Re: [asa] promise trumps biology

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Mon Dec 08 2008 - 17:45:07 EST

For what it's worth...

1. It's nice to see a 20 year old get passionate about the right things - when I was 20 I was considerably less perceptive :)

2. I believe that the issue here was religion not race?

I don't have the scripture references to hand, but I believe the prohibition against intermarriage is repeatedly connected with the danger of religious syncretism - so in the Deuteronomic code, in the warnings to the Israelites prior to entering the Promised Land, in the case of Solomon and his many wives, in the case of the "natives" of the land when the Jews returned from Babylon, etc.

In respects of race, hospitality to the stranger and alien is an unambiguously commanded the Torah.

I think it is perhaps only because Jewishness is seen as a racial category that it becomes difficult for everybody - Jew and non-Jew alike - to draw the requisite distinctions between racial and religious exclusivism. In some respects it reminds me of the "love the sin and hate the sinner" dilemma - it's easy to make such distinctions but it's hard to arrive at a universally valid statement of what it looks like in practice.

Murray wrote:
> Yes, Abraham didn't want his son to marry a Canaanite but the point is that that apparently had lower priority than staying in the promised land. & later in Genesis Joseph is married to an Egyptian, of "the cursed line of Ham." The ancestors of 2 of Israel's tribes result from this union & nobody seems concerned about that.
> Shalom,
> George
> ---- Dick Fischer <> wrote:
>> Hi George:
>> The point here would be that the Canaanites were from the cursed line
>> from Ham, whereas Mesopotamia was home to Semites and the land of Canaan
>> was not the land designated to Ham but to Shem. So it is both stay in
>> the land allotted to you and chose a wife from the proper branch of the
>> family tree. Racial purity is not the issue, I agree, but family
>> bloodlines due appear to have importance, at least at this juncture as
>> it pertains to the line of promise leading to Christ. I see nothing in
>> this message that tells us today who we should marry or not marry -
>> except to say we are encouraged to be equally yoked, i.e., Christians
>> should marry Christians.
>> Dick Fischer, GPA president
>> Genesis Proclaimed Association
>> "Finding Harmony in Bible, Science and History"
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: [] On
>> Behalf Of George Murphy
>> Sent: Monday, December 08, 2008 12:26 PM
>> To: ASA list
>> Subject: [asa] promise trumps biology
>> 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.
>> Shalom
>> George
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Received on Mon Dec 8 17:45:39 2008

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