My Most Obscure Verse Ever!

Posted on November 8, 2022


By David Ettinger

A Joyous Discovery
I love finding the “off-the-beaten-path” verses of the Bible that no one talks about. I love finding meaning in them, and then writing about them. I think this endeavor is one of the ways in which the Bible comes alive to me, and keeps me on my mental toes after having read the Holy Scriptures multiple times over the decades.

Recently, I joyously discovered perhaps the most obscure verse – really 2 verses – I have ever written about, further proof that the Word of God is teeming in untapped hidden gems!

The Obscure Passage
Here it is: “Now Sheshan had no sons, only daughters. Sheshan also had an Egyptian servant, whose name was Jarha. Sheshan gave his daughter to his servant Jarha in marriage, and she bore to him Attai” (1 Chronicles 2:34-35).

Though this obscure passage might produce a “Yeah, so?” reaction by some, there are several worthwhile points we can glean from it.

The context is the chronology of the family of Judah, specifically Hezron, Judah’s grandson. We are told about a man named Sheshan, and he has a problem. He has no sons, and therefore in danger that his family line would not continue after him.

This same issue was of great concern to the daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers 27:1-14), as they had no brothers. In Sheshan’s situation, marrying off his daughter to another Israelite would build up the husband’s family, but not his own. Therefore, Sheshan took the interesting step of giving her in marriage to an Egyptian, not an Israelite. Why so?

First, just for clarity, in Deuteronomy 7:1-3, God named 7 nationalities to whom Israelites could not be married – and the Egyptians were not among them.

Second, Jarha was a servant, or slave, and did have certain humane rights under the Mosaic Law – something foreign to the brutal pagan laws of the day. A key verse in this regard – and certainly concerning the legitimacy of an Israelite marrying an Egyptian – is Leviticus 19:34-35:

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them.
The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born.
Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

For all intents and purposes, Jarha, the Egyptian servant/slave was more like a son to Sheshan (though not blood-related), therefore assuring Sheshan that his family would carry on through his daughter and Jarha.

About Foreigners in Israel
One thing to remember in all this is that the foreigner living in Israel had to abide by the Mosaic Law, in essence becoming a Hebrew in practice, if not by name. In other words, the kindness extended to foreigners living in Israel did not mean they could do as they pleased.

For instance, God commanded:

Any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who offers a burnt offering
or sacrifice and does not bring it to the entrance to the tent of meeting
to sacrifice it to the Lord must be cut off from the people of Israel” (Leviticus 17:8-9).

In other words, foreigners were to participate in the sacrificial system.

And Numbers 15:14-16 says this (emphasis added):

For the generations to come, whenever a foreigner or anyone else living among you
presents a food offering as an aroma pleasing to the Lord, they must do
exactly as you do. The community is to have the same rules for you and for
the foreigner residing among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.
You and the foreigner shall be the same before the Lord: The same laws and
regulations will apply both to you and to the foreigner residing among you.

Again, we see the foreigner having the same responsibilities as native Hebrews, and hence, they were, in that sense, Hebrews themselves (thereby legitimizing the marriage of Sheshan’s daughter to his Egyptian slave).

Richly Obscure
This was just a brief study of an obscure passage, but I think it proves just how rich the Word of God is, how worthy it is to be studied, and how much deeper it is than just what lies on the surface.

The Bible is indeed a monumental book, and its treasures cannot possibly be fully mined in the longest of lifetimes!