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request of Sarah. It appears that Samson's father-in-law understood that his daughter had been divorced, since he gave her to another. (Judg. xv. 2.) The Levite's wife, who was dishonoured at Gibeah, had forsaken her husband, and never would have returned, if he had not gone in pursuit of her. !. xix. 2, 3.) Solomon speaks of a libertime woman, who had forsaken her husband, the director of her youth, and (by doing so contrary to her nuptial vows) had forgotten the covenant of her God. (Prov. ii. 17.) Ezra and Nehemiah obliged a great number of the Jews to dismiss the foreign women, whom they had married contrary to the law (Ezra x. 11, 12. 19.): but our Saviour has limitted the permission of divorce to the single case of adultery. (Matt. v. 31, 32.) Nor was this limitation unnecessary; for, at that time it was common for the Jews to dissolve this sacred union upon very slight and trivial pretences. The Pharisees, we read, came to our Lord, and said to him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause,_sor any thing whatever that may be disagreeable in her 2 Upon our Lord's answer to this inquiry, that it was not lawful for a man to repudiate his wife, except for her violation of the conjugal honour, the disciples (who had been educated in Jewish prejudces and principles,) hearing this, said—If the case of the man be so with his wife, if he be not allowed to divorce her except only for adultery, it is not good to marry' (Matt. xix. 10.) This facility in procuring divorces, and this caprice and levity among the Jews, in dissolving the matrimonial connection, is confirmed by Josephus, and unhappily verified in his own example : for he tells us that he repudiated his wife, though she was the mother of three children, because he was not pleased with her manners."
1 Josephus de Vita sua. Op. tom. ii. p. 39. ed. Havercamp.
o, CHAPTER IV. BIRTH, EDUCATION, ETC. OF CHILDREN. I. Child-birth.--Circumtcision.—Naming of the Child.—II. Privileges of the First-born.-III. Nurture of Children.—IV. Power # the Father over his Children.—Disposition of his Property.— V. Adoption. I. IN the East (as indeed in Switzerland and some other parts of Europe, where the women are very robust,) child-birth is to this day an event of but little difficulty; and mothers were originally the only assistants of their daughters, as any further aid was deemed unnecessary. This was the case of the Hebrew women in Egypt (Exod. i. i9.); midwives were employed only in cases of extraordinary difficulty. From Ezek. xvi. 4., it appears to have been the custom, to wash the child as soon as it was born, to rub it with salt, and to wrap it in swaddling clothes. The birth-day of a son was celebrated as a festival, which was solemnised every succeeding year with renewed demonstrations of festivity and joy, especially those of sovereign princes. (Gen. xl. 20. Job i. 4. Matt. xiv. 6.) The birth of a son or of a daughter rendered the mother ceremonially unclean for a certain period; at the expiration of which she went into the tabernacle or temple, and offered the accustomed sacrifice of purification, viz. a lamb of a year old, or, if her circumstances would not afford it, two turtle doves and two young pigeons. (Lev. xii. 1–8. Luke ii. 22.) On the eighth day after its birth, the son was circumcised, by which rite it was consecrated to the service of the true God (Gen. xvii. 10. compared with Rom. iv. 11.): on the nature of circumcision, see pp. 257–259. supra. At the same time, the male child received a name (as we have already remarked in p.259.): in many instances he received a name from the circumstances of his birth, or from some peculiarities in the history of the family to which he belonged (Gen. xvi. 11. xxv. 25, 26. Exod. ii. 10. xviii. 3, 4.); and sometimes the name had a prophetic meaning. (Isa. vii. 14. viii. 3. Hos. i. 4. 6.. 9. Matt. i. 21. Luke i. 13. 60. 63.) II. The First-born, who was the object of special affection to his parents, was denominated by way of eminence, Drn into the opening of the womb. In case a man married with a widow, who by a previous marriage had become the mother of children, the first-born as respected the second husband was the child that was eldest by the second marriage. Before the time of Moses, the father might, if he chose, transfer the right of primogeniture to a younger child, but the practice occasioned much contention (Gen. xxv. 31, 32.), and a law was enacted overruling it. (Deut. xxi. 15–17.). . . The first-born inherited peculiar rights and privileges.—1. He received a double portion of the estate. Jacob in the case of Reuben, his first-born, bestowed his additional portion upon Joseph, by adopting his two sons. (Gen. xlviii. 5–8. Deut. xxi. 17.) This was done as a reprimand, and a punishment of his incestuous conduct (Gen. xxxv. *}. but Reuben, notwithstanding, was enrolled as the first-born in the genealogical registers. (1 Chron. v. 1.)— 2. The first-born was the priest of the whole family. The honour of exercising the priesthood was transferred, by the command of God communicated through Moses, from the tribe of Reuben, to whom it belonged by right of primogeniture, to that of Levi. (Numb. ii. 12–18. viii. 18.) In consequence of this fact, that God had taken the Levites from among the children of Israel, instead of all the firstborn, to serve him as priests, the first-born of the other tribes were to be redeemed, at a valuation made by the priest not exceeding five shekels, from serving God in that capacity. (Numb. xviii. 15, 16. compare with Luke ii. 22. et seq.)—3. The first-born enjoyed an authority over those, who were younger, similar to that possessed by a father (Gen. xxv. 23. et seq. 2 Chron. xxi. 3. Gen. xxvii. 29. Exod. xii. 29.), which was transferred in the case of Reuben by Jacob their father to Judah. (Gen. xlix. 8–10.) The tribe of Judah, accordingly, even before it gave kings to the Hebrews, was every where distinguished from the other tribes. In consequence of the authority, which was thus attached to the first-born, he was also made the successor in the kingdom. There was an exception to this rule in the case of Solomon, who, though a younger brother, was made his successor by David at the special appointment of God. It is very easy to see in view of these facts, how the word, first-born, came to express sometimes a great, and sometimes the highest dignity. (Isa. xiv. 30. Psal. lxxxix. 27. Rom. viii. 29. Coloss. i. 15–18. Heb. xii. 23. Rev. i. 5. 11. Job xviii. 13.)
III. In the earliest ages, mothers suckled their offspring them. selves, and, it should seem from various passages of Scripture, until they were nearly or quite three years old : on the day the child was weaned, it was usual to make a feast. (2 Macc. vii. 27. 1 Sam, i. 22 —24. Gen. xxi. 8.) The same custom of feasting obtains in Persia to this day." In case the mother died before the child was old enough to be weaned, or was unable to rear it herself, nurses were employed: and also in later ages when matrons became too delicate or too infirm to perform the maternal duties. These nurses were reckoned among the principal members of the family; and, in consequence of the respectable station which they sustained, are frequently mentioned in sacred history. See Gen. xxxv. 8. 2 Kings xi. 2. 2 Chron. xxii. 11.
The sons remained till the fifth year in the care of the women; then they came into the father's hands, and were taught not only the arts and duties of life, but were instructed in the Mosaic law, and in all parts of their country's religion. (Deut. vi. 20–25. vii. 19. xi. 19.) Those, who wished to have them further instructed, provided they did not deem it preferable to employ private teachers, sent them away to some priest or Levite, who sometimes had a number of other children to instruct. It appears from 1 Sam. i. 24 –28., that there was a school near the holy tabernacle, dedicated to the instruction of youth. The daughters rarely departed from the apartments appropriated to the females, except when they went out with an urn to draw water, which was the practice with those, who belonged to those humbler stations of life, where the antient simplicity of manners had not lost its prevalence. (Exod. ii. 16. Gen. xxiv. 16. xxix. 10. 1 Sam. ix. 11, 12. John iv. 9.) They spent their time in learning those domestic and other arts, which are befitting a woman's situation and character, till they arrived at that period in life, when they were to be sold, or by a better fortune given away in marriage. (Prov. xxxi. 13. 2 Sam. xiii. 7.) The daughters of those, who by their wealth had been elevated to high stations in life, so far from going out to draw water in urns, might be said to spend the whole of their time within the walls of their palaces. In imitation of their mothers, they were occupied with dressing, with singing, and with dancing; and, if we may judge from the representations of modern travellers, their apartments were sometimes the scenes of vice. (Ezek. xxiii. 18.) They went abroad but very rarely, as already intimated, and the more rarely, the higher they were in point of rank, but they received with cordiality female visitants. The virtues of a good woman, of one that is determined, whatever her station, to discharge each incumbent duty and to avoid the frivolities and vices at which we have briefly hinted, are mentioned in terms of approbation and praise in Prov. xxxi. 10–31. .. - - IV. The authority to which a father was entitled, extended not only to his wife, to his own children, and to his servants of both sexes, but to his children's children also. It was the custom antiently for sons newly married to remain at their father's house, unless it had been their fortune to marry a daughter, who, having no brothers, was heiress to an estate ; or unless by some trade or by commerce, they had acquired sufficient property to enable them to support their own family. It might of course be expected, while they lived in their father's house and were in a manner the pensioners on his bounty, that he would exercise his authority over the children of his sons, as well as over the sons themselves. If it be asked, “What the power of the father was in such a case?” the answer is, that it had no narrow limits, and, whenever he found it necessary to resort to measures of severity, he was at liberty to inflict the extremity of punishment. (Gen. xxi. 14. xxxviii. 24.) This power was so restricted by Moses, that the father, if he judged the son worthy of death, was bound to bring the cause before a judge. But he enacted at the same time, that the judge should pronounce sentence of death upon the son, if on inquiry it could be proved, that he had beaten or cursed his father or mother, or that he was a spendthrift, or saucy, or contumacious, and could not be reformed. (Exod. xxi. 15.17. Lev. xx. 9. Deut. xxi. 18–21. The authority of the parents, and the service and love due to them, are recognised in the most prominent and fundamental of the moral laws of the Jewish polity, viz. the Ten Commandments. (Exod. xx. 12.) The son, who had acquired property, was commanded to exhibit his gratitude to his parents, not only by words and in feeling, but by gifts. (Matt. xv. 5, 6. Mark vii. 11—13.) The power of the father over his offspring in the antient times was not only very great for the time being, and while he sojourned with them in the land of the living; but he was allowed also to cast his eye into the future, and his prophetic curse or blessing, possessed no little efficacy. (Gen. xix. 2—28.) *It appears from 1 Kings xx. 1. (marginal rendering) that, in the disposition of his effects, the father expressed his last wishes or will in the presence of witnesses, and probably in the presence of the future heirs. Testaments were not written until long after that period. The following regulations obtained in the disposition of property. 1. As it respected sons:—The property or estate of the father, after his decease, fell into the possession of his sons, who divided it among themselves equally; with this exception, that the eldest son received two portions. It appears, however, from Luke xv. 12. that sons might demand and receive their portion of the inheritance during their father's lifetime; and that the parent, though aware of the dissipated inclinations of the child, could not legally refuse the application. 2. As it respected the sons of concubines:—The portion, which was given to them, depended altogether upon the feelings of the father. Abraham gave presents, to what amount is not known, both to Ishmael and to the sons whom he had by Keturah, and sent them away before his death. It does not appear that they had any other portion in the estate: but Jacob made the sons, whom he had by his concubines, heirs as well as the others. (Gen. xxi. 8 —21. xxv. 1–6. xlix. 1–27.) Moses laid no restrictions upon the choice of fathers in this respect; and we should infer that the sons of concubines for the most part received an equal share with the other sons, from the fact, that Jephtha, the son of a concubine, complained, that he was excluded without any portion from his father's house. (Judg. xi. 1–7.) 3. As it respected daughters —The daughters not only had no portion in the estate, but, if they were unmarried, were considered as making a part of it, and were sold by their brothers into matrimony. In case there were no brothers, or they all had died, they took the estate (Numb. xxvii. 1–8.): if any one died intestate, and without any offspring, the property was disposed of according to the enactments in Numb. xxvii. 8–11. 4. As it respected servants:—The servants or the slaves in a family could not claim any share in the estate as a right, but the person, who made a will, might, if he chose, make them his hers. (Comp. Gen. xv. 3.) Indeed in some instances, those who had heirs, recognised as such by the law, did not deem it unbecoming to be
1 Morier's Second Journey, p. 107.