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§ 151. PolyGAMY. 161
fered, fifty shekels, Exod. 22: 16. Deut. 22: 23–29. This law seems to have originated in an ancient custom, alluded to in Gen. 34:1–12. Finally, to secure the great object, he enacted, IV. That a person, who when married was not found to be a virgin, as she professed before marriage, should be stoned before her father's house, Deut. 22:20, 21. These laws, it must be admitted, were severe, but prostitutes of both sexes, notwithstanding their severity, were set apart in the time of the kings for the service of idols, Prov. 2: 16–19. 5: 3–6. 7: 5–27. Amos 2:7, 7: 17. Jer. 3: 2. 5: 7. 1 Kgs. 14:24. 15: 12, &c.
§ 151. PolyGAMy.
By the same primeval institution, just now referred to, polygamy was also forbidden. Lamech is the first mentioned, as having two wives, and the example which he set, found no lack of imitators, see Gen. 4: 19, compared with Matt. 19: 4–8. After the deluge the example of Noah and his sons was a good one, but it was not followed. Polygamy very much prevailed among the Hebrews in the time of Moses, as we may gather from the fact, that the first born of six hundred and three thousand, five hundred and fifty men above twenty years of age amounted merely to the number of twenty two thousand, three hundred and seventy three, Num. 3:42. That this evil might in progress of time be diminished, Moses gave a narration, how the institution originally stood, Gen. 1:27, 28. 2:23, 24, stated the first transgression of it, Gen. 4: 29, and the inconveniences, which had subsequently resulted from having a plurality of wives, Gen. 16:4—10.30: 1–3, 15, evils, which travellers in eastern countries assure us are very great.
II. He interdicted to the kings, whom the Hebrews should thereafter elect, a multiplicity of wives. It is true he did not say precisely how many they should have, but probably meant the number should be limited by the custom of his time. Perhaps, therefore, the number was four, which is the exposition, advanced by the Rabbins and Mohammedans, and is in a measure supported by the example of Jacob, Deut. 17: 17.
III. He obligated the husband to bestow himself at certain times upon each one of his wives, Exod. 21: 10, 11, compared
with Gen. 30: 14–16, perhaps a week at a time upon each, as is 162 § 152. The choice of A wife.
the custom to this day in the East. He excepted, however, the season of the menses, when sexual intercourse was prohibited on penalty of punishment with death, either because the offspring of such intercourse were supposed to be leprous, or for some other reason it was deemed injurious. IV. The uncleanness, contracted by sexual connection continued through a whole day, Lev. 15: 18. Under these circumstances a man could not well have more than four wives; and in progress of time polygamy was much diminished.
§ 152. The choice of A WIFE.
The father of a family selected wives for his sons, and husbands for his daughters, Gen. 21:21. 24; 31. Exod. 21:9. Deut. 22: 16. Jud. 14: 1–4. If a son had a preference for any person as his wife, he asked his father to obtain her from her father, Gen. 34: 2–5. Jud. 14: 1, 2. We may, therefore, well conclude, that the expressions in Jer. 31:22, and Isa. 4: 1, 2, are descriptive of a very great scarcity of men. But the father could not marry the daughter without the consent of the brothers, Gen. 24: 50, 34: 11—27. 2 Sam. 13: 20–29. comp. Gen. 12: 11—13. 20: 2–6. 26: 7–17. The restraints, by which the fathers of families were limited in making choice of wives for their children, are mentioned in Lev. 18; 7–18. 20: 11—20. Intermarriages, moreover, were prohibited with the Canaanites, for fear that the Hebrews should be seduced to idolatry, Exod. 34:15, 16. Deut. 7: 3. The law was extended by Ezra and Nehemiah to intermarriages with all foreigners, on the ground that there was as much danger of contamination from other nations in their time, as there was from the Canaanites anciently, Ezra 9: 2–12. 10: 3. Neh. 13: 23. It was not lawful for a priest to marry a prostitute, a divorced, or a profane woman, and in the case of a high priest the interdiction was extended to widows, and to women of foreign extraction, Lev. 21: 7, 13, 14. Daughters, who through a want of brothers were heiresses to an estate, were commanded to marry some one of their own tribe, and indeed some kinsman, if possible, of more or less remote relationship, lest the estate should go to another tribe or family, Num. 27: 1–11, 36:1–12.
§ 153. The MARRIAGE vow ANd Dowry. 163
§ 153. THE MARRIAGE Wow And Downy.
The marriage vow, tools, was a covenant between the father and the brothers of the bride, and the father of the bridegroom, made in the presence of witnesses. At a somewhat recent period, the covenant was committed to writing, and was sometimes confirmed by the additional precaution of an oath, Prov. 2: 17. Ezek. 16:8. Matt. 2: 14. A reference seems to have been had to this oath in the nuptial sacrifices, of which mention is made by Josephus, Antiq. IV. 8:23. By the marriage vow or covenant, not only the wedlock was confirmed, but the amount of presents was determined, which was to be given to the brothers; and also the dowry, orth, which went to the father, for the bride formerly was estimated at a certain price, Gen. 29: 18, 27. 34: 11, 12. Jos. 15: 16. 1 Sam. 18: 23–26, which varied according to circumstances. In the time of Moses the medium estimation was thirty shekels, and the highest fifty, Deut. 22: 29, comp. Hos. 3: 1, 2. Wives, who were thus purchased, were too apt to be regarded as mere servants by their husbands, though there are not wanting instances, where they obtained the ascendency and reduced their husbands to subjection, 1 Sam: 25: 19–30, 1 Kgs. 11: 2–5. 19: 1, 2.21: 7, 8. The honour, which is now rendered to the female sex, originates from the instructions of the Apostles, and the only fear is, lest it should become too great, Eph. 5: 25–33. 1 Peter 3: 7.
The wife, who was freely given up by her father, without his receiving for her any pecuniary compensation, was the more highly esteemed, and being herself conscious of her dignity, she arrogated not a little in her own behalf, Gen. 16: 5, 6.21: 9–11, comp. 31: 15. Some obtained a wife, as the reward of their bravery, Jos. 15: 15–19. Jud. 1: 15.1 Sam. 18: 24–27; and it was sometimes, though rarely the case, that the bride, instead of being purchased by the bridegroom, received a dowry from her father, Jos. 15: 18, 19. Jud. 1: 16, 17. 1 Kgs. 9:16.
164 § 154. CELEBRATION of NUPTIALs.
154. CELEBRATION of NUPTIALs.
There was commonly an interval of ten or twelve months between the time, when the agreement to marry was made and the time when the marriage was celebrated, Gen. 24: 55. Jud. 14: 8. From the time of the agreement, till its consummation by marriage, although there was no intercourse between the bride and bridegroom, not even so much as an interchange of conversation, they were, nevertheless, considered and spoken of as man and wife. If at the close of this probationary period, the bridegroom were unwilling for any cause to solemnize his engagements by the marriage of the bride, he was bound to give her a bill of divorce, the same as if she had been his wife. If the bride on the contrary could be convicted of having had any illicit intercourse with any person between the period of the promise and its consummation, she was condemned to be stoned, the same as if she had been married, Matt. 1: 18–20. Luke 2: 5.
When the day of marriage had arrived, the bride, having previously visited the bath, adorned herself very richly with the choicest of those ornaments, which are considered appropriate to the women. Her head was encircled with a crown; a fact, which is a sufficient reason of itself, why H.2, which primarily means a person that is crowned, should possess the secondary signification of a bride. It was the duty of the bridegroom to see, that a feast was made ready on the occasion, and in case he was a person of wealth, it was customarily prolonged through the week, Jud. 14:17. About evening, the bridegroom, clothed in the festival robe, Is. 61: 10, attended with a company of young men of about the same age, titots tow vuugovog, and cheered with songs and instrumental musick, conducted from her father's house the bride, who was in like manner surrounded with virgins of her own age, to his father's house, Jud. 14: 11–16. 1 Macc. 9: 37–47. John 3:29, comp. Jer. 7: 34. 25: 10. 33: 11. In the time of Christ, whenever the bride was conducted by the bridegroom and his attendants to the house of the bridegroom's father, in case it was evening, the way before them was lighted by the second sort of flambeaux, that are mentioned in the fortieth section; as we learn not only from the statement in the Talmud, but also from intimations in § 155, concUBINEs. 165
Matt. 25: 1–10. Having arrived at the place, where the nuptials were to be celebrated, the men began to indulge themselves in feasting and conviviality; while the women, who were assembled in an apartment appropriated to themselves, were equally prompt in partaking of the feast, and in the exhibition of their gaiety and cheerfulness. At length the nuptial blessing, viz. a numerous offspring, was implored upon the parties concerned, Gen. 24: 60. Ruth 4:11, 12; a ceremony, which, simple and concise as it was, appears anciently to have been the only one, that was performed at the consummation of the marriage. At a later period, there were probably some additional ceremonies, for we read in Tobit 7: 15, that the father took the right hand of his beautiful daughter, and placed it in the right hand of the young Tobias, before he uttered his solemn and impressive blessing. The spouse, who to this time had been veiled from head to foot, was at last led into the bed chamber, Hon.
The ceremonies, mentioned in the preceding section, took place only in case of the marriage of a wife properly so called. ConcUBINEs, (some of whom had previously acted in the humble capacity of maid servants and others were females, who had possessed their freedom,) were sometimes permanently associated by mutual consent with individuals of the other sex; but, although this connexion was in fact a marriage, and a legitimate one, it was not, nevertheless, celebrated and confirmed by the ceremonies above related. The concubine thus associated had a right to claim the privileges of a wife; and it was no longer in the power of her husband to dispose of her by publick sale, even if she had previously been his slave, Deut. 20:10–12. In order to prevent worse consequences, FATHERs frequently gave concubines to their sons; and, whenever this was the case, they were bound by the laws of the state to treat them with the same tenderness, that they would a daughter or daughter in law, Exod. 21: 9–12. If a woman were made captive in war, she was allowed a month, as a period in which she was at liberty to mourn the loss of her parents and friends; and neither father nor son was permitted to take her as a concubine, till the expiration of that time, Deut 20: 10–14.