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TOM - Just curious how you handle people in the Bible marrying close blood relatives. Like Abraham and Sarah for example? I'm assuming the culture was very very different back then, and I'm hoping these marriages didn't take a genetic toll on offspring. Adam and Eve and their kids is easier for me to understand. But in the case of others where it doesn't seem like they have to marry siblings and cousins etc. ...why did they? How can I understand this better? How can men of God be involved in such marriages?

JOEL - There have been a few different explanations for this. For example, in the case of Abraham who married his half sister Sarah, the Bible says:

“Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will kill me on account of my wife. But indeed she is truly my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife."()

Then we see in Deuteronomy 27:22 where it says:
‘Cursed is the one who lies with his sister, the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’

Some explain that the law of Moses as described in Deuteronomy wasn't given until 400 years after Abraham married Sarah, so at the time he was not violating the law of Moses and his marriage would fall under the same allowance as the children of Adam and Eve marrying each other.

Others point to the fact that the terms sister and brother can have different meanings, the same as father and son. Jesus was called the son of David (Matt. 21:15) but meaning of course that He was a decendant of David. Sister might just mean a near relative such as a granddaughter on Abraham's father’s side, or even a niece or grand niece. Abraham and Haran, Sarah’s father, were brothers, therefore Sarah was actually Abraham’s niece but could also be called his sister. (See also Genesis 14:14, in which Lot, Abraham’s nephew, is called “his brother.”) This might explain other simiar situations in the Bible.

Things like this make it pretty confusing sometimes. I don't know of any scripture that relates any genetic infirmaties with such marriages. Even with these explanations it still doesn't really tell us why they would marry such close relatives, except to understand that this was a very common thing to do in ancient cultures and that we live by different laws today that makes it hard for us to comprehend why they would do such things. Also to keep in mind that God gives us laws "line upon line" as we are ready to receive them.

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