The Meaning of Mamzer
Bastard Child or Name of a Nation?

by Melech ben Ya'aqov

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Q: How can HaElohim (God) be so unfair! He excludes a bastard child from the congregation of Yehowah until even the tenth generation (Deuteronomy 23:2). What did that child ever do to deserve such a punishment?

A: HaElohim is not unfair. Read on to understand the surprising reason why.

Sitvanit (early autumn flower) in the Jerusalem Forest, Israel | © Melech ben Ya'aqov, Karaite Insights
Sitvanit (early autumn flower) in the Jerusalem Forest, Israel


What really is a Mamzer?

The word “mamzer” is understood by the Rabbis as “bastard”, but not in the sense that it is generally used in modern English. Rather, by Rabbinical definition, a mamzer refers to the child of parents who violated one or more of the laws of Leviticus 18 or Leviticus 20 while conceiving the child. These can be generally be referred to as the laws of incest and adultery.

Leviticus 18:6: “No person shall approach a close relative to expose nakedness. I am Yehowah.”

Leviticus 18:20: “Regarding your fellow Israelite’s wife, you shall not engage in vaginal sex or release semen inside her vagina to become unclean through her.”

Thus, by the Rabbinical definition, a mamzer is the child of an incestuous or adulterous relationship. Indeed, the Jewish Encyclopedia (1901-1906) renders mamzer as:

“… Something worse than an illegitimate child. He is the offspring of a father and mother between whom there could be in law no binding betrothal: issuing either from adultery between a married woman and a man other than her husband, or from incest within the forbidden degrees of kinship or affinity. …”

According to the Rabbis, such a child and his descendants are excluded from the assembly of Yehowah by the Torah:

Deuteronomy 23:2: “A mamzer shall not enter into the assembly of Yehowah; even the tenth generation shall not enter into the assembly of Yehowah.”

The problem with this definition of mamzer is that it has no basis in scripture. Rather, “Mamzer” is most likely the proper name of an ancient nation which lived in the land of Israel — like Moav, Ammon and the Phillistines. But don’t take my word for it; let’s examine the evidence:

The word mamzer appears only twice in the entire Tanach; the first time in Deuteronomy 23:2, as we saw above. Let’s examine the surrounding verses to better understand the context:

Deuteronomy 23:1-8: “[1] He whose testicles have been crushed or whose penis has been cut off may not enter into the assembly of Yehowah. [2] A Mamzer may not enter into the assembly of Yehowah; even the tenth generation may not enter into the assembly of Yehowah. [3] An Ammonite or a Moabite may not enter into the assembly of Yehowah; even the tenth generation and beyond may not enter into the assembly of Yehowah, [4] because they did not run out to meet you with food and water on your way out of Egypt and because they hired Bala’am the son of Be’or from Pethor in Aram Naharayim against you, to curse you. [5] But Yehowah your Elohim did not wish to listen to Bala’am, and Yehowah your Elohim turned the curse into a blessing for you, because Yehowah your Elohim loves you. [6] Do not seek their peace nor their good, all of your days, forever. [7] But you shall not abhor an Edomite, because he is your brother, and you shall not abhor an Egyptian, because you were a stranger in his land. [8] So the children of the third generation that are born to them may enter into the assembly of Yehowah.”1

The second, and final, appearance of the word mamzer occurs in Zachariyah 9:6. Once again, the surrounding verses are included for context:

Zachariyah 9:1-7: “[1] The heavy burden of the word of Yehowah. In the land of Hadrach and in Damascus shall be His resting place. For Yehowah has His eye on man and all the tribes of Israel. [2] And Hamath shall also border on it, and Zor and Zidon, for she is very wise. [3] And Zor built herself a stronghold, and hoarded silver like dust and fine gold like the dirt in the streets. [4] Behold, my Master will disinherit her and He will destroy her army in the sea, and she shall be consumed by fire. [5] Ashkelon will see this and fear; Gaza also, and shall be greatly afraid; and Ekron, and her expectations shall be dashed; and the king of Gaza will be destroyed, and Ashkelon shall become uninhabited. [6] And Mamzer shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines. [7] And I will take the blood out of his mouth, and the insects out from between his teeth, and he also shall remain for our Elohim, and he shall be as a chief in Judah, and Ekron as a Jebusite.”

Consider the following points:

1. In both occurrences of the word mamzer (Deuteronomy 23:2 and Zacariyah 9:6), adjacent verses mention specific nations or their major cities. (Major cities are often synonymous in the Tanach with the nations living in them.) In Deuteronomy 23, the Ammonite, Moabite, Edomite and Egyptian are all mentioned along with the Mamzer. In Zekharia 9, the list includes Zor, Zidon, Ashkelon, Gaza, the Phillistines, etc.

2. The linguistic style of Deuteronomy 23:2 — which excludes Mamzer from the assembly of Yehowah, “even the tenth generation” — is precisely parallel to the linguistic style of Deuteronomy 23:3, which excludes Ammon and Moav from the Assembly of Yehowah, “even the tenth generation”. It is also parallel in style to 23:8, which excludes Edom and Egypt up to “the children of the third generation”.

3. By contrast, Deuteronomy 23:2 is not parallel in style to the verse which precedes it, namely Deuteronomy 23:1, which excludes “he that is crushed or maimed in his private parts” from the assembly of Yehowah. In Deuteronomy 23:1, no number of generations is mentioned. This is further evidence that, stylistically, verse 2 belongs with the verses excluding nations from the Assembly of Yehowah, not with the verse excluding people with deformities.2

4. The rendering of mamzer as “bastard” does not at all fit the context of Zekharia 9:6, which speaks about the defeat of various nations. If mamzer is to be translated as “bastard”, then verses 5-6 read, “Ashkelon will see this and fear; Gaza also, and shall be greatly afraid; and Ekron, and her expectations shall be dashed; and the king of Gaza will be destroyed, and Ashkelon shall become uninhabited. And the bastard will dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.”

This is nonsensical.

On the other hand, if Mamzer is understood as the name of a nation, then both Deuteronomy 23:2 and Zachariyah 9:6 make perfect sense. As we shall see, the Rabbinical commentators pick up on this inconsistency and attempt, in a very contrived fashion, to reconcile the simple meaning of Mamzer with the traditional Rabbinical understanding.


Rabbinical Commentary on Mamzer

It is interesting to note that the traditional Karaite understanding of Mamzer is admitted to by a number of well-known Rabbanite commentators. The medieval Rabbinical commentator Avraham ben Ibn Ezra3, in his commentary on Zachariyah 9:6, cites a Rabbi Yehuda ben Bila’am, who says about the word Mamzer, “This is the name of a nation.” Ibn Ezra then goes on to disagree with Rabbi ben Bila’am and attempts, in a contrived manner, to reconcile the text in Zachariyah 9:6 with the traditional Rabbinical understanding. His assertion: the bastard will indeed dwell in Ashdod because it is the bastards of Israel who will be settled in the vanquished cities of the Phillistines (i.e. Ashdod), so that they will not mix their seed with that of the non-bastard Israelites.4

David Kimchi (known in Rabbinical circles as the “Radak”) is another well-known medieval Rabbinical commentator who simply could not ignore the straightforward interpretation of the word Mamzer. He comments that, “There are those who understand this to be the name of a nation,” though he then goes on to explain this away in much the same way that Ibn Ezra does.

Even the famous Rabbinical commentator Rashi agrees with the Karaite interpretation. Says Rashi, on Zachariyah 9:6, “a foreign nation shall dwell in Ashdod.” Here, Rashi is picking up on the fact that the word mamzer contains the Hebrew letters zayin-resh (z-r), in that order. The Hebrew root zayin-resh means “stranger” or “foreigner”. Thus, Rashi believes that mamzer is not the proper name of a specific nation, but that it means “a foreign nation”, in general. This is a perfectly acceptable possibility, and one that has been put forth by various Karaite sages.


A Fair Hearing for the Rabbis

Let us consider, for a moment, the Rabbis’ point of view. Why might they come to the conclusion that mamzer means bastard? I have been able to identify three reasons. These reasons are relevant not only to the topic of mamzer per se, they also provide insight into the differences between the Rabbis’ methods of interpretation and those of the Karaites.

1. The first reason is that the Rabbis seem to have paired Deuteronomy 23:2 — which excludes a Mamzer from the assembly of Yehowah — with the previous verse, Deuteronomy 23:1 — which excludes he who is maimed in his private parts. By doing so, they incorrectly came to the conclusion that Mamzer also refers to some form of birth defect which, in their eyes, is the act of being born of an adulterous or incestuous relationship.

The specific problem here is indicative of a more general one: the Rabbis impart far too much importance to the adjacency of verses in the Torah.5 While it is true that the Torah is written associatively, so that related topics are often grouped together, it is not true that there are secret meanings to these juxtapositions. The reason that Deuteronomy 23:1 and 23:2 are juxtaposed is clear: both verses speak of groups which are excluded from the assembly of Yehowah. However, one can not logically conclude from this juxtaposition that the definition of the word mamzer (which the Rabbis were obviously not too sure about6) also implies some form of physical defect, just because Deuteronomy 23:1 speaks about physical defects.

This is indicative of a greater problem: the Rabbis see the Torah as a cipher — a string of words and letters which must be decoded in order to extract relevant meanings. In their view, it is their so-called “oral law”, with its particular rules and traditions, that gives them the unique ability to do this decoding. However, such a proprietary form of interpretation conveniently abrogates them from any objective accountability, since only he who is already indoctrinated into their system is considered authoritative in rendering criticisms of their interpretations. To put it in simple terms, the Rabbis have hijacked the Torah, placing under their private purview that which is the national inheritance of the people of Israel:

Deuteronomy 33:4: “Moshe commanded us the Torah as an inheritance for the congregation of Ya’aqov.”

They have done so though they are neither prophets, nor Cohanim, nor Levites, nor Kings of Israel. In fact, many of them are not even Israelites, but gerim improperly “converted” under the lenient conversion policies of the Rabbis during the Second Temple Period — an attempt by the Rabbis to swell their own ranks.7

In the Karaite view, there are no hidden meanings to the laws of the Torah, only the straightforward (p’shath) meanings, which were easily understandable to any ancient Israelite. Unfortunately, many of these plain meanings were lost when our nation sinned and was exiled from its land — its culture and society ceasing to function. Karaites believe that the only way to reconstruct these lost meanings is to become experts in the primary remnant of our ancient heritage: the written record of the laws, daily life, and philosophy of ancient Israel — the Tanach.8 Becoming an expert in the Tanach means immersing oneself in it, learning its grammar, its use of language, its subtle shades of meaning, and its historical context.

The Rabbis, quite dishonestly, claim that nothing has been lost. “It was never there to begin with,” they say, “The Torah was never meant to be clearly understood by the average Israelite. Instead, its meanings were meant to be extracted through the rules and traditions of the ‘oral law’ by a competent practitioner of its methods, i.e. a Rabbi.”9 Conveniently, the myth of the so-called “oral law” was invented and pawned off to the Nation of Israel at a time — the Second Temple period — in which the people could no longer verify whether it was true or false, since they themselves had become estranged from their ancient language and culture. Examination of the “oral law” reveals that it employs many illogical methods to arrive at inferior replacements for the lost true meanings of the Torah. Taken to their logical (actually, illogical) extreme, these methods manifest themselves in completely nonsensical techniques such as Gematria10 and even the latest fad: the Torah Codes, which is a complete and utter hoax.

Since the methods of the “oral law” are themselves illogical, the Rabbis had to sell it to the nation by repeating, again and again, the lie that it was given on Mount Sinai by Yehowah to Moshe (whom they also hijacked for themselves, calling him, obscenely, Moshe “Rabbeinu”.) Finally, like any good cult, to keep the masses in line, they threw in a healthy dose of unverifiable rewards for those who are loyal to their ways as well as fear-inspiring threats for those who dare to violate their will. The result is the Rabbinical Judaism which plagues our nation until this very day and which prevents us from moving forward to our ultimate national destiny of return to the land of Israel, to the Elohim of Israel, and to the Torah of Israel.

2. The second reason that the Rabbis may have assumed that Mamzer refers to a bastard child is that two verses earlier, in Deuteronomy 22:30, the Torah speaks about an adulterous and incestuous relationship:

Deuteronomy 22:30: “A man shall not take his father's wife and shall not uncover his father's skirt.”

The Rabbis probably saw this verse as another secret indication that Mamzer was connected to adultery and incest, once again using the faulty reasoning that juxtaposition of verses implies a hidden connection between them.

To further support this idea, the Rabbis of the Middle Ages altered the numbering of Deuteronomy 22:30. The chapter-and-verse numbering system in common use today was developed by medieval Christians and, overall, is accepted by the Rabbis. However, the Rabbis have made certain changes to it to suit their polemical needs. In standard Rabbinical versions of the Torah, the above verse appears not as Deuteronomy 22:30, but as Deuteronomy 23:1, the rest of the verses in chapter 23 pushed down by one. This serves the purpose of more closely linking it with Deuteronomy 23:2 (which appears as Deuteronomy 23:3 in their texts.)

3. The third reason is that Ammon and Moav, mentioned in Deuteronomy 23:3 as also being excluded from the assembly of Yehowah even in the tenth generation, were the products of incestuous relationships between Lot and his daughters. (See Genesis 19:30-38.)

This, in the Rabbis’ eyes, is another hint that mamzer has to do with incestuous and adulterous relationships. The only problem with this explanation is that the people of Ammon and Moav are not excluded from the assembly of Yehowah because they are the products of incestuous relationships. We know this because the reason for their exclusion is given explicitly in Deuteronomy 23:4:

Deuteronomy 23:4: “… because they did not run out to meet you with food and water on your way out of Egypt and because they hired Bala’am the son of Be’or from Pethor in Aram Naharayim against you, to curse you.” (See Deuteronomy 2:19 and Numbers 22:1-2.)

To sum up: through illogical methods of reasoning, the Rabbis have invented an entirely new category of Israelite, the bastard child, which never before existed as a separate category, and which is never mentioned anywhere in the Torah as having special laws applying to it.


Other Matters

There are two other matters which need to be discussed regarding the issue of Mamzer. One has to do with a claim made by the Rabbis and the second has to do with a claim usually made by secular Bible critics.

The First Matter

The first matter stems from events in the book of Ruth, in which Ruth the Moabitess joins the nation of Israel. The question is asked, “How can Ruth, a Moabite, join the nation of Israel, when Deuteronomy 23:3 prohibits all Moabites from joining the ‘assemby of Yehowah’”?

First a bit of background: Ruth expresses her intention to join the people of Israel in Ruth 1:16:

Ruth 1:16: “Ruth said [to Naomi], ‘Do not pressure me to turn away from you and leave you, because wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you sleep, I will sleep. Your people are my people and your Elohim is my Elohim.”

In contrast to the belief of certain Karaites, I do not believe that Ruth became an Israelite at the moment that she made this declaration. By making the oath, she declared her intention to become an Israelite, but she was not yet an Israelite. However, Yehowah was with her, and did not allow her words to return upon her empty. She did become an Israelite, but only later in the book of Ruth — specifically, at the moment that Boaz acquired her as a wife as part of Machlon’s inheritance:

Ruth 4:8-10: “… Boaz said to the elders and to all of the people, ‘Today you are witnesses that I have acquired from Naomi all the assets of of Elimelech, as well as those of Kilyon and Machlon. I have also acquired Ruth the Moabitess, Machlon’s wife, as my wife, so that I may establish the name of the deceased upon [the land of] his inheritance. …’”

The above passages are difficult to understand unless one is familiar with the laws of levirate marriage. Levirate marriage was a common custom in ancient cultures whereby a deceased man’s brother would marry the widow. Yibbum is the Torah’s particular version of levirate marriage. In the case of yibbum, the Torah’s main concern is ensuring the continuation of the deceased brother’s name within Israel. The children born from this union become, in a sense, the deceased brother’s children, and they eventually receive his land inheritance. The above passages from the book of Ruth now become clear: as part of acquiring the inheritance of Machlon, Boaz also “acquires” Ruth, Machlon’s former wife, under the obligation of yibbum. Boaz is able to acquire the inheritance only after he defers to one of Elimelech’s closer relatives (Ruth 4:1-8), called simply “the redeemer” (ha-go’el). The title “the redeemer” implies that he is the one who has the first opportunity (and therefore, obligation) to acquire Elimelech’s inheritance. It is only when “the redeemer” forgoes his right and rejects his obligation, that Boaz, next in line, steps in and takes on the role of “the redeemer”. Note that Boaz is able to redeem Elimelech’s inheritance even though he is not Elimelech’s (or Machlon’s) brother. This is because the Hebrew word “ach” (brother) also means “kin”, so any close kin of the deceased can perform the obligation of yibbum.

Now back to our question. How could Ruth, a Moabite, join the Nation of Israel? The Rabbis’ response: “Ruth is not a Moabite, she is a Moabitess.” This answer may immediately strike the reader as casuistry, and I believe it is.11 The Rabbis' faulty reasoning stems from the fact that the Hebrew word used in Deuteronomy 23:3 for “Moabite” is “Mo’avi”, the masculine form of the proper noun. But masculine forms are used throughout the Torah to refer to males and females together. For instance, Exodus 20:13 says, "You shalt not murder." The Hebrew verb used, "tirzach", appears in the masculine form, and technically should be translated as, “You (masculine) shall not murder.” But would it be reasonable to assume that, therefore, that the Torah does not prohibit females from murdering? Yet this is precisely the reasoning that the Rabbis use when they claim that only male Moabites are excluded from the assembly of Yehowah.12 The Rabbis are guilty of over-literalization of the text.

Ironically, it is the Rabbis who have traditionally accused the Karaites of over-literalizing the text of the Torah. Why would the Rabbis make this false claim when, in fact, it is they who systematically do so, leading to some very peculiar interpretations of the Torah on their part? The answer is that this is part of their centuries-old propaganda war against the Karaites. The war began in the Middle Ages when the Karaites — who accounted for as much as fifty percent of Jews in certain regions of the world — were a true threat to the Rabbis’ power.

The Rabbis’ accusation originates from the well-known Karaite interpretation of Exodus 35:3, “Do not burn a fire in all your habitations on the Shabbath day.” The traditional Karaite interpretation of this verse is that no flames at all shall be left burning once the Shabbath comes in. This is, indeed, a literalization of the text. In my opinion, it is also an over-literalization, and an incorrect interpretation. I personally have come to believe that the only activity prohibited on the Shabbath is unpleasant work (“melacha”) and that Exodus 35:3 merely brings, as an example, one of the most common forms of unpleasant work in ancient times: kindling a fire — which involved gathering firewood, chopping it up, tending to the fire, cleaning up afterwards, etc. What the Torah is telling us in Exodus 35:3 is that only the minimum amount of work required to keep a fire burning is allowed to be done on the Shabbath, not that no flame at all is allowed to remain burning once it comes in. This means that all the gathering and chopping of wood must be done before the Shabbath. Indeed, we see in Numbers 15:32-36 that a man is put to death for gathering firewood on the Shabbath. However, we find no evidence anywhere in the Tanach of someone accused of violating the Shabbath for merely keeping a fire burning. In the chilly winters of the Land of Israel, keeping a fire burning would have been the only way in ancient times to stay warm and eat hot food.

Nonetheless, based on this traditional Karaite interpretation of Exodus 35:3, the Rabbis began to spread the lie that the Karaites over-literalize the Torah in general. For instance, the Rabbis began to mock the Karaites for wearing tefillin (phylacteries) directly between their eyes, accusing them of over-literalizing Deuteronomy 6:4, “You shall tie them as a sign on your arm and as frontlets13 between your eyes.” The incredible irony of this accusation is that, because the Karaites interpret this verse figuratively, they have never worn (and until this day do not wear) tefillin at all, let alone between their eyes. In fact, the only reason that tefillin exist in the world is because of the Rabbis’ over-literalization of this very verse! The Karaite interpretation of Deuteronomy 6:4 is figurative: that the Torah should be like jewelery upon a person, not that an Israelite must literally tie its verses to his body. By contrast, the Rabbis write verses from the Torah upon parchment, enclose them in leather boxes, and then tie these boxes to their bodies. In doing so, they turn themselves into a laughing stock before the entire world through their excessively literal interpretation of Deuteronomy 6:4. If you have ever seen a Rabbinical “wise man” with these black boxes tied to his body, then you have seen a fool who believes he is wise, a semi-pagan who believes he is a follower and representative of Yehowah.

The truth of the matter is, Karaites do not follow the literal interpretation of the Torah, and never have. Rather, they seek the simple, straightforward interpretation (“p’shath”) of the text. Sometimes the p'shath interpretation is the literal interpretation, and sometimes it is a figurative interpretation, as in the case of Deuteronomy 6:4. The same phenomenon occurs in English: the "p'shath" interpretation of the phrase "Jack has two left thumbs" is not the literal one (the thumb on Jack’s right hand has been physically replaced with a second left thumb), but the figurative one (Jack is clumsy.)

The Second Matter

The second matter, often raised by Bible critics, has to do with King David’s patrilineal heritage, as delineated in Ruth 4:18. Say these pseudo-scholars, since David is the tenth generation descendant of Yehuda and Tamar through their illegitimate son Peretz (see Genesis chapter 38), David is a tenth generation bastard. The first of their mistakes is simple: reading the Tanach in English, they incorrectly assume that the word Mamzer means “bastard” in the standard English sense of the word. However, some of the more learned ones, who know that the Rabbis interpret mamzer as a child born of an incestuous or adulterous relationship, claim that David is nonetheless a mamzer because Tamar was the daughter-in-law of Yehuda, and relations with one’s daughter-in-law are prohibited in Leviticus 18:15 and Leviticus 20:12. However, Tamar was not married at the time that she had relations with Yehudah. Both her previous husbands, Er and Onan, had died and she was waiting in her father’s house to be called to marry Yehudah’s third son, Shelach. While it is possible that she was technically engaged to Shelach, in which case Yehuda’s relations with her might constitute a form of adultery, there is no explicit indication of this from the text.

1All English translations of the Tanach are rendered by the author unless noted otherwise.
2This point is important because one of the probable reasons that the Rabbis interpreted Mamzer as “bastard” is by incorrectly pairing Deuteronomy 23:2 with Deuteronomy 23:1, thereby concluding that mamzer must be some kind of physical defect. This point will be touched on below.
3As a side note, Ibn Ezra often quoted Karaite commentators. For instance, he repeatedly cites the tenth century Karaite commentator Yefeth ben Eli, whom he refers to as “Rabbi Yefeth”.
4If so, then why should not the Ammonite and the Moabite also be settled in Ashdod, since they too are excluded from the assembly of Yehowah?
5This is expressed in rule no. 7 of the “Seven Middoth of Hillel”, one of the three main compendia of the methods of interpretation of the Oral Law. Called “דבר הלמד מענינו”, or “a thing that is learned from its context”, upon superficial examination it might seem to be a proper method of interpretation of the Torah. (Karaites constantly attempt to learn the meanings of words and concepts based on their context.) However, the rule is often applied inconsistently by the Rabbis. For example, a braita in the Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 86a interprets “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:13 ) as kidnapping because it is surrounded by laws dealing with offenses against people. However, when almost the same exact words appear in Leviticus 19:11, it is interpreted as theft of property. Taken to its logical extreme, this rule may be expressed by the dictum of R. Akiva, “Every scripture which is close to another must be interpreted with respect to it.” Indeed, R. Akiva used this dictum to arrive at far-fetched interpretations based on the accidental proximity of two terms.
6There are many examples in Rabbinical literature in which the Rabbis admit outright that they do not know the meaning of words in the Tanach: “If one who does not understand Hebrew has heard [the Megilah read] in Assyrian, he has performed his obligation. [Mishnah, Megilah 2:1] Q: But he does not know what they are saying? A: He is on the same footing as women and ignorant people. Ravina objected to this saying, ‘And do we know the meaning of ha-ahashtranim b’ne ha-ramakhim? [Esther 8:10]. But all the same we perform the precept of reading and proclaiming the miracle.’” [Babylonian Talmud, Megilah 18a]
7Likewise, the Obama administration’s lenient immigration policies are meant to swell the ranks of those who will most likely vote for him and his political party. This is one of the oldest political tricks in the book.
8Two other tools assist us in understanding the Tanach. The first is Comparative Semitic Linguistics, which involves looking at other Semitic languages (ancient and modern) to understand words in Hebrew whose meanings are unclear. The second is archaeological and historical evidence. Since the founding of the State of Israel, Biblical Archaeology has undergone a huge boom.
9In my opinion, this outright violates the statement in Deuteronomy 30:11-14: “For these commandments which I command you this day are not too hard for you, neither are they far off. … But the matter is very near unto you, in your mouth and in your heart to do it.” It establishes a caste of indoctrinated intermediaries whose access to secret knowledge not obtainable by the masses is a prerequisite for coming close to Yehowah and his Torah. In this it is completely anti-Torah.
10“Gematria”, from the Greek for “measurement of letters”, was a method of textual interpretation employed by non-Jewish Hellenist rhetoricians and philosophers in ancient Greece. It was subsequently adopted by the Pharisees as an accepted method of textual interpretation of the Tanach. It is mentioned by Rabbi Eliezer ben Yossi HaGlili in the list of “32 Middoth”, a well known compendium of the methods of interpretation of the Rabbinical “oral law”.
11Casuistry: the use of clever but unsound reasoning; sophistry.
12Note that we have a similar grammatical structure in English in which masculine forms are used to refer to both males and females. For example, "When a person approaches a stop sign, he must come to a full stop," implies both males and females.
13The traditional Rabbinical translation of the word.

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This Article Has 3 Comments

Abele Derer, Brooklyn, NY
1) Why is it "fair" that God excluded the nation of "Mamzar" from marrying into Judaism? 2) If it is reffering to a person of the nation of Mamzar, why doesn't it use the grammatically correct term: mamzari (just as it does Moavi and Amoni)? 3) Why doesn't the Torah give a reason for excluding this nation -- a nation that isn't mentioned even one other time in the entire Torah until the Second Temple era (Zechariah)?
See some problems in your analysis.
Adam, Clifton
See 2 problems with your analysis: [1] Nations all end with some suffix Mitzri, Amoni, etc. to designate from that people; [2] Of course the first item does not mention generations. A man without testicles can't have children. So there is no need to say this. But lastly I find the beginning of this article to be very pandering. God DOES punish to some degree children for sins of parents. As we see with the nations and for the first passage wouldn't that be unfair to punish someone with a disability that likely isn't his fault. So why in the case of adultery, suddenly it is unfair to punish a child from such evil behavior of a man having a relationship with another man's wife?
Karaite Who Agreed With the Rabbis
Yoel Davidi, Jerusalem, Israel
There was one Karaite who agreed with the Rabbanite definition of 'mamzer' (or more accurately considered a product of incestuous relationships to ALSO be included in that category). H. Yaakov ben Reuven, author of Sefer Haosher: "לא יבוא" (דברים כג:ג)... (1) והם גוים כופרים ונתיהדו. (2) ד[בר] א[חר]... הוא הידוע מאמו ולא ידוע מאביו... (3) וכל מי שנולד מן ער[י]ות אסורות גם הוא יקרא ממזר. אבל ישראל נקרא ממזר מפני שנתגרשו מנחלת אברהם שנ[אמר] "וישב ממזר באשדוד". (4) ד[בר] א[חר] והנולד מן הנדה... (5) ד[בר] א[חר] היא משפחה מהגוים קרואה ממזר... (6) ד[בר] א[חר] הם כל הגוים המתיהדים, ולא כן הוא. (7) ד[בר] א[חר] הם שאינם מזרע אברהם