[asa] promise trumps biology

From: George Murphy <GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com>
Date: Mon Dec 08 2008 - 12:25:39 EST

People have sometimes placed a lot of emphasis on the idea of biological continuity and "purity" in the Bible, especially the OT. Israel as God's "chosen people" has sometimes been understood in terms of biological isolation & some have tried to draw into this ideas about selective breeding for superior offspring &c. (Some here may remember Rich Faussette's contributions to the list some time ago.)

With that in mind it's interesting to look at the instructions that Abraham gives his servant about getting a wife for Isaac in Gen.24:1-9. The servant is 1st told to swear that he won't get a wife for Isaac from the Canaanites, but to go back Mesopotamia and get a bride for him from among Abraham's relatives. OK, the servant says, but what if the woman won't come here with me? Should I take your son to back Mesopotamia? & Abraham says "See that you do not take my son back there." If the woman won't come then the servant is free of his oath but Isaac is not to go back to Mesopotamia.

Now we're not told what should be done about a wife for Isaac in that case but a wife there had to be because of the promise about Abraham's descendants. The important point though is that remaining in Canaan, which is part of God's promise to Abraham & his descendants (Gen.12:7 &c), seems to be more important than whatever idea of "racial purity" may be involved.

Of course there are a number of other texts that speak against those notions of racial purity (e.g., Ruth), an idea that didn't really become important until after the exile with Ezra & Nehemiah. But the fact that this text occurs at such a important point in the patriarchal history gives it added significance.


To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Mon Dec 8 12:26:38 2008

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Mon Dec 08 2008 - 12:26:38 EST