“Members of Levite Family and Ideal Marriages”

by Hanna Tervanotko

This blogpost is based on Hanna Tervanotko’s article “Members of Levite Family and Ideal Marriages in Aramaic Levi Document, Visions of Amram and Jubilees”, Revue de Qumrân 106 (2015), 155–176. To download an open access pre-print version of the article, click here.

The marriage practices of the members of the family of Levi in general and their preference to marry within their family in particular have received attention in the recent scholarship. This study analyzes how Jubilees, the Aramaic Levi Document and the Visions of Amram portray the ideal marriages of the members of the Levite family. After carefully reading the passages of these texts, highlighting in particular their depiction of women and ideal partners, I argue that these texts are interested exclusively with women of Levite origin. Their primary function of women in these texts is to provide the right pedigree for the members of the Levite family. In addition to the previously argued views, I propose that the members of the Levite family, who are treated as early prototypes for the high priest, are subject to the marriage rule of the high priest who had to marry a daughter of another priest. This rule triumphed over all other regulations, including the Pentateuchal marriage laws. By making the Levites take spouses from their own family, the authors turn the Levites into exemplary figures who followed the priestly rulings before they were given at Sinai. Finally, it will be pointed out that the Aramaic Levi Document and the Visions of Amram do not reduce Levite women to a reproductive role but develop the concept of ideal spouses further than Jubilees does.