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but with the Hebrew moral law, which they disseminated in their wanderings, in such simple language as was best fitted for the long-darkened understandings of the Heathen whom they addressed? Jesus himself was a Jew, and every word which he preached, or said in regard to morality, even his parables themselves, have their foundation in the commentaries of the Jewish elders on the written law. We cannot trace a single moral statute throughout the New Testament, which is new, or even simplified to us. What may seem obscure, from the pure spirituality of the words of Moses, our venerable sages explain in language so simple and expressive, that the most obtuse could not fail to understand. While, then, we willingly acknowledge that every Gentile nation, under the mild equitable influence of Christianity, has every reason to love and venerate the religion it upholds, and that every Christian woman would be wanting alike in honesty and enthusiasm, did she not consider her lot as blessed above that of every other Gentile land, let her not throw a slur upon the females of that holy faith, from whose privileges her own have sprung, and for whose safety, protection, guidance, and elevation for the obtaining and encouraging all the loveliest and most feminine attributes of her sex, the Most High Himself deigned to lay down laws, disregard to which was disobedience to Himself.
This argument we have already treated at length in our Second Period, where we brought forward every statute relative to the Hebrew female, which our great law-giver wrote down. In the succeeding Periods, even after we left the records of the Bible for the later history of Josephus, we have shown, and we believe somewhat satisfactorily, how those laws were followed by the influence and treatment of the females of Judea, even when the pure law was almost lost in the national anarchy reigning, with little intermission, during the continuation of the Second Temple.
Surely this ought to be sufficient, even for those who declare that modern Judaism is distinct from, and even opposed to, the Judaism of the Bible, and that the Talmud is the cause. We do not think that the New Testament itself can bring forward a more touching and beautiful ordinance than the following :-“ Make allowance for the weakness of thy wife; and if thou canst not raise her to thee, do thou stoop, and speak encouragingly to her”_or, “ If thy wife be of small stature, stoop, and speak gently to her.” Again,
Again, “Ever be zealous for the honour of thy wife; for there is no blessing found in a man's house, which comes not through his wife.”
To love their wives was natural; therefore love is not so much insisted upon as honour and respect. “Hold your wives in high respect, and you will be rich indeed ;” but how could a man respect his wife, if her domestic and social position were degraded and enslaved? Again, “ A man should honour his wife more than himself, and “ love her as he does his own person.” Here love is valued less than honour, because we may love an inferior being. We can only respect and honour superior virtue and elevated qualities; and this statute could never have proceeded from men accustomed to look on their wives in the light of inferiors, or in any single point but on an equality with themselves.
“ Whoever marries a woman for money alone, will not have children according to his wishes,” because the
ancient fathers looked on a Woman's mission” to be principally the education of her family, an idea borne out by the whole history of the Jews, in the particular mention of the mothers of kings, and other exalted per
“ A man should beware of marrying the daughter of an uneducated man; for should he die, or be banished, his children must remain uneducated, their mother being unacquainted with the glory of education.” An equal care is taken for the comfort and respect due to an educated wife. "A man should give his daughter to an educated man, for no disgrace or strife enters the house of a man of education.” Now were the Hebrew wife a mere cypher in the household, what could it signify on whom she was bestowed ? Exactly in accordance with the spirit of the Mosaic Law, the duties prescribed by the Talmud towards mothers are of equal weight and force as towards the fathers; even more, for if a son see his mother and father either imprisoned or in danger, he is bound to save his mother even before his father-a natural and an affecting ordinance; for the latter is supposed, froin greater physical strength and mental energy, to be more easily enabled to save himself, while the weakness and delicacy of the mother, rendered her entirely dependent on her son. The Law of God commanded the same honour to be paid the mother as the father (see Second Period—laws for mothers), and the venerable compilers of the Talmud departed not one item from its spirit; thus upholding the moral and social dignity of women, even had there been no other law. That the mother, as well as the children, were to honour the father of a family, surely cannot be twisted into a degrading ordinance. Unhappy, indeed,
is the woman of any creed, rank, or country, who cannot, with her whole heart, mind, and soul, honour the father of her children the husband of her choice !
The laws for the widows and the fatherless also, on which we laid so much stress, as marking the care for woman by the Mosaic law, in our Second Period, we find commented upon by our ancient fathers, so exactly in the pure spirit of the Divine ordinance, that we cannot resist transcribing the whole passage.
“ Be very careful in the treatment of widows, and orphans, not merely if they be poor; but because their spirits be broken, though they be ever so rich. Even the widow of a king, and his orphans, demand that carefulness. For it is said, 'All widows and orphans shall ye not oppress.' Let the manner of addressing them be kind; do not burthen them with labour, or oppress them with harsh words. Let their property be more precious to thee than thine own; for he-that offends or oppresses them, and injures their property, is an evil-doer, and his punishment is expressed in the law : ' And my anger shall break out against you,' &c. (Exodus, xxii. 24). The Holy One, blessed be He, has vouchsafed to grant them a particular covenant, that when they invoke Him against their oppressors, they shall be heard, as it is said, • When they call up to me I will hear them, for I am merciful.” (Ex. xx. 23).
The prohibition to offend them is, however, only in cases where it may cause them injury; but when it is for their good; as for instance, where a teacher is to instruct them in the law, or in his trade, it is a duty to reprove them; nevertheless, a distinction ought to be made in their favour, and they should be treated with greater
forbearance than other pupils, so as to instruct them mildly, with great patience and attention ; for it is said, the Lord will defend their cause," &c. (Psalm, cxl. 12.) Whether the child have lost father or mother, it is alike called an orphan, until it attains an age to protect itself.* And this at once proves that the Hebrew mother was even on a more acknowledged equality with the father than in any other nation ; for we believe that orphans in general mean those who have lost both parents, or a father only.
We think, if we look the world over, and examine every religious or moral code, we shall fail to find any laws to surpass these; not only in humanity, but in most exquisite tenderness to that bruised and broken reed, a widow of any rank or class, from the relict of a sovereign to the relict of a slave (so called), guiding not alone conduct towards her, but actually words and the manner of address.
Again, we find peculiar regard paid by the Talmudists to the laws instituted by Moses for females of every denomination, as is proved by such laws as the following: 66 The woman takes precedence of the male in being fed, clad, and freed from captivity.” Repeatedly recomniending us to afford protection and relief to the female first, and then to the male, in strong figures, which are so common to Eastern idiom, it commands, “ Let thy table be considerably within thy means; thy dress and appearance according to thy means; but the comforts of thy wife and children beyond thy means.'
* Extracted from the Hebrew Review, pp. 60 and 61. Thence taken from Morality of the Talmud. Hilchoth Deoth (Ethic Precepts), Div. vi. sect. 10.