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Daily Verse: Exodus 6:20

Monday 23 Tevet 5783 (16-01-23)

Amram Married his Aunt?

וַיִּקַּ֨ח עַמְרָ֜ם אֶת־יוֹכֶ֤בֶד דֹּֽדָתוֹ֙ ל֣וֹ לְאִשָּׁ֔ה וַתֵּ֣לֶד ל֔וֹ אֶֽת־אַהֲרֹ֖ן וְאֶת־מֹשֶׁ֑ה וּשְׁנֵי֙ חַיֵּ֣י עַמְרָ֔ם שֶׁ֧בַע וּשְׁלֹשִׁ֛ים וּמְאַ֖ת שָׁנָֽה׃

"Amram married Yocheved, who was both the daughter of Levi—having the same father as Kehot, and Amram's aunt—having the same mother as Kehot. She was thus a woman of nobility. She bore him Aaron and Moses. The years of Amram's life came to 137 when he died, some time before the year 2399."

Amram married his aunt. Before the Torah was formally given, only the 7 Noahide Laws were legally binding, and Noahides are permitted to marry paternal relatives, and so Amram was permitted to marry his aunt. After the giving of the Torah it is for Jews forbidden to marry his fathers sister.

Why are Noahide Allowed to Marry Relatives on Their Father's Side?

In Genesis 20:12 it is written:

וְגַם־אׇמְנָ֗ה אֲחֹתִ֤י בַת־אָבִי֙ הִ֔וא אַ֖ךְ לֹ֣א בַת־אִמִּ֑י וַתְּהִי־לִ֖י לְאִשָּֽׁה׃

"And besides, she is in truth my sister, my father’s daughter though not my mother’s; and she became my wife".

This statement by Abraham teaches that the Noahide Code forbids relations with a sister or half-sister form the same mother, and permits marriage with a sister of half-sister from the same father.

Rashi on this verse: It appears clear that the original source of this

prohibition is not from this verse, since it only informs us through Abraham's

statement that relations with a sister from the same mother are forbidden, but

not relations with a half-sister who is only from the same father. Margaliot

Hayam (Tractate Sanhedrin 58b, note 3) says that this detail was not

originally given to Adam with all its specifications, which is the reason why

Cain was allowed to marry a full sister. (There were twin sisters who were

born with him and with his brother Abel, in order that the world could be

populated through their children; see Rashi on Genesis 4:1.)

When Were the 7 Mitzvot Given?

The Master of the universe commanded Adam, the first man, on the day of his creation, as it says (Gen 2:16), “And the L-rd G-d commanded ‘man’ (Adam) …” HaShem commanded six precepts to Adam:

1) the prohibition against worshiping false gods;

2) the prohibition against cursing HaShem’s Name;

3) the prohibition against murder;

4) the prohibition against specific forbidden sexual relations;

5) the prohibition against theft;

6) the commandment to live according to these laws ( establish laws and courts of justice.

The Creator added to these when He commanded Noah not to eat flesh that was removed from a living animal, as it says, “And HasSHem blessed Noah, … But flesh, with its soul in its blood you should not eat.” (Gen 9:1,4)

The Repetition of the Laws at Sinai

Before the giving of the Torah at Sinai, the 7 Noahide Laws had been given. Some of these are explicitly or implicitly repeated when giving the Torah at Sinai and others are not. For example, the prohibition against murder and theft is mentioned, but the "be fruitful and multiply" is not.

The Rabbis in the Talmud discuss with each other why some laws are repeated and others are not. One comes up with the following conclusion:

1. A commandment that applies to Noachids and is repeated at Sinai applies to Noachids as well as Jews,

2. A commandment that applies to Noachids and was not repeated at Sinai applies only to Jews.

The prohibition for marrying a partner on the father's side is not named before Sinai and after Sinai is only explicitly given to Jews in Leviticus 18:12.

Thus, a Noahide is permitted to marry paternal relatives. However, it is wise not to choose partners considered undesirable in one's own society.

Source: The Divine Code by Rabbi Moshe Weiner and Dr. Michael Schulman 4e edition p. 393, Orach Chaim Study-Program


Angelique Sijbolts is one of the main writers for the website. She contributes for the admin of the website in English and Dutch. She teaches Hebrew to beginners and intermediate students at the Academy.

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