Heritage denoted by several Heb. words: אֲחֻזָּה, RXI achuzzah', a "possession;" נִחִלָה, nachalah', or נִחִלָת nachalath', "heritage," etc.; also ירֻשָּׁה, yerushshah'; מוֹרָשָׁה, morashah'. Only sons (compare Ge 21:10; Ge 31:14 sq.), and, indeed, only those of regular wives (comp. Ge 21:10 sq.; 24:36; 25:5 sq. — Jephthah is no exception, Jg 11:2,7; SEE BASTARD ), had any legal title to the paternal inheritance, according to ancient usage among the Israelites; and amongst these the first-born, who might be of the favorite or a less favored wife, enjoyed a double portion (De 21:15 sq.). SEE PRIMOGENITURE. Daughters became heiresses, when sons existed, only by the special grant of the father (Jos 15:18 sq.; comp. Job 42:15), but regularly in the absence of male heirs (Nu 27:8); yet heiresses (ἐπικληροι — such, according to many, was Mary, the mother of Jesus) were not allowed to marry a man of another tribe (Nu 36:6 sq.; comp. Tobit 6:12 sq. 7, 14; Josephus, Ant. 4:7, 5; see Michaelis, Mos. Recht, 2, 81; Buxtorf, Sponsal. et Divort. p. 67 sq., in Ugolini Thesaur. 30; Selden, De successione in bona. pat. c. 18), so as not to interrupt the regular transmission of the estate (see Wachsmuth, Hellen. Alterthumsk. 3, 206, 213; Gans, Erbrecht, 1, 337 sq.; comp. Rhode, Rel. Bild. d. Hindu, 2, 608). On the heirship of distant kinsmen, see Nu 27:9 sq. (comp. Philo, Works, 2, 172; see Mishna, Baba Bathra, 4, 3, c. 8, 9; Gans, Erbrecht, 1, 152 sq.). Respecting written wills, we find nothing legally prescribed (see S. Rau, De Testamentificatione Hebraeis yet. ignota, praes. L. Van Wolde, Traj. ad Rhen. 1760; also in Oelrich's Collect. Opusc. 1, 305 sq.), and as the heirship-at-law had undisputed force as a legal principle (Nu 21:11), it must have operated as a testamentary disposition of the inheritance, to the exclusion of any more formal method of bequest (Gans, Erbrecht, 1, 149 sq.); for the passage in Tobit 8:23 does not refer to a devise by will, and Pr 17:2 only shows that slaves might become heirs by a special arrangement of their masters (see Rosenmüller in loc.; Gesenius, Thes. Heb. 1, 483), while Ge 15:3 refers to an earlier period. But in later times regular testaments must have obtained among the Jews (Ga 3:15; Heb 9:17; comp. Josephus, Ant. 13, 16, 1; 17:3, 2; War, 2, 2, 3), in imitation of the Greeks and Romans (see Smith's Dict. of Class. Antiq. s.v. Heres, Testamentum); and in the Talmudical law of heritage they became of effect (Gans, Erbrecht, 1, 171), although not in the extensive sense of the Roman law. Sometimes the parent divided the inheritance (i.e. a portion of it) among his children during his lifetime (Lu 15:12; comp. Tobit 8:23; see Rosenmüller, l'morgenl. 5, 197). (On the subject generally, see Michaelis, Mos. Recht, 2, 76 sq.; J. Selden, De successione in bona defuncti ad leg. Hebr. Lond. 1636; also in his Uxor. Ebr. and in his Works, 2, 1 sq.) SEE INHERITANCE.

Definition of heritage

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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