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Friday, March 16, 2012


David N. Brown

Nothing here that strikes me as particularly unfair. However, there's two practices mentioned where context needs to be considered: The practice of marrying a brother's widow can be considered at least in part as a humanitarian measure to ensure that the widow was not simply abandoned. It should also be kept in mind that the law allowed for the surviving brother to decline the marriage and for the widow to marry another man (as in the book of Ruth, and also an underappreciated detail in the infamous story of Onan). The law requiring a rapist to take a victim as wife also had some "mitigating circumstances", in that it was (and unfortunately still is) common in the Middle East for other men to refuse to marry a rape victim, and thus leave her without support. Thus, the reasonable starting point for discussion or criticism would be whether the Biblical author(s) should have instead tried to eliminate the stigma that was the underlying problem.

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