Marriage and Kinship Among the Ancient Israelites

Marriage and Kinship Among the Ancient Israelites

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IN the article on Polyandry which appeared in The Popular Science Monthly for October, 1891, we had occasion to refer to the custom of raising up seed to a deceased elder brother as indicating that the Israelites had formerly practiced that form of polyandry in which the associated husbands are brothers; and in the present article we propose to pursue the investigation there hinted at, and to inquire to what extent the Israelites conformed to what appear to have been the normal phases of evolution of marriage and kinship in early times. To clear the ground, it will be convenient to commence by briefly stating what those phases were: 1. There was a primitive condition of which we can ascertain with certainty little or nothing; but, from the analogy of the lower animals, we infer that unions were not for life, and that couples paired for as long as it suited them, or until the child was weaned. 2. This condition was upset by the practice of female infanticide, which caused men to become much more numerous than women. 3. The inevitable result of this disproportion was either that the men of a community held their women in common, or that several men attached themselves to each woman, forming unions of the type of the ruder polyandry. 4. At the same time men strove to add to the number of their women by seizing and carrying off the women of other communities. Marriage by capture commenced. 5. As a result of a community in women, or of polyandry, and also as a result of marriage by capture, the paternity of children would always be uncertain. Hence, fathers being unknown, there could be no kinship in the male line. Kinship and descent would be traced solely through mothers, as we find is the case among nearly all the lower races at the present day. We need go no further than this, though many other changes ensue; and we will now see what traces may be found in the books of the Old Testament, to indicate that the Israelites passed through these several phases.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 32 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 2mm | 41g
  • United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1514798166
  • 9781514798164