Levirate Marriage – you must marry your brother’s widow

Levirate marriage (of a man to his dead brother’s widow) is required in the Bible. As the Jewish Encyclopedia states, “This custom is found among a large number of primitive peoples”. It can be useful for a woman in a society in which women have no rights or freedom. It is useful for men in patriarchal societies to give family continuity and inheritances to the children of a dead brother. It has no place in a society in which women have equal rights with men.

Onanism, in Lego

A levirate marriage is required in the Bible in certain circumstances: when a man dies childless, his brother is to marry the widow and her firstborn child will be treated as being that of the dead brother, which gives the dead man an heir. (Deuteronomy 25: 5-6) When Onan refused to follow this obligation, God killed him: “Then Judah said to Onan, ‘Go in to your brother’s wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her; raise up offspring for your brother.’ But since Onan knew that the offspring would not be his, he spilled his semen on the ground whenever he went in to see his brother’s wife, so that he would not give offspring to his brother. What he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death also.” (Genesis 38: 8-10)

So ‘onanism’ as a sin isn’t masturbation as such, it is refusing to have a child by your brother’s widow. If a man refuses to fulfill this duty, “Then the elders of his town shall summon him and talk to him. If he persists in saying, “I do not want to marry her,” his brother’s widow shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face and say, “This is what is done to the man who will not build up his brother’s family line.” That man’s line shall be known in Israel as The Family of the Unsandaled.”(Deuteronomy 25: 9-10)

Oh, the fun we will all have, when our Presidents and Prime Ministers all start enforcing the old tribal laws about marriage!

This post comes to you courtesy of Nikolai Usack of Astral/Subastral. He normally provides music in the Milwaukee area. Here he provided the impetus for the post and the initial text.

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God wants blood!

God wants blood. There doesn’t seem to be any other explanation. He demands sacrifices on His feast-days, sacrifices of birds and animals. He demands that people even sacrifice their own children, on occasion. He demands that when His Favorite People are moving into land He has promised them, that they will wipe out every man, woman, child and animal in the cities He is reallocating (Deuteronomy 20: 16-18).

God says kill it, and give it to God (or His friends...)

And don’t piss Him off! He has been known to curse all humanity for all eternity for eating an apple. He once wiped out all of humanity – again, every man, woman and child – except for Noah and his immediate family. He has destroyed individual cities in a fit of anger.

He’s no different from any other nightmare monstrosity from humanity’s Stone Age past, a manifestation of all that is brutal and random in the Universe, a Universe that can send lightning and meteorites from the sky to devastate the earth.

And He must be appeased the only way that humans know to appease a violent bully who randomly inflicts torture – give Him anything He wants… and if you can’t find Him, give His friends whatever they tell you He demands.

Give, donate, tithe, sacrifice… because otherwise, He will take it in blood. And His friends tell you that then He will be happy.

No different from the pre-Biblical flood story in the Epic of Gilgamesh. When Utnapishtim (the Noah figure) finally lands his boat on the mountain and lets all the animals out, the first thing he does is burn things in sacrifice.

“The gods smelled the savour,
The gods smelled the sweet savour,
The gods crowded like flies about the sacrificer.”

Well, at least it’s only one God that monotheists have to appease these days… But on the other hand, there’s no longer anyone to keep Him in check.

Cafeteria Christians, read this:

We can quote the Bible too:

So, um, every word of the Bible is true? It’s God’s word? Then especially when it says it’s actually God speaking, I guess all you fundamentalist types have no choice but to obey.

Now you can either treat the Bible like the outdated tribal mythology that it is. Or you can say, Nope, it’s the word of God.

To you word-of-God types, then:

Gentlemen, if your wife wasn’t a virgin when you married her, God says you gotta kill her. Sorry ’bout that. But you know, it’s in the Bible.

The Promised Land, 2 – the people already living there

Of course, a whole lot of people were already living in the Promised Land when Moses showed up with the Children of Israel. It was good land.

According to Moses, GOD had two sets of rules for warfare with cities, depending on whether the target cities were outside the Promised Land (“very far from you”), or inside it (“cities of the nations here”).

For the first ones, GOD says, offer them peace as slaves. If they accept, enslave them. If they don’t accept, then besiege the city, capture it, kill all the males, and keep the women and cattle as booty. You can afford to be this generous, because it’s outside the Promised Land.

But if the city is inside the Promised Land, you have to kill everything – men, women, children, animals – “in order to prevent them infecting you with their immoral practices”. I kid you not.

"You shall save alive nothing that breathes."

Here are the rules, from Deuteronomy 20, verses 10-15 for the first lot, 16-18 for the second.

[10] When you draw near to a city to fight against it, offer terms of peace to it.
[11] And if its answer to you is peace and it opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall do forced labor for you and shall serve you.
[12] But if it makes no peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it;
[13] and when the LORD your God gives it into your hand you shall put all its males to the sword,
[14] but the women and the little ones, the cattle, and everything else in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as booty for yourselves; and you shall enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which the LORD your God has given you.
[15] Thus you shall do to all the cities which are very far from you, which are not cities of the nations here.

[16] But in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes,
[17] but you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Per’izzites, the Hivites and the Jeb’usites, as the LORD your God has commanded;
[18] that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices which they have done in the service of their gods, and so to sin against the LORD your God.

Having got control of Palestine for 1500 years through genocide and ethnic cleansing, religious Jews (including Jesus, obviously) were in no mood to have the idolatrous, polytheist, pig-eating Romans come in and run the country. Their duty was to wipe the Romans out.

Unfortunately that thinking is still alive today among religious Jews. Even if Palestinians are neither idolatrous nor polytheist nor pig-eating, the more fanatical among the Jews do not see them as worshiping the same God, and want to wipe them out. But God is said to have promised the land to the descendants of Abraham – and Arabs, too, claim descent from Abraham. So the promise of the Covenant is fulfilled if Jews or Arabs live in the Promised Land… from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates.

Jesus and the dangers of being illegitimate

The issue of Jesus’ father was problematic for his attempt to be recognized as Messiah – just as it was for his parents before he was born.

Mary is described by a word which can mean either ‘virgin’ or ‘girl of marriageable age’ – but strongly carries a meaning of ‘not married’.

The Gospels state that Joseph discovered that Mary was already pregnant when he married her, and, being a just man, decided to divorce her quietly rather than make a public example of her. But, after dreams changed his mind, he chose another reasonable solution: go to a different town (Bethlehem, where his own family was from) for a few months, let her have the baby where no one knew when they had married, and then return home (Nazareth) where no one knew when the baby had been born. That way the fiction of Jesus’ legitimacy could be maintained.

Stoning people to death for sexual misconduct is an ongoing tradition of monotheism

It was important for a child to have been conceived within marriage. Even if the parents subsequently married, if the child was conceived outside marriage it was considered a bastard. The laws in Deuteronomy are clear and harsh:

  • married woman has sex with another man, both stoned to death
  • betrothed virgin raped in a town, both stoned to death (she, for not having called for help)
  • betrothed virgin raped in the countryside, only the man stoned to death
  • unbetrothed virgin raped, the rapist has to pay the victim’s father fifty silver shekels and marry her.

So, depending on quite how young Mary got pregnant, her life was in danger. Assume Joseph loved her – he needed to be creative to protect her.

The problems of illegitimacy came up again when Jesus was making his play for Messiah and King. As Deuteronomy 23:2 states: “A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.”

Not surprising, then, that his followers grasped at whatever unlikely explanations they could think of, in order to explain away the embarrassing rumors!