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The unedited full-text of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia
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MATRIARCHY:

A system of society in which descent and property are traced solely through females. It has been suggested that the prominence given to the mothers of kings in the Books of Kings and to the wives of the Patriarchs are survivals of this system. The fact that the tribes can be divided into tribes descended from Rachel and tribes descended from Leah has also been urged in favor of this view, especially as the name "Rachel" means "ewe," and the name "Leah" has been traced by Robertson Smith to a Semitic root meaning "antelope." The view is thus dependent upon the theory that the early Israelites had a totemistic tribal system (see Totemism).

Bibliography:
  • W. Robertson Smith, Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia, especially p. 219, Cambridge, 1885;
  • Jacobs, Studies in Biblical Archœology, London, 1891.
A. J.
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