From: bivalve (email@example.com)
Date: Fri Jan 17 2003 - 15:38:09 EST
>>... Genesis 1-2. However, reproduction is not mentioned until
>>chapter 3; companionship is the reason given in chapter 2. <<
Rich replied: >Yes, but can't you make an inference?<
Reviewing Genesis, I was wrong to claim that reproduction is not
mentioned before chapter 3, as there is the command to be fruitful
and multiply in chapter 1. However, humans are given additional
responsibilities, and the emphasis is on them. Reproduction is a
responsibility, but not the chief one.
Rich; >The absolute basis of Abraham's covenant with God was the
avoidance of infanticide (sacrificing to Moloch) which decreased
births. I suggest that is why anything that decreased births in the
view of the patriarchs was morally wrong. <
No, the absolute basis of Abrahamís covenant with God was Godís grace
in offering it to Abraham. Abrahamís part in carrying out the
covenant included circumcision and obedience.
I presume that you are using decreased birth broadly to include
survival, as killing children does not directly decrease birth rate.
However, even increasing the birth rate itself is not seen as
inherently good for the patriarchs. All polygamy that receives any
discussion (we are not told anything about Keturah) causes problems.
Abrahamís attempt to increase his birth rate through Hagar is wrong,
Esauís first two wives have no recorded positive features, and
Jacobís polygamy produces constant rivalry. If God really put a
premium on birth rate, would He have started His people with an
elderly infertile couple?
Rich: >If you read Herodotus, the character of ancient war was
genetic. When you lost, your finest males were castrated or murdered
and your finest females were put in concubinage. The effect of such
policies is to decrease quantity and quality births in the conquered.
However, the character of Israelite war was supposed to be religious.
The criteria for judgment, both within and outside Israel, were
theological views and moral actions, not intelligence or physical
Rich: >forgive the =3D20s. I copied and pasted from Word: <
Such garbling also depends on the sending and receiving email
programs, as well as the server. I often paste from Word but have
not noticed the same problem. Hopefully I have correctly edited them
out; however, some punctuation marks were also affected, and I am not
entirely certain about the exact reading of your comment on religious
parties in Israel.
Rich: >... Central to God's covenant with Abraham is this fact that
Abraham and his descendants will no longer practice infanticide.<
Is there any evidence that they used to do so? Certainly later
Canaanite, Ammonite, and apostate Israelite practices involved
sacrificing children, but was it actually a practice in Ur or Haran?
The point of the call to sacrifice Isaac is total commitment to God.
Human sacrifice is indeed rejected in the Law, but it does not seem
to have represented a serious threat to population size at any point.
The large-scale human sacrifices that I know of (Aztecs, etc.) were
generally prisoners. Thus, human sacrifice can have a eugenic
function, and rejecting it is not necessarily an example of greater
Rich: >The effect on Jewish history is dramatic because a prolific
population is necessarily expansionist. When Abraham first arrives in
the Philistine town of Gerar, Abimelech its king welcomes him but
years later Abrahamís son Isaac, now a grown man with children of his
own, is no longer welcome in Gerar. Why the reversal? Abrahamís
descendants are greatly multiplying. The Bible tells us Isaac sowed
seed in that land, and that year he reaped a hundredfold. Isaacís
household has grown so rapidly (and presumably seized so many local
niches from the indigenous people) the displaced and alarmed
Philistines envy him.<
The Philistines under a previous Abimelech (possibly a title rather
than a family name) and Abraham had their conflicts too. Isaac only
had two children and is thus not a convincing poster child for
multiplying. In both cases, it is the amount of possessions
(especially livestock), rather than the immediate family size, that
led to the conflict, with the additional factor of cowardly
dishonesty. The efforts by Abraham and Isaac to protect themselves
at risk to their wives could have appeared to be the safest way to
survive and reproduce later, but these efforts are condemned as
dishonest and faithless.
Rich: > 4-500 years later, the reproductive success of the Jewish
people causes conflict with the Egyptians who notice that the
Israelites are fruitful and prolific; they increase in numbers and
become very powerful, so that the country is overrun by
them...Religious parties make up about 25% of the Israeli electorate
(Shahak & Mezvinsky 1999,8) - a percentage that is sure to increase
because of their high fertility. <
However, this often includes converts. Again, the emphasis is not on
evolutionary merit, but theological merit. In the case of living in
Egypt, probably a large component of miscellaneous slaves joined
them, initially due to social factors (cf. the mixing of all those
labeled as colored in past segregated societies) and then for the
opportunity to escape.
Dr. David Campbell
University of Alabama
Biodiversity & Systematics
Dept. Biological Sciences
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0345 USA
That is Uncle Joe, taken in the masonic regalia of a Grand Exalted
Periwinkle of the Mystic Order of Whelks-P.G. Wodehouse, Romance at
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