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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Family (Jewish)

FAMILY

1. Membership.—Jewish family life, while having many points in common with that of the Gentiles, was marked by a higher standard of purity, the avoidance of infanticide, and the condemnation of the selfish cruelty that in human sacrifice gave the fruit of the body for the sin of the soul (Micah 6:7). The father was the head of the house, exercising restrictive authority over the wife, having complete disposal of the children, and giving his name to the family inheritance. Although living for years in another locality, he was regarded and registered as belonging to the place of his ancestral origin (Luke 2:4).

The wife, as being legally the purchased possession of her husband, was under his law,—the bĕʽûlâh to her baʽal, or rightful possessor. Hence the land of Israel could be called the bĕʽûlâh of Jehovah (Isaiah 62:4). Betrothal (Matthew 1:18), as a covenant, was equivalent to marriage; it prevented the woman from being married to any other man until she had received a writing of divorce. Among the duties of the wife, apart from the maternal charge of the family, was the daily preparation of the bread (Matthew 24:41), and the carrying of water from the village fountain (John 4:7). The desire for male children was |universal (John 16:21), as these preserved the name and upheld the interests and rights of the family, and in due time enlarged its circle by bringing in daughters from other households. The pre-eminence of the father carried with it a corresponding responsibility of watching over the life and honour, the rights and welfare of his family. See artt. Divorce, Marriage.

2. References to the family.—It was out of such relationships that Christ drew examples that were familiar to all, when He spoke of fathers who knew how to give good gifts to their children (Luke 11:13), of sons who obeyed or disobeyed the father’s command (Matthew 21:28); and when, beyond the attachments of unselfish devotion fostered by the sacred institutions of the family, He set the higher claim of what was due to Himself from His disciples (Matthew 10:37). The Lord’s Prayer was a transfiguration of the family relationships.

3. Religion in the family.—It was especially in the superiority of its religious training that the Jewish home differed from the family life of the Gentiles. See artt. Boyhood, Childhood.

G. M. Mackie.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Family (Jewish)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/f/family-jewish.html. 1906-1918.

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