Can A Man Marry His Brother’s Wife According To The Bible?

Leviticus 20:21
If a man marries his brother’s wife, it is an act of impurity; he has dishonored his brother. They will be childless.

Deuteronomy 25:5
If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her.

How am I supposed to read this? Some in defense say the first verse is talking about a divorced wife, while the second one is talking about a widowed wife.  However,Lev. 20:21 never mentioned a divorce case or a deceased brother. One would have to  read the divorce into the text. Also, it is quite possible that Lev. 25:5.

Marrying the brother’s wife was at first forbidden and considered impure, shameful and dishonoring to the brother, and then not only it became permissible, but also mandatory in the case of death!

In Mark 12:18-27 Jesus answered a question posed by some Sadducees. They described a woman who was widowed and required to marry her brother-in-law. This was called a “Levirate” marriage. Their first-born son will be considered to be the son of the deceased husband. In this case, they imagined that seven brothers-in-law married her in succession without having a son.

Jesus would have used the opportunity to preach on the unfairness and sexism implicit in this requirement of Jewish law (from Deuteronomy 25:5-10)  as according to Islam no Prophet would allow such unfairness. After all, the woman was not allowed to refuse to marry any of the brothers, even if she despised some of them. Levirate marriage often involved serial rape. But Jesus is not recorded as having condemned the practice even though we Muslims believe he would have. He might have criticized Levirate marriage at the time, but his words might not have been considered significant to the Gospel writers who thus might not have recorded Jesus’ comments. Alternately, they might have recorded Jesus criticism of Levirate marriage in the original, autograph copy of their Gospels.  However, a later copyist might have deleted the passage. As archeologists are fond of saying: “Absence of proof is not proof of absence.”

In Jewish law A levirate marriage is mandated by Deuteronomy 25:5-6 of the Hebrew Bible and obliges a brother to marry the widow of his childless deceased brother, with the firstborn child being treated as that of the deceased brother, (see also Genesis 38:8) which renders the child the heir of the deceased brother and not the genetic father. There is another provision known as halizah (Deuteronomy 25:9-10), which explains that if a man refuses to carry out this ‘duty’ the woman must spit in his face, take one of his shoes, and the others in the town must always call him ‘the one without a shoe’. While this provision implies that a brother may opt-out of Levirate marriage, there is no provision in the Books of Moses for the widow to do so. Later authorities in Jewish law (Talmudic period) strongly discouraged yibbum in favor of haliza. Because there is a general prohibition on a man marrying his brother’s wife, (Leviticus 18:16) anytime that ayibbum is not required (for example the deceased had a child) it is forbidden.

(b)- Biological Contradiction and False Promise:

Let us again look at Leviticus 20:21:

Leviticus 20:21
If a man marries his brother’s wife, it is an act of impurity; he has dishonored his brother. They will be childless.

Would GOD Almighty really deprive the couple from having children (by causing either of them to become barren) as promised in the verse?? No,  this would be scientifically incorrect.

Comments are closed.