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God, Justice, and SocietyAspects of Law and Legality in the Bible$
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Jonathan Burnside

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199759217

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199759217.001.0001

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Marriage And Divorce

Marriage And Divorce

(p.317) 10 Marriage And Divorce
God, Justice, and Society

Jonathan Burnside

Oxford University Press

The lack of a systematic account of marriage and divorce in biblical law means drawing on a wide range of legal materials in order to reconstruct what the typical practice might have been in biblical Israel. This includes evidence of local custom, shared ancient Near Eastern conventions, formal rules, and rabbinic traditions. Nevertheless, the typical marriage seems to have followed a conventional procedure and problems arose when this was subverted (e.g., such cases as the “rape” of Dinah, and Tamar). This chapter argues that, in some cases, what we call “sexual offences” are really deviations from what the biblical texts regard as the normal sequence of marital relations. Biblical law regulates the practice of divorce and sets limits to its operation. It also shows concern for issues of consent, equality, protection, gender, and heterosexual ideology, although these are expressed differently from similar interests in modern law.

Keywords:   ancient Near East, consent, Dinah, divorce, marriage, rape, sexual offences, Tamar

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