An Anthropological View on the Taboo Incest as a Mean for Maintaining Social and Family Order

DOI: 10.4236/aa.2019.94012   PDF   HTML   XML   584 Downloads   1,133 Views  


Incest was and is a universal taboo in human society. It is stigmatized as a deviation and leads to sanctions, in particular when minors are involved. Oral and written stories and narratives are stories that interpret and shape reality through the prism of power relations in society. In the present study, I carried out narrative analysis of incest stories in Hebrew Bible texts, those primordial stories and myths that shaped human society today. The article shows that incest was taboo from the onset, and is one of the seven Noahide laws. However, the social order was undermined already after the story of Creation: consanguineous marriages; sexual relations between a son and his stepmother, between a father and his daughters, and between a father and his daughter-in-law. The analysis shows that the brevity and ambiguity that characterize the Hebrew Bible “invited” interpretations and legends which biblical sages wrote over the generations. As a result, the text became part of a dynamic unit that forms new creations out of dialogue with the Book. Furthermore, the text is expropriated from the time axis and also serves as a relevant cultural work today. The feminist interpretation that attributes an important position to the reader enables reading that serves the feminist ideology and turns attention to subversive possibilities.

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Sharaby, R. (2019) An Anthropological View on the Taboo Incest as a Mean for Maintaining Social and Family Order. Advances in Anthropology, 9, 169-189. doi: 10.4236/aa.2019.94012.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this paper.


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