Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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Foreword

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pp. ix-x

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute (HBI) is delighted to present this study of the nuclear family in ancient Judaism by Dvora E. Weisberg, associate professor of rabbinic literature and director of the Simha and . . .

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xi

I am grateful for the friends and colleagues whose suggestions and questions have enriched this work, including Rachel Adler, Judith Baskin, Eugene Cooper, Yakov Elman, Tamara Eskenazi, Joel Gereboff, . . .

Note on Translations and Abbreviations

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pp. xiii-xiii

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Introduction

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pp. xv-xxvi

To understand the constantly changing nature of families, just flip through a photo album. Begin by opening the album to a wedding picture. Captured on the page is a newly married couple, surrounded by . . .

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1 | The Institution of Levirate

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pp. 1-22

What is levirate and how did it function in ancient Israel and early Judaism? Was levirate in ancient Israel treated as a new marriage, or was the levir, the brother of the deceased . . .

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2 | Levirate from the Hebrew Bible Through the Mishnah

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pp. 23-44

The preceding chapter explored levirate as an institution that exists in various forms in many cultures. This chapter focuses on levirate as an institution in early Judaism. It considers discussions . . .

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3 | Mapping the Family

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pp. 45-96

The death of one of its members can throw a family into disarray. In the case of a childless couple in a traditional patriarchal society, the death of the husband leaves his wife alone among his . . .

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4 | Brothers

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pp. 97-122

Ordered by his father to “provide offspring for [his] brother,” Judah’s son Onan takes steps to ensure that he will not in fact provide his deceased brother with a child. This act is “displeasing . . .

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5 | From Wife to Widow and Back Again

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pp. 123-166

The conditions in which Tamar, the widowed daughter-in-law of Judah, finds herself in Genesis 38 capture the essence of what it means to be the widow of a childless man in Israel. Upon the death . . .

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6 | Paternity and Continuity

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pp. 167-194

The stated goal of levirate in ancient Israel, according to Deuteronomy 25 , was the creation of a posthumous heir for a childless man. Levirate was mandated when a man “dies and leaves no . . .

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7 | Conclusion

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pp. 195-205

The family imagined by and legislated for in rabbinic literature is not the family portrayed in the Hebrew Bible. Some of the features of the idealized rabbinic family correspond to those . . .

Notes

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pp. 207-230

Bibliography

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pp. 231-234

Index

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pp. 235-246