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 “sons of their father’s brothers.”
The King James Version calls Mary and Elizabeth cousins (syg·ge·nesʹ) at Luke 1:36, and while tradition supports this relationship, syg·ge·nesʹ is more accurately rendered “relative” or “kinswoman,” consistent with its other occurrences, as is done in modern versions. (Luke 2:44; 21:16; Acts 10:24; AT, CC, ED, NW, We) Syg·ge·nesʹ occurs five times in the Septuagint, again meaning “relatives” in general rather than the modern restricted designation “cousin.”—Lev. 18:14; 20:20; 25:45; 2 Sam. 3:39; Ezek. 22:6; LXX.
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.” (Lev. 10:4; 25:49) Jeremiah bought the field belonging to Hanamel “the son of [his] paternal uncle.” (Jer. 32:7-9, 12) Marriages to cousins are reported: Jacob and Rachel, and the daughters of Zelophehad. (Gen. 28:2; 29:10-12; Num. 36:11) Such marriages to cousins were not included in the Mosaic prohibitions against incest. (Lev. 18:8-16) Today civil laws are at variance on this matter; some states and nations allow cousins to marry, others forbid it.