Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/349

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MARRIAGE AMONG THE ANCIENT ISRAELITES.

It is Simeon and Levi, uterine brothers of Dinah, who revenge the affront offered her, and when reproved by Jacob they say, "Should he deal with our sister as with a harlot?" The other sons of Jacob took no part in the act of treachery (Genesis, xxix, 33, 34; xxx, 21; xxxiv, 25, 31). Notice, too, the love which Joseph has for Benjamin, "his mother's son" (Genesis, xliii, 29, 30), and how cold by comparison is his regard for his brothers-german. The rape of Tamar is revenged by her uterine brother Absalom, who causes Amnon to be murdered (II Samuel, xiii, 28). It is interesting to note the language used in this case (II Samuel, xiii, 1): "And it came to pass after this that Absalom, the son of David, had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon, the son of David, loved her"; and (verse 4), "And Amnon said unto him, I love Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister." The relationship between Tamar and Absalom is evidently regarded as something very different from that between her and Amnon. Indeed, in our view, Tamar and Amnon were not regarded as related at all. In verses 2, 5, 6, etc., Tamar is spoken of as Amnon's sister; but then it must be remembered that the term sister was used in a very comprehensive sense, and included female cousin, and in fact women generally of about the same age as the speaker. In Tobit, v, 20; vii, 16; and xviii, 14, are examples of a husband addressing his wife as sister.

Another indication is found in the numerous cases in which men are described as the sons of their mothers, as if the maternal descent were of more moment than the paternal. Bethuel is described as "son of Melcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother" (Genesis, xxiv, 15). Joab is generally styled "the son of Zeruiah"—that is, after his mother (II Samuel, xxiii, 18; I Kings, i, 7; I Chronicles, xxvi, 28). Abishai, Joab's brother, is also called the son of Zeruiah (II Samuel, xiv, 21; xviii, 2). David calls them both "ye sons of Zeruiah" (II Samuel, xix, 22).

Much more important, however, than these, are the cases in which the son is clearly regarded as being of the kin and nation of the mother rather than of the father. Abimelech was son of Gideon by a Shechemite woman, and, if descent were in the male line, he could not have been considered a Shechemite; but the story, as narrated in Judges, ix, shows clearly that he was considered one. His mother's brethren say, "He is our brother," and support his cause. Amasa was the son of Abigail, David's sister, by Jether the Ishmaelite (I Chronicles, ii, 17). If descent were in the male line, Amasa would have been reckoned an Ishmaelite, and not one of the Beni-Israel at all. But what are the facts? David sends to him, saying, "Art thou not of my bone, and my flesh?" and makes him captain over the host of Judah, his mother's tribe. Again, Sheshan gave his daughter in marriage to his