The child of one’s aunt or uncle. The only occurrence of the Greek word a·ne·psi·osʹ (cousin) is at Colossians 4:10, where Paul calls Mark “the cousin of Barnabas.” The Greek term means primarily “first cousin,” but in a wider sense, any cousin. A·ne·psi·osʹ also occurs in the Septuagint at Numbers 36:11 (plural), but the Hebrew expression in the Masoretic text is rendered literally “sons of their father’s brothers.”
The King James Version calls Elizabeth Mary’s cousin (syg·ge·nisʹ) at Luke 1:36. This Greek word is considered a peculiar form of the word syg·ge·nesʹ, which is rendered “relative” in modern versions. (Lu 2:44; 21:16; Ac 10:24; CC, ED, NW) Syg·ge·nesʹ occurs five times in the Septuagint, again meaning “relatives” in general rather than the modern restricted designation “cousin.”
Though no word for cousin is found in the Hebrew Scriptures, this relationship is there indicated by expressions such as “the sons of . . . Aaron’s uncle,” “the son of his uncle.” (Le 10:4; 25:49) Marriages to cousins are reported: Jacob and Rachel, and the daughters of Zelophehad. (Ge 28:2; 29:10-12; Nu 36:11) Such marriages to cousins were not included in the Mosaic prohibitions against incest. (Le 18:8-16) Today civil laws are at variance on this matter; some states and nations allow cousins to marry, others forbid it.