LESSON 54.

THE NEWLY-DISCOVERED CHAPTER IN WOMAN’S HISTORY.

415.     We will now resume the study of the early dignity of woman. Please read again Lessons 7 and 8. Prof. W. Robertson Smith, late professor of Arabic at Cambridge, wrote a book, called Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia, which has special interest for Bible students, because it deals with a people closely related to the Hebrews in both language and customs. Speaking of ba’al marriage (the sort which involves subordination on the part of the wife), he says: “The husband in this kind of marriage is called, not in Arabia only, but also among the Hebrews and Armenians as well, the woman’s ‘lord’ or ‘owner’ (ba’al, Hosea 2:16), and wherever this name is found we may be sure that marriage was of the second type, with male kinship,[3] and the wife bound to her husband and following him to his home. It will be convenient to have a short name for the type of marriage in which these features are combined and as the name Baal is familiar to every one from the Old Testament, I propose to call it ba’al marriage, or marriage of dominion, and to call the wife a be’ulah, or subject wife (Isaiah 62.4).

416.     For the contrasted type . . . we ought to seek a name expressing the fact that the wife is not under her husband’s authority but meet him on equal terms.” He proposes sadica for this purpose. It comes from sadac, the gift given to a wife by her husband, upon marriage, as contrasted with the gift to the father, in the purchase of a wife by her ba’al. Sadica marriage he describes thus: “The woman receives the husband in her own tent, among her own people . . . the children are brought up under the protection of the mother’s kin, and are of her blood.” On the other hand, “The wife who follows her husband, and who bears children who are of his blood has lost the right freely to dispose of her person; her husband has authority over her, and he alone has the right of divorce.”¾this is ba’al marriage.

417.     What W. Robertson Smith calls sadica marriage, the earliest form of marriage, is generally called beena marriage,¾the word which is applied in Ceylon at the present time to the marriage in which the husband resides with his wife’s family. Robertson Smith’s word is descriptive of such marriages among the Arabs only. He sometimes uses one term, sometimes the other (for reasons we need not enter into), and hence the need for our defining both. The proper term for this primitive form of marriage (in which the man forsakes his parents for his wife, not the woman for her husband) is “the Christian marriage,” since it was not only enjoined by God’s primal social law, but reiterated in the authoritative language of Christ Himself, at the same time and in the same sentence in which He forbade divorce for any cause but adultery (Matthew 19:4, 5); and is further declared by St. Paul to typify Christ’s self-renunciation in behalf of His Bride, the Church, Ephesians 5:31-32.

418.     But our interest for the moment centers around the fact that God did not Himself subordinate Eve to Adam, and all women to their husbands, as has been claimed by the Church throughout many centuries. Man gradually brought about that subordination to himself, and it has been accomplished so late in human history as to leave traces of its history, and also remnants of the other form of marriage. From understanding, at last, that Eve was a believer; and that there is more to the promise, or threat, made to Satan, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman” than that men should hate snakes (!), we are left without any clue to any sense or reason why God should subordinate Eve to Adam. And we are glad to know that many sociologists are at work on the many evidences that “in the beginning” woman was not subordinate.

419.     The first to publish investigations along the line of woman’s early dignity was Herr Bachofen, a Swiss jurist,¾in 1861. His work is very voluminous and confusing to those not well acquainted with the German language. We get his views from those who quote him. His work, called Das Mutterrecht, “the Matriarchate,” made a profound impression. The first English writer on the subject, Mr. J. F. McLennan, tell us: “Bachofen announced to the world, for the first time, the discovery that a system of kinship through females had everywhere preceded the rise of kinship through males . . . The honor of that discovery, the importance of which as affording a new starting-point for all history, cannot be overestimated, must, without stint or qualification, be assigned to him.”

420.      Bachofen’s ideas as to how this dignity of women came about are very curious. Starting on the theory that general promiscuity at first prevailed, he declares, “Women grew disgusted with promiscuity, being nobler and more sensitive than men, appealed to force [an Amazonian movement], put down this vice and established monogamy in its place, and, by right of conquest, held the first place in the management of human affairs. Their children bore the family name of their mothers, and all the relationships to which rights of succession attached were traced through women only. Further, they assigned to themselves, or had conceded to them, the political as well as the domestic supremacy.” This is a considerable exaggeration of the actual facts, and his theory of a sex war has not been accepted, as accounting for female dignity. The Bible gives strong evidence in another direction.

421.     The term matriarchate is an exaggeration, excepting as applied to small communities, occasionally: There has been no general government of men by women, such as men have now established over women; but there has existed a widespread equality of the sexes in early times. Yet the word matriarchate is so constantly used that we adopt it, but with this explanation. We must not get tangled in the theory of strident evolutionists that the human family began in promiscuity, instead of monogamy,¾as the Bible plainly teaches the latter. Even such evolutionists as Darwin and Herbert Spencer disclaim the theory of general promiscuity. The latter says:  “I do not think the evidence shows that promiscuity ever existed in an unqualified form.”

422.      Evolutionists desire to show, next, that female kinship (in which children are recognized as belonging to their mothers, not their fathers) and dignity developed from polyandry, which would, of course, cause confusion as to fatherhood. But the Bible teaches us definitely that the human race began in absolute monogamy, with the family as a unit¾not the tribe¾and that woman’s place was secured for her by God Himself, who ordained that marriage should disjoint man from his kin. The evolutionist view is degrading to womanhood, since it represents the gradual subjugation of the female sex as a high road to human progress. Thus Bachofen taught:  “It was the assertion of fatherhood which delivered the mind from natural appearances [that the child was kin to its mother], and when this was successfully achieved, human existence was raised above the laws of natural life. The principle of motherhood is common to all spheres of animal life, but man goes beyond this tie in giving pre-eminence to the power of procreation, and thus becomes conscious of his higher vocation . . . victorious fatherhood thus becomes as distinctly connected with heavenly light as prolific motherhood is with teeming earth.”

423.     But we note that it is fathers, not mothers, who so teach and that the “Light of this world” said once, even of religious instructors¾not merely physical but spiritual fathers¾“Call no man your father upon the earth; for One is your Father, which is in heaven,” (Matthew 23:9). While as concerning motherhood, He who brought down the heavenly light, and who was speaking in behalf of the truth, not in behalf of His sex, or any other sex, said: “Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my mother” (Matthew 12:50). So long as the prophecy stands, “The Seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head,” woman, as mother, physical or spiritual, will have a Divine right to special dignity, if only she will not, like Esau, despise her birthright.

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[3] As lesson 7 shows, the primal form, or type, of marriage was characterized by female kinship.

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