Re: [asa] promise trumps biology

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Mon Dec 08 2008 - 17:57:14 EST

Hi Merv,

I think you mean "lineages...were reckoned by paternity" rather than "reckoned 'fraternally'"?

What's interesting is that lineage might be reckoned according to paternity, but "Jewishness" is reckoned maternally!

The logic, I believe, is that one always knows who the mother is - although the fact that appeal is made here to Ezra 10:3 (one of those "put away foreign wives" passages) suggests that (contrary to my immediately preceding post) there may be a naive assumption that one's religion is pretty much a racial (rather than social!) matter.

Anyway, if there is an idea that there is some kind of "spiritual DNA" it would seem that it is the mother rather than the father who is considered the provider thereof.

It's probably only worth adding that whilst there's no debate in Judaism that the child of a Jewish mother may be reckoned a Jew, this doesn't exclude the claim that a child of a Jewish father may likewise be reckoned Jewish. It's just that there is considerably less agreement that paternity can determine Jewishness. Doubtless from the perspective of Jewish theology, the matter is hardly simple.

Murray wrote:
> Wasn't it commonly accepted then that a man's seed was the whole package deal
> and the woman was "just a carrier"? If so, it becomes even stranger that they
> did occasionally make a big deal of inter-racial marriage. But it explains why
> lineages were almost always reckoned fraternally.
> --Merv
> Quoting
>> 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 17:57:40 2008

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