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Smith Bible Dictionary


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The difference between wife and concubine was less marked among the Hebrews than among us, owing to the absence of moral stigma. The difference probably lay in the absence of the right of the bill of divorce, without which the wife could not be repudiated. With regard to the children of wife and of concubine, there was no such difference as our illegitimacy implies. The latter were a supplementary family to the former; their names occur in the patriarchal genealogies, (Genesis 22:24; 1 Chronicles 1:22 ) and their position and provision would depend on the father's will. (Genesis 25:6 ) The state of concubinage is assumed and provided for by the law of Moses. A concubine would generally be either (1) a Hebrew girl bought of her father; (2) a Gentile captive taken in war; (3) a foreign slave bought; or (4) a Canaanitish woman, bond or free. The rights of the first two were protected by the law, (Exodus 21:7; 21:10-14) but the third was unrecognized and the fourth prohibited. Free Hebrew women also might become concubines. To seize on royal concubines for his use was probably the intent of Abner's act, (2 Samuel 3:7 ) and similarly the request on behalf of Adonijah was construed. (1 Kings 2:21-24 )

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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Smith, William, Dr. Entry for 'Concubine'. Smith Bible Dictionary. 1901.

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