For most of Church history, the expositions taken from the life and conversion of the harlot, Rahab, have centered on issues such as the propriety of lying in the service of a good cause, or as an early example of the Gentile church apart from national Israel. Much was rightly written of these subjects, because these were matters of consideration bearing especially upon the eras in which those expositions were made.
We still see abundant application of those historic studies today: Rahab’s saving faith stands as proof that the invisible Church of believers ever extended beyond the bounds of the visible church in the entity of national Israel. This is a deathblow to dispensationalism, which otherwise imagines national Israel for a holy race outside which, prior to Christ’s advent, salvation was not found. So, too, does it fell the Romish claim that their very provincial institution is synonymous with the universal Church. This doctrine of the Church invisible remains for us a hedge against the Judaizing Zionism of dispensationalism as well as the ecclesiastic tyranny of Rome, or any other ecclesiastic institution which surpasses the bounds of its legitimate authority.
But in time, more implications of the story have become apparent: not because we are more insightful than our fathers, but due to our contemporary circumstances, as we are faced with challenges which they simply could not foresee. So by way of its application to all areas of life, each generation is blessed to discover implications of the text theretofore unrecognized; and the challenges unique to each successive era act to organically expand the body of exposition. This is the thrust of the maxim, Semper reformanda. Standing upon the shoulders of our fathers, we continue to reach new vistas of implication and application.
The Royal Genealogy
Christians were once content to say without reservation that the royal genealogies proved Christ’s hereditary claim to the throne. This claim rested by itself, for little more was needed on the subject. After all, if the genealogies didn’t prove His lawful descent from Jacob and claim to the heritage of David, their inclusion to that end in the text would be a work of sublime futility – undermining the whole of the gospel and, thereby, revelation in general. None save the first-century Pharisees seriously questioned the purity of Christ’s heritage … until recently. But the modern challenge to Christ’s genealogy comes, most shockingly, from many who actually claim to follow Him, otherwise known as Alienists. They allege that Rachab of the royal genealogy was no Hebrew, but a Canaanite.
At this point their argument is identical to that of the first-century Pharisees, who denied Jesus’s ethnic claim to the purple by alleging that His lineage did not conform to the national insularity codes, as found in Deuteronomy 1:13; 17:15; 23:2. The Pharisees accused Him of being a Samaritan (John 8:48), one of the “mixed-race peoples” (cf. Zech. 9:6) like those who settled in Samaria after being deported from Israel in the great restoration under Ezra and Nehemiah. Rather than upbraiding the Jews for their very “racist” interpretation of the law, Jesus replied that such an accusation of mixed blood “dishonored” Him (John 8:49). Rather than taking issue with their interpretation of the codes in question, He took umbrage with the falsity of their accusation itself. Rather than correcting their nomology or identifying any false assumption on this point, Christ rebuked their slander and called them liars (John 8:55, cf. v. 44). He rebuked them for their false witness, and even impugned their heritage as sons of the Father of Lies, the Devil.
But where the Pharisees’ charge against the royal genealogy was rather vague, our modern Alienists have gone on to refine the allegation into a tangled sophistic web meant, if not to prove their case, at least to obfuscate the matter sufficiently that they may effect a re-write of covenantalism. Principally, they say that Christ’s genealogy is significant only insofar as it proves all lineal heredity and race insignificant or imaginary, and that this is so specifically because they see non-Semites in His line.
When we point out that the premise upon which they have built their case directly contradicts their conclusion, they contemptuously rattle off anathemas and promises of imminent hellfire for any with reservations against their transparently gnostic fallacies. Oblivious to any onus for logical consistency or orthodox hermeneutics, they then launch into another argument contradicting the one previous, ceding the impermissibility of non-Semite admixture but holding that all maternal genealogies are irrelevant so that the father is the solitary genealogical concern, because every bride is somehow magically absorbed into her husband’s pedigree. We, of course, respond that this nullifies all intermarriage prohibitions in Scripture, since by definition intermarriage presupposes a man and woman with real ancestries. More damningly, we call attention to the fact that Jesus’s only physical connection to the Davidic line is through His mother, Mary, and that their alchemical theory of marriage would invalidate His lawful claim to the throne, invalidating the entire Christian faith.
All this leads them to inform us that in their conception of theonomy, this matter will be resolved not by debate, nor by scriptural persuasion, but by brute force; they assure us that upon their ascendance to power, we Kinists will be executed en masse for evidencing their inability to live with the conclusions of their own arguments. In a word, it is a matter of pride. In light of their groping irrationality, their ex cathedra anathemas and ambitions of quasi-Neronic extermination campaigns of traditional Christians are fittingly arbitrary.
Perhaps we will examine other similar cases at a later date, but for the sake of economy, we here limit our investigation to one alleged non-Semite in the royal line. We ask: was Rahab a Canaanite, as the Alienists allege?
Evidence for Hebraic Ancestry
Linguistically, the name Rahab is definitively Hebrew. Of course, the Alienist will likely retort that the name might have found acceptance in Israel because of the precedent set by the woman herself; but this is proven false by the fact that the word rahab well predates its appearance in Joshua. In fact, it appears in the very oldest book of the Bible, Job:
God will not turn back His anger; beneath Him bowed the helpers of Rahab (Job 9:13).
By His power He stilled the sea; by His understanding He shattered Rahab (Job 26:12).
Due to its context above, the ancient Hebrews popularly regarded a rahab as a sea monster. King David would even go on to incorporate the word into Psalm 89:9-10, which reads: “You rule the raging sea; You still its swelling waves. You crush Rahab with a mortal blow; with Your strong arm You scatter Your foes.” Most commentators note that, aside from being a sea monster, the word rahab is emblematic of the seafaring empire of Egypt, and can be taken to mean “large,” “broad,” “haughty,” or “proud.” Remember now: this, we are told, is the name of one of David’s own ancestors. No, Rahab the harlot cannot be the origin of the word rahab in the Hebrew language, as the word far predates the convert herself, and its denotations of infamy, pride, and general malevolence only further prove that the word did not enter the language by reference to the virtuous woman. Really, it suggests the inverse – that she was a Hebrew woman appropriately named in keeping with the ignoble profession of her pre-conversion life.
Taking just this issue of her name into account, any assumption of her being a non-Hebrew seems quite a stretch. But we parenthetically note that while most commentators accept Rahab of Joshua chapter 2 to be the same Rachab of the royal genealogy, the altered form of her name in the genealogy and the conspicuous absence of her otherwise ubiquitous title, “the harlot,” do seem to leave the question of whether they are the same person as a matter of conjecture. The above linguistic evidence might tilt towards this conclusion as well, if we surmise that David would not purposefully utilize his grandmother’s name as a byword for God’s enemies. Assuming, however, that they are one and the same, it may be that she underwent a covenantal re-naming like Abram (Abraham), Sarai (Sarah), and Jacob (Israel). It is not a necessary implication for the Kinist, though possibly so for any who insists that Rahab the harlot and Rachab must be the same person.
In any case, the Alienist position raises the question: why would a Canaanitess (absent any connection to the patriarch, Heber) bear such a Hebrew name, even if a term of infamy? The Alienist here might argue that it were a mere coincidence, or that the name may have meant something entirely different in some Hamitic tongue. But that, then, would seem at odds with the fact that the Israelite spies enjoyed such easy conversation with her. Not only was her name Hebrew, she likely spoke Hebrew as well, which, in the linguistic sense at least, would make her a Hebrew.
This is where Alienists have some difficulty, for they tend to speak of Hebrews as synonymous with Israelites; whether they are purposely distorting the matter, or are genuinely ignorant of the fact that Hebrews are a much larger category than Israelites, I cannot say. I only know they ignore this distinction.
But to understand Rahab’s story we must view her in her context: of the twelve spies Moses originally sent into Canaan (Num. 13:1-14), all are commemorated by name, and honorary mention is given especially to the two who brought back a good report, Joshua and Caleb. But this is not at all the case in regard to the spies whom Joshua would later commission to cross over the Jordan and survey the defenses of Jericho. Their names are omitted entirely. Taken with the fact that they lodged the night with a harlot, this has inclined some commentators, such as Matthew Henry, to voice reservations about the men’s relative uprightness subject to the designs of providence:
God has often served his own purposes and his church’s interests by men of different morals. Had these scouts gone to any other house than this they would certainly have been betrayed and put to death without mercy. But God knew where they had a friend that would be true to them, though they did not, and directed them thither. Thus that which seems to us most contingent and accidental is often over-ruled by the divine providence to serve its great ends.1
Joshua chapter 2, verse 1 plainly states that Joshua drafted two men (“young men” according to the LXX) from Acacia Grove, a settlement just over the Jordan from Jericho. Now, since Rahab would speak to the spies in terms of their being Israelites, there is no reason to suspect that they were drafted from amongst the other ethnic communities lodged there in the vicinity of Israel at Acacia Grove. But Numbers 25 describes the recent intrigues in that place for which the very name, Acacia Grove, would ever after be held as emblematic of harlotry and idolatry: the temptresses who seduced the men of Israel away into the worship of Baal are referred to as the “women of Moab” (Num. 25:1), but the woman brought forward amidst the congregation there by her Israelite lover is mentioned as being a Midianite. Both members of that unequal yoking, we recall, were executed by the zealous spear of Phinehas (Num. 25:6-8). Many in Christian Identity circles have taken this episode as a condemnation of miscegenation, but they forget that Moses himself had likewise married a Midianitess, Zipporah (Ex. 2). And contrary to the imagination of Alienists, though her people dwelt on the borderlands of Cush (Ethiopia), Zipporah was not a black, but, like all Midianites, a descendant of Keturah, second wife of Abraham, and therefore a Semite (1 Chron. 1:32). Any cursory examination of the origins of Midian will prove this point beyond all doubt.
The issue for which the mixed couple were then executed was not a racial one, but a creedal one. She, like the other harlot-inhabitants of Acacia Grove, was a devotee of Baal-Peor. The Israelite offender presented her to his brethren in direct opposition not only to Moses’s administration, but also to God’s law back of it. The appeal of the mixed couple was not to justice (God’s law) but to the backslidden sentimentality of the people. Which is to say that they were staging a democratic coup over godly government, a social revolution to overthrow the rule of God in society. Their brash defiance of all that is good in the name of heathenish love was equal parts sedition, conspiracy, and heresy.
But since Moabite women are mentioned as the foremost offenders at Acacia Grove, it should be mentioned that like Midian, Moab, as the son of Lot (Gen. 19:37), was close kin to Israel. The fact is that both Moabite and Midianite were of the same stock, phenotype, and language with Israel – kindred nations. So when we read that Joshua sent his scouts out from Acacia Grove, the perpetual memorial of Israel’s harlotry which happened to be right across the river from Jericho, and upon entrance to that city, these spies found their way directly to the house of a Hebrew-named harlot who had closely chronicled the conquests of Israel, the connection is not a small one. It appears that she was a Hebrew, and probably of Moabite or Midianite extraction herself. (However, as will be established below, given the prohibitions on Moabite integration within the insulary codes of Deuteronomy 23 as applied in Ezra and Nehemiah, we have reason to believe she was likely of Midianite stock in particular.)
Moreover, if Rahab’s Hebrew name, her profession as a harlot (common to certain Hebrew women local to Jericho), her ease of communication with the Israelite scouts, her affinity toward and comprehension of the God of Israel, and all the forthcoming evidence against her Canaanite ancestry are not enough to dissuade us from the Alienist argument that she was a Canaanite, we have but one more thing to consider: she is memorialized as a distinctly Hebrew paragon of the faith alongside the Hebrew heroes in what is called the “Hebrew Hall of Faith” (Heb. 11) in a book the subject of which is candidly announced as “Hebrews.”
Evidence Against Canaanite Ancestry
Yet independently of this positive evidence that she bore a Hebrew ancestry, we have further negative evidence that she could not have been Canaanite. Hebrews 11:31 tells us directly that the reason Rahab and her house were spared was due to the fact that she “received the spies with peace.” But the terms of her clemency would be out of the question had she been a member of one of the seven Canaanite nations, because Israel was commanded to strike no covenant with Canaanites, and to neither seek nor accept their peace under any circumstances, showing absolutely no mercy (Deut. 7:1-3). Recall that it was the spies themselves who, without any reticence concerning the violation of this divine law, agreed to spare Rahab (Josh. 2:12-14). There is no sign of God’s rescinding His own commandment here, and hence every reason to believe that this law forbidding mercy unto Canaanites would have been operative and even at the forefront of the spies’ minds. Nor is there any attempt within Israel to prevent her integration or intermarriage, which we would expect at the very least if the spies’ allowance of her life were an absent-minded violation of the standing order to slay all Canaanites. Her assimilation is simply assumed to occur without obstacle.
Even on the occasion when Israel inadvertently found themselves in covenant with a Canaanite tribe, upon discovery that they were Gibeonites, Joshua enslaved them all (Josh. 9). None were ever allowed to intermarry with Israel; they remained forever a slave class within Israel’s borders – which is to say that the terms of Rahab’s clemency were expressly denied the Gibeonites. Though she was spared because she “received the spies with peace,” the desperate pursuit of peace on the part of the Gibeonites was not accepted so. (Indeed, if Rahab truly were a Canaanite, her story would be remembered with even more infamy than the Gibeonites, for at least the Israelites were deceived by the Gibeonites, not willfully neglectful of their ancestry.) This sort of covenantal consecration of Rahab’s family (father, brothers, and others) was not even extended to the surrogate family of Moses: “By faith Moses, when he came of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter” (Heb. 11:24).
The denial of all mercy to Canaanites obviously entails the denial of any intermarriages as well, as Deuteronomy 7:2-3 attests. But remarkably, this marital prohibition not only made all such couplings sinful to enact, but rendered all such unions entirely invalid. Israelite-Canaanite marriages were not truly albeit sinfully formed; rather, they were impossible to form. According to Ezra, any intermarriage with Canaanites (9:1-2) required the annulment of the families via the expulsion of the wives and the mixed children (10:3-5, 10-11). The infallible prophetic application of these laws forbidding Canaanite amalgamation required the annulment of invalid Israelite-Canaanite unions, not simply repentance for marriages sinfully formed but nevertheless binding. Moreover, this prophetic law was evidently ethnic, as it was applied along national lines as such; it cannot be assigned purely religious, non-ancestral grounds. Contrast it with St. Paul’s teachings concerning the abiding validity of interreligious marriages between Christians and unbelievers (1 Cor. 7:12), whom he elsewhere likens to followers of Belial (2 Cor. 6:15). Paul explicitly describes the children of these marriages as holy (1 Cor. 7:14), no matter the religious affiliation of the unbelieving spouse, yet he does not command their expulsion, while Ezra does. Hence the ethnic basis for this law is both momentous and severe: if Jesus were, as these Alienists allege, of Canaanite admixture, both the law and the prophets would conclusively rule Him out as a legal citizen, let alone King.
The Prohibition of Bastards
But besides specifying Canaanites in particular as ineligible ancestors for Jesus Christ, thereby linking any Canaanite ancestry in Rahab to a complete nullification of Christ’s kingly claims, we find that Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s godly expulsions were applications of an even broader principle grounded in Deuteronomy. The Kinist case, here, is not simply that we can locate a Bible verse which happens to deny that Rahab could have been a Canaanite; rather, the principle by which Canaanite ancestry could not enter Christ’s bloodline is a broader one set against any tainting of the bloodline whatsoever. Hence the Alienist is mistaken not only in his ignorance of the scripturally specified nations whose blood could not have coursed through Messiah’s veins, but also in his defiance against this fundamental principle opposed to all mongrelization.
Nehemiah directly cites Deut. 23:3-6 in separating all Ammonites and Moabites from Israel (Neh. 13:1-3), but the more fundamental law around which this entire exchange principally revolves is Deuteronomy 23:2: “A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord.”
What is the definition of our English word, “bastard”? The Oxford English Dictionary defines it in part as “a person of mixed breed.” The Dictionary’s history of its usage confirms this as its ancient and true definition. Even some citations from the more common definition, denoting children born out of wedlock, establish this. For instance, the 1764 entry in the above OED citation reads: “The word bastard seemeth to have been brought unto us by the Saxons; and to be compounded of base, vile or ignoble, and start, or steort signifying a rise or original.” Robert of Gloucester’s use of the word in 1297, five centuries earlier, is as follows: “Of pulke blode Wyllam bastard com.” Merriam-Webster defines “pulk” as “a muddy pond, a mudhole.” So in modern vernacular it would read, “Of muddied blood William [the] bastard (mongrel) comes.” His mother, Harlette, was not of noble heritage, but a tanner-woman of the muddy dye-pits, making her union with a noble house an unequal yoke. And if all of this weren’t clear enough, William Brown’s 1816 History of the Propagation of Christianity dispels any question of the meaning of the word: “The term Bastard applied to a Hottentot, does not mean that he is illegitimate, but merely that he is of a mixed breed.”2 Lastly, note that “bastard” is confirmed as a synonym for the Latin term nothus, meaning “a mongrel” (to be addressed below): this 1878 German-English dictionary lists the translational synonyms as “Bastarde, bastardus, nothus.”
But “bastard” is, in the Hebrew (Masoretic) text, the word mamzer, which is a compound of mum (defect) and zar (strange/alien). It is the same word which appears in Zechariah 9:6, where our modern Bible translators routinely render the term “mixed people,” “mongrel people,” “mongrel race,” “mixed race,” etc. The standard works of lexicography affirm the same: namely, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance lists this Hebrew term as coming from “a root meaning to alienate; a mongrel.” The Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon confirms it as a reference to a “mixed population.”
Now, that is not to say that the term might not also apply to other categories, such as the children of incest or those born out of wedlock. Our English equivalent, “bastard,” certainly has been used in these senses at different times as well. And our lexicons reflect this with alternate wider definitions such as “all those born of illicit unions.” But the common translation of mamzer in Zechariah 9:6 as “mongrel” proves that translators know its foremost definition has to do with racial admixture because, all other things being equal, they could just as easily have rendered it “an inbred people,” “an incestuous people,” “an illegitimate people,” or some other category of dubious heritage. But no translator has yet rendered it as such. Plainly, they accept the connotation of “mongrel” over “inbred” or “illegitimate,” because the mongrel is a stronger synonym for mamzer than is any other term. Thesaurus.com even treats “bastard” as a top synonym for “mongrel.”
“Bastard” and “mongrel” are understood, then, to be the closest equivalents to one another in our language, particularly in the term’s original usage. This makes complete sense of the fact that Martin Luther translated the occurrences of mamzer in both Deuteronomy and Zechariah with the German word mischling (lit. “mixling”);3 as any German-English dictionary will confirm, mischling has only one definition: “mongrel” – and note, once more, how “bastard” reappears as a synonym yet again.
Even if someone argued that the context compels translators to a truncated definition of “mongrel race” in Zechariah 9:6, permitting a broader, non-racial use of mamzer in other contexts, race hardly seems less implied in the Deuteronomy passage; indeed, the context is all about which ethnicities are precluded from Israel and for what duration. But even if Deuteronomy 23:2 were taken as a more neutral context, there is still no positive necessity for an alternative definition. There is no justification for translating it differently in each place.
The context in which the word “bastard” appears in the New Testament (Heb. 12:7-8) also distinctly implies alienation rather than inbreeding or other forms of illicit offspring:
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
This passage makes appeal to the common fact that a father has a special burden of care over his own physical children (1 Tim.5:8), but no like responsibility over a child not come of his own flesh. Which presupposes, by both shared terminology and concept, the principle laid in Deuteronomy 23:2 as abiding in the Christian era: that only true-bred children have any lawful birthright stake in family, tribe, and nation.
What is the word appearing in the original autograph there in Hebrews 12:8? It is the Greek word nothos. This is the same word which the Septuagint uses in the place of mamzer in Deuteronomy 23:2 and Zechariah 9:6. Nothos is defined in the Liddell-Scott-Jones Lexicon4 as: “bastard, baseborn, i.e. born of a slave or concubine . . . [At Athens] child of a citizen father and an alien mother . . . [of animals] cross-bred.” And the verb form of the same, notheuo, is therein defined as “adulterate.” Moreover, both Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English dictionary define adulterate as: “to corrupt, debase, or make impure by the addition of a foreign or inferior substance or element.”
Connected as they are, these references to the bastard (Deut. 23:2; Zech. 9:6; Heb. 12:7-8) appear in the old Latin texts as nothus, adulterinus, or adulter, alternatingly. The first is lifted directly from the Greek language and is subject to the definition of the foregoing Greek equivalent, nothos. Adulterinus is defined by the Old Oxford Latin Dictionary as: “1) adulterous, illicit; 2) counterfeit, forged, false; 3) impure, mixed, crossbred.” That dictionary similarly defines adulter as, “mixed, cross-bred.” Whereby we see it is the direct equivalent of our related English term, “adulterate” (to mix or pollute). On this subject, F.F. Bruce thought it important to include this note in his Hebrews commentary:
A classical parallel to ‘then are ye bastards, and not sons’ is supplied by Aristophanes, Birds 1650-2, ‘for you are illegitimate and no trueborn son, since your mother is a foreign woman,’ where, however, the nothos is the child of mixed marriage which was not recognized as legal in Athens of the fifth century B.C.5
It seems, therefore, that the author of Hebrews was in his use of the word nothos drawing not only upon biblical law, but also upon the Hellenic wisdom literature where it affirmed Christian concepts. He thus aligns squarely with the Pauline use of the heathen poets. Taken together, the only thing which all of these words – mamzer, nothos, nothus, adulterinus, adulter, mischling, and bastard – have in common is the concept of mongrelization.
The Bastard-Prohibition Applied
Matthew Henry contends that Deuteronomy 23 is the legal basis for Ezra and Nehemiah’s deportation of the mixed children from Israel, and that their prophetic adjudication of the matter, amounting to an infallible enactment, grants us a flawless interpretation of the law and its appropriate administration:
1. Some think they [non-Israelites] are hereby excluded from communicating with the people of God in their religious services. . . . 2. Others think they are hereby excluded from bearing office in the congregation: none of these must be elders or judges, lest the honour of the magistracy should thereby be stained. 3. Others think they are excluded only from marrying with Israelites. Thus the learned bishop Patrick inclines to understand it; yet we find that when this law was put in execution after the captivity they separated from Israel, not only the strange wives, but all the mixed multitude, see Neh. xiii. 1-2.6
Here, then, we see the correct interpretation of the insulary law conclusively settled by Ezra and Nehemiah. When this law of Deuteronomy 23 was announced by Nehemiah, the entirety of the mixed multitude – children included – was separated from Israel (Neh. 13:1-3). These reformers, with divine warrant, understood this mamzer-prohibition, including its qualifications concerning Moabites and Ammonites, to require the annulment of all mixed families. Neither were permitted in the “congregation of the Lord”; mongrels (bastards) had no right or inheritance in Israel.
Albeit, above we saw that the Moabites were kin to Israel, Moab being born of Lot. The same is true of Ammon, Moab’s brother (Gen. 19:38). The ten-generation ban on naturalization for Moabites and Ammonites (Deut. 23:3), therefore, was not strictly due to their genetic distance. Rushdoony, however, explains how their near relation was a part of the law’s rationale:
The reasons given for this are, first, we see that, although they were a people closely related by blood to the Hebrews, they sided with the Canaanites against their kin. They refused to provide Israel “with bread and water in the way,” as they moved from Egypt to the borders of Canaan. Second, Ammon and Moab hired Balaam to curse Israel (v. 4). Both countries were still aware of the faith of Israel and their own ancestral faith. For this reason, they sought out Balaam, who still had a semblance of Jehovah worship. They thus sinned with knowledge, in that they recognized the reality of the true faith while seeking a life in freedom from the true God.7
We see here that their offense against Israel was regarded so great precisely on account of their near relation to Israel, along with their knowledge of the true religion. Their collusion with the Canaanites amounted to more than the common polarizations of international politics: it was a severe betrayal by a nation allied to Israel by blood. That kin-hating treachery would exclude them from the open naturalization policy which would have otherwise obtained between them. Hence we see Deuteronomy 23 presenting us with a default, baseline restriction against all mamzerim, that is, all mongrels, along with a superadded restriction upon the Ammonites and Moabites, for whom the mamzer prohibition would not ordinarily apply, except for their grave treachery.
The Alienist, then, has no choice but to accept Deuteronomy 23’s racialist implications. Really, how can anyone keep a straight face while arguing that all the groups banned in Deuteronomy 23 have nothing to do with lineage? Whether every group was banned for racial reasons or not, and whether we’re speaking of a three- or ten-generation ban, the fact that it prohibits them for generations makes it a matter of lineage by definition. So even in the cases when the cause wasn’t a matter of lineage, the effect is.
Furthermore, the overarching narrative of the Israelite administration of the Canaanite ban shows Israel redundantly chastised of God for their alliances, covenants, and integration with Canaanites, as well as other non-Semitic peoples. This was irrespective of religious differences, for it occurred even when Ashdodites, Arabs, and Ammonites professed faith in the God of Israel:
[T]hey came to Zerubbabel and the heads of the fathers’ houses, and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we seek your God as you do; and we have sacrificed to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here” (Ezra 4:2; cf. Neh. 2:11).
If the matter at issue were their profession of faith, ancestry being entirely irrelevant, then it is difficult to imagine how this would not qualify them. How do Alienists deal with this passage? They conclude that these groups must have been lying. But the text nowhere says this. It speaks of them as enemies, so we can infer the Israelites’ distrust of them, but the relative honesty of their testimonies is not addressed directly. Instead, the prophets simply told these coalitioned multi-generational converts, “You may do nothing with us to build a house for our God” (Ezra 4:3). (Consider also Neh. 2:20: “You have no heritage, or right, or memorial in Jerusalem.”) But other than critiquing this Alienist hypothesis as an argument from silence, we see positive evidence of its falsity: 2 Kings 17:41 provides confirmation that though these peoples who settled there still, at the time of their relocation, had continued venerating carved images, they had yet come to “fear the Lord” as well. This is why the Samaritans built their temple after the pattern of the temple in Jerusalem: to retain what they believed was the observance of the Levitical law. After their expulsion from Jerusalem, these people coalesced into a nation of their own, the Samaritans; and when Jesus interacted with one of their descendants in John 4, the woman at the well confirmed that her people worshiped the God of Israel, though on Mount Gerizim rather than in Jerusalem, and that they awaited the Messiah. The Samaritans thus were the second nation to receive the witness of Christ.
And if the Scripture casts their historic faith in a state of tension – worship of the true God mingled with idolatry (2 Kings 17:41) – how does this differ from most Israelites? Though anecdotally referred to as “the sin of Jeroboam” (1 Kings 13:34),8 idolatry mingled with true worship was the norm throughout most of Israel’s history. We are not at liberty, therefore, to say that the strangers were excluded from Israelite citizenship merely on the grounds of their having an inferior confession when the Scripture itself says that their confession was at least as sound as that of most Israelites whose citizenship is not questioned. Israelites, it seems, were citizens regardless of their theology; the inverse corollary is that other races were likewise excluded from citizenship regardless of their confession, good or ill. Hence Matthew Henry remarks that among the reasons the Israelites rejected these foreigners’ aid is because they “are not true-born Israelites.”9 As a further demonstration of this same principle, after hearing the genealogies read aloud (Neh. 7) and then the laws pertaining to the exclusion of foreign races (Neh. 8), “those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners” (Neh. 9:2; cf. 13:1-3).
Unfortunately, these passages contain some mistranslated words which have caused many an Alienist to stumble: “heathen” and “pagan.” These terms are complete anachronisms without the least lexical warrant. The Hebrew and Greek terms which are translated in our Old Testament as “heathen” or “pagan” actually translate directly as “strange,” “foreign,” and other such terms. A common one from both canonical and apocryphal passages of the Septuagint is allogenes (ἀλλογενής). Greek scholars are in agreement that it is a composite of two words, allos (other) and genos (race); and this is confirmed by the Liddell-Scott-Jones Lexicon, Strong’s Greek Lexicon, and E.A. Sophocles’s Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine Periods,10 among others, to mean exactly what you would expect: “of another race.” It is this word, allogenes, which appears, among other places, in 1 Esdras 8:
[T]hey have not separated themselves from the allogene [other races] of this land, nor the akatharsias [physical and mental impurities] from the ethne [ethnicities]: the Canaanites, and Hittites, and Pheresites, and Jebusites, and Moabites, and Egyptians, and Edomites. For both they and their sons have lived with their daughters, and the separated seed is mixed with this ethne [ethnicity] of allogene [another race] of this land.
This was also the term invoked as a ward at the entrance of the inner court of the Temple in Jerusalem: “No man of another race may enter.” So too did this term define the wars of the Maccabees:
Now Jerusalem lay void as a wilderness, there was none of her children that went in or out: the sanctuary also was trodden down, and aliens [allogenon – lit. “other races”] kept the stronghold. The foreigners had their habitation in that place; and joy was taken from Jacob, and the pipe with the harp ceased (1 Maccabees 3:45).
Though the passage from 1 Esdras chapter 8 parallels the beginning of chapter 9 in the canonical book of Ezra, the word appearing in Ezra is not allogenes but allotrios. Albeit, since allotrios is defined as “foreign, alien, not of one’s own,” they are clearly close synonyms. This is even implied by the common root shared by both – allos – which Strong’s concordance renders “alien, or other.” So too does the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia outline the concept of the foreigner/stranger in the Septuagint with the synonyms, “allotrios, allogenes, xenos . . . unrecognizable . . . a people you do not know.”
Most importantly, however, we find Jesus Himself to have invoked the more overt term when speaking to the Samaritan leper, a descendant of the people expelled by the prophet Ezra:
Are there none to return to give glory to God, except this foreigner [allogenes, lit. “one of another race”]? (Luke 17:18)
If Christ quoted the Apocrypha on this point in regard to one of the very same category of people to whom the apocrypha applied the term, that designation and usage are clearly validated. And though Alienists insist that all references to foreignness in the text must be interpreted as a spiritual estrangement from God, Jesus’s interaction with the Samaritan refutes them directly, for He at once acknowledges both the Samaritan’s allogenes status and his saving faith, simultaneously. Then He dismisses the foreigner, bidding him “go his way,” which presupposes the propriety of his residence in Samaria and thus keeps with the rulings of Ezra and Nehemiah. Unquestionably, if Ezra and Nehemiah’s rulings were prophetically authoritative, the fact that they were sustained by Jesus’s own judicial review should banish any possible doubt. His tribunal is the highest court of appeal.
Moreover, by the same token and in the same degree did He thereby affirm His own purity of descent, for if it were otherwise – if He were a Samaritan (as the Jews accused Him in John 8) – He would fall under the same legal designation He had applied to the leper, allogenes: one of another race and therefore, judicially, a foreigner. This, according to the law of kin-rule (Deut. 1:13; 17:15), would conclusively rule Him out as a lawful claimant to the throne. All of which categorically precludes the possibility of His being of mixed race. By extension, then, so too does He absolve His ancestress, Rachab, of the charge.
Really, as much as the neo-churchmen might wish it otherwise, the books of Ezra and Nehemiah stand as an abiding witness which can neither be dismissed nor credibly interpreted as anything but ethnonationalist overtures. These reformers show the well-established legal basis for forbidding all bastards from attaining citizenship in Israel, much less kingship. Since Christ upheld the rulings of Ezra and Nehemiah, it is frankly impossible that He, as the heir apparent, could have been mixed with foreign blood, much less the specifically excluded blood of Canaanites. The bastard-prohibition vividly forbids any Canaanite ancestry on His part. It undoubtedly requires Rahab to be a Hebrew; and this is no mere appeal to one simple anti-Canaanite marital prohibition (which would be sufficient), but is grounded in an even larger ethnonationalist framework barring all mongrels from an inheritance in Israel.
If there is no necessity for the Alienist interpretation of Rahab as a Canaanite, but rather every reason to regard it as an impossibility, the Alienist’s position can only be regarded as a willful distortion of the royal genealogy at the expense of Christ’s honor. This evinces something significant: in their zeal to supplant the Christian World Order in exchange for the Marxian New World Order, they swear service to a different gospel – a nebulous gospel of equality. For they regard Christ as essentially beholden to egalitarianism, and will accept no Christ who does not bow the knee to what is, in their minds, the ultimate good. They unequivocally reject the blood-heir, Jesus Christ, in favor of a bastard-christ, a usurper, little different from the Idumean Herods who usurped the throne in the first century. They have little else to say of the biblical Christ, it seems, but, “Crucify Him!”
We traditional Christians continue to reply in the words of St. Paul, that “we could wish that we ourselves were accursed from Christ for the sake of our kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:3). May God open their eyes.
- Matthew Henry, commentary on Joshua 2 ↩
- William Brown, The History of the Propagation of Christianity Among the Heathen Since the Reformation, Vol. II, p. 346. ↩
- The University of Michigan has a searchable version of Luther’s German Bible, which shows Deut. 23:2 and Zech. 9:6 as the two instances of mischling for mamzer. ↩
- Click on “LSJ” to pull up the relevant information. ↩
- F.F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, Hebrews 12, p. 358 ↩
- Matthew Henry’s commentary on Deuteronomy 23. Curiously, Henry goes on to contend that the Israelites could have permissibly married these foreign women if fully converted, but he argues that the same was not true of the foreign men, who were marriageable to Israelite women only if they were naturalized “as here provided,” that is, according to these Deuteronomic laws of generational assimilation. John Gill states that the argument for this position is the usage of “Ammonite” and “Moabite” rather than “Ammonitess” and “Moabitess,” signifying that the prohibition applied particularly to men; but Gill’s appeal for this interpretation is rabbinic, and indeed, this is a characteristically Talmudic utilization of unintended contrasts to permit various loopholes which the text’s spirit forbids. At any rate, I do not see either of these points in the text, both given that Ezra and Nehemiah interpret the law as forbidding intermarriage with foreign nations as such, and given the ethnic description of separation from the strange wives and the mixed multitude, no exceptions being made for any believing wives or federally sanctified children (cf. 1 Cor. 7:14). The crucial point, here, is Henry’s recognition that Ezra and Nehemiah saw the application of this law, including the v. 2 prohibition on mamzerim, in the annulment of the families formed through such prohibited intermarriage. ↩
- R.J. Rushdoony, Commentaries on the Pentateuch, Volume V: Deuteronomy, p. 343 ↩
- http://www.opc.org/nh.html?article_id=737 ↩
- Matthew Henry, commentary on Ezra 4. Henry also speaks of Israel’s adversaries as not being “true worshippers of God,” but as I argue here, this could not be singularly sufficient to explain Israel’s rejection of their offer. Their foreign relation was also an independent reason. ↩
- Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine Periods, p. 117, entry άλλογενής ↩