Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Did Moses and Ezra Really Have Different Views Regarding Intermarriage?


So Moses clearly wasn't opposed to marrying foreign women.  Yet Ezra seemed to view intermarriage as a profanation of the holy seed:


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.”

And Ezra 10:11 seems to be particularly strict:

"Now honor the Lord, the God of your ancestors, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.”

So what's the deal?  Was Moses wrong to intermarry?  Was Ezra too strict?

Here's what I think:  Ezra doesn't talk about conversion issues at all:

"Ezra-Nehemiah grapples with the marriage of Jews with unconverted people; conversion is not remotely hinted at," (pg. 84 of The Anchor Bible [Ezra]).

The rationale for the exclusion of foreign wives in Ezra is the same as in the Torah.  The Torah says that if Israelites intermarry with certain ethnic groups that they would turn the children from following HaShem to serve other gods.  The land gets polluted with idolatry, etc.  

So I'm speculating but I think it's a very real possibility that Moses' wife was a convert.

We see the same thing with Ruth.  Ruth, as a Moabite, wasn't supposed to intermarry with Israel.  However, she converted and, while maintaining her ethnicity, she was grafted into Israel:

"It should be observed that the question of intermarriage does not exist in Ruth, because she had already become a convert, that is, first she turns to the faith of Naomi and becomes an Israelite, and then she marries," (ibid).

It doesn't profane the holy seed when a non-Jew joins Israel.  It doesn't harm "Jewish distinctiveness."  Here's what it does:  it enlarges Israel.  

But please feel free to disagree with me.  This is an open format.

24 comments:

  1. Exactly, if gentiles serving the God of Israel, harmed Israel's distinctiveness, then Gentiles would never have been allowed to leave Egypt with Israel, or stand at Mount Sinai and receive the Torah with Israel. Or the points you made with hundreds of other points to be made.

    I believe in not blurring distinctions, but some seem to elevate distinctions even higher and over the body of Messiah, its disturbing.

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  2. "It doesn't profane the holy seed when a non-Jew joins Israel. It doesn't harm "Jewish distinctiveness." Here's what it does: it enlarges Israel."

    Ezra targeted intermarriage with idolaters. To view those wives as first century "G-d-fearers" or even "Christians" is anachronistic. The Jewish community coming out of Babylon already knew about conversions to Judaism (story of Esther, where many Gentiles became Jews). So, to say that Ezra and the community knew nothing about conversions simply because they were not mentioned doesn't match the history of these exiles.

    Furthermore, there's a clear prohibition in the Bible against Jewish intermarriage with the people of the Land. The exiles believed their community to be in danger of G-d's imminent wrath for breaking the Torah. Their actions were harsh (although there's no description of how this was eventually done), but there's a history of G-d punishing Israel with mass plague and death for wantonly intermarrying with Midianite women (for example), which no doubt played a role in the decision.

    Also, do you suggest that there's no harm when believers marry non-believers (to enlarge the "the Body") and in fact such marriages should even be sought out to "enlarge the Body"?

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    1. I never said Ezra knew nothing of conversions. I indicated that the foreign wives were not converts. Ezra didn't change Israel's permeability. Before Ezra, Goyim could join; during Ezra's time, Goyim could join; Post-Ezra, Goyim can join.

      Naturally, as we've previously discussed, there's a difference between "converting" to the man-governed Israel vs. the Yeshua-governed Israel (a.k.a. Kingdom Israel).

      And let me just anticipate your objection to my phrase "man-governed Israel." I do not make this distinction to de-legitimize the man-governed institutions of Israel (e.g. modern state of Israel, etc). I'm merely differentiating between two distinct realms of Israel. To do otherwise would be to dismiss Yeshua's present Kingship of the kahal/ekklesia.

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    2. "And let me just anticipate your objection to my phrase "man-governed Israel."

      Yes, of course I would object, because there's ONE Israel. To say that there's somehow two, or that G-d is absent from one simply because Israel temporarily does not perceive their Messiah, is to question the legitimacy of the Jewish people as a whole. It is to question G-d's continued presence within Israel.

      Also, "ekklesia" is not the same as Israel, but simply a designation for the righteous of all ages and from all nations.

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    3. No, Ekklesia is the same as Israel. First-century Jews understood this (Acts 7:38). Even the Peshitta translates "kahal" in Ezra as "Israel".

      And no one here has questioned Jewish legitimacy (anymore than Paul questioned it in 1 Cor. 10:18). What WE ARE QUESTIONING is the same thing that Paul questioned in Ephesians 2. We ARE questioning how Jews after the flesh have reckoned the covenantal status of non-Jewish Believers. THEY say non-Jews are excluded from the covenants, excluded from citizenship in Israel. But will not those who keep the law be reckoned as though they were circumcised (Rom. 2)?

      You have ascribed TOO MUCH authority to the Rabbis. They indeed have authority over their own. But they have no authority to override Yeshua's decision to include the non-Jewish Believers in the covenants (Eph. 2). This is between non-Jews and G-d Himself and NO MAN CAN CHANGE THAT. They are grafted into Israel whether you or any man likes it or not.

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    4. "1 Cor. 10:18"

      Peter, I would submit that your reading of this verse (Carnal Israel - Jews vs Spiritual Israel - the Church/Ekklesia) is a classic Supersessionist reading and not at all what Paul wanted to convey.

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    5. "But they have no authority to override Yeshua's decision to include the non-Jewish Believers in the covenants (Eph. 2)."

      They may not aknogedge what G-d has done though Yeshua for Gentiles, but they don't need to override anything, Peter. Even from the point of view of the Sages, Gentiles spiritually benefit from the covenants G-d made with Israel. The prophets clearly demonstrate that. All nations will come to Israel to worship G-d. Nations don't need to become Israel to do so. There are many nations in G-d's Kingdom (and all the prophets attest to that).

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    6. Why do you think Christianity has abused the Jewish people so much for the last two thousand years? It's the jealously that is aroused by wanting to be Israel, to be the "firstborn". Don't fall into that same trap.

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  3. Yes, of course I would object, because there's ONE Israel.

    Gene, Paul himself in Romans makes a distinction between non-believing Israel and remnant Israel, they are both Israel, but they are also distinct in and of themselves, he calls one "Israel according to the Flesh", meaning there is another representation of Israel not according to the flesh.

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    1. "Paul himself in Romans makes a distinction between non-believing Israel and remnant Israel, they are both Israel"

      There are no TWO Israels, Zion. There's one Israel. Just one. Within it, there may be differing groups. There are carnal people and there are spiritual people, there are righteous and there are wicked.

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    2. I said specifically, they are both Israel. There can't be two Israel's when they are both Israel. But what you are saying still does not deal with the fact that Paul saw a distinction, which is why he can say that God's promises have not failed.

      Also there are not Two Bodies of Messiah as you think Gene, you call one body the Church and the other Israel, it simply does not exist.

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    3. "Also there are not Two Bodies of Messiah as you think Gene, you call one body the Church and the other Israel, it simply does not exist."

      See Zion, that's the problem - mischaracterization of beliefs. Not "Two Bodies" - One group of righteous of all ages and different nations (including Israel), but with many different members and with many differing purposes in G-d's plan.

      "Now if the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason stop being part of the body." (1 Corinthians 12:15 )

      Translation: A person from a nation (which serves a particular function) should not say, because I am not Israel (which serves her own function), I do not belong to G-d's family and Messiah.

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    4. See Zion, that's the problem - mischaracterization of beliefs. Not "Two Bodies" - One group of righteous of all ages and different nations (including Israel), but with many different members and with many differing purposes in G-d's plan.

      "Now if the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason stop being part of the body." (1 Corinthians 12:15 )

      Translation: A person from a nation (which serves a particular function) should not say, because I am not Israel (which serves her own function), I do not belong to G-d's family and Messiah.


      You are taking a leap with that verse, the context is on ministrial gifts and ministrial callings. There is a standard among God's people, even though we can have different ministrial gifts... in other words, a Jew maybe called to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles(Paul for example) and a Jew maybe called to bring the Gospel to the Jews(Peter for example) and another Jew to both. But they are not part of a different body of people and neither are they separate in covenant relationship, just because they have different callings/gifts. So what is not different between them? The fact that they are all the same bound to the commandments of God. I have heard some Christians try to use these verses to prove we all obey God differently, there is no standard for anyone... that is basically your outcome as well.

      This same problem above, exist with distinctions made by those in BE group. They point out how there are different commandments for Levites and Kings, and man and female, but they never point out the fact that an Israelite man, who was neither a King, Levite or Woman shared the same commands as another Israelite man beside them, this was known as a standard. Now finish the equation.

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    5. "shared the same commands as another Israelite man beside them"

      Zion, the thing is, few Messianic Gentiles observe Torah in the manner of Jews and many exhibit the inherited Christian anti-Judaism. So, the chief problem, first and foremost, is the antagonism and lack of respect for the Jewish people and Judaism, not the actual performance of commandments, rights or obligations. Demanding not only rights, but also seeking to reformulate Judaism to their own standard, no matter what Jews think about this idea!

      So, while many "independents" complain that Jews deny them observance of commandments or place in Israel, their problem is mainly polemic - these folks do not want to observe the commandments the way Jews do and in fact do not observe much of anything, but still want to create their own "Torah" religion, and not of "those rabbis" and "man-made Judaism".

      I am not talking about you, specifically, but I am sure you know that I am describing probably the great majority of independents. On the other hand, I personally acquainted with Gentiles who have not converted to Judaism but are almost as observant as Orthodox Jews! But, I have no problem with them at all! Why? Their attitude is very different!

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  4. "story of Esther, where many Gentiles became Jews)"

    Is any ritual of conversion described? did all the people who said they became Jews pull their pants down to demonstrate it?

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    1. "did all the people who said they became Jews pull their pants down to demonstrate it?"

      Dan, is that how it's done where you live?:)

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  5. "There are no TWO Israels, Zion. There's one Israel. Just one. Within it, there may be differing groups. There are carnal people and there are spiritual people, there are righteous and there are wicked."

    You forgot to add and there are Gentiles....

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    1. "You forgot to add and there are Gentiles...."

      Dan, you are right, but once they convert to Judaism, they are Jews in all respects and we are not to remind them of their previous life.

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  6. "Dan, you are right, but once they convert to Judaism, they are Jews in all respects and we are not to remind them of their previous life."

    Then, why does the Apostolic Writing call them Proselytes, shouldn't they call them Jews?

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    1. "Then, why does the Apostolic Writing call them Proselytes, shouldn't they call them Jews?"

      To identify them for the readers. On the other hand, their kids would no doubt be called Jews.

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  7. "Dan, is that how it's done where you live?:)"

    I really like you to address my question....

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    1. "I really like you..."

      Thanks, Dan, I like you too!:)

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  8. "I really like you..."

    Thanks, Dan, I like you too!:)"

    Hey, Peter...What benefits?

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