Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Strangers In The Land: Ger 006

Exodus 18:1-6

And Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel His people—that the Lordhad brought Israel out of Egypt. Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her back, with her two sons, of whom the name of one was Gershom (for he said, “I have been a stranger in a foreign land”) 4 and the name of the other was Eliezer (for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh”); and Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife to Moses in the wilderness, where he was encamped at the mountain of God. Now he had said to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons with her.”

What Does It Say?

This passage takes place after Moses and the Israelites has left Egypt, passed through the Red Sea, and started on their journey to Canaan. On the way, Moses' father-in-law (who we already met in Ger 003) comes out to meet them and give Moses back his wife and kids.

Now Gershom's name is the only place where ger appears in this passage, but I decided to include it in our study for two reasons:

1). Sheer bloody-mindedness. We're doing every passage with ger, not 99% of passages with ger.

2). With all of the prohibitions against marrying pagans in the Old Testament, I wanted to show that there is no blanket prohibition on marrying non-Israelis. Exodus 18 doesn't say why Zipporah had returned to her father (most scholars speculate Moses sent her back due to the danger from Pharaoh, but the text never explicitly says why), but it does show us that all involved believed her place and her children's place was with their father.

It's important to remember this, along with other instances of inter-ethnic marriage, because there are passages that very violently condemn marrying foreign women. The difference is that the latter passages are condemning marrying foreign women because they bring their foreign gods with them. There are no passages in the Bible condemning marriage with converted non-Israelis. At least, there aren't any as far as I know, and if they do exist, we'll get to them eventually

Next: Exodus 20

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