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  •  polygamy also provides for the property of widows (0+ / 0-)

    and the property/inheritance of their orphaned daughters.  and in providing family to a fatherless daughter by her being married, might provide family to her perhaps unmarriageable widowed mother coming with her if the mother has no other family or no close family.

    in a parsha we read some months ago, 3 orphaned daughters were allowed to inherit from their father rather than the property go to their male cousins (they had no brothers) and the collateral material (or possibly the parsha itself) said the daughters' inheritance rights were upheld by moses on grounds that the male cousins had pagan wives so the property would eventually leave the israelites if inherited by those males, but would remain with the israelites if inherited by the orphaned daughters because their children would be israelite no matter whom they might marry.also providing for aged widows if it's the daughter who is to be married and is the only remaining family of her mother.  

    other conditions being equal and even without war, the phenomenon of more females surviving infancy and childhood than males seems to be evidenced for thousands of years back and pretty much globally.  the 'excess' of females is sometimes thought to be one of the reasons some cultures have required wives to die when their husband dies, as if wives are not only of no value with husbands but further as if widows are an obstruction to the order of things.

    so from a certain viewpoint, polygamy might be argued to affirm the right of females to own and 'bring' property with them wherever they marry, and may assert that a female life is of value whether or not two-some'd up with a counterpart male.   as a phenomenon that has persisted long thru'out history, it may also assert that women work together better than is popularly said of women.   so much of the portrayals being by men, some skew certainly is possible in portrayals, and perhaps it's even likely.   in political terms, a man with multiple wives might find himself in better sole control if he keeps them divided against each other by pitting them in competition so he remains as the conqueror, rather than let them find solidarity and unify to assert a collective leadership power.

    on the topic of whether g-d is place-specific or everywhere, this appears to be another concept that see-saws back and forth in the canon and onward across millenia.  i was taught as a child a chasidic concept similar to

    The Holy Spark within every person is a gift from God, given as a doorway to God, and accessible at any time
    , worded in my recollection as every soul being "a spark of the divine fire". (I may be harking again to Wiesel's Souls On Fire, of which I now have a copy but haven't been able to read it yet) which seems quintessentially a diaspora necessity, especially to ashkenazim being repeatedly banished from this european nation, welcomed into that one, banished from that one and shoved along somewhere else. (Another book I recently found is When General Grant Expelled The Jews a piece of history utterly new to me).  For a people deprived of stability, the concept of a portable always-with-us-everywhere g-d finally proves its irreplaceable worth.  

    Still, the persisting power of place in religious imagination is demonstrated in the importance of The Holy Land to Christianity (despite Christianitiy being largely a collaborative product of pretty much everywhere else in the West), and the importance of Mecca and Medina and Jerusalem to Islam, as well as the importance of Jerusalem and the land of Israel to Judaism.

    one thing about place is certain, literally or metaphorically: if it feels empty of inspiring spark and beauty, it may never be meaningful or worthwhile.  but construction as well as the perception may be what it takes for spark and beauty to be there, brought to the wilderness or brought back to the ruins of what once was and may be rebuilt again.  And if history is any guide, it may need rebuilding again and again. and again.

    •  Five daughters, not three (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mayim, mettle fatigue, ramara, Eowyn9

      and I've always liked that story.  Especially the part where Moses isn't sure what the law should be and takes it to God, and God says "um, DUH, they should get the inheritance."  I had not heard the interpretation that it was for fear of their cousins marrying out of the faith, though.

      •  found it online the day of the discussion, but (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ramara

        i'm now using a different browser and have no sources of commentary bookmarked here.  

        as i recall, i followed someone's suggestion to google the parsha, and some time after the discussion i finally got to a tabs/link i'd opened but hadn't read, and there were a couple of lines about that reason. so i thought, oh okay i see how that would work.

        funny i thought there were 3 daughters instead of 5.  i don't remember at all which parsha it was in.  i'm now wondering sort of where was the girls' mother and what was a wife's automatic right of inheritance if any.   but if ordinary folk (i.e., not the legendary ones like Moses et al) were only living 35 or 40 years tops 2 & 3 millenia ago, the daughters/sisters could easily be left with no parent at all.  so the question of their mother's right to inherit anything from their deceased father would not arise unless she had not been an ordinary person.  she's not mentioned at all, i think, so she must've been ordinary and therefore not worth mention.   from the point of view of the writers at that time.

      •  And the condition given (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mettle fatigue

        is that they marry within the tribe, so the tribe does not lose the land, which is to say that the tribal portion remains contiguous. So they actually have to marry within the faith.

        Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

        by ramara on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 12:28:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  one wonders what happens if one of the 5 does not (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ramara

          ever marry ... does she get to "enjoy" (in the legal meaning of the word) her property or does a bro-in-law control it, or what.

          what am i saying???  she's a woman of property, of course she'll be married!  (possibly whether she likes it or not. ~sigh~)

          BTW, i have to  :}  that it appears what i wrote about how polygamy may have operated may itself have been interpreted as endorsement.  actually i was exploring the possibilities.  it's such an anciently-rooted extremely persistent somewhat global phenomenon if perhaps patchy here'n'there, that there must be aspects of how it operated in undocumented eras that we in our culture cannot readily grasp or perhaps imagine.  reading The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress in highschool, (the only Heinlein book i actually liked ... the rest ... feh) i got some viewpoints that are different than those one usually hears about polygamy, polyandry, & etc., and from time to time since then have heard or read such ideas and additional ones discussed or written about with varying degrees of seriousness.  i don't see reason to assume that two or more women married to the same man at the same time must automatically be enemies of one another - instead of assuming that that always and inevitably happens, i tend to think that there is more than one rational response to the situation, and that the choice of position (either carefully arrived at or kneejerk, or somewhere in between) depends on what's the cost vs benefit of possible responses.

          just musing...

          •  From what I've read (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mettle fatigue, Batya the Toon

            I think that sometimes an older wife can be motherly towards a younger, and some Mormons, before they gave it up, became developed sisterly relationships.

            Of course, every family's dysfunction is unique.

            Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

            by ramara on Sat Nov 09, 2013 at 01:10:58 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I'm fond of that Heinlein book myself :D (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mettle fatigue

            and I do particularly like his construction of group marriages, clan marriages, line marriages and so forth.

            There's certainly no inherent reason why two or more women married to the same man must automatically be enemies; it just becomes very likely when other societal factors set up the marriage, and the property rights therein, as a zero-sum game.  Different societal setup would create different dynamics.

        •  "Within the faith" I think is assumed (0+ / 0-)

          as marriages outside the faith wouldn't have been considered legally binding with regard to property rights, I don't think.

    •  This reminds me of a favorite poem: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mettle fatigue

      Stefan George's "Entrückung" (or "Transport" -- i.e. in the mystical sense.) It concludes with the lines,

      "Carried aloft beyond the highest cloud,
      I am afloat in a sea of crystal splendor;
      I am only a spark of the holy fire,
      I am only a roaring of the holy voice."

      (This is a translation from the German, of course, but still incredibly evocative!)

      "We are stardust, we are golden, and we've got to get ourselves back to the garden." (Joni Mitchell)

      by Eowyn9 on Fri Nov 08, 2013 at 07:20:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  3rd paragraph 5th line should have said (0+ / 0-)

      "as if wives are not only of no value without husbands"

      my typo.

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