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Sexual Relations


The L ord spoke to Moses, saying:

2 Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: I am the L ord your God. 3You 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. 4My ordinances you shall observe and my statutes you shall keep, following them: I am the L ord your God. 5You 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 nakedness: I am the L ord. 7You 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. 8You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is the nakedness of your father. 9You shall not uncover the nakedness of your sister, your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether born at home or born abroad. 10You shall not uncover the nakedness of your son’s daughter or of your daughter’s daughter, for their nakedness is your own nakedness. 11You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife’s daughter, begotten by your father, since she is your sister. 12You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s sister; she is your father’s flesh. 13You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister, for she is your mother’s flesh. 14You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s brother, that is, you shall not approach his wife; she is your aunt. 15You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law: she is your son’s wife; you shall not uncover her nakedness. 16You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; it is your brother’s nakedness. 17You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, and you shall not take her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter to uncover her nakedness; they are your flesh; it is depravity. 18And you shall not take a woman as a rival to her sister, uncovering her nakedness while her sister is still alive.

19 You shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness while she is in her menstrual uncleanness. 20You shall not have sexual relations with your kinsman’s wife, and defile yourself with her. 21You shall not give any of your offspring to sacrifice them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the L ord. 22You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. 23You shall not have sexual relations with any animal and defile yourself with it, nor shall any woman give herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it: it is perversion.

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. 25Thus the land became defiled; and I punished it for its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. 26But 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 inhabitants of the land, who were before you, committed all of these abominations, and the land became defiled); 28otherwise the land will vomit you out for defiling it, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. 29For whoever commits any of these abominations shall be cut off from their people. 30So 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.

16. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife. They are bad 9292     In Willet this exposition is attributed to Radulph., Blesensis, and Borrhaus. interpreters who raise a controversy on this passage, and expound it, that a brother’s wife must not be taken from his bed, or, if she be divorced, that manage with her would be unlawful whilst her husband was still alive; for it is incongruous to twist into different senses declarations which are made in the same place, and in the same words. God forbids the uncovering of the turpitude of the wife of a father, an uncle, and a son; and when He lays down the same rule respecting a brother’s wife in the very same words, it is absurd to invent a different meaning for them. If, therefore, it be not lawful to marry the wife of a father, a son, an uncle, or a nephew, we must. hold precisely the same opinion with respect to a brother’s wife, concerning whom an exactly similar law is enacted in the same passage and context. I am not, however, ignorant of the source from whence those, who think otherwise, have derived their mistake; for, whereas God gives a command in another place, that if a man shall have died without issue, his surviving brother shall take his widow to wife, in order that he may raise up of her seed to the departed, (Deuteronomy 25:5,) they have incorrectly and ignorantly restricted this to own-brothers, although God rather designates other degrees of relationship. It is a well-known Hebrew idiom, to embrace under the name of brother all near kinsmen in general; and the Latins also formerly so denominated cousins-german. 9393     Thus Augustine (De Civit. Dei. 15:16. Section 2,) says, — “quod fiebat cum consobrina, pene cum sorore fieri videbatur: quia et ipsi inter se propter tam propinquam consanguinitatem fratres vocantur, et pene germani sunt.” The law, then, now before us, respecting marriage with a deceased brother’s wife, is only addressed to those relations who are not otherwise prohibited from such a marriage, since it was not God’s purpose to prevent the loss of a deceased person’s name by permitting those incestuous marriages, which tie had elsewhere condemned. Wherefore these two points agree perfectly well, that an own-brother was prohibited from marrying his brother’s widow, whilst the next of kin were obliged to raise up seed for the dead, by the right of their relationship, wherever their marriage was otherwise permissible by the enactment’s of the law. On this ground Boaz married Ruth, who had previously been married to his near kinsman; and it is abundantly clear from the history, that the law applied to all the near kinsmen. But if any still contend that own-brothers were included in the number of these, on the same grounds the daughter-in-law must be married by her father-in-law, and the nephew’s wife by the uncle, and even the mother-in-law by the son-in-law, which it is an abomination to speak of. If any object that Er, Onan, and Shelah, the sons of Judah, were own-brothers, and still that Tamar married two of them, the difficulty is easily solved, viz., that Judah, following the common and received practice of the Gentiles, acted improperly in permitting it. It is plain enough, from the histories of all ages, that there were disgusting and shameless mixtures in the marriages of Oriental nations. By evil communications, then, as is ever the case, Judah was led into giving the same wife to his second son as had before been married to the eldest. And, in fact, God expressly says that this offense was rife among the Gentiles, where tie condemns incestuous connections. This, therefore, I still hold to be unquestionable, that, by the law of Moses, marriage with the widow of an own-brother is forbidden.

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