The Bible in Its Traditions

Deuteronomy 25:5–10

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If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not be married abroad unto one not of his kin; her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of a husband's brother unto her.

When brothers are living together, and one of them dies without children, the wife of the deceased shall not marry another. Instead, his brother shall take her, and he shall raise up offspring for his brother.

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And it shall be, that the first-born that she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother that is dead, that his name be not blotted out of Israel.

And it shall come to pass that the child which she shall bear, shall be named by the name of the deceased, and his name shall not be blotted out of Israel.

And the first son from her, he shall call by his brother’s name, so that his name will not be abolished from Israel.

And if the man like not to take his brother's wife, then his brother's wife shall go up to the gate unto the elders, and say: 'My husband's brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband's brother unto me.'

And if the man should not be willing to take his brother’s wife, then shall the woman go up to the gate to the elders, and she shall say, My husband’s brother will not raise up the name of his brother in Israel, my husband’s brother has refused.

But if he is not willing to take his brother’s wife, who by law must go to him, the woman shall go to the gate of the city, and she shall call upon those greater by birth, and she shall say: ‘The brother of my husband is not willing to raise up his brother’s name in Israel; nor will he join with me.’

Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him; and if he stand, and say: 'I like not to take her';

And the elders of his city shall call him, and speak to him; and if he stand and say, I will not take her

And immediately, they shall summon him to be sent, and they shall question him. If he responds, ‘I am not willing to accept her as a wife,’

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then shall his brother's wife draw nigh unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face; and she shall answer and say: 'So shall it be done unto the man that doth not build up his brother's house.'

then his brother’s wife shall come forward before the elders, and shall loose one shoe from off his foot, and shall spit in his face, and shall answer and say, Thus shall they do to the man who will not build his brother’s house in Israel.

then the woman shall approach him in the sight of the elders, and she shall remove his shoe from his foot, and she shall spit in his face, and she shall say: ‘So shall it be done to the man who was not willing to build up his brother’s house.’

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10  And his name shall be called in Israel The house of him that had his shoe loosed.