2

In biblical accounts, several figures, such as Isaac, are noted to have married at a relatively older age compared to today's standards. Isaac, for instance, married at the age of 40. Given the societal norms and the cultural backdrop of those times:

Is there any indication or evidence in traditional sources that figures like Isaac abstained from intimate relations until they were officially married? Were there any mentions or implications about their relationships or interactions with women prior to their recorded marriages? How did societal norms of their times view celibacy or waiting until marriage for intimate relations?

1
  • 2
    I imagine this question could be answered with some biblical figures (as has been proven already in the answers with Jacob), but I don’t think there’s an all-inclusive answer. I’d imagine most sources are silent on such matters, as there really isn’t a good way to know, since the Torah does not tell us or even hint to relationships outside of their marriages.
    – ezra
    Sep 28, 2023 at 10:02

3 Answers 3

9

I don't know the source off the top of my head, but I recall seeing a source (maybe a midrash) that says that when Yaakov conceived Reuvain not only was that his first time ever having intercourse it was the first time in his life he had ever had a seminal emmission. I believe he was in his 50s or 60s?

8
  • 3
    Here's the alley-oop: Gen. Rabbah 98:4 Sep 27, 2023 at 15:30
  • 4
    He was 84. And yes it was his first Emission. The pasuk says ראשית אוני. The number 84 is not random. According to the Ari zal one has to fast 84 times to be metaken zera levatala. Yaakov came to be metaken the Part of Adam that sinned sexually. Sep 27, 2023 at 15:32
  • 1
    @Deuteronomy swish judaism.stackexchange.com/a/137150/31534
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Sep 27, 2023 at 19:17
  • 2
    But it doesn't say this about Yitzchak. Or Moshe. Or lots of other greats. Seemingly this was unique to Yaakov and not relevant to the general question.
    – Double AA
    Sep 27, 2023 at 20:54
  • 1
    @DoubleAA that doesn't follow at all. What was unique to Yaakov was that he named a son with that intention. Other greats named their firstborns for other traits. (Besides, Yitzchak had twins, so even if he wanted to, that name wouldn't have been possible, since logically it would be equally applicable to both, and it would be weird to name them both the same thing.) The answer is on point. Sep 29, 2023 at 4:59
8
+50

Keep in mind that the Rambam (Ishus 1:1) states that before the giving of the Torah marriage was simply an act of intimacy with intent to marry. No formal ceremony. So your question is basically, "Were the patriarchs engaging in recreational sex." I do feel like I have to say that the early biblical figures were paragons of moral virtue.

That being said, in I think there are two proofs to your question (besides the midrash about Yaakov others quoted.) First, the medrash (quoted in Rashi to Genesis 37:2) says that among the accusations Joseph accused his brothers of was a claim of having relations with the local girls. Second, the incident with Yehuda and Tamar.

Putting these two together you get a picture that an accusation of a casual sexual relationship was considered to be a vicious slander, but under the right circumstances it wasn't something they viewed as forbidden.

(Generally, the nefesh hachaim says the avos kept the mitzvos but since it was pre-Torah if they saw the ratzon Hashem conflicted with the mitzvos of the Torah they would follow the ratzon Hashem.)

5

The pasuk says:

Genesis 49:3

רְאוּבֵן֙ בְּכֹ֣רִי אַ֔תָּה כֹּחִ֖י וְרֵאשִׁ֣ית אוֹנִ֑י יֶ֥תֶר שְׂאֵ֖ת וְיֶ֥תֶר עָֽז׃ Reuben, you are my first-born, My might and first fruit of my vigor, Exceeding in rank And exceeding in honor.

Rashi comments, quoting from Genesis Rabbah 98:

THE BEGINNING OF MY VIGOR — That is the first drop [of semen] (טִפָּה רִאשׁוֹנָה) as he had not experienced a seminal emission from all of his days [until that time] (Genesis Rabbah 98:4)

The wordinh "טִפָּה רִאשׁוֹנָה" indicated that he never had Sex before, never masturbated before and never saw an emission of semen.

The Pasuk speaks about Jacob, but Jacob was 84 when he married Leah while Isaac was between 40-60 when he first married/had relations with Rivkah. So KalVaChomer to your question.

7
  • 3
    But it doesn't say this about Yitzchak. Or Moshe. Or lots of other greats. Seemingly this was unique to Yaakov and not relevant to the general question.
    – Double AA
    Sep 27, 2023 at 20:53
  • 1
    @DoubleAA that doesn't follow at all. What was unique to Yaakov was that he named a son with that intention. Other greats named their firstborns for other traits. (Besides, Yitzchak had twins, so even if he wanted to, that name wouldn't have been possible, since logically it would be equally applicable to both, and it would be weird to name them both the same thing.) The answer is on point. Sep 29, 2023 at 4:58
  • 1
    @Ethan surely it's logically possible that everyone had this and Yaakov decided to name after a common thing. That doesn't sound very reasonable though. It would be like me naming my child "bipedal" to thank God for him having two legs.
    – Double AA
    Sep 29, 2023 at 11:52
  • 1
    @DoubleAA it would be strange for me to suggest that without evidence, except that we know it happened. Esav was named for his hair, Yaakov for his actions during birth. Sep 29, 2023 at 12:52
  • 1
    @EthanLeonard Yaakov's action during birth was unique! Esav's hair was unique!
    – Double AA
    Sep 29, 2023 at 12:53

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .