denied the adulterous woman. Moreover, the belly of the guilty wife would swell because of the curse, but not due to the blessing of pregnancy.
This was by no means a trial by ordeal such as those practiced in the Dark Ages and that sometimes required a virtual miracle to survive. There was nothing in the water itself to cause the affliction. However, it was holy water and had in it holy ground or dust and the writing of the cursings washed off in it. Therefore, it contained powerful symbolisms, and it was drunk before Jehovah and with a solemn oath to him. There was no uncertainty as to the outcome of matters. If the woman was guilty, Jehovah caused the drink to have miraculous potency to produce the deserved results. Adultery carried the death penalty, but in this instance there were not the required two witnesses. (Num. 35:30; Deut. 19:15) Also, usually in this case the identity of the guilty man, who would likewise be worthy of death, had not been revealed.
[Heb., mish·pa·hhahʹ, family; by extension, a tribe or people, nation; Gr., pa·tri·aʹ].
Jehovah God is the originator of the family arrangement. He is the Father of his heavenly family and the one to whom ‘all the lines of descent on earth owe their name.’ (Eph. 3:14, 15) This is so because Jehovah established the first human family, and it was by this means that he purposed the earth to be filled. Additionally, he permitted Adam, though a sinner, to have a family and have children “in his likeness, in his image.” (Gen. 5:3) In his Word he has since made clear that he accords great importance to the divinely granted power of procreation, the means by which a man can carry on his name and family line in the earth.—Gen. 38:8-10; Deut. 25:5, 6, 11, 12.
THE STRUCTURE AND CONSERVATION OF THE FAMILY
In ancient Hebrew society the family was the basic unit. The family was a small government, the father as head being responsible to God, and the mother as the subordinate manager over the children in the household. (Acts 2:29; Heb. 7:4) The family, with the husband as head and the wife as helper, was, in a small way, a reflection of the grand family of God. God is represented in the Bible as a husband, with the “Jerusalem above” as the mother of his children.—Gal. 4:26; compare Isaiah 54:5.
The family in patriarchal times may be compared in some respects to the modern corporation. There were some things owned by family members as personal. But, for the most part, the property was held in common, with the father managing its disposal. A wrong committed by a member of the family was considered as a wrong against the family itself, especially its head. It brought reproach on him and he was responsible, as the judge of the household, to take the necessary action on the matter.—Gen. 31:32, 34; Lev. 21:9; Deut. 22:21; Josh. 7:16-25.
Monogamy was the original standard Jehovah set for the family. Although polygamy was later practiced, polygamy was always against the original principle that God laid down. He tolerated it until his due time to restore his original standard, which he has done in the Christian congregation. (1 Tim. 3:2; Rom. 7:2, 3) Under the Law covenant he recognized the existence of polygamy and regulated it so that the family unit was still kept intact and operative. It was Jehovah himself who said: “That is why a man will leave his father and his mother and he must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh.” And it was his Son who quoted these words and went on to say: “So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has yoked together let no man put apart.” (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-6) The record indicates that Adam had only one wife, who became “the mother of everyone living.” (Gen. 3:20) Noah’s three sons, who began the repopulation of the earth after the global flood, were all sons of one father and one mother, and each son passed through the Flood with but one wife.—Gen. 8:18; 9:1; 1 Pet. 3:20.
UNDER THE LAW COVENANT
In giving the Ten Commandments to Israel, God gave attention to the integrity of the family unit. “Honor your father and your mother” is the fifth commandment, the first commandment with a promise. (Deut. 5:16; Eph. 6:2) A child rebellious against his parents was as one rebellious against the governmental arrangement established by God as well as against God himself. If he struck or cursed his father or mother or proved to be incorrigibly unmanageable, he was to be put to death. (Ex. 21:15, 17; Lev. 20:9; Deut. 21:18-21) Children were to have proper fear of their parents, and one who treated his father or mother with contempt was cursed.—Lev. 19:3; Deut. 27:16.
The seventh commandment, “You must not commit adultery,” outlawed any sexual union outside the marriage bond. (Ex. 20:14) It made it mandatory that all children be family born. An illegitimate son was not recognized, nor were his descendants allowed to become members of the congregation of Israel even to the tenth generation.—Deut. 23:2.
While the seventh commandment, in forbidding adultery, served to safeguard the family unit, the tenth commandment, by forbidding wrong desires, further protected the integrity of one’s own family as well as the other man’s house and family. The things most common to family life were protected by this commandment, namely, house, wife, servants, animals and other property.—Ex. 20:17.
Under the Law a careful record of genealogies was kept. Family integrity was even more greatly emphasized by the matter of ancestral land inheritance. Genealogies were especially important in the family line of Judah and, later on, in the lineage of Judah’s descendant David. Because of the promise that the Messiah the King would come through these families, the record of family relationship was zealously guarded. And even though polygamy was not abolished by the Law, the family integrity was protected and its genealogy kept intact by strict laws governing polygamy, and in no way was looseness or promiscuity legally tolerated. Sons born of polygamy or concubinage were legitimate and part of the family circle, full-fledged sons of the father.—See CONCUBINE; MARRIAGE.
The Law specifically prohibited marriage alliances with the seven Canaanite nations that were to be ousted from the land. (Deut. 7:1-4) Because of failing to observe this command the nation of Israel was ensnared in the worship of false gods and finally brought into captivity by their enemies. Solomon is an outstanding example of one who sinned in this respect. (Neh. 13:26) Ezra and Nehemiah undertook energetic reforms among those of the repatriated Israelites who were contaminating their families and Israel itself by marriage to foreign wives.—Ezra 9:1, 2; 10:11; Neh. 13:23-27.
CHRIST JESUS AND THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY UNIT
When God sent his only-begotten Son to earth he caused him to be born into a human family. He provided that he have a God-fearing foster father and a loving mother. Jesus as a child was subject to his parents and respected and obeyed them. (Luke 2:40, 51) Even when he was dying on the torture stake he showed respect and loving care for his mother, who was apparently then a widow, when he said to her: “Woman, see! your son!” and to the disciple whom he loved: “See! Your mother!” thereby evidently directing this disciple to care for her in his own home.—John 19:26, 27.
In the Christian congregation the family is recognized as the basic unit of Christian society. Much