Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Gentile Impurities and Ezra's Ban on Intermarriage

I'd like you to read three passages and then we'll discuss.  They all pertain to mixed marriages in Israel:

Malachi 2:11-12 "11 Judah has been unfaithful. A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem: Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the Lord loves by marrying women who worship a foreign god. 12 As for the man who does this, whoever he may be, may the Lord remove him from the tents of Jacob—even though he brings an offering to the Lord Almighty."

Ezra 9:1-2 "After these things had been done, the leaders came to me and said, “The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. 2 They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.”

Deuteronomy 7:1-4 "When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— 2 and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4 for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you."

So in Ezra we read about how the Israelite men had to divorce their Gentile wives.  So does that mean that intermarriage is permanently prohibited?

No.  The rabbis decided that covenant is more important than birth:

"For their part, the rabbis also broke with the rigid and highly impermeable group boundary prevalent in Second Temple Jewish sources and established a more clearly permeable one.  They did this by championing the older Torah vision of Israel as a nation, yes, but a nation bound by a divine Covenant.  In other words, biological filiation remained a value, but it was not deemed to be the only factor in determining group membership.  Although biological filiation might guarantee membership in the nation, as it had in the past, no longer could it function to exclude others, as it had done in some circles since the time of Ezra...Through the formal recognition of conversion, the rabbis created a legal and ritual process whereby biological fact was to be understood as altered by legal fiction...By accepting the terms of the Covenant that bound the nation together, one could become a member of that nation even though one lacked the biological or genealogical component of identity shared by other members..."pg. 160 of Gentile Impurities and Jewish Identities by Hayes

And here's something I was thinking about today:

By all accounts (Second-Temple Era), the only thing a woman needed to do in order to convert to Judaism was have a ritual immersion.  And, in the New Testament, we read everyone is supposed to undergo immersion (i.e. Baptism).  So that would've made the Gentile women de jure Israelites (i.e. Israelites by law).  In other words, this legal fiction allows non-Jewish women to become part of the family.  So what about the uncircumcised males?

Well, reductio ad absurdum, what sense would it make to have a Gentile married couple both convert to New Testament Judaism and have only the wife undergo a status-change (i.e. become a de jure Israelite) whilst leaving her stuck with a non-Israelite spouse?  That would be ridiculous.  They would BOTH be Israelites--by virtue of the working of the Ruach (the water) and Yeshua the Messiah (the blood).  

Anyway, these were some musings of mine today.  

1 comment:

  1. In a true Kingdom everything is held in the legal person of the King. Every chicken, hog and cow, all land, every man, woman, and child is held within the legal person of the King.

    At the same time (when there is no rebellion of his speech) every soul within the Kingdom holds the legal person of the King in his or her heart.

    In the legal person of Yeshua Messiah is contained the entire Kingdom and every soul holds the person of the King within his or her heart by his speech. This is the true definition of "the reconciliation of all things". This is the meaning of "a pure heart".

    This is why "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus".

    "At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you." Yeshua