Family Lessons 43: Son of a Fox

I am the son of a Fox. My 8x great-grandfather, William Fox, was born at Forton, between Galgate and Garstang, back in 1702. He, too, was the son of a Fox, his own father having the same name. The Family Search website explains its origins:

English: nickname from a word denoting the animal (Middle English, Old English fox), widely used to denote a sly or cunning individual. It was also used for someone with red hair. In England this surname absorbed some early examples of surnames derived from the ancient Germanic personal names mentioned at Faulks and Foulks .Irish: part translation of Gaelic Mac an tSionnaigh ‘son of the fox’ (see Tinney).

So a red-haired family, or one descended from a particularly crafty and dangerous individual? Foxes are not given a positive press in scripture. Samson uses them to annoy the Philistines in Judges 15, while Tobiah the Ammonite mocks Nehemiah’s building programme in chapter 4, suggesting that even so humble an animal could break their poor building work. Solomon’s lover in Song 2:15 complains about the creature’s conduct in the vineyard. Ezekiel likens Israel’s false prophets to desert-roaming foxes (13:4) and the Lord Jesus famously called Herod a fox when informed of his violent intentions.

Evidently, the poor fox receives short shrift from the scriptural canon; it never seems to get much positive press. Yet the Lord remarks in Luke 9:58 and elsewhere:

“Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

However humble and despised the fox, however cruel and cunning its nature, the Saviour of mankind stooped lower still in His loving mission to save the lost. I might be the son of an old Fox, but the Son of God condescended to raise me on high and change my fallen state into a sincere reflection of God's own goodness.

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