Son, properly בֵּ, ben (often rendered in the plural "children"), υἱός. From the root בָּנָה, to build, are derived both בּ; son, as in Ben-hanan, etc., and בִּת, daughter, as in Bath-sheba. The Chald. also בִּר, son, occurs in the Old Test., and appears in the New Test. in such words as Barnabas, but which in the plural בּנֵין (Ezr 6:16) resembles more the Hebrew. Cognate words are the Arabic Beni, sons, in the sense of descendants, and Benat, daughters (Gesenius, Thes. Hebr. p. 215, 236; Shaw, Travels, p. 8). SEE BAR; SEE BEN.
1. The word "son" is used with a great variety and latitude of significations both in the Old and the New Test., especially in the former, some of which often disappear in a translation. The following is a summary of these applications: It denotes
(1) the immediate offspring.
(2.) Grandson: so Laban is called son of Nahor (Ge 29:5), whereas he was his grandson, being the son of Bethuel (24:29); Mephibosheth is called son of Saul, though he was the son of Jonathan, son of Saul (2Sa 19:24).
(3.) Remote descendants: so we have the sons of Israel, many ages after the primitive ancestor.
(4.) Son-in-law: there is a son born to Naomi (Ru 4:17).
(5.) Son by adoption, as Ephraim and Manasseh to Jacob (Genesis 48). SEE ADOPTION.
(6.) Son by nation: sons of the East (1Ki 4:30; Job 1:3).
(7.) Son by education, that is, a disciple: Eli calls Samuel his son (1Sa 3:6). Solomon calls his disciple his son in the Proverbs often, and we read of the sons of the prophets (1Ki 20:35, et al.), that is, those under a course of instruction for ministerial service. In nearly the same sense a convert is called son (1Ti 1:2; Tit 1:4; Phm 1:10; 1Co 4:15; 1Pe 5:13). SEE PROPHET.
(8.) Son by disposition and conduct, as sons of Belial (Jg 19:22; 1Sa 2:12), unrestrainable persons; sons of the mighty (Ps 29:1), heroes; sons of the band (2Ch 25:13), soldiers, rank and file; sons of the sorceress, who study or practice sorcery (Isa 57:3).
(9.) Son in reference to age: son of one year (Ex 12:5), that is, one year old; son of sixty years, etc. The same in reference to a beast (Mic 6:6).
(10.) A production or offspring, as it were, from any parent: sons of the burning coal, that is, sparks which issue from burning wood (Job 5:7). "Son of the bow," that is, an arrow (4:19), because an arrow issues from a bow; but an arrow may also issue from a quiver, therefore, son of the quiver (La 3:13). "Son of the floor," threshed corn (Isa 21:10). "Sons of oil" (Zec 3:10), the branches of the olive tree.
(11.) Son of beating, that is, deserving beating (De 25:3). Son of death, that is, deserving death (2Sa 12:3). Son of perdition, that is, deserving perdition (Joh 17:12).
(12.) Son of God (q.v.), by excellence above all; Jesus the Son of God (Mr 1:1; Lu 1:35; Joh 1:34; Ro 1:4; Heb 4:14; Re 2:18). The only begotten; and in this he differs from Adam. who was son of God by immediate creation (Lu 3:18).
(13.) Sons of God (q.v.), the angels (Job 1:6; Job 38:7), perhaps so called in respect to their possessing power delegated from God; his deputies, his vice regents; and in that sense, among others, his offspring.
(14.) Genuine Christians, truly pious persons; perhaps also so called in reference to their possession of principles communicated from God by the Holy Spirit, which, correcting every evil bias, and subduing every perverse propensity, gradually assimilates the party to the temper, disposition, and conduct, called the image, likeness, or resemblance of God. Believers are sons of God. (See Joh 1:12; Php 2:15; Ro 8:14; 1Jo 3:1.)
(15.) Sons of this world (Lu 16:8) are those who, by their overweening attention to the things of this world, demonstrate their principles to be derived from the world; that is, worldly minded persons. Sons of disobedience (Eph 2:2; Eph 5:6) are persons whose conduct proves that they are sons of Belial, of unrestrainableness, sons of libertinism. Sons of hell (Mt 23:5). Sons of the devil (Ac 13:10).
In addition to these senses in which the word son is used in Scripture, there are others which show the extreme looseness of its application. So when we read of sons of the bride chamber. (Mt 9:15; Mr 2:19) it merely indicates the youthful companions of the bridegroom, as in the instance of Samson. And when the holy mother was committed to the care of the apostle John (Joh 19:36), the term son is evidently used with great latitude. SEE DAUGHTER, etc.
2. The blessing of offspring, but especially, and sometimes exclusively, of the male sex, is highly valued among all Eastern nations, while the absence is regarded as one of the severest punishments (Herod. 1, 136; Strabo, 15, 733; See Ge 16:2; Ge 29:31; Ge 30:1,14; De 7:14; 1Sa 1:6; 1Sa 2; 1Sa 5; 1Sa 4:20; 2Sa 6:23; 2Sa 18:18; 2Ki 4:14; Isa 47:9; Jer 20:15; Ho 9:14; Es 5:11; Ps 127:3,5; Ec 6:3. Comp. Drusius, Proverbs Ben- Siroe, in Crit. Sacr. 8, 1887; Lane, Mod. Egypt. 1, 208, 240; Poole [Mrs.], Englishw. in Egypt, 3, 163; Niebuhr, Descr. de l'Ar. p. 67; Chardin, Voy. 7, 446; Russell, Nubia, p. 343). Childbirth is in the East usually, but not always, attended with little difficulty, and accomplished with little or no assistance (Ge 35:17; Ge 38:28; Ex 1:19; 1Sa 4:19-20; see Burckhardt, Notes on Bedouins, 1, 96; Harmer, Obs. 4, 425;
Montagu [Lady M.W.], Letters, 2, 217, 219, 222). As soon as the child was born, and the umbilical cord cut, it was washed in a bath, rubbed with salt, and wrapped in swaddling clothes. Arab mothers sometimes rub their children with earth or sand (Eze 16:4; Job 38:9; Lu 2:7; see Burckhardt, loc. cit.). On the eighth day the rite of circumcision in the case of a boy was performed, and a name given, sometimes, but not usually, the same as that of the father, and generally conveying some special meaning (Ge 21:4; Ge 29:32,35; Ge 30:6,24; Le 12:3; Isa 7:14; Isa 8:3; Lu 1:59; Lu 2:21). Among Mohammedans, circumcision is most commonly delayed till the fifth, sixth, or even the fourteenth year (Spencer, De Legg. Hebr. 5, 62; Strabo, 17, 824; Herod. 2, 36, 104; Burckhardt, ut sup.; Lane, Mod. Egypt. 1, 87; Poole [Mrs.], Englishw. in Egypt, 3, 158; Niebuhr, Descr. p. 70). SEE CIRCUMCISION. After the birth of a male child the mother was considered unclean for 7+33 days; if the child was a female, for double that period, 14+66 days. At the end of the time she was to make an offering of purification of a lamb as a burned offering, and a pigeon or turtle dove as a sin offering; or, in case of poverty, two doves or pigeons, one as a burned offering; the other as a sin offering (Le 12; Lu 2:22). The period of nursing appears to have been sometimes prolonged to three years (Isa 49:15; Isa 2 Macc. 7:27; comp. Livingstone, Travels, 6, 126; but Burckhardt leads to a different conclusion). The Mohammedan law enjoins mothers to suckle their children for two full years if possible (Lane, Mod. Egypt. 1, 83; Poole [Mrs.], Englishw. in Egypt, 3, 161). Nurses were employed in cases of necessity (Ge 24:59; Ge 35:8; Ex 2:9; 2Sa 4:4; 2Ki 11:2; 2Ch 22:11). The time of weaning was an occasion of rejoicing (Ge 21:8). Arab children wear little or no clothing for four or five years. The young of both sexes are usually carried by the mothers on the hip or the shoulder, a custom to which allusion is made by Isaiah (Isa 49:22; Isa 66:12; see Lane, Mod., Egypt. 1, 83). Both boys and girls in their early years, boys probably till their fifth year, were under the care of the women (Pr 31:1; see Herod. 1, 136; Strabo, 15, 733; Niebuhr, Descr. p. 24). Afterwards the boys were taken by the father under his charge. Those in wealthy families had tutors or governors (אמנַי ם, παιδαγωγοί), who were sometimes eunuchs (Nu 11:12; 2Ki 10:1,5; Isa 49:23; Ga 3:24; Es 2:7; See Josephus, Life, § 76; Lane, Mod. Eqypt. 1, 83). Daughters usually remained in the women's apartments till marriage, or, among the poorer classes, were employed in household work (Le 21:9; Nu 12:14; 1Sa 9:11; Pr 31:19,23; Ecclus. 7:25; 42:9; 2 Macc. 3:19). The example, however, and authority of the mother were carefully upheld to children of both sexes (De 21:20; Pr 10:1; Pr 15:20; 1Ki 2:19).
The first born male children were regarded as devoted to God, and were to be redeemed by an offering (Ex 13:13; Nu 18:15; Lu 2:22). Children devoted by special vow, as Samuel was, appear to have been brought up from very early years in a school or place of education near the tabernacle or temple (1Sa 1:24,28). SEE EDUCATION.
The authority of parents, especially the father, over children was very great, as was also the reverence enjoined by the law to be paid to parents. The disobedient child, the striker or reviler of a parent, was liable to capital punishment, though not at the independent will of the parent. Children were liable to be taken as slaves in case of non-payment of debt, and were expected to perform menial offices for them, such as washing the feet, and to maintain them in poverty and old age. How this last obligation was evaded, SEE CORBAN. The like obedience is enjoined by the Gospel (Ge 38:24; Le 21:9; Nu 12:14; De 24:16; 1Ki 2:19; 2Ki 14:6; 2Ki 4:1; Isa 1:1; Ne 5:5; Job 24:9; Pr 10:1; Pr 15:20; Pr 29:3; Col 3:20; Eph 6:1; 1Ti 1:9. Comp. Virg. Aen. 6, 609; and Servius, ad loc.; Aristoph. Ran. 146; Plato, Phoedo, 144; De Legg, 9. See Drusius, Quoest. Hebr. 2, 63, in Crit. Sacr. 8, 1547), The legal age was twelve, or even earlier, in the case of female, and thirteen for a male (Maimon. De Pros. c. 5; Grotius and Calmet, On John 9:21).
The inheritance was divided equally between all the sons except the eldest, who received a double portion (De 21:17; Ge 25:31; Ge 49:3; 1Ch 5:1-2; Jg 11:2,7). Daughters had by right no portion in the inheritance; but if a man had no son, his inheritance passed to his daughters, but they were forbidden to marry out of their father's tribe (Nu 27:1,8; Nu 36:2,8) SEE CHILD.