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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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Among the Hebrews, even before the law, a widow who had no children by her husband was to marry the brother of her deceased spouse, in order to raise up children who might inherit, his goods and perpetuate his name and family. We find the practice of this custom before the law in the person of Tamar, who married successively Er and Onan, the sons of Judah, and who was likewise to have married Selah, the third son of this patriarch, after the two former were dead without issue, Genesis 38:6-11 . The law that appoints these marriages is Deuteronomy 25:5 , &c. Two motives prevailed to the enacting of this law. The first was, the continuation of estates in the same family: and the other was to perpetuate a man's name in Israel. It was looked upon as a great misfortune for a man to die without an heir, or to see his inheritance pass into another family. This law was not confined to brothers-in-law only, but was extended to more distant relations of the same kind; as we see in the example of Ruth, who married Boaz after she had been refused by a nearer kinsman. See SANDALS .

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Widow'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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