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§ 163, ANTIQUITY OF circumcision. 171
rewarded with presents, Job 3: 3. Jer. 20:15. This is the case at the present day in Persia. The MoTHER after the birth of a son was unclean for seven days, and during the thirty three days succeeding the seven of uncleanness remained at home. If a daughter were born, the number of the days of uncleanness and seclusion at home was doubled. After the expiration of this period, she went into the tabernacle or temple, and offered a lamb of a year old; or, if she were poor, two turtle doves, and two young pigeons, for a sacrifice of purification, Levit. 12:1–8. Luke 2: 22.
§ 162. CIRCUMCIsion.
The son, on the eighth day after its birth, was circumcised. By the fulfilment of this rite, it was consecrated to the service of the true God, Gen. 17:10, comp. Rom.4:11. This, no doubt, was the principal end of circumcision, but there do not appear to have been wanting other subsidiary objects, comp. John 7:23.
1. CIRCUMCIsIon was a preventive of the disease called the ANTHRAX or carbuncle. This disease originates from the impurities, which collect under the prepuce, and is fatal in its effects, Herodot. II. 45, Josephus against Apion, Il. 13, Philo on Circumcision.
II. CIRCUMcision may have had the beneficial tendency of increasing the population, for when the prepuce, in such a climate as that of Palestine, is long, it is an obstacle to fruitfulness. The pains, resulting from circumcision, if we may believe the Mohammedans, are severest on the third day, Gen. 34:25.
§ 163. ANTIQUITY OF CIRCUMCIsion.
The command, given in Gen. 17: 10–14, to practise circumcision, is expressed in such terms, as to leave it quite evident, that the rite in question was known previous to the time of Abraham. We learn from Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, and from the prophet Jeremiah, 9:25, 26, that in Egypt all the priests and not a few of the laity, were circumcised. No one certainly will undertake to say, that the Egyptians borrowed the rite from the Hebrews; and, if this were not the case, it seems to be a very plain
172. § 164. on the NAMing of childres.
and natural conclusion, that Abraham himself first learnt it in Egypt, Gen. 12; 10—15. If it be objected to this statement, that UNCIRCUMcision is denominated in Joshua 5:9, the reproach of Egypt, (expressions, which imply that the Egyptians were not circumcised,) the answer is, those expressions might be very naturally and very properly used, provided only a part of the Egyptians, as above stated, were circumcised ; inasmuch as the Hebrews esteemed circumcision an honour of such a high and indispensable nature, that it could not be withheld from a single individual, without discredit and disgrace, Gen. 34: 14. Josh. 5: 9. Jer. 9:24, 25. It ought to be remarked, however, that notwithstanding the high estimation in which the Hebrews held this rite, the numbers of them, who in the age of the Maccabees, took a part in the Gymmastick exercises of the Greeks and of course appeared naked on such occasions, considered circumcision a discredit to them; and, by an operation, described in Celsus Lib. VII. c. 25, and designated by the Greek verb situotto,06at, they contrived to restore the prepuce to its original form, 1 Macc. 1: 15. 1 Cor. 7: 18.
§ 164, ON THE NAMING of Children.
A NAME was given to the male child at the time of its circumcision, but it is probable previous to the introduction of that rite, that the name was given immediately after its birth. Among the orientals the appellations given as names are always significant. In the Old Testament, we find that the child was named in many instances from the circumstances of its birth, or from some peculiarities in the history of the family, to which it belonged, Gen. 16. 11. 19:37.25:25, 26. Exod. 2: 10, 18; 3, 4. Frequently the name was a compound one, one part being the name of the Deity, and among idolatrous nations the name of an idol. The following instances may be mentioned among others, and may stand as specimens of the whole, viz. Esaro, SAMUEL, hear God; roos, ApostJAH, God is lord ; posino, J osepech, God is just; >2<rs. Ethbaai, a Canaanitish name, the latter part of the compound being the name of the idol deity, Baal; nigston, BelshazzAR, Bel, (a Babylonish deity,) is ruler and king. Sometimes the name had a pro§ 165, concerning THE FIRST Bonn. 173
phetick meaning, Gen. 17: 15. Isa. 7:14. 8:3. Hos. 1: 4, 6,9. Matt. 1: 21. Luke 1: 13,60, 63.
In the later times NAMEs were selected from those of the progenitors of a family; hence in the New Testament, hardly any other than ancient names occur, Matt. 1: 12. Luke 1: 61. 3: 23. et seq. The inhabitants of the East very frequently change their names, and sometimes do it for very slight reasons. This accounts for the fact of so many persons having two names in Scripture, consult Ruth 1:20, 21. 1 Sam. 14:49, 31: 2. 1 Chron. 10: 2. Jud.6:32. 7: 1. 2 Sam. 23: 8. Kings and princes very often changed the names of those, who held offices under them, particularly when they first attracted their notice and were taken into their employ, and when subsequently they were elevated to some new station and crowned with additional honours, Gen. 41:45. 17: 5. 32:28. 35: 10. 2 Kgs. 23: 34, 35. 24; 17. Dan. 1:6. John 1:42. Mark 3:17. Hence a NAME, (a new name,) occurs tropically, as a token or proof of distinction and honour in the following among other passages, Philip. 2:9. Heb. 1:4. Rev. 2: 17. Sometimes the names of the dead were changed, for instance that of ABEL, bor!, a word, which signifies breath, or something transitory as a breath, given to him after his death in allusion to the shortness of his life, Gen. 2:8. Sometimes PROPER NAMEs are translated into other languages, losing their original form, while they preserve their signification. This appears to have been the case with the proper names, which occur in the eleven first chapters of Genesis, and which were translated into the Hebrew from a language still more ancient. The orientals in some instances, in order to distinguish themselves from others of the same name, added to their own name, the name of their father, grand-father, and even great grand father.
4. § 165. CoNCERNING THE FIRST Boan, n°3.
The first born, who was the object of special affection to his parents, was denominated by way of eminence, bryo onto, 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 firstborn as respected the second husband was the child, that was eldest by the second marriage. Before the time of Moses, the fath174 § 165, conceRNING THE FIRST BORN.
er might, if he chose, transfer the right of primogeniture to a younger child, but the practice occasioned much contention, Gen. 25:31, 32, and a law was enacted, overruling it, Deut. 21: 15–17. The first born inherited peculiar rights and privileges. I. 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. 48: 5–8. Deut. 21:17. This was done as a reprimand, and a punishment of his incestuous conduct, Gen. 35:22; but Reuben, notwithstanding, was enrolled as the first-born in the genealogical registers, 1 Chron. 5: 1. II. 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, Num. 3: 12–18. 8: 18. In consequence of this fact, that God had taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the first born 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, Num. 18: 15, 16, comp. Luke 2: 22, et seq. III. The first born enjoyed an authority over those, who were younger, similar to that possessed by a father, Gen. 25: 23, et seq. 2 Chron. 21: 3. Gen. 27:29. Exod. 12:29, which was transferred in the case of Reuben by Jacob their father to Judah, Gen. 49: 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 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, Is. 14:30. Ps. 89: 27. Rom. 8:29. Coloss. 1: 15–18. Heb. 12:23. Rev. 1: 5, 11. Job 18: 13.
§ 166. The NURTURE or children. 175
Ś 166. The NURTURE OF CHILDREN.
Mothers, in the earliest times, suckled, port, their offspring themselves, and that from thirty to thirty six months. The day when the child was weaned, was made a festival, Gen. 21: 8. Exod. 2: 7, 9. 1 Sam. 1: 22–24. 2 Chron. 31: 16. 2 Macc. 7:27, 28. Matt. 21: 16. Josephus, Antiq.11: 9. t Nurses, nipon, were employed, in case the mother died before the child was old enough to be weaned, and when from any circumstances she was unable to afford a sufficient supply of milk for its nourishment. In later ages, when matrons had become more delicate and thought themselves too infirm to fulfil the duties, which naturally devolved upon them, nurses were employed to take their place, and were reckoned among the principal members of the family. They are, accordingly, in consequence of the respectable station, which they sustained, frequently mentioned in sacred history, Gen. 35: 8. 2 Kgs. 11:2. 2 Chron. 22: 11. The sons remained till the fifth year in the care of the women; they then 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. 6: 20–25. 7:19. 11:19. 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. 1: 24–28, that there was a school near the holy Tabernacle, dedicated to the instruction of youth. There had been many other schools of this kind, which had fallen into discredit, but were restored again by the prophet Samuel; after whose time the members of the Seminaries in question, who were denominated by way of distinction the sons of the prophets, acquired no little notoriety. The daughters rarely departed from the apartments appropriated to the females, except when they went out with an urn, 12, to draw water, which was the practice with those, who belonged to those humbler stations in life, where the ancient simplicity of manners had not lost its prevalence, Exod. 2: 16. Gen. 24; 16. 29: 10, 1 Sam. 9:11, 12. John 4:9. They spent their time in learn