Does The Hebrew Bible comment on intermarriage?
Kanye and Kim Kardashian West. Reggie Bush and Lilit Avagyan. John Legend and Chrissy Teigen. Tiger Woods and Erica Herman. Michael Jordan and Yvette Prieto. Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian. Travis Scott and Kylie Jenner. What do all of these amazing people have in common? Yes. They are famous and rich. Also, they’re all interracial couples! Ahh, love. Isn’t it beautiful? Feel good neurochemicals like oxytocin and dopamine inundate our mind. Our world becomes even more awesome. Everything becomes peachy, fine, dandy, and sweet as candy. We relish the warm, physiological responses we experience when we are swooning over someone. Love has the potency to transcend color, class, and race, no? Yet, have you ever wondered what The Hebrew Bible says about interracial dating/marriage? Let’s take a look at some verses!
Yahweh your God is going to bring you into the land you will enter in order to take possession of it, and He will expel many nations ahead of you — the Hitti, Girgashi, Emori, Kena’ani, P’rizi, Hivi and Y’vusi, seven nations bigger and stronger than you. When He does this, when Yahweh your God hands them over ahead of you, and you defeat them, you are to destroy them completely! Do not make any covenant with them. Show them no mercy. Don’t intermarry with them — don’t give your daughter to his son, and don’t take his daughter for your son. For he will turn your children away from following Me in order to serve other gods. If this happens, the anger of Yahweh will flare up against you, and He will quickly destroy you. (Deuteronomy 7:1–4, CJB)
Here in Scripture, specifically in Torah, my Israelite people were given the lucid command to not intermarry with the Gentile nations, that were occupying the Promised Land. “No miscegenation? No mixing of the races? Is The Bible against the swirl? Get with the times, Yoel. This Hebrew Bible you follow is so antiquated. So discriminatory. This command is anachronistic. So irrelevant to the here and now. I can love who I want to love. I’m living my truth. These words are quarantined to the ancient past.” One could say the aforementioned, no? Perhaps many in my generation already are. Did you and I catch the reason why Yahweh forbids intermarriage here? Verse 4, right? They will turn your Hebrew children away from following Me. Who is the “Me” here? It’s certainly not me. Isn’t it Yahweh, The God of Israel? They (polytheistic Gentiles) will turn your monotheistic Israelite children away from following Yahweh, in order to serve other gods. Ding, ding, ding! If you caught this on the first read, then come on down! You’re the next contestant on The Word Is Right!
Later in Deuteronomy 7, Yahweh gives further instructions to destroy their carved images. “Oh, so are you going to vandalize religious buildings now, Yoel?” Chalilah! Yah forbid. No way. Context is key. The point I want to highlight is in verse 6, where Yahweh says Israelites are set apart. That Yahweh chose us Israelites to be His own unique treasure. So, the reason for interracial dating/marriage being proscribed here, is not for racial reasons, nor to promote ethnic supremacy. The reason is purely spiritual. To keep the covenant fidelity intact. So that us Hebrews, and grafted in Gentiles who follow Yahweh, continue loving Him wholeheartedly. Was this holy command honored in Israelite history? Let’s see.
The 700 Club
King Shelomoh loved many foreign women besides the daughter of Pharaoh. There were women from the Moabi, Amoni, Edomi,Tzidoni, and Hitti — nations about which Yahweh had said to the people of Israel, “You are not to go among them, or they among you, because they will turn your hearts away toward their gods.” But Shelomoh was deeply attached to them by his love. He had 700 wives, all princesses, and 300 concubines; and his wives turned his heart away. For when Shelomoh became old, his wives turned his heart away toward other gods; so that he was not wholehearted with Yahweh his God, as Dawid his father had been. For Shelomoh followed Ashtoret the goddess of the Tzidoni and Milkom the abomination of the Amoni. Thus Shelomoh did what was evil in Yahweh’s view and did not fully follow Yahweh as Dawid his father had done. (1st Kings 11:1–6, CJB)
I’m not the best at math, but 700 plus 300. Le’ts see. Carry the 1. Isn’t that 1,000?! Please check my addition. Wow! I’m still trying to fathom this. They didn’t even have this many women on The Bachelor, no?
Oh the suspense! The dramatic music. The close ups. Will she get a rose or not?! Roses are very good, but what if the Bachelor gave the women something that has more…eternal value? “Will you accept this scroll? This Torah Scroll?”
Maybe next season.
We see what happened when King Shelomoh distanced himself from Yahweh’s Torah command on intermarriage. King Shelomoh became deeply attached to the women by his love. They had his heart, and they turned it. Away from Yahweh, The One True God. King Shelomoh began to both follow their foreign gods and build high places for them. Yahweh became angry with King Shelomoh, and Yah Almighty tore the kingdom away from King Shelomoh.
Foreign women, foreign idols?
After these things had been done, the leaders approached me and said, “The people of Israel, the cohenim and the Lewiim have not separated themselves from the people of the lands and their disgusting practices — — the Kena’ani, Hitti, Perizi, Yebusi, Amoni, Moabi, Egyptians and Emori. They have taken some of the women from these nations as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy seed has assimilated to the peoples of the lands; moreover, the officials and leaders have been the main offenders in this treachery.” When I heard this, I tore my robe and tunic, pulled my hair from my head and beard, and sat down in shock. (Ezra 9:1–3, CJB)
The leaders of Israel. The priests. The Levites. Had took it upon themselves to intermarry with the pagan people around them. Ezra heard the news. He didn’t exactly throw a gender reveal party for them. Ezra goes on to articulate:
But now, our God, what are we to say after this? For we have abandoned your commandments, which You gave us through your servants the prophets when they said, “The land which you are going to in order to take possession of it is a land defiled by the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, because of their disgusting practices, which have filled it with their filth from one end to the other. Therefore, you are not to give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons; and you are not to promote their peace or prosperity ever. Only in this way will you grow strong, enjoy the good things of the land and leave it as a lasting inheritance to your children. (Ezra 9:10–12, CJB)
Eventually, my Israelite people were uprooted from the Promised land of Israel, and scattered. We are now in the four corners of the earth, in an Israelite Diaspora, as a result of breaking Torah Covenant, with Yahweh our God. Are we to break His Command again, by making marriages with the peoples who perpetuate abominable practices?
Heavenly Father knows best
I’m sure after this is published, interracial dating, along with intermarriage, will still continue. I can’t control who you love. All I can do is humbly propound the words of my God, for I want to see my people be obedient and blessed. Now the flip side of the chocolate vanilla pancake. I’ll use myself as an example. If there is a non-Israelite woman that loves Yahweh and follows His Law as her lifestyle, then that’s kosher. For as we see, Mosheh married a non-Israelite woman. An Ethiopian woman to be precise, per Numbers 12:1. Some out there may be saying, “I get it, Yoel. That’s your God. You follow His Laws. That’s fine. Yet I’m in an interracial relationship, we have different religions, and we get along just fine.” This is surely a reality for some. I just think to myself, the One who innovated marriage, shouldn’t I look to Him for guidance? Maybe this is what happens, when we do it our own way?