Question:

Question

Answer:

Could cousins marry in biblical times?


The restriction on marrying near relatives changed as the world aged. In the beginning, the world was created in perfect condition. "Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good" (Genesis 1:31). There were no genetic defects to plague mankind at this time. Hence, Adam married Eve even though she was created from a rib taken from the side of Adam (Genesis 2:21-24). However, Adam and Eve sinned which opened the door for death and decay (Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:12). The decay did not come immediately, but gradually. Adam and Eve's children married each other (Genesis 5:1-4). After all, there were no other humans. Eve was the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20). And Paul points out that all of mankind come from one blood. "And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings" (Acts 17:26).

As time progresses, we find Abram married to his half-sister (Genesis 20:11-12). Jacob married two sisters (Genesis 29:21-28). But by the time the Law was given to Moses on Mount Sinai, detailed restrictions were placed on sexual relations between near of kin. The rules are found in Leviticus 18:6-18. A person was not allowed to marry or to have sex with:

  • Her father
  • His mother
  • His step-mother
  • His sister
  • Her brother
  • His half-sister
  • Her half-sister
  • His granddaughter
  • Her grandson
  • His step-sister
  • Her step-sister
  • His aunt (by blood or marriage)
  • Her uncle (by blood or marriage)
  • His daughter-in-law
  • Her son-in-law
  • His sister-in-law
  • Her brother-in-law
  • Any woman and her daughter together
  • Any woman and her sister together

However, notice that cousins did not make the list; they could marry.

December 5, 2006