The blessing of offspring, but especially of the male sex, is highly valued among all eastern nations, while a the absence is regarded as one of the severest punishments. (Genesis 16:2; 7:14; 1 Samuel 1:6; 2 Samuel 6:23; 2 Kings 4:14; Isaiah 47:9; Jeremiah 20:15; Psalms 127:3,5) As soon as the child was born it was washed in a bath, rubbed with salt and wrapped in swaddling clothes. (Ezekiel 16:4; Job 38:9; Luke 2:7) On the 8th day the rite of circumcision, in the case of a boy, was performed and a name given. At the end of a certain time (forty days if a son and twice as long if a daughter) the mother offered sacrifice for her cleansing. (Leviticus 12:1-8; Luke 2:22) The period of nursing appears to have been sometimes prolonged to three years. (Isaiah 49:15) 2 Macc. 7:27. The time of weaning was an occasion of rejoicing. (Genesis 21:8) Both boys and girls in their early years were under the care of the women. (Proverbs 31:1) Afterwards the boys were taken by the father under his charge. Daughters usually remained in the women's apartments till marriage. (Leviticus 21:9; Numbers 12:14; 1 Samuel 9:11) The authority of parents, especially of the father, over children was very great, as was also the reverence enjoined by the law to be paid to parents. The inheritance was divided equally between all the sons except the eldest, who received a double portion. (Genesis 25:31; 49:3; 21:17; Judges 11:2,7; 1 Chronicles 5:1,2) Daughters had by right no portion in the inheritance; but if a man had no son, his inheritance passed to his daughters, who were forbidden to marry out of the father's tribe. (Numbers 27:1,8; 36:2,8)
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