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if you can certainly declare it me within the SEVEN DAYS of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty sheets, and thirty change of garments. (Judges xiv. 12.) This week was spent in feasting, and was devoted to universal joy. To the festivity of this occasion our Lord refers. Can the children of the bride-chamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. (Mark ii. 19, 20.)
The eastern people were very reserved, not permitting the young women at marriages to be in the same apartments with the meu; and, therefore, as the men and women could not amuse themselves with one another's conversation, the men did not spend their time merely in dull eating and drinking: for their custom was to propose questions and hard problems, by resolving of which they exercised the wit and sagacity of the company. This was done at Samson's marriage, where he proposed a riddle to divert his company. (Judg. xiv. 12.)
It was also usual, we find, to choose a master of the ceremonies to do the honours of the solemnity, and to superintend and conduct the festival with just propriety and decorum. Of this appointment we have express mention, in the account of the marriage at Cana in Galilee, which our Lord deigned to honour with his presence, and to dignify with a miracle. There were in the house six water vessels of stone, placed according to the Jewish rite of purification, which contained each about two or three firkins. Jesus said to the servants-Fill these vessels with water.-They filled them up all to the brim. Jesus then said, draw out some of the liquor, and carry it to the governor of the feast. (John ii. 8.) When the master of the ceremonies tasted the water, now converted into excellent wine, he was astonished, he could not imagine how they obtained it. The servants only, who had brought him the liquor, knew this. He instantly calls the bridegroom to him, and says: It is always customary at an entertainment to bring out the best wine first, and when the taste of the company is blunted with drinking, it is usual to bring them wine of an inferior sort. You have, it seems, reversed this custom-for you have reserved your best wine to the last.
V. Marriage was dissolved among the Jews by divorce as well as by death. Our Saviour tells us, that Moses suffered this only because of the hardness of their heart, but from the beginning it was not so (Matt. xix. 8.); meaning that they were accustomed to this abuse; and to prevent greater evils, such as murders, adulteries, &c. he permitted it; whence it should seem to have been in use before the law; and we see that Abraham dismissed Hagar, at the
1 Among the Bedouin Arabs, a brother finds himself more dishonoured by the seduction of his sister than a man by the infidelity of his wife. This will account for the sanguinary revenge taken by Simeon and Levi upon the Shechemites for the defilement of their sister Dinah. (Gen. xxxiv. 25-31.) See D'Arvieux's Travels in Arabia the Desert, pp. 243, 244.
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. (Judg. xix. 2, 3.) Solomon speaks of a libertine 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,―for any thing whatever that may be disagreeable in her? 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
1 Josephus de Vita sua. Op. tom. ii. p. 39. ed. Havercamp.
BIRTH, EDUCATION, ETC. OF CHILDREN.
I. Child-birth.-Circumcision.-Naming of the Child.-II. Privileges of the First-born.-III. Nurture of Children.-IV. Power of 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. 19.); 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, 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. 22.); 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. iii. 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 themselves, 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
1 Morier's Second Journey, p. 107.
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 cach in cumbent 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,