Marriage in the Bible – Part 6: The Honeymoon

This Sunday, my wife and I completed the one-year re-enactment of our “mini-moon”, the one day honeymoon that we took immediately after our wedding. (A more elaborate honeymoon was reserved for later in the year when we could both take time off of work.) Our mini-moon was to a lovely bed-and-breakfast in Rockport, Massachusetts and our trip back there this weekend was only slightly marred by the unseasonably awful New England weather. (Snow? In October? Can we move to Florida?)

In light of spending the weekend relaxing with my wife, I’ve been reflecting on one of the nicer traditions in the Torah around marriage: the honeymoon. Read on.

Continue reading Marriage in the Bible – Part 6: The Honeymoon

Mention in November Biblical Studies Carnival

Coat of Many Colors has been mentioned in this month’s Biblical Studies Carnival, a community of bible- and bible-studies-related blogs. This month is devoted to Halloween-related posts and my look at the biblical origin of Azazel the demon was included in their list. You can find the full carnival at The Musings of Tom Verenna.

A few other of my favorites:

Marriage in the Bible – Part 5: The Virgin Test

In biblical times, as in many cultures, virginity was important. A man liked to know that his new wife (which he may have paid a pretty penny for) was wholesome and pure. Of course, if he paid for her– either in shekels or blood– a lack of virginity was tantamount to false advertising. But then as now, there were people of looser moral character, who might claim that a virgin was not, to “get his money back”. Fortunately the bride and her father need only turn to the bible for a solution to their problem: the virgin test.

This is day five of my “marriage in the Torah” series. If you are just joining me, the days so far are about the creation story, marrying your brother’s widow, polygamy, and the bride price. I had planned on posting about divorce on Friday, but it was depressing. Virginity is more fun, anyway, and I’ll loop back around to divorce shortly.

So, how does biblical law ensure the fairness of virgin brides? Read on!

Continue reading Marriage in the Bible – Part 5: The Virgin Test

Marriage in the Bible – Part 4: Wives as Property

In honor of my first wedding anniversary, I’m doing a week-long look at marriage in the bible. Monday was marriage in the creation story, which first depicts something akin to marriage equality, before casting women below men after Eve’s sin. Tuesday was Levirate marriage, which describes a method by which widows can be married off to their spouse’s brother. Wednesday was polygamy, the one-sided practice of marriage plurality. These all dance around an uncomfortable truth: in many cases and in many ways, wives were property.

I should make clear of course that this doesn’t mean that the women in the Torah were subservient or weak, only that they were working in a system that was unkind to them. Read on!


Continue reading Marriage in the Bible – Part 4: Wives as Property

Further Thoughts on Onan

After completing my post explaining Levirate marriage and Onan from a few days ago, I stumbled on a blog post that ended with “Honesty like that is almost as rare as a really good exegesis of Genesis 38:8-10.” And then I fell out of my chair… a few minutes later when I realized that Genesis 38:8 was the Onan story. It also includes an awesome image that I may print out and hang on my wall. Check it out.

The commenters on that post pointed out one major element missing from my examination of that story: how the biblical law of inheritance may have influenced Onan. So, do you think Onan may have been in it for the money?

One side note: I’ve discovered a veritable treasure trove of bible-related blogs off of of the Biblioblog site. I must have been hiding under a rock for the last year to not know about that site.  

Continue reading Further Thoughts on Onan

Marriage in the Bible – Part 3: Polygamy

No discussion of biblical marriage can be complete without the major elephant in the room: polygamy. Though modern Jews and Christians hold that marriage should be like Adam and Eve, one man and one woman, early Jews thought otherwise well into the post-Christian era. Echos of this practice still exist today in Islam as well as a few very fringe Mormon groups. (Mormonism as a whole outlawed the practice around forty years after the religion’s founding.)

If you are just joining us, this week in honor of my first wedding anniversary, I’m doing a post every day about a different aspect of marriage in the Torah. Monday was marriage in the creation story. Tuesday was Levrite marriage. Today, I’m digging into polygamy.

Continue reading Marriage in the Bible – Part 3: Polygamy

Found Link – Philo’s Rejection of Six-Day Creationism

As I was surfing today, I stumbled on Daniel Streett’s (for me un-spell-able and un-pronounceable) blog on Koine Greek and the New Testament. While I have to admit that most of the blog is… er… Latin to me, all my rereading of the early chapters of Genesis primed me for this post: Philo’s Rejection of Six-Day Creationism.

In short, Daniel reports that Philo believed that the six-day creation cycle described in Genesis chapters 1 and 2 referred not to six physical days, but rather logical days. God, of course, did it all instantaneously. Philo also looks at the separate stories for the creation of women in Genesis 1:27 and 2:18.  It’s well worth a read.

While I don’t need a reminder that philosophers and theologians have been practicing biblical textual criticism for thousands of years, it’s fascinating to read sort of a Jewish-Hellenistic approach to the challenges of the text. I’ve been spending too much time with the Dead Sea Scrolls! Now, I need to buy myself one of these:


Marriage in the Bible – Part 2: On Marrying Your Brother’s Wife

In honor of my first wedding anniversary, I have a special week of posts about marriage in the bible. Monday was marriage in the creation story, a simple story of man-meets-woman, man-falls-from-grace-with-woman, woman-is-forced-to-serve-man-for-eternity.

Don’t worry, I’ll get to polygamy in a bit, but Genesis is also famous for one other type of “biblical marriage”, Levirate marriage. Everyone knows the story of poor Onan: forced to marry his brother’s widow, but he doesn’t want to impregnante his sister-in-law-turned-wife and “spills his seed” on the ground. God does the only sensible thing and kills him.

Read on for more!

Continue reading Marriage in the Bible – Part 2: On Marrying Your Brother’s Wife

Marriage in the Bible – Part 1: Genesis and the Creation Story

Today is my first wedding anniversary! Married life is wonderful, and I have a wonderful person to share it with. In part because of my anniversary, I have been pondering marriage in the bible. (Why? It’s better than laundry.) As I reread, I am struck again and again about how much marriage in the bible sucks, especially if you happen to be a woman. The Torah might as well be Sharia Law(*) for its depiction of the rights of women. Even the New Testament isn’t much better: in 1 Corinthians, Paul recommends that if you aren’t married, you should stay that way. Jesus is at least known to have attended a wedding…

In honor of my anniversary, I’m going to do something different. Over the next week, I will be positing my thoughts on a different aspect of biblical marriage, one post every day. For simplicity, I’m limiting myself to the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible. Next year, I hope to be able to move forward into the later books and possibly even the New Testament.

Read on for Part 1: Marriage in Genesis, in which we discover that woman was created for man… or sometimes also his brother.

(*) Note: I know next to nothing about Sharia Law, except by reputation. My suspicion is that its reputation is tainted by the Judeo-Christian sources that report on such things. I have a distinct suspicion that it’s probably not that far off of early Jewish teaching.

Continue reading Marriage in the Bible – Part 1: Genesis and the Creation Story

Found Link – Five Minute Bible

I’m procrastinating again, but I found an absolutely wonderful (and geeky) link that I just had to share. It does have another unnecessary Doctor Who reference, and I absolutely promise to not do two of those in a row again.

I’ve just discovered “Five Minute Bible”, an absolutely brilliant set of brief podcasts by “tim”. Topics range from the serious to the silly and I feel I could be spending quite a bit of time with “tim” in five-minute increments over the next couple of weeks. Check him out:

  • God the Dalek – Tim looks at God’s genocidal tendencies in the Hebrew Bible, specifically a passage in Deuteronomy 7. Spoilers: He finds that when God is using particularly inflammatory language, he’s just exaggerating for effect. (And shows clues in the text to point at this determination.)
  • Humor in the Bible – Genesis – Tim looks at places where the bible uses wordplay or other techniques be humorous, though we may read it as being dry today. There’s a whole series of these going through most of the books and well worth a listen.
  • Understanding the Prophets – Amos – The maintainer may be on vacation since this is dated almost a month ago, but this is the most recent of his podcasts.
I hope you find some enjoyment in these. My post on Sukkot in the Bible should be ready tomorrow.