the former can inclusively address female constituents of the society, as the function of the pronoun naturally allows. However, due to the fact that the language used for the prohi bitions addresses a singular ( Milgrom 2000: 1525). Stephen Bigger sexual intercourse with a woman who bears a specific relationship towards him at the time of the Bigger 1979: 194). Further, Calum Carmichael brings this issue full circle when he advances would ordinarily be the problem in the majority of households and that the male


Raduns 10 traditionally initiates the act Despite this, however, distinct possibility that in certain instances the masculine second Law, Legend, and Incest 17). Thus, he suggests, this particular pronoun is gendered by language but perhaps not by explicit intent. Second, the phrase reasoned and understood Milgrom argues that although there are only euphemisms for genitalia, not actual terms rendering the explicit tra l eg alot erwa implies copulation. Ultimately, erwa is rh erwa applies to both sexes and is clearly distinguished from arom Milgrom 2000: 1534). act of sexual intercourse ( Milgrom 2000: 1 534). Another understanding of this phrase is given by Carmichael who suggests that intercourse is i mplied Law, Legend, and Incest 19). This concept assumes, as will be addressed later, that intercourse only takes place within the co ntract of marriage. Regarding the prohibitions in general (as opposed to purely from the linguistic perspective) there are a few additional issues to bring to light. First, Milgrom uses Margaret International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (1968) to broadly clarify the issues discussed within Leviticus 18: 1 28 in the following very concise way : 6 the infraction of the taboo upon sexual relations be tween any two members of the nuclear ( as sited in Milgrom 2000: 1523). While this definition appears at first as a simple overgeneralization, it is


Raduns 11 appealing because while there may be a justification for the creation for each regulatory statute, this defines Leviticus 18 as a whole, allowing the reader to grasp the essential feature of incest. A nother point to note was made by Roland de Vaux author of and Institutions While some scholars differentiate between consanguineous and affine relationships in their study of the specific prohibition s concerning those kinship ties, de Vaux makes the following case : forbidden, assumption was that a t the time the law was written incestuous relationships, even th ose that are only related by marriage as opposed to being descendants from the same ancestor, are held to the same standard and are all thus ly banned Similarly, he affirms that it is by means of marriage that affine relationships become and are considered to be of the same relational sta tus as consanguineous relationships. Lastly, there are two specific scholoarly opinions regarding the order of the prohibitions that should be addressed. Firstly, there is a consideration (one of many) put forw ard by Milgrom. He demonstrates that th e order of incest laws begins with those relationships most closely related to the addressee such as by blood and continues down the list to thos e that are less and less related It is displayed as the following: 1. vv. 6 sister (9), granddaughter (10), stepsister [=sister] (11). 2. vv. 12 3. vv. 15 16. Your relatives by marriage: daughter in


Raduns 12 4. vv. 17 daughter (17a), wife granddaughter (17b), wife sister (18). ( Milgrom 2000: 1526) The opinion given by Calum Carmichael in his book, Law, Legend, and Incest in the Bible suggests th at the order of the laws mirror the sequence of the topics in the biblical narratives of ugh the traditions about his Carmichael 1997: 42). Carmichael 1997: 42) with a few exceptions allowing Carmichael to conclude, The explanation is that the lawgiver was abreast of the entire range of traditions extending from the primeval history in Genesis through the period of the monarchy in 2 Kings. Where he found in a different generation a development parallel to the one that had his attention he incorporated it in his scheme of presentation. ( Carmichael 1997: 42) While the influences of biblical narrative on b iblical law will be discussed at length later in this paper, it is interesting to note Carmic here especially in con trast to that of Milgrom. Relationship between Marriage and Illicit Sexual Practices To the extent that it was extremel y unlikely that a man and woman in ancient Near Eastern and Israelite cultures would have sexual intercourse prior to marriage, one must associate all sexual acts described within the Hebrew Bible as occurring with in the contract of marriage. B ecause random, unmarried intercourse was both rare and aga inst the socio cultural norms of that time, the majority of scholars agree that the various phrases metaphorically implying or


Raduns 13 suggesting sexual acts, were indeed assuming sexual intercourse and thus marriage What precisely is prohibited: Is it marriage or copul ation? In favor of the former argument that prima facie, free sex is forbidden: the couple who indulge in sex must marry (Exod 22:15 16; Deut 22:28 29). Thus this chapter must be Milgrom 2000: 1532). In addition to this reasoning, he Milgrom confirms that this indeed is the accurate translation and it is used specifically within the laws of Leviticus 18, in verses seventeen and eighteen ( Milgrom 2000: 1532). Similarly, David Mace, author of Hebrew Marriage: A Sociological Study reaches the same conclusion, although from a di stinct approach. Despite the fact that he uses a different translation Mace agrees that the verb use d in Leviticus 18:17 and 18:18, laqah which he Mace 1953: 153). He substantiates his argument by contrasting this word While the refers to a single to marriage. This is ultimately because, a ing which distinguishes these prohibitions from the other incestuous ones where marriage appears to be understood; so Mace 1953: 153). Issue s of Moral ity and Pollution When asking the age old question of why the law s of Leviticus 18, prohibiting incestuous relationships were written and supposedly enforced, scholars have been forced to gain perspective regarding particular motives. Because it is assumed that laws were n ot written where


Raduns 14 there were no problems, it is clear that incestuous relationships were not only a part of ancient Near Eastern and Israelite culture but also presumably caused many contentions and conflicts This being the case the motive for moral ity a concern for the moral well being of Ancient Israel, is especially popular among scholars addressing the laws of Leviticus 18. Further, morality is often linked not only to the social relationships at stake but also to the purity or impurity of the land. Milgrom, quoting Ibn Kaspi, argues that the motive behind these laws banning incestuous relationships lies within the social dimension of morality. In an effort to avoid family amily quarrels and maintenance of salom bayit Milgrom 2000: 1530). Incestuous relationships cause interpersonal familial relationships to be vulnerable to destruction primarily due to rivalry Further, it is clear that conflicts that p lace such relationships in danger and vulnerability should be avoided, and were thus banned. Following this line of reasoning, Tikva Frymer Kensky understands the motive behind these laws not simply as moral behavior designed to prevent fa milial disag reements, rivalries and quarrels, but as a way to prevent a threat to the larger societal or ganization as a whole, family included Because i ncredible amounts of emphasis were placed up on social order within the community an d famil y, i ncestuous relationships, she argues, compromise this order, causing a destruction of such entities: All of these rules of control are part of the domestication of sexuality, the harnessing of attraction within the marriage can bond the husband and wife, sexual attraction to others is a temptation to break the boundaries and dissolve social categories. ( Frymer Kensky 1992: 194)


Raduns 15 She takes thi s point even further when she notes that a threat to social order is of national concern. L inking moral behavior to the destruction of social order, she reveals the connection to and consequence of pollution: Forbidden sexuality goes beyond the private affairs of families, and becomes a national concern. Su ch sexual behavior is a threat to social order, as is murder, and, again like murder, it is said to pollute the land and thereby endanger the very survival of Israel. Leviticus 18 relates that the pre Israel inhabitants of the land indulged in the incestuo us as a result the land became defiled and vomited out its inhabitants. ( Frymer Kensky 1992: 196) Frymer Kensky makes it clear that these laws were written in an effort to maintain not just family prosperity and familial rel ationships on a private level, but also human society on a much larger scale. She claims that moral misbehavior driven by sexual attraction and impulsivity threatens the destruction of this socio cultural construction, resulti ng in a pollution of the land that will force the Israelites out ( Frymer Kensky 1992: 197). Similarly, Stephen Bigger takes the aforementioned arguments into consideration in his inclusive statem ent : domestic harmony, but it also brought pollution or defilement onto the individual and the Bigger 1979: 194 ). A ddressing the first matter, he goes on to demonstrate tha t three of the prohibitions are wife related, revealing an attempt to reduce familial rivalry ( Bigger 1979: 197). Regarding the latter matter, h threatened social order was viewed with suspicion since social stability was paramount in the uncertains of the settlement. Their


Raduns 16 fears of anything threatening life or order merged to form a wide ranging mystical yet very real danger which we, for convenie Bigger 1979: 195). In conclusion, it is clear that numerous scholars have tried to understand the underlying motives of the laws of Le viticus 18. While the laws themselves b ring up such questions of morality and pollution of the land scholars may never truly understand e ither the motives for the c reation of the laws or their function through society as time as passed Scholars however, have surely done their research and have agreed upon particular understandin g s these of laws: mainly that they were created in an effort to reduce familial tensions as well as to relate the social constructions, and perhaps avoidance of destruction of such, with pollution of the land. Influence of Ancient Near Eastern Law Codes As is well known, ancient Israel comes into historical existe nce much later than most other Near Eastern nations namely those of Sumer, Akkadia, Egypt, and Ugarit. For this reason many scholars have worked under the assumption that Israel grew as a nation in the shadow of these already well established empires that served as socio cultural models exerting determinative inf l uences The biblical evidence fo r what is presumably Israelite history and law is believe d to have been effected in some, or numerous, way s by these cultures. Edward Greenstein, for example, expresses this matter as follows: Israelite history, one mu st have some theory of how the bible and its sources were formed. What world, or piece of a world, does the literature represent? Even to read the text as literature, one Greenstein 1990: 153). The historical setting to which Greenstein is referring is the very environment of the Near Eastern cultures that arose in


Raduns 17 the same region with similar societal structures and cultural norms which most likely contributed to the growth of ancient Israel. Continuing t his line of thought, s ome scholars, such as David Mace, go as far as to consider Israel to be little more than an amalgamation of Near Eastern cultu ral influences. Thus, he argues in fact be derived from one or more of the many cultures out of which Israel was compound ed ( Mace 1953: 45). While some scholars may not go this far in their reasoning, there is an appeal to this understanding: there are perhaps kernels of foundational c oncepts and laws that were previously established with in a nearby culture that influence d ancient Israel in such a way so as to maintain the continuation of reasoning or law at its most basic core. With this rationale Hebrew Scriptures originated within a Near Easte rn own law culture and was simply developed by the ancient Isra elite historiographer and legislator Frymer Kensky mostly in agreement with Greenstein and Mace a rgues vigorously that the legal evidence of ancient Near Eastern cultures must be taken into consideration when understanding the bible and biblical law. it comes out of a specific cultural milieu (Frymer Kensky 1981: 209). Furthermore, she a sserts that it is the codes of other Near Eastern cultures that give biblical law and narrative historical authenticitiy ; elucidates and illuminates the patriar chal material, indicating its historical authenticity by ( Frymer Kensky 1981: 209). Due to the similarities between biblical legends, narratives, and laws it is evident that the inco rporation of older sources would give credibility to the scriptures that make up the bible.


Raduns 18 However, despite the efforts of numerous scholars to find authority and congruency within early legal codes regarding the laws of Leviticus 18 banning incest there are really only two ancient Near Eastern culture s whose legal code s address incest specifically, namely, the Code of Hammurabi of Babylonia and, although to a much lesser degree, the Hittite Laws Paragraphs 154 158 of address for bidden sexual relationships and paragraph As Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor the following paragraphs refer to prohibitions against incest as fou nd in the Laws of Hammurabi : 154: If a man should carnally know his daughter, they shall banish that man from the city. 155: If a man selects a bride for his son and his son carnally knows her, after which he himself then lies with her and they seize him in the act, they shall bind that m an and cast him into the water. 156: If a man selects a bride for his son and his son does not yet carnally know her, and he himself then lies with her, he shall weigh and deliver to her 30 shekels of silver; moreover, h husband of her choice shall marry her. 157: hey shall burn them both. 158: I principal wife who had borne children, that man shall be disinhe rited from the paternal estate. (Roth 1997: 110 11)


Raduns 19 The Code of Hammurabi shows that in Babylon there were four explicitly forbi dden relationships. 151). Additionally, each dresses a punishment for violating that law that bears striking similarity to the punishment held by Levitic us 18: 24 30 (discussed below) Mace argues regarding the few similarities between Leviticus 18 and the Code of h the general pattern out of which the prohibited degrees of Mace 1953: 151). Three of the four prohibitions in law, v.15). Mace reasons that because the incest laws of Leviticus 18 do not explicitly ban a father daughter relationship, th e Levitical are assumed Mace 1953: 153) such as found in Hammurabi By this he concludes that because Leviticus 18 provides a much more extensive list, focusing on more distant relationships, it is possible that the writer knew of and regarded the list attested to in the oo obviously incestuous to require specif Mace 1953: 153) in Leviticus 18. Although this really only applies to the missing father daughter ban in Leviticus 18, his rationale is plausible Similar to the Laws of Hammurabi the Hittite Laws add ress very few prohibitions of inter familial relationships in comparison to Leviticus 18: 1 18 as well As translated within Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor the following paragraph refers to the incestuous relationships banne d by the Hittite laws:


Raduns 20 189: If a man has sexual relations with his own mother, it is an unpermitted sexual pairing. If a man has sexual relations with his daughter, it is an unpermitted sexual pairing. If a man has sexual relations with his son, it is an unpermitted sexual pairing. (Roth 1997: 236) While the Hittite laws do appear to address incest, it does so to a much lesser degree than even the Laws of Hammurabi. Further, t here are a couple of striking differences between the Hittite Laws and the Levitical laws. T he laws listed in Leviticus 18: 1 18 do not include laws neither banning a man and his daughter nor a man and his son. Thus, one can presume that the Hittite laws did not influence the Levitical laws banning incest. Unfortunately, the Assyrian code s do not include any prohibitions against illicit sexual practices or incest. Mace suggests that this is Mace 1953: 151). From a different perspective, t h is is a non issue for Milgrom because he suggests that although there is no evidentiary support given by Assyrian or Hittite legal codes that they are indeed of similar nature to the Levitical laws of chapter 18, they are not necessary. Because Leviticus 1 8 only addressed the immoral and inappropriate behavior of the Egyptians and the Canaanites, but failed to acknowledge the Babylonians, Assyrians, or Hittites, he assumes Milgrom 2000: 1519) with the Israelites. Thu s, his reasoning continues, many of their societal activities and laws must have been quite similar although there is no evidentiary support. Furthermore, if one comb ines this murabi was used as a background, Assyrian and Hittite cod es would be further unnecessary as they would have banning incest similar to Leviticus 18


Raduns 21 Although not concerned specifically with legal statutes Milgrom addre ss es incest uous marriages that took place in ancient Egypt and clearly influenced Leviticus 18 : sister Milgrom 2000: 1518) Again c iting Monkhouse, daughter, brother si ster, aunt nephew, uncle niece, and others) prevailed in Egypt in every period, in nonroyal Milgrom 2000: 1518). He draws the connection of these well documented occurrences to the histori cal validity of and influence upon the actu al referral to the Egyptians in Leviticus 18: 3. Raymond Westbrook and Bruce Wells speculate regarding the actual enforcement of From the existence of similar penalties in cuneiform law codes, at least for incest and bestiality, it may be inferred that such prohibitions were applied in practice. LH 154 and 157 punish incest with death or banishment Westbrook and Wells 2009: 71). Westbrook and Wells are referring to the final verses, or closing exhortation, of Leviticus 18: 24 30: 24 Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, for by all these practices the nations I am casting out before you have defiled themselves. 25 Thus the land became defiled; and I punished it for its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. 26 But you shall keep my statutes and my ordinances and commit none of these abominations, either the citizen or the alien who resides among you 27 (for the in habitants of the land, who were before you, committed all of these abominations, and the land became defiled); 28 otherwise the land will vomit you out for defiling it, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. 29 For whoever commits any of these abo minations shall be cut off from their people. 30 So keep my charge not to commit any of these abominations that were done before you, and not to defile yourselves by them: I am the L ORD your God.


Raduns 22 Similar to the sanctions of banishment, disinheritance, and death sentence imposed by the Hammurabi Laws for infringement on the crime of incest the laws of Leviticus 18 punish it with banishment (v. 25, 28) and disinheritance (v. 29). In opposition to many bibli cal scholars, Carmichael notes that looking to Near Eastern law codes is not entirely useful when seeking to understand biblical law. He a rgues that much of the legal tradition produced in law codes of the Near East is more philosophical and jurisprudentia produce Carmichael 1996: 2). This causes him to doubt their appeal, application, and authority for understanding biblical law. Furthermore, he argues against the Nea r Eastern to an ancient Near Eastern legal codes. Further, he cla ims that the integrity of the influence of the Hebrew Bible is ultimately rejected when taking numerous seemingly authoritative pieces from a variety of cultures into consideration. He argues that while it is permissible to take other Near Eastern legal co des into minimal to moderate consideration to understand general context, they should not become exclusively authoritative. Carmichael opposition continues when he suggests quite boldly, that although the Israelite lawgiver was most likely familiar with the legal codes from ancient Near Eastern one motivation of the Israelite lawgiver may have been to construct a set of distinctive, ancient laws of his own nation the distinctiveness in contrast to the, by his time, ancient laws of well Carmichael 1996: 18) This would provide the rationale to the differences and lack of similarities between co des. Further, Carmichael defies Westbrook who


Raduns 23 claimed that biblical law was indeed a part of tradition of documenting legal codes. Carmichael, ecame biblical laws deliberately formulated them so they would appear as ancient as the laws found in Carmichael 1996: 20). Carmichael ultimately claims concerning the Levitical laws of chapter 18: Before any historical questions can be asked about the biblical material, and before any comparisons can be drawn between individual provisions in the biblical and ancient Near Eastern codes, we have to recognize the overwhelming influence of the narrative sources that inspire the prese ntation of Carmichael 1996: 16). Due to the lack of substantial evidence supporting similarities and subsequent developments of legal matter regarding the laws prohibiting incestuous relationships in ancient Israelite culture, Carmicha el suggests a closer look at the biblical narrative instead of looking to other nearby cultures. In conclusion, it is obvious that there are numerous scholars who find great value in looking to the ancient Near Eastern cultures for congruence, validity, and authority when referencing biblical law. Despite the fact that those efforts may reveal numerous cases of evidentiary support for many cases of biblical law as a whole, it appears that there is not nearly as much support when looking specifically at laws banning illicit sexual practices such as incest. Further, although the Code of Hammurabi proved to be a useful resource, the unfortunate reality that no othe r ancient Near Eastern l aw code include s similar laws b anning incestuous relationships clearly demonstrates that the search for a more influential body of scripture upon Leviticus 18 must continue.


Raduns 24 Influence of Familial Structure There are many aspects of familial structure that appear to have influence d the creation of the Levitical laws of chapter 18, banning illicit sexual practice s and relations such as incest. As previously noted in the introduction, there are two key characteristics of the familial structure of ancient Near Eastern cultures that influenced and affected much of the socio cultural behaviors and norms, especially marriage. These characteristics are the following: first, the concept of the large extended and, second, the component of endogamy. In addition to the attributes of familial structure, there remains one more factor that is perhaps most important, and often not addressed: the original matriarchal nature of ancient Israelite family structure Each of these characteristics of familial structure affected the creation and evolution of the laws of Leviticus 18 and will be discussed in that respect. First, to briefly touch upon this characteristic once more, Milgrom indicates that within ancient Near Eastern cultures, be t ab included three to five generations consisting of fifty to a hundred people living in close proximity. Although the average Israe lite house could accommodate four persons (father, mother, two children), the kin related group, numbering about twenty persons, lived in close Milgrom 2000: 1526) Thus, as discussed previously, this unit of social ide ntity incorporated the extended family in an effort to ensure economic and political security. With regard to the specific laws banning incestuous relationships among immediate as well as extended family members in chapter 18 of Leviticus, Perdue, Blenkinsopp, Collins, and he incest regulations of Leviticus 18 and 20 likewise reflect a compound Perdue, Blenkinsopp, Collins, Meyers


Raduns 25 1997: 17 ). They point out that the prev alence of large, extended families influenced the creation of the laws of Leviticus 18. Perdue, et al. reveal s an interesting understanding of how the interpersonal relationships between members of a large, extended family, contributed to the necessity to create laws banning sexual relations amongst extended family members: The relatively large number of prohibited liasons among consanguinal and affinal kin arises from the necessity to create taboos among the residents of an extended family household. In ot her words, the family is described negatively in the incest laws by listing the family members with whom marriage is prohibited; marital unions could not be made with certain kinfolk, whose proximity and kinship bonds presupposed a complex, not a nuclear, family. Incest taboos in such a context, serve as coping mechanisms for dealing with the tensions and temptations present when closely related persons live in close quarters ( Perdue, Blenkinsopp, Collins, Meyers 1997: 18) Interestingly, Pe rdue, et al. con manage large families and the sexual attractions and relations that might a rise. P lacing a ban on such relations, as Perdue and others, suggest could exert some degree of control over t hos e desires and actions upon which are impulsively founded and the consequent tensions, disputes, and conflicts arising from such impulses Additionally, as Frymer Kensky also points out, within large families t hese incest laws define and clarify family li Frymer Kensky 1992: 191). relationships would compromise the social entity, thus sacrificing the political and economic security of th e clan For this reason, the creation of the prohibitions of Leviticus 18:1 18 was influenced by the


Raduns 26 vulnerability of the family structure due to the l arge size of the familial tribe, and the ease with which it was to obscure the familial and interperso nal relations among such family members. The second of the previously addressed characteristics of family structure that influ enced Leviticus 18: 1 18 is that of endogamy. The custom of marrying within the extended family or tribe was prominent among ancient Near Eastern cultures. De Vaux relates this attribute ( de Vaux 1973: 30). Further, it was obviously essential to ancient Israelite culture, a s signified by the marriages in Genesis 12 all of the approved marriages are to some extent endogamous. Abraham marries his half sister, according to one of the traditional sources (Gen 20:12). Isaac marries either his cousin or his second cousin, dep father is Bethuel or Nahor. And Jacob marries two of his cousins, cross cousins, at that, since 1983: 194). Such narrative accounts, foun d in one of the few survivin g sources that recount ancient Israelite history (perhaps more symbolic in meaning than literal), reveal the consistent nature of endogamous relationships within the ancient Israelite family structure. Perdue, et al. offers another, more interesting, under standing of how the endogamous natur e biblical Israel affected the L evitical laws of chapter 18: 1 18: sense, an outsider, there was some pressure to seek an alliance with a household as close in terms of consanguinity as possible. This would also be conducive to retaining control of economic assets especially patrimonial domain. ( Perdue, Blenkinsopp, Collins, Meyers 1997: 59)


Raduns 27 Thus, i t is clear that to maintain the extende d family or tribe as well as to ensure economic and political security, it was in the best interest of the husband to (continue to) marry within the clan. While t his statement seems contradictory however, endogamous nature of the family. The final aspect of familial structure s that influenced the creation of the Levitical law s banning sexual relations amongst family members is the original maternal or matriarchal nature of the family structure n the earliest known historical times, the Hebrews, like other Semitic peoples, had a firmly establi shed patriarchal society. There are some traces, however, that this patriarchal system was superimposed upon an earlier social Chamberlayne 1963: 153). This earlier social arrangement is add ressed in more detail by Louis Epstein, author of Marriage Laws in the Bible and the Talmud when he declares, considered by ancient Hebrews as by most primitive Orientals closer than paternal relationships. Maternal kinsh Epstein 1942: 221). The understanding of this matriarchal system of family organization comes from primitive marital arrangements has her husband t o visit her or stay in her home 1963: 154). This explains the creation and evolution of the L evitical laws regarding i ncest for the following reason: it reveals a union between children of the same father was permissible and was not regarded as incestuous, whereas the union between children o f the same mother was abhorrent (Chamberlayne 1963: 154). Thus if different wives of the same extended family had children,


Raduns 28 those children could marry as they would only be half siblings because they only shared the same father, not mother. While the reasoning for this law may no longer satisfy Leviticus 18: 9, Epstein notes that sister is implied in the statement of Abraham to Abimelek ( Gen 20.12), that Sarai was only a paternal half sister but no maternal relative, and therefore he was permitted to take her as wife. Evidently, if she had been his 1942: 223). Thus, this narrative acc ount reflects what was most likely an earlier form of marital arrangements reflecting, in turn, a matriarchal structure of the deuteronomic law prohibited only Mother and Maternal Sister as first grade ince st and Daughter as a lower grade of Epstein 1942: 222 3) as would be supported by this narrative account. Further, it is clear that there was an evolution in the Le vitical laws of chapter 18 as well. Epstein argues ization underwent a change in deuteronomic time. The patronymic family became so dominant that people began to recognize relatives on the legislation in Deuteronomy that a Paternal Half Sister was prohibited like a maternal half ( Epstein 1942: 227 28) Chamberlayne agrees when he states, ( Chamberlayne 1963: 155). In sum, it is clear that there were numerous factors that contributed to the development of th e Levitical laws of chapter 18: 1 18. These factors, the large family unit, the element of endogamy, and the less well known original matr iarchal nature of the family structure, all clearly affected the construction of the laws banning incest in a number of ways.


Raduns 29 Influence of Biblical Narrative One cannot fully and completely understand why and for what reasons the laws of the bible were written. Further, we cannot be certain how exactly, the bodies of biblical law functioned wi thin ancient Israelite society. Despite the sincere efforts of this paper up to this point to address and analyze aspects of the law that wo uld shed some light on these puzzling questions, a comprehensive answer has yet to be found. As was addressed previously standard scholarly explanation has been to look to other legal codes of an cient Near Eastern cultures for contextual congruencies among laws in hopes of finding authority, influence, and even origin of th e biblical laws. While this approach works for numerous other biblical statutes, the prohibitions against interfamilial sexual relations of Leviticus 18 pose an especially difficult case. As was found earlier within this paper, only one of the many ancient Ne ar Eastern legal codes address es incestuous relationships at all. One may ask, then, where is there left to look ? A well respected s cholar of biblical law, David Daube, suggests the following: We must separate Hebrew law from the dress in which priests and prophets have handed it down to us; we must, as in a jigsaw puzzle, assemble and combine the scattered fragments; we must supply the large gaps that are left, for example, by g oing into the non legal portions of the Bible, into the legends and annals, and examining any legal ideas that may chance to occur there. The conclusion, if we used this method, would perhaps be that a good deal of what is commonly described as the religio us character of biblical law was not from the beginning inherent in that law, but is due to the very special theological tendencies of the authors of the Bible. ( Daube 1969: 2) It is clear that Daube not just sympathizes with the unsatisfactory and often unyielding quest to understand the purposes behind the great majority of Hebrew law s but also provides a solution!


Raduns 30 He suggests, as stated above, that scholars must look within the non legal portions of the Bible, the narratives that illustrate legends, st ories, and records. Within these non legal portions he concludes, we will find insights into the reasons why biblical law was written. Such an approach is not simply warranted but encouraged when informed of the following scholarly opinion as expressed by Milgrom : behind every law lies a (narrative) case and that the narrative is not an artificial, fictive case and not a midrashic construction or an ancient tradition to justify the inclusion of an existing law; rather, both law and narrat ive arise simultaneously, the narrative (case) providing the motivati on for the emergence of the law ( Milgrom 2000: 1347) Here, it is clear that Milgrom is arguing that every law created was motivated by an ac tual, non legal, story exposed by biblical nar rative If indeed it were, then this perspective in combination significant understandings regarding the purpose of specific biblical laws. From a different perspective Pamela Barmash argues that biblical narratives influence biblical law not by pure motivational inspiration, but by revealing details about legal matters. ( Barmash 2004: 5) and thus supply the details regarding the context in which the statu te or body of law was practiced. By means of narrative Barmash 2004: 5). It is clear that she appro aches narrative as source for enli ghtenment regarding the specifics of the social inspiration.


Raduns 31 claims one might arrive a argument: T he biblical lawgivers take up issues that they find in histories, legends, and myths located in the books of Genesis through 2 Kings and make judgments on them according to their own ethical and legal standard. The pleasing result is that material found in the Bible itself permits us to see why a rule is recorded and what pa rticular issue has prompted it. ( Carmichael 2008: 229) and a rose out of specific narrative stories. Further, Carmichael also addresses the element of social setting argued by Barmash, when he notes that the biblical lawgivers formulated the laws after having judged the stories to which the law alludes. By this it i s meant that in addition to the story acting as inspiration for the law, the law is placed in contextual setting due to the lawgivers standards understandings, and circumstances In sum, all of these arguments reflect how the biblical narrative could and did influence the creation of biblical law. U arguments illustrated in his numerous literary works such as Law, Legend, and Incest in the Bible and Sex & Religion in the Bible this section will reveal not only striking evid ence that demonstrates the close relationship between biblical law and the narrative that inspired it, but also more specifically and importantly, those narrative accounts that inspire d the Levitical laws of chapter 18 banning incest Calum Carmichael argues two major points across his literature relating to his overall perspective that biblical narrative inspired biblical law, especially concerning the laws of Leviticus 18. First ly th Carmichael 2010: 140). Secondly,


Raduns 32 continuing the first train of thought, he claims that the legends of the narrative accounts in the Carmichael 2010: 142) thereby inspiring law intertwined, as it is the patriarchal incestuous relationships relayed in the biblical narrative to which the lawmaker is opposed and takes into cons ideration when formulating the biblical law. Carmichael views the lawgivers as gentlemen who read the tales within the biblical narrative of the book of Genesis and sought to address the ethical and legal problems within those texts consequently constitute commentary on matters arising in the Carmichael 1997: 6). Because the lawgivers took this approach Carmichael explains the following, there is a direct link between patriarchal sexual conduct and the presentation of the incest rules in Leviticus 18 and 20. The reason for the link is that the lawgivers disapproved of relationships that the l awgiver judged to be incestuo us. ( Carmichael 1997: 6 ) From this excerpt it is clear that the lawgivers did indeed confront the ethical and legal problems that were found in the book of Genesis, namely the incestuous relationships of the Patriarchs, and subsequently prohibited such behavior in the Levitical laws of chapter 18, banning incest. By re ading the stories related in the Genesis narrative as they apply to each verse of Leviticus 18, one may begin to see the inclu sive relationship between narrative and law. Furthermore, speci fic attention will be paid to the Israelite Patriarchs Abraham, Jacob, Judah, Moses, and their incestuous relationships as related by the biblical narrativ e. Carmichael demonstrates in detail how the se paradigmatic figures and the ir marital circumstances a re key in the formulation of the laws.


Raduns 33 The following chart was made in an effort to more simply visual ize and comp rehend the biblical law of Leviticus 18 and the narrative s that inspired them Note: all verses of Leviticus are taken from Law, Legend, and Incest in the Bible which uses the King James Version translation. The first column is divided by sections referring to the chapter subheadings denoted by Carmichael ; the arbitrary divisions bet ween laws or groups of laws are his doing and are not necessarily the nature of chapter 18. The second column corresponds to these verses showing the relationship in a simplified manner, as expressed by Milgrom and as viewed earlier within this paper. The third column exhibits the chapter or chapters of biblical narrative (typically from Genesis, with one exception in Exodus ) that Carmichael argues inspired its corresponding prohibition The final column provides a biblical narrative account to a specific law (if it is not clearly evident on its own). Prohibition Biblical Law (Leviticus 18) Simplified nature of the relationship (Milgrom 1523) Biblical Narrative Account (Genesis) Rationale ( if Unclear ) Leviticus 18: 6, 7 approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am Yahweh. The nakedness of th y father, or the nakedness of thy mother, sh alt thou not uncover; she is th y mother; thou shalt not uncover her n v. 6 General Rule v. 7 with a father Genesis 9: 20 27 his father, Noah Genesis 19 lie with their father in order to produce offspring by him Priestly lawgiver used the incident to reflect on the potential sexual offense of a son against his fa ther (16) lawgiver sets down the equivalent male intercourse with his own mother (16) Leviticus 18: 8 y though not uncover: it wife Genesis 35:22 son, lies with his


Raduns 34 Leviticus 18: 9 11 sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover. The daughter, or of they even their n akedness thou shalt not uncover: for theirs is thine own nakedness. The nakedness of th y daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her v. 9 with a half sister v. 10 with a granddaughter v. 11 with a stepsister Gen esis 12: 13 sister, the daughter of his father Genesis 19 possibly considering having sexual relations with their granduncle, Abraham Gen esis 20: 12 (clarified repetition) Sarah is Abraham half sister, the daughter of his father Carmichael argues that this law is derived indirectly. Abraham is suggested to have been like a father to Lot, creating a pseudo grandparental relationship to his daughters (24). Carmichael argues that although the lawgiver prohibits this union previously, it was too general, and this repetition is more detailed (22). Leviticus 18: 12, 13 uncover the nakedness kinswoman. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of th y v. 12 with a paternal aunt v. 13 with a maternal aunt Exod us 6:20 Amran married Jochebed, his aunt do dah sister because the reference to Amram aunt in Exod 6:20 is 8). Leviticus 18: 14 uncover the nakedness thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine v. 14 with an aunt, brother Exod us 6:20 (clarified repetition) The lawgiver nonetheless lays out another of the possibilities inherent in the statement in Exod 6:20, that is, dodah as Leviticus 18: 15 17 v. 15 with a Genesis 38: Judah and


Raduns 35 uncover the nakedness of thy daughter in law: thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, neither shalt thou t daughter, or his uncover her nakedness; for they are kinswomen: it is daughter in law v. 16 with a v. 17a with a mother and daughter v. 17b against sexual relations with a woman and her granddaughter Tamar Also Genesis 38: Tamar and Onan (levirate marriage) Also Genesis 38: Judah and Tamar Also Genesis 38: Judah and Tamar Carmichael suggests that the lawgiver is abolishing the custom of the levirate marriage (36). potential sexual liaisons with what amounts to three generations of men in the same family inspired the lawgiver to set down a rule that prohibits a man from having sexual relations with three gener ations of women in the same 8). Leviticus 18: 18 a woman as a rival wife to her sister, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her v. 18 against marriage to a Genesis 29: Jacob marries b oth sisters, Leah and Rachel This chart incorporates the majority of arguments and references to biblical law and narrative as exhibited in the first chapter of Law, Legend, and Incest in the Bible Incest 44) The argume nts that were left out were those that seemed overly contrived by Carmichael to reveal a fabricated relationship between the law and an account (or, more often, an indirect account) in the biblical narrative. Ultimately, this chart reveals the very clear and striking relationship between biblical narrative and biblical law that it is not only


Raduns 36 reasonable to believe that the narrative accounts of the Patriarchal incestuous relationships of the book of Genesis (and one in Exodus) inspired the creation of th e laws of Leviticus 18 banning incest, but that it is also very likely to have indeed been the case! Conclusion T his paper has explored and examined th e Levitical laws of chapter 18: 1 18 prohibiting illicit sexual practices, mainly incest, in great detail. Many connections such as the relationship between marriage and illicit sexual practices have been made clear: that, which implies intercourse or any sexual act, also implies marriag e. Furthermore, specific Hebrew words, such as laqah Additionally, issues questioned by these laws such as those of moral ity or pollution and defilement of the land have also been add ressed. It was found as a general consensus among scholars that in response to these questions, the Levitical laws of chapter 18 were created in an effort to reduce familial tensions (revealing a favor for moral priority) as well as to relate the social constructions, and perhaps avoidance of destruction of such, with pollution of the land Ultimately, the crux of this paper lies within the understanding of the influences made upon the Levitical laws of chapter 18 by ancient Near Eastern law codes, famil ial structure, and biblical narrative. Firstly, unfortunately, there was not nearly as much of an influence made by ancient Near Eastern law codes upon the Levitical laws banning incest as was originally anticipated. Only one ancient law code, the Code of Hammurabi, had laws addressing similar content with similar punishments banning f our incestuous relationships (as opposed to the fourteen listed in Lev 18) with banishment or death Further, while the Hittite Laws appear to


Raduns 37 address incestuous relationship s, they in actuality address them only superficially and have been argued to be unrelated to the Levitical laws. Second, in contrast, there was compelling evidence that familial structure greatly influenced the prohibitions against incest. The findings of Epstein regarding the original matriarchal structure of society definitely inspired particular original creations of the laws, remnants of which are still visible today. Furthermore, it was the shift from matriarchal organization to patriarchal organizati on that increased the social complexity of the tribal and familial structures thereby necessitating the elaboration and expansion of the Levitical laws, to ultimately reduce possibilities for conflict. Lastly, and most importantly, this paper found that it accounts that held the most influence on the creation of th e Levitical laws banning incestuous relationships. It was found that the Genesis narrative is historically and paradigmatically primary to the biblical laws of Leviti cus 18: 1 18. Further, it was the patriarchal paradigms of this narrative that were dysfunctional in the face of necessarily increasing familial, societal, and tribal complexity, therefore motivating legal ramifications and regulations. Thus, the very narr ative cases of the Patriarchal incestuous relationships of the book of Genesis (and one in Exodus) that clearly infringed upon the Levitical laws of chapter 18 are actually the accounts that inspired the ir creation


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