Presentation on theme: "Marriage in the Matriarchal Period Chief Wife Secondary wife Concubine Handmaid Slave-wife Abram giving counsel to Sarai (detail), by J. James Tissot (1836-1902),"— Presentation transcript:
Marriage in the Matriarchal Period Chief Wife Secondary wife Concubine Handmaid Slave-wife Abram giving counsel to Sarai (detail), by J. James Tissot (1836-1902), Jewish Museum, New York
Chief-Wife “Bride-price” (mohar) paid to the bride’s father. Alternative payment: service in fields or in war. Mohar compensates for loss of daughter’s labor.
Polygyny A man could have as many wives as he could support, usually only one.
Marriage Contract (ketubah) Protection for women Written document given to wife’s keeping Wife’s property rights in case of divorce or the death of the husband. Discouraged divorce.
Dowry Given by the bride’s father to her. Would remain her possession.
“Taking a Wife” “taking a wife” = marriage No ceremony known Leviticus 18 prohibits certain close relations from marrying, e.g., brother and sister Girls typically married at 12-13
Concubine (pilegesh) 1) Free woman taken as wife 2) Any woman married without exchange of property or contract 3) Most were slave-wives freed at death of owner Note confusion with Latin concubina: Hebrew pilegesh was legally married, but Latin concubina was not. 4) Children of pilegesh can be heirs if the father recognizes them.
Handmaid or Woman’s Personal Slave (amah) A wife had complete authority to sell or free her slave or give her as a slave wife.
Slaves Sources: – Debtors-- Prisoners of War –Foreign captives-- Dowry transfer – In a foreign war, an Israelite could take any woman as a slave- wife, but could not sell her later. Deuteronomy 21:10-14: "When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails; And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her [i.e. rape her or engage in consensual sex], and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife. And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her."
Slave-wife A wife may give her personal slave to her husband for purposes of procreation. Children of a slave-wife could be heirs if the chief-wife had no children and she allowed it.
Code of Hammurabi on uppity slave-wives If a slave wife “despised” her mistress after becoming pregnant, the mistress could brand her with a slave mark and return her to the rank of slave. Alternative punishments: scouring her mouth with 1 quart salt, flogging.
Adultery Earlier: Capital offense for both (Deuteronomy 22: 22 and Leviticus 20: 10) Later: Compulsory divorce (no 2 nd marriage) Possible penalties of adultery for a free married woman: death, slavery, mutilation (nose, ears), public nakedness, shaving. Adultery in Egypt was considered a “great sin” punishable by death. Consensual relations between a man and someone else’s concubine were considered adultery.
Divorce Easy for a man; impossible for a woman Most common cause: childlessness Deuteronomy 24: 1 specifies “indecency” (open to interpretation by rabbis)
Bibliography Baker, James R. Women’s Rights in Old Testament Times. 1992. (Examines the stories of OT women in the light of twelve ancient legal documents, including the Code of Hammurabi) http://www.womensearlyart.net/ruth/bibimages/tissot_abramsarai.html Web Gallery of Art at http://gallery.euroweb.hu/http://gallery.euroweb.hu/ The Web Gallery of Art is a virtual museum and searchable database of European painting and sculpture of the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods (1150-1800), currently containing over 12,100 reproductions.