The laws of Deuteronomy 7:1-6 concerning mixed marriages.

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CHAPTER3 BIBLICAL  DATA ON MIXED MARRIAGES FROM  AN AFRICAN  – CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE

Introduction

~J1ytime the  « unholy »  is  mixed  with  the  holy,  God  will  remove  His blessings (Ogilvie, 1987:138).  It does not matter whether the unholy is from an African or Christian background.  Whatever is mentioned here about King Solomon or S,amson is just a tip of the iceberg. Many more people, both in the Old and the New Testaments, were in one way or another involved in mixed marriages.
Today it is quite acceptable for people to read the Bible through their own eyes and their own experiences. However, for Bible translators, the question of being faithful to the original messages, original forms, original authors and audience still presents quite difficult problems. Yet it is no secret that in reality, it is almost impossible to translate or interpret a text without colouring it, sieving it, or moulding it through our own entire -,.._.__ ~– network of beliefs, reality, and language.
Motfhabi (1983:23) correctly argues that « just as black American Theologians have referred to their past religious heritage for the early manifestations of Black theology in their country and for the present inspiration, so therefore, it seems, must black South African theologians also examine their traditional religions for the unique, religious cultural contributions that can be made by them to the Christian teaching and Black Theology. »
Asana (1990) and Masenya {1996) also supported this idea, seeing it as one of the first tasks of African or Black theology the « reconstruction of the christian faith in Africa which takes seriously the fact that God revealed himself in the traditional religions and that by a selective process African theologians can use this revelatory content to throw light on the message and meaning of marriage and of Jesus Christ. »
According to Motlhabi ( 1983:23) for many Africans conversion to Christianity has « not meant the exchange of the indigenous religion for the new one but rather an amalgamation of the two ». If this claim is true, we must find out exactly what aspects of the Christian teaching were assimilable into traditional religious beliefs and how this was done to suit the African understanding and his/her religious expression. This however, cannot be successfully attempted until we have gained better insights into African traditional religions themselves (Motlhabi, 1983:23)
Questions may be asked as to whether we want to see « inculturation » taking place. The answer to that question depends much on what we view « inculturation »to be. Prof. Simon Maimela descibes « inculturation » as an approach which is characterised by the attempt to marry Christianity with the African world view, so that Christianity could speak (to Africans) with the African idiom and accent {Amoah, 1995:27).
The researcher is no exception. He is a member of the Church of Christ (Fundamentalists). It is apparent from the above, therefore, that some general characteristics and principles of fundamentalism will apply in the researcher’sinterpretation of scriptures.

 King Solomon’slove for foreign women : 1 Kings 11:1-4

The author begins his portrayal of Solomon’s decline by mentioning Solomon’s love for foreign women – Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, Hittes and the daughter of Pharaoh – « from the nations of which YHWH said to the Israelites: « You shall not have sexual relations with them nor shall they have sexual relations with you; truly, they will turn your heart after their gods »;
The unsure seems straightforward : Solomon flounders because of his violationan established divine command. 1 Kings 11:1-4 raises both exegetical and thematic issues. Mixed marriages, often considered to be a distinctly post-exilic proplem, are pivotal to Solomon’s demise (lewis, 1994:121).
To be sure, the Y9hwist (Exod 34:11-6) and the authors of Deuteronomy (Deut 7:1-4) prohibit ~xogamy, but safely with the autochthonous Canaanite nations. However significant the variations in these rosters may be, only in early Judaism does an absolute condemnation of intermarriage with all non-Jews emerge (lewis, 1994:122).
In the book of Kings, Solomon ostensibly becomes an example of the negative repercussions of intermarriage with Yehud’sneighbours. Mixed marriages are supposedly not an issue of real consequence until post-exilic times, the era in which Israelite religion becomes Judaism (lewis, 1994:123).
Extending and expanding the deuteronomic interdiction against mixed marriages with native Canaanite peoples, the Deuteronomist employs mixed marriages as a topos to explain two major regressions in Israelite history : the era of judges and the divided monarchy. Close analysis of select passages in the Deuteronomistic History therefore suggests that the development of the prohibition of intermarriage with all Gentiles is more complex than has been previously recognized (Lewis, 1994:124).
Solomon allegedly had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines (1 Kings 11:3). 1 Kings 11:7 describes how Solomon built a big place for Chemosh, the god of Moab, and for Milcom, the god of Ammon.
1 Kings 11 :8 elaborates, declaring that Solomon did this for all his wives. Ahijah’sroyal oracle to Jeroboam in 1 Kings 11 :33 avows that Solomon worshipped Astarte, the deity of the Sidonians, chemosh, the deity of Moab, and Milcom, the deity of the Ammonites.
The author of these verses claims that Solomon built high places for all of his wives and even presents some fluctuation in the deities Solomon worships and enfranchises with sanctuaries. Yet, 1 Kings 11 also manifests a particular interest in Solomon’sdevotion to the gods of the Ammonites, Sidonians, and Moabites (Lewis, 1994:126).
Nehemiah recalls Solomon’sliaisons with foreign women as grounds for prohibiting such unions in his own time (Neh 13:23-27). Nehemiah’s rhetorical question, ‘Wasit not on account of such things that Solomon King os Israel sin~ed? (neh 13:26), would only have force if the account of Solomon’sparamours was already well-known (Lewis, 1994: 127).
To catfattention to Solomon’sinvolution, the author draws a series of contrasts with the first period he posits in Solomon’sreign. In the first part of his tenure, Solomon followed the practices of David his father ( 1 Kings 3:3); but in the second part of his tenure, Solomon « did not follow ~]::!WH completely- as did David his father » (1 Kings 11 :6).
Prior to building the temple, Solomon sacrificed and burned incense at the high places (1 Kings 3:3). When the temple was completed, Solomon regularly sacrificed to YHWH there (1 Kings 8:5, 62-64; 9:25; 10:5). Yet, in the second part of his tenure, Solomon burned incense and sacrificed to foreign gods at the high pi5Jces he built for his foreign wives (1 Kings 11:8).
Now, that is the crux of the matter.  There is a very strong posSibility here that if Solomon did not have anything to do with foreign women he would ~not have infuriated YHWH, as he did.

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The laws of Deuteronomy 7:1-6 concerning mixed marriages.

The laws of Deut 7:1-6 exhibt some curious features. israel is told to annihilate the autochthonous canaanite nation, leaving no survivors (Deut 7:1-2a). Israel is also instructed neither to ratify a covenantnor to intermarry with any of the autochthonous Canaanite nations (Deut 7:2b-3).
Presumably, the latter instructions would not be necessary or even possible if the former was accomplished.
The authors of Deuteronomy construe the mandate for abolishing those cult symbols which they associate with pre-Israelite nations – altars, asherahs, standing stones, and images – as critical to preserving Israel’s special character, « because you are a consecrated people to YHWH your God. Of all the peoples of the land YHWH your God chose you to be for him a treasured people » (Deut 7:5-6).
The proscription of spousal relationships with select peoples is therefore consistent with Deuteronomy’sconcern with preserving Israel’sdistinctive identity {Lewis, 1994:129).
By renewing the Yahwist’sprohibition against intermarriage (Exod 34:16), the authors of Deuteronomy not only accord intermarriage with explanatory value for understanding the past, but also structural importance for confronting the present (Lewis,   1994: 130). The Deuteronomist also considers intermarriage to be an important issue. Like the authors of Deuteronomy, he associates mixed marriages with Israelite decadence (Lewis, 1994: 130).
Having depicted how successful Israel was when it obeyed divine stipulations, the Deuteronomist is faced with a problem. How will he explain the metamorphosis from the triumphant Israel of Joshua to the organized and troubled Israel he knows preceded the rise of the united monarchy of David and Solomon?
He will he explain the survival of peoples Israel was to have eliminated? The Deuteronomist prepares his readers for a change of venue in Joshua’sfarewell speech (Josh 23:2-16).
Joshua celebrates the Manalia Dei, yet admonishes the Israelites about the challenges they face in finishing the conquest. His speech recalls the prescriptions of Deut 7:1-6 and adapts them to the circumstances of Israel’slife in the land.
Joshua implores his audience not to engage in sexual relations with the remaining nations, nor to invoke the name of their gods, swear by them, serve them, or worship them (Josh 23:7). Instead, Israel should continue to cling to YHWH (Josh 23:8). As part of his parenesis, Joshua renews the deuteronomic ban on mixed marriages (Lewis, 1994:131).
Joshua’sadmonition is remarkable for a number of reasons. First, he alludes to the prohibition of Deut 7:3, but embellishes it by explicitly referring to both marriage and sexual intercourse (Josh 23:12). Second, Joshua ex-tends the original interdiction against marital unions of the invading Israelites with the native residents of Palestine indefinitely. Third, the author is not to intermarry (Lewis, 1994:131).
Near the end of his introduction to Judges, the Deuteronomist includes a notice of Israel’sfailure to annihilate the indigenous nations of Palestine (Judg 3:5-6}. The setback recalls the warnings in Joshua’sfarewell speech (Josh 23:11-13) and replicates in history what Deut 7:3-4 forbids. Judg 3:5-6 mirrors Deut 7:1-4 in its register of nations, its description of marital unions between the Israelites and the aboriginal Canaanite nations, and its depiction of the consequence of these actions.
Intermarriage has social, and religious consequences. According to the Deuteronomist, mixed marriages were the means by which the Israelites ·- —.__, forgot their God a~ ~~shipping other gods (Judg 3:6-7).
As in the case of Solomon, Israel’sactions infuriate YHWH, who delivers Israel to cushan-rishathaim, the first of many deuteronomistic perspective, Israel’sapostasy verifies Moses’interdiction against mixed marriages by demonstrating the negative consequences of Israel’s conjugals with Canaan’sindigenous inhabitants (lewis, 1994:132).
Both Joshua’sextension of Deuteronomy’staboo on intermarriage and the rationale that lsrael’sfailure to observe this taboo eventuated in Israel’sworship of foreign gods show that intermarriage was a matter of considerable concern to the Deuteronomist.
To be sure, the Deuteronomist blames Israel itself, and not these nations, for Israel’stroubles during the period of the judges. In the transition from the golden era of conquest to the regression of the judges, intermarriage plays an instrumental role (Lewis, 1994: 133).
In fact, the deuteronomistic presentation of Israel’smetamorphosis from a victorious people to a harassed one in Joshua – Judges illumines the role of Solomon’sforeign wives in his demise. In the time of Solomon, Israel experienced peace and rest (1 Kings 5:17-18), Solomon received wealth and wisdom (1 Kings 3:4-14), and, to the delight of all Israel, Solomon build the long-awaited central sanctuary (1 Kings 6:1-9:3).
Given this unmitigated string of achievements, how does heteropraxis reappear in Israelite life? Solomon departs from the policies he himself followed with great success by embracing the gods of his foreign wives. Solomon’samour for foreign women catalyses a reversal of his erstwhile love forYHWH (Lewis, 1994:134).
As with Israel in the time of the judges, the Deuteronomist blames Solomon, and not his wives, for perfidy. The tapas of mixed marriages explains a reversal in the course of Sotomonic rule, but does not excuse it Solomon’sforeign wives catalyze his decline, but YHWH becomes enraged with Solomon, and not his wives (Lewis, 1994: 135).
According to Coffman (1988:85) it is this exclusivism of Israel which preserved Judaism throughout the centuries. Coffman (1988:85)’s assumption that perhaps the young people of Moses’day said uBut we will make Israelites out of those girls! » still apply today.
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MARITAL PROBLEMS IN RELIGIOUSLY MIXED MARRIAGES AMONGST THE VHAVENDA PEOPLE OF SOUTH AFRICA : AN AFRICAN-CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE.

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