To find out what the bible says about marrying those closely related to you we have to read it. Today it is commonly thought, understood but more specifically “taught”, that marrying your close relative or cousin is incest.
Before I look at what the bible says about it, let me first specify what constitutes a cousin. For this article the type of cousin we will be addressing is what is commonly called a “first cousin”.
This is when two people are related, because their mother and father are brother and sister. Whether this be on the mother or fathers side.
So, let’s say for example you who are reading this have children, and you have a brother or sister that has children, this will make your children “first cousins”.
The main point is cousins are related through blood.
Today the thought of marrying your cousin is frowned on, but what do the scriptures actually say?
Let’s take a look at some of the marriages that took place. Abraham (Abram) and Sarah (Sariah) I will start with Abraham as he is a man highly esteem by YHWH, and one of the models of the “faith, today!
Even for those that don’t know it.
Abraham’s name was changed to Abraham, which means father of many Nations. This is from a spiritual point of view and physical.
Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. The father of Abram was Terah,who was an idol worshipper:
27 Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.
Now let’s see who Abraham married:
29 And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah.
So we know that Abraham married Sarah, when we read on we find out that Abraham and Sarah are related:
12 And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.
13 And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother.
So here we see that Abraham and Sarah are related through blood. Sarah and Abraham both have the same Father Terah, but not the same mother.
This makes them half brother and sister. This is actually a closer relation than cousins.
The usually justification for this has been explained away as being alright at that time, this I think is because people have now been conditioned into believing that relatives marrying is unnatural, but does the bible confirm this?
Let’s look at more examples
Isaac and Rebekah
We see when Isaac was ready to get married that he prayed to YHWH, to bring him a wife at the well, that he is at. More specifically he says to YHWH:
14 And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.
We then see Rebekah arrive
15 And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder.
20 And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram, the sister to Laban the
So we see that Rebekah is a relative of Isaac, as she is related to
him through his father Abraham,who is brothers with her father Nahor. This makes Rebekah and Isaac cousins.
It should also be noted that Isaac does not go out looking for Rebekah, she is the one that YHWH sends.
I think this is important, because if it was incest for Isaac to marry his cousin Rebekah, why would YHWH send her?
Jacob Rachel, Leah and Other wives
When it’s time for Jacob to be married he falls in love with Rachel, although he is deceived into marrying Leah, Rachel’s sister first. We can read that Rachel is the daughter of Jacob’s Mum’s (Rebekah) Brother Laban.
10 And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother.
11 And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept.
12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s brother, and that he was Rebekah’s son: and she ran and told her father.
13 And it came to pass, when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister’s son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house. And he told Laban all these things.
14 And Laban said to him, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh. And he abode with him the space of a month.
15 And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother,
shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be?
16 And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.
17 Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.
18 And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.
19 And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me.
So, in short Jacob and Rachel and Leah are all cousins. We can also see that Laban Rachel and Leah’s father, could have given his daughters hands in marriage to any other persons as he says:
“And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me.”
This totally rules out the notion that the marrying of cousins, was being done because of the times.
Just to clear up the notion that the marrying of cousins or close relatives in the scriptures, was only a practice in the early days or beginning times, here’s another example in the Apocrypha.
Tobias and Sarah
Tobit (Tobias) 7:9-13
9 So he communicated the matter with Raguel: and Raguel said to Tobias, Eat and drink, and make merry:
10 For it is meet that thou shouldest marry my daughter: nevertheless I will declare unto thee the truth.
11 I have given my daughter in marriage te seven men, who died that night they came in unto her: nevertheless for the present be merry. But Tobias said, I will eat nothing here, till we agree and swear one to another.
12 Raguel said, Then take her from henceforth according to the manner, for thou art her cousin, and she is thine, and the merciful God give you good success in all things.
13 Then he called his daughter Sara, and she came to her father, and he took her by the hand, and gave her to be wife to Tobias, saying, Behold, take her after the law of Moses, and lead her away to thy father. And he blessed them;
So we see here that Tobias was given in marriage to Sarah his cousin. To take this further we can see that Sarah’s father even refers to this type of marriage as a Law (teaching) of Moses.
So we have read that half brother and sister were married i.e. Abraham and Sarah. And three instances that show that the marrying of cousins is not frowned on in the eyes of YHWH ,like the world frowns on it.
Peace and Shalom!