Page images
PDF
EPUB

lot to keep for a time, and then, when pleasure or conveniency prompts, dismissing her. This is usually called keeping a mistress; but as there is no intention of marriage, and this is only done for the mere gratification of luft, it is not only a very evil example to others, and a defiance of the laws and good order of fociety, but doubtless comes under the condemnation, as it must be ranked under the description, of fornication and whoredom.

or פילגשים This was not the fituation of the

t concubines amongst the Jews; these seem to have been looked upon as wives, though, in some respects, of an inferior rank. They were so far considered as wives, that the man who took them had such a propriety in them, as to make it a very great offence, if not adultery itself, to violate them; as appears in the case of Jacob's concubine Bilbah. Reuben, the eldest son of Jacob, had lain with her ; and

4 Dr. Johnson, in his Dictionary, makes a concubine signify-t a woman kept in fornication, a whore, a $ ftrumpet :” but no such meaning of the word wala is to be found in the scriptures. It is greatly owing to such interpretations of words which are used in our translation, that we are led to have very false conceptions, not only of words, but of whole passages, in the sacred yolume.

So the word adultery, instead of keeping to the unvaried use of the Hebrew 989, we make it fignify evergi thing which our ideas have annexed to the English term adultery. At this rate, the truth of scripture can never be fixed, but must alter with the languages into which it may happen to be translated, or with the ideas which change of times, or opinions, may affix to certain words in those languages.

Jacob, ,

E 3

C

Jacob, Gen. xlix. 4. calls it.“

calls it going up to his bed and defiling it.For this crime Reuben was disinherited, and put from the right of the first-born, Compare Gen. xlix. 3, 4. with I Chron, v, I,

Though the children of the concubine did not inherit as the children of the wife in most cases, yet in one very remarkable one we find they did, and that by the disposal of God Himself. Leab and Rachel, are called the wives of Jacob; Bilbab and Zilpab were his concubines (as may appear from Gen. xxxv, 22.); yet the children of these inherited the land of Canaan equally with the children of the former.

I confess myself not master enough of the subject, to define exactly the difference between 1708 a wife, and wabis a concubine, in all respects ; neither have I been fortunate enough to meet with so precise a definition in any author, as to warrant a determination of the question. What I have found upon the subject, I submit to the Reader, in the notes below t, and in the appendix to this

chapter,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

+ The authors of the Univ. Hist. (vol.iii. p. 141.) call the OVI wives of the first rank, and the O'Day wives of the second rank; “ which laft, say they, though most “ versions render by the word concubines, harlots, and proftitutes, yet in none of thofe places of scripture where 56 the word is used, which are about thirty-fix in num56 ber, is any such sinister sense implied.” However, they state a two-fold difference between these and the wives of the first rank. " First-that the latter were “ taken with the usual ceremonies, and the former with

out,

[ocr errors]

66

chapter, which he will see at the end of this volume.

This is certain, no mark of disapprobation is set upon concubinage in the scriptures, though they speak to severely against whoredom; which, to me, is an evident and conclusive proof, that there is some specific difference between them. Indeed we find the owner of the concubine called her husband; she bis wife. So the text, Judges xix. I. A certain Levite took to him w25 JWuxorem pellicem. Mont. ; a wife concubine : and in

are fometimes ufed for פיליגש and אשה lots

.
The words

« out. Secondly, with respect to their authority, and " the honour paid to them and their children.”

This is very clear, that the sacred tongue, made use of by the Holy Ghost in the scriptures, makes distinctions, which amount to demonstration of there being no foundation for confounding the Diwabia with whores or har

. the same person. See Gen. xxv. 1. 6. (XXX. 4. with xxxy. 22.); but wakes and 1739 are never thus used.

Calasio defines vaban as- Ancilla unita & addi&ta viro absque scriptura, i. e. contraétu dotali & sponsalibus. “An “ handmaid united and devoted to a man, or husband, " without writing-i. c. without any contract for dower

or espousals.'

Busbequius expressly affirms, “ that a wife is diftin“guished from a concubine, in Turkey, merely by a “ dowry, which seems also to have been the distinction “ among the Jews.See Outlines of a new Commentary on Solomon's Song, (a moft ingenious and excellent work) p. 21. written by an author to whom the world is highly indebted, for “'Observations on divers pasages of scrip“ ture,” in two volumes – a work, which, by laying before us the manners and customs in the East, elucidates the scriptures of the Old Testament beyond any other comment that has yet appeared. It may be truly said of Mr. Harmer, that he has the happy art of making " dark “ things plain," in a way, which, at the same time that it instructs, highly entertains the reader,

E 4

verse

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

law ;

verse 3. he is called 17wx vir ejus. Mont. her husband, as we translate it. So the Fr. of D. Martin, son mari; and this translation seems to be very proper, because, the damfel's father is called, ver. 4. his (the Levite’s) inn father-in-law; and ver. 5. the Levite is called on his (the damsel's father's) fon-in

each of these relations by marriage being expressed by the word inn. Surely this affords a conclusive proof, that the concubines a in those days, were in some sense wives; but, in what fenfe, it may

be
very

difficult to determine exactly. The root inn signifies to contract afinity by marriage. Gen. xxxiv. 9, Josh. xxiii. 12. In this last passage, the LXX render it. by ériyauius TolēIV, to make marriages. So that though we cannot state the precise difference between the wife and the concubine in every particular, yet there was too great a similarity between them, not to be both widely different from what we call a kept mistress, in whom the man claims not a jot more property, than in an horse hired for a day's journey, nor is more care or concern usually taken about them, when once the fancy or humour of the keeper leads him to resolve

upon

dismiffion. The remedy of this mischief depends on that of the others which have been mention. ed; all must stand or fall together.

CHAP

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

COME now to consider an offence against

the positive precepts of God, which is of the most malignant kind, that of commerce between the fexes, where the woman is the wife, consequently the inviolable and unalienable property of another man.

This is truly and properly adultery, and described in the seventh commandment by a word, which, throughout the whole Hebrew scriptures, is confined to that single idea. Hence it is, that it is used, in a figurative sense, to denote the turning from God to the worship of idols. God calls himself the hufband of His church; the church is represented under the figure of a spouse or wife ; therefore, apostatizing from Jehovah to idols, is called, in a spiritual sense, adultery, If.liv. 5. * T by Maker is thine husband. Jer. iii. 14.

* The words in the original are you gobya in the plural number, thy husbands, thy makers; then follows, Jehovah Sabaoth is his name. Surely here, as in Eccl. xii. I. and in many other passages, the careful reader must see a plurality of persons in Jehovah openly revealed. To imagine, as many do, that this fundamental of true religion was reserved to the days of the New Testament, is one of those consequences of ignorance with respect to the Hebrew scriptures, under which we Christians content ourselves.

Turn,

« PreviousContinue »