According to Scripture, the institution of marriage entails the union of not only flesh, but primarily of “bone” as well; hence the derivation of the word “marriage” from ” bone marrow”.. Adam, in his marriage vow/pledge to Eve, forever sealed the indissolubility and sanctity of the married state ( between a woman and a man only), with the words ” bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh”.. The Christian marriage vow similarly conveys the notion of the indissolubility of the married state ( excepting the instance of unforgiven fornication) with the words ” until death do us part”.. If a married person, however, commits fornication against their spouse, the marriage may be dissolved ( the union of “flesh”), but re-marriage CANNOT take place until the bones of one or the other are “laid to rest”… It is for this reason that the Apostle Paul expressly condemns second marriages as “adultery”, and forbids them to Christians particularly, who are ” without excuse”.. Separation was likewise permitted in cases of abuse etc, but divorce and remarriage were forbidden even then as long as one or the other party were still living.
The following treatise on marriage by Bishop Faussett is a reasonable synopsis of the matter of Christian marriage, and is worthy of deeper study…..
The following is from Bishop A.R Fausset’s “ Cyclopedia”:
The charter of marriage is Gen 2:24, reproduced by our Lord with greater distinctness in Mat 19:4-5; “He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain, shall be one flesh.” The Septuagint, and Samaritan Pentateuch reads “twain” or “two” in Gen 2:24; compare as to this joining in one flesh of husband and wife, the archetype of which is the eternally designed union of Christ and the church, Eph 5:31; Mar 10:5-9; 1Co 6:16; 1Co 7:2. In marriage husband and wife combine to form one perfect human being; the one is the complement of the other. So Christ makes the church a necessary adjunct to Himself. He is the Archetype from whom, as the pattern, the church is formed (Rom 6:5). He is her Head, as the husband is of the wife (1Co 11:3; 1Co 15:45). Death severs bridegroom and bride, but cannot separate Christ and His bride (Mat 19:6; Joh 10:28-29; Joh 13:1; Rom 8:35-39).
In Eph 5:32 translated “this mystery is great,” i.e. this truth, hidden once but now revealed, namely, Christ’s spiritual union with the church, mystically represented by marriage, is of deep import. Vulgate wrongly translated “this is a great sacrament,” Rome’s plea for making marriage a sacrament. Not marriage in general, but the marriage of Christ and the church, is the great mystery, as the following words prove, “I say it in regard to (eis) Christ and in regard to (eis) the church,” whereas Gen 2:24 refers to literal marriage. Transl. Eph 5:30, “we are members of His (glorified) body, being (formed) out of (ek) His flesh and of His bones.” Adam’s deep sleep wherein Eve was formed out of His opened side, symbolizes Christ’s death which was the birth of the spouse, the church (Joh 12:24; Joh 19:34-35). As Adam gave Eve a new name, ‘ishah, “woman” or “wife” the counterpart of iysh, “man” or “husband,” so Christ gives the church His new name; He, Solomon, she, the Shulamite (Son 6:13; Rev 2:17; Rev 3:12).
The propagation of the church from Christ, as that of Eve from Adam, is the foundation of the spiritual marriage. Natural marriage rests on the spiritual marriage, whereby Christ left the Father’s bosom to woo to Himself the church out of a lost world. His earthly mother as such He holds secondary to His spiritual bride (Luk 2:48-49; Luk 8:19-21; Luk 11:27-28). He shall again leave His Father’s abode to consummate the union (Mat 25:1-10; Rev 19:7). Marriage is the general rule laid down for most men, as not having continency (1Co 7:2; 1Co 7:5, etc.). The existing “distress” (1Co 7:26) was Paul’s reason then for recommending celibacy where there was the gift of continency. In all cases his counsel is true, “that they that have wives be as though they had none,” namely, in permanent possession, not making idols of them.
Scripture teaches the unity of husband and wife; the indissolubleness of marriage save by death or fornication (Mat 5:32; Mat 19:9; Rom 7:3); monogamy; the equality of both (iysh) and (ishah) being correlative, and she a “help-meet for him,” i.e. a helping one in whom as soon as he sees her he may recognize himself), along with the subordination of the wife, consequent on her formation subsequently and out of him, and her having been first to fall.(1Co 11:8-9; 1Ti 2:13-15.) Love, honor, and cherishing are his duty; helpful, reverent subjection, a meek and quiet spirit, her part; both together being heirs of the grace of life (1Pe 3:1-7; 1Co 14:34-35). Polygamy began with the Cainites. The jealousies of Abraham’s (Gen 16:6) and Elkanah’s wives illustrate the evils of polygamy. Scripture commends monogamy (Psa 128:3; Pro 5:18; Pro 18:22; Pro 19:14; Pro 31:10-29; Ecc 9:9).
Monogamy superseded polygamy subsequently to the return from Babylon. Public opinion was unfavorable to presbyters and women who exercise holy functions marrying again; for conciliation and expediency sake, therefore, Paul recommended that a candidate should be married only once, not having remarried after a wife’s death or divorce (1Ti 3:2; 1Ti 3:12; 1Ti 5:9; Luk 2:36-37; 1Co 7:40); the reverse in the case of young widows (1Ti 5:14). Marriage is honorable; but fornication, which among the Gentiles was considered indifferent, is stigmatized (Heb 13:4; Act 15:20). Marriage of Israelites with Canaanites was forbidden, lest it should lead God’s people into idolatry (Exo 34:16; Deu 7:3-4). In Lev 18:18 the prohibition is only against taking a wife’s sister “beside the other (namely, the wife) in her lifetime.”
Our Christian reason for prohibiting such marriage after the wife’s death is because man and wife are one, and the sister-in-law is to be regarded in the same light as the sister by blood. Marriage with a deceased brother’s wife (the Levirate law) was favored in Old Testament times, in order to raise up seed to a brother (Gen 38:8; Mat 22:25). The high priest must marry only an Israelite virgin (Lev 21:13-14); heiresses must marry in their own tribe, that their property might not pass out of the tribe. The parents, or confidential friend, of the bridegroom chose the bride (Genesis 24; Gen 21:21; Gen 38:6). The parents’ consent was asked first, then that of the bride (Gen 24:58). The presents to the bride are called mohar, those to the relatives mattan. Between betrothal and marriage all communication between the betrothed ones was carried on through “the friend of the bridegroom” (Joh 3:29). She was regarded as his wife, so that faithlessness was punished with death (Deu 22:23-24); the bridegroom having the option of putting her away by a bill of divorcement (Deu 24:1; Mat 1:19).
No formal religious ceremony attended the wedding; but a blessing was pronounced, and a “covenant of God” entered into (Eze 16:8; Mal 2:14; Pro 2:17; Gen 24:60; Rth 4:11-12). The essential part of the ceremony was the removal of the bride from her father’s house to that of the bridegroom or his father. The bridegroom wore an ornamental turban; Isa 61:10, “ornaments,” rather (peer) “a magnificent headdress” like that of the high priest, appropriate to the “kingdom of priests” (Exo 19:6); the bride wore “jewels” or “ornaments” in general, trousseau. He had a nuptial garland or crown (Son 3:11, “the crown wherewith His mother (the human race; for He is the Son of man, not merely Son of Mary) crowned Him in the day of His espousals”); and was richly perfumed (Son 3:6). The bride took a preparatory bath (Eze 23:40). This is the allusion in Eph 5:26-27; “Christ loved … gave Himself for the church, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church not having spot.”
The veil (tsaip) was her distinctive dress, covering the whole person, so that the trick played on Jacob was very possible (Gen 24:65; Gen 29:23); the symbol of her subjection to her husband’s power, therefore called “power on her head” (1Co 11:10). (See DRESS) Our “nuptials” is derived from nubo, “to veil one’s self.” She also wore girdles for the breasts (“attire,” kishurim) which she would not readily forget (Jer 2:32). Also a gilded or gold “crown” or chaplet (kullah), a white robe sometimes embroidered with gold thread (Rev 19:8; Psa 45:13-14) and jewels (Isa 61:10). Late in the evening the bridegroom came with his groomsmen (“companions,” Jdg 14:11; “children of the bridechamber,” Mat 9:15), singers and torch or lamp bearers leading the way (Jer 25:10); the bride meantime with her maidens eagerly awaited his coming.
Then he led the bride and her party in procession home with gladness to the marriage supper (Mat 25:6; Mat 22:1-11; Joh 2:2; Psa 45:15). The women of the place flocked out to gaze. The nuptial song was sung; hence in Psa 78:63 “their maidens were not praised” in nuptial song (Hebrew) is used for “were not given in marriage,” margin. The bridegroom having now received the bride, his “friend’s joy (namely, in bringing them together) was fulfilled” in hearing the bridegroom’s voice (Joh 3:29). Son 3:11; the feast lasted for seven or even 14 days, and was enlivened by riddles, etc. (Jdg 14:12.) Wedding garments were provided by the host, not to wear which was an insult to him. Large waterpots for washing the hands and for “purifying” ablutions were provided (Mar 7:3).
These had to be “filled” before Jesus changed the water into wine; a nice propriety in the narrative, the minor circumstances being in keeping with one another; the feast being advanced, the water was previously all emptied out of the waterpots for the guests’ ablutions (Joh 2:7). Light is thrown upon Egyptian marriages by a translation of an Egyptian contract of marriage, by Eugene Revillout. It is written in the demotic character upon a small sheet of papyrus, No. 2482, Cat. Egyptien, Musee du Louvre. It is dated in the month of Choiach, year 33 of Ptolemy Philadelphus, and the contracting parties are Patina, son of Pchelkhous, and the lady, Ta-outem, the daughter of Rehu. The terms of the deed are singular as to the dowry required on both sides, together with the clauses providing for repudiation.
After the actual dowry is recited, the sum being specified in shekels, the rights of the children which may hereafter come from the marriage, as well as the payment of the mother’s pin-money, are secured by the following clause: “thy pocket money for one year is besides thy toilet money which I give thee each year, and it is your right to exact the payment of thy toilet money and thy pocket money, which are to be placed to my account, which I give thee. Thy oldest son, my oldest son, shall be the heir of all my property, present and future. I will establish thee as wife.” Practicing in marriage law in Egypt was one of the priestly functions, for at the conclusion the contract states that “the writer of this act is … the priest of Ammon Horpneter, son of Smin” (?). The bridegroom was exempted from military service for a year (Deu 20:7; Deu 24:5).
Women in Scripture times were not secluded as now, but went about married and single with faces unveiled (Gen 12:14; Gen 24:16; Gen 24:65). Some were prophetesses, as Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Anna, and took part in public concerns (Exo 15:20; 1Sa 18:6-7; Abigail, 1Sa 25:14-25). The duties of husband and wife are laid down (Eph 5:22-33; Col 3:18-19; Tit 2:4-5; 1Pe 3:1-7). Brawling wives stand in contrast to the model wife, God’s gift (Pro 19:13; Pro 21:9; Pro 21:19; Pro 27:15; Pro 31:10-31). Woman, harlot, bride, and ultimately wife, i.e. Christ’s church in probation, the apostate church, and the glorified church, form the grand theme of the Bible from first to last. Israel had God for her “husband,” she became a harlot when she left Him for idols (Isa 1:21; Jer 2:20; Jer 3:1; Jer 3:6; Jer 3:8; Jer 3:14).
Again, Jehovah is to reunite Israel to Him as His earthly bride, as the elect church is His heavenly bride (Isa 54:5, etc.; Isa 62:4-5; Hos 2:19; 2Co 11:2; Rev 19:7; Rev 21:2; Rev 21:9; Rev 22:17). The Father prepares for His Son the marriage feast (Mat 22:1-14). The apostate church, resting on and conformed to the godless world, is the harlot riding on the beast and attired in scarlet as the beast. God’s eternal principle in her case as in Israel’s and Judah’s shall hold good, and even already is being illustrated in Rome’s being stripped by the world power; when the church sins with the world, the world the instrument of her sin shall be the instrument of her punishment (Ezekiel 23; Rev 17:1-5; Rev 17:16-18).
Matrimony, Or Marriage
(from McClintock and Strong’s “Cyclopedia”)
as A SACRAMENT. The Church of Rome regards the act of matrimony not only as a religious contract, but also as a sacrament. We need hardly step aside to explain the meaning of the word sacrament, but it may be proper here to say that the Romanists hold seven sacraments as established by the Council of Trent, teaching also that “each sacrament confers grace peculiar to itself, so that it has the special effect of conferring grace subservient to that end.” This distinction is called by the divines “sacramental grace.”
The clergy of the Church of England of High-Church tendency incline to hold a like view on this point, but there is certainly nothing in the XXXIX Articles to warrant any such interpretation of the marriage-contract. The Roman view of marriage is based by the school men on the expression of Paul in writing to the Ephesians (Eph 5:32), τὸ μνστήριον τοῦτο μέγα ἐστίν, or, as it runs in the Vulgate, “Sacramentum hoc magnum est.” “Thus viewed, the external part or sign, the ‘pars sensibilis’ is the expression of a mutual consent involving, as is necessary in all sacramental ordinances, a real present intention; and the inward part or gift is the grace which unites the hearts, or, according to another view, the grace to resist concupiscence, sometimes entirely, judging by St. Thomas Aquinas’s remark that carnal intercourse is not a necessary part of marriage, because there was none in Paradise.” The following more general considerations are also urged from Scripture in favor of the sacramental theory: “the union between the husband and wife is spoken of as analogous to the union between Christ and the Church. The husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the Church; therefore, as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything (Eph 5:23-24). Now if this figure has any meaning it must be this, that the external sign of alliance between bride and bridegroom signify that there should henceforth exist between them a union as holy, as close, and as indissoluble as that between Christ and the Church, a union which could not be maintained without a special gift from God. That such a gift exists is made evident by Paul, who says, while drawing a comparison between marriage and celibacy, ‘Every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner and another after that’ (1Co 7:7); and what would the gift be which is alluded to in the case of married persons but the grace which unites their hearts, and enables them to be fitting emblems of Christ and the Church? Again, the presence of our Lord at the marriage in Cana of Galilee (Joh 2:1-11) is sometimes referred to as having elevated the ceremony into the dignity of a sacrament” (Blunt, Dict. of Theol. s.v.).
Those who regard marriage as a sacrament are not themselves agreed as to what is the essential part of matrimony constituting it a sacrament. The prevailing opinion we take to be that the essential part, as well as the efficient cause, is the consent of the two parties, which must be expressed in words as the “pars sensibilis” of the sacrament, and must imply a real present, and not a future consent. There are others who would make the words of the priest the essential element whereby the marriage union is created, “Ego vos in matrimonium conjungo,” etc.; in the English office, “Those whom God has joined together let no man put asunder,” followed by the declaration of complete union, “I pronounce that they be man and wife together, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” If the previous consent had made the two persons man and wife, these words on the priest’s lips would seem to be, strictly speaking, superfluous. From primitive times it has been the custom to acquaint the Church beforehand with an intended marriage, which is evident from the passages above quoted. The object was to prevent unlawful marriage; not that the Church claimed any absolute power to grant or refuse leave to marry, but that in case a person was about to marry a Jew, or a heathen, or a heretic, or one within the forbidden degrees of consanguinity, etc., the marriage might be prevented, or at, least not obtain the sanction of the Church. The earliest allusion to the necessity of such notice in England is contained in the eleventh canon of the Synod of Westminster (A.D. 1200), which enacts that no marriage shall be contracted without banns thrice published in church (Johnson, Canons, 2:91). .
The existing law of the Church of England is expressed in the sixty-second canon: “No minister, upon pain of suspension ‘per triennium ipso facto,’ shall celebrate matrimony between any persons without a faculty or license granted by some of the persons in these our constitutions expressed, except the banns of matrimony have been first published three several Sundays or holy-days in the time of divine service in the parish churches and chapels where the said parties dwell, according to the book of Common Prayer.” The only substitute for banns recognized by the Church of England is an ordinary or special license. The power of granting the former has belonged to English bishops from a very early date, being confirmed to them by 25 Henry VIII, c. 21. The right to grant special licenses, which are free from all restrictions as to time or place, was originally a privilege of the archbishop of Canterbury, as “legatus natus.” The ritual of the Church of Rome teaches that “the end of the sacrament of marriage is that man and wife may mutually help and comfort each other, in order that they may spend this life in a holy manner, and thereby gain a blessed immortality; and to contribute to the edification of the Church by the lawful procreation of children, and by the care of procuring them a spiritual regeneration, and an education suitable to it. Every person, before entering into wedlock, is required to beseech God to join him with such a person as he may work out his salvation with, and examine whether or no the person he has fixed his affections on has the fear of God before her eyes; is prudent, discreet, and able to take care of a family.”
The Council of Trent, at its twenty-fourth session, held Nov. 11 1563, legislated upon the subject of matrimony in twelve canons, as follows:
“Canon 1. Whoever shall affirm that matrimony is not truly and properly one of the seven sacraments of the evangelical law, instituted by Christ our Lord, but that it is a human invention, introduced into the Church, and does not confer grace: let him be accursed.
“2. Whoever shall affirm that Christians may have more wives than one, and that this is prohibited by no divine law; let hill be accursed.
“3. Whoever shall affirm that only those degrees of consanguinity or affinity which are mentioned in the book of Leviticus can hinder or disannul the marriage contract; and that the Church has no power to dispense with some of them, or to constitute additional hinderances or reasons for disannulling the contract; let him be accursed.
“4. Whoever shall affirm that the Church cannot constitute any impediments, with power to disamnnul matrimony, or that in constituting them she has erred; let him be accursed.
“5. Whoever shall affirm that the marriage-bond may be dissolved by heresy, or mutual dislike, or voluntary absence from the husband or wife; let him be accursed.
“6. Whoever shall affirm that a marriage solemnized but not consummated is not disannulled if one of the parties enters into a religious order; let him be accursed.
“7. Whoever shall affirm that the Church has erred in teaching, according to the evangelical and apostolic doctrine, that the marriage-bond cannot be dissolved by the adultery of one of the parties, and that neither of them, not even the innocent party, who has given no occasion for the adultery, can contract another marriage while the other party lives; and that the husband who puts away his adulterous wife, and marries another, commits adultery, and also the wife who puts away her adulterous husband, and marries another (whoever shall affirm that the Church has erred in maintaining these sentiments); let him be accursed.
“8. Whoever shall affirm that the Church has erred in decreeing that fir various reasons married persons may be separated, as far as regards actual cohabitation, either for a certain or an uncertain time; let him be accursed.
“9. Whoever shall affirm that persons in holy orders, or regulars, who have made a solemn profession of chastity, may contract marriage, and that the contract is valid, notwithstanding any ecclesiastical law or vow; and that to maintain the contrary is nothing less than to condemn marriage; and that all persons may marry who feel that, though they should make a vow of chastity; they have not the gift thereof; let him be accursed; for God does not deny his gifts to those who ask aright, neither does he stiffer us to be tempted above that we are able.
“10. Whoever shall affirm that the conjugal state is to be preferred to a life of virginity, of celibacy, and that it is not better and more conducive to happiness to remain in virginity, or celibacy, than to be married; let him be accursed.
“11. Whoever shall affirm that to prohibit the solemnization of marriage at certain seasons of the year is a tyrannical superstition, borrowed from the superstition of the pagans; or shall condemn the benedictions and other ceremonies used by the Church at those times; let him be accursed.
“12. Whoever shall affirm that matrimonial causes do not belong to the ecclesiastical judges; let him be accursed.”
Marriage as a Sacrament unbiblical. —
1. In many most important points respecting marriage, Protestants and Roman Catholics agree; yet, when the Church of Rome advances matrimony to a sacrament instituted by Christ, and endows it with sacramental qualities, there are several points of considerable importance to Christianity in which Protestant and Romanist must disagree. The latter asserts that matrimony as a sacrament was instituted by Christ, and confers grace, and supports this dogma by quoting Eph 5:32 : “This is a great μυστήριον; but I speak in Christ and in the Church,” where the Douay translation renders by sacrament the word μυστήριον, which we Protestants prefer to translate mystery. “Or, indeed, if we render the word ‘sacrament,’ still they have no advantage, inasmuch as the original word μυστήριον, ‘mystery,’ which they read ‘sacrament,’ is employed on other subjects as ‘mystery of godliness’ (1Ti 3:16), ‘a mystery, Babylon the great’ (Rev 17:5). Papists must know that there is no force in their argument. The text, as found in their version, can only influence the minds of ignorant persons, who know not the Scriptures. The apostle does not say that marriage is a mystery, for he speaks concerning Christ and the Church. It is acknowledged that marriage is instituted of God, and is a sign of a holy thing, yet it is no sacrament; the Sabbath was ordained of God, and signified the rest in Christ (Heb 4:8), yet it was no sacrament. All significant and mystic signs are not necessarily sacraments” (Elliott, Romanism, p. 428). “Romanists,” says the same able polemic whom we have just had occasion to cite, “further quote the following passage to support their doctrine: ‘She shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and love’ (1Ti 2:15), inferring that the grace of sanctification is given to the parties married. To this we answer:
(1.) We deny that any sacraments give or confer grace; they are only means or instruments of its communication.
(2.) It is allowed that God does give to pious married persons grace to live in piety and holiness; but it is unnecessary to constitute marriage into a sacrament for this purpose.
(3.) Those who are not married may possess the sanctifying grace of God, which is sufficient to preserve all in a state of inward as well as outward holiness.”
2. That marriage is no sacrament of the Gospel, speaking of such an institution in its proper scriptural acceptation, may be proved by the following arguments:
(1.) Matrimony was instituted in Paradise long before sin had entered, therefore it cannot be a sacrament of the Gospel; marriage is observed among infidels and wicked persons, who are incapable of receiving worthily the sacraments of the Church.
(2.) Papists are inconsistent with themselves in calling marriage a profanation of orders; some with consummate effrontery assert that to live in a state of concubinage is more tolerable for a priest than to marry. Can they really believe marriage to be a sacrament, which they contemn as vile and polluted? Pope Siricius applied the words of St. Paul, “They that are in the flesh cannot please God,” in favor of the celibacy of the clergy — thus proving that this pope, in common with many other pontiffs, knew but little of scriptural interpretation, seeing the reference is plainly to deep human depravity and wickedness, but not to the marriage state.
(3.) In every sacrament there must be an external sensible sign as the matter, and an appropriate order of words as the form; but in matrimony there is neither, therefore it is no sacrament.
(4.) Again, none but pious persons can be partakers of the sacraments of the Church; but piety is not a necessary condition of marriage, therefore marriage is not a sacrament. The conditions of confession and absolution. which are sometimes enjoined in the Church of Rome, cannot be pleaded as teaching that piety is required of those who are to be married; for confession and absolution are no proper concomitants of true piety, seeing the greatest part of those who confess and receive absolution are no otherwise religious than as members of the Church of Rome, and membership in that community is rather a presumption against, than in favor of true religion. It does not alter the case to introduce the distinctions which have been made by their theologians, namely, that marriage is often a civil or natural contract, and not a sacrament. This distinction is founded on mere technicalities, and not on any scriptural authority, either direct or inferential.
3. It is necessary, as they acknowledge, that a sacrament should be instituted by Christ; but matrimony was not instituted by him. therefore, according to their own rule, it is no sacrament. It is in vain for them to say that Christ instituted the sacrament of marriage, when they are unable to produce the words of institution, or to adduce a single circumstance connected with its institution. It is true, the Council of Trent most positively, in their first canon, affirm that Christ did institute the sacrament of matrimony; but then neither chapter nor verse is given to prove the fact. Indeed, so divided among themselves are they respecting the time in which Christ converted matrimony into a sacrament, that the most discordant opinions exist. Let the Roman Catholic Dens speak on the subject: “Some,” says he, “say that it was instituted when Christ was present at the marriage in Cana of Galilee, which he is said to honor with his presence and bless it (John 2); according to others, when Christ, revoking matrimony to its primeval unity and indissolubleness, rejecting the bill of divorce, said, ‘What Gohatath joined together, let not man put asunder’ (Matthew 19); but others refer its institution to the time of the forty days between the resurrection and ascension, during which Christ often taught his apostles concerning the kingdom of God, or his Church; others say the time is uncertain.” Thus the institution of marriage as a sacrament cannot be discovered by their ablest divines. The Council of Trent is unable to find the place where Christ established it; the Roman Catechism adroitly evades this point, and leaves the matter in the same uncertainty as it found it. We therefore hesitate not to affirm that, although marriage was originally instituted by Almighty God, recognised by Christ, and its duties explained and enforced by the apostles, nevertheless its institution as a sacrament cannot be found in any part of the New Testament. See, besides, Elliott’s Delineation of Romanism, ch. 16; Hagenbach, Hist. of Doctrines (see Index, vol. 2); Wetzer u. Welte, Kirchen-Lexikon, art. Ehe; Herzog, Real-Encyklopädie, art. Ehe.
(Taken from McClintock and Strong’s “ Cyclopedia”)
This relation is in a general way represented by several Hebrew words, the most distinctive of which are several forms of חָתִן, chathan’, to give in marriage; Gr. γάμος, a wedding. It is very remarkable, however, as well as significant, that there is no single word in the whole Hebrew Scriptures for the estate of marriage, or to express the abstract idea of wedlock, matrimony, as the German Ehe does. It is only in the post-exilian period, when the laws of marriage had gradually developed themselves, that we meet with the abstract אישותand זווג— — ζεῦγος (Jebanoth, 6:5; Kiddushin, 1:2); the former denoting the legal, and the latter the natural side of matrimony. But even then no such definition of marriage is to be found in the Hebrew writings as we find in the Roman law, “Nuptiue sunt conjunctio maris et feminae et consortium omnis vite, divini et humani juris communicatio” (Dig. lib. xxiii, Titus 2, “De ritu nupt.”). In the present article, which treats of marriage as found amongo the Hebrew race, we cover the entire field of matrimonial relations and ceremonies, both ancient and modern.
I. Origin, Primitive Relations, and General View of the Married State. —
1. The institution of marriage is founded on the requirements of man’s nature, and dates from the time of his original creation. It may be said to have been ordained by God, in as far as man’s nature was ordained by him; but its formal appointment was the work of man, and it has ever been in its essence. a natural and civil institution, though admitting of the infusion of a religious element into it. This view of marriage is exhibited in the historical account of its origin in the book of Genesis; the peculiar formation of man’s nature is assigned to the Creator, who, seeing it “not good for man to be alone,” determined to form an “help meet for him” (Gen 2:18), and accordingly completed the work by the addition of the female to the male (Gen 1:27). The necessity for this step appears from the words used in the declaration of the divine counsel. Man, as an intellectual and spiritual being, would not have been a worthy representative of the Deity on earth, so long as he lived in solitude, or in communion only with beings either high above him in the scale of creation, as angels, or far beneath him, as the beasts of the field. It was absolutely necessary, not only for his comfort and happiness, but still more for the perfection of the divine work, that he should have a “help meet for him,” or, as the words more properly mean, “the exact counterpart of himself’“ (עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ, Septuag. βοηθὸς κατ᾿ αὐτόν; Vulg. adjutorium simile sibi, “a help meet for him”) — a being capable of receiving and reflecting his thoughts and affections. No sooner was the formation of woman effected, than Adam recognized in that act the will of the Creator as to man’s social condition, and immediately enunciated the important statement, to which his posterity might refer as the charter of marriage in all succeeding ages, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh” (Gen 2:24). From these words, coupled with the circumstances attendant on the formation of the first woman, we may evolve the following principles:
(1) The unity of man and wife, as implied in her being formed out of man, and as expressed in the words “one flesh;”
(2) the indissolubleness of the marriage bond, except on the strongest grounds (compare Mat 19:9);
(3) monogamy, as the original law of marriage, resulting from there having been but one original couple, as is forcibly expressed in the subsequent reference to this passage by our Lord (“they twain,” Mat 19:5) and St. Paul (“two shall be one flesh,” 1Co 6:16);
(4) the social equality of man and wife, as implied in the terms ish and ishshah, the one being the exact correlative of the other, as well as in the words “help meet for him;”
(5) the subordination of the wife to the husband, consequent upon her subsequent formation (1Co 11:8-9; 1Ti 2:13); and
(6) the respective duties of man and wife, as implied in the words “help meet for him.”
2. The introduction of sin into the world modified to a certain extent the mutual relations of man and wife. As the blame of seduction to sin lay on the latter, the condition of subordination was turned into subjection, and it was said to her of her husband, “he shall rule over thee” (Gen 3:16)- a sentence which, regarded as a prediction, has been strikingly fulfilled in the position assigned to women in Oriental countries; but which, regarded as a rule of life, is fully sustained by the voice of nature and by the teaching of Christianity (1Co 14:34; Eph 5:22-23; Timothy 2:12). The evil effects of the fall were soon apparent in the corrupt usages of marriage: the unity of the bond was impaired by polygamy, which appears to have originated among the Cainites (Gen 4:19); and its purity was deteriorated by the promiscuous intermarriage of the “sons of God” with the “daughters of men,” i.e. of the Sethites With the Cainites, in the days preceding the flood (Gen 6:2).
3. For the history of marriage in the later ages. see below. One question may properly be considered here, i.e. celibacy. Shortly before the Christian sera an important change took place in the views entertained on the question of marriage as affecting the spiritual and intellectual parts of man’s nature. Throughout the Old Testament period marriage was regarded as the indispensable duty of every man, nor was it surmised that there existed in it any drawback to the attainment of the highest degree of holiness. In the interval that elapsed between the Old and New Testament periods, a spirit of asceticism had been evolved, probably in antagonism to the foreign notions with which the Jews were brought into close and painful contact. The Essenes were the first to propound any doubts as to the propriety of marriage; some of them avoided it altogether, others availed themselves of it under restrictions (Josephus, War, 2:8, § 2, 13). Similar views were adopted by the Therapeutae, and at a later period by the Gnostics (Burton’s Lectures, 1:214); thence they passed into the Christian Church, forming one of the distinctive tenets of the Encratites (Burton, 2:161), and finally developing into the system of Monachism. The philosophical tenets on which the prohibition of marriage was based are generally condemned in Col 2:16-23, and specifically in 1Ti 4:3. The general propriety of marriage is enforced on numerous occasions, and abstinence from it is commended only in cases where it was rendered expedient by the calls of duty (Mat 19:12; 1Co 7:8; 1Co 7:26). With regard to remarriage after the death of one of the parties, the Jews, in common with other nations, regarded abstinence from it, particularly in the case of a widow, laudable, and a sign of holiness (Luk 2:36; Luk 2:7; Josephus, Ant. 17:13, 4; 18:6, 6); but it is clear, from the example of Josephus (Vit. 76), that there was no prohibition even in the case of a priest. In the Apostolic Church remarriage was regarded as occasionally undesirable (1Co 7:40), and as an absolute disqualification for holy functions, whether in a man or woman (1Ti 3:2; 1Ti 3:12; 1Ti 5:9); at the same time it is recommended in the case of young widows (1Ti 5:14).
II. Mode of selecting a Bride, Betrothal, and Marriage price. —
1. Imitating the example of the Father of the Universe, who provided the man he made with a wife, fathers from the beginning considered it both their duty and prerogative to find or select wives for their sons (Gen 24:3; Gen 38:6). In the absence of the father, the selection devolved upon the mother (Gen 21:21). Even in cases where the wishes of the son were consulted, the proposals were made by the father (Gen 34:4; Gen 34:8); and the violation of this parental prerogative on the part of the son was “a grief of mind” to the father (Gen 26:35). The proposals were generally made by the parents of the young man, except when there was a difference of rank; in such a case the negotiations proceeded from the father of the maiden (Exo 2:21), and when accepted by the parents on both sides, sometimes also consulting the opinion of the adult brothers of the maiden (Gen 24:51; Gen 34:11), the matter was considered as settled without requiring the consent of the bride. The case of Rebekah (Gen 24:58) forms no exception to this general practice, inasmuch as the alliance had already been concluded between Eleazar and Laban, and the question put to her afterwards was to consult her opinion, not about it, but about the time of her departure. Before, however, the marriage contract was finally concluded, a price (מהר) was stipulated for, which the young man had to pay to the father of the maiden (Gen 31:15; Gen 34:12), besides giving presents (מתן) to her relations (Gen 24:53; Gen 34:12). This marriage-price was regarded as a compensation due to the parents for the loss of service which they sustained by the departure of their daughter, as well as for the trouble and expense which they incurred in her education. Hence, if the proffered young man had not the requisite compensation, he was obliged to make it up in service (Gen 29:20; Exo 2:21; Exo 3:1). Some, indeed, deny that a price had to be paid down to the father for parting with his daughter, and appeal for support to Gen 31:15, where, according to them, “the daughters of Laban make it a matter of complaint, that their father bargained for the services of Jacob in exchange for their hands, just as if they were strangers;” thus showing that the sale of daughters was regarded as an unjust act and a matter of complaint (Saalschutz, Das Mosaische Recht. p. 733). But, on a closer inspection of the passage in question, it will be seen that Rachel and Leah do not at all complain of any indignity heaped on them by being sold just as if they were strangers, but, on the contrary, mention the sale to corroborate their statement that they are no longer their father’s property, have no more any portion in his possession, and are now regarded by him as strangers, since, according to the usual custom, they have been duly sold to their husband, and hence agree with the latter that it is time for them to depart. Besides, the marriage-price is distinctly mentioned in other passages of Scripture (Exo 22:15-16; 1Sa 18:23; 1Sa 18:25; Rth 4:10; Hos 3:2), and was commonly demanded by the nations of antiquity; as the Babylonians (Herod. 1:196); Assyrians (Elian, V. H. 4:1; Strabo, 16:745); the ancient Greeks (Odyss. 8:318 sq.; Arist. Polit. 2:8; Pausan. 3:12, 2); the Germans (Tacitus, Germ. 18), and still obtains in the East to the present day. In fact, it could not be otherwise where polygamy was practiced. As the number of maidens was under such circumstances less than that of wooers, it called forth competition, and it was but natural that he who offered the highest marriage-price obtained the damsel. There was therefore no fixed marriage-price; it varied according to circumstances. We meet with no dowry given with the bride by her father during the patriarchal age, except a maid-servant (Gen 24:61; Gen 29:24; Gen 29:29).
2. The Mosaic enactments introduced no changes into these usages. The father’s power over the child in matters of marriage continued paramount, and he could give his children to any one he pleased without asking their consent. Thus Caleb offers his daughter Achsah (Jos 15:16-17) as wife to any one who will conquer Kirjath-sepher (Jdg 1:12). Saul promises his daughter to him who shall kill the Philistine, and barters his daughter Michal for the prepuces of a hundred slain Philistines (1Sa 17:26-27; 1Sa 18:25-27); and Ibzan takes thirty wives for his thirty sons (Jdg 12:9). The imaginary case of women soliciting husbands (Isa 4:1) was designed to convey to the mind a picture of the ravages of war, by which the greater part of the males had fallen. A judicial marriage-price (הבתולה מהר) was now introduced, which was fixed at fifty silver shekels (Exo 12:16, with Deu 22:29), being the highest rate of a servant (Lev 27:3), so that one had to pay as much for a wife as for a bondwoman. When the father of the maiden was rich and did not want the marriage-price (אין חפוֹ במהר), he expected some service by way of compensation for giving away his daughter (1Sa 18:25). As soon as the bargain was concluded, and the marriage- price paid, or the required service rendered, the maiden was regarded as betrothed to her wooer, and as sacredly belonging to him. In fact, she was legally treated as a married wontan ( אשת איש); she could not be separated from her intended husband without a bill of divorce, and the same law was applicable to her as to married people. If she was persuaded to criminal conduct between the espousals and the bringing her home to her husband’s house, both she and her seducer were publicly stoned to death; and if she was violated, the culprit suffered capital punishment (Deu 22:23-27, with Deu 22:22; and Lev 20:10). With such sacredness was betrothal regarded, that even if a bondmaid who was bought with the intention of ultimately becoming a secondary wife (Exo 21:7-11), was guilty of unchastity prior to her entering into that state, both she and her seducer were scourged, while the latter was also obliged to bring a sin-offering, and. the priest had to pray for the forgiveness of his sin (Lev 19:20-22). Every betrothed man was by the Mosaic law exempt from military service (Deu 20:7).
3. In the post-exilian period, as long as the children were minors-which in the case of a son was up to thirteen, and a daughter to twelve years of age- the parents could betroth them to any one they chose; but when they became of age their consent was required (Maimonides, Hilchoth Ishuth, 3:11, 12). Occasionally the whole business of selecting the wife was left in the hands of a friend, and hence the case might arise which is supposed by the Talmudists (Yebam. 2, § 6, 7), that a man might not be aware to which of two sisters he was betrothed. So in Egypt at the present day the choice of a wife is sometimes entrusted to a professional woman styled a khat’beh; and it is seldom that the bridegroom sees the features of his bride before the marriage has taken place (Lane, 1:209-211). It not unfrequently happened, however, that the selection of partners for life was made by the young people themselves. For this, the ceremonies connected with the celebration of the festivals in the Temple afforded an excellent opportunity, as may be gathered from the following remark in the Mishna: “R. Simeon ben-Gamaliel says. There were never more joyous festivals in Israel than the 15th of Ab and the Day of Atonement. On these the maidens of Jerusalem used to come out dressed in white garments, which they borrowed, in order not to shame those who had none of their own, and which they had immersed [for fear of being polluted]. Thus arrayed, these maidens of Jerusalem went out and danced in the vineyards, singing, Young man, lift up thine eyes, and see whom thou art about to choose; fix not thine eye upon beauty, but look rather to a pious family; for gracefulness is deceit, and beauty is vanity, but the woman that fears the Lord, she is worthy of praise” (Megilla, 4:8). Having made his choice, the young man or his father informed the maiden’s father of it, whereupon the young people were legally betrothed. The betrothal was celebrated by a feast made in the house of the bride (Jebamnoth, 43 a; Taanith, 26 b; Pessachil, 49 a; Kiddushin, 45 b), and is called קידושוֹן, made sacred, for by it the bride was made sacred to her bridegroom, and was not to be touched by any one else. It is also called אירסין, which may be from ארש איס, to betroth. For a betrothal to be legal, it has to be effected in one of the following three modes:
(1.) By money, or money’s worth, which, according to the school of Shammai, must be a denar (דיני) = 90 grains of pure gold, or, according to the school of Hillel, a perutah (פרוטה) = half a grain of pure silver, and which is to be given to the maiden, or, if she is a minor, to her father, as betrothal price (כס קידושין);
(2.) By letter or contract (שטר אירוסין), which the young man, either in person or through a proxy, has to give to the maiden, or to her father when she is a minor; or,
(3.) By cohabitations (ביאה, usus), when the young man and maiden, having pronounced the betrothal formula in the presence of two witnesses, retire into a separate room. This. however, is considered immodest, and the man is scourged (Kiddushin, 12 b). The legal formula to be pronounced is, “Behold, thou art betrothed or sanctified to me (את מקודשת לי כדת משה וישראל הנה), according to the law of Moses and Israel” (Kiddushin, 1:1; 4:9; Tosiftha Kethuboth, 4; Kethuboth, 4:8; Maimonides, Hilchoth Ishuth, 3; Eben in Ezer, 32). Though betrothment, as we have seen before, was the beginning of marriage itself, and, like it, could only be broken off by a regular bill of divorcement (גט), yet twelve months were generally allowed to intervene between it and actual marriage (חופה) in the case of a maiden, to prepare her outfit, and thirty days in the case of a widow (Kethuboth, 57 a). The intercourse of the betrothed during this period was regulated by the customs of the different towns (Mishna, Kethuboth, v. 2). When this more solemn betrothment (קידושין) was afterwards united with the marriage ceremony (חופה), engagements (שדוכין) more in our sense of the word took its place. Its nature and obligation will best be understood by perusing the contents of the contract (תנאים) which is made and signed by the parties, and which is as follows: “May he who declares the end from the beginning give stability to the words of this contract, and to the covenant made between these two parties: namely, between A, bachelor, with the consent of his father B, and C, who is proxy for his daughter D, spinster. The said A, bachelor, engages, under happy auspices, to take the afore-mentioned D, spinster, by marriage and betrothal (חופה וקידושין), according to the law of Moses and Israel. These henceforth are not to conceal anything from each other appertaining to money or goods, but to have equal power over their property.
Moreover, B, the said father of the bridegroom, is to dress his son in goodly apparel before the marriage, and to give the sum of… . in cash; whilst C, father of the said bride, is to give his daughter before the marriage a dowry in cash to the amount of… as well as jewelery to the amount of . . to dress her in goodly apparel corresponding to the dowry, to give her an outfit, and the bridegroom the Talith (עלית), i.e. the fringed wrapper used at prayer, and Kittel (קיטל), i e. the white burial garment, in harmony with his position and in proportion to the dowry. The marriage is to be (D.V.) on the… in the place… at the expense of the said C, the bride’s father, and, if agreed to by both parties, may take place within the specified period. Now the two parties have pledged themselves to all this, and have taken upon themselves by an oath to abide by it, oil the penalty of the great anathema, and at the peril of forfeiting half the dowry; but the forfeit is not to absolve from the anathema, nor is the anathema to absolve from the forfeit. The said father of the bride also undertakes to board at his table the newly-married couple for the space of… and furnish them with lodgings for the space of… The surety on the part of the bridegroom is E, sol of F; and on the part of the bride, G, sol of H. The two bridal parties, however, guarantee that these sureties shall not suffer thereby. Further, C, the said father of the bride, is to give his daughter an assurance letter, that, in the event of his death, she is to get half the inheritance of a son (שטר חצי זכר); whilst the bridegroom pledges himself to get his brothers, in the event of his dying without issue, to give her a Chalizuh document [for which see below], without any compensation. But if there should be dispute or delay on the subject, which God forbid, the decision is to be left to the Jewish congregation. We have taken all this in possession from the party and sureties, for the benefit of the other parties, so that everything aforementioned may be observed, with the usual witness which qualified us to take care of it. Done this day… Everything must be observed and kept. (Signed)… (Comp. Nachlas Shiva, 9 b). This contract, which is written in Rabbinic Hebrew, is used by all orthodox Jews to the present day.
III. Marriage Ceremonies. —
1. In the pre-Mosaic period, when the proposals were accepted, and the marriage-price (מהר), as well as the sundry other gifts (מתן), were duly distributed, the bridegroom (חתן) could at once remove the bride (כלה) from her father’s house to his own house, and this removal of the maiden, under the benedictions of her family, but without any definite religious ceremony whatever, and cohabitation, consummated and expressed marriage ( לקח אשה). Thus we are told that Isaac, when meeting Eleazar and Rebekah in the field, as soon as he was informed bv the former of what had transpired, took Rebekah to the tent of his departed mother, and this without further ceremony constituted the marriage, and she thereby became his wife (ותחי לו לאשה, Gen 24:63-67). Under more ordinary circumstances, however, when the bride had not at once to quit her parental roof under the protection of a friend, as in the case just mentioned, but where the marriage took place in the house of the bride’s parents, it was celebrated by a feast, to which all the friends and neighbors were invited, and which lasted seven days (Gen 29:22; Gen 29:27). On the day of the marriage, the bride was conducted to her future husband veiled, or, more properly, in an outdoor wrapper or shawl (צעי), which nearly enveloped her whole form, so that it was impossible to recognize the person, thus accounting for the deception practiced on Jacob (Gen 24:65; Gen 29:23) and on Judah (Gen 38:14).
2. With regard to age, no restriction is pronounced in the Bible. Early marriage is spoken of with approval in several passages: (Pro 2:17; Pro 5:18; Isa 62:5), and in reducing this general statement to the more definite one of years, we must take into account the very early age at which persons arrive at puberty in Oriental countries. In modern Egypt marriage takes place in general before the bride has attained the age of sixteen frequently when she is twelve or thirteen, and occasionally when she is only ten (Lane, 1:208). The Mosaic law prescribes no civil or religious forms for the celebration of marriage. The contract or promise made at the payment of the marriage-price, or when the service which was required in its stead was rendered, constituted the solemn bond which henceforth united the espoused parties, as is evident from the fact pointed out in the preceding sections, that a betrothed maiden was both called a married woman, and was legally treated as such. There can, however, be no doubt that the ancient custom of celebrating the consummation of the marriage by a feast, which lasted seven days (Gen 29:22; Gen 29:27), must have becbme pretty general by this time. Thus we are told that when Samson went to Timnath to take his wife, he made there a feast, which continued for seven days, according to the usage of young men on such occasions (כי כן יעשַו הבחורים), that the parents of the bride invited thirty young men (υἱοὶ τοῦ νυμφῶνος, Mat 9:15) to honor his nuptials, and that to relieve their entertainment, Samson, in harmony with the prevailing custom among the nations of antiquity, proposed enigmas (Jdg 14:10-18). We afterwards find that the bridal pair were adorned with nuptial crowns (Son 3:11; Isa 61:10) made of various materials — gold, silver, myrtle, or olive — varying in costliness according to the circumstances of the parties (Mishna, Sota, 9:14; Gesmara, 49 a and b; Selden, Ux. Ebr. 2:15), and that the bride especially wore gorgeous apparel, and a peculiar girdle (Psa 45:13-14; Isa 49:18; Jer 2:12), whence in fact she derived her name Kallah (כלה), which signifies the ornamented, the adorned. Thus attired, the bridegroom and bride were led in joyous procession through the streets, accompanied by bands of singers and musicians (Jer 7:34; Jer 25:10; Jer 33:11), and saluted by the greetings of the maidens of the place, who manifested the liveliest interest in the nuptial train (Son 3:11), to the house of the bridegroom or that of his father. Here the feast was prepared, to which all the friends and the neighbors were invited, and at which most probably that sacred covenant was concluded which came into vogue during the post-Mosaic period (Pro 2:17; Eze 16:8; Mal 2:14). The bride, thickly veiled, was then conducted to the (חדר) bridal chamber (Gen 29:23; Jdg 15:11; Joe 2:6), where a nuptial couch (חפה) was prepared (Psa 19:5; Joe 2:16) in such a manner as to afford facility for ascertaining the following morning whether she had preserved her maiden purity; for in the absence of the signa virginitafis she was stoned to death before her father’s house (Deu 22:13-21).
3. In the period after the exile the proper age for marriage is fixed in the Mishna at eighteen (Aboth, v. 31), and though, for the sake of preserving morality, puberty was regarded as the desirable age, yet men generally married when they were seventeen (Jebaumoth, 62; Kiddushin, 29). The Talmudists forbade marriage in the case of a man under thirteen years and a day, and in the case of a woman under twelve years and a day (Buxtorf, Syznagog. cap. 7, p. 143). The day originally fixed for marriage was Wednesday for maidens and Friday for widows (Mishna, Kethuboth, 1:1). But the Talmud already partially discarded this arrangement (Gemara, ibid. 3 a), and in the Middle Ages it became quite obsolete (Eben Ha-Ezar, lxv). The primitive practice of the sages, however, has been resumed among the orthodox Jews in Russia, Poland, etc. The wedding-feast was celebrated in the house of the bridegroom (Kethuboth, 8 a, 10 a), and in the evening, for the bridal pair fasted all day, since on it, as on the day of atonement, they confessed their sins, and their transgressions were forgiven. On the day of the wedding, the bride, with her hair flowing, and a myrtle wreath on her head (if she was a maiden, Mishna, Kethuboth, 2:1), was conducted, with music, singing, and dancing, to the house of the bridegroom by her relations and friends, who were adorned with chaplets of myrtle, and carried palm branches in their hands (Kethuboth, 16,17; Sabbath, 110 a; Sota, 49 b).
The streets through which the nuptial procession passed were lined with the daughters of Israel, who greeted the joyous train, and scattered before them cakes and roasted ears of wheat, while fountains freely poured forth wine (Kethuboth, 15 b; Berachoth, 50 b). Having reached the house, the bridegroom, accompanied by the groomsmen, met the bride, took her by the hand, and led her to the threshold. The Kethubah (כתובה) — donatio propter or ante nuptias, or the marriage-settlement, alluded to in the book of Tobit (Tob 7:15), was then written, which in the case of a maiden always promises 200, and in the case of a widow 100 denar (each denar being equal to 90 grains of pure gold), whether the parties are rich or poor (Mishna, Kethuboth, Tob 1:2), though it may be enlarged by a special covenant (תוספות כתובה). The dowry could not be claimed until the termination of the marriage by the death of the husband or by divorce (ibid. v. 1), though advances might be made to the wife previously (9:8). Subsequently to betrothal a woman lost all power over her property, and it became vested in the husband, unless he had previously to marriage renounced his right to it (Tob 8:1; Tob 9:1). The marriage must not be celebrated before this settlement is written (Balbs Kama, 89). The wording of this instrument has undergone various changes in the course of time (Kethuboth, 82 b).
The form in which it is given in the Talmud, by Maimonides, etc., is as follows: “Upon the fourth day of the week, on the… of the month, in the year… of the creation of the world, according to the computation adopted in this place, A, son of B, said to C, spinster, daughter of E, ‘Be thou my wife according to the law of Moses and Israel, and I will work for thee, honor thee, maintain thee, and provide for thee according to the custom of Jewish husbands, who work for their wives, honor them, maintain them, and provide for them honestly; I also give thee the dowry of thy virginity, 200 silver Sus, which belong to thee by the law, as well as thy food, thy apparel, and whatsoever is required for thy maintenance, and I will go in to thee according to the custom of the whole earth.’ And C, the spinster, consented. and became his wife. The dowry which she brought him from the house of her father, in silver, gold, and ornaments, as well as in apparel, domestic utensils, and bedding, amounts to… pure silver, and A, the bridegroom, has consented to add to it from his own property the same sum; and the bridegroom said thus: ‘I undertake for myself and my heirs after me the security for this Kethiubah, this dowry and this addition, so that the same shall be paid from the best and most choice of my possessions which I have under the whole heaven, which I have acquired or shall acquire in real or personal property. All this property is to be mortgaged and pledged, yea, even the coat which I have on is to go in order to pay this Kethubah, this down and this addition, from this day to all eternity.’ And the surety of this Kethubah, this dowry and this addition, A, the bridegroom, has undertaken in the strictness of all the Kethubahs and supplement instruments usual among the daughters of Israel, and which are written according to the order of our sages of blessed memory, not after the manner of a mere visionary promise or empty formula. We have taken possession of it from A, the bridegroom, and given it to C, spinster, daughter of E, according to all that is written and explained above, by means of such a garment as is legal in the taking of possession. All this yea and amen. (Signed) . . .”Comp. Maimonides, Jud Ha-Chazaka Hilchoth Jebum Ve-Cheliza, 4:33. Among the more modern Jews it is the custom in some parts for the bridegroom to place a ring on the bride’s finger (Picart, 1:239)-a custom which also prevailed among the Romans (Smith, Dict. of Ant. p. 604). Some writers have endeavored to prove that the rings noticed in the O.T. (Exo 35:22; Isa 3:21) were nuptial rings, but there is not the slightest evidence of this. The ring was nevertheless regarded among the Hebrews as a token of fidelity (Gen 41:42), and of adoption into a family (Luk 15:22). According to Selden it was originally given as an equivalent for dowry- money (Uxor Ebraic. 2:14). After the document was handed over to the bride, crowns, varying in expense according to the circumstances of the parties, were placed upon the heads of the bridal pair (Sota, 49 a, b), and they, with their relations and friends, sat down to a sumptuous repast; the marriage-feast was enlivened by the guests, who sang various songs and asked each other amusing riddles (Berachoth, 31 a; Nedarinim, 51 a), parched corn was distributed among the guests if the bride was a virgin (Keth. ii), and when the meal was concluded with customary prayer of thanksgiving, the bridegroom supplemented it with pronouncing over a cup of wine the seven nuptial benedictions (שבע ברכות) in the presence of at least ten persons (Kethuboth, 7 b), which gave the last religious consecration to the marriage-covenant, and which are as follows:
1. “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who hast created everything for thy glory.”
2. “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who hast created man.”
3. “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who hast created man in thine image, in the image of the likeness of thy own form, and hast prepared for him, in himself, a building for the perpetuity of the species. Blessed art thou, O Lord, the creator of man.”
4. “The barren woman shall rejoice exceedingly, and shout for joy when her children are gathered around her in delight. Blessed art thou, O Lord, “who rejoicest Zion in her children.”
5. “Make this loving pair to rejoice exceedingly, as thou hast made thy creature rejoice in the Garden of Eden in the beginning. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who rejoicest the bridegroom and the bride.”
6. “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe. who hast ordained joy and gladness, bride and bridegroom, delight and song, pleasure and intimacy, love and friendship, peace and concord; speedily, O Lord our God, let there be heard in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of jubilant bridegrooms under their canopies, and of the young men at the nuptial feast playing music. Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, who makest the bridegroom rejoice with his bride.”
7. “Remove all suffering and anger; then will the dumlb be heard in song; lead us in the paths of righteousness, listen to the benedictions of the children of Jeshurun! With the permission of our seniors and rabbins, and my masters, let us bless our God in whose dwelling is joy, and of whose bounties we have partaken!” to which the guests respond, “Blessed be our God, in whose dwelling is joy, of whose bounties we have partaken, and by whose goodness we live;” and he then answers, “Then let us bless our God, in whose dwelling is joy, of whose bounties we have partaken, and by whose goodness we live” (Kethuboth, 7 b, 8). The married couple were then conducted to an elaborately-ornamented nuptial chamber (חופה, where the bridal couch (thalamus) was carefully prepared; and at the production of the linteum vilrinitatis the following morning (Deu 22:13-21), which was anxiously awaited, the following benediction was pronounced by the bridegroom: “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who hast placed a nut in paradise, the rose of the valleys-a stranger must not rule over this sealed fountain; this is why the hind of love has preserved the holy seed in purity, and has not broken the compact. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who hast chosen Abraham and his seed after him!” (see Halachoth Gedoloth, ed. Vienna, 51 [comp. Pliny, Hist. Nat. 15:24], where an explanation will be found of the use of אגוזnut, in this connection). Festivities continued for seven days (Kethuboth, 7 a).
As important religious questions had to be put to the bridal pair which required a learned man to do (Gitrit, 6; Kiddushin, 6, 13), it was afterwards resolved that the marriage-ceremony should be performed by a rabbi, and it is celebrated in the following manner: A beautifully- embroidered silk or velvet canopy, about three or four yards square, supported by four long poles, is held by four men out of doors on the day of the wedding. Under this chupash (חופה), which represents the ancient bridal chamber, the bridegroom is led by his male friends, preceded by a band of music, and welcomed by the joyous spectators with the exclamation, Blessed is he who is now come! (ברוהִבא); the bride, with her face veiled (nuptiae), is then brought to him by her female friends and led three times round the bridegroom, in accordance, as they say, with the remark of Jeremiah, “The woman shall compass the man” (Jer 31:22), when he takes her round once amid the congratulations of the bystanders, and then places her at his right hand (Psa 45:10), both standing with their faces to the south and their backs to the north. The rabbi then covers the bridal pair with the Talith, or fringed wrapper, which the bridegroom has on (comp. Ruth 3:19; Eze 16:8), joins their hands together, and pronounces over a cup of wine the benediction of affiance (ברכת ארוסין), which is as follows: “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who hast created the fruit of the vine.
Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who hast sanctified us with thy commandments, and hast forbidden to us consanguinity, and hast prohibited us the betrothed, but hast permitted us those whom we take by marriage and betrothal. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who hast sanctified thy people Israel by betrothal and marriage” (Kethuboth, 7 a). Whereupon the bridegroom and bride taste of the cup of blessing, and the former produces a plain gold ring, and, in the presence of all the party, puts it on the bride’s finger, saying, “Behold, thou art consecrated unto me with this ring according to the rites of Moses and Israel!” The rabbi then reads aloud, in the presence of appointed witnesses, the Kethubah, or the marriage-settlement, which is written in Syro- Chaldaic, and concludes by pronouncing over another cup of wine the seven benedictions (שבע ברכות), which the bridegroom in ancient times, before the ceremony of marriage became a public act and was delegated to the spiritual head, used to pronounce himself at the end of the meal. The bridegroom and bride taste again of this cup of blessing, and when the glass is emptied it is put oln the ground, and the bridegroom breaks it with his foot, as a symbol to remind them in the midst of their joys that just as this glass is destroyed, so Jerusalem is destroyed and trodden down under the foot of the Gentiles. With this the ceremony is concluded, amid the shouts, May you be happy! (מזל טוב).
IV. Polygamy and Concubinage. — Though the history of the protoplasts — in which we are told that God in the beginning created a single pair, one of each sex — seems to exhibit a standard for monogamy, yet the Scriptures record that from the remotest periods men had simultaneously several wives, occupying either coordinate or subordinate positions. Against the opinion that Lamech, sixth in descent from Adam through Cain, introduced polygamy-based on the circumstance that he is the first who is recorded as having married two wives (Gen 4:19) — is to be urged that (1.) Lamech is the first whose marriage or taking of a wife is recorded, and consequently it is impossible to say how many wives his five progenitors had;
(2.) The mention of Lamech’s two wives is incidental, and is entirely owing to the fact that the sacred historian had to notice the useful inventions made by their respective sons Jabal, Jubal, and Tubal-Cain, as well as to give the oldest piece of rhythmical composition which was addressed to the wives, celebrating one of these inventions; and
(3.) If polygamy had been for the first time introduced by Lamech, the sacred writer would have as distinctly mentioned it as he mentions the things which were first introduced by Lamech’s sons. The manner in which Sarah urges Abraham to take her servant Hagar, and the fact that Sarah herself gives the maiden to her own husband (לאשה) to be his wife, the readiness with which the patriarch accepts the proposal (Gen 16:1-4), unquestionably show that it was a common custom to have one or more secondary wives. In fact, it is distinctly mentioned that Nahor, Abraham’s own brother, who had eight sons by Milcah, his principal wife, and consequently did not require another wife for the purpose of securing progeny, had nevertheless a secondary wife (פלגש), by whom he had four sons (Gen 22:21-24). Besides, it is now pretty generally admitted that Gen 25:1 describes Abraham himself to have taken another or secondary wife in the lifetime of Sarah, in addition to Hagar, who was given to him by his principal wife, as is evident from Gen 25:6; 1Ch 1:32, and that he could not have taken her for the sake of obtaining an heir. If any more proof be wanted for the prevalence of polygamy in the patriarchal age, we refer to Esau, who, to please his father, married his cousin Mahalath in addition to the several wives whom he had (Gen 28:8-9); and to Jacob, who had not the slightest scruple to marry two sisters, and take two half-wives at the same time (Gen 29:23-30; Gen 30:4; Gen 30:9), which would be unaccountable on the supposition that polygamy was something strange. Though sacred history is silent about the number of wives of the twelve patriarchs, yet there can be little doubt that the large number of children and grandchildren which Benjamin had at so early an age (Gen 46:21; Num 26:38-41; 1Ch 7:6-12; 1Ch 8:1), must have been the result of polygamy; and that Simeon, at all events, had more than one wife (Exo 6:15). The extraordinary rate at which the Jews increased in Egypt implies that they practiced polygamy during their bondage. This is, moreover, corroborated by the incidental notice that Asher, Judah’s grandson, had two wives (1Ch 4:5 with 2:24); that Caleb, Judah’s great-grandson, had three principal and two subordinate wives (1Ch 2:9; 1Ch 2:18; 1Ch 2:42; 1Ch 2:46; 1Ch 2:48); that Aharaim, probably Benjamin’s great-grandson, had three wives (1Ch 8:8-11); and that Moses had two wives (Exo 2:21; Num 12:1); as well as by the fact that the Mosaic legislation assumes the existence of polygamy (Lev 13:14; Deu 25:5). Still, the theory of monogamy seems to be exhibited in the case of Noah and his three sons (Gen 6:18; Gen 7:7; Gen 7:13; Gen 8:16), of Aaron, and of Eleazar.
In judging of this period we must take into regard the following considerations:
(1.) The principle of monogamy was retained, even in the practice of polygamy, by the distinction made between the chief or original wife and the secondary wives, or, as the A.V. terms them, “concubines”-a term which is objectionable, inasmuch as it conveys to us the notion of an illicit and unrecognised position, whereas the secondary wife was regarded by the Hebrews as a wife, and her rights were secured by law. The position of the Hebrew concubine may be compared with that of the concubine of the early Christian Church, the sole distinction between her and the wife consisting in this, that the marriage was not in accordance with the civil law: in the eye of the Church the marriage was perfectly valid (Bingham, Ant. 11:5, §11). It is worthy of notice that the term pillegesh (פַּלֶּגֶשׁ; A.V. “concubine”) nowhere occurs in the Mosaic law. The terms used are either “wife” (Deu 21:15) or “maid-servant” (Exo 21:7); the latter applying to a purchased wife.
(2.) The motive which led to polygamy was that absorbing desire of progeny which is prevalent throughout Eastern countries, and was especially powerful among the Hebrews.
(3.) The power of a parent over his child, and of a master over his slave (the postestas patsiea and domestica of the Romans), was paramount even in matters of marriage, and led in many cases to phases of polygamy that are otherwise quite unintelligible, as, for instance, to the cases where it was adopted by the husband at the request of his wife, under the idea that children born to a slave were in the eye of the law the children of the mistress (Gen 16:3; Gen 30:4; Gen 30:9); or, again, to cases where it was adopted at the instance of the father (Gen 29:23; Gen 29:28; Exo 21:9-10). It must be allowed that polygamy, thus legalized and systematized, justified to a certain extent by the motive, and entered into, not only without offense to, but actually at the suggestion of those who, according to our notions, would feel most deeply injured by it, is a very different thing from what polygamy would be in our own state of society.
2. In the case of polygamy, as in that of other national customs, the Mosaic law adheres to the established usage. Hence there is not only no express statute to prohibit polygamy, which was previously held lawful, but the Mosaic law presupposes its existence and practice, bases its legislation thereupon, and thus authorizes it, as is evident from the following enactments:
1. It is ordained that a king “shall not multiply wives unto himself’ (Deu 17:17), which, as bishop Patrick rightly remarks, “is not a prohibition to take more wives than one, but not to have an excessive number, after the manner of Eastern kings, whom Solomon seems to have imitated;” thus, in fact, legalizing a moderate number. The Mishna (Sanhedrin, 2:4), the Talmud (Babylon Sanhedrin, 21 a), Rashi (on Deu 17:17), etc., in harmony with ancient tradition, regard eighteen wives, including half’ wives, as a moderate number, and as not violating the injunction contained in the expression “multiply.”
2. The law enacts that a man is not to marry his wife’s sister to vex her while she lives (Lev 18:18), which, as the same prelate justly urges, manifestly means “that though two wives at a time, or more, were permitted in those days, no man should take two sisters (as Jacob had formerly done) begotten of the same father or born of the same mother;” or, in other words, a man is at liberty to take another wife besides the first, and during her lifetime, provided only they are not sisters.
3. The law of primogeniture (Deu 21:15-17) actually presupposes the case of a man having two wives, one beloved and the other not, as it was with Jacob and his two wives, and ordains that if the one less beloved is the mother of his first-born, the husband is not to transfer the right of primogeniture to the son of his favorite wife, but is to acknowledge him as first-born who is actually Song of Solomon
4. Exo 21:9-10, permits a father who had given his son a bondwoman for a wife, to give him a second wife of freer birth, and prescribes how the first is then to be treated — that she is to have alimony, clothes, and the conjugal duty; and
5. Deu 25:5 expressly enjoins that a man though having a wife already, is to marry his deceased brother’s widow.
Having existed before the Mosaic law, and being acknowledged and made the basis of legislation by it, polygamy continued in full force during the whole of this period. Thus, during the government of the judges, we find Gideon, the celebrated judge of Israel, “had many wives, and three score and ten sons” (Jdg 8:30); Jair the Gileadite, also a judge of Israel, had thirty grown-up sons (Jdg 10:4) and a proportionate number of daughters. Ibzan, another judge of Israel, had thirty full-grown sons and thirty full-grown daughters (Jdg 12:9); and Abdon, also a judge of Israel, had forty adult sons and thirty adult daughters-which was utterly impossible without polygamy; the pious Elkanah, father of Samuel the illustrious judge and prophet, had two wives (1Sa 1:2). During the monarchy, we find Saul, the first king of Israel, had many wives and half wives (2Sa 3:7; 2Sa 12:8); David, the royal singer of Israel, “their best king,” as bishop Patrick remarks in his comment on Lev 18:18, “who read God’s law day and night, and could not but understand it, took many wives without any reproof; nay, God gave him more than he had before, by delivering his master’s wives to him” (2Sa 12:8); Solomon, the wise monarch, had no less than a thousand wives and half wives (1Ki 11:3); Rehoboam, his son and successor, had eighteen wives and three score half wives (2Ch 11:21); Abijah, his son and successor to the throne of Judah, married fourteen wives (2 Chronicles 14:21); and Joash. the tenth king, including David, who reigned from B.C. 378 to 338, had two wives given to him by the godly high-priest Jehoiada, who restored both the throne of David and the worship of the true God according to the law of Moses (2Ch 24:3). A very remarkable illustration of the prevalence of polygamy in private lifqis given in 1Ch 7:4, where we are told that not only did the five fathers, all of them chief men of the tribe of Issachar, live in polygamy, but that their descendants, numbering 36,000 men, “had many wives.” De Wette, indeed, affirms that “the Hebrew moral teachers speak decidedly for monogamy, as is evident from their always speaking of one wife, and from the high notion which they have of a good wedded wife — ‘A virtuous woman is the diadem of her husband, but a bad wife is like rottenness in the bones’ (Pro 12:4); ‘Whoso findeth a wife findeth happiness’ (Pro 18:22); ‘A house and wealth are an inheritance from parents, but a discreet wife is from the Lord’ (Pro 19:14). Pro 31:10-31 describes an industrious and managing wife in such a manner as one only could be it” (Christl. Sittenlehre, vol. 3, sec. 472). Similarly Ewald: “Wherever a prophet alludes to matrimonial matters, he always assumes faithful and sacred monogamy contracted for the whole life as the legal one” (Die Alterthumer Israels, p. 177 sq.). But we have exactly analogous passages where parental felicity is described: “A wise son is happiness to the father, but a foolish son is the grief of his mother” (Pro 10:1; Pro 15:20); “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction” (Pro 13:1); and upon the same parity of reasoning it might be said that the theory of having only one son is assumed by the sacred moralist, because, when speaking of happiness or misery, which parents derive from their offspring, only one son is alluded to. Besides, the facts which we have enumerated cannot be set aside by arguments.
3. As nothing is said in the post-exilian portions of the Bible to discourage polygamy, this ancient practice also continued among the Jews during this period. During the second Temple, we find that Herod the Great had nine wives (Josephus, Ant. 17:1, 3); his two sons, Archelaus the Ethnarch, and Antipas the Tetrarch of Galilee, had each two wives (Josephus, Ant. 17:13, 2; 18:5, 1); and John the Baptist and other Jews, who censured the one for violating the Mosaic law by the marriage of his deceased brother’s wife who had children (Josephus, Ant. 18:13, 2), and the other for marrying Herodias, the wife of his half-brother Herod-Philip (Mat 14:3-4; Mar 6:17-18; Luk 3:19), raised no cry against their practicing polygamy; because, as Josephus tells us, “the Jews of those days adhered to their ancient practice to have many wives at the same time” (Josephus, Ant. 17:1; 2). In harmony with this ancestral custom, the post-exilian legislation enacted various statutes to regulate polygamy and protect the rights and settlement of each wife (Mishna, Jebamoth, 4:11; Kethuboth, 10:1-6; Kiddushin, 2:7).
As a striking illustration of the prevalence and legality of polygamy during this period may be mentioned the following circumstance which is recorded in the Talmud: Twelve widows appealed to their brother-in-law to perform the duty of Levir, which he refused to do, because he saw no prospect how to maintain such an additional number of wives and possibly a large increase of children. The case was then brought before Jehudah the Holy, who promised that if the man would do the duty enjoined on him by the Mosaic law, he himself would maintain the family and their children, in case there should be any, every sabbatical year, when no produce was to be got from the land which was at rest. The offer was accepted by the Levir, and he accordingly married his twelve sisters-in-law; and after three years these twelve wives appeared with thirty-six children before Jehudah the Holy to claim the promised alimony, as it was then the sabbatical year, and they actually obtained it (Jerusalem Jebamoth, 4:12). Rabba ben-Joseph, founder and president of the college at Machuza (A.D. 338-352), taught that a man may take as many wives as he pleases, provided only that he can maintain them all (Jebamoth, 65 a). From the remark in the Mishna, that a Levir may marry his deceased brother’s fur widows (Jebamoth, 4:11), the Babylonian Gemara concluded that it recommends a man to have no more than this number (Babyl. Jebamoth, 44 a); and from this most probably Mohammed’s injunction is derived (Koran, 4:3). It was Rabanu Gershom ben-Jehudah of France (born cir. 960, died 1028), who, in the 11th century, prohibited polygamy under pains of excommunication, saving in exceptional cases (Graitz, Geschichte der Juden, v. 405-507).
His motive for doing so is a matter of dispute; the older Occidental rabbins say that the prohibition originated in a desire to preserve the peace of the family, while the Oriental rabbins will have it that it was dictated by the governments of Christian countries. His interdict, however, made but slow progress, even in Germany and France, for which it was chiefly designed. Thus Simon ben-Abraham of Sens, one of the most celebrated French Tossaphists, tells us (cir. 1200): “The institution of R. Gershom has made no progress either in our neighborhood or in the provinces of France. On the contrary, it happens that pious and learned men and many other people marry a second wife in the lifetime of the first” (B. Joseph, Eben Ha-Ezar, 1). The practice of marrying a second wife in the event of the first having no issue within ten years also obtained in Italy till about the 15th century-the pope giving a special dispensation for it. The Spanish Jews never recognized R. Gershom’s interdict; bigamy was practiced in Castile till the 14th century, while the Christian government of Navarre declared polygamy among the Jews legal, and the law of king Theobald allowed them to marry as many wives as they could maintain and govern, but they were not permitted to divorce ally one of them without sending all away (Kayserling, Geschichte der Juden in Spanien, 1:71). Nor was the said interdict acknowledged by the Jews in the East; and monogamy is there practiced simply because the bride makes a special agreement, and has a clause inserted in the Kethubah (כתובה), or marriage-settlement, that her husband is not to marry another as long as she lives. An exception, however, is made in case there is no issue. As to the opinion of the Karaites on monogamy and polygamy, the celebrated Jehudah ben-Elia Hadassi. (flourished 1149) remarks, in his famous work against rabbinic Judaism, “The Pentateuch prohibits one to marry two wives with a view to vex one of them (לצרור אחת מהן, Lev 18:18); but he may take them provided he loves them and does not grieve either of them, and treats them both affectionately. If he does not diminish their food, raiment, and conjugal rights (Exo 21:11), he is allowed to take two wives or more, just as Elkanah married Hannah and Peninnah, and as David, peace be upon him, and other kings and judges did” (Eshkol Hacopher, ed. Eupatoria, 1836, p. 129). From this it is evident that polygamy was not prohibited by the Jewish law, nor was it regarded as a sin, and that the monogamy of the Jews in the present day is simply in obedience to the laws of the countries in which they live. There were, however, always some rabbins who discouraged polygamy (A both, 2:7; Jebamoth, 65 a, al.); and the elevated notion which they had of monogamy is seen in the statutes which they enacted that the high-priest is to be the husband of one wife and to keep to her (Jebamoth, 58 a; Maimonides, Hilchoth Issure Bia, 18:13; Josephus, Ant. 3:12, 2); and which the apostle Paul also urges on Christian bishops (1Ti 3:2; Tit 1:16).
V. Proscribed Degrees and Laws of Intermarriage.
1. There were no prescribed degrees within which a man was forbidden to marry in the pre-Mosaic period. On the contrary, the fact that Adam married “bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh,” and that his sons married their own sisters, rather engendered an aversion to marry out of one’s own kindred. Hence we find that Abraham married his half-sister (Gen 20:12); Nahor, Abraham’s brother, married the daughter of his brother Haran, or his niece (Gen 11:29); Jacob married two sisters at the same time, who were the daughters of his mother’s brother (Gen 28:2; Gen 29:26); Esau married his cousin Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael (Gen 28:8-9); Amram married his aunt Jochebed, his father’s sister (Exo 6:20); and Judah married his daughter-in-law, Tamar, the widow of his own son (Gen 38:26-30). This aversion to intermarriage with strangers and other tribes, which made Abraham pledge his faithful steward by the most sacred oath not to take for his son a wife from the daughters of the Canaanites (Gen 24:2-4); which occasioned such “a grief of mind” to Isaac, because his son Esau married Hittite women (Gen 26:34-35); and which was the cause of great dissatisfaction in the family of Moses when he married a Midianitish woman (Exo 2:21); was afterwards greatly increased on the ground of difference of creed. The same feeling of aversion against intermarriage (ἐπιγαμία) with foreigners prevailed among other nations of antiquity, and may also have been the cause why marriages with the nearest of kin were practiced among them. Thus the Athenians were allowed to marry half-sisters by the fatmer’s side (Corn. Nepos, Praef: Cimon, i; Plutarch, Cimon, iv; Themistocl. xxxii); the Spartans married half-sisters by the same mother (Philo, De spec. leg. p. 779); and the Assyrians and Egyptians full sisters (Lucian, Sacrif: 5; Died. 1:27; Philo, De spec. leg. p. 779; Selden, De jure naturali et gentium, v. 11). In later times, when the desire to preserve purity of blood, which was the primary cause for not intermarrying with alien tribes, was superseded by religious motives, the patriarchal instances of epigamy recorded without censure during this period became very inconvenient. Hence means were adopted to explain them away. Thus the marriage of Judah with a heathen woman, the daughter of Shuah, a Canaanite (Gen 38:2). is made orthodox by the Chaldee Paraphrase, the Midrash (Bereshith Rabba. c. lxxxv), the Talmud (Pesachim, 50 a), Rashi (ad loc.), etc., by explaining כנעניto mean תגרא, merchant, as in Job 40:30; Pro 31:24; and the Jerusalem Targum finds it necessary to add that Judah converted her to Judaism (וגיירה). The marriage of Simeon with a Canaanitess (Gen 46:10) is explained away in a similar manner (comp. Bereshith Rabba, c. 80; Rashi on Gen 46:10).
2. The regulations next introduced in this respect are of a twofold nature:
a. The most important change in the Biblical gamology is the Mosaic law about the prohibited degrees among the Israelites themselves. While in the pre-Mosaic period no prohibition whatever existed against marrying one’s nearest and dearest relatives, the Mosaic law (Lev 18:7-17; Lev 20:11, etc.) proscribes no less than fifteen marriages within specified degrees of both consanguinity and affinity. In neither consanguinity nor affinity, however, does the law extend beyond two degrees, viz. the mother, her daughter, aunt, father’s wife, father’s sister, sister on the father’s side. wife of the father’s brother, brother’s wife (excepting in the case of a Levirate marriage), daughter-in-law, granddaughter, either from a son or daughter, a woman and her daughter, or her granddaughter either from a son or daughter, and two sisters together. The preceding table exhibits these degrees. We must only remark that the squares stand for males, the circles for females, the triangles within the squares for deceased, the numbers refer to the order in which they are enumerated in Lev 18:17, and that the husband and wife, who form the starting-point, are represented by a double square and double circle.
It will be seen from the foregoing table that, while some kindred are proscribed, others are allowed, e.g. a father’s sister is forbidden while a brother’s daughter is not. This has occasioned great difficulty in tracing the principle which underlies these prohibitions. Philippson is of opinion that it may be deduced from the remarks which accompany the respective vetoes. The stepmother is proscribed because “it is thy father’s nakedness” (Lev 18:8); the son’s or daughter’s daughter because it “is thine own nakedness” (Lev 18:10); the father’s or mother’s sister because she is the “father’s or mother’s flesh” (vers. 12, 13); and the brother’s wife because “it is the nakedness of thy brother” (Lev 18:16). “From this it is evident,” this erudite rabbi submits, “that, on the one side, son, daughter, and grandchild are identified with the father, while, on the other side, brothers and sisters are identified with each other, because they have one and the same source of life. Accordingly, we obtain the following data. All members proceeding from a common father or mother constitute one issue, because they possess together the same source of life; while the ascendants and the descendants in a straight line form one line, because they have one aifer the other and from each other the same source of life; and hence the law —
(1.) Two members of the same issue, or two members of the same line, are not to intermarry, because they have the same source of life. But inasmuch as the ascending is the primary to each descending issue, and the descending the derived to every ascending, an ascending issue may press forward out of the straight line, or step down into the following, i.e. the primary into the one derived from it; while the succeeding cannot go backwards into the foregoing, i.e. the derived into the primary. Now, as the man is the moving cause in carnal intercourse, hence the law —
(2.) A male member of the succeeding issue must not marry a female member of the preceding issue, while, on the contrary, a male member of the preceding may marry a female of the succeeding issue, provided they are not both of a direct line. Half-blood and step-relations make no difference in this respect, since they are identified, both in the issue and in the line, because husband and wife become identified. It is for this reason, also, that the relationship, which the wife always assumes in marriage with regard to her husband, is such as a blood relation bears to her; hence it is, for instance, that a brother’s wife is proscribed, while the wife’s sister is allowed. Thus the principle of the Mosaic proscriptions is a profound one, and is fully borne out by nature. Connubial intercourse has for its object to produce a third by the connection of two opposites; but that which proceeds from the same source of life is merely of the same kind. Hence, when two, originally of the same kind, unite, it is contrary to the true design of copulation, and can only proceed from an overpowering and excess of rude and animal passions. It is a desecration of the nature and morality of man. and the highest defilement” (Israelitische Bibel, 1:588 sq.; 3d. ed. Leipz. 1863).
Different penalties are attached to the infringement of these prohibitions. The punishment of death is to be inflicted for marrying a father’s wife (Lev 18:8; Lev 20:11), or a daughter-in-law (Lev 18:15; Lev 20:12); of death by fire for marrying a woman and her daughter at the same time (Lev 18:17; Lev 20:14); of being cut off or excommunicated for marrying a sister on the father’s side or on the mother’s side (Lev 18:9; Lev 20:17); of not being pardoned for marrying a father’s or mother’s sister (Lev 18:12-13; Lev 20:19); of not being pardoned and childlessness for marrying a father’s brother’s wife (Lev 18:14; Lev 20:20); and of childlessness alone for marrying a brother’s wife (Lev 18:16; Lev 20:21), excepting the case of a Levirate marriage (Deu 25:5-10). No penalty is mentioned for marrying one’s mother (Lev 18:7), granddaughter (Lev 18:10), or two sisters together (Lev 18:18). From this enumeration it will be seen that it only specifies three instances in which capital punishment is to be inflicted.
The grounds on which these prohibitions were enacted are reducible to the following three heads:
(1) moral ropriety;
(2) the practices of heathen nations; and
(3) social convenience.
The first of these grounds comes prominently forward in the expressions by which the various offenses are characterized, as well as in the general prohibition against approaching “the flesh of his flesh.” The use of such expressions undoubtedly contains an appeal to the horror naturalis, or that repugnance with which man instinctively shrinks from matrimonial union with one with whom he is connected by the closest ties both of blood and of family affection. On this subject we need say no more than that there is a difference in kind between the affection that binds the members of a family together, and that which lies at the bottom of the matrimonial bond, and that the amalgamation of these affections cannot take place without a serious shock to one or the other of the two; hence the desirableness of drawing a distinct line between the provinces of each, by stating definitely where the matrimonial affection may legitimately take root. The second motive to laying down these prohibitions was that the Hebrews might be preserved as a peculiar people, with institutions distinct from those of the Egyptians and Canaanites (Lev 18:3), as well as of other heathen nations with whom they might come in contact. Marriages within the proscribed degrees prevailed in many civilized countries in historical times, and were not unusual among the Hebrews themselves in the pre-Mosaic age. For instance, marriages with half-sisters by the same father were allowed at Athens (Plutarch, Cim. 4; Themistocl. 32), with half-sisters by the same mother at Sparta (Philo, De spec. leg. p. 779), and with full sisters in Egypt (Diod. 1:27) and Persia, as illustrated in the well-known instances of Ptolemy Philadelphus in the former (Paus. 1:7, 1), and Cambyses in the latter country (Herod. 3:31). It was even believed that in some nations marriages between a son and his mother were not unusual (Ovid, het. 10:331; Eurip. Androm. 174). Among the Hebrews we have instances of marriage with a half-sister in the case of Abraham (Gen 20:12), with an aunt in the case of Amran (Exo 6:20), and with two sisters at the same time in the case of Jacob (Gen 29:26). Such cases were justifiable previous to the enactments of Moses: subsequently to them we have no case in the O.T. of actual marriage within the degrees, though the language of Tamar towards her half-brother Amnon (2Sa 13:13) implies the possibility of their union with the consent of their father. The Herods committed some violent breaches of the marriage law. Herod the Great married his halfsister (Ant. 17:1, 3); Archelaus his brother’s widow, who had children (17:13,1); Herod Antipas his brother’s wife (18:5, 1; Mat 14:3). In the Christian Church we have an instance of marriage with a father’s wife (1Co 5:1), which St. Paul characterizes as “fornication” (πορνεία), and visits with the severest condemnation. The third ground of the prohibitions, social convenience, comes forward solely in the case of marriage with two sisters simultaneously, the effect of which would be to “vex” or irritate the first wife, and produce domestic wars.
Besides the proscribed degrees, the Mosaic law also forbids the following intermarriages: 1. No Israelite is to marry the progeny of incestuous and unlawful copulations, or a manner ( ממזר, Deu 23:2). In the absence of any Biblical definition of this much-disputed expression, we must accept the ancient traditional explanation contained in the Mishna, which is as follows: ‘When there is betrothal without transgression of the law about forbidden marriages — e.g. if the daughters of priests, Levites, or Israelites are married to priests, Levites, or Israelites — the chill goes after the father; where there is betrothal, and this law has been transgressed — e.g. if a widow is married to a high-priest, a divorced woman or one who performed the ceremony of chralitsah to an ordinary priest, or a bastardess or a female nethin to an Israelite; or, vice versa, if a Jewess is married to a bastard or nethin— the child goes after the inferior party; where the woman cannot be betrothed to the man, but might legally be betrothed to another person — e.g.,
1. if a man married within any one of the degrees proscribed by the law — the child is a bastard or manner” (Kiddushin, 3:12).
2. Any person who is פצוע דכה, cujus testiculi vulnerati sunt, vel certe unus eorum, or כרות שפכה), cujus membruns virile precissum est, as the Mishna (Jebanoth, 8:2) explains it, is not allowed to marry (Deu 23:1).
3. A man is not to remarry a woman whom he had divorced, and who, after marrying another husband, had become a widow, or been divorced again (Deu 24:2-4).
4. Heiresses are not allowed to intermarry with persons of another tribe (Num 36:5-9).
5. A high-priest is forbidden to marry a widow, a divorced woman, a profane woman, or a harlot, and restricted to a pure Jewish maiden (Lev 21:13-14).
6. Ordinary priests are prohibited from marrying prostitutes and divorced women (Lev 21:7).
b. The proscription of epigamy with non-Israelites is absolute with regard to some nations, and conditional with regard to others. The Mosaic law absolutely forbids intermarriage with the seven Canaanitish nations, on the ground that it would lead the Israelites into idolatry (Exo 34:15-16; Deu 7:3-4); and with the Ammonites and Moabites, on account of national antipathy (Deu 23:4-8); while the prohibition against marriage with the Egyptians and Edomites only extends to the third generation (Deu 23:7-8). The Talmud, which rightly expounds the prohibition to “enter into the congregation of the Lord” as necessarily extending to epigamy (comp. 1Ki 11:2; Kiddushin, 4:3), takes the third generation to mean of those who becamse proselytes, i.e. the grandchildren of an Ammonite or Moabite who professes Judaism (Mishna, Jebamoth, 8:3; Maimonides, lad Ha-Chazaka, Issure Biah, 12:19, 20). This view is confirmed by the fact that the Bible only mentions three intermarriages with Egyptians, and records at least two out of the three to show the evil effects of it. One occurred after the Exodus and in the wilderness, and we are told that the son of this intermarriage, while quarreling with a brother Jew, blasphemed the name of God, and suffered capital punishment (Lev 24:10-14); the second occurred towards the end of the rulership of the judges, and tradition endeavors to show that Ishmael, the murderer of Gedaliah (Jer 41:1-2), was a descendant of Jarha, the Egyptian son-in-law of Sheshan (1Ch 2:34-35; and, Rashi, ad loc.); and the third is the intermarriage of Solomon, which, however, is excepted from the censure in the book of Kings (1Ki 3:1 sq.; 1Ki 11:1-2). Of intermarriages with Edomites not a single instance is; recorded in the O.T.; the Jewish antipathy against: them was transmitted down to a very late period, as we find in the declaration of Jesus, son of Sirach, that his soul hates the inhabitants of Seir (Sir 4:25-26), and in the fact that Judas Maccabaeus carried on a dead.ly war with them (1Ma 5:3; 2 Maccabees 20:15-23).
An exception is made in the case of female captives of war (Deu 21:10-14), which is evidently designed to obviate as far as possible the outrages committed after the evil passions have been stirred up in the conflict. The law, however, most humanely ordains that the captor, before making her his wife, should first allow her to indulge herself for a full month in mourning for her parents, from whom she is snatched away, and to practice the following customary rites expressive of grief:
1. Cut off the hair of her head, which was the usual sign of mourning both among the Jews and other nations of antiquity (Ezr 9:3; Job 1:20; Isa 15:2;. Jer 7:29; Jer 16:6; Eze 7:18; Eze 27:31; Amo 8:10; Mic 1:16);
2. Cut off her nails, which were stained to form a part of personal adornment; and,
3. Put off the raiment in which she was taken captive, since the women who followed their fathers and husbands to the war put on their finest dresses and ornaments previous to an engagement, in the hope of finding favor in the eyes of their captors in case of a defeat (Ovid, Remied. Amor. 343; Rosenmüller, as alte u. neue Morgenland, 2:308).
The first complaint of epigamy with aliens is, strange to say, made against Moses, the lawgiver himself (Num 12:1). In the days of the Judges the law against intermarriage was commonly transgressed (Jdg 3:6), and from the earlier portions of the book of Proverbs, which ring with repeated denunciations of foreign women (Pro 2:16-17; Pro 5:8-11; Pro 15:17), as well as from the warnings of Isa 2:6, it is evident that intermarriages with foreign women were generally practiced in private life in after times. Of the twenty kings of Israel who reigned from the division of the kingdom to the Babylonian captivity, Ahab is the only one mentioned who married a foreign wife (1Ki 16:31); while of the nineteen kings of Judah after the division none intermarried with aliens. Marriages between Israelitish women and proselyted foreigners were at all times of rare occurrence, and are noticed in the Bible as if they were of an exceptional nature, such as that of an Egyptian and an Israelitish woman (Lev 24:10); of Abigail and Jether, the Ishmaelite, contracted probably when Jesse’s family was sojourning in Moab (1Ch 2:17); of Sheshan’s daughter and an Egyptian, who was staying in his house (1Ch 2:35); and of a Naphthalite woman and a Tyrian, living in adjacent districts (1Ki 7:14). In the reverse case, viz. the marriage of Israelites with foreign women, it is, of course, highly probable that the wives became proselytes after their marriage, as instanced in the case of Rth 1:16, and probably in that of Solomon’s Egyptian wife (Psa 40:10); but this was by no means invariably the case. On the contrary, we find that the Canaanitish wives of Solomon (1Ki 11:4), and the Phoenician wife of Ahab (1Ki 16:31), retained their idolatrous practices, and introduced them into their adopted countries. Proselytism does not, therefore, appear to have been a sine qua non in the case of a wife, though it was so in the case of a husband: the total silence of the law as to any such condition in regard to a captive, whom an Israelite might wish to marry, must be regarded as evidence of the reverse (Deu 21:10-14), nor have the refinements of rabbinical writers on that passage succeeded in establishing the necessity of proselytism. The opposition of Samson’s parents to his marriage with a Philistine woman (Jdg 14:3) leads to the same conclusion.
3. In the post-exilian period, besides the fifteen proscribed degrees enumerated in Lev 18:7-17; Lev 20:11, etc., the Sopherlim, or scribes (B.C. 322-221), prohibited marriage with other relations (Mishna, Jebcamoth, 2:4), . and those prohibitions were afterwards extended still further by R.Chija ben-Abba the Babylonian (A.D. 163-193), and friend of Jehudah I the Holy (Jebamoth, 22. a). ‘The prohibited degrees of the scribes are denominated שניות, i.e. לעריותthe second or subordinate in rank with respect to those forbidden in the Bible, and may be seen in the following list given by Maimonides:
“1. The mother’s mother, and this is infinite, for the mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’, and so upwards. are proscribed.
2. The mother of his father’s mother, and no further.
3. His father’s mother, and this is infinite, for even the father’s mother’s mother’s mother, and so upwards, are proscribed.
4. The mother of his father’s father only.
5. The wife of his father’s father, and this is infinite, for even if she were the wife of our father Jacob, she is forbidden to every one of us.
6. The wife of his mother’s father only.
7. The wife of his father’s brother by the mother.
8. The wife of his mother’s brother, whether by the mother or by the father.
9. His son’s daughter-in-law, i.e. his son’s son’s wife, and this is infinite, for even if she were the son’s son’s son’s son’s wife, descending to the end of the world, she is forbidden, so that, as long as the wife of one of us lives, she is secondary or forbidden to our father Jacob
10. His daughter’s daughter-in-law, i.e. her son’s wifl only.
11. The daughter of his son’s daughter only.
12. The daughter of his son’s son only.
13. The daughter of his daughter’s daughter only.
14. The daughter of his daughter’s son only.
15. The daughter of his wife’s son only.
16. The daughter of his wife’s daughter’s daughter only.
17. The mother of his wife’s father’s mother only.
18. The mother of his wife’s mother’s father only.
19. The mother of his wife’s mother’s mother only.
20. The mother of his wife’s father’s father only.
Thus, of these secondary prohibitions, there are four which are infinite:
a, the mother’s mother and all upwards;
b, the father’s mother and all upwards;
c, the grandfather’s wife and all upwards; and,
d, the son’s son’s wife and all downwards” (Hilchoth Ishuth, 1:6).
The principle by which the scribes were guided was to extend the prohibition to the whole line wherever the Mosaic law refers to lineal ascendants or descendants, as well as to those who might easily be mistaken by having a common appellation. Thus mother’s mother’s mother’s mother, ad infinitum, is forbidden, because the Mosaic law proscribes the mother, so also the wife of the grandfather, because the wife’s father is forbidden in the Mosaic law; while the mother of the father is proscribed, because the appellation grandmother is used without distinction for both the mother’s and father’s mother. From Maimonides’s list, however, it will be seen that he, like Alfasi, restricts prohibition 2 to the mother of the grandfather, and prohibitions 12-16, 20, to the son’s grandchildren, great-grandmother, and great-grandchildren, but does not extend it to any further ascendants or descendants. The whole subject is extensively discussed in the Talmud (Jebamoth, 21, 22; Jerusalem Jebamoth, 2:4), and by Maimonides (Istel Ha-Chazaka, Hilchoth Ishuth, 1:6, etc.), to which we must refer. It must, however, be remarked that Philo’s list of proscribed degrees is much shorter. After explaining why Moses prohibited marriage with one’s own mother or sister, he says, “For this reason he has also forbidden other matrimonial connections, inasmuch as he ordained that a man shall not marry his granddaughter (μὴ θυγατριδῆν, μὴ υἱδῆν), nor his aunt on the father’s or mother’s side, nor the wife of an uncle, son, or brother; nor a step-daughter while in the lifetime of her mother or after her death, because a stepfather takes the place of a father, and a step-daughter is to be looked upon as his own daughter. Neither does he allow the same man to marry two sisters, either at the same time or at different times, even in case one of them had been married to another and is divorced; for he did not consider it pious that one sister should succeed to the place of her unfortunate sister, whether the latter is still cohabiting with him, or is divorced and has no husband. or is married to another husband” (De special. legibus, 780). Still shorter is the list of Josephus, who says, “The law prohibits it as a heavy sin and an abomination to have carnal intercourse with one’s mother, step-mother, father’s or mother’s sister, one’s own sister, or a son’s wife” (Ant. 3:12, 1). Marriage with a wife’s step-mother is allowed by the Babylonian and forbidden by the Jerusalem Talmud; the Spanish Jews follow the former, while the Germano-French communities adopt the latter. Intermarriages between cousins, uncle and niece, entire step-brother and step-sister, are quite legitimate. Indeed, for an uncle to marry a niece, which the English law forbids, has been considered by the Jews from time immemorial as something specially meritorious. The Talmud says that the promise given in Isaiah, “Then shalt thou call and the Lord shall answer” (58:9), refers to that man especially “who loves his neighbors, befriends his relations, marries his brother’s daughter, and lends money to the poor in the hour of need” (Jebamoth, 62 b. 63 a).
As to the ethical cause of the proscribed marriages, or the cases specified, including parallels by affinity. the ancient Jews, to whom the oracles of God were committed, and who had to explain and administer the law in practical life, knew nothing about it. The Palestinian doctors regarded the proscribed degrees as a positive law, the cause of which cannot be divined by human reason (Sifra Kedoshim, 9:12; Talmud, Sabbath, 130 a; Joma, 75 a). The only attempt to rationalize on the subject is on the apparent inconsistency of the Mosaic law in prohibiting marriage with the wife of the father’s brother, in case she is divorced or left a widow, and not forbidding the wife of the mother’s brother. Upon this the Talmud remarks that a man visits his father’s relations more than his mother’s (Jebamoth, 21 a; and Rashi on this passage); and it is submitted, and we believe with perfect reason, and based on Num 1:2, that it is the father’s relations who constitute the family, and not the mother’s. We thus see that up to the time of the Ptolemies, when the Greek loose barriers of consanguinity threatened to fall among the Jewish families, the ancient Hebrews were bound only by the specific proscriptions in the Mosaic law, and that even after the prohibitions were extended by the scribes, the proscription of a male relative by blood did not imply the wife’s relatives of the like degree, because of the strong distinction made by them between consanguinity and affinity by marriage; the former being permanent and sacred, and the latter uncertain and vague, as a man might any moment divorce his wife, or take as many as he pleased, and because the husband’s family were regarded as the relations, while the wife’s were not esteemed beyond those who are especially mentioned.
The proscribed degrees were sacredly avoided by the Jews during this period, and no dispensation could be obtained by any one, no matter how high his position, as Judaism never invested any spiritual functionary with power to absolve, even in extraordinary cases, from the obligations of the law. Hence the outcry against Herod the Great, who married his half-sister (Josephus, Ant. 17:1, 3); against Archelaus, who took his deceased brother’s widow when she was the mother of children (ibid. 17:13, 1); and against Herod Antipas, for which John the Baptist had to atone with his life (Josephus, Ant. 18:5, 1; Mat 14:3). So long as foreign epigamy was of merely occasional occurrence no veto was placed upon it by public authority; but when, after the return from the Babylonian captivity, the Jews contracted marriages with the heathen inhabitants of Palestine in so wholesale a manner as to endanger their national existence, the practice was severely condemned (Ezr 9:2; Ezr 10:2), and the law of positive prohibition, originally pronounced only against the Canaanites, was extended to the Moabites, Ammonites, and Philistines (Neh 13:23-25). Public feeling was thenceforth strongly opposed to foreign marriages, and the union of Manasseh with a Cuthaean led to such animosity as to produce the great national schism, which had its focus in the temple on Mount Gerizim (Josephus, Ant. 11:8, 2) A no less signal instance of the same feeling is exhibited in the cases of Joseph (Ant. 12:4, 6) and Anilaets (Ant. 18:9, 5), and is noticed by Tacitus (Hist. v. 5) as one of the characteristics of the Jewish nation in his day. In the N.T. no special directions are given on this head. but the general precepts of separation between believers and unbelievers (2Co 6:14; 2Co 6:17) would apply with special force to the case of marriage; and the permission to dissolve mixed marriages, contracted previously to the conversion of one party, at the instance of the unconverted one, cannot but be regarded as implying the impropriety of such unions subsequently to conversion (1Co 7:12).
Besides the proscribed degrees, the rabbinic law also enacted —
1. A man must not marry a divorced woman with whom he has committed adultery prior to her divorcement (Sotet, 27), or even if he is only suspected of it (Jebamoth, 24; Maimonides, Sofa, i 12).
2. A man who attested the death of the husband is not allowed to marry the widow, nor is the bearer of a divorce permitted to marry the divorced woman, to avoid suspicion (Jebamoth, 2:9, 10).
3. If a man’s wife dies, he must not marry again till three festivals after his wife’s death (Moed Katon, 23).
4. A man is not to marry a woman who has lost two husbands (Jebamoth, 64).
5. A father is not to give a young daughter in marriage to an old man, nor is a young man to marry an old woman (Jebamoth, 101; Maimonides, Isure Bia, 21:26).
6. A man is not to marry within thirty days of the death of a near relation (Voed Katon, 23).
7. Widows are not to marry within ninety days of the loss of their husbands. nor are divorced women to marry within ninety days of their being divorced, in order that the paternity of the newly-born child might be distinguished (Jebamoth, 41 a). 8. If a widow or a divorced woman is nursing an infant, she must not marry within twenty-four months of the birth of the baby (Jebamoth, 41; Kethuboth, 60; and Tossafoth, on these passages).
VI. Sanctity of Marriage, and Mutual Rights of Husband and Wife. —
1. Though at the creation the wife occupied an equal position with the husband, being a part of him, yet, as she became the cause of his sin, God ordained it as part of her punishment that the wife should be in subjection to the will of her husband, and that he should be her master, and “rule over her” (Gen 3:16). This dependence of the wife on her husband is henceforth declared by the very Hebrew appellation (באל) for husband (Exo 21:3; Exo 21:22), which literally denotes lord, master, owner, and is seen in the conduct of Sarah, who speaks of her husband Abraham as (אדני) my lord (Gen 18:12), which is commended by Peter as illustrating the proper position of a wife (1Pe 3:6). From this mastery of the husband over the wife arose the different standard of virtue which obtained in married life. The wife, as subject to her husband, her lord and master, was not allowed to practice polyandry; she was obliged to regard the sanctity of marriage as absolute, and any unchastity on her part was visited with capital punishment; while the husband could take any unmarried woman he liked and violate the laws of chastity, as we should view it, with impunity (Gen 38:24). This absolute sanctity of marriage on the part of the wife was also acknowledged by other nations of antiquity, as is gathered from the narratives of the patriarchs. Thus Abraham knew that Pharaoh would not take Sarah from her husband, and we are told that as soon as the Egyptian monarch discovered that she was a married woman, he immediately restored her to her husband (Gen 12:15-19); and this is confirmed by Egyptology, which, based on ancient writers and monuments, shows that he who seduced a married woman received a thousand rods, and that the woman had her nose cut off (Uhlemann, AEgypt. Alterthumsk. 11, sec. 25, 65). The same sanctity was attached to a married woman in Philistia (Gen 20:1-18; Gen 26:9-11).
2. Recognizing the previously-existing inequality of husband and wife, and basing its laws upon the then prevailing notion that the husband is lord over his wife, that he can take as many wives as he likes, and send them away whenever he dislikes them, the Mosaic gamology, as a matter of course, could neither impose the same obligation of nuptial fidelity nor confer the same rights on both. This is evident from the following facts: 1. The husband had a right to expect from his wife connubial chastity, and in case of infidelity could demand her death as well as that of her seducer (Lev 20:10; Deu 22:20-22; Eze 16:40; Joh 8:5).
2. If he became jealous and suspicious of her, even when she had not been unfaithful, he could bring her before the priest and have administered to her the water of jealousy (Num 5:12-31). But if the husband was suspected, or was actually guilty of carnal intercourse with an unmarried woman, no statute was enacted to enable the wife or wives to arraign him for a breach of marriage or infringement of her or their rights. Even when he was discovered with another man’s wife, it was the injured husband that had the power to demand the death of the seducer, but not the wife of the criminal.
3. If the wife vowed anything to the Lord, or imposed upon herself voluntary obligations to the Deity, her husband could nullify it (Num 30:6-8).
4. He could send her away or divorce her when she displeased him (Deu 24:14).
The woman, again, is protected by the following laws:
1. When a Hebrew maiden is sold by her father to a man, with the understanding that she is to be his half-wife ( אמה=פילגש, Exo 21:7; Jdg 9:18 with Jdg 8:31), the law enacts that, in case her master and intended husband is displeased with her, and he refuses to redeem his promise —
i, he is not to keep her till the sabbatic year, and then give her her liberty like ordinary servants;
ii, he is not to sell her to any one else as a wife;
iii, he may give her to his son as a wife, and in that case must treat her as a daughter-in-law;
iv, if he gives his son an additional wife, she is to retain — a, her food, b, raiment, and, c, conjugal right as heretofore; and,
v, if these three last-mentioned points are refused to her, she is forthwith to be set at liberty (Exo 21:7-11).
2. If he maliciously impugns her chastity, he is to be scourged, and loses his right over her to divorce her (Deu 22:13-19)
3. If she has children, they must render equal obedience to her as to the father (Exo 20:12; Deu 27:16).
4. The husband must not vex her by marrying two sisters simultaneously (Lev 18:18).
5. He is not allowed to annoy his less-beloved wife by transferring the primogeniture from her son to the child of his favorite wife (Deu 21:15-17).
6. If her husband dislikes her, he is not arbitrarily to dismiss her, but give her a “bill of divorcement” (Deu 24:1), which requires the interposition of legal advisers.
7. When a woman is divorced, or her husband dies, she is free, and at liberty to marry any one she likes, as is evident from the enactments in Lev 21:7-8; Lev 21:13; Deu 24:2-4; Deu 25:5, which are based upon this fact.
3. The notions about sanctity of marriage were loftier during the post- exilian period than in the preceding epochs, as may be judged from the fact that unfaithfulness to a wife is denounced by the prophet Malachi as violating a sacred covenant, to the transaction of which God himself was a witness (Mal 2:14). And though it may be questioned whether the prophet’s appeal to God as having been witness to the marriage-contract refers to the above-named seven benedictions (שבע ברכות) which the bridegroom had to pronounce at the marriage-feast, and in which he invoked God’s presence and blessing to the compact, as Abrabanel will have it. yet there can be no doubt that marriage is here for the first time expressly described as a covenant (ברית) made in the presence of God. With such a view of the sanctity of marriage, the notion that a wife is a plaything for a leisure hour rapidly disappeared, and the sages who had to expound the law to the people in the time of Christ taught that the declaration “Peace shall be in thy house” (Job 5:24) will be realized by him “who loves his wife as himself, and honors her more than himself, and trains his sons and daughters up in the way of righteousness” (Jebamoth, 62 b). Moreover, marriage was regarded as illegal if the man had not given to his wife the instrument (כתובה), in which he promises his wife, “I will work for thee, honor thee. maintain thee, and provide for thee, according to the custom of Jewish husbands.” The rabbinic laws both define this promise and insist upon its being fulfilled, as may be seen from the following enactments:
1. A wife is to be kept in proportion to the circumstances of her husband, and have her meals with him at the table; if he ill-treats her and she removes from him, he is obliged to send her maintenance (Jebamoth, 64 b).
2. If the husband goes on a three months’ journey without making provision for his wife, the legal authorities of the place are to maintain her from his property (Kethuboth, 48 a, 107).
3. He is obliged to perform the duties of a husband within a stated period (Mishna, Kethuboth, v. 6).
4. If her husband dies, she is to be maintained from his property, or by the children, in the same manner as she was in his lifetime, till she is betrothed to another man, and her rights must be attended to before the claims of any one else (Kethuboth, 43, 51, 52, 68,103; Jerusalem Kethuboth, 4:14).
5. If a woman marries a man of higher rank than herself, she rises with him; but if he is inferior to her. she does not descend to him ( ואינה עולה עמו יורדת[Kethuboth, 48 a, 61 a]). For other rights which the wife possesses we must refer to the Kethubah, or the marriage- instrument given in section 2 of this period. The husband, on the other hand, has a right to expect from his wife chastity which is beyond the reach of suspicion, unreserved obedience, and to do the work of a housewife. Other rights are given in the following section on divorce.
VII. Divorce. —
1. The arbitrary power of the husband over his wife in the patriarchal age is also seen in the fact that he could divorce her at his pleasure. There is but one instance of it recorded, but it is a very significant one. Abraham, though he has a child by Hagar, sends away his half-wife, not requiring any legal or religious intervention (Gen 21:14), but, as in the case of marriage, effecting it by a mere verbal declaration. Wherever marriages are effected by the violent, exercise of the patria. potestas, or without any bon of f affection between the parties concerned, ill-assorted matches must be of frequent occurrence; and without the remedy of divorce, in such a state of society, we can understand the truth of the apostles’ remark that “it is not good to marry” (Mat 19:10). Hence divorce prevails to a great extent in all countries where marriage is the result of arbitrary appointment or of purchase: we may instance the Arabians (Burckhardt’s Notes, 1:111; Layard, Nineveh, 1:357) and the Egyptians (Lane, 1:235 sq.).
2. It must be remarked that the Mosaic law does not institute divorce, but, as in other matters, recognizes and most humanely regulates the prevailing patriarchal practice (Deu 24:1-4). The ground on which the law allows a divorce is termed ערות דבר, any shameful thing. What the precise meaning of this ambiguous phrase is, and what, according to the Mosaic gamology, gives a husband the right to divorce his wife, has been greatly disputed in the schools of Shammai and Hillel, which were founded before the advent of Christ, and these discussions are given below. It is, however, certain that the phrase does not denote fornication or adultery, for in that case the woman was not divorced, but stoned (Lev 20:10; Deu 22:20-22; Eze 16:40; Joh 8:5). Moreover, the phrase מצא חן בעיני פלני, with which this statute begins, when used of opposite sexes, as in the case before us, generally denotes favorable i impression which one produces on the other, by graceful manners, or beautiful appearance (Gen 39:4; Rth 2:2; Rth 2:10; Rth 2:13; Eze 5:2 with 8). That it has this sense here seems to be warranted by Eze 5:3, where it is supposed that, the divorced woman marries again, and her second husband also divorces her, and that not on account of immorality, but because he does not like her. The humane regulations which the Mosaic gamology introduced in order to render a divorce legal were as follows:
1. If a man dislikes his wife, or finds that he cannot live happily with her, he is not summarily to send her away by word of mouth as heretofore, but is to give her a formal and judicial bill of divorcement (ספר כריתת), which required the intervention of a legal adviser, and caused delay, thus affording time for reflection, and preventing many a divorce resolved on under the influence of passion.
2. Allowing the parties, even after the dissolution of the marriage, to renew the connection if they wished it, provided the divorced wife had not in the meantime married another husband, and become a widow, or been again divorced. Not only are bishop Patrick (on Deu 24:4), Michaelis (Law’s of Moses, 2:137, English translation), and many other Christian expositors, of this opinion, but it has been so understood and acted upon by those who were charged with the administration of the law from time immemorial. The only exception which the sages made was when a man divorced his wife because of an evil report which he maliciously circulated about her; then he was not allowed to remarry her (Mishna, Gittin, 4:7).
3. If the divorced woman marries again, and the second husband either dies or divorces her, she is not allowed to remarry her first husband: this was to preclude the possibility of procuring the death of, or a divorce from, the second husband, in case the parties wished to be reunited.
4. If a man seduces a maiden, and on this account is legally obliged to marry her, “he may not put her away all his life” (Deu 22:28-29). Or,
5. If he groundlessly impugns her chastity, he also loses the power of ever divorcing her (Deu 22:13-19). This, as well as the preceding benign law, was evidently designed to make men care for those women whom they had either virtually or actually deprived of their moral character, and who, if these men were allowed to desert them, might never be able to get husbands. Thus these laws, while checking seduction, inasmuch as the man knew that he would have all his lifetime to be wedded to and care for the injured woman, also prevented those females who had momentarily fallen from being branded for life, and compelled to give themselves up to prostitution.
6. Though the Mosaic law has no express statute that the wife, under certain circumstances, may demand a divorce from her husband, yet it is undoubtedly implied in the enactment contained in Exo 21:10. For if a bondwoman who became the wife of her master could quit him if he did not fulfill the conditions of a husband, it, is but natural to conclude that a free wife would, under similar circumstances, be able to claim the protection of the same law. A few instances of the violation of the divorce law, between the period of its enactment and the Babylonian captivity, are incidentally recorded without any censure whatever. Thus we are told that Saul took away Michal, his daughter, David’s wife, without David’s formally divorcing her, and gave her to Phalti (1Sa 25:44), and that David took back again Michal, who had been united to another husband (2Sa 3:14-16). Still the laws of divorce and of prohibiting reunion after the divorced woman had been married to another husband are alluded to by Jeremiah as well known and commonly observed (Jer 3:1-8).
3. The rather uncertain grounds on which the Mosaic law permits divorce (Deu 24:1-4) were minutely defined during the period after the exile. Though the school of Shammai restricts the phrase ערות דברto unchastity, and the Sadducees too insisted that divorce is not to be tolerated except when the woman is guilty of adultery (Eschol Ba-Copher, Alphab. xcix; Ben-Chonanja, 4:276), yet the Jews as a nation, as well as most Christian expositors, agree with the school of Hillel, (Mishna, Gittin, 9:10) that it denotes faults or deforimities, as the context plainly shows. Now, in stating the grounds on which the Jewish expositors of the law, in the time of Christ and after, regarded dissolution of marriage as justifiable, we must distinguish the cases in which the legal authorities themselves took up the matter, from those in which the married parties asked for divorce.
a. Dissolution of marriage occasioned by the lawful authorities took place —
1. When the woman is guilty of adultery.
2. When the woman carries on secret intercourse with a man after her husband has warned her against it (Sota, 27; Jebamoth, 24).
3. Where, though betrothal had taken place, yet a matrimonial law (matrimonium injustum) is violated, either referring to the proscribed degrees or to other matters enacted by the rabbins.
4. When the husband is infected with leprosy (Kethuboth, 77).
b. It was granted on the demand of the married parties. Thus the husband could effect a dissolution of marriage —
1. When his wife, by violating the Mosaic law, caused him, without knowing it, to be guilty of transgression (Mishna, Kethuboth, 7:6).
2. If the wife violates the bounds of modesty — e.g. by going into the street with uncovered hair, flirting with young men, etc. (ibid.). 3. If the wife is suspected of adultery.
4. If the woman curses her father-in-law in the presence of her husband (Kethuboth, 72).
5. If the wife will not follow her husband to another place (Kethuboth. 110).
6. If the wife refuses her husband the conjugal rights for twelve months.
The wife can demand a divorce —
1. If after marriage the husband contracts a loathsome disease (Mishna, Kethuboth, 7:9, 10).
2. If after marriage he betakes himself to a disgusting business (ibid. the Gemara thereon, 75).
3. If he treats her cruelly (Eben Ha-Ezar, 154).
4. If her husband changes his religion (ibid.).
5. If the husband commits an offense which makes him flee from his country (Eben Ha-Ezar, 9).
6. If he leads a dissolute and immoral life (Eben Ha-Ezar, Gloss on Sects, 11).
7. If he wastes his property and neglects to maintain her (Mishna, Kethuboth, 7:1).
8. If he refuses her connubial rights (Mishna, Kethuboth, v. 6).
There are other grounds on which divorce can be obtained, but for these we must refer to the Mishna, Gittin, as they are too numerous to be detailed. The bill of divorcement must be handed over, either by the husband or a messenger, to the wife or one deputed by her, with the words, “This is thy divorce; thou art henceforth divorced from me, and canst marry whomsoever thou likest” (Mishna, Gittin, 9). It must, however, be remarked that divorce was greatly discouraged by the Talmudists, and it is declared that The who divorces his wife is hated of God. The altar sheds tears over him who divorces the wife and companion of his youth” (Gittin, 90 a). During the post-exilian period the abuse of divorce continued unabated (Josephus, Life, 76); and under the Asmonaean dynasty the right was assumed by the wife as against her husband, an innovation which is attributed to Salome by Josephus (Ant. 15:7, 10), but which appears to have been prevalent in the apostolic age, if we may judge from passages where the language implies that the act emanated from the wife (Mar 10:12; 1Co 7:11), as well as from some of the comments of the early writers on 1Ti 5:9. Our Lord and his apostles re- established the integrity and sanctity of the marriage-bond by the following measures:
(1) by the confirmation of the;original charter of marriage as the basis on which all regulations are to be framed (Mat 19:4-5);
(2) by the restriction of divorce to the case of fornication, and the prohibition of remarriage in all persons divorced on improper grounds (Mat 5:32; Mat 19:9; Rom 7:3; 1Co 7:10-11); and
(3) by the enforcement of moral purity generally (Heb 13:4, etc.), and especially by the formal condemnation of fornication, which appears to have been classed among acts morally indifferent (ἀδιάφορα) by a certain party in the Church (Act 15:20).
VIII. Levirate Law. —
1. The only power which a woman had over the man during the pre- Mosaic period, in matrimonial matters, was when her husband died without issue. The widow could then claim his next brother to marry her; if the second also died without progeny, she could ask the third, and so on. The object of this Levirate marriage, as it is called, from the Latin, levir, brother-in-law (Hebrew, יבם; Greek, ἐπιγαμβρέω), is “to raise up seed to the departed brother,” which should preserve his name upon his inheritance, and prevent it from being erased from among his brethren, and from the gate of his town (Gen 38:8; Deu 25:6; Rth 4:10); since the Hebrews regarded childlessness as a great evil (Gen 16:4; Gen 19:31), and entire excision as a most dire calamity and awful punishment from God (Deu 9:14; Psa 9:7; Psa 109:15). To remove this reproach from the departed, it was regarded as the sacred duty of the eldest surviving brother to marry the widow, and the first-born son resulting from such an alliance was to all intents and purposes considered as the representative and heir of the deceased.
Thus we are told that when Er, Judah’s eldest son, who was married to Tamar, died without issue, the second son was called upon to marry his deceased brother’s widow, and that when he again died, leaving no children, Tamar, the widow, had still a claim upon the only surviving son, for whom she had to wait, as he was not as yet marriageable (Gen 38:6-12; Gen 38:14; Gen 38:26). Ultimately Judah himself had to marry his daughter-in-law, for she inveigled him into it as a punishment for neglecting to give her his third son (Gen 38:26-30); and Pharez, the issue of this Levirate marriage, not only became the founder of a numerous and illustrious family, but was the direct line from which the royal family of David descended, and the channel through which the Messiah was born (Gen 38:29, with Mat 1:3). This Levirate marriage was not peculiar to the Hebrews. It also obtained among the Moabites (Rth 1:11-13), Persians (Kleuker, Zendavesta, 3:226), Indians (Asiatic Researches, 3:35), and still exists in Arabia (Burckhardt, Notes, 1:112; Niebuhr, Voyage, p. 61), among the tribes of the Caucasus (Hanthausen, Trans-caucasia, p. 403), and other nations (comp. Leyser, in Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 8:358, s.v. Leviratsehe).
2. This law, which, as we have seen, existed from time immemorial both among the patriarchs and other nations of antiquity, was at length formally enacted as part of the Biblical gamology. In adopting this law, however, as in the case of other primitive practices incorporated in the Mosaic code, the sacred legislator both prescribes for it definite limits, and most humanely deprives it of the irksome and odious features which it possessed in ancient times. This is evident from the enactment itself, which is as follows: “If brothers dwell together, and one of them die and have no child, the wife of the deceased shall not marry out of the family a stranger; her husband’s brother shall go in unto her. and take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a brother-in-law. Her first-born shall then succeed in the name of the deceased brother, so that his name be not blotted out of Israel” (Deu 25:5-6). Accordingly —
1. This law is restricted to brothers who dwell together, i.e. in contiguous properties, as the rabbinical law explains it according to the meaning of the phrase שהת יחדיוin Gen 13:6; Gen 36:7, and elsewhere. If the brothers lived far away, or if the deceased had no brothers at all, it was an understood thing that it devolved upon the nearest of kin to marry the widow, or care for her if she was too old, when, of course, it passed over from the domain of Leviration into that of Goel or redeemer (Rth 2:20; Rth 3:9; Rth 4:15-16).
2. To cases where no issue whatever is left, as בןis here used in its general sense of offspring and not specifically for son. This is not only confirmed by the Sept. (σπέρμα), Matthew (μὴ ἔχων σπέρμα, 22:5), Mark (Mar 12:19). Luke (ἄτεκνος, 20:28), Josephus (Ant. 4:8, 23), and the Talmud (Jebamoth, 22 b), but is evident from the law of inheritance (Num 27:8-11), in which it is declared that if a man dies without leaving a son, his daughter is to inherit the property. For if his widow could claim the surviving brother to marry her in order to raise up a son to the deceased, the daughter who legally came to the inheritance would either have to lose her possessions, or the son born of the Levirate marriage would have to be without patrimony.
In fulfilling the duty of the Levir in the patriarchal age the surviving brother had to make great sacrifices. He had not only to renounce the perpetuating of his own name through the first-born son (Gen 38:9), and mar his own inheritance (Rth 4:6), but, what was most galling, he was obliged to take the widow whether he had an inclination for any such marriage or not, as the Levir in the patriarchal age had no alternative. Now the Mosaic law removed this hardship by opening to the man a door of escape: ‘But if the man like not to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate of the elders and say, My husband’s brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel; he will not perform the Levirate duty. And the elders of the city shall call him, and speak unto him. But if he still persist and say, I like not to take her then shall his brother’s wife come in to him in the presence of the elders. and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house; and his house shall be called in Israel the house of the barefoot” (Deu 25:7-10). Thus the Mosaic gamology does not impose it as an inexorable law, but simply enjoins it as a duty of love, which the Levir might escape by submitting to censure and reproach. Of this he could hot complain, for he not only neglected to perform towards his deceased brother the most sacred offices of love, but, by refusing to do so, he openly declared his dislike to the widow, and thus publicly insulted her. The symbolic manner in which she took away in the public court his right to her and his deceased brother’s possession, has its origin in the fact that the possession of property was claimed by planting the foot on it. Hence, when the transfer of property was effected by an amicable transaction, the original owner signified the renunciation of his rights by taking off his shoe and giving it to the new possessor (Rth 4:7-8). A similar custom obtained among the Indians (Benary, de Hebraeorum Leviratu, Berol. 1835, p. 14) and the ancient Germans (Grimm, Deutsche Rechtsalterthümer, p. 156). In the case before us, however, where the privilege of possession was not renounced by a mutual understanding, but involved insult both to the deceased brother and the surviving widow, the outraged sister-in-law snatched the right from him by pulling off his shoe.
3. That this patriarchal law-which, as we have seen, was incorporated in the Mosaic gamology — continued in its full force after the Captivity, is evident from Mat 22:25-27, Mar 12:19-23, and Luk 20:28-33. From the question put to our Savior in these passages, it will be seen that it was incumbent upon each surviving brother in succession to perform the duty of the Levir. There were, however, cases where this duty could not be performed, about which the Mosaic law gives no directions whatever — e.g. when the deceased brother’s widow was a near relation of the Levir and came within the proscribed degrees, of which the Mishna (Jebaemoth, 1:1) gives fifteen cases; or when the latter was a child when his brother died and left a widow without issue (2:3); and if he were on this or any other account exempt from the obligation to marry one of the widows, he was also from the obligation to marry any of them (1:1); it is also implied that it was only necessary for one brother to marry one of the widows in cases where there were several widows left. The marriage was not to take place within three months of the husband’s death (4:10). The eldest brother ought to perform the duty of marriage; but, on his declining it, a younger brother might do it (2:8; 4:5). The chalitstah was regarded as involving future relationship, so that a man who had received it could not marry the widow’s relations within the prohibited degrees (4:7). Special rules are laid down for cases where a woman married under a false impression as to her husband’s death (10:1), or where a mistake took place as to whether her son or her husband died first (10:3), for in the latter case the Levirate law would not apply; and, again, as to the evidence of the husband’s death to be produced in certain cases (cap. 15, 16).
There can, therefore, be no question that the administrators of the law in the time of the prophets and at the advent of our Savior had to define and supplement the Levirate law. As the space of this article does not permit us to enumerate these important definitions and enactments. we must refer to the Mishna, Tract Jebamoth, which derives its name (יבמות) from the fact that it embodies these laws. These descend into trivial distinctions — e.g. that the shoe was to be of leather, or a sandal furnished with a heel-strap; a felt shoe, or a sandal without a strap, would not do (Yebam. 12:1, 2). The chalitsah was not valid when the person performing it was deaf and dumb (12:4), as he could not learn the precise formula which accompanied the act. The custom is retained by the modern Jews, and is minutely described by Picart (Ceremonuies Religieuses, 1:243). It receives illustration from the expression used by the modern Arabs in speaking of a repudiated wife: ‘She was my slipper. I have cast her off” (Burckhardt, Notes, 1:113). It only remains to be remarked that the fear lest the performance of the duty of Levir should come into collision with the law of consanguinity, made the ancient rabbins declare that (חליצה קודם ליבום) the ceremony of taking off the shoe is preferable to marrying the widow, and thus virtually set aside Levirate marriages. As this ceremony, which is called Chalitsah ( חליצהfrom חלוֹ, to draw out, to pull of), supersedes the ancient law, the rabbins gave very minute orders about the manner in which it is to be performed. The ceremony is performed in the syllagogue after morning prayer, in the presence of three rabbis and two witnesses, attended by others of the congregation as auditors and spectators. The Levir and widow are called forward, and after being questioned by the principal rabbi, and avowing his determination not to marry her, the man puts on a shoe of a peculiar form and made for this purpose, and the woman repeats, “My husband’s brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother.” To which the Levir replies, “I like not to take her.” Upon this declaration the widow unties the shoe with her right hand, takes it off, throws it on the ground, and spits before him, saying in Hebrew, “So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house: and his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed;” when the persons present exclaim three times, “His shoe is loosed!” This concludes the ceremony, and the rabbi tells the widow that she is now at liberty to marry whom she pleases.
IX. In considering the social and domestic conditions of married life among the Hebrews, we must, in the first place, take into account the position assigned to women generally in their social scale. The seclusion of the harem, and the habits consequent upon it, were utterly unknown in early times, and the condition of the Oriental woman, as pictured to us in the Bible, contrasts most favorably with that of her modern representative. There is abundant evidence that women, whether married or unmarried, went about with their faces unveiled (Gen 12:14; Gen 24:16; Gen 24:65; Gen 29:11; 1Sa 1:13). An unmarried woman might meet and converse with men, even strangers, in a public place (Gen 24:24; Gen 29:9-12; 1Sa 9:2); she might be found alone in the country without any reflection on her character (Deu 22:25-27); or she might appear in a court of justice (Num 27:2). Women not unfrequently held important offices: some were prophetesses, as Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Noadiah, and Anna; of others advice was sought in emergencies (2Sa 14:2; 2Sa 20:16-22). They took their part in matters of public interest (Exo 15:20; 1Sa 18:6-7); in short., they enjoyed as much freedom in ordinary life as the women of our own country.
If such was her general position, it is certain that the wife must have exercised an important influence in her own home. She appears to have taken her part in family affairs, and even to have enjoyed a considerable amount of independence. For instance, she entertains guests at her own desire (2Ki 4:8) in the absence of her husband (Jdg 4:18), and sometimes even in defiance of his wishes (1Sa 25:14, etc.); she disposes of her child by a vow without any reference to her husband (1Sa 1:24); she consults with him as to the marriage of her children (Gen 27:46); her suggestions as to any domestic arrangements meet with due attention (2Ki 4:9); and occasionally she criticizes the conduct of her husband in terms of great severity (1Sa 25:25; 2Sa 6:20).
The relations of husband and wife appear to have been characterized by affection and tenderness. He is occasionally described as the “friend” of his wife (Jer 3:20; Hos 3:1), and his love for her is frequently noticed (Gen 24:67; Gen 29:18). On the other hand, the wife was the consolation of the husband in time of trouble (Gen 24:67), and her grief at his loss presented a picture of the most abject woe (Joe 1:8). No stronger testimony, however, can be afforded as to the ardent affection of husband and wife than that which we derive from the general tenor of the book of Canticles. At the same time we cannot but think that the exceptions to this state of affairs were more numerous than is consistent with our ideas of matrimonial happiness. One of the evils inseparable from polygamy is the discomfort arising from the jealousies and quarrels of the several wives, as instanced in the households of Abraham and Elkanaah (Gen 21:11; 1Sa 1:6). The purchase of wives, and the small amount of liberty allowed to daughters in the choice of husbands, must inevitably have led to unhappy unions. The allusions to the misery of a contentious and brawling wife in the Proverbs (Pro 19:13; Pro 21:9; Pro 21:19; Pro 27:15) convey the impression that the infliction was of frequent occurrence in Hebrew households, and in the Mishna (Ketub. 7:6) the fact of a woman being noisy is laid down as an adequate ground for divorce. In the N.T. the mutual relations of husband and wife are a subject of frequent exhortation (Eph 5:22-33; Col 3:18-19; Tit 2:4-5; 1Pe 3:1-7): it is certainly a noticeable coincidence that these exhortations should be found exclusively in the epistles addressed to Asiatics, nor is it improbable that they were more particularly needed for them than for Europeans.
The duties of the wife in the Hebrew household were multifarious. In addition to the general superintendence of the domestic arrangements, such as cooking, from which even women of rank were not exempted (Gen 18:6; 2Sa 13:8), and the distribution of food at meal- times (Pro 31:15), the manufacture of the clothing and the various textures required in an Eastern establishment devolved upon her (Pro 31:13; Pro 31:21-22); and if she were a model of activity and skill, she produced a surplus of fine linen shirts and girdles, which she sold, and so, like a well-freighted merchant-ship, brought in wealth to her husband from afar (Pro 31:14; Pro 31:24). The poetical description of a good housewife drawn in the last chapter of the Proverbs is both filled up and in some measure illustrated by the following minute description of a wife’s duties towards her husband, as laid down in the Mishna: “She must grind corn, and bake, and wash, and cook, and suckle his child, make his bed, and work in wool. If she brought her husband one bondwoman, she need not grind, bake, or wash; if two, she need not cook nor suckle his child; if three, she need not make his bed nor work in wool; if four, she may sit in her chair of state” (Ketub. v. 5). Whatever money she earned by her labor belonged to her husband (6:1). The qualification not only of working, but of working at home (Tit 2:5, where οἰκουργούς is preferable to οἰκουρούς), was insisted on in the wife, and to spin in the street was regarded as a violation of Jewish customs (Ketub. 7:6).
The legal rights of the wife are noticed in Exo 21:10, under the three heads of food, raiment, and duty of marriage or conjugal right. These were defined with great precision by the Jewish doctors, for thus only could one of the most cruel effects of polygamy be averted, viz. the sacrifice of the rights of the many in favor of the one whom the lord of the modern harem selects for his special attention. The regulations of the Talmudists, founded on Exo 21:10, may be found in the Mishna (Ketub. av. 6-9).
X. The allegorical and typical allusions to marriage have exclusive reference to one subject, viz. to exhibit the spiritual relationship between God and his people. The earliest form, in which the image is implied, is in the expressions “to go a whoring,” and “whoredom,” as descriptive of the rupture of that relationship by acts of idolatry. These expressions have by some writers been taken in their primary and literal sense, as pointing to the licentious practices of idolaters. But this destroys the whole point of the comparison, and is opposed to the plain language of Scripture: for
(1) Israel is described as the false wife “playing the harlot” (Isa 1:21; Jer 3:1; Jer 3:6; Jer 3:8);
(2) Jehovah is the injured husband, who therefore divorces her (Psa 73:27; Jer 2:20; Hos 4:12; Hos 9:1); and
(3) the other party in the adultery is specified, sometimes generally, as idols or false gods (Deu 31:16; Jdg 2:17; 1Ch 5:25; Eze 20:30; Eze 23:30), and sometimes particularly, as in the case of the worship of goats (A.V. “devils,” Lev 17:7), Molech (Lev 20:5), wizards (Lev 20:6), an ephod (Jdg 8:27), Baalim (Jdg 8:33), and even the heart and eyes (Num 15:39)-the last of these objects being such as wholly to exclude the idea of actual adultery. The image is drawn out more at length by Ezekiel (chap. 23), who compares the kingdoms of Samaria and Judah to the harlots Aholah and Aholibah; and again by Hosea (chap. 1, 3), whose marriage with an adulterous wife, his separation from her, and subsequent reunion with her, were designed to be a visible lesson to the Israelites of their dealings with Jehovah.
The direct comparison with marriage is confined in the O.T. to the prophetic writings, including the Canticles as an allegorical work. The actual relation between Jehovah and his people is generally the point of comparison (Isa 54:5; Isa 62:4; Jer 3:14; Hos 2:19; Mal 2:11); but sometimes the graces consequent thereon are described under the image of bridal attire (Isa 49:18; Isa 61:10), and the joy of Jehovah in his Church under that of the joy of a bridegroom (Isa 62:5).
In the N.T. the image of the bridegroom is transferred from Jehovah to Christ (Mat 9:15; Joh 3:29), and that of the bride to the Church (2Co 11:2; Rev 19:7; Rev 21:2; Rev 21:9; Rev 22:17), and the comparison thus established is converted by St. Paul into an illustration of the position and mutual duties of man and wife (Eph 5:23-32). The suddenness of the Messiah’s appearing, particularly at the last day, and the necessity of watchfulness, are inculcated in the parable of the Ten Virgins, the imagery of which is borrowed from the customs of the marriage-ceremony (Mat 25:1-13). The Father prepares the marriage-feast for his Son, the joys that result from the union being thus represented (Mat 22:1-14; Mat 25:10; Rev 19:9; comp. Mat 8:11), while the qualifications requisite for admission into that union are prefigured by the marriage-garment (Mat 22:11). The breach of the union is, as before, described as fornication or whoredom in reference to the mystical Babylon (Rev 17:1-2; Rev 17:5).
XI. Literature. — The most important ancient literature on all the marriage questions is contained in the third order (סדד) of the Mishna, five tractates of which treat respectively —
1. On the Levirate law;
2. On the marriage-instrument;
3. On suspicion of having violated the marriage-bond;
4. On divorce; and,
5. On betrothal.
To these must be added the Gemaras or Talmuds on these tractates. Maimonides devotes six tractates of the second volume of his Jad Ha- Chazaka to Biblical and Talmudic gamology, giving an abridgment of the traditional enactments. Jacob ben-Asher occupies the entire third volume of his Tur, called Eben Ha-Ezar, with marriage in its various ramifications, and gives a lucid epitome of the ancient code. Of modern writers are to be mentioned Michaelis, Commentaries on the Laws of Mioses, 1:450 sq.; 2:1 sq.; Saalschütz, Das Mosaiische Recht, 2:735 sq.; by the same author, Archaologie der tlebrder, 2:173 sq.; Ewald, Die Alterthümer der Volkes Israel, p. 218 sq.; Geiger, Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrjft (Frankfort-on-the- Main), 4:36 sq., 345 sq.; Jiidische Zeitschrift (Breslau, 1862), 1:19 sq., 253 sq.; Stein and Susskind’s Israelitischer Volkslehrer, 1:192; 4:282, 301, 315; v. 323; vi,’74; 7:264; 8:73; 9:171; Frankel, Grundlinien des Mosaisch-talmudischen Eherechts (Breslau, 1860); Leopold Law, Ben Chananja, vol. iii-vi. Among the writers on special points we may notice Benary, De Hebr. Leviratu (Berlin, 1835); Redslob’s Leiiratsehe (Leipz. 1836); and Kurtz’s Ehe des Hosea (Dorpat, 1859).
The word is derived through the French mnari, from the Latin maritus, “a husband.” Matrimonoy, a synonyme, comes from the Latin mater, “ a mother,” as testimoniumz from testis, “ a witness.” Wedlock, a beautiful word, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, from weddian, “to pledge,” “to covenant;” or wedd, “a pledge,” and lac, “ a gift.” The definition of marriage given by Modestinus, the Roman lawyer and scholar of Ulpian, is as follows: “Nuptiae sunt conjunctio maris et feminae et consortium omnis vitse, divini et humani juris communicatio” (Digest, 18:2, 1). In the Institutes of Justinian we have “nuptiae sive matrimonium est viri et mulieris conjunctio individuam vitse consuetudinemr continens,” that is, a union of a man and a woman which contains in itself an inseparable life-intercourse. These definitions are not entirely definite, nor free from objection; nor is it easy for the law to give a definition of that which transcends the sphere of human rights, and has most important relations to morality and religion.
According to Paley, the public use of the marriage institution consists in its promoting the following beneficial effects:
1. The private comfort of individuals.
2. The production of the greatest number of healthy children, their better education, and the making of due provision for their settlement in life.
3. The peace of human society, in cutting off a principal source of contention, by assigning one or more women to one man, and protecting his exclusive right by sanctions of morality and law.
4. The better government of society, by. distributing the community into separate families, and appointing over each the authority of a master of a family, which has more actual influence than all civil authority put together.
5. The additional security which the state receives for the good behavior of its citizens, from the solicitude they feel for the welfare of their children, and from their being confined to permanent habitations.
6. The encouragement of industry. (See also Dwight’s Theology on this topic, and Anderson, On the Domestic Constitution.)
I. The idea of marriage is beautifully expressed in those words of the earliest book of the Bible: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh.” Here we have (1) marriage conceived of as a union so close that it separates a man from the union of the family-the closest but this one that can exist; (2) two persons cleave to one another, the word cleave in the original denoting to be glued to, to stick to; (3) the result is that they become one flesh, they unite their personalities together. A text like this points to monogamy as alone answering to the trite conception of marriage; for how can two be one flesh, and one of them be also united to a third person, so as to be one flesh with that one also. Accordingly the union of one man and one woman in the married state, as opposed to polygamy, must be regarded as the state pointed out by our nature for us. This alone preserves the unity, the undivided love and peace of the household. Polygamy is an institution growing out of the servile subjection of the woman to the man, and tout of the indulgence of lewd desire. It is also apparently contrary to the order of things in this. that the sexes, so obviously made for one another. divide between them about equally the numbers of those who are born into the world, there being a slight excess in the number of male children, which is counterbalanced before manhood is reached by the greater risks incurred by that sex. The conditions which secure the interests of morality are thus pointed out by the laws of our physical nature.
The conception of marriage which appears in the writings of Paul has sometimes been said to be a low one, as having respect to the gratification of bodily desires rather than to the true, spiritual, and heart communion of the wedded pair. This charge is founded on such passages as 1Co 7:9 : “It is better to marry than to burn;” and on those verses in the same chapter where there appears to be a certain preference in the apostle’s mind of the single to the married life (1Co 7:33; 1Co 7:38, etc.). It must be confessed that if such a passage as 1Co 7:9 were the apostle’s only expression of opinion, it would seem as if he saw nothing in marriage but the prevention of sexual excesses and the satisfaction of sexual longings.
It ought, however, to be considered, first, that in such words he gives us but one side of a manifold subject. Christian, like all true moralists, must take into account the desires which are implanted in our nature for the purpose of securing certain great ends, among which the introduction of new beings into the world is most prominent. If, as men showed themselves to the apostle, the sexual desires needed a certain control, and a certain satisfaction also, it was good sense to say that a reason for marrying lay in the temperament of the particular person, and that he was bound to consider his power of continence when he inquired what his duty was in this respect. But, secondly, the apostle gives us another picture of marriage, from another point of view. The relation (Eph 5:22-33) is like that of Christ to his Church. The husband is to love the wife as if she actually formed one body with him, and with that pure, self-sacrificing affection which Christ had when he “loved his Church, and gave himself for it.” Here marriage is ennobled and glorified by a comparison with the most spiritual of all relations. But, thirdly, neither in the writings of the apostle nor in any other part of the New Testament is there any peculiar sanctity attached to the married life placing it above the single, nor to the single life making it more excellent than the married. The apostle condemns the false teachings of those who forbid men to marry, and command to abstain from meats, “which God has created to be received with thanksgiving” (1Ti 4:3).
His principle would include marriage — for which multitudes give thanks — under this last remark. At the same time the New Testament regards celibacy as equally honorable with marriage (Mat 14:13). Nay more, if a person, for the kingdom of heaven’s sake, can lead a life of pure thoughts, undisturbed by any sensual longings, absorbed in spiritual employments and pursuits; he may be said to have a rare nature, or a rare gift to rise above nature; and so he will stand higher in the kingdom of heaven than another, in proportion to the greatness of his self-sacrifice and his consecration. All men are not bound to “forsake houses, or brethren, or sisters,” etc., for Christ’s name’s sake, but those who have the call to do so and obey “shall receive a hundred-fold.” So those who lead a single life under the same high motive shall have the greater praise from the Master: and, as they show by their self-denial the strength of Christian virtue, they stand higher in the Christian scale than others. But so do they also who show a readiness to undergo, or actually undergo, any great sacrifice with the same spirit. (Comp. Harless, Christl. Ethik, § 44, and especially § 52.) If the Christian Church had stopped at admiring the continence and rare self-restraint of men who for Christ’s sake led unmarried lives, much evil would have been avoided. As it was, the Christian mind passed on from such admiration to an undervaluation of the married life; celibacy was a sign of greater virtue; second marriages were looked on with disfavor; and marriages of clergymen became unlawful. The heretics Marcion and Tatian went even so far as to rail against marriage; as Simon Magus is said, on the other hand, to have taught in his day a plurality of wives, and the Gnostics and Manichaeans rejected marriage altogether. But what was really the view of the early Church is best seen in the canons of the Gangran Synod, held about A.D. 370, where it is decreed: “1. If any one reproach marriage, or have in abomination the religious woman that is a communicant and sleeps with her husband, as one that cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven, let him be anathema. 4. If any one condemn a married presbyter, as if he ought not to partake of the oblation when he performs the liturgy, let him be anathema. 9. If any one live a virgin, or in chastity, as abominating marriage (while he lives ill a retired state), and not for the beauty and sanctity of a virgin life, let him be anathema. 10.
If one of those who live a virgin life for the Lord’s sake insult those who are married, let him be anathema. 14. If any woman, abominating marriage, desert her husband, and will become a recluse, let her be anathema.” (See also Isaac Taylor’s Ancient Christianity.) At this very same time, however, marriage became a sacrament. One may ask how it came to pass that a kind of life which was looked on as being not the best one, and which had to be renounced in the Western Church if a married man would receive ordination, could come into the category of baptism, the eucharist, and the other acts which, in process of time, took the name of sacraments. Without going into an extended answer to this question, it may be said that the passage of Paul already cited (Eph 5:32) calls it a mystery, which Jerome’s Vulgate renders by sacramentum. It was, in fact, peculiarly holy, as symbolizing Christ’s union with the Church. But the word sacramnentum had for a long time no definite sense, and marriage was not so called until the time of Augustine. Nay, that great writer had so vague an idea of its religious meaning that he does not hesitate to call the polygamous marriage of the patriarchs in the Old Testament a “sacramentum pluralium nuptiarum” (De boano conjugii, cap. 18), which, he says, “signified a future multitude subject to God in all the nations of the earth, and so the sacrament of a single marriage [i.e. between one pair] in our time signifies the unity of all ours [our Christian Church], which is to be subject to God in the one celestial city.” The passage itself, however, in the Ephesians, which we have referred to, does not, in a fair interpretation of it, call marriage a mystery, but gives that name only to Christ’s leaving the Father and becoming one with his Church. As for the rest, the Catholic theologians have held widely diverse opinions about the matter and form of marriage. One opinion has been that the consent of the parties expressed in words constitute both the matter and the form; another that the bodies or persons of the contracting parties are the matter, and the words expressing consent the form.
Marriage being a peculiarly sacred transaction, and having the religious impress put on it, questions relating to its celebration, the persons capable of contracting it, its dissolution, its renewal after the death of one of the parties, and the like, came under the control of the clergy. Accordingly we find in use in the early Church a special ecclesiastical form for the celebration of matrimony. The fathers, Tertullian, e.g., considered marriage contracted without the participation of the Church, as tolerated by the law of Rome, as almost a sin. Later it was sought to make marriage — an exclusively religious institution, and this it finally became, and so continued until the days of the Reformation. The civil law gradually restricted itself to the regulation of the material interests connected with marriage, leaving the Church to regulate the conditions under which it could be contracted. As gradually the religious impress put on it brought to the door of the clergy the settlement of questions relating not only to its celebration, but also to the propriety of its dissolution, its renewal after the death of one of the parties, and the like, the State was content to lend the Church the secular arm for the enforcement of the decisions of the ecclesiastical courts. ‘The principles of the law concerning marriage thus became a part of canon law in the Romish Church, and received final settlement by the Council of Trent, which not only established marriage as a sacrament in the most solemn manner (Conc. Trid. sess. 24, Mat. Song of Solomon 1 “Si quis dixerit, matrimonium non esse vere et proprie unum ex septem legis evangelicae sacramentis a Christo institutum, sed ab hominibus in ecclesia inventum neque gratiam conferre: anath. sit;” see also I, Song of Solomon 7, Cat. Rom. 2, 8, 3, 23, 20 sq.; Conf. orthod. p. 183), but referred the question of its validity exclusively to the Church. The remains of these and similar laws have almost disappeared in Protestant England in our own times; the act of 1857 (cited as 20 and 21 Vict. cap. 85), with its amendments, destroys all jurisdiction of courts ecclesiastical in matters pertaining to marriage, except so far as marriage licenses are concerned, and constitutes a new court, which is called the court for divorce and matrimonial causes. See Woolsey, Divorce and Divorce Legislation (New York, 1869), p. 174-178.
The Continental Reformers from the first denied the sacramental character of marriage. They acknowledged. indeed, matrimony as holy and instituted of God, yet considered it as partaking more of a civil than of an ecclesiastical character — as an institution which received only a higher consecration by the blessing of the Church. They even required the Protestant civil authorities to legislate on the subject, and thus it passed entirely into the hands of the latter. The sew laws were promulgated in the 16th and 17th centuries, yet all still referred to Scripture, the symbolic books, and canon law as their basis; and, being generally drawn up with the assistance of the clergy, the Church still retained the higher authority over all questions pertaining to matrimony. In all Protestant countries at present, as far as we are informed, marriage is essentially controlled by the law of the state,. although the solemnization of it may be put into the hands of clerical persons. In Catholic countries there is a tendency to establish two kinds of marriage celebrations — one a civil, the other an ecclesiastical one; but all the civil consequences of marriage, in relation to property, legitimation of children, bigamy, etc., grow out of the civil marriage, and the, other (or ecclesiastical) is left to the option of the parties. The Catholic Church endures this with great unwillingness; and in this feeling the Concordat between Austria and the pope did away with the civil contract, which was restored to its former place in the laws in 1869 (comp. Richter, Kirchenr. § 263, 6th ed.). We thus are brought to the question of the relations of the state in right reason to the marriage-contracts of its citizens. Here, before touching the particulars that are within the province of state-law, we wish to make two points in regard to the office of the state:
1. Marriage is a contract, because it. is an agreement between two persons to live together in the condition of life called matrimony. But, while in most other cases the contract creates or specifies the transaction, in the contract of marriage the matter of the contract is presupposed, and the contract has nothing to do except to introduce two persons into a definite specific state. Out of this grows the peculiar state of parentage. This, it seems to us, is one of the greatest points in hand against the institution of “Freelove.” The resultant of the marital relation is of a character that does not admit of the dissolution of the contract when once it has been entered into. The offspring requires the care of both the contractors, as is clearly seen in the case of second marriages with children from the first contract. Thus there can be no contract to enter into a marriage state which is terminable by the consent of the parties, or dependent on the pleasure of either. There may be partnerships of this kind, as contracts of service or of agency, for the performance of specific acts for a specific time, but there are no such contracts of marriage. This institution is unlike the passing business relations of life, and resembles the Church and State unions more closely, although not entirely. The reason for all this is the moral nature of the institution, and its immense importance as the foundation of the family as well as the origin of the state. In this sense the Roman law correctly proclaimed marriage a;’viri et mulieris conjunctio individuam vitae consuetudinem continens” (to which canon law adds,” i.e. talem se in omnibus exhibere viro, qualis ipsa sibi est, et e converso”), or a “consortium omnis vite, divini et humani juris communicatio.” Quite a different tendency, however, is found in the attempts of some modern philosophers to establish free-marriage, as e.g. the St. Simonites (q.v.), who would overthrow all these laws, and make marriage a mere human convention subject to all the whims of the contracting parties and who have failed hitherto from this very cause, as has also the pretended emancipation of woman which has gone hand in hand with it. The higher nature of marriage over any other human institution at once manifests itself not only in the fact that it has at all times been connected with religion, both as to its contracting and dissolving, but that this view has been in no wise confined to Christendom, but in a great degree has taken a like hold upon heathen communities also.
2. Our other point is that on account of the moral and religious bearings of marriage, State and Church have concurrent power over it; that is, they both may act and lay down principles in regard to matrimonial questions. How are their provinces to be distinguished? In this way, as it seems to us: The State can require nothing which the Word of God forbids in a Christian country, although it may forbid what the Word of God does not forbid. The Church can allow nothing, permitted by the law, which the Word of God forbids. For illustration, we may suppose the State to have very loose divorce laws, or to have no penalty for concubinage during regular marriage; it is evident that the Church must keep its members pure in such respects, until its protest, loud or silent, shall change the current of legislation. II. These things being premised, we proceed to a brief discussion of some of those points relating to marriage which may be reasonably made the subjects of legislation without violating the feelings of Christians or opposing the authority of the Scriptures.
1. The State may decide who shall be capable of contracting marriage. Thus (a) the age at which, or the state of the will or reason with which a matrimonial engagement may be legally made, is as much within the control of the law as the similar conditions necessary for making business contracts or for exercising political rights. If minors are allowed to enter into this condition, the law ought to provide that their free consent is ascertained beforehand. Thus, too, incapacity to give consent, by reason of immaturity, force on the will, insanity, idiocy, and the like, may be obstacles. But (b) far more important is the control of state-law over the degrees of relationship and affinity which shall incapacitate parties from entering into this close connection. Here we find that, although the children of the first pair must have united in wedlock, it became the very decided feeling of a large part of the human race that such a union is unlawful for brothers with sisters, or for a parent with a child. H. W. J. Thiersch (Das Verbot der Ehe [Nordlingen, 1869], p. 4) remarks that wild heathen tribes in Asia and Africa consider incest a crime. Exceptions to this occurred in Persia and Egypt, where incest was practiced within the reigning families-in the latter country after the example of His and Osiris. At Athens a brother might marry a sister who had not the same mother. and adoption was no obstacle to the union of an adopted brother and sister. The Romans were more strict, but allowed this relation to commence between an adopted brother and his adopted sister, after the adoption was dissolved by emancipation. By Roman law a man could not marry his sister’s daughter, but when the emperor Claudius took Agrippina, his brother’s daughter, to wife, that relation became permissible (see Gail Instit. i, § 61, 62). By Levitical law the prohibited degrees embraced the direct relatives in the ascending and descending line, whether of full or of half blood, the children who had the same parents or parent, the brothers or sisters of fathers or mothers, brothers’ wives, daughters-in-law, a woman and her daughter, or other descendant in the third generation, and the sister of a wife during her lifetime. It would seem that in Leviticus xviii, where these rules are given, the analogy derived from relations there mentioned may be applied to others equally close, of which nothing is said (comp. Saalschiitz, Mos. Recht, cap. 105, § 5). In the Christian Church a stricter system of prohibited degrees was a part of canonical law, and a sign of the new feeling was that the emperor Theodosius I forbade by law the marriage of first cousins, which was formerly by Roman law permitted. The Roman Catholic and the Greek churches went far beyond this. The Latin Church carried the prohibition of marriage to the seventh degree, that is, to the sixth cousins — counting brothers and sisters as of the first degree, and first cousins as of the second — until Innocent III, in 1216, gave a new rule, that the “prohibitio copulae conjugalis quartun consanguinitatis et affinitatis gradum non excedat” — that is, third cousins might marry; but a little while after Gregory IX so modified Innocent’s rule that a marriage between a third and a fourth cousin was allowable. Where pressing reasons demanded, these rules might be suspended. More severe and worthless were the rules prohibiting marriage, on the ground of affinity, which reached to the same degrees with the rules affecting blood-relatives, and were altered together with them. Other restrictions touching spiritual affinities, betrothal, etc., were mitigated by the Council of Trent. According to the canons of the Greek Church, a man may not marry
His second cousin’s daughter. His deceased wife’s first cousin. His deceased wife’s first cousin’s daughter. His deceased wife’s second cousin. Two brothers may not marry Two sisters. An aunt and a niece. Two first cousins. A man may not marry His wife’s brother’s wife’s sister, i.e. his brother-in law’s sister-in-law. His brother-in-law’s wife: nor can his own brother marry her.
Godparentage and Adoption constitute impediments to marriage up to the seventh degree. . What was the feeling lying at the bottom of all these prohibitions? It must have been that which led the Roman lawyer Gaius (1. c. § 59) to say that if such persons as parents and children marry one another nefarias atque incestas nuptias contraxisse dicuntur. Incest is the greatest unchastity, from which its Latin name comes, and men early felt this. If the children of the first parent did not partake of this sentiment, there is a parallel in the feelings of little children, whose modesty is developed just at the time of life when it is needed for a moral protection. Besides this moral principle, it might be urged that to marry out of one’s near relationship binds families together, and diffuses the feeling of brotherhood through neighborhoods and tribes. This is urged by Augustine (Civit. Dei, xv, cap. 16). Another consideration is, that the marriage of near relations promotes neither the health nor the multitude of offspring. In a letter imputed to Gregory the Great (A.D. 601), written to his missionary in England, Augustine, he is made to say, while speaking of the marriages of own cousins, “We have learned from experience that from such a marriage offspring cannot grow” (Gratian’s Decr. caus. xxxv, quaest. 5, c. 2). This is in conformity with a physical law which governs the issue of animals. Nay, plants themselves, it is now known, are benefited by the pollen of one flower being conveyed to another, and it is the office of insects, such as bees and flies, to mediate in this keeping up the “breeds” of the vegetable kingdom. (c) Besides enacting laws against the marriage of blood-relations, states have sometimes prohibited men from connecting themselves with women who sustain towards them the closest degrees of affinity. Some Protestant countries make it unlawful to marry a wife’s sister. There are no valid arguments against such unions from Scripture, but rather, when it is said (Lev 18:18) that a man shall not have two sisters together as his wives, the fair inference is that Jewish law allowed marriage to one of them after the death of the other and preceding wife. Marriage to a brother’s widow or deceased husband’s brother is more doubtful. Yet in the canonical law, where such unions are forbidden, the pope can probably give a dispensation from the rule. Such was the case of Henry VIII of England, and a canon of the Council of Trent (sess. xxiv, De sacr. matrim. can. iii) ordains that if any one shall say that the Church cannot give a dispensation in the case of some of the prohibitions in Leviticus, ch. 18, “anathema sit” — evidently referring to that very case which blew up such a flame in England.
On the whole, there are no certifies within which the moral feeling and the law — which in this case is more or less controlled by such feeling — can be confined. We have a parallel to this in the definitions of certain rights, where the law has to make the positive and exact metes and bounds. Thus there is a time in the life of a child when he ought to acquire a jural capacity, and so become legally independent of his father; but whether this shall be reached at the age of eighteen or twenty-one, or shall be reached by degrees or all at once, the reason of a state must determine. So the moral feeling of a state must determine within what limits of consanguinity or of affinity parties may contract marriage; and if the Church has another prevailing sentiment, it must have its own rules prohibiting for its members what the state does not prohibit.
We will just mention, with little or no remark, several other hinderances which either State or Church law have put in the way of wedlock. Such are fraudulent representations of either party, which were leading causes of the contract of marriage; mistakes affecting the identity of the person; and previous crime of one party unknown to the other, especially previous adultery; to which is to be added difference of religious confessions, especially when so great as that between a Jew and a Christian, or a Protestant and a Roman Catholic. Indeed, in the case of mixed marriages (see below), there is still much conflict between the legislation of Church and State. Civil law in countries where slavery was allowed made all marriage unions between freemen and slaves unlawful. In some countries marriage between a noble and an ordinary citizen or peasant has been either forbidden or attended with civil disabilities, such as degradation of rank to the offspring. Here it may not be out of place to allude also to the regulations of the Romish Church in the case of persons who may have taken the vow of celibacy. If any such party have not yet entered the convent, pope Boniface VIII decided that marriage may be contracted; after having once entered the convent, the contract becomes illegal. Among Protestants, however, the taking of the vow of celibacy remains a question of conscience only. Another objection to marriage in the Roman Catholic Church is spiritual relationship, cognatio spiritualis, which prevents marriage between persons who have held one another at the baptismal font. In the 13th century this was made to include both the infant baptized and the children of the sponsors, as well as the sponsors themselves; but it has since been restricted. The Continental Reformers as early as the Smalcald articles declared against this impediment of the sponsors. In the Greek Church, as we have seen above, Godparentage and adoption constitute impediments up to the seventh degree.
2. In order to preserve the purity and peace of married life, the State has often passed rules making all sexual union of either the husband or the wife with a third party penal, and the Church will of course visit such offenses of its members with severe discipline. Some states in their laws have punished the concubinage or illicit intercourse of a husband with an unmarried woman less severely than similar offenses of a wife or, it may be, has let them go unpunished. According to Roman law, adultery was a crime committed only with a married woman; but a wife, displeased with her husband’s morals, could without difficulty obtain a divorce. Under English law adultery has not been treated as a public crime, the dealing with it being left to the ecclesiastical law, and “the temporal courts take no cognizance of it otherwise than as a private injury” (Blackstone’s Comment. bk. 4, chap. 4). In our country it is visited with punishment according to law in almost all the states — New York, which has followed English law, and one or two other states, being exceptions: but it is safe to say that prosecutions for the crime of adultery are very rare indeed. The protection afforded by such laws is very small, except so far as they testify that society regards crimes against marriage as deserving of civil penalties.
3. The State, as the guardian of the family, as the protector of the wife’s and the children’s rights even against the husband and father, is bound, and has in no civilized country refused, to make laws touching the patria postestas — the husband’s rights over and obligations towards the wife; his obligations especially to support his wife and children, and the amount of freedom he ought to have in transmitting his property. We do not intend to enter into this large subject, except so far as to say that there lies a feeling of the unity of family life at the foundation of all righteous law on these subjects, whatever may be the specific rules of this or that code. The family being one, the wife ought to be deprived no more than the children of a portion of a deceased husband’s effects; so that the right of testament in his case, even if he acquired all his property himself, ought not to be absolutely free.
4. The moral feeling of the importance and sanctity of marriage lies also, in a measure, at the foundation of laws and usages regulating its commencement. Such are betrothal, the formal declaration before a registrar or other officer of an intention of marriage, the publication of the banns, the celebration or solemnization before witnesses and with appropriate formalities. Marriage having a religious side, it has been natural that the ministers of religion should have a part in its initial solemnities. But it is a great grievance that they are obliged — as the law of Prussia, we believe, requires of them to unite in wedlock any persons who may by law be lawfully united, whether the minister’s own views touching the lawfulness of marriage after divorce agree with those of the government or not; and it is another grievance when only the ministers of an establishment can solemnize nuptials. Civil marriage, on the other hand, as it exists in some Catholic countries, and marriage before a magistrate or justice of the peace, which is lawful to a great extent through the United States, have this great evil attending on them: that they look on the civil side of marriage exclusively. Surely that institution which is the foundation of the state, the guardian of children against evil influences until they can act their part in the state; in which, and in which alone love presides over the formation of character; from which, through the sympathies of kindred, chords run in all directions, binding and weaving society together, and where the seeds of religion are sown in the impressible heart — such an institution surely, which pagans feel to have a sacred quality, and place under the protection of their gods, ought to have a solemn beginning, so that the parties to be united in “holy matrimony,” and the witnesses, may feel that it is a deeply serious transaction — a relation not to be lightly assumed without forethought and preparation, and solemn consecration to one another, and earnest prayer to that God — who has said that “they twain shall be one flesh.”
III. When the Church takes a view of divorce different from that taken by the State. it cannot sanction the remarriage of a person whom it regards as bound by Christ’s law to a former wife or husband. .
1. Some of these obstacles to marriage are of such a nature that a marriage actually commenced in disregard of or in ignorance of the law ruling in such cases is a nullity. There is, however, a need of some formal proceeding by which the nullity is made manifest. There are others in which the innocent party may continue the marriage, and condone or consent to live with the offender; nor can such consent be afterwards withdrawn in order to make good a claim which has been once waived. Near relationship or affinity, the existence of a previous wife or husband, are instances of the first kind; impotence, mistake, previous misconduct, even fraudulent statements procuring marriage, are instances of the second. In the first case the marriage is void, in the second it is voidable. We are apt to call separations for either reason divorces, and our statutes in many state-codes group them with divorces properly so called; but there is a wide difference between separations on the ground that there had been no lawful marriage, and divorce proper on the ground of some event occurring after actual marriage. In the first case there was a form without the reality of marriage, and the court civil or ecclesiastical — pronounced a decree of nullity, which did not affect the children nor the parties up to the time of the sentence. Being decided to have never been united in wedlock, they were free to enter into this union with third parties. See Woolsey, On Divorce, etc., p. 123,124, and especially Richter’s Kirchenr. § 266-284, 6th ed.; Goschen, in Herzog’s Real-Encyklopädie, vol. iii, s.v. Ehe.
2. In regard to the lawfulness of remarriage in general, we must refer to the article on DIVORCE (Christian Law of) in this Cyclopaedia. On the particular point of marrying again after a first wife’s or husband’s decease, we have room for a few remarks. That this is lawful in itself, and must be left to the conscience and the circumstances of individuals, there can be no question, after what the apostle Paul has said in Rom 7:1-3, and in 1Ti 5:14, in which latter passage “the younger women” evidently refers to the young widows just before spoken of. The apologist Athenagoras (§ 33, p. 172, edit. Otto) is both unscriptural and weak where he says that a second marriage is “decorous adultery,” and applies the words of Christ (Mat 19:9) to such remarriages, adding that he who deprives himself of [or separates himself from] a former wife, even if she be dead, is a covert adulterer who transgresses the direction of God, since in the beginning God made one man and one woman. Similar views are entertained by Tertullian in his treatise De monogamia, which was written after he became a Montanist (comp. esp. cap. 10); while in the treatise Ad uxorem, written before he left the Catholic Church, he does not condemn remarriage, although he praises widowhood. Most of the fathers, while, from the times of Hermas and of Clement of Alexandria, they regard remarriage as no sin, look on widowhood and the state of a widower as capable of higher virtue. Augustine thus expresses both opinions in his little work De bono viduitatis, written at the request of a widow named Juliana, whose daughter had chosen a virgin’s life. “As the good thing of virginity which your daughter has chosen does not condemn your one marriage, so your widowhood does not condemn the second marriage of some one else…. Do not so extol your good thing as to accuse that which is not evil belonging to another, as if it were evil, but so much the more rejoice in your good, the more you perceive that not only evils are prevented by it, but that it surpasses some good things in excellence. The evil things are adultery and fornication. Now from these illicit things she is far removed who by a free vow has bound herself, and thus has brought to pass not by the power of law, but by the purpose of love, that for her not even lawful things should be lawful.” ; .
3. But if the apostle Paul could even advise young widows to marry again, must not this be understood as if he thought this the less of two evils, and only necessary to save the persons in question from crime? How otherwise can we explain his directions that a bishop, and so also a deacon, must be the husband of one wife? (1Ti 3:2; 1Ti 3:12; Tit 1:6). Some have explained these directions as forbidding polygamy — that is, simultaneous polygamy, to speak technically — which would seem to imply that among the private members of the Church at Ephesus and in Crete such plurality of wives was allowed. But the words in 1Ti 5:9, where the qualification occurs that the aged widow in question must have been the wife of one man, forbid such an interpretation, for ‘otherwise we should have to suppose that polyandry was practiced. The phrases are exactly of the same form in all the four cases, since in the last-mentioned verse the participle Eyovvia is to be joined to “sixty years” (comp. Luk 2:42). The sense, then, must be that the bishop, or deacon, or widow had not been married but once. Now this was a special precept suited to the state of life of the times, for in marrying more than once they might have obtained divorce — in their heathenish condition — or have married divorced persons contrary to the law of Christ. Of these irregularities, if they had married but once, there would be less probability.
IV. Many one-sided and erroneous opinions must arise when marriage is looked at only in one of its aspects or relations. Thus it may be said to exist liberorum quaerendorun causa; but if that is the only side on which we view it, we shall have to say that no marriages ought to be contracted when the woman is past the age of child-bearing. It may be put on the foundation of restraining and moderating those sexual desires which might otherwise irmbrute men. But if this were the only reason for marriage, it would be at the best but a necessary evil. It may be said to be instituted for the happiness of the partners in the union; but if this were all, every disappointed man or woman ought to have an opportunity to place his or her affections on a new object. It may be said to be in idea the highest religious union, but a Christian wife has never felt it to be right for this reason to leave a husband merely because he is unconverted. We must, then, look at marriage on every side; on its jural, moral, and religious aspects; on its relations to sexual differences; to the birth and education of children; to its use in cementing the State together through the ties of kindred; to the love that will almost of course subsist between the married couple; to the field which it affords for the highest social and spiritual well- being of husband, wife, and family. It ought to be added also, as a point of no small importance, that the jural relations of marriage are determined by the moral convictions of men, and that thus Christianity, by purifying the moral sense, and by giving forth a nobler idea of marriage, has ennobled and strengthened civil law. Those nations have had the best moral habits where the sentiments regarding matrimony and the family were the most pure. Witness the Romans of the earlier ages, to whom divorce was unknown, and among whom the matron was chaste and frugal. The corruption of Roman morals first appeared, according to Horace, in the defilement of married life and the family:
“Fecunda culpae saecula nuptias
Primum inquinavere et genus et domos.”
And so, if our Christianity is destined to decay, the loss will be soon shown in the family relations. Even now a race of women is springing up who seem to have caught their inspiration from some of the high dames —the Fulvias and Julias — of the expiring Roman republic,
The neglect to look at the religious and moral side of marriage is also doing great evil in this country. In fact, a state of things now exists which our fathers hardly dreamed of, and which makes reflecting men tremble for the future. Rash and ill-sorted marriages have always existed; but where divorce laws, so loose as to be opposed to the very idea of marriage, open an easy door to get out of an uncomfortable relation, the tendency is that parties will marry with divorce before their eyes, and that, instead of forbearance and patience, they will magnify their present evils, and give to one another only half a heart. In the old times there were few who did not look upon large families as a blessing; at present it is established beyond doubt that a multitude of women, in one part of the country, regard children as an evil to be prevented or avoided, and do actually use the means for such flagitious ends. .
Some of these women are communicants in Christian churches, as physicians assert who profess to know. This shows that the very notion of marriage in many minds is a degraded and a corrupting one — that this union is entered into as an honest way of gratifying the lowest desires of human beings, and for no higher purpose. Nor are there wanting representatives of these base views, who practice upon them in their communities and defend them before the world. Who will question that the extreme of ancient asceticism, which gave to the word chastity the sense of rigid abstinence, as we give to the word temperance the same perverted meaning, was infinitely nearer to the Christian standard, in fact to any respectable pagan standard of morals, than feelings which can toleratosuch practices? That they can exist and even be common is an alarming sign for the future of our country. The conscience of men and women needs to be enlightened on a point of morals which can hardly be referred to from the pulpit. We ought not to hear Catholics twit the Protestantism of the country with winking at methods of preventing the increase of families. We ought to strike at that extravagance of living and showiness of dress which tempt the less wealthy to such things. We ought to hear from every quarter where the subject can be mentioned that “they who do such things cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” (T. D. W.)
See Grove, Mor. Philippians 2:470; Paley, Mor. Phil. vol. i, chap. viii, p. 339; Leslie, Sermons on Marriage (1702, 8vo); Fordyce, Moral Philos. (1769, 8vo); Delany, Relative Duties (1750, 8vo); Beattie, Elem. Moral Science, vol. ii; Bean, Christian Minister’s Advice to a Newmarried Couple (Lond. 1793); Guide to Domestic Happiness; Advantages and Disadvantages of the Married State; Stennett, On Domestic Duties; Jay, Essay on Marriage; Doddridge, Lect. (8vo edit.) 1:225, 234, 265; Ryan, Philosophy of Marriage, in its Social, Moral, and Physical Relations (Lond. 1839, 12mo); Evans, Christian Doctrine of Marriage (Balt., Md., 1860, 8vo); Klee, Die Ehe: eine dogmat. — archceol. Abhandl.; Tradition, ou histoire de l’eglise sur le sacrement de mariage; tiree des monumens les plus authentiques de chaque siecle tant l’orient que de l’occident (Paris, 1725, 3 vols. 4to); Schaff, Ch. Hist. 1:325 sq.; 2:111 sq., 242 sq.; Lea, Sacerdotal Celibacy (see Index); Fry (John), Marriage between Kindred (1773, 8vo); Marriage Rites, Customs, and Ceremonies of the Nations of the Universe (Lond. 1824, 8vo); Wuttke, Ethics (transl. by Prof. Lacroix, N. Y. 1873, 2 vols. 12mo), 2:310 sq.; Brit. and For. Rev. 1844, p. 95 sq.; Engl. Rev. 3:129; Biblical Repository, 2:70 sq.; Biblioth. Sacra, 1:283 sq.; Fraser’s Magazine, 41:112 sq.; (Lond.) Quart. Rev. lxxxv. 84 sq.; Lond. Qu. Rev. 10:545; Princet. Rev. 15:182, 420; Meth. Qu. Rev. 1866, p. 137; Christian Remembr. 1, 130; Evangel. Qu. Rev. 1870, p. 482 sq.; North Brit. Review, 12:286, 532; 1870, p. 267 sq.; New Enlgl. 1870 (July), p. 540; Am. Qu. Congreg. Rev. 1871, p. 627; South. Rev. 1871 (Jan.), art. v. See also Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 19:458; 3:666, art. Ehe; and for early literature, Walch, Bibl.; and for English writers, especially sermons on this subject, Malcolm, Theol. Index, s.v. For modern half or left-hand matrimony in Christendom, .
V. Marriage with Believers. — The importance of regulating the conjugal alliance on religious principles was, according to the record of the Old Testament, practically recognized at a very early period. Indeed, the corruption of manners which rendered the Flood necessary is directly traced to such mixed marriages (Gen 6:1-4). The intermixture, by marriage, of the professed servants and worshippers of God, with those by whom his authority was disowned, was first branded. and afterwards positively forbidden by divine authority; being denounced as an evil, the results of which were most injurious to the interests of religion, and which exposed those who fell into it to the condign and awful displeasure of the Most High (Exo 34:16). Now, although there were some circumstances attending the marriages in this manner denounced which do not directly apply to the state of society in our own country (especially the circumstance that the people with whom such intercourse was forbidden were idolaters), yet there is much, as must be evident to every pious observer, that illustrates the sin and danger of forming so intimate and permanent a union in life with the ungodly. The general fact is hence clearly deducible that there is an influence in marriage strongly affecting the character, which demands from those who are anxious for moral rectitude and improvement much of caution as to the manner in which their affections are fixed; and that unequal alliances — alliances where the parties are actuated by different spiritual habits and desires, and where good is made to meet and combine with bad, encountering most imminently the danger of seduction and pollution — are guilty, unnatural, and monstrous. The expression of the divine authority, in application to the Jews, is to be regarded as comprehending the principle of his people in all ages, that here they ought not to walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor to stand in the way of sinners.
What we thus are enabled to conclude from the Old Testament, will be still more distinctly exemplified from the New. The evangelical writings do not, indeed, frequently offer directions expressly on the subject of marriage, the point appearing rather to be assumed than argued, that in Christian marriage the husband and wife ought both, in the emphatic terms of the apostle Peter, to be and walk as being “heirs together of the grace of life.” In the first Epistle to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul applies himself to a question which seems at that time to have been agitated — whether Christians who, previous to their conversion, had contracted marriages with unbelievers, ought not to be actually divorced from the wives or husbands remaining in unbelief, because of the evil and peril attending the continuance of the alliance. Such an extreme, advocated by some, he considers as uncalled for (1Co 7:10-17). But, respecting the formation of a new matrimonial connection by a believer (the case taken being that of a believing widow, though the rule, of course, extends to all), this is the direction: “She is at liberty to be married to whom she will, only in the Lord” (1Co 7:39). Here is a simple proclamation, the force of which is permanent, and in submission to which Christians in every period should act. They are to marry “only in the Lord.” They, being themselves “in the Lord” — united to the Lord Jesus by the divine Spirit, and possessing an interest in the redeeming blessings he has purchased are to marry only on Christian principles, and, of course, only such as are thus also “in the Lord” — believer with believer, and with none else. This is the obvious meaning of the passage, which no sophism can evade or fritter away.
It would be easy to employ the attention further, on the general statements contained in the Word of God, respecting the character of separation from the world which ought to be sustained by his Church, the ends for which it is called, and the objects it is bound to perform; statements which all bear on the principle as to marriage, operating to enforce and to confirm it (see especially 2Co 6:14-18; 2Co 7:1). But, without amplifying here, and satisfied that this principle receives, from the testimony already quoted, a convincing and solemn establishment, the reader is requested to ponder a truth, which is as indubitable as it ought to be impressive, namely, that marriages formed by Christians in violation of the religious design of the institute, and of the express principles of their religion, are connected with evils many and calamitous, most earnestly to be deprecated, and most cautiously to be avoided. Is it, indeed, to be expected, on the ground of religion, that an act can be committed against the expressed will of the Most High God without exposing the transgressor to the scourge of his chastisement? Is it to be expected, on the ground of reason, that an alliance can be formed between individuals whose moral attributes and desires are essentially incompatible without creating the elements of uneasiness, discord, and disappointment? Excited imagination and passion may delude with the belief of innocence and hope of escape, but religion and reason speak the language of unchangeable veracity, and are ever justified in the fulfillments of experience and of fact. The operation of the evil results whose origin is thus deduced, is of course susceptible of modifications from several circumstances in domestic and social life; and, for many reasons, the degrees of public exhibition and of personal pressure may vary.
1. Yet it may be remarked uniformly, respecting these results-they are such as deeply affect the character. A reference has already been made to the moral influence of marriage, and as the marriages stigmatized under the patriarchal, and forbidden and punished under the Jewish dispensation, were obnoxious on account of the contamination into which they led the professed people of God, so are the marriages of Christians with worldlings in this age, a worldly spirit being still the essence of idolatry (Jam 4:4; Col 3:5; 1Jn 2:15-17; Mat 6:24), the objects of censure and deprecation, because of the baneful effect they exert on those who are numbered among the redeemed of the Lord. Such marriages as these present constant and insinuating temptations to seduce Christians to worldly dispositions and pursuits; they enfeeble their spiritual energies; interfere with their communion with God; hinder their growth in the attainments of divine life; check and oppose their performance of duty and their pursuit of usefulness, in the family, the Church, and the world. There has probably never been known a forbidden marriage which, if its original character were continued, did not pollute and injure. Some instances have been most palpable and painful; nor can it be considered other than a truth, unquestionable and notorious, that whoever will so transgress invokes a very blighting of the soul.
2. It may be remarked respecting these results, again, they are such as deeply effect happiness. Christian character and Christian happiness are closely connected if the one be hurt the other will not remain untouched. And who sees not in the unhallowed alliance a gathering of the elements of sorrow? Are there not ample materials for secret and pungent accusations of conscience, that agitate the heart with the untold pangs of self- condemnation and remorse? Is there not reason for the bitterness of disappointment, and the sadness of foreboding fear, because the best intercourse is unknown — the purest affection is impossible — the noblest union is wanting — and the being on whom the spirit would repose is, to all that is the sweetest and most sublime in human sympathies, human joys, and human prospects, an alien and a stranger? And what must be the horror of that anticipation which sets forth the event of a final separation at the bar of God, when, while the hope of personal salvation may be preserved, the partner of the bosom is seen as one to be condemned by the Judge, and banished with everlasting destruction from his presence and the glory of his power! Oh the infatuation of the folly which leads to unite, where evils like these are created, rather than where God will sanction, and where time and eternity will both combine to bless!
3. Its effects upon what may be regarded as the supreme end of the marriage relation, the religious education of children, is another most distressing consideration. What must it be! What has it ever been! That much injury, therefore, has arisen to the public interests of the Church of Christ from this transgression cannot be doubted. Injury done to individual character is injury done to the community to which the individual is attached. It has always been a fact, that whoever sins in the household of faith, sills not only against himself, but against others; and that this transgression is one peculiarly extended in its influence, operating more than, perhaps, any one else which can be named to bring religion from its vantage ground, to clog its progress, and to retard its triumph. See Cong. Mag. May, 1831; Malcolm on the Christian Rule of Marriage; H. More’s Caeleb’s in Search of a Wife.
VI. Marriage Ceremonies. — In the early Christian Church marriages were to be notified to the bishop or society, and in the first centuries were solemnized by the clergy, but with very many exceptions. Much was borrowed from the customs of the Roman law. Banns were required about the 12th century. .
No prescribed form for the solemnization of marriage seems to have existed in early times. Witnesses were required, and the dowry was settled in writing. The sponsalia or betrothal preceded, and tokens or pledges were given or exchanged. The ceremonies were to all appearances not regarded as essential by the early Christians, but were merely considered appropriate and becoming, and when celebrated were observed as follows: “The use of the ring, in the rites both of espousal and of marriage, is very ancient. It is mentioned both by Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria, the latter of whom says, ‘It was given her, not as an ornament; but as a seal, to signify the woman’s duty in preserving the goods of her husband, because the care of the house belongs to her.’“ The crowning of the married pair with garlands was a marriage-rite peculiar to many nations professing different forms of religion. Tertullian inveighs against it with all the zeal of a Montanist, but it is spoken of with approbation by the fathers of the 4th and 5th centuries, from whom it appears that the friends and attendants of the bridal pair were adorned in the same manner. These chaplets were usually made of myrtle, olive, amaranth, rosemary, and evergreens, intermingled with cypress and vervain. The crown, appropriately so called, was made of olive, myrtle, and rosemary, variegated with flowers, and sometimes with gold and silver, pearls, precious stones, etc.
These crowns were constructed in the form of a pyramid or tower. Both the bride and the bridegroom were crowned in this manner, together with the groomsman and the bridesmaid. The bride frequently appeared in church thus attired on the day when proclamation of the banns was made. Chaplets were not worn by the parties in case of second marriage, nor by those who had been guilty of impropriety before marriage. In the Greek Church the chaplets were imposed by the officiating minister at the altar. In the Western Church it was customary for the parties to present themselves thus attired. The wearing of a veil by the bride was borrowed from the Romans. It was also conformable to the example of Rebecca (Genesis 24). From this marriage-rite arose the custom of taking the veil in the Church of Rome. By this act the nun devotes herself to perpetual virginity as the spouse of Christ, the bridegroom of the Church. It appears to have been customary also to spread a robe over the bridegroom and bride, called vitta nuptialis, pallium jugale, etc., and made of a mixture of white and red colors. Torches and lamps were in use on such occasions, as among the Jews and pagan nations. The festivities were celebrated by nuptial processions going out to meet the bridegroom and conducting him home, by nuptial songs and music, and marriage feasts. These festivals were frequently the subject of bitter animadversion by the fathers, especially by Chrysostom, and often called for the interposition of the authority of the Church. At marriage festivals it was customary to distribute alms to the poor. The groomsman had various duties to perform — to accompany the parties to the church at their marriage; to act as sponsor for them in their vows; to assist in the marriage ceremonies; to accompany them to the house of the bridegroom; to preside over and direct the festivities of the occasion.
For a considerable time the observance of a marriage ceremony fell into desuetude among the Christians, to remedy which certain laws enforcing it were enacted in the 8th century. The ceremony now differs in different places. In Scotland, like all other religious services of that country, it is extremely simple, and is performed in the session-house, the residence of the minister, or the private house of some friend of one of the parties. In Lutheran countries it is generally celebrated in private houses. In England, by the ancient common law, a like custom prevailed as in Scotland until 1757, when, by lord Hardwicke’s Act, a ceremony in a church of the state establishment was made necessary, and this continued till 1836, when the Dissenters succeeded in removing this exclusiveness. Persons have now the option of two forms of contracting marriage: it may be with or without a religious ceremony; and, if with a religious ceremony, it may be either in the established church or in a dissenting chapel. If the marriage is to take place in an established church, then there must be either publication of banns of marriage for three preceding successive Sundays, or a license or certificate obtained, which dispenses with such publication; and, in either case, seven or fifteen days’ previous residence in the parish by one of the parties is necessary, according as it is a certificate or license respectively which is applied for. The marriage must take place in the church, the marriage-service of the Church of England being read over, and this must be done in canonical hours, i.e. between 8 and 12 A.M., in presence of two witnesses at the altar, before which, in the body of the church, the parties are placed, after having mutually joined hands, and pledged their mutual troth, according to a set form of words, which they say after the minister; the mall gives a ring to the woman, then lays it on the book, with the accustomed duty to the priest and clerk. The priest then takes the ring and delivers it to the man, whom he instructs to put it on the fourth finger of the woman’s left hand, and, holding it there, to repeat the words, “With this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” The minister next joins their right hands together, and, after prayers and blessings, during certain parts of which the man and woman kneel before the altar, they are dismissed with the reading of a part of the Prayer-book, which points out the duties of the marriage state. If the marriage is celebrated in a dissenting chapel (and for that purpose such chapel must be duly licensed and registered), there must be present the superintendent-registrar of the district as one of the witnesses, but the dissenting clergyman may use his own or any kind of form of service. If the marriage is not to be with any religious ceremony, then it must take place in the office of the superintendent-registrar, and in presence of witnesses, the essential thing being that both parties should in the presence of witnesses there exchange a declaration that they take each other for man and wife. The canonical hours must be attended to in all cases, and the condition of previous residence by one of the parties in the district; but the condition of residence is often evaded. In all cases the fact of the marriage must be entered in a register, which register is kept by a public officer, and ultimately filed and kept in Somerset House, London, where a copy of the certificate of registration of every marriage in England can at all times be had for a small sum.
In the United States of America the customs of the Church of Scotland are followed by the Presbyterian and Congregational churches, and measurably also by the Baptists. The Protestant Episcopal Church adheres closely to the practices of the Church of England, and from the latter the Methodists also, in a somewhat modified form, have copied in this particular. Minor ecclesiastical bodies of the Christian Church follow the practices of one or the other of the churches mentioned. The laws of the several states differ somewhat as to the matter of marriage ceremonies, but they are adapted to the usages of all acknowledged Christian denominations, and recognize the validity of the act whether performed by a clergyman or magistrate, or by a simple contract before witnesses.
Peculiar usages are found in some of the Eastern churches of to-day. In Russia the bride and bridegroom hold a lighted taper in their hands in front of a small altar placed in the center of the church. Rings are placed on their fingers, and, their hands being joined, they are led by the priest three times round the altar. Two highly-ornamented gilt crowns are placed on their heads, and held over them by the groomsman during a part of the service. They drink wine out of a cup three times, and, kissing one another, the ceremony is finished. The married couple then make the tour of the church, crossing themselves at and saluting each saintly image on their way. Weddings generally take place towards evening, so that immediately after the ceremony dinner commences at the house of the bride’s father. At a marriage-feast lighted candles are placed in every position and corner possible. No other wine but champagne is drunk, and the quantity of this beverage consumed is remarkable. The dinner is followed by a ball, and the feasting is usually kept up for twenty-four hours. The custom of honeymoon does not exist in Russia. The married couple spend the first few days of their wedded life with the bride’s father. Shortly after the marriage the bride and bridegroom must call upon every one of their relations, friends, and acquaintances, and after this ceremony is finished they sink back into their ordinary life (Ivan at Home).