If possible, I would like to ask you another question: I am reading the Book of Wisdom, the passage where it says “the children of adulterers will not come to maturity, the seed of an illegitimate union will disappear” etc etc. My parents, despite having received all the sacraments, did not marry in the Church, but in a civil marriage, and all the rest of my family like them (uncles, aunts, cousins, except for the grandparents who got married in the Church). In fact, for years and years I have felt the relationship with my parents and with my whole family as problematic. (…). Now reading this passage in the Book of Wisdom I was seized with fear: perhaps since I come from a family where none had a religious marriage, do I have no hope since the start? (…).
Thank you so much
Answer from the priest
1. in the Book of Wisdom we read: “The children of adulterers will not come to maturity; the offspring of an illegitimate union will be exterminated “(Wis 3,16). According to the Mosaic law, children of adulterers were excluded from the Jewish community until the tenth generation. Indeed, we read in Deut 23.3: “The bastard will not enter the community of the Lord; none of his own, not even in the tenth generation, will enter the community of the Lord ”.
2. The Jerusalem Bible says that “in biblical usage the term adulterer is applied to Israel and to the Israelites unfaithful to God” (note to Deut 23,3). Thus, for example, in Isaiah 57.3, the prophet says about idolaters: “Now, come here, you sons of the witch, offspring of an adulterer and a prostitute”. Therefore these “bastards” or “children of adulterers” were understood to be those who were born from an illegitimate union between a Jew and a pagan.
3. Others, based on the uncertain meaning of the Hebrew word mamzer, which in Italian has been translated as “bastard” or “son of adulterers,” think that it refers to those who are born to a couple in which one parent was a philistine, and philistines were the bitter enemies of the Jews. The unions between a Jew and a foreigner were considered illegitimate unions.
4. “Up to the tenth generation” indicates that they would be excluded from the community of Israel forever. The people of Israel had to be undefiled people.
5. Therefore the words of the Sacred Scripture that have troubled you are not to be understood according to the meaning that we give today to the words “children of adulterers.” Your interpretations must therefore be reviewed and you can look at all your relatives peacefully. I wish you well, I remind you to the Lord and I bless you.