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because of the hardness of their hearts, prohibiting only the high-priest to have more than one wife.
Every transgression of the divine law is attended by its corresponding punishment. Polygamy has proved in all ages, and in all countries where it has been suffered, a teeming source of evil. The jealousy and bitter contentions in the family of Abraham, and of his grandson Jacob, which proceeded from that cause, are well known; and still more de plorable were the dissensions which convulsed the house, and shook the throne of David. Such mischiefs are the natural and necessary effects of the practice; for polygamy divides the affections of the husband, and by consequence, generates incurable jealousies and contentions among the unhappy victims of his licentious desires. To prevent his abode from becoming the scene of unceasing confusion and uproar, he is compelled to govern it, as the oriental polygamist still does, with despotie authority, which at once extinguishes all the rational and most endearing comforts of the conjugal state. The husband is a stern and unfeeling despot; his harem, a group of trembling slaves. The children espouse, with ardour unknown to those who are placed in other circumstances, the cause of their own mother, and look upon the children of the other wives as strangers or enemies. They regard their common father with indifference or terror; while they cling to their own mother with the fondest affection, as the only parent in whom they feel any interest, or from whom they expect any suitable return of attention and kindness. This state of fecling and attachment, is attested by every writer on the manners of the east: and accounts for a way of speaking so common in the Scriptures, “ It is my brother, and the son of my mother.” “They were my brethren," said Gideon, “the sons of my mother; as the Lord liveth, if ye had saved them alive, I would not slay you *." It greatly aggravated the affliction of David, that he had become an alien to his mother's children t; the enmity of his * Judg viii. 19.
+ Psa. lxix. 8
brethren, the children of his father's other wives, or his more distant relatives, gave him less concern; “I am become a stranger to my brethren, and an alien to my mother's children." The same allusion occurs in the complaint of the spouse: “Look not upon me because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother's children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards *." The children of one wife, scarcely looked upon the children of the other wives as their brothers and sisters at all; and they scarcely felt more regard for their father. An oriental, in
An oriental, in consequence of this unnatural practice, takes little notice of an insult offered to his father ; but expresses the utmost indignation when a word is spoken to the disadvantage of his mother. To defame or to curse her, is the last insult which his enemy can offer; and one which he seldom or never forgives. “Strike," cried an incensed African to his antagonist, “but do not curse my mother t."
Marriage contracts seem to have been made in the primitive ages with little ceremony. The suitor himself, or his father, sent a messenger to the father of the woman, to ask her in mar, riage. Abraham sent the principal servant of his household, with a considerable retinue and costly presents, to the city of Nahor, to take a wife unto his son Isaac, from among his relations. The father of the suitor sometimes solicited the person whom he had chosen for his wife ; for Hamor, the father of Shechem, went out unto Jacob, to treat with him about the marriage of Dinah to his son, the heir of his house, and the hope of his family. If the woman resided under her father's roof, the parents were consulted, and their consent obtained; and then the damsel was asked if she agreed to the proposal. The servant of Abraham stated the design of his journey to Bethuel and Laban, the father and brother of Rebecca, and so licited their consent; and when they had agreed to his request, they said, “ we will call the damsel and inquire at her mouth. Song 1. 6. see also ch, viii. 1, 2..
+ Park's Trav. vol. 1.
And they called Rebecca, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man ? And she said I will go."
The kings and nobles of Israel were not more ceremonious on these occasions When David heard that Nabal was dead, he sent messengers to Abigail to solicit her hand in marriage : “ And they spake unto her, saying, David sent us unto thee to take thee to him to wife. And she arose and bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of
lord *.” After the death of Urijah, the same prince sent and fetched Bathsheba to his house, and she became his wife. This entirely corresponds with the manner in which the oriental princes generally form their matrimonial alliances. The king of Abyssinia “sends an officer to the house where the lady lives, who announces to her, that it is the king's pleasure she should remove instantly to the palace. She then dresses herself in the best manner, and immediately obeys. Thenceforward he assigns her an apartment in the palace, and gives her an house elsewhere, in any part she chooses. The nearest resemblance to marriage is when he makes her iteghe, or queen ; for whether in the court or in the camp, he orders one of the judges to pronounce in his presence, that he, the king, has chosen his handmaid, naming her, for his queen ; upon which the crown is put upon her head, but she is not anointed t."
In the primitive ages, women received no portions from their relations when they were married; but were purchased by their husbands, whose presents to the woman's relations were called her dowry. Thus; we find Shechem bargaining with Jacob and his sons for Dinah : “ Let me find grace in your eyes, and what shall
say unto me, I will give : Ask me never so much dowry and gift, and I will give according as ye shall say anto me; but give me the damsel to wife t." The practice still continues in the country of Shechem; for when a young Arab wishes to marry, he must purchase his wife ; and for this
• 1 Sam. xxv, 40, 41. + Bruce's Trav, I Gen, xxxiv, 2.
reason, fathers, among the Arabs, are never more happy than when they have many daughters. They are reckoned the principal riches of a house. An Arabian suitor will offer fifty sheep, six camels, or a dozen of cows; if he be not rich enough to make such offers, he proposes to give a mare or a colt; considering in the offer, the merit of the young woman, the rank of her family, and his own circumstances. When they are agreed on both sides, the contract is drawn up by him that acts as cadi or judge among these Arabs. In some parts of the east, a measure of corn is formally mentioned in contracts for their concubines, or temporary wives, besides the sum of money which is stipulated by way of dowry. This custom is probably as ancient as concubinage, with which it is connected; and if so, it will perhaps account for the prophet Hosea's purchasing a wife of this kind, for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley *.
When the intended husband was not able to give a dowry, he offered an equivalent. The patriarch Jacob who came to Laban with only his staff, offered to serve him seven years for Rachel; a proposal which Laban accepted. Saul, instead of a dowry, required David to bring him an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, under the pretence of avenging himself of his enemies. This custom has prevailed in later times; for in some countries they give their daughters in marriage to the most valiant men, or those who should bring them so many heads of the people with whom they happen to be at war
It is recorded of a nation in Carmania, that no man among them was permitted to marry, till he had first brought the head of an enemy to the king. Aristotle admits, that the ancient Grecians were accustomed to buy their wives; but they no sooner began to lay aside their barbarous manners, than this disgusting practice ceased, and the custom of giving portions to their sons-in-law, was substituted in its place. In like manner, the Romans, in the first ages of their history, pur,
# Chardin's Trav. Vol. II.
chased their wives ; but afterwards, they required the wife to bring a portion to the husband, that he might be able to bear the charges of the matrimonial state more easily.
The contract of marriage was made in the house of the woman's father, before the elders and governors of the city or district. The manner of contracting or espousing was various. Sometimes the man put a piece of money into the woman's hand before witnesses, and said, Be thou espoused to me according to the law of Moses and Israel ; or it was done by writing, which was no more than writing the same words with the woman's name, and delivering it to her before witnesses ; or lastly, by cohabitation, when the law obliged the man to marry her whom he had dishonoured, if her father gave his consent. They had also several forms of betrothing in Greece ; of which one is quoted by Clemens of Alexandria, out of Menander: I give you this my daughter, to make you father of children lawfully begotten. According to Xenophon, the dowry was sometimes mentioned; for when Cyaxares betrothed his daughter to Cyrus, he addressed him in these words: I give you, Cyrus, this woman, who is my daughter, with all Media for her dowry.
The espousals by money, or a written instrument, were performed by the man and woman under a tent or canopy erected for that purpose. Into this chamber the bridegroom was accustomed to go with his bride, that he might talk with her more familiarly ; which was considered as a ceremony of confirmation to the wedlock. While he was there, no person was allowed to enter ; his friends and attendants waited for him at the door, with torches and lamps in their hands; and when he came out, he was received by all that were present with great joy and acclamation. To this ancient custom, the Psalmist alludes in his magnificent description of the heavens: “
In them he set a tabernacle for the sun; which as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, rejoices as a strong man to run a
* Psa, xix. 4,