Lord/Rabbi Jonathan Sacks Speech to the Vatican

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The speech was all about monogamy and marriage. Likewise, the statement seems to have three verses that do not have a connection with each other. At the same time, the statement appears to have some logic but lacks a sequence. For instance, in Genesis 3:19 God told man; “Through your brow’s sweat, you will feed up to the moment you go back to the ground since it is where you originated from since you are dust and then you must go back to the same dust.” In the following verse, it reads; “The man identified his wife as Eve since she represented the mother of every life.”

Likewise, “The Lord God created garments from the skin for Adam plus his wife as cloths.” One then wonders what exactly is the connection in this piece. The other question that arises touches on what made it right for God to allow a man to name his wife. Also, it develops the debate on whether the move appeared to have changed the attitude of God towards human beings. However, it seems that God might have forgiven them through his decision of making for them clothes.

Also, the Hebrew word denoting ‘skin’ is nearly not differentiable from the Hebrew word that means ‘light,’ such that Rabbi Meir, the major sage of the ancient second century, acknowledged that God created them as ‘garments of light.’ Still, this raises doubt on was its exact meaning.

A careful reading of the text reveals that up this moment, the first humankind had offered his wife for the just generic name. He identified her as ishah, woman. Taking a recap on he told her; “This now represents the bone extracted from my bones and also the flesh from mine as well. Hence, she shall be identified as a woman since she was extracted from a man”.

To him, she was not only a person but a type as well. Similarly, he availed to her a noun while not just a name. On top of this, her according to him is a derivative taken from him; that is something that has its roots from a man. She represents not only a person for him but also for his right as well. At the same time, she is a reflection of him.

So long as a man began to develop thoughts of being immortal, he then produced the urge of not wanting any other person next to him. At the time he would end up dying and then go back to dust. However, there existed one option where something linked to him would have a life after his death. The option, in this case, would only be bearing a child. The only challenge is that he could not give a child by himself. Consequently, he had to seek for a wife.

Man alone is not in a position of giving birth. On the other hand, the woman is in an area of mitigating the mortality of man. This does not imply that she represented him but primarily because she was indeed not like him. At this juncture, she opted for not being for him but instead resorted to being an individual of her right. Additionally, each person has a defined name. Hence, it is the reason; he named her Chava, “Eve” that means “provider of life.”

During the time they were close to leaving the and meet the real world, an area inhabited by darkness, Adam offered to his wife the very first gift linked to love, where it marked the personal name. At this juncture, God had a love type of response to both of them and also made for them a cloth to cover their nakedness or as denoted by Rabbi Meir; “garments representing light.” Consequently, it has always been there for the time is that when a woman and a man turn to each other, there is a bond of faithfulness.

God was responsible for making for them the garments representing light. In this regard, it brings the picture of coming close next to God himself, that offers new life, turns the biological prose through the poetry covering on the spirit of a human being and eventually leading to the redemption of darkness in the world through the radiance constituted in love. The Pentateuch’s teachings in relation to the marriage institution with respect to the commentaries from the historical critical times.

Marriage as explained in Old Testament

The beginning chapters covered in the Old Testament starting with the story on the creation of the first couples who were Adam and Eve. The story with no doubt talks about the practice of monogamy. Patriarchs within the lineage of Seth were following this practice (Genesis 7:7). However, the family of Cain practiced polygamy (Gen 4:19). With Abraham, his wife was Sarah. After Sarah discovering that she could not bear a child, she opted to give Hagar, who was her maid to her husband, Abraham so that she could have a progeny.

Also, when reading, it is established that Isaac was Sara’s son while Abraham deserted Ishmael and Hagar following the directive of Sarah. The implication of this was that children belonging to the maid or even the concubine have no rights of children associated with that of a wife. At a later date after Sara’s death, Abraham decided to take Kethura as the wife.

There is the Ancient West Asian document linked with the 1700 BCE, the that acknowledges that a husband has an opportunity of managing a wife unless that wife is not capable giving birth where the man may take the concubine. However, the concubine has no right linked to being a wife. The code at the same time singles out the case of a barren wife, where it notes that she must offer to her husband the concubine as a way of ensuring the continuation of the family.

During the creation of the very first family, it creates the something that can be noted concerning the nature of a wife accorded to Adam. In Genesis 2:18 it states; “I will give him his helper to serve as his partner.” Adam was molded in God’s image and Eve, on the other hand, was created from Adam’s rib that at the same time was also done in same God’s image.

The objective of the creation of Eve as already noted earlier was to serve as the ‘partner’ or a ‘helper.’ The phrase used by the Hebrews, in this case, implies that “the one that shows correspondence to’ or ‘fit for’ or ‘shows complimentary too.” In this case, there is an emphasis on the mutuality among the partners.

None is regarded as being neither superior nor even inferior to the other. Hence, equality within sexes has always been implicit from the very beginning. Eve who is considered as the mother of all the living (Genesis 3:20) is viewed distinctly as Adam from the first couple’s picture. She represents a feminine touching all the races while Adam, in the same manner, represents the masculine (Gen 2:23). The personality of Eve is also complete same to that Adam; that is very rational and also accountable the same way as Adam. However, the position held by a wife and a mother is not the same.

Likewise, the history touching on the marriage and the family as well assume another turn. The practice of monogamy found itself falling into misuse in Israel. For instance, on many occasions, Gideon married many wives (Judas 8:29-31). Bigamy is also accorded recognition as being a legal matter as covered in Deuteronomy 21:15-17. Uncountable concubines among the top class rulers and kings have so far dominated the scene.

Later, there is a restriction of it by Talmud to only five. However, the renowned practice was indeed the monogamy. “The monogamous marriage’s image is just before the eyes of the prophets who serve as the representatives of Israel as the one wife being the one preferred by God” ( Hosea 2:4, Jeremiah 2:2, Isaiah 50:1, 54:6-7, 62:4-5). Similarly, wisdom literature is also in support of this perception towards monogamy.

A woman that is not married is still governed by her father, while the married one is under the leadership of her husband. The Decalogue offers the presentation of a wife as part of the wealth owned by a man (Exodus 20:17). That does not mean that there were slaves. She was vested with power and also the authority on the wealth owned by her husband despite the husband remaining to be her master (Abraham showed obedience to Sarah by chasing Hagar and her child. Genesis 21; 10-12).

The child that has been born through marriage is part of the family of the father. Through marriage, a woman leaves her parents and takes a new life with the husband. All her children would belong to this new found life with the husband. On the other hand, the polygamous practice leads to problems within the families. Hence to solve such incidences, regulations were defined (Deuteronomy 21:15-17). The practice, in this case, resulted in the creation of families within families.

This is covered in Judas 9:1-2. There is no clear evidence concerning the marriage age. In the book of Kings, the accession age of a king, the duration of his leadership and the period for a succession of his son are stated. Through calculating, then it is possible to arrive at a given period; 15-18 as the age defined for marriage. However, Rabbis defined it as 12 for ladies and 13 for boys.

Marriage Practice

The father is responsible for all decisions concerning the children in the marriage. No consultation is held concerning this with the children. Previously, it was normal for taking a wife within one’s kin or kith (Gen.24:2- 4; Neh.13:25). Betrothal or the engagement denotes the marriage promise reached before marking the wedding celebration (Deuteronomy 20:7). Similarly, it signals a commitment that serves as binding in the marriage. Betrothed individuals are identified as a wife and a husband (Genesis 29:12).

Going against the state of betrothal is regarded as committing adultery (Deuteronomy 22: 23-25). The man who is considered as living in an endangered state is often relieved of participating in duties such as war. Mohar (bride price) is the agreement made during the day of betrothal. Love and romanticism aspect is not always alien towards the patriarchal based world (Genesis 29: 20, 34:3, 1Sam 18:20).

Marriage was indeed a local type of contract and did not have any sanctioning from any form of the religious rite. A contract of written marriage is well singled out in Tob.7:13. According to the Hammurabi Code, it makes a declaration that marriage finalized minus a formal form of the contract remains invalid. In Israel, the divorce acts were formulated before the period of exile (Deuteronomy 24:1-3, Jeremiah 3:8) and it would create that if the marriage contracts never existed during that period.

Elsewhere there is the Elephantine contract type of formula of the 5th BCE century. It states that; “She remains my wife and I also remain to be her husband from today and forever.” The woman did not have the chance of declaring (cf. Tob.7:11). The ceremony involving marriage is classified into three parts; the coming of the bride into the house of the bridegroom, the feast of the wedding and the third case being the consummation. The main part of the ceremony is the entrance.

The wearing of a crown by the bridegroom is followed by the friends in conjunction with band and turbines (I Mac.9:39). The bride must dress richly and also put on jewels (Ps. 44:15-15), however putting of a veil (Song. 4:1, 3:6-7) needs an escort of companions (Ps.45:15) and must performed in the house of the bridegroom (Ps. 45:16, cf. Genesis. 24:67). She removes the veil only while in the bridal chamber. Songs of love had to be recited that shower praises to the couples.


This paper has presented a discussion on quotation and The Pentateuch’s teachings in relation to the marriage institution with respect to the commentaries from the historical critical times. Making a comparison of this with the modern world, it would lead the astonishment upon realizing that many of the ideologies and practices represent the continuities of the impacts of the ancient customs, rites, and practices.

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