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Deuteronomy 25:5-10 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Levirate Marriage. When brothers live together[a] and one of them dies without a son, the widow of the deceased shall not marry anyone outside the family; but her husband’s brother shall come to her, marrying her and performing the duty of a brother-in-law. The firstborn son she bears shall continue the name of the deceased brother, that his name may not be blotted out from Israel. But if a man does not want to marry his brother’s wife, she shall go up to the elders at the gate and say, “My brother-in-law refuses to perpetuate his brother’s name in Israel and does not intend to perform his duty toward me.” Thereupon the elders of his city shall summon him and speak to him. If he persists in saying, “I do not want to marry her,” [b]his sister-in-law, in the presence of the elders, shall go up to him and strip his sandal from his foot and spit in his face, declaring, “This is how one should be treated who will not build up his brother’s family!” 10 And his name shall be called in Israel, “the house of the man stripped of his sandal.”


  1. 25:5 When brothers live together: when relatives of the same clan, though married, hold their property in common. It was only in this case that the present law was to be observed, since one of its purposes was to keep the property of the deceased within the same clan. Such a marriage of a widow with her brother-in-law is known as a “levirate” marriage from the Latin word levir, meaning “a husband’s brother.”
  2. 25:9–10 The penalty decreed for a man who refuses to comply with this law of family loyalty is public disgrace; the widow is to spit in his face. Some commentators connect this symbolic act with the ceremony mentioned in Ru 4:7, 8.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


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