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Page:A book of folk-lore (1913).djvu/237

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shalt thou give unto Me. Likewise shalt thou do with thine oxen and with thy sheep." (Exodus xxii 29--30). But then came the concession: "All the firstborn of the sons shalt thou redeem" (Exodus xxxiv. 20). Among the Canaanites, so far as we know, there was no redemption; and perhaps the concession to the usages of the heathen around, with the way shown by which escape might be had from a barbarous custom, was allowed so as to introduce among the Canaanites a mitigation of a horrible usage. When Jephtha went to fight against the children of Ammon, he vowed to sacrifice the first living being that he met on his return from battle; and as this was his daughter, he was compelled to fulfil his vow by immolating her.

I do not myself think that the sacrifice of the first-born, or the first of any being, or the burial of a human victim under a foundation stone, was of Aryan origin, although Aryans may have adopted such a usage from those of another race whom they overlay. The notion of burying under foundations is very prevalent in India and throughout the East, among the Dravidian and Malay peoples, but to the best of my knowledge is not indigenous among the Hindus.