Commentary on Deuteronomy 23:2
In the King James Version, Deuteronomy 23:2 reads, “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.” In The New Jerusalem Bible, it reads, “No half-bred may be admitted to the assembly of the Yahweh; not even his descendants to the tenth generation may be admitted to the Assembly of Yahweh.”
The word translated “bastard” in the KJV and “half-bred” in the NJB is mamzêr, which Strong (4464) defines as “a mongrel.” Thus, according to Deuteronomy 23:2, God prohibits mongrels (mamzêr) from entering into His congregation or assembly. God values racial purity so much that He does not want a racially mixed person to be part of His congregation or assembly.
Mamzêr occurs in one other place in the Bible and that is in Zechariah 9:6: “And a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.” Whereas, the King James Version translates it as “bastard,” The New Jerusalem Bible translates this word as “half-breed.”
Several translations follow the King James Version in translating mamzêr as “bastard” in both Deuteronomy and Zechariah. The following translations translate mamzêr as “bastard” in Deuteronomy; however, they translate mamzêr as “stranger” or “foreigner” in Zechariah: the Geneva Bible, the Jubilee Bible 2000, the Living Bible, the New Revised Standard Version, the Young's Literal Translation, and the Lamsa Translation. Why do these translations translate mamzêr differently in these two passages? In any event, “stranger” and “foreigner” generally refer to a person of a different race. However, that any of these translations intended to reference a person of a different race in the biological sense as opposed to the nationality sense is doubtful.
Many translations erroneously translate mamzêr as a person of “illegitimate birth,” “illicit birth,” “illegitimate or unlawful marriage,” “forbidden marriage,” “born out of wedlock,” or a similar phrase in Deuteronomy. Some of these translations translate mamzêr as “stranger” or “foreign” in Zechariah: the International Children’s Bible, the New Century Version, and the World English Bible. Most of them correctly translate mamzêr as “mongrel,” “mixed people,” “mixed race,” “half-breed,” or a similar phrase in Zechariah: the Amplified Bible, the Amplified Bible Classic Edition, the Contemporary English Version, the English Standard Version, the English Standard Version Anglicised, the Expanded Bible, the GOD’S WORD Translation, the Good News Translation, Holman Christian Standard Bible, the Lexham English Bible, the Modern English Version, the Names of God Bible, the New American Standard Bible, the New English Translation, the New International Version, the New International Version - UK, the New King James Version, the New Life Version, the New Living Translation, the New Revised Standard Version, the New Revised Standard Version Anglicised, the New Revised Standard Version Anglicised Catholic Edition, and the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition. Why the different translations of mamzêr in these two verses? Are they attempting to deceive? As shown below, mamzêr does not mean born of an illegitimate marriage or born out of wedlock, although interracial marriages are illicit.
Several commentators believe that mamzêr refers to a child born of an incestuous union in Deuteronomy 23:2 and to a mixed race people in Zechariah 9:6. In his commentary, Gore defines mamzêr or “bastard” in Deuteronomy as probably “the offspring of an incestuous union or of one within the prohibited degrees of affinity.” According to him, it does not mean born out of wedlock. However, in Zechariah, he defines mamzêr as “a mixed breed, a rabble population of half-casts instead of proud Philistines.”
Laymon in his commentary agrees with Gore on Deuteronomy 23:2. However, he adds “presumably it means any child of an illicit union.” Does he include interracial unions as the Bible clearly treats these unions as illicit?
Likewise, Peake defines mamzêr in Deuteronomy as the offspring of an incestuous union. As do most other commentators, he defines mamzêr in Zechariah as a mongrel race.
Dummelow defines mamzêr in Deuteronomy as one “not born out of wedlock (Jephthah was such, Jg 11:1), but the child of adultery or incest.” Was not Jephthah born out of adultery? According to Dummelow, mamzêr in Zechariah probably refers to “a son of a mixed race.”
Following the above commentators, Pfeiffer believes that mamzêr in Deuteronomy refers to a child of an incestuous union, and in Zechariah it refers to a mixed people. Likewise, Eiselen believes that mamzêr in Deuteronomy refers to a child of an incestuous union.
“Bastard” means not only illegitimate, but also mongrel or spurious. (A mongrel child is illegitimate because racially mixed relations are scripturally illegitimate.) Those who object to this translation of mamzêr as “mongrel” claim that it means (1) one born of an incestuous relationship, (2) one born out of wedlock, or (3) one born of a prostitute. Someone born of one of these illicit relationships is denied entry into God’s congregation. The Bible refutes these suppositions.
According to Leviticus 18:15 and 20:12, incest is a father having sexual intercourse with his daughter-in-law. Judah had such a relationship with his daughter-in-law Tamar (Genesis chapter 38). Perez (Pharez) resulted from this illicit union. Aaron’s sons were descendants of Perez (see 1 Chronicles 2:4-10, Exodus 6:23, and Numbers 3:2-3). They participated in God’s congregation. Descendants of an incestuous relationship are not banned from God’s congregation. Thus, supposition one is eliminated.
Jephthah, who is listed as a hero of Israel (Hebrews 11:32-34), was born of a prostitute and out of wedlock. In Judges 11:1-2, Jephthah is described as the son of Gilead and a prostitute. The sons of Gilead by his lawful wife threw out their half-brother Jephthah to prevent him from inheriting any of their father’s property because Jephthah was the son of a whore. Judges and Hebrews identify Jephthah as part of God’s congregation. Being born out of wedlock or of a prostitute does not ban one from God’s congregation. Thus, supposition two and three are eliminated.
If one of these three suppositions is true, then the Bible contradicts itself. As the Bible does not and cannot contradict itself, mamzêr cannot refer to someone born of an incestuous relationship, born out of wedlock, or born of a prostitute. It can mean only one thing — mongrel. Mamzêr is a mongrel, a racially mixed person. According to Deuteronomy 23:2, a racially mixed person is not to enter God’s congregation.
God abhorred the racially mixed so much under the Old Testament disposition that He prohibited them from entering His congregation. What God abhorred under the Old Testament disposition, surely He abhors under the New Testament disposition. God does not change (Malachi 3:6). If He contemned the racially mixed under the Old Testament disposition, surely He contemns the racially mixed under the New Testament disposition. He did and He does, for He does not change.
When Jesus ruled the minds of man, parents detested their children marrying outside their race. Now that Martin Luther King rules the minds of man, parents find their children marrying outside their race acceptable and often admirable. Thus, the sin that God abhors so greatly that He will not let the product of that sin into His assembly is no longer considered a sin. As a result, the races are committing genocide via breeding themselves out of existence.
1. James Strong, A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Hebrew Bible with Their Rendering in the Authorized English Version (Madison, New Jersey, 1890), p. 67.
2. See “Stranger in the Old Testament” by Thomas Allen.
3. Charles Gore, Henry L. Goudge, and Alfred Guillaume, editors, A New Commentary on Holy Scripture (New York: The Macmillian Co., 1928), p. 163.
4. Gore, p. 619.
5. Laymon, Charles M., ed., The Interpreter’s One-volume Commentary on the Bible (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1971), p. 114.
6. See, Integration Is Genocide, False Biblical Teachings on the Origins of the Races and Interracial Marriages, and “The Bible, Segregation, and Miscegenation” all by Thomas Allen.
7. Peake, Arthur S., ed., A Commentary on the Bible (New York: Thomas Nelson & Sons, n.d.), p. 240.
8. Dummelow, J.R., ed., A Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1936), p. 132.
9. Dummelow, p. 607.
10. Pfeiffer, Charles F., ed., The Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1962), p. 186.
11. Pfeiffer, p. 906.
12. Frederick Carl Eiselen, Edwin Lewis, and David G. Downey, editors, The Abingdon Bible Commentary (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1929), p. 335.
Copyright © 2017 by Thomas Coley Allen.
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