Monday

Baby Got Back?

No decent exegete still sees the Sodom story as anything but a story about a debased people summed up in Ezekiel 16:49 that culminated in a breach of hospitality that was a life or death situation in the ancient world. Most people have a hard time with wrapping their head around it being about the lack of hospitality instead of homosexuality because they go by our 20th century understanding of what hospitality is about. We see the lack of hospitality today as not wanting to open the door for a neighbor who wants to borrow a cup of sugar, the ancient world put the lack of hospitality of such grave importance, the rest of the Israeli tribes went to war with the tribe of Ruben over it.

The rarely mentioned Jude verse talking about Sodom I've already discussed (for a little more detail about Sodom and Jude talking about "strange flesh," go to my 'Sodom' tag post below).

Even with the Roman verses, anti-gay scholars can't really take homosexuality outside of it's idolatry context, so they just meld the two together to where you can't see where one starts and the other finishes.

For the first time I'm seeing that for many people who really want a sincere answer to where they should stand on the homosexuality and the Bible debate is this one argument. The argument goes that Paul "made up" the Greek word arsenokoite in 1 Corinthians from mashing the verse in Leviticus 18:22 ("a man shall not lay with a male") into one word and sticking it in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy, it look like it's a clear cut case Paul is condemning homosexuality with cleverly using Leviticus.

Correcting the Leviticus passage does a dual purpose. It shows Paul did not intend to make a general condemnation of homosexuality with arsenokoite and it destroys the argument Jesus didn't need to say anything about homosexuality because He expected you to understand He followed Levitical laws, so why would He need to say anything when Leviticus tells you how He feels about homosexuality?
There is no question that Leviticus 18:22 was written in the context of idolatry (Leviticus 20:2,3 tells you that and it's carried over to Deuteronomy with discussing the "quedesh" priesthood that Isn't named in the Leviticus verses) and that if Paul referenced it, he was referencing it's homosexuality in the context of only idolatry, but I will approach this as if it wasn't in the context of idolatry because that is the only argument that can be made to carry this verse as a general prohibition of homosexuality  to the present day)

To start, read what I say as to why Leviticus is only in the context of idolatry, next read about it's silence on lesbianism (If Leviticus said nothing about lesbians, Christ must have been fine with them too, if you believe the line Christ was following Leviticus as a given) and then go to what I say about the word itself.

Only if we can understand what the Hebrew tongue first said in Leviticus can we figure out what Paul was trying to convey with his new word.2
The literal Hebrew reads the verse like this:

Weth-zakhar lo tishkav mishkevey ishshah

Translated into the literal English it reads; "with a male you shall not lie the lyings of the woman."3

Now since Leviticus 18:22 is only directed at Israeli males and not women, a clear-cut and simple reading prohibiting all male homosexuality would read; "Weth-zakhar lo tishkav (with a male you shall not lie)," but instead we have mishkevey ishshah (lyings of the woman) put into the verse. English translators of the verse also put in "as with," making the verse, wrongly, read; "with a male you shall not lie as with a women." Translators throw in the "as with" because it gives it more of an anti-homo reading instead of "the lyings of a woman" that really doesn't make sense. Now it can be said that the translators were only trying to fill in the blanks with putting in "as with," but the author of Leviticus meant it to read as it reads because we know that the ancient Jewish writers were held accountable for "every dot and tittle," so leaving out the two whole words "as with" was not an oversight. Besides, there are other places in the Bible where the language 'as with' is used, it's just not used here.

Now if we figure out what the term "lyings of a woman" is getting at, it will give light on the actions of the males being discussed that's prohibited.

Mishkevey ishsha (lyings of a woman) is found nowhere else in the Bible, but if you go to Numbers 31:18, we find "mishkav zakhar" (lying of a man)4 with what's coming from the male perspective of penetrating a woman. So "lyings of a woman" in turn must mean it's coming from the perspective of the one being penetrated.
From the Torah with the saying, we go to the Talmud that gives a further explanation of the saying. There are only two ways a woman can have sex according to the Rabbis (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 54a), vaginal and anal. They saw "lyings of a woman" as either one or the other. Since two men cannot have vaginal sex, the only other act it is talking about is anal sex in strict boundaries that were set for God's people to separate them from those whose in the foreign land they were inhabiting and their practices.


In my first arsenokoite post I show a distinction between the two males who are not to lie down (penetrate) in Leviticus 20:13. A man (ish) an Israeli man who is of age and a male (zakhar) who either has an age distinction or a male with some kind of religious distinction who may or may not be Israeli, the latter is MY argument because I believe Leviticus 18 and 20 is in the context of idolatry with saying an Israeli man should not lie with Caananite priests in the pagan service of "Moloch."
Also, some translators make the word "woman" (ishshah) that is also translated as "wife" in the verse into the incorrect general gender word "female" (neqevah).
Knowing now the correct Hebrew wordings, we can correctly translate Leviticus 20;13 as; 

 "Israeli man of age shall not have anal sex with Zakhar (a male of some type of religious or age distinction) in his wife's beds." 

This is the correct translation and as you can see it narrows down the prohibition from the common believe the verse says;

"A man should not have sex with the same gender like he would have sex with the female gender."

Correctly read, no mention of orientation or desire or love towards the same sex is mentioned in Leviticus 18:22 or Leviticus 20:13 in what at best in an unclear verse on homosexuality.5 Anti-gay scholars with the verse like to dismiss the argument from pro-gay apologists who say God didn't know about orientation, I agree, an all knowing God would know about orientation, but if God went above and beyond the restrictive act of anal sex in condemning a love a man has for another man and prohibiting female homosexuality, you won't find it in Leviticus and in turn you won't find with Paul in his use of arsenokoite, and you won't find with Christ in his silence.

This is my counter argument to those who take Leviticus out of it's proper idolatry context and take it to mean a binding prohibition of homosexuality today.




1. Yale Bible scholar Dale Martin also points out the dangers of compounded ancient word and expecting them to have the same meaning in our present day.
2. I purposely leave out the discussion on Paul's Greek Septuagint translation of Leviticus here because it gives no further depth of what the Hebrew is saying. 
It was a 1000 years from the Torah before the Rabbis, an elite, wrote on the the Torah and what on Leviticus tried to convey. Unlike the writers of the New Testament, the Rabbis in their commentaries never claimed to be inspired men, so if Paul was reaching to Leviticus to come up with arsenokoite, laws he said are dead to us, he was an inspired man quoting uninspired men with how they interpreted Leviticus 18:22 with what was one of SEVERAL interpretations they were never unanimous in agreeing on. 

3. I won't discuss the term "abomination" (to'ebah) because no matter the degree, it's still putting a taboo on what's taking place in the verse.

4. Mishkevey in the singular. This is one of the times zakhar can be translated to just be 'man' when normally ish would be used. Remember when zakhar is used in the Hebrew Bible, 90% of the time it's in reference to a male, human or animal, that serves some type of religious purpose. Because zakhar is so close in proximity to ish in the Levitical verse, zakhar wouldn't mean 'man' when ish does the job.

5. Various arguments have been put forth as to why only the specific act of anal sex is prohibited to an Israeli male. Some of these arguments are the prohibiting of "mixing of seed" (semen with feces, semen with menstrual blood), the wasting of semen that would have been detrimental to the procreation of a people, or what would be seen as a disrespect of the sacredness of the penis (Israeli men would put one hand on their penis to swear a promise, like we would put our hand on a Bible in court in swearing to tell the truth).



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