5711 marriage, restrictions concerning
Dictionary of Bible Themes

Dictionary of Bible Themes  »  5000 Humanity  »  5650 Human relationships  »  5708 marriage  »  5711 marriage, restrictions concerning

The OT law forbade intermarriage with people who worshipped idols because it threatened the covenant relationship with God and his people. Marriage with close relations was also forbidden. Remarriage is permissible following the death of a spouse and, in certain circumstances, following divorce.

Intermarriage with foreigners

Examples of marriages to foreigners

Genesis 38:2; Genesis 41:45; Exodus 2:21; Leviticus 24:10; Ruth 1:4; 1 Chronicles 2:34-35; Ezra 10:18-44

Warnings against marrying foreigners

Exodus 34:16 See also Deuteronomy 7:3-4; Joshua 23:12-13

Intermarriage with foreigners led to idolatry

Judges 3:5-6; 1 Kings 11:1-8 Royal marriages to foreigners brought disastrous consequences. See also 1 Kings 16:31; Malachi 2:11

Intermarriage among returning exiles was a major problem facing Ezra and Nehemiah:

Ezra 9:1-2,14; Ezra 10:1-2; Nehemiah 13:23-27

Parents sought to avoid their children marrying foreigners

Nehemiah 10:30 See also Genesis 24:3-4 Abraham seeks a bride for Isaac from among his own people.

Esau's foreign wives are a source of grief to his parents:

Genesis 26:34-35; Genesis 27:46 Genesis 28:1-2 Isaac forbids Jacob to marry a Canaanite woman; Judges 14:3 Samson's parents encourage him to marry an Israelite.

Marriage to foreigners may be permissible

Ruth 4:13 Boaz' marriage to Ruth the Moabitess was acceptable because Ruth embraced the Israelite faith. Restrictions were on the grounds of religion not of race.

Foreign wives were put aside after the exile

Ezra 10:3 See also Ezra 10:10-17

Marriages between Christians and unbelievers

Christians should not marry unbelievers

1 Corinthians 7:39; 2 Corinthians 6:14

Christians should not leave an unbelieving spouse

1 Corinthians 7:12-16

Restrictions on marriage to close relatives

Sexual relations with close relatives is forbidden

Leviticus 18:6-18 See also Leviticus 20:11-12,14,19-21; Deuteronomy 22:30; Ezekiel 22:10-11; Matthew 14:3-4 pp Mark 6:17-18

Examples of marriage to close relatives

Genesis 20:12 Abraham was married to his half-sister; 2 Samuel 13:13 Tamar suggests marriage with her half-brother, Amnon.

Levirate marriage

The levirate law was instituted to preserve the dead father's name

Deuteronomy 25:5-10; Ruth 4:10 Levirate marriage refers to the legal obligation of a brother-in-law to produce heirs for his dead brother by marrying his widow. When there was no brother-in-law responsibility fell to a near relative, also described as a “kinsman-redeemer”. See also Genesis 38:8,11; Ruth 1:11-13; Ruth 3:9; Ruth 4:5; Matthew 22:24-26 pp Mark 12:19-22 pp Luke 20:28-31

Unwillingness to fulfil the levirate law

Genesis 38:9,14,26; Ruth 4:6

Regulations governing seduction and rape

Exodus 22:16; Deuteronomy 22:28-29


Widows are free to remarry

Romans 7:2-3 See also Ruth 1:9; 1 Corinthians 7:8-9; 1 Timothy 5:14

Remarriage after divorce may be adultery

Luke 16:18 pp Matthew 19:9 pp Mark 10:11-12 See also 1 Corinthians 7:10-11

Remarriage after divorce permissible in certain circumstances

Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Matthew 5:32; 1 Corinthians 7:15,27-28

See also

5661  brothers
5672  concubines
5675  divorce
5703  inheritance
5732  polygamy
5743  widows
6240  rape
6241  seduction
7388  kinsman-redeemer
7530  foreigners

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