Early marriages in scripture, from Adam and Eve to Abraham and Sarah :-)

Hi all

Just been doing some study / reflection on those early marriages, starting with Adam.

Adam with his "XY" chromosomes has children with Eve (with "XX" chromosomes). Eve is "cloned" from Adam (taken from his rib) but with her own God-formed spirit and soul.

According to early Jewish teaching, the first sons of Adam (XY) married their sisters (XX). Yep, there aren't any others to marry.

It was at the time of Abraham and Moses, 2000 years later, that marriage to sisters was not on.

Also to grandmothers, mothers, step-mothers and aunties, daughters, step-daughters, daughters-in-law, and granddaughters.

See here reflecting these rules in Leviticus 18.

It was seen as complicating / abusing / screwing up your relationship with your father, your mother, your son or your daughter. Not to mention theirs, or the children you then had. The children of such a union in fact would be forbidden to enter the assembly of the Lord, to the tenth generation. Deuteronomy 23:2

Marriage to half-sisters was also not on, for the same reason.

However, in the passage in Leviticus 18, marriage to unmarried nieces were ok, also to unmarried cousins.

So, because of the half-sister rule, according to Josephus and other commentaries, when Abraham says Sarah is the daughter of his father in Genesis 20:12, he means daughter (once removed).

Sarah was in fact his half-brother Haran's daughter, Abraham's niece and Lot's sister.

Haran was Terah's son by an earlier marriage. Haran also had another daughter, Milcah, who married Abraham's brother, Nahor. Thus the two sisters married their two uncles. Kind of cute.

Nahor and Milcah have a son Bethuel, the father of Rebekah and Laban. Bethuel and Isaac are thus cousins, so Rebekah is Isaac's cousin, once removed. Marriage is fine.

Laban, her brother, is the father of Rachel and Leah.

Thus, through Jacob's mother, Rachel and Leah are his first cousins. Through his much older father's side, they are also second cousins, once removed. So marriage to either is fine.

However, when Jacob marries them both simultaneously, the later law in Leviticus 18:18 says, in future, do not do this, in order not to "vex" them both.

Click here for further information relating to modern marriage in Israel.

Click here for another article on "prohibited degrees of kinship" (known as consanguinity), both in historical records and today, according to Wikipedia.

Blessings all Steve


Postscript — further note re Ruth :-)

Hi all

Further to writing that page yesterday, I remember reading about this years ago, just checked my genealogies page regarding that ten generation rule that discouraged incest / inbreeding in such a major way.

Yep, Ruth/Boaz were exactly 10 generations from Lot and his son Moab (he'd been fathered when he was made drunk by one of his daughters after the Sodom holocaust), a bit off.

No doubt why, in the story of Ruth 4:5-6, a nearer kinsman was loath to take her as his wife. But Boaz got blessed, hey.

Blessings all Steve


  1. Abraham
  2. Isaac
  3. Jacob
  4. Judah and his brothers
  5. Pharez and Zerah of Tamar
  6. Hezron
  7. Aram
  8. Amminadab
  9. Nahshon
  10. Salmon
  11. Boaz of Rahab Boaz marries Ruth, a Moabitess, tenth generation from Abraham and his brother-in-law/nephew Lot.
  12. Obed of Ruth
  13. Jesse
  14. David the king

** End of Page