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 (lĕv′ər-ĭt, -ə-rāt′, lē′vər-ĭt, -və-rāt′)
The practice of marrying the widow of one's childless brother to maintain his line, as required by ancient Hebrew law.

[From Latin lēvir, husband's brother; see daiwer- in Indo-European roots.]

lev′i·rat′ic (-răt′ĭk), lev′i·rat′i·cal adj.


(Bible) the practice, required by Old Testament law, of marrying the widow of one's brother
[C18: from Latin lēvir a husband's brother]
leviratic, ˌleviˈratical adj


(ˈlɛv ər ɪt, -əˌreɪt, ˈli vər ɪt, -vəˌreɪt)

Judaism. the custom of marriage between a man and his brother's widow, required in Biblical law under certain circumstances. Deut. 25:5–10.
[1715–25; < Latin lēvir husband's brother (akin to Old English tācor, Greek dāḗr, Skt devar) + -ate3]
lev•i•rat•ic (ˌlɛv əˈræt ɪk, ˌli və-) lev`i•rat′i•cal, adj.


the custom under the Mosaic code (Deut. xxv: 5-10) that required a widow to marry her dead husband’s brother if she had no sons. — levirate, leviratical, adj.
See also: Judaism
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.levirate - the biblical institution whereby a man must marry the widow of his childless brother in order to maintain the brother's line
institution - a custom that for a long time has been an important feature of some group or society; "the institution of marriage"; "the institution of slavery"; "he had become an institution in the theater"
References in periodicals archive ?
A reference is also made to another biblical practice, levirate marriage, according to which "when a man dies childless, his brother is obliged to marry his widow and their first child is to carry the name of the deceased and be his heir ...
Kintunda's story also reveals that the levirate is practised among the Balanta, although it is not enforced.
They come to argue with Jesus in the temple precincts invoking the levirate marriage.
While one choice is that of remarrying as a result of finding a new love, the other choice is levirate marriage.
Uzong also notes a "difference in moral attitudes towards marriage between the Bushmen proper and the Hottentots," as "the Hottentots practised levirate while the Bushmen prohibited it" (76).
And Tamar and Ruth, who were widowed before having children, look to levirate marriage (conceiving through a surviving brother or family member) to become mothers.
This is likewise why the church prohibited the Jewish practice of levirate marriage, where a widow would be expected to marry her dead husband's brother to keep her property in his family.
Caste laws dominated the entire social life, widow remarriage and levirate's were disallowed.
Then she translates and annotates cases regarding marriage rites and exchanges, and getting married; marriage between officials and commoners, marriages of military personnel, and divorce; when the husband dies, levirate marriages, and no levirate marriage; and secondary wives, marriage between slaves and commoners, marriage of entertainers, and marriage during the mourning period.
(10) In addition to the issues discussed here, the responsa from the early ninth century onward address questions such as the marital status of the wife of an apostate, the legal status of his ayogen "levirate" sister, (11) the inheritance privileges of the apostate, and concerns pertaining to members of the clergy who apostatized.
This niyoga practice was a kind of short-term levirate" (Apte, 1996c).
(20) Additionally, Antipas and Herodias had violated sacred Levirate law, specifically in regard to sexual relations with a kinsman's wife.