Bastard (nothus, one born out of wedlock),
(i.) the rendering in the Auth. Vers. of the Hebrews מִמזֵר (mamzer', polluted), which occurs only in De 23:2 and Zec 9:6. But Michaelis (Mos. Recht, 2, § 139) reads the word with a different pointing, so as to make it a compound of two words, מום זר, meaning stain, defect of a stranger; implying the stain that would be cast upon the nation by granting to such a stranger the citizen-right. Some understand by it the offspring of prostitutes; but they forget that prostitutes were expressly forbidden to be tolerated by the law of Moses (Le 19:29; De 23:17). The most probable conjecture is that which applies the term to the offspring of heathen prostitutes in the neighborhood of Palestine, since no provision was made by Moses against their toleration (Potter, Archaeol. 1:354), and who were a sort of priestesses to the Syrian goddess Astarte (comp. Nu 25:1 sq.; Gesenius, Comment. ub. Jesaias, 2:339; Ho 4:14; 1Ki 14:24; 1Ki 15:12; 1Ki 22:47; 2Ki 23:7; Herodot. 1:199). That there existed such bastard offspring among the Jews is proved by the history of Jephthah (Jg 11:1-7), who on this account was expelled and deprived of his patrimony (Kitto). It seems (Heb 12:8) that natural children (νόθοι) among the Jews received little attention from the father. In the former of the above passages (De 23:2), illegitimate offspring in the ordinary sense (Sept. ἐκ πορνῆς, Vulg. de scorto natus, and so the Oriental interpreters, as also the rabbins); but so severe a curse could hardly with justice rest upon such. and there is no countenance for such a view in the Jewish custom of concubinage. SEE CONCUBINE. In the latter passage (Zec 9:6; Sept. ἀλλογενής) it is doubtless used in the sense of foreigner, predicting the conquest of Ashdod by the Jews in the time of the Maccabees, or perhaps more appropriately by subsequent heathen invaders.
(ii.) Persons of illegitimate birth are incapable, by the canon law, of receiving any of the minor orders without a dispensation from the bishop; nor can they, in the Latin Church, be admitted to holy orders, or to benefices with cure of souls, except by a dispensation from the pope. However, the taking of the monastic vows enables such a one to receive holy orders without dispensation; but persons so ordained cannot be advanced to any ecclesiastical dignity without dispensation. According to the laws of the Church of England, a bastard cannot be admitted to orders without a dispensation from the queen or archbishop; and if he take a benefice, he may be deprived of it till such dispensation be obtained. — Landon, Eccl. Dict. 2:81.