WE GET HIGH-TECH when infertility strikes home. We can capture the little 50-micrometer swimmers, so small it would take 500 of them to stretch out an inch. And we can put them where they would do the most good.
It’s acceptable today.
We can plant the fertilized egg in the lady who couldn’t otherwise get pregnant. Or we can plant it in another woman – a surrogate – if the woman who wants the baby couldn’t sustain a pregnancy.
In Bible times people did the same thing, low tech.
If a woman couldn’t get pregnant, the man could try another woman, usually a slave. If she got pregnant, some laws on the books in the ancient Middle East said the man had to treat her like a wife equal to his other wife. Some said he could treat her like just another slave, with the exception that he couldn’t sell her.
This topic of surrogate mothers comes up with Abraham and his grandson Jacob. Both made kids with the Other Women.
Abraham’s wife, Sarah, gave him her personal slave, Hagar: “The Lord has not given me any children. Sleep with my slave, and if she has a child, it will be mine” (Genesis 16:2).
Hagar gave birth to Ishmael, father of the Arab people.
Jacob had two wives, Leah and Rachel. They both had personal slaves. Jacob had them all. The four ladies produced a dozen sons and one daughter who could not possibly have been girly.
It was all kosher, apparently. Evidence shows up in many ancient documents uncovered in what is now Iraq, including a marriage contract and the oldest known set of laws on record.
1700s BC, at least 300 years before Moses who, according to Jewish tradition, wrote the Genesis stories about Abraham and Jacob
Law 146. If a man’s wife gives him a slave woman to serve as a wife and the slave gives birth to the man’s child, then the slave should be treated as equal to the first wife. Since this slave has given birth to his children, he can’t sell her. But he can keep her as a slave, like any other slave woman.
Nervous in Nuzi Prenup
1400s BC marriage contract found in Nuzi, a city in Iraq. Bride is Gilimninu; we’ll call her Gili. Groom is Shennima; we’ll call him Guy.
If Gili gives birth to children, Guy will not marry anyone else. But if Gili doesn’t have children, Gili will get Guy a concubine from the Lullu country [think Beach Boys: California Girls]. If that happens, Gili will take charge of the children.
Random book winner this week
I give away one free book a week to a randomly selected subscriber to my free blog and quarterly newsletter.
Steve is random this week.