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176 § 167. The power of the Father.
ing those domestick 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. 31: 13. 2 Sam. 13: 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. 23: 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 Proverbs 31: 10–31.
§ 167. The Power of THE FATHER.
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 anciently 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. 21: 14.38:24. 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 § 168. of THE TESTAMENT or will. 177
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. 21:15, 17. Lev. 20:9. Deut. 21: 18–21. The authority of the parents, and the service and love due to them, are recognized in the most prominent and fundamental of the moral laws of the Jewish polity, viz. the Ten Commandments, Exod. 20: 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. 15: 5, 6. Mark 7: 11—13. The power of the father over his offspring in the ancient 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 prophetick curse or blessing possessed no little efficacy, Gen. 49: 2–28.
§ 168. OF THE TESTAMENT or WiLL.
I. As respected sons. The property or estate of the father fell after his decease into the possession of his sons, who divided it among themselves equally; with this exception, that the eldest son received two portions. The father expressed his last wishes or Will in the presence of witnesses, and probably in the presence of the heirs, 2 Kgs. 20:1. At a recent period the Will was made out in writing.
II. As respected the sons of Concubines. The portion, that was given to the sons of concubines, 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. 21: 8–21. 25: 1–6. 49: 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, Jud. 11: 1–7.
III. As respected daughters. The daughters not only had no 178 § 169. Respecting slaves.
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, Num. 27: 1–8. If any one died intestate, and without any offspring, the property was disposed of according to Num, 27: 8–11. IV. As 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 heirs, comp. Gen. 15:3. Indeed in some instances, those who had heirs, recognized as such by the law, did not deem it unbecoming to bestow the whole or a portion of their estates on faithful and deserving servants, Prov. 17:2. V. As respected widows. The widow of the deceased, like his daughters, had no legal right to a share in the estate. The sons, however, or other relations were bound to afford her an adequate maintenance, unless it had been otherwise arranged in the Will. She sometimes returned back again to her father's house, particularly if the support, which the heirs gave her, was not such as had been promised, or was not sufficient, Gen. 38: 11, compare also the story of Ruth. The prophets very frequently, and undoubtedly not without cause, exclaim against the neglect and injustice shown to widows, Is. 1: 17.10: 2. Jer. 7: 6. 22: 3. Ezek. 22: 7. comp. Exod. 22: 22–24. Deut. 10: 18. 24; 17.
The number in a family was very much increased by the slaves, that were attached to it. It is probable, that some of the patriarchs, as was sometimes the case at a later period with individuals in Greece and Italy, possessed many thousands of them. Slavery existed and prevailed before the deluge, Gen. 9:25. Moses therefore, although he saw the evils of slavery, was not in a condition to abolish it, and it would not have been wise for him to have made the attempt. He, accordingly, permitted the Hebrews to possess foreigners both male and female in the character of slaves; but the owners of them were bound by the laws to circumcise them, if they had not previously been so, and to instruct them in the worship of the only true God.
§ 170. ways in which MEN BECAME SLAVES. 179
We have said the Hebrews were permitted to hold foreigners in slavery, but to this statement there are some exceptions, which are to be mentioned. The Canaanites could not be held in slavery. For them, under the then existing circumstances, slavery was regarded too great a privilege, or rather it would have subjected the Jews to too great a hazard. Such was the bad faith of the Canaanites, the greatness of their numbers, and their deep rooted idolatry, that, had they been introduced under any circumstances whatever into the Israelitish community, they would certainly have endangered their existence, as a people of God. The Gibeonites, the Kephirites, the Beerothites, and the inhabitants of Kirjath-jearim, having surreptitiously obtained a treaty with the Israelites, were made exceptions also, and were employed in the service of the Tabernacle, Jos. 9:1–27.
§ 170. Ways in which MEN BECAME SLAves.
Men lost their freedom in ancient times in so many ways, that it is difficult, perhaps impossible, to assert of any one of them, that it was the origin or first occasion of slavery. We shall, therefore, content ourselves with merely mentioning the various ways, in which they plunged into so unfortunate and debasing a condition, I. Captivity in war. Some suppose this to have been the origin of slavery, Deut. 20:14, 21:10, 11. Gen. 14 ch. II. Debts. These, as well as captivity in war, became an occasion of slavery, when they were so large, that the debtor was unable to defray them, 2 Kgs. 4: 1. Is. 50: 1. Matt. 18: 25. III. Theft. Slavery was the consequence of theft, when the thief was not able to repay the amount of the property, which he had taken, Exod. 22: 2. Neh. 5: 4, 5. IV. Man-stealing. By this is to be understood that act of violence, by which an individual in time of peace is unjustly sold into slavery, or is retained as a slave in the possession of the author of the crime himself. Moses enacted laws of very great severity against this crime, but they were restricted in their operation to those, who had by violence taken and made a slave, or sold for one, a free Hebrew, Exod.’21: 16. Deut. 24; 7. V. The children of slaves. Children, who were slaves by birth, 180 $ 171. condition of slaves Among the Hebrews.
are mentioned in the Scriptures under the following Hebrew phrases.
n": "Too, those born in one's house;
Hron *ia, rigsr: ***, the children of maid-servants;
n: o, the sons or children of the house;
consult Gen. 14: 14. 15: 3. 17: 23. 21:10. Ps. 86: 16. 1 16: 16.
VI. Purchase. This happened, when a man oppressed with poverty sold himself, or when a master sold his slave. Purchasing slaves of a person, who possessed them, was the most common method of obtaining them, Num. 31:4, 14–18, 35. Hence slaves are denominated Foz Hoon, the property or the purchase of silver, i. e. those purchased with silver. The price of a slave was different at different times, varying with the age, sex, health, skill, &c. of the individual sold. We may infer from Exodus 21:32, that the medium price of a slave was thirty shekels; and, by an examination of Lev. 27: 1–8, form a probable opinion as to the
difference of the valuation of a slave in the different periods of his life.
§ 171. Condition of SLAves AMONG THE HEBREws.
Both the food and the clothing of those, who, from any cause, whatever it might be, had lost their freedom, were of the poorest description. All their earnings went to their master, and their labour was worth to him double that of a merely hired servant, Deut. 15:18. They commonly had the consent of their masters to marry, or rather to connect themselves with a woman in that way, which is denominated by a Latin law-term contubernium. The children, that proceeded from this sort of marriages, were the property not of the parents, but of their owners. The children, however, never addressed their owners as a father, but always as a lord or master, Gal. 4:6. Rom. 8: 15. Although the children born in his house were the slaves of the owner, they were as devoted and as true to him, as if they had sustained to him the actual relationship of children. It was in view of this fact, that the patriarchs thought proper to trust them with arms, and to train them up to war, Gen. 14:14. 32:6. 33: 1. They were expected to perform any labour, which their masters deemedit expedient to require of them, but their common avocation