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  1. GwynApNudd

    GwynApNudd Regular Member

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    Such a short verse. Only seven words, two and a half of them are auxilliaries of so little account that most dictionaries and concordances do not even index them.

    The five words of consequence are:

    ואת־זכר With the male/man
    תשכב to lie
    משכבי the lyings
    אשה of the female/woman/wife
    תועבה is taboo.

    The meaning of the verse seems clear, especially if you already "know" what it is supposed to say: "Sex with a man is sin."

    But there is some degree of controversy on four of the five words. I'll discuss the first three together, since together they define the act. I'll look at the fourth afterward


    תשכב and משכבי -- these are not forms of the same word, although their respective root words both mean "to lie (down)" and, in fact, both are very closely related.

    משכבי -- "the lyings" comes from a root word which simply means to lie down. משכבי appears 46 times in the Hebrew scriptures. 39 times it is translated "bed" or "couch" and usually refers either to a piece of furniture that one lies down on or "taking to one's bed" in illness or injury. Skipping over this verse and the related Leviticus 20:13, there are 8 verses (including three of the verses where it was translated as "bed") where it refers to someone with whom the subject has shared a bed, usually a wife or concubine.

    תשכב -- "to lie" also comes from a root word which simply means to lie down. But when it is used in a clearly sexual situation there is almost always an element of non-consent involved, and often outright rape.

    אשה -- "of the woman" can simply mean female as זכר means either man or male. But it can also mean woman in the particular sense of wife (or concubine). This can be important if you choose to translate "the lyings" as bed-partner.

    So some possible translations of the taboo act are:

    1. Lying (sexually) with a man as you would with a woman;
    2. Lying (sexually) with a man in the bed you share with your wife;
    3. Lying (for any purpose, even sleep) with a man in the bed you share with your wife;
    4. Raping a man (even if in a manner that the Bible seems to allow for raping a woman);
    5. Raping a man in the bed you share with your wife;
    6. Lying (sexually) with your wife's lover;
    7. Lying (sexually) with your wife and her lover;
    8. Raping your wife's lover.
    There are other combinations, but they are rather unlikely to be the best way to translate the description of the taboo act.

    The most likely translation is the traditional one (1), although we can't entirely rule out (4), (6), (7), or even (2).

    -----

    תועבה -- "is taboo" was translated as "abomination" in the AV, before the word taboo entered the English language. Because of its familiarity, many modern translations also translate תועבה as "abomination," despite the fact that "abomination" has aquired a much stronger and visceral connotation in the last 400 years.

    To appreciate the meaning ofתועבה we have to compare it with two other Hebrew words which are also often translated as "abomination": ושקץ and זמה.

    ושקץ is a defilement which is temporary. You wash away the offending taboo and thereafter the person or object usually are considered unclean only until the next morning.

    תועבה is a stronger defilement which requires a blood sacrifice to expiate. Usually it implies contamination not by a natural agent (such as a woman's menses or a man's semen) as is the case of ושקץ, but by association with heathen practices, especially idolatry.

    זמה is a moral (often sexual) transgression and is more often translated as wickedness rather than abomination.

    So if the act was banned because it is an immoral sexual practice, it would be labelled זמה, wickedness, not תועבה, taboo. It is תועבה for the same reason that too close a fraternization with the heathens, or cross-dressing are תועבה -- it is a non-mixing law like not wearing mixed fabrics, to remind the Jews not to mix with the "Nations." This is confirmed in the verses in Leviticus 18, and 20 which follow after the lists of banned actions, of which "lying with a male" is just one.
    [bible]Leviticus 20:22-26[/bible]
     
  2. Phred

    Phred Junior Mint

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    I'm sorry, did I read this right? It's from Leviticus? Then who cares? Old covenant. Irrelevant. We shave, we round the corners of our heads and we touch women and the things they've sat upon much sooner than seven days after their periods. I could fill this thread with the antique nonsense contained in Leviticus, but we all pretty much agree we don't abide by it any longer. So thanks for the thoughtful research, but whatcha got on the New Testament?
     
  3. GwynApNudd

    GwynApNudd Regular Member

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    There is one more word of consequence in the verse. It is not controversial, but perhaps it should be.

    The verse forbids lying with a זכר, a male or a man. But what is a man? The emphasis of the word is on the "maleness," so we can probably eliminate excluding slaves, foreigners, and other "not really Israelite men" from consideration. Even if we could argue that they were excluded when it was written, that exclusion no longer applies, as all men have (in theory) equal rights in modern society.

    But are all men "male"? In Semitic culture, the only adult male allowed in the harem (the womens' area of the house) was the patriarch. Except for eunuchs. They were not considered male.

    The Hebrew word for eunuch is סריס. But in Deuteronomy 23:1, when eunuchs are barred from worshiping in the Tabernacle (and later in the Temple), the word סריס is not used. Instead, it decribes them physically. (The AV reads: "He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.)

    This is especially odd since the Bible is very reluctant to discuss this area of the male anatomy. The Hebrew implies rather than states that the "wound" is in the "stones." And this is the only verse which mentions the "privy member." In all other verses, a male with an intact "privy member" is described more euphamistically as able to urinate "against a wall" (that is, while standing up).

    So why was it necessary to specify the injuries here? Why not just forbid a סריס from worshipping? For that, we will have to look at ancient Middle Eastern culture. Afterward, we will come back and look at two passages that confirm what we learn there.

    As we examine the literature of the ancient Middle East, we find that they distinguish between two different types of סריס. Not on the basis of where (anatomically) they were "wounded," but on the basis of whether they were "wounded," or born that way.

    In the Talmud, there are discussions of how to treat a "sun-סריס" differently from a "man(-made)-סריס." For example, should a "sun-סריס" be subject to Leverite marriage (marrying the childless widow of a close relative) laws? After all, he can be "cured" and father children.

    There are manuscripts that tell how to determine if a person is a "sun-סריס". These methods do not involve examining his "stones," but in looking for effeminate traits. There are other manuscripts that talk about the cliches about how every סריס is a notorious seducer of young men.

    In other words, a "sun-סריס" is a homosexual, and many of the stereotypes were the same then as they are now.

    The Bible confirms the two types of סריס in two passages. In Matthew 19:12, Jesus speaks of those who, like Paul, will remain celibate and preach the Gospel. He compares them to eunuchs, and in making the comparison describes both the other two kinds of סריס , or eunuch.(His words translated into Greek from the original Aramaic, but since Jesus used the same word throughout, so did Matthew.)

    The other passage is Acts 8:27-39. The Ethiopian treasurer is described as a "eunuch" (that is, a סריס), but he had been in Jerusalem to worship in the Temple, so he could not be "wounded in the stones, or [have had] his privy member cut off." That means he must have been a "sun-סריס".

    So maybe, just maybe, Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 do not apply to confirmed gays.
     
  4. GwynApNudd

    GwynApNudd Regular Member

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    But Phred, if it doesn't apply to non-Jews, or it doesn't apply to gays even in the Old Testament, then it can't be applied to them in the New Covenant.

    In particular, 1 Cor 6:9-10 and 1 Tim 1:9-10 do not mean what the anti-gays claim they mean.

    I will look at those verses in another post. Right now it's past my bedtime.
     
  5. spartacus1984

    spartacus1984 Well-Known Member

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    An Atheist that follows the New Testament of Jesus of Nazareth?
    :confused:
     
  6. Steezie

    Steezie Guest

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    1 Cor 6:9 simply says "abusers of themselves with mankind" which has a seriously long list of things that could be. From drugs (which were avalible in the day), to alcohol, to fighting, the list is just endless and I think people are trying to make it fit what they want it to say.

    And 1 Tim 1:9 says the same thing, "defile themselves with mankind" which has a broad range of meanings.

    The OT view on homosexuality is far from an enlightened one, it scares me to see anyone quoting Leviticus when trying to condemn homosexuality because generally people miss this little bit

    Leviticus 20:13
    "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."

    Also most Christians dont follow hardly any other part of Leviticus, they ignore the rest completely in many cases. Such as 20:9 where cursing your father and mother will result in your death, or 20:10 where an adulterer will be put to death. Leviticus is NOT a good way to support the anti-homosexuality argument, it just makes you look that much more desperate for ammunition.
     
  7. TheManeki

    TheManeki Christian Humanist

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    Phred, you'd be right, except many Christians like to cite this verse as proof God hates gays. I dunno how this applies to Jews, though.
     
  8. GwynApNudd

    GwynApNudd Regular Member

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    But in both cases, the Greek word used is "arsenokoitai," a word that Paul invented to specifically point back to Leviticus 18 and 20.

    I agree whole-heartedly. Which is why I am kicking out the props beneath that viewpoint by showing that even in Leviticus, God did not place a blanket moral ban on homosexuality. He announced a ritual taboo.
     
  9. MercuryAndy

    MercuryAndy Senior Veteran

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    Don't pretend to be a woman if your not?
     
  10. Nottingham40

    Nottingham40 Member

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    alas i do not speak this language, sry.
     
  11. flicka

    flicka Contributor

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    If GOD wrote the bible it wouldn't need interpretation.
     
  12. Phred

    Phred Junior Mint

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    Wasn't hard to follow. And it's not like some kindly folks didn't translate it into English for me. I didn't even have to look very hard for it. I woke up in a hotel and there it was in my nightstand. You make it sound like an atheist opens the Bible and should find blank pages. I do believe in paper and ink you know.
     
  13. Bombila

    Bombila Veteran

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    GwynApNudd, this is very interesting: thank you for posting about it. Your knowledge sharing is appreciated.
     
  14. LittleNipper

    LittleNipper Contributor

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    Interpretation comes direct from GOD to the sincere individual, in the form of the leading of the HOLY SPIRIT. Therefore there is GOD.
     
  15. jayem

    jayem Naturalist

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    Then why does God give different interpretations to different people? Presumably sincere readers can get contradictory messages from the same passages. Why would God allow such confusion regarding His word?
     
  16. Phred

    Phred Junior Mint

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    How?
     
  17. TheManeki

    TheManeki Christian Humanist

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    LN is confusing "inspiration" with "dictation." Or as I prefer to think about it, the Bible is one attempt (of many) by mankind to understand God/Life/the Universe/Everything.

    Aside: Woohoo! Post #400!
     
  18. The Bellman

    The Bellman Guest

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    This is the single worst bit of evidence for the existence of a god that I've ever heard. Based on the interpretations people have of the bible, there is no evidence that any of them come from anywhere other than the persons themselves.
     
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