Re: prophets gave little support as a rule to levitical law?

Date: Sat Feb 22 2003 - 09:34:53 EST

  • Next message: George Murphy: "Re: prophets gave little support as a rule to levitical law?"

    In a message dated 2/22/03 8:10:47 AM Eastern Standard Time,

    > Again I simply cite the examples of Joseph & Moses from torah which show
    > that, however significant endogamy may have been in the pre-exilic period,
    > it was not considered something absolutely binding upon Israelites. (The
    > priestly status of Joseph's father in law is irrelevant to the point under
    > discussion here.) Moreover, the children of an Israelite father & a
    > non-Israelite mother were considered Israelites, as the examples of Ephraim
    > & Manasseh show.
    > Shalom,
    > George

    The media often mistake the exception for the rule as I believe you are doing
    so I have to go to an authority on Jewish marriage practices. The following
    is a definitive explanation from Maurice Lamm's The Jewish Way in Love and
    Marriage, Harper and Row, 1980, ppgs.50-51 should you wish to confirm the
    text. His brother, Norman Lamm, past president of Yeshiva University and a
    number of rabbis are acknowledged in the book.

    "Thirty-nine kings of Judah and Israel reigned for three hundred and
    ninety-three years and only two married out of the faith. Exogamous marriages
    were contracted by Judah, Simeon, Joseph, and Moses, but these came before
    the legal restriction was pronounced at Sinai. (it is traditionally assumed
    that all their wives were converted.) Jewish literature in different
    centuries cites interfaith marriage as the cause of a number of communal
    failures and historic tragedies. The blasphemy recorded in Leviticus 24:10 is
    specifically ascribed in the Torah to a child of a mixed marriage (an
    Egyptian man and his Jewish wife), and the inordinate difficulties of the
    Jews during the early period of the judges is blamed on those who "resided in
    the midst of" the local nations (judges 3:4-5). King Solomon's decline is
    ascribed to marriage to foreign wives "who sacrificed unto their gods" and
    caused him to "do evil in the eyes of God" (I Kings II: 1-6). The murderers
    of joash (11 Chronicles 24:26) are listed as children of mixed marriages of
    Jewish fathers with Shimat the Ammonite woman, and Shimrit the Moabite woman.
    The prophet Malachi attacks interfaith marriage: "Judah has dealt
    treacherously and an abomination is committed in Israel and Jerusalem. For
    Judah has profaned the holiness of the Lord. For he has loved and married the
    daughter of a strange god. May the Lord cut off the man that does this, that
    calls and answers from the tents of Jacob, and offers an offering unto the
    Lord of Hosts" (2:11-12). , The cornerstone of the interfaith-marriage law is
    Deuteronomy 7:3, which says: "And thou shalt not make marriages with them;
    thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou
    not take for thy son. For he will turn away thy son from following after me,
    and they will serve other gods ... 11 This refers to the seven idolatrous
    nations that occupied the Promised Land, but the Talmud inferred that the
    prohibition applies to all, because the Torah's reason refers "to all who
    would turn their children away" (Deut. 7:4). Exodus (17:8-16) speaks of the
    Amalekites, the arch-enemies of the Jews, who were to be blotted out of
    existence by God. Naturally, marriage to them was prohibited. Ammon and Moab,
    who refused the Jews bread and water and hired Balaam to curse them, were
    prevented from marrying "into the assembly of the Lord even unto the tenth
    generation . . ." (Deut. 23:5). Milder, but still vigorously prohibited, was
    marriage to the Egyptian, "because thou wast a stranger in his land" (Deut.
    23:8); to the Edomite, "because he is thy brother" (Deut. 23:8); to the
    Midianites (Numbers 31:15-17); to the Sidonites and Hittites (I Kings 11:1-2)
    because of their worship of Ashtoreth; and to the Ashdodites (Nehemiah 13:23)
    because of their cult worship. With Ezra comes the most dramatic historic
    enactment of the interfaith-marriage prohibitions. When the Jews returned
    from the Diaspora, he mandated that they set aside their heathen wives (Ezra
    10:11). Zerubabbel set about the task of separating from the Israelites their
    foreign wives, children of mixed marriages, and descendants of Solomon's
    foreign slaves. He established family records and set up a special court to
    investigate problem cases. The idea of purity captured the imagination of the
    Jew. The Jewish community was "holy seed"" and the heathens belonged to the
    uncleanness of the nations. Mixed marriage was thus considered defilement.
    The ethnic aspect of Judaism, which encases the religion, was never to be
    The absolute rejection of interfaith marriage has been charged with emotional
    force from that day to this. The charisma of Ezra's personality and the sheer
    moral power of his idealism gave the problem of interfaith marriage an
    awesome importance that continues into the twentieth century. Ezra taught
    that it is not only a terrible problem for Jews; it is nothing less than a
    choice between existence and non existence."

    I think that's pretty clear.

    Now, you may say that this only cropped up post exile and that may be
    historically accurate but I suggest in my paper True Religion that the focus
    on quality births in Judaism first arises in Scripture in Genesis with the
    story of Jacob and dull-eyed Leah and that it complements Abraham's
    abandonment of child sacrifice (to Moloch) guaranteeing Jews quantity births
    (Abraham) and quality births (Jacob).

    In the case of Abraham (Father of the Jews):

    We see immediately the effect of abandoning child sacrifice (abortion).

    When Abraham first arrives in the Philistine town of Gerar, Abimelach its
    king welcomes him but years later Abraham’s son Isaac, now a grown man with
    children of his own, is no longer welcome in Gerar. Why the reversal?
    Abraham’s descendants are greatly multiplying. The Bible tells us “Isaac
    sowed seed in that land, and that year he reaped a hundredfold.” Isaac’s
    household has grown so rapidly (and presumably seized so many local niches
    from the indigenous people) the displaced and alarmed Philistines envy him.

    In the case of Jacob (Supplanter):

    We see that the offspring of dull-eyed Leah do very poorly in comparison to
    the offspring of Rachel, Jacob's first choice for mother of his first born
    who is later Joseph who rises to become counselor to the pharoah and though
    NOT first born becomes prince among his brothers and the elders become
    subject to the younger.



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