The Making of a Nation eBook

Charles Foster Kent
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 151 pages of information about The Making of a Nation.

This fact was so fully recognized in the patriarchal stage of society that the head of the family within the tribe had the power even of life and death over the members of his household.  In practically all early societies we find this authority of the parent and the obedience of the child insisted upon as fundamental.  In the Orient, even to the present day, this respect of children for their parents is closely bound up with their religion and their civilization.  The first wish of every man is that be may have a son to sacrifice to his memory after he has gone.  And not only in China, but in many other states we find ancestral worship springing from this relation of father and son.

The primitive Hebrew laws (Ex. 21:15, 17) made death the penalty for a child who struck or cursed his parents.  In many countries parricide is considered the worse type of murder.  The very old Sumerian law of ancient Babylon punished with slavery the son who repudiated his father.  In the fifth commandment no penalty is named for disrespect toward one’s parents.  The religious sanction only is implied, though the penalty of death was inflicted by the law of the tribe.

In society to-day our aim in education is to develop individuality and for a country with a democratic form of government this type of education should be encouraged.  Disobedience or disrespect ho parents has no longer a legal penalty, although the children may be compelled by law to support their parents.  But gratitude toward parents and a normal affectionate family life are practically essential to social welfare.  Aside from its civic aspect, there is nothing in society more beautiful than the right relationship between parents and children.  Jesus, who represented the kingdom of God as a household, found that the best analogy for the relationship of men to God and the best descriptions of the divine nature are based upon this relationship.



The second five commandments of the decalogue deal with the obligations of man to man.  These commands still find a central place in modern society as the best guarantees of social stability, security and peace.  All of the crimes with which they deal, except that of covetousness, were punished, in Hebrew custom and law, by definite penalties.  In many instances these penalties were still more severe among other early peoples.

As soon as society emerges from the savage state, the crime of adultery is always forbidden.  Nothing else stirs the worst of human passions as does sexual jealousy.  Even to-day probably no other cause is more productive of murder and suicide.  In early societies, like that of the Israelites, to this normal human feeling of personal wrong was added that of the loss of property, for wives or concubines were considered as property.  Hence the penalty for adultery among the Hebrews, as with many ancient and many modern peoples, was death.

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The Making of a Nation from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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