Summary Of Relevant Biblical Law On Maternal Lines

Since in our discussion of the relevant biblical law to the maternal line within families discussed in biblical history we have discussed quite a few laws [1], some of them at length, it is worthwhile at this point to pause and summarize what we have uncovered so far before we apply these laws and principles to the stories where maternal lines of ancestry are discussed.  After all, the better we understand the parameters that people were working through in the course of their own courtship during biblical times, we may better understand just how important family was to God, and we may understand what sort of restrictions God placed on how those families were to be formed for the purposes of His glory as well as the desire to preserve tribes and families on the earth in the face of threats and difficulties.

First, we may note that three groups of people had restrictions placed on their marriage that were striking and unusual.  Priests could only marry virgins among the daughters of Israel, and were expressly forbidden from marrying divorced or defiled women as a result of their position representing the holiness of God to Israel as a whole.  Kings were forbidden from collecting large amounts of wives and concubines in harems and were forbidden from multiplying wives (whatever that meant), which meant that rulers had to marry strategically because they had to make their marriages count.  Additionally, female heirs were restricted as to their potential marriage partners as a result of the tricky way that their inheritance would be passed down to their children.  As a result of this disappearance of the inheritance into the properties and inheritance of the family they would marry into, they could only marry those among the same tribe so that the land would not be alienated.  As a result of their privilege of inheriting in the absence of male heirs, they were protected from being the targets of theft by people from the other tribes of Israel.  In all of these cases, the limitations served as a way either to protect women or to glorify God as well as to preserve honor within Israel.  It should also be noted that some restrictions on marriage and sexuality applied to everyone, including prohibitions on incest, homosexuality, and bestiality, that remain in effect for believers today.

We may see the same general principles at work with regards to those situations where divorce was restricted.  The fact that Jesus Christ forbade divorce and remarriage was designed to defend women and to strongly encourage people to develop skills in communication and peaceful conflict resolution.  Unfortunately our own age has been particularly poor in that regard, even among the dismal and melancholy record of human history as a whole.  Additionally, men who had married a wife after humbling her and paying the bride price as a result of their fornication were forbidden from divorcing their wife because the lifelong support of such wives, regardless of how one felt about them, was to be required as a result of having engaged in sexual immorality.  Part of the price of sowing one’s oats was a restriction of freedom because of previous license.  This too was designed to protect women, although in our contemporary age enforcement of such laws would likely protect men from our own biased and corrupt legal system, not that such protection is in any way a bad thing.  In a similar vein, even though both foreign princesses and female prisoners of war were told to overcome and forget their family backgrounds and assimilate themselves into Israel, people who married prisoners of war were forbidden from treating them like slaves, as would be the normal fate of such women if they did not marry into Israel, but had to free them if they no longer wished to be married to them as equals.

Clearly, the Bible considered the treatment of and the moral character of women to be highly important.  Biblical laws prevented the exploitation of women, and were remarkably generous about the obligations such women could demand from their relatives in protecting them.  This is all the more remarkable given the poor status of women even within contemporary Middle Eastern society.  Consider the contrast with regards to just one of these laws.  If a young woman entered into a foolish intimate relationship that her father did not approve of in ancient Israel, the young man had to pay the father the bride price so he would not be defrauded from what would be due to him from a future son-in-law, even if the father refused the son as a family alliance partner.  If a young woman did the same in a country under Sharia law, she would likely be stoned to death for having shamed the family.  Or consider another example.  Under biblical law if a man saw a pretty young woman among the prisoners of war, she was to be considered a wife and was not to be considered a slave.  If at some point he was dissatisfied, he had to set her free without any sort of penalty for her whatsoever because he had humbled her.  Does one see the same sort of respect and honor given to women among the prisoners of war collected by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq?  Certainly not, and these biblical laws were laid down 3500 years ago for a somewhat savage people just freed from generations of brutal slavery and on the eve of their hostile conquest of the Holy Land, and yet these laws even today strike a reader as fair-minded and considerate towards women.  And so they are.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Biblical History, Christianity, Church of God, History, Love & Marriage, Maternal Lines, Musings and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Summary Of Relevant Biblical Law On Maternal Lines

  1. Pingback: An Introduction To Maternal Lines In Scripture | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Jesus In The Courtroom | Edge Induced Cohesion

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