This post is a response to a comment on my last. I’m not referencing the whole comment (& I’m not ‘approving’ it).
Colin wrote, “As for ethnicity in the Old Testament, when you look at the LXX, Genesis 46:3 reads “God will make you a great ethnos.” Exodus 19:6 Israel, “a holy ethnos” Psalm 105:5 says Israel is “your [God’s] ethnos” Jeremiah 31:36 “Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,” declares the LORD, “will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be an ethnos before me.” The Jewish people are the descendants of Biblical Israel, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Foreigners were welcome to join, but the community retained its ethnic identity. The Levites, the house of Zadok etc all trace their identity to a people group within Israel.
Hope this helps”
As to Zadok, that is genetically questionable. It’s a case of self-identification that cannot be proved. And the claim that the presence of foreigners didn’t compromise ‘ethnic identity’ is unsupportable.
OK. one final attempt on the theology. ‘A text without a context is a pretext for a proof text’. I don’t know who coined that but they are right. Someone else has pointed out that ‘the precise meaning of a word depends on the sentence in which is appears’. That may be extended for the sentence and paragraph, and paragraph and chapter…
First, ‘ethnicity’. It’s a lot more complicated than that. It is not just a word in its sentence but what that word would have meant to the LXX translators 2200 years ago. In the Hebrew it is the same word typically translated as ‘goy’ i.e. ‘heathen’ or ‘pagan’. Thus we cannot transliterate simply to ‘ethnic’ or ‘people group’ in our modern understanding. ‘ethnikos’ in the sense we usually take it is relatively recent, (c. 18th century).
Given that caution we read Genesis 46 carefully. Here all God is doing is encouraging Jacob on his journey to join Joseph in Egypt. We cannot prioritize this text over e.g. Gen. 28 or 17 & 18.
You claim that in Exodus 19:6 God calls Israel, “a holy ethnos” but that simply is not what the text is about. Moses is to remind the Israelites of what happened to the Egyptians, and say, “Now therefore if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.” So, yes, a holy nation, but only on the basis of obedience and covenant keeping. Nor can we ignore the intention behind the ‘priestly kingdom’. This surely serves to remind Israel of her obligation to bless the peoples (gui) in righteousness and justice, (compare 1 Peter 2).
Your Psalm reference appears to be wrong; so let’s look very briefly at Jeremiah, where once again context is ignored.
The first question is, what is meant by the ‘offspring of Israel’. It is surely inconceivable that this could include any unrighteous person, so the concept ‘people’ or ‘nation’ must be nuanced both with regard to a language 2600 years old, and to God’s purpose in redemption. Then, the immediate context is the ‘new covenant’ which is clearly a different, better, covenant than the ‘covenant that they broke’, (see the whole of the New Testament). The promise commencing chapter 31 depends on righteousness, (as always) and we must note it is God’s action (I will, I am, etc.) and it is ‘a remnant’ therefore not the whole. We have here, as in Romans, a radical redefinition of who is ‘in’ (cf e.g. Matt. 3:9-10).
And, lacking context, the beginning of the chapter begs the question, ‘what time?’ The previous chapter speaks of restoration, so read the whole, but notice the ‘prince’ who dares approach the Lord. On which basis “you shall be my people and I will be your God”. So, who is this prince who is ‘one of their own’? We are here surely here seeing the same idea as in chapters 23 and 33, (MT but not LXX) the righteous ‘Branch’ who will rule justly. With the context supplied we have a ‘people’ and a king but they are not defined by DNA. Five times the prophet Isaiah uses ‘On that day’ in chapter 19 concluding , ‘Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of Hosts has blessed saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my heritage”. In Isaianic terms, that’s global. But, again, check the context.
In scripture, both testaments, the people of God is defined not by blood but by behaviour, specifically, faith. It is clear from the covenant, and from the prophets that God will redeem his creation through His Chosen, quite specifically, that ‘remnant’ who show covenant obedience. They are those, both Jew and Gentile following Jesus, the Jewish yet cosmic Messiah.