Ex. 26 : 3, "The five curtains shall be coupled together one to another; and other five curtains shall be coupled one to another.
Ex. 26 : 5, "That the loops may take hold one of another.
Ex. 26 : 6, "And couple the curtains together."
Ex. 26 ; 17, "Two tenons shall be set one against another."
Ez. 1 : 9 and 11, "Their wings wore joined one to another."
Ez. 1 : 23, "And their wines were straight one towards another."
Ez. 3 : 10, "The wings of the living creatures touched one another."
Lev. 18 : 18. The case in dispute.
Here we have all the instances of the phrase in the Hebrew Bible; and it is observable that our translators have uniformly rendered it, making no marginal gloss, except in Leviticus,—so certain is the force of the idiom. I ask, then,
Can any one not swayed by prejudice believe that a phrase used thirty-four times in the Hebrew Bible in the same identical sense, is used the thirty-fifth time in a totally different sense? For (illegible text) my part, if I could see no meaning in the last case, I should feel bound to remain in the rendering of all the other cases, leaving the meaning for future illumination. Assuredly we must adhere to the fixed meaning of Bible phrases, unless we would make the Scripture what an irreverent Cardinal called it, "a nose of wax."
Now before I come to the true exposition of this passage, as I wish to be thorough as far as I go, I shall notice the objection which Mr. Funshon and others make to the marginal rendering, "one wife to the other"—though that is not strictly correct. It would only then be (they say) "a prohibition of bigamy." Mr. Punshon goes on to say, "I submit this cannot be, because we know for a fact that bigamy was practised to a much later period by those who were bound by these Levitical laws, and also because in Deut, xxi 15, part of the second giving of the law, and therefore later, bigamy is recognised as existing, and for a certain contingency growing out of it, legislated for."
It would be sufficient to answer, That not all bigamy or polygamy would not be necessarily hereby prohibited; e.g. such as Abraham's taking Hagar with Sarah's consent, or Jacob's taking Rachel's and Leah's hand-maids at their desire; as this would not be within the terms of the prohibition, "to rival" them; though such polygamy might be forbidden on other grounds. Surely here again we may observe that a special prohibition is a very unfit ground for a general course of action in a precisely opposite direction.
3. But the truth is that both of the preceding explanations are wrong; the text in dispute refers neither to polygamy nor to a deceased wife's sister! It has a reference which removes a11 the difficulties which would largely cluster about both these views, and it at the same time allows the Hebrew idiom its full, proper and unrestricted force of "one to another." The great objection to this rendering in the present instance, in spite of the overwhelming force of idiomatic use, is—that