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Then shall his brother's wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother's house.

New Defender's Study Bible Notes

25:9 spit in his face. Even if the brother-in-law was married, it was then considered acceptable for a man to have more than one wife. It was also considered almost tragic for a man to die without an heir to carry on his name. The Levirate marriage was the accepted way of giving him an appropriate heir, and for a brother to refuse to take on this responsibility was considered shameful, warranting this display of contempt by the widow.

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