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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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In Eastern countries child-birth is usually attended with much less pain and difficulty than in our northern regions; although Oriental females are not to be regarded as exempt from the common doom of woman, 'in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children' (Genesis 3:16). It is however uncertain whether the difference arise from the effect of climate or from the circumstances attending advanced civilization; perhaps both causes operate, to a certain degree, in producing the effect. Climate must have some effect; but it is observed that the difficulty of childbirth, under any climate, increases with the advance of civilization, and that in any climate the class on which the advanced condition of society most operates finds the pangs of childbirth the most severe. Such consideration may probably account for the fact that the Hebrew women, after they had long been under the influence of the Egyptian climate, passed through the childbirth pangs with much more facility than the women of Egypt, whose habits of life were more refined and self-indulgent (Exodus 1:19). The child was no sooner born than it was washed in a bath and rubbed with salt (Ezekiel 16:4); it was then tightly swathed or bandaged to prevent those distortions to which the tender frame of an infant is so much exposed during the first days of life (Job 38:9; Ezekiel 16:4; Luke 2:7; Luke 2:12).

It was the custom at a very ancient period for the father, while music celebrated the event, to clasp the new-born child to his bosom, and by this ceremony he was understood to declare it to be his own (Genesis 50:23; Job 3:3; Psalms 22:10). This practice was imitated by those wives who adopted the children of their handmaids (Genesis 16:2; Genesis 30:3-5). The messenger who brought to the father the first news that a son was born unto him was received with pleasure and rewarded with presents (Job 3:3; Jeremiah 20:15), as is still the custom in Persia and other Eastern countries. The birth of a daughter was less noticed, the disappointment at its not being a son subduing for the time the satisfaction which the birth of any child naturally occasions. Among the Israelites, the mother, after the birth of a son, continued unclean seven days; and she remained at home during the thirty-three days succeeding the seven of uncleanness, forming altogether forty days of seclusion. After the birth of a daughter the number of the days of uncleanness and seclusion at home was doubled. At the expiration of this period she went into the tabernacle or temple, and presented a yearling lamb, or, if she was poor, two turtle-doves and two young pigeons, as a sacrifice of purification (Leviticus 12:1-8; Luke 2:22) [CHILDREN].





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Birth'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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Sunday, October 25th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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