Chick-fil-A Biblical Family of the Day

Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy: “We support biblical families.”

Today’s Chick-fil-A Biblical Family of the Day: Jarha and Sheshan’s daughter (1 Chronicles 2:34-35).

Now Sheshan had no sons, only daughters; but Sheshan had an Egyptian slave, whose name was Jarha. So Sheshan gave his daughter in marriage to his slave Jarha; and she bore him Attai.

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  • The_L1985


    How does marrying your daughter to a slave make up for you not having any sons?

  • For no reason I see this as set in the Antebellum South. Don’t ask.

  • Carstonio

    Women in that culture were slaves anyway, so it’s fitting in a twisted way that a father would marry his daughter to a man whose slavery status was official.

    I read the last name as Atari. Perhaps he then had children named Xbox and Wii.

  • You weren’t the only one!

  • Foreigner

    Slaves ye had of Egypt …

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

    Could he then lay claim to any of their male children as his own?

    Seems like marrying your daughter off to your slave would be a slap in the face to her. He’s not even trying to find a man who could provide for her family. And what if he wants to sell the slave? Does her daughter lose her husband, or does she get sold along with him?

  • Jim Roberts

    I don’t think there’s any direct evidence that she’s his only daughter – might have been the only one he hadn’t married off and just used her to give himself an heir. Also, I’d need to look at the language for “slave” there. If it was a household slave (antebellum South again), then they might be of some prominence and importance in the household, enough to give the children some legitimacy.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Note that the slave at least has a name. She doesn’t. Names are important.

  • Nathaniel

     If I’m not going to die, then tell me, what’s my last name?

  • Foreigner

    Have you never considered that you might be the plucky comic relief?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Cotton Patch Old Testament?

  • Ursula L

    I’m guessing that the point was not to get the daughter a husband, but to get the father a trusted son-in-law who could be a male heir.  

    If you look at the verse in context, its part of a genealogy  listing fathers and their sons. Sheshan has no sons, so he has his daughter marry Attai, and the genealogy then continues with Attai’s sons.  

  • I think if the slave and master had similar skin colors, the child born of that union (!) could probably be passed off as a legitimate son or grandson.

  • aunursa

    That’s the one thing that was off in Galaxy Quest.   All of the redshirts had last names — what they didn’t have were first names.

    The first expendables to die in in the first Star Trek episode, The Man Trap, were crewmen Darnell and Green.

  • AnonaMiss

    I know a guy in South Carolina whose family tree, according to him, includes a few postbellum instances of former slaveowners and the slaves they formerly owned intermarrying in order to keep the land “in the family”.

    He still has that land and the former slaveowners’ last name, so apparently it sort of worked?

  • Carstonio

    Hard to imagine this scenario happening in the antebellum South, and not solely because of skin color. The Old Testament version of slavery probably had its own brutalities, but from the text it doesn’t appear that the region’s economy was built on the institution with social norms dedicated to preserving it. Perhaps most slaves in that era were kidnapped in war.

  • Carstonio

     I imagined the auditions for the redshirts for simple – just the line “Captain, I’ve found something…AAAAAHHH!”

  • Makabit

    This was, IIUC, fairly commonly done. A man without sons to inherit would leave his property to a slave, someone who’d been with the family a long time, and if there was a daughter, the slave’s role as heir could be cemented by his marrying her. When the father dies, the slave inherits, and hopefully the original owner lives long enough to see grandsons of his who will be the next generation.

    The modern equivalent might be a man without children leaving his business to a long-time employee. It blows the modern mind because we think of nineteenth-century slavery in the U.S., which was race-based and…just different in terms of social organization.

    There are examples from other ancient Semitic cultures, possibly elsewhere in the Med region.

  • Makabit

    At one point in Genesis, Abraham frets that because he has no children, ‘Damesek Eliezar’, Eliezar of Damascus, will be his heir. This is (presumably) the same Eliezar who who later goes on the mission to bring back Rebecca for Isaac to marry.

    If Isaac had been a girl, he would probably have been married off to Eliezar, in the same pattern, to ensure a line of succession for Abraham.

  • AnonymousSam

    For equally no reason, now I’m trying to mentally concoct a mixture of Southern drawl and Shakesperian Olde Butcherede Englishe.

    The result is a lot like this:

  • Makabit

    And as you can see, the genealogy continues the line in the name of the original master, which means that Sheshan can rest assured that his name will continue. Another way of doing this, in some parts, was to adopt a free man to inherit (and marry the daughter if applicable). The Romans adopted adult heirs quite a lot.

  • Peanutsnraisins

    Okay, maybe it’s just because I have the flu and have done nothing but lay on the couch and read romance novels for 3 days, but in my imaginary Bible backstory, the unnamed daughter loves an unsuitable man (her father’s slave) and they can never be together, etc, and then the father has a change of heart and true love triumphs in the end.

    I’m too sick to deal with it otherwise.

  • That was actually an important plot point in Ben-Hur, as it gave him the legal power of Quintus Arrius after the man died.

  •  Ironically, their names were Petty Officers Darnell Green and Green Darnell.

  • If he married his daughter to a free man, their children would be part of her husband’s household/clan/tribe/family. As a slave, her husband was part of his household/clan/tribe/family.

    (This was probably a pretty sweet deal for Jarha; even if he remained a slave, being married to the boss’s daughter would make him comparatively high-up on the totem pole. In practical terms, he was probably better off as his owner’s son-in-law than he would have been as a free man without resource or prospects.  For that matter, it’s probably about the best outcome Sheshan’s daughter could hope for too. You know you’re in a broken system when “Dad makes you marry this guy he owns” is one of the good outcomes)

  • Vermic

    Still, how awkward is it when your father-in-law owns you?

  • Makabit

    Well, if you’re going to marry a man Dad picks out anyway, this is actually a nice arrangement. You don’t have to leave home, you don’t have to deal with the women of his tribe putting you through the wringer, and he owes your father immensely…

    The usual risks of patriarchy do apply, but there’s probably a good chance of things working out. 

  • Loquat

    A lot of slaves entered slavery for financial reasons, as well – selling yourself and/or your family into slavery was a way to pay off otherwise-crushing debt, and since slaveowners were legally required to feed and shelter their slaves it could be a way to save your family from starvation.

    Note also that Jews sold into slavery were officially only sold for a limited term – Exodus 21 and Deuteronomy 15 both explicitly state that Hebrew slaves must be allowed to go free after 6 years of servitude, though the slave may opt out and remain a slave to that particular master for life by undergoing a public ear-piercing. We don’t know if Jarha ever had the option to go free – nothing’s recorded about him except that he was an Egyptian, so probably not? – but if they needed an official procedure for declaring someone a willing slave-for-life, it must have been something that came up with some regularity.

  • Sad that a fair number of redshirts were black. Which is indicative of something but I don’t know what.

  • Makabit

    Barbara Kingsolver refers to the black redshirt as ‘the unfortunate lieutenant of color’.

    I do think that it may have been a side effect of Roddenberry’s desire to have a very racially mixed cast. He apparently also wanted the crew to be half women, but the studio balked. If he was facing pushback, casting black actors in throwaway roles may have been a way of diversifying the crew, albeit only until the Soulsucking Space Monster got them.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Predominantly white crew where skin color is not a reliable indicator of survival chances vs racially diverse crew where the crewmates of color nearly always die.

    Not sure which want.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Should have said ‘cast’, since it’s not a problem unique to Star Trek.

  • Wonder how that would look on a resume. “Oh yes, I was ‘Star Trek’, ‘First Man Killed’ in about 17 episodes.”

  • Makabit

    Me neither, but OTOH, this was several decades ago, and Roddenberry did manage to get both an Asian guy and a black woman on the bridge crew as permanent characters. Not too shabby.

    And actually, quite a lot of the unfortunate lieutenants of color were white guys, IIRC.  Has anyone ever documented all of them? That would be a wonderful web page.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m willing to give Star Trek at least a partial pass based on its age and its creators having good intentions and some level of success in carrying them out (I saw an interview with Nichelle Nichols–seems Shatner made them do retakes of the first television interracial kiss until there was only time for one take of the not-kissing version of the scene, and then he made a point of ruining that take, subtly enough that no one noticed till they were watching the dailies, which was of course far too late to do another take), but the problem persists. Supernatural, I’m looking at you. I think the only black men who’ve ever appeared on the show and not subsequently died are two cops who only got a couple lines each. It’s not quite the same problem, as the vast majority of those dead black men were antagonists, but close e-fucking-nough.