9.3 -- Is the Bible Racist, Cont?
c. And, on the other hand, what some Israelites despised, a few pagan outsiders were attracted to -- and were accepted. These are the exceptions to the general rule of Gentile exclusion, and they occurred at every period except the Exile and post-Exile. Some former outsiders were even found in the lineage of Jesus Christ. Their inclusion not only adulterated the purity of the tribal bloodlines, but transgressed the Law's dictates on marriage. Two tribes of Israel were born of an Egyptian mother, Asenath. In addition, we have mentioned Zipporah the Midianite, Rahab the Canaanite, Ruth the Moabite, Naaman the Syrian (who did not join Israel but took with him some of its dirt), a few of David's Thirty. We must also recall that the antagonism of Israel to the surrounding hostile nations -- Moab, Philistia, Midian -- was offset by a continuous command of God to show hospitality to the "sojourner" or the "alien." This requirement supercedes any one epoch: it can be found in the original declaration of the Law, and as late as the major prophets. Metaphorically speaking, there were two contradictory signs posted on the borders of Israel: "No Trespassing" and "Welcome." Maybe it was just one sign: "Welcome -- No Trespassing." Foreigners who were willing to live among the Jews according to Jewish rules could not only do so, but were granted equal legal rights with Israelites. But woe to those who lived among the Israelites and retained their traditional religions and standards of conduct: these were treated as the enemies of God.
d. What was it that made Israel distinct from all other peoples of the earth? Superior DNA? A higher level of culture? Larger brain capacity? The Bible is clear that it had nothing to do with the usual claims of racial supremacists. The glory of Israel was God in their midst.
"Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth!" (Ps 50:2 RSV).
"I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory" (Eze 43:2).
This Presence was not an achievement of man, but a gift of God, and it could be revoked. And indeed, it was: permanently, for northern Israel; temporarily, for Judah. But this means that the Jews themselves did not "possess" superiority in the way claimed by American white slaveowners in the 19th Century, or British officials of the Raj in India. The "Holy People" were not holy in themselves, but they could claim proximity to the One who was. Israel was meant to be a sign to the rest of the world that God was in their midst. The corollary of this is that those who opposed the progress of the Israelites in Old Testament times, and those who today deny the accuracy of the Bible's historical record, are not really opposing the Jews. What they are really saying, both ancient Moabites and modern universalists, is "God is not with you, the Bible is not God's Word to man, it is a faulty and biased concoction of myths and bogus commands purportedly from God." Likewise, the heart of anti-Semitism, the motivating spirit, is not accusations of Jewish plots and money-lending, killing Christ and drinking blood. Rather, it is the denial of the central message of the Scriptures, which is the Presence of God manifested uniquely in Israel.