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 The first instance of incest in the bible occurs when Cain “knew his wife”, which was his mother Eve, the only woman on Earth: of course, Cain didn’t really have many alternatives.
God was always very pro-incest. Abraham, his chosen one, was married to his sister. When God was asked to hand pick a wife for Isaac, he chose Isaac’s cousin, Rebekah. Isaac’s son, Esau, married his cousin Mahalath; his other son, Jacob, married 2 of his cousins at the same time (God was also very pro-polygamy).

 Later, God changed his mind, and set down some rules.

“None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the Lord.” [Lev 18: 6]

Ownership by another man was important; most of the specified relatives are restricted due to the fact that they belong to a male member of the family.

 “The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness.” [Lev 18: 8]

“And the man that lieth with his father’s wife hath uncovered his father’s nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” [Lev 20: 11]

“Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife: it is thy brother’s nakedness.” [Lev 18: 16]

A list of relatives that are forbidden, found in Leviticus chapter 18, is as follows:

father, mother, father’s wife, sister, paternal half sister, granddaughter, aunt, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law.

 Of course God, being somewhat indecisive, had a different opinion when confronted with the problem of transfering inheritance between families: and decided that incest was the way to go after all.

"This is the thing which the Lord doth command concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, Let them marry to whom they think best; only to the family of their father shall they marry." "So shall not the inheritance of the children of Israel remove from tribe to tribe: for every one of the children of Israel shall keep himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers." "And every daughter, that possesseth an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel, shall be wife unto one of the family of the tribe of her father, that the children of Israel may enjoy every man the inheritance of his fathers." "Neither shall the inheritance remove from one tribe to another tribe; but every one of the tribes of the children of Israel shall keep himself to his own inheritance." "Even as the Lord commanded Moses, so did the daughters of Zelophehad:" "For Mahlah, Tirzah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married unto their father's brothers' sons:" "And they were married into the families of the sons of Manasseh the son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of the family of their father." "These are the commandments and the judgments, which the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses unto the children of Israel in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho." [Num 36: 6-13]

IN-LAWS (see also: "INCEST")

"If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her." [Deut 25: 5]


"Reasoned Spirituality"