Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Deuteronomy 21:15 - 21:15

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Deuteronomy 21:15 - 21:15

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

The Right of the first-born. - Whilst the previous law was intended to protect the slave taken in war against the caprice of her Israelitish master, the law which follows is directed against the abuse of paternal authority in favour of a favourite wife. If a man had two wives, of whom one was beloved and the other hated, - as was the case, for example, with Jacob, - and had sons by both his wives, but the first-born by the wife he hated, he was not, when dividing his property as their inheritance, to make the son of the wife he loved the first-born, i.e., was not to give him the inheritance of the first-born, but was to treat the son of the hated wife, who was really the first-born son, as such, and to give him a double share of all his possession. בִּכֵּר, to make or institute as first-born. וגו בֶּן עַל־פְּנֵי, over (by) the face of, i.e., opposite to the first-born son of the hated, when he was present; in other words, “during his lifetime” (cf. Gen 11:28). יַכִּיר, to regard as that which he is, the rightful first-born. The inheritance of the first-born consisted in “a mouth of two” (i.e., a mouthful, portion, share of two) of all that was by him, all that he possessed. Consequently the first-born inherited twice as much as nay of the other sons. “Beginning of his strength” (as in Gen 49:3). This right of primogeniture did not originate with Moses, but was simply secured by him against arbitrary invasion. It was founded, no doubt, upon hereditary tradition; just as we find in many other nations, that certain privileges are secured to the first-born sons above those born afterwards.