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You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother. You shall not abhor an Egyptian, because you were an alien in his land. The children of the third generation born to them may enter the assembly of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 23:7-8)

The distinction made between two groups of people — Moab and Ammon on one hand and Edom and Egypt on the other — is interesting. For instance, the latter group is permitted to enter the congregation of the LORD after the 3rd generation as opposed to ten generations for those of Ammon and Moab. That is interesting because both the Edomites and the Egyptians were historically hostile toward Israel. Egypt enslaved Israel for many decades and both nations were guilty of killing Israelites. So why is there an extended prohibition where Ammon and Moab are concerned?

While bondage and persecution is deplorable to say the least, it is still different with Edom and Egypt in comparison to Moab and Ammon. Yes, the Edomites and Egyptians killed Israelites at times, but God reminds them that “Esau is your brother” and you were but “a guest in Egypt.” On the other hand, Moab and Ammon caused Israel to sin — something that has far greater potential to destroy God’s people.

There have always been those among God’s people who had to surrender their lives in service to Him — some simply because they were hunted down and murdered; others because they willingly laid down their lives rather than succumbing to idolatry and other such sins against the God of Heaven. While this scenario is never desirable, at the same time, it has never led to the overall destruction of God’s people. To the contrary, in spite of it, Am Yisrael Chai — “the people of Israel live!”

Yet, if Israel falls into sin and remains in that rut for any length of time, God Himself is forced to become their adversary; not to destroy them but to provoke them to repentance. And so it is far better to fall into the hands of angry men than it is to fall into the hands of an angry God. As it is written, “God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11) and so why would we want to live in that condition? Therefore, let us remember that men can only do us harm to a certain point but God, the Judge of the whole earth, has far greater power. As Messiah said: “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

Blessings and Shalom,  




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