Timeless wisdom from the Old Testament*
And you thought your last breakup was rough?
Picture this: You are a man in ancient Israel. Your married brother dies childless. You must marry his widow, your sister-in-law, and father at least one child with her, or … or face significant public shame and ridicule.
What sort of public shame and ridicule, you ask? I’m glad you asked that question.
Oh, the shame
Deuteronomy 25:8-10 says, in part: If [the surviving brother] persists in saying, “I do not want to marry her,” his brother’s widow shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face and say, “This is what is done to the man who will not build up his brother’s family line.” That man’s line shall be known in Israel as The Family of the Unsandaled.
I submit to you, my friends, that if you are a man whose brother just passed away, and you are not interested in … um … how shall I put this …. If you are not interested in becoming his widow’s next husband, you have no desire to “fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her,” and she says, “Well, FINE,” and then asks if she can borrow one of your flip-flops (“Just for a minute,” is how she’ll probably phrase it) – it’s time for you to hit the bricks, pound the pavement, get missing. Or at least get more than spitting distance away from her.
Hell hath no fury like …
You know the old expression: Hell hath no fury like a woman whose husband just passed away, holding his surviving brother’s sandal, working up some serious spittle, scorned.
You did not know it? Now you do.
No need to thank me for this advice. It comes from reading the Older Testament carefully. You don’t get this kind of wisdom from your average Presbyterian pastor. And no Baptists at all.
Just knowing I may have helped one person, one man who otherwise would be running for his life wearing one shoe, covered in spit, known forever as the progenitor of The Family of the Unsandaled, is reward enough.
*This post also appears as Chapter 33 of my book, Random Observations of an Orderly Universe.