A story with seven brothers dying after marrying the same woman has to have some answer, so we will attempt to resurrect a situation to accommodate the Sadducees question: “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers…. At the resurrection whose wife will she be (Mark 12:19-23 NIV).”
Which husband is going to stand up and be accountable for her? Good question. Let’s ask those who think husbands are going to stand up and account for their wives.
To understand this story we must have seven husbands dying, with the widow being married off to her brothers-in-law after each death, according to the Levirate Law so she could give her dead husband heirs. It is unlikely that the remaining six brothers were unmarried, so now we have the widow marrying several men who were already married and had a passel of kids.
This is how an improbable illustration goes, with each husband accounting for his wife for the short time she was his wife. For the story’s sake, the husbands make their accounting as soon as they arrive in Heaven.
The first husband stands before God to account for his widow: “She was so pretty, a little flighty, not given to good sense. In fact it was she who made me fall into the water. You see, I told her I could step out of the boat and walk on water, and, being a woman, she told me that I couldn’t. I stepped out just to show her that I could. She made me do it. I would not have done such a thing if she hadn’t told me I couldn’t.”
The second brother husband: “Well, you know I had to marry her because my fool brother went and got himself drowned because of her. She didn’t have any kids yet, and she wanted a boy to carry on my brother’s name. She got real sassy and burned the biscuits, and I had to teach her a lesson or two. Things were going along pretty good until I stepped out in front of that donkey I bought her to help her do her chores.”
The third brother husband: “I knew it wasn’t going to work almost as soon as I married her. She and Josephine and Zaphora didn’t get along. She never tried to fit in. She was always causing some kind of ruckus in the household. One day I came in and Josephine and Zaphora were chasing her out of the kitchen with a knife. I came between them and the knife hit me instead of her. Just one wrong move, and I got here first.”
The fourth brother husband: “The law said I had to do it, so I took her and Josephine in since neither of them had children. Zaphora ran off with the butcher, so I didn’t have her to worry about. But this wife! She made me pick up my own clothes, which is women’s work. But I tried to pacify her. I gave her a little spending money, not as much as I gave Josephine, because I had a fondness for Josephine, and she was special to me. Mr. Nice Guy, that’s me. In fact, I was being nice to her that day when she was walking because Josephine was pregnant and needed to ride. I was trying to help her after she accidentally slipped and fell into the ditch and grabbed onto me, but she pulled me down with her, and I hit my head on that rock and woke up here.”
The fifth one: “The little witch! Now they expected me to marry her. Oh, she was still pretty. But she had a mind of her own. Wouldn’t do a thing I told her to do. I already had seven children, and I thought my wife could use a little help around the house, so, like the law said, I married her and took her in. I couldn’t help it if the wife and kids did not like her. She was in the shed for only a few days. I was trying to teach her a lesson, but she was stubborn, just about tore the dang shed down, and when I ran inside to get her, the roof fell in on my head.”
Number six: “Look, it came down to this. I married her. She would not do anything right. She even wanted me to do all the work. Told me that I had to stay home at least two nights a week or she would never get with child. I couldn’t give up my friends. But, boy that woman sure could cook. Started making the best pies and fried eggs you ever ate. I had to set her straight every now and then, but making up was pure joy. Date cakes and puddings and eggs like they were going out of style. Guess I overdid it a little on the sweets, and here I am.”
The seventh, and last, brother stands before God to account for his wife: “I can’t really tell you much about her. We married one day, and I left for Egypt the next. You know, what with the other brothers and their untimely deaths and all. Last I heard she had taken up with some group that was following an itinerant preacher who was filling her head with some nonsense about her being equal.”