LESSON 61.

KINSHIP RECKONED THROUGH WOMEN.

474.     Prof. W. Robertson Smith says: “Where there is kinship only through women, bars to marriage can, of course, arise only on this side; and not seldom it is found that after fatherhood has begun to be recognized, a relic of the old law of kinship subsists in the laws of prohibited degrees, which still depend on mother-kinship.” He illustrates this survival by the case of Abraham, who married his half-sister on his father’s side¾Genesis 20:12, but doubtless would not have married a sister on his mother’s side. He could have cited other instances: Nahor married his niece by a brother,¾Genesis 11:26-29; and Amram, father of Moses, married his father’s sister,¾Exodus 6:20. Later in history, Tamar declares that her father, King David, would have consented to her marriage with her half-brother on her father’s side,¾2 Samuel 13:13. But at a still later period, the practice of taking to wife a sister by the same father, not the same mother, is rebuked by the prophet Ezekiel (22:11) as the equivalent of “humbling” the woman. He will not recognize it as legitimate, though earlier in human history even the great Abraham did the same. Prof. Smith classifies this later rebuke as a survival of female kinship customs, and it seems reasonable, for otherwise there was no occasion for the singling out of the offense against a father’s rather than a mother’s daughter; the latter offense against incest laws was not likely to have been committed at this late period. (See Additional Note).

475.     When evolutionists apply their theories to the rise and progress of the idea of kinship, one is reminded of the maxim of an American humorist: “it is better to be ignorant about a few things than to know such a terrible lot that ain’t so.” McLennan describes the dawn of human intelligence as to kinship after the following fashion: “The earliest groups can have had no idea of kinship. Once a man has perceived the fact of consanguinity in the simplest case¾namely, that he has his mother’s blood in his veins, he may quickly see that he is of the same blood with her other children. A little more reflection will enable him to see that he is of the same blood with the children of his mother’s sister. And in process of time, following the ties of blood through his mother, and females of the same blood, he must arrive at a system of kinship through females.” We will not follow him down through the ages of evolution of masculine intelligence until it comes within sight of kinship through males. The remarkable thing to our minds is, that so many other male writers have accepted his first statement as solemn truth!

476.     Men alone could imagine a time when mother and off-spring were ignorant of mutual kinship. Kinship is something which was originally hidden from the “wise and prudent” and revealed to sucklings and mothers. There never was a period in the history of the human race when babes did not know which woman to cry for when hungry: or when a mother had given birth to a child without recognizing her blood relation to the same! Nor have mothers ever forgotten, in later years the children, grown to manhood and womanhood, who brought them into the agony of childbirth.

477.     The description of such processes of mind as this, through which grown men confess they must have passed, in order to arrive at a fixed comprehension of kinship, is food for thought for women. Women needed to pass through no such “process” of growing intelligence on this subject. The first case of the knowledge of kinship can be learned from the Bible,¾but not by evolutionists who despise the book. When Eve’s firstborn came into the world she exclaimed, “I [not we] have gotten a man!” We suppose there was, as yet, no word for “baby.” She named him Cain¾“gotten”¾for SHE had gotten him. She knew, of course, her blood relationship to the child; to not know this was impossible. But she probably did not know that Adam was related to the child also: and apart from her instructions on the point when at last he learned it, Adam must have forever remained ignorant of the fact that he was the father of his children, and that they were his kindred also.

478.     Thus the Creator gave woman the start of man, by¾who knows how many hundreds of years?¾in the race for laying in a claim to kinship with children. Here is a most important sociological fact: Woman, however low she may be in intelligence, unless actually insane or imbecile, always knows which children are her own, whereas the father of a child (1) must either sit at his wife’s feet, humbly to attain to this intelligence, by her instruction; or (2) he must repose confidence in her fidelity to him; or (3) else he must make her his captive, or at least put her under constant watch to secure the desired information. But man does not wish to acknowledge this dependence upon woman for a knowledge of kinship to his own children. He would rather picture the dawn of intelligence in McLennan’s fashion¾ignore the fact of the superior intelligence of women at this point.

479.     What a state of helpless unintelligence it is! Contrast the progress of masculine intelligence through the evolution of centuries, with the fact that the cow never bellows for the wrong calf, nor does even the snake swallow the wrong brood of baby snakes at the approach of danger. Man, after long years of existence, as a man, on the earth, finally arrives to an intelligence as to kinship,¾that is, according to the theory of evolutionists; but, accepting that evolution theory, for the sake of the argument, woman, long before her appearance as a human being on the earth, while yet a cow, or a snake, had full intelligence as to her relationship to offspring of her own kind.

480.     We do not say these things to create a smile, but to point some morals of supreme importance to woman’s progress. Now let us add this further thought: However man has arrived at his intelligence as regards his kindred, that knowledge will, in no way, aid him in keeping the thread of kinship for succeeding generations. Here too woman alone holds the key of knowledge. He must continue to acquire his knowledge of his kinship to those about him, or of the past and of the future generations, in precisely the manner in which he first acquired it. There are but two ways in which man may acquire such knowledge: (1) By trusting the faithfulness and truthfulness of woman, or (2) By placing woman under incessant espionage or in prison.

481.      Throughout the heathen world, wherever men have put in a “prior claim” to the rights of parentage, the second method is practiced. There are millions of women and girls in the world today under incessant espionage, or else they are as truly the prisoners of their husbands as the criminals of this country are prisoners of the State. Through no fault of their own, but merely because men propose to claim superior parental rights, is this cruelty practiced upon women. There are twice or three times as many women in China as in India whose children men have claimed as exclusively their own. They have acquired the ability to take the offspring from their mothers by insisting, through many ages, that women should be secluded, or should, instead, cripple themselves by foot-binding. And if women did not do this self-maiming, they branded them as women of evil life,¾and then any man could take possession of them. Thank God these cruel customs show signs of early decay! But as force is renounced by man then faith in woman must take its place, as a means of knowledge of kinship on the part of man.

482.     Virtue in woman, as in man, is a prime quality; but that virtue could have been much better conserved, in the vast majority of cases, by customs which would leave the wife closely joined up to her own kin, under the espionage, if such were necessary, of her own relatives. Nothing better than this arrangement could have been devised for keeping women virtuous, and the Creator Himself devised it. But man has set it aside, and invented many cruel customs for accomplishing the same result,¾the virtue of women. And this has been done not because he values morality in itself (he holds a lower standard of purity for himself), but to keep in continuance knowledge with which his Creator never endowed him apart from woman,¾a record of male kinship.

Additional Notes.

Regarding the late Prof. Robertson Smith’s teachings, as quoted in these Lessons, Dr. A. Mingana, also a professor of Arabic (at Manchester University, England) writes me: “The late Prof. R. Smith has missed an important link in the chain of his argument. The Arabic word meaning ‘relationship’ is Nasab, and is used exclusively of women. Among the Arabs, therefore, there was no relationship by man at all. The same may be said of relationship among the Aramaens with whom the word Hyana is also used of women only and never of men. So you see that the relationship among the early Semites was certainly exclusively through women. . . . The only verb (or rather word) used to express relationship by man is among the Arabs, ‘Asab, but the word means simply ‘to gather together for battle, to muster for fighting,’ and the only word used among the Aramaens is Karebutha, which means ‘neighborhood,’ or Nashutha, ‘manhood,’ and both refer to the idea of an ‘alliance for battle,’ without the smallest idea of relationship. This is an important point for your thesis.” [The Professor, in each case, gives the Arabic and Aramaic words in their original characters, but it has not been practicable to reproduce the script in this book, nor would it serve a very useful purpose to do so.]

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