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Genesis 24:37 NASB

My master made me swear, saying, ‘You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live; 38 but you shall go to my father’s house and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son.’

If it were idolatry that Abraham wanted to shield Isaac from since his ancestors are clearly attested as worshipers of idols.God had actually removed Abraham from his kinfolks in order to deal with idolatry.

Joshua 24:2 NASB

Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: ‘From ancient times your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates River, namely, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods.

We are further told that even during that time of Rebecca they still worshiped idols as alluded to in the discourse between Laban and Jacob in the book of Genesis.

Genesis 31:31-32 NASB

Then Jacob replied to Laban, “Because I was afraid, for I thought that you would take your daughters from me by force. 32 The one with whom you find your gods shall not live; in the presence of our relatives [s]point out what is yours [t]among my belongings and take it for yourself.” Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.

It seems idolatry had not stopped with their ancestors but had continued with the other generations

Why then did Abraham insist that Isaac marry from his kinfolks?

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4 Answers 4

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Despite being idolater pagans, the people of Sumerian kingdom were far more civilized and cultured than the demonic wild tribes like Amorites, Canaanites, Sodom and Gomorrah. You are comparing the two with oversimplification, with an assumption that all idolaters are essentially the same. This is like the naive view that all Muslims are the same around the world. Sumerian civilization gave the world the first written laws, wheel and written language.

Abraham was born in the 3rd dynasty of Ur which was founded around 2040 B.C. by King Ur-Nammu who wrote a law code, making it the oldest known law code in existence. It preceded Hammurabi’s law code by 300 years. The culture was highly sophisticated. At the top were the priests and scribes. Then there were the artisans, physicians, merchants, and farmers. At the bottom were the slaves who were comprised of captured foreigners. Lavish tombs have been found where the royal members of society were buried.

The Mesopotamian civilization can be compared to the Romans. The wild wicked tribes like Amorites are to be seen as the German barbarians, or even the Nazi Germany. Or compare Abraham with the European settler in the New World of America. You wouldn't possibly compare the wicked native tribes with the persecuting kinsmen of the Europe from where they escaped to receive the new promised land.

Moreover, you will naturally trust your friendly kinsmen who are about 2200 miles away, rather than the abominable bloodthirsty enemies who live on your neck, for the sake of political hindsight and common sense alone. The only way possible to get a virgin from the abominable tribes for marriage was after completely exterminating them, and Abraham was in no condition to do that yet (Judges 21:11, Numbers 31:17).

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  • Which mod is demanding an evidence for this answer. Bother to be specific in your desperate complain on asking evidence or ref.
    – Michael16
    Jul 17, 2022 at 8:03
  • Gen 24:31 and Gen 24:50 also hints that Laban and Bethuel where at leas to some degree God fearing people. Mar 27, 2023 at 20:16
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Note chapter 24 begins with

Abraham was now very old, and the Lord had blessed him in every way.

I think the key is not he saw the Canaanite worship idol, or he thought his own relatives were better. He did it simply because he trust the Lord.

Let's review these verses that confirm Abraham's obedience.

5 The servant asked him, “What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land? Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from?”

6 “Make sure that you do not take my son back there,” Abraham said.

7 “The Lord, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’—he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there.

Verse 7 has two observations

  1. Abraham trust the Lord had given Canaan to his offspring
  2. Abraham trust the angel of the Lord would guide his servant to find the wife for Isaac.

It can be observed the action was not according to his will, but his trust to God.

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Kinship was crucial in ancient tribal societies, not just among the Israelites. According to Gabriel Andrade in The Transformation of Kinship in the New Testament

In the sphere of kinship, the Old Testament and Ancient Judaism present great similarities with the rest of ancient religions. Ancient Israel’s social organization is typical of many ancient societies: the society is differentiated among twelve “tribes,” each claiming a common ancestor. Apart from their common monotheistic faith, the Hebrews appealed to kinship in order to hold together their national identity: they all descend from Jacob. Kinship is the core of most of their daily activities, their political organization and territorial distribution.

The pattern of seeking wives among close relatives continues throughout Genesis.

  • Abraham marries his half-sister Sarah
  • Isaac marries his cousin Rebekah
  • Jacob marries his cousins Leah and Rachel
  • Esau causes grief to his parents when he marries two Hittite women and then tries to rectify the situation by marrying his relative, a daughter of Abraham's son Ishmael.

For Abraham, the feeling of being separate and unrelated to his neighbors persisted for decades, even after the death of his wife Sarah:

Abraham rose up from before his dead, and said to the Hittites, “I am a stranger and a sojourner among you; give me property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” (Gen. 23:3-4)

It would only be in the time of Jacob that Israelites finally began to intermarry with God's apparent blessing, when Judah matched his son to the Canaanite Tamar (Gen. 28). She eventually became the mother of the key tribe of Judah. In the same generation, Jacob's son Joseph married Asenath,the daughter of an Egyptian priest (Genesis 41:45). She became the foremother of the key northern tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.

The issue of idolatry does figure in the question, but in Tamar and Asenath's cases the traditional understanding is that they adopted the monotheistic customs of their husbands. Thus the reason Abraham insisted on Isaac marrying within his clan is that in those days, kinship was crucial.

Even in Jacob's time, the Israelites did not find a safe home among their neighbors. The Bible tells us that they eventually emigrated to Egypt and were enslaved there. They would remember their time as strangers even when they finally entered the promised land for good:

And you shall make response before the Lord your God, ‘A wandering Aramean was my father; and he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number; and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous.' (Deut. 26:5-7)

The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:34)

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It is because Abraham knew that the land of Canaan will be his descendants' land hence marrying people of the land will provide the opposite effect to God's promises.

The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father's home, and go to a land that I am going to show you. (Genesis 12:1 GNT)

I am going to give you and your descendants all the land that you see, and it will be yours forever. (Genesis 13:15 GNT)

It will be four generations before your descendants come back here, because I will not drive out the Amorites until they become so wicked that they must be punished. (Genesis 15:16 GNT)

If Isaac were to marry someone in that land, then will become a hindrance to the work of driving out its inhabitants.

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