SOME LEGAL PROBLEMS IN THE BOOK OF RUTH BY THOMAS and DOROTHY THOMPSON Dctroit This paper concerns itself largely with an attempt to give a new interpretation to that small part of Israelite law implied in the story related in the book of Ruth. The book of Ruth presents a unique interrelationship of the ancient Israelite customs of the ("redeemership") and the levirate (the exact meaning of this term will be discussed in the article. In general, it is the custom of remarry- ing a widow within the husband's family.). Moreover, both of these customs are essentially connected to the ownership of land, which was considered, in principle, inalienable. The interpretation of Ruth depends on the understanding one has of the levirate. The levirate is witnessed to clearly in only two other Old Testament texts, Genesis xxxviii and Deuteronomy xxv 5-10. Most scholars, however, see discrepancies and inconsistencies between these texts and Ruth, especially Deuteronomy. In Deuteronomy the levirate appears to be compulsory; in Ruth it is apparently not. In Deuteronomy the levirate seems limited to brothers only; in Ruth the person who is supposed to fulfill the levirate obligation is a very distant relative. Also, it is
Vetus Testamentum – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1968
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