Thinking About Intermarriage – Deuteronomy 7-8

Read Deuteronomy 7-8

The Bible offers a negative view on intermarriage. Yet, the intermarriage in Scripture is not the intermarriage that Americans picture. Let me explain.

When Americans hear “intermarriage”, most incorrectly assume we are referencing “interracial” marriage. Until 1967, when the Supreme Court banned such laws, there were sixteen states within our nation that had laws prohibiting black-white interracial marriages. But the issue in today’s reading (7:3-4) is not about interracial marriage, but rather marriage between believers and unbelievers.

In Numbers 12:1-6, Moses’ siblings (Miriam and Aaron), opposed him for marrying a woman from Cush. Without question, this woman from Cush was a black woman; Cush was an area south of Egypt (see Jeremiah 13:23). When they married, Miriam and Aaron spoke against this because she was a black African woman. But God’s anger burned against these two (Numbers 12:9), and God changed Miriam’s skin to temporarily humble her. God made His will known that He is okay with interracial marriage. As we move into the New Testament, we learn that among those who are found in Christ, racial distinctions are insignificant because we have Christ in common (Colossians 3:9-11).

When we arrive in Deuteronomy, we have God’s word against intermarriage, marriage between believers and unbelievers. God commanded the Israelites to drive out and destroy the current inhabitants of the land. The Hebrew people were not to marry anyone who currently lived in the Promised Land, “for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.” (Deuteronomy 7:4)

Later, in 21:10-14, God permits the Hebrews to make peace and to marry people from outside the Promised Land. So, these limits on marriage only applied to the evil people in the land that Israel was about to own. The limit had nothing to do with race. God wanted His people to stay true to Him, and He knew that marrying a nonbeliever would change their loyalty.

Michael Slater