Biblical references to incest
contains a number of references to incest.
A minority of people who question the incest taboo
often use these references to support philosophical arguments that the taboo is outdated and antiquated.
- Sarah: Half-sister of husband, Abraham. "She really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife." (Gen 20:12)
- Micah: Sister of Lot, married their uncle, Nahor. "The name of Nahor's wife was Milcah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milcah and Iscah." (Gen 11:29)
- The names of Lots daughters are not recorded in the Bible. Both had sexual relations with Lot, "so both of Lot's daughters became pregnant by their father." (Gen 19:36)
- Isaac: Abraham's son married his own second cousin, Rebekah. "Some time later Abraham was told, 'Milcah is also a mother; she has borne sons to your brother Nahor: Uz the firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel (the father of Aram), Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph and Bethuel.' Bethuel became the father of Rebekah." (Gen 22:20-23)
- Amran: The father of Moses, he married his own aunt. "Amram married his father's sister Jochebed, who bore him Aaron and Moses." (Exod 6:20)
The above references all occur prior to the laws of Leviticus
which prohibited sexual relationships between close relatives. The Bible also makes several references to marriage of cousins. It should be noted however that cousins are not included in the list of "close relatives" prohibited from sexual relations by Levitican law (Lev 18: 7-24). Marriages between cousins can be found both before and after Leviticus and therefore should probably not be considered "incest" from a biblical perspective. Isaac's mariage to his second cousin would be permitted in most jurisdictions under modern law.
- Esau: Married two of his first cousins (sisters, daughters of his father's brother.) "And Esau went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had. (Gen 28:9) "Esau took his wives from the women of Canaan: Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah daughter of Anah and granddaughter of Zibeon the Hivite-- also Basemath daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth." (Gen 36:2-3)
- Jacob: Married two of his first cousins, daughters of his mother's brother. "Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel… he took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and Jacob lay with her Jacob lay with Rachel also" (Gen 29:16-30)
- Zelophehad's daughters married cousins: "So Zelophehad's daughters did as the Lord commanded Moses. Zelophehad's daughters ... married their cousins on their father's side." (Num 36: 10-11)