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THE HEBREW WIFE:
THE LAW OF MARRIAGE
EXAMINED IN RELATION TO
THE LAWFULNESS OF POLYGAMY
AND TO THE EXTENT
THE LAW OF INCEST.
BY S. E. DWIGHT.
LEAVITT, LORD & CO., 180, BROADWAY.
Entered, according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1836,
BY LEAVITT, LORD & CO.
In the Clerk's Office for the Southern District of New-York.
SOME years since, in consequence of a Complaint, made in due form of law, and substantiated by satisfactory evidence, it became the author's official duty to institute a prosecution for an Incestuous marriage. On examining the Statute-book, however, the degree of Affinity between the parties was discovered to be more remote, than in other cases that had been legalized. This led him to investigate the Scriptural Law of Incest, with a determination not to proceed in the prosecution, unless the given marriage was clearly prohibited in that Law. The investigation was found to involve questions of a novel complexion, not even stated in books; and proved more difficult and laborious than was anticipated. It was made therefore pen in hand. In the course of it, nothing then within his knowledge, whether commentary or controversy, was overlooked; and the reasonings of two of the ablest Jurists of the country, thrown directly in his way, and presenting all the arguments for the lawfulness of the marriage in question and of others like it, were necessarily examined. The result of the investigation, as it was then written, with a few corrections and additions, may be seen in the following pages.-The individual was prosecuted, and
the offence proved; but the Court, instead of passing sentence, adjourned the case, that he might petition the Legislature for an alteration of the statute. He did so ; the section forbidding the given marriage was repealed; and the prosecution, of course, fell through.-Those parts of the work, which here and there a reader may possibly regard as scarcely grave enough for the subject, were purposely introduced by the author to relieve the tedium of dry discussion; and he hopes that the clergy, should they honour his lucubrations with a perusal, will kindly remember that they were the "Horæ Biblica of
THE SCRIPTURAL LAWS
POLYGAMY AND INCEST.
No one of the marriages, heretofore regarded as incestuous, has found so numerous, or so warm advocates, as that with a Wife's sister. Those of the Clergy, particularly, who have either contracted, or purposed to contract, this marriage, feeling uneasy, until they could satisfy others of its lawfulness, as fully as they hoped they had satisfied themselves, have usually come out in self-defence, before they were attacked. The minor positions taken by the combatants, fighting, as they have usually done in this partizan warfare, each one for himself, have indeed been various; but the strong-hold which they have ultimately resorted to, when driven from the outposts, has been in every case, an intrenchment behind that "debatable" Section of the Law of incest, Leviticus xviii. 18, "Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister to vex her, to uncover her nakedness beside the other, in her life-time." Here some of them, satified with feeling themselves secure, have merely stood on the defensive;