Mark 12:19

“Teacher, in our scriptures Moses decreed that, should a man’s brother die, leaving a widow but no child, the man should take the widow as his wife, and raise up a family for his brother.


there is not much more ironic
than using a disbelief
as a values test of someone else

we are now in the realm
of pure speculation unbounded
by protocols of engagement

control of the past
is a perk of the present
to trap any other future

if we start there
if we apply here
if we end anywhere

our ifs are not
ifs freed of wilderness
but lead us deeper

once begun in test
there is no end
but an end of learning


It may be helpful to remember the Mosaic legislation regarding a childless widow and any brothers of her deceased husband as found in Deuteronomy 25:5–10. In doing so it can be noted that the concern was with the maintaining of property within the family.

It is easy to read “trap” here even if it is not specifically stated because the reference has been dramatically changed from present property to future resurrectional relationships that are implicitly denied by the questioners.

Challenges to Jesus, his Disciples and today’s Readers of Mark rise to protect the property and finances of a ruling class. Challenges follow questions that are raised about domination by those currently in power. Jesus and his followers reveal the vanity of any status quo that requires harm be done in order to be maintained.

It is most likely that the question here comes from another story about Judah, his sons Er and Onan, and Tamar (Genesis 38). As an aside, Tamar’s story and Levirate marriage are only two places that throw into huge question any idea of what is currently meant by “traditional” family values and reveal it as cover for other agendas.

From whichever source the challenge arises, it is shaped to turn into a dualistic question limited to a “Yes” or a “No”. In that limitation, whether 4,000 years ago, or 2,000, or today, there seems to be no way out of a Gordian Knot of details and assumptions so interwoven that any direct response will be subject to “Gottcha!” It is often best to wait and listen for an earlier and deeper return question.

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