Royal baby: How do third children fare in the Bible?

The future king and queen have had another baby. God bless them all: they seem like a very happy family. Christians should pray for them: royalty is not the high-risk business it used to be in the days when the chances of a ruler dying in bed were no better than evens, but it still comes with unique challenges as well as enormous privileges. This is no time for a nasty republican snark.

ReutersThe Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their new baby.

It's a third child for the Duke and Duchess, a rarity among recent royals. Third children are proverbially 'different', though the jury's out as to what that really means. Certainly they tend to get less focused parental attention – ('raised by wolves' is a phrase going the rounds) though that doesn't stop them being as happy and healthy as anyone else.

Are there any lessons to be learned from third children in Bible families?

Seth, son of Adam and Eve, was the first. His brothers were Cain and Abel, and we know what happened to them; in terms of life chances, the only way was up,

Ham was the next third son. Things didn't turn out too well for him: he, his father Noah and his brothers Shem and Japheth survived the Flood in the Ark, but he had the misfortune to see his father naked when he was drunk. This was a terrible cultural taboo and his father cursed him, making him the slave of his brothers. The infamous Schofield Reference Bible used this to justify slavery. 

Levi was the third son of Jacob, from whom the Levites were descended. Leah, his mother, was not Jacob's first choice as a wife (he thought he was marrying her sister Rachel) and she felt it; 'Levi' sounds like the Hebrew for 'attached', and she called him that because she thought it might attach Jacob to her (Genesis 29:34).

Eleazar was the third son of Aaron (1 Chronicles 6:3); his two elder brothers died from sacrilege, so the succeeding generations of priests are descended from him and his younger brother.

King David had lots of children, but his third son was Absalom (1 Chronicles 3). He came to a very bad end: Absalom revolted against his father (2 Samuel 15-18), but lost the decisive battle and was nastily killed by Joab when he was found caught up in an oak tree (2 Samuel 18:14).

After that, the line of interesting third children (they are all male, as it happens, though of course we have Princess Charlotte today) seems to come to an end. It is a mixed bag; Ham was unfortunate, Absalom was wicked, but the others seem to have done well enough. The little prince is so far unnamed, though since he was born on St George's Day and that name is already taken, 'Draco' has been suggested as appropriate. What's important, though, is not the past – biblical or otherwise – but how he will be equipped to face the future: and with a loving family, a responsible media and the prayers of us all, he should do well.

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