Biblical Principle #229: Persons Excluded from Israel’s Assembly

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Under the Law of Moses, certain individuals were forbidden from joining Israel’s assembly of GOD.


Among the children of Israel, certain individuals were seemingly permitted to remain in covenant with GOD, yet they were excluded from participating when the people assembled before the LORD.

2 “The eunuch and the castrated man shall not enter the assembly of the Lord. 3 The child of a prostitute shall not enter the assembly of the Lord.

Deuteronomy 23:2-3 OSB

This exclusion extended to the Ammonites and Moabites:

4 “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord forever, 5 because they did not meet you with bread and water when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Mesopotamia to curse you. 6 Nevertheless, the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam, but the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loved you. 7 You shall not address them with peaceful words and good wishes all your days forever.

Deuteronomy 23:4-7 OSB

Lastly, first and second generation Edomites (descendants of Esau, Israel’s brother) and Egyptians were excluded, but subsequent generations could participate:

8 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. 9 The sons of the third generation born to them may enter the assembly of the Lord.

Deuteronomy 23:8-9 OSB

We have previously established that GOD is holy and that GOD designed proper order for how life should work. As we seek to understand why GOD would exclude these groups of people from the assembly, we must look to their attributes.

GOD designed men to produce seed and bear children. A eunuch and a castrated man had become unable to function in the way GOD designed, and, in this manner, could be seen by GOD as “blemished.”

GOD designed sex to be within the marriage relationship only. A child born as a result of prostitution is a consequence of a couple’s sinful choices.

The child is innocent of that sin, but the child would not exist at that time had that sin not been committed. In this way, GOD could see excluding the child from the assembly as an object lesson to Israel of His view toward prostitution and fornication.

In the case of the Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, and Egyptians, we see the significance GOD places upon how His children are treated, and how He remembers that and truly repays that in many subsequent generations. As He warned Israel at Mount Sinai:

5 … I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, recompensing the sins of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me; 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

Exodus 20:5b-6 OSB

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