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intercourse gave to the Gentiles?, it was abridged, and, to prevent the exceptions of the proselyte, the provisions of the law of the Noachidæ were enforced, and marriage with a mother or an uterine sister was forbidden to be contracted, and dissolved if it was contracted. Any other marriage, however forbidden by the Levitical law, was approved and confirmed ; as was marriage, subsequent to the regeneration, with persons related on the father's side, even with two sisters, the daughters of a common father; while the marriage with those on the mother's side was disallowed, as with a mother's daughter and a mother's sister, and also with the wife of the uterine brother, if that brother was a proselyte. If a man bad married two uterine sisters, or a mother and a daughter, he was required to divorce the one, but if he survived his wife, and she was a proselyte, he was free to marry her mother or daughtera.
The law of consanguinity was not without other exceptions among the native Jews. If a man died without children his brother or brothers in succession were required to marry her, and if they rejected her, the right and obligation devolved upon the next of kin". The heiress also was required to marry one of the family of the tribe of her father, that there might be no disturbance of the inheritance originally appropriated to the several tribes.
A just and reasonable impediment to marriage was founded in certain imperfections and impurities,
· Tacitus, Hist. I. v, s. 5. alludes to the practice of the proselytes, and to the refusal of marriages with the heathen.
a Selden de Jure Nat. et Gen. 1. v. c. 18. b Deut. xxv. 5. • Numb. xxxvi. 6, 7.
which are specified in the Law"; and it was a humane and moral provision which prohibited a man from marrying a second time the woman whom he had once divorced.
If the Levitical law contained no express prohibition of polygamy, it cannot be charged with giving any licence or encouragement to the prevailing practice, which was in immediate opposition to the record of the divine institution of marriage. The conduct of the patriarchs has been usually vindicated' upon the necessity of multiplying the human race, and upon the strong desire of giving birth to the promised Messiah ; but the patriarchal example, instead of being used as a precedent, might have been powerfully counteracted by the restrictions which were laid upon the assumed licence of divorce, and by the judgments which the prophet pronounced upon the practice, with reference to the primitive unity of marriage. The great model of Jewish sanctity, the High Priest, was permitted to have but one wife, and required upon his elevation to divorce any other wife: he was also supposed to be exempted from the obligation of marrying the widow of his brother. It was expressly ordained in the law, that he should marry none but a virgin of his own people, and that he should not profane his seed by any matrimonial impurity, which would
a Lev. xviii. 19. xx. 19. Deut. xxiii. 1. e Deut. xxiv. 4.
'Brisson de Jure Con. See also Tertull. de Exhort. Castitat. s. 6. Compare Ad Ux. I. i. s. 2. C1. Alex. Strom. I. ii. s. 19. 1. iii. s. 12.
3 Malachi ii. 14, 15.
contaminate his offspring, or by any transgression of the general rule of the priesthood, who were restricted from marrying a widow, or a divorced woman, or any that was profane, or a whore, which was interpreted of any woman not of the house of Israel". The plurality even of the king's wives was limited, and they were not allowed to have more than eighteen wives, a limitation as curious as the arguinent on which it proceeded, that when David was reproached with the gift of his master's wives, it was said, that if they had not been enough, he might have had, as the words may be rendered, so many and so many : but Saul had six wives, and 6+6+6=18. If any of these royal wives were diyorced, or left in widowhood, it was not lawful for a subject to marry them'. The polygamy of the people was governed by their means of supporting their wives, who were not allowed to exceed the number of four, and even this number might be abridged by local circumstances ; nor was it allowed to have different wives in distant residences, because the children might thus be unknown to each other, and involved in incestuous marriages.
The evidence of the New Testament upon the doctrine of incestuous marriages is less copious than important. If the view of our Lord's clause of exception in the law of divorce which is maintained in the Appendix be approved, and his words be interpreted of that peculiar kind of incest which the
to Lev. xxi. 7, 13, 14. Ezek. xliv. 22. Tert. Exhort. Castitat. s. 7. Ux. Ebr. l. i. c. 7. i 2 Sam. xii. 8. Ux. Ebr. 1. i. c. 8.
Jews imputed to marriage with the heathen, there will be the highest authority for proscribing the marriage of the faithful with the unbelieving, and for declaring such marriages invalid and liable to be dissolved. Such marriages are clearly forbidden in the precepts of the apostle to marry only in the Lord", and to be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers', and, as is contended in the more difficult text, of making the members of Christ the members of an alien"; and it is in respect of these marriages that Esau" is proposed as an admonitory example to the Christian Church. The word of our Lord may, however, without violence to the context, be also understood of incestuous marriages in general, implied under a term denoting incest generally, or incest of a particular kind.
It was the great offence of the Baptist that he condemned the marriage of Herod with his brother's wife: It is not lawful for thee to have hero. Thus the Baptist, who was the great means of connecting the Old and the New Testaments, may be thought to affirm, by the allegation of a specific rule, the continuance and perpetuity of the Levitical restrictions P.
The case of the incestuous Corinthian confirms the inference by another example: It is commonly reported that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among
* 1 Cor. vii. 39. 12 Cor. vi. 14. m 1 Cor. vi. 15. + Heb. xii. 16. • Matt. xiv. 4. Orig. Com. in Matt. tom. X. s. 22. Homil. in Luc. xxvii. p Gerhard. s. 299.
the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. Hammond explains the fornication in this text, of sins of uncleanness, and marriage within the prohibited degrees, of that disclosing of nakedness which comprehends all the marriages within the prohibited degrees. It is defined by the context of having a father's wife ; not of taking her away, or committing adultery with her, but of having matrimonial possession of her, and being married to her. This crime was such,'" quod vel Gentiles nefandum putant;" such as the Gentiles deemed impious and unworthy of mention ; such as was expressly, and under a capital penalty, forbidden to the Jews; and such that, in the apostle's judgment, the offender was unworthy of the communion of the faithful, and therefore made the first example of excommunication. The allusion of the apostle to the opinion of the Gentiles will go far to justify the prohibition of all marriages not approved among the heathen, and to establish by implication the authority of a strict and comprehensive code of matrimonial purity in the Christian Church. The examples alleged in the New Testament are cases of affinity: the prohibition of marriage within the degrees of consanguinity is of necessity included.
The early writers of the Christian Church take but little notice of these prohibited marriages, except in refuting the pernicious heresies of their contemporaries, by whom the purity of marriage was depraved; or in exposing the incest which was common
9 1 Cor. v. 1. Hammond in loc. Cf. Poli Synops. See Appendix, No. I.