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Clobber texts against gays: Leviticus 18:22

July 27, 2015

Lev 18 2

Even though I had known for sure that I was attracted to people of my own gender since I was twelve, it was not until I was twenty-seven that I did anything about it. The long wait was due to a number of reasons. For one, spending my adolescence in Nigeria had meant that I did not know any other boys like me and, deep down, I had felt I was damaged and that there was something deeply wrong with me. I also remember coming across a passage in the Bible late one evening about ‘a man lying with another man’ deserving to be put to death, and reaching the conclusion that the sort of carnal desires I had were an ‘abomination’ and that doing anything about them meant an eternity in Hell….. I had decided when I left Nigeria that I was going to commit suicide when I hit thirty because my life was doomed to be one of rejection Ade Adeniji

Leviticus 18:22, “You shall not lie with (shakab-ושכב) mankind as (you lie) with (mishkab-משכב) womankind; it is an abomination.”

Leviticus 20:13, “If there is a man who lies with (shakab-ושכב) a male as those who lie with (mishkab-משכב) a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.”

Lev 18Lev 18 2Translation

both the Living Bible and New Living Translation refer to a prohibition of “homosexuality.” This would include sex between two women — a behaviour not mentioned anywhere in the Hebrew Scriptures.

the use of “as one” [or “like as”] is an English “filler word” to grammatically help the sentence flow smoothly and not part of the original Hebrew text. Therefore, it is not comparing a man and a woman, as this is a liberty taken by the translators to decipher meaning.  “Mishkab” commonly means “bed.” Some have translated that the verse means “thou shalt not lie with a man on a woman’s [or wife’s] bed.”

“lo- לֹא” and has many definitions. If this sentence sounds more awkward, it is not uncommon, as the Hebrew language speaks in a less coherent order than we are used to in English. The ACTUAL verse reads like this:”He/she/it abomination female/wife bed (mishkab) rape/coerce sex (shakab) neither he nor a male/boy against.”

It doesn’t use the normal term for ‘woman’ and can simply mean ‘the place where a women sleeps’.

‘as with a woman’ Every other time ‘woman’ is used in Leviticus it is in relation to incest so it could refer to a man sleeping in his father’s bed and accessing his wife. Paul quotes this verse in1 Corinthians after mentioning just such incest within the Corinthian community should give us pause for thought. Also, a reference, earlier in Leviticus to uncovering ‘flesh’ where ‘flesh’ means ‘kin’ backs this up.

‘male’ isn’t the came word as ‘man’ so could refer to a boy or, indeed, to a male animal. This verse was never mentioned by Christians until the fourth Century CE and not until the Twelfth Century was it used to prohibit homosexuality.

Cross-dressing is also a concern for Leviticus.

And is all gay sex forbidden or only anal sex? (Some think that ‘sex’ equals intercourse – what about other forms of intimacy?)

Abomination         

The Hebrew “to’ebah” appears in both passages and is generally translated as “abomination.”

Some interpret these passages as referring only to male Jews who engaged in same-sex behavior in Pagan temples.

The term would better be translated as “ritually improper” or “involving foreign religious cult practice.”

Elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures, the same word is used to ban wearing of clothing made up from two materials (like cotton-polyester in today’s world), or having a tattoo, eating shrimp, eating pork, seeding lawns with a mixture of grass types, etc.

“They served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians.” (Genesis 43:32.)

it is an abomination to the Egyptians for a Hebrew to eat with them. This is obviously not an abomination to God Himself, but a matter of violating custom.

It proves that a towebah cannot be something horrible to God, otherwise the Hebrews are abominations!

“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes,feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” Proverbs 6:16-19.)

If one were to follow all the laws listed in Leviticus in modern times, then you would know that wearing clothing made from two different fabrics such as 10% Polyester and 90% cotton is completely forbidden by Leviticus law (Leviticus 19:19). Also, it is listed as an abomination to eat shrimp and lobster (Leviticus 11:11-12). If a married couple has sexual relations on her period, they should be deported out of their community (Leviticus 20:18).

Throughout the Old Testament the word Toevah is applied to murder (Jer. 7:9; Ezek. 22:6; Prov. 6:17), swearing falsely (Jer. 7:9; Ezek. 22:9, 12; Prov. 6:19), habitual lying (Prov. 6:16; 12:22; 26:25-28), oppressing or not aiding the poor, alien, widows, and orphans (Ezek. 16:47-52; 18:7, 12, 16; 22:7, 29), and appointing to official positions in the temple those who are not loyal to Yahweh (Ezek. 44:6-8),

Women?

Rev. Jill Nelson commented that the passage “… is grounded in the old Jewish understanding that women are less worthy than men. For a man to have sex with another man ‘as with a woman’ insults the other man, because women are to be treated as property.”

Why an “abomination”?

Semen as life

The Hebrew prescientific understanding was that male semen contained the whole of nascent life. With no knowledge of eggs and ovulation, it was assumed that the woman provided only the incubating space. Hence the spilling of semen for any nonprocreative purpose–in coitus interruptus (Gen. 38:1-11), male homosexual acts, or male masturbation–was considered tantamount to abortion or murder.

Female homosexual acts were consequently not so seriously regarded, and are not mentioned at all in the Old Testament (but see Rom. 1:26).

a tribe struggling to populate a country in which its people were outnumbered would value procreation highly, but such values are rendered questionable in a world facing uncontrolled overpopulation.

Male dignity

when a man acted like a woman sexually, male dignity was compromised. It was a degradation, not only in regard to himself, but for every other male. The patriarchalism of Hebrew culture shows its hand in the very formulation of the commandment, since no similar stricture was formulated to forbid homosexual acts between females.

pagan practice

And the repugnance felt toward homosexuality was not just that it was deemed unnatural but also that it was considered unJewish, representing yet one more incursion of pagan civilization into Jewish life.

verse 21 “Thou shalt not give any of thy seed (zera -זָ֫רַע) to be consecrated to the idol Moloch, nor defile the name of thy God : I am the Lord.” Note that zera (זָ֫רַע) means seed, seminal, offspring or intercourse. Following this verse is 18:22. The word used to condemn the male shakab is toebah-תּוֹעֵבָה which means abomination. What most do not usually realize is there are two words for abomination; toebah ( תּוֹעֵבָה ) and sheqets ( שֶׁ֫קֶץ ). When reviewing the Scriptures for context, we can see that a toebah abomination (used in Lev. 18:22 and 20:13) is connected to idolatry and idol worship. A sheqets abomination is usually connected to dietary restriction or ritual uncleanliness. Therefore we can safely assume that male shakab was associated with idol worship and the coercion of followers to give their sperm sacrifice to the male shrine prostitutes.

Repugnance

that heterosexuals tend to feel for acts and orientations foreign to them. (Left-handedness has evoked something of the same response in many cultures.)

Consistency

Persons committing homosexual acts are to be executed. This is the unambiguous command of Scripture. The meaning is clear: anyone who wishes to base his or her beliefs on the witness of the Old Testament must be completely consistent and demand the death penalty for everyone who performs homosexual acts. (That may seem extreme, but there actually are some Christians urging this very thing today.) It is unlikely that any American court will ever again condemn a homosexual to death, even though Scripture clearly commands it.

Old Testament law strictly forbids sexual intercourse during the seven days of the menstrual period (Lev. 18:19; 15:19-24), and anyone in violation was to be “extirpated” or “cut off from their people” (kareth, Lev. 18:29, a term referring to execution by stoning, burning, strangling, or to flogging or expulsion; Lev. 15:24 omits this penalty). Today many people on occasion have intercourse during menstruation and think nothing of it. Should they be “extirpated”? The Bible says they should.

The punishment for adultery was death by stoning for both the man and the woman (Deut. 22:22), but here adultery is defined by the marital status of the woman. In the Old Testament, a man could not commit adultery against his own wife; he could only commit adultery against another man by sexually using the other’s wife. And a bride who is found not to be a virgin is to be stoned to death (Deut. 22:13-21), but male virginity at marriage is never even mentioned. It is one of the curiosities of the current debate on sexuality that adultery, which creates far more social havoc, is considered less “sinful” than homosexual activity. Perhaps this is because there are far more adulterers in our churches.

Nudity, the characteristic of paradise, was regarded in Judaism as reprehensible (2 Sam. 6:20; 10:4; Isa. 20:2-4; 47:3). When one of Noah’s sons beheld his father naked, he was cursed (Gen. 9:20-27). To a great extent this nudity taboo probably even inhibited the sexual intimacy of husbands and wives (this is still true of a surprising number of people reared in the Judeo-Christian tradition). We may not be prepared for nude beaches, but are we prepared to regard nudity in the locker room or in the privacy of one’s home as an accursed sin?

Polygamy (many wives) and concubinage (a woman living with a man to whom she is not married) were regularly practiced in the Old Testament. Neither is ever condemned by the New Testament (with the questionable exceptions of 1 Tim. 3:2, 12 and Titus 1:6). Jesus’ teaching about marital union in Mark 10:6-8 is no exception, since he quotes Gen. 2:24 as his authority (the man and the woman will become “one flesh”), and this text was never understood in Israel as excluding polygamy. A man could become “one flesh” with more than one woman, through the act of sexual intercourse. We know from Jewish sources that polygamy continued to be practiced within Judaism for centuries following the New Testament period. So if the Bible allowed polygamy and concubinage, why don’t we?

A form of polygamy was the levirate marriage. When a married man in Israel died childless, his widow was to have intercourse with each of his brothers in turn until she bore him a male heir. Jesus mentions this custom without criticism (Mark 12:18-27). I am not aware of any Christians who still obey this unambiguous commandment of Scripture. Why is this law ignored, and the one against homosexual behaviour preserved?

The Old Testament nowhere explicitly prohibits sexual relations between unmarried consenting heterosexual adults, as long as the woman’s economic value (bride price) is not compromised, that is to say, as long as she is not a virgin. There are poems in the Song of Songs that eulogize a love affair between two unmarried persons, though commentators have often conspired to cover up the fact with heavy layers of allegorical interpretation. In various parts of the Christian world, quite different attitudes have prevailed about sexual intercourse before marriage. In some Christian communities, proof of fertility (that is, pregnancy) was required for marriage. This was especially the case in farming areas where the inability to produce children-workers could mean economic hardship. Today, many single adults, the widowed, and the divorced are reverting to “biblical” practice, while others believe that sexual intercourse belongs only within marriage. Both views are Scriptural. Which is right?

The Bible virtually lacks terms for the sexual organs, being content with such euphemisms as “foot” or “thigh” for the genitals, and using other euphemisms to describe coitus, such as “he knew her.” Today most of us regard such language as “puritanical” and contrary to a proper regard for the goodness of creation. In short, we don’t follow Biblical practice.

Semen and menstrual blood rendered all who touched them unclean (Lev. 15:16-24). Intercourse rendered one unclean until sundown; menstruation rendered the woman unclean for seven days. Today most people would regard semen and menstrual fluid as completely natural and only at times “messy,” not “unclean.”

Social regulations regarding adultery, incest, rape and prostitution are, in the Old Testament, determined largely by considerations of the males’ property rights over women. Prostitution was considered quite natural and necessary as a safeguard of the virginity of the unmarried and the property rights of husbands (Gen. 38:12-19; Josh. 2:1-7). A man was not guilty of sin for visiting a prostitute, though the prostitute herself was regarded as a sinner. Paul must appeal to reason in attacking prostitution (1 Cor. 6:12-20); he cannot lump it in the category of adultery (vs. 9).

Jews were supposed to practice endogamy–that is, marriage within the twelve tribes of Israel. Until recently a similar rule prevailed in the American South, in laws against interracial marriage (miscegenation). We have witnessed, within the lifetime of many of us, the nonviolent struggle to nullify state laws against intermarriage and the gradual change in social attitudes toward interracial relationships. Sexual mores can alter quite radically even in a single lifetime.

The law of Moses allowed for divorce (Deut. 24:1-4); Jesus categorically forbids it (Mark 10:1-12; Matt. 19:9 softens his severity). Yet many Christians, in clear violation of a command of Jesus, have been divorced. Why, then, do some of these very people consider themselves eligible for baptism, church membership, communion, and ordination, but not homosexuals? What makes the one so much greater a sin than the other, especially considering the fact that Jesus never even mentioned homosexuality but explicitly condemned divorce? Yet we ordain divorcees. Why not homosexuals?

The Old Testament regarded celibacy as abnormal, and 1 Tim. 4:1-3 calls compulsory celibacy a heresy. Yet the Roman Catholic Church has made it mandatory for priests and nuns. Some Christian ethicists demand celibacy of homosexuals, whether they have a vocation for celibacy or not. But this legislates celibacy by category, not by divine calling. Others argue that since God made men and women for each other in order to be fruitful and multiply, homosexuals reject God’s intent in creation. But this would mean that childless couples, single persons, priests and nuns would be in violation of God’s intention in their creation. Those who argue thus must explain why the apostle Paul never married. And are they prepared to charge Jesus with violating the will of God by remaining single?

These cases are relevant to our attitude toward the authority of Scripture. They are not cultic prohibitions from the Holiness Code that are clearly superseded in Christianity, such as rules about eating shellfish or wearing clothes made of two different materials. They are rules concerning sexual behavior, and they fall among the moral commandments of Scripture. Clearly we regard certain rules, especially in the Old Testament, as no longer binding. Other things we regard as binding, including legislation in the Old Testament that is not mentioned at all in the New. What is our principle of selection here?

e.g. virtually all modern readers would agree with the Bible in rejecting: incest, rape, adultery, and intercourse with animals. But we disagree with the Bible on most other sexual mores. The Bible condemned the following behaviours which we generally allow: intercourse during menstruation, celibacy, exogamy (marriage with non-Jews), naming sexual organs, nudity (under certain conditions), masturbation (some Christians still condemn this), birth control (some Christians still forbid this).

Likewise, the Bible permitted behaviours that we today condemn: prostitution, polygamy, levirate marriage, sex with slaves, concubinage, treatment of women as property, and very early marriage (for the girl, age 11-13).

And while the Old Testament accepted divorce, Jesus forbade it. In short, of the sexual mores mentioned here, we only agree with the Bible on four of them, and disagree with it on sixteen!

Surely no one today would recommend reviving the levirate marriage. So why do we appeal to proof texts in Scripture in the case of homosexuality alone, when we feel perfectly free to disagree with Scripture regarding most other sexual practices? Obviously many of our choices in these matters are arbitrary. Mormon polygamy was outlawed in the USA, despite the constitutional protection of freedom of religion, because it violated the sensibilities of the dominant Christian culture. Yet no explicit biblical prohibition against polygamy exists.

Is the law superceded?

If we insist on placing ourselves under the old law, as Paul reminds us, we are obligated to keep every commandment of the law (Gal. 5:3). But if Christ is the end of the law (Rom. 10:4), if we have been discharged from the law to serve, not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit (Rom. 7:6), then all of these biblical sexual mores come under the authority of the Spirit. We cannot then take even what Paul himself says as a new Law. Christians reserve the right to pick and choose which sexual mores they will observe, though they seldom admit to doing just that. And this is as true of evangelicals and fundamentalists as it is of liberals.

Before Jesus, no one with a physical blemish (including a broken hand/foot, dwarf, hunchback, blind, eunuchs, etc. -Leviticus 21: 17-23) could give offerings or approach the altar of God. These individuals were cast out among people, but after Christ, they are sanctified.

Jesus broke certain laws of Moses – the Sabbath laws by healing in Mark 3-6, Matthew 12:9-14; Luke 6:6-11.

He also changed the law in this example: In the old law of Moses it states, “Anyone who injures their neighbour is to be injured in the same manner; fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury.” (Leviticus 24:19-20.) But Jesus, just the opposite: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” (Matthew 5:38-39.)

Also “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-45).

Additionally, He showed mercy from some  punishments that were instructed by the law of Moses: The Pharisees tested Him and said “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women” (John 8:4-5) and Jesus replied, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7).

Sermon on the Mount Matthew 5:21-45 on your own to see where Jesus gives many examples of “Moses said one thing, but I say another.”

Lev 18‘lie with’

there are multiple Hebrew words that are all translated in English “to lie with” that can mean different things.

shakab” (שכב) “to lie with” has many definitions, (to rest, to sleep, to relax, to lie down in death, to bury, to make one lie down, geographical location) not all with a sexual nature.

other verses in Leviticus with sexual meaning translated “to lie with” use another word, “shekobeth” (שכבתך), which literally and only means “sexual intercourse” or “copulation.” Shekobeth is used for such things as adultery (Leviticus 18:20) and bestiality (Leviticus 18:23).

shekobeth was not used in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 if it indeed meant that man should not have sex with another man.

mishkab (משכב) used in these verses to refer as a comparison to “lying with a woman” has many definitions (lying on a couch or bed, bedroom, resting place, sleeping, lying down for sex) and is stated 46 times in 44 verses. While it is rarely used in a sexual sense in the Bible, it is always referring to a woman submitting to sex for a man or a beast. So in the sexual context, it is only used in a feminine way.

shakab can be found 213 times in 194 verses in the Bible.

101 used shakab to simply “lie down to sleep.”

51 used shakab as “to lie down in death.”

52 use shakab as descriptive of “sex by force or deceptive coercion” which by modern definition would be RAPE.

Other verses are characterized by deceptive coercion to sexually lure committed or married people away from their mate, e.g.:

Gen 19:33-35 “So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay (shakab) with her father, and he did not know when she lay (shakab) down or when she arose. It happened on the next day that the firstborn said to the younger, “Indeed I lay (shakab) with my father last night; let us make him drink wine tonight also, and you go in and lie (shakab) with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father.” Then they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay (shakab) with him, and he did not know when she lay down (shakab) or when she arose.”

(Rape, deception and coercion: The daughters of Lot deceive him by coercing him to get drunk so that they may rape their father to have children.)

Gen 26:10 “And Abimelech said , What is this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien (shakab) with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us.”

(Deception: Isaac lied about Rebekah being his sister rather than his wife. If they had performed sex with her, they would have been deceived into sleeping with another man’s wife.)

-Gen. 30:14-16 “During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” But she said to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son’s mandrakes too?” “Very well,” Rachel said, “he can sleep (shakab) with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.” So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. “You must sleep (shakab) with me,” she said. “I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he slept (shakab) with her that night.”

(Coercion: Leah is coerced to have sex with Jacob for mandrakes.)

-Gen 34:2 “But when the local prince, Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, saw Dinah, he seized her and raped (shakab) her.”

(Rape: Shecem rapes Dinah.)

-Gen 34:7 “Meanwhile, Jacob’s sons had come in from the field as soon as they heard what had happened. They were shocked and furious that their sister had been raped (shakab). Shechem had done a disgraceful thing against Jacob’s family, something that should never be done.”

(Rape: Referring to the rape of Dinah.)

-Gen. 35:22 “And it came to pass, when Israel dwelled in that land, that Reuben went and lay (shakab) with Bilhah his father’s concubine.”

(Deception, possible coercion, and/or possible rape: Reuben had sex with the concubine who was owned by his own father.)

-Gen 39:7  “And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, “Lie (shakab) with me.” But he refused.

(Deception and coercion: Joseph was working for his master, Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh. Potiphar’s wife saw Joseph and tried to coerce him to deceptively have sex behind her husband’s back.)

-Gen 39:10 “And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie (shakab) by her to be with her.”

(Deception and coercion: [refer to Genesis 39:7 above.] Although Potiphar’s wife coerced Joseph daily to have sex with her, he refused.)

-Gen 39:12 “she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie (shakab) with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.”

(Deception and coercion: [refer to Genesis 39:7,10 above.] Potiphar’s wife became increasingly demanding to have sex with Joseph. She coerced him and nearly forced him, but he still refused to commit such a deceptive act.)

“That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in a Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie (shakab) with me, and I cried with a loud voice.” Genesis 39:14 (A woman falsely accuses Joseph of raping her.)

-Ex. 22:16 “And if a man entice a virgin that is not betrothed, and lie (shakab) with her, he shall surely pay a dowry for her to be his wife.”

(Coercion: A man “entices” a virgin, thus he coerces her to have sex with him.)

-Ex 22:19 “Whoever lies (shakab) with an animal shall be put to death.”

(Rape and coercion: No animal naturally wants to have sex with a human so it is coerced sex and/or rape.)

Lev 15:18 The woman also with whom man shall lie (shakab) with seed of copulation (shekobeth), they shall both bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the even.

(Commonly confused for sex: Note that although this verse speaks of sexual topics, shakab is used to mean literal “lying down” and shekobeth is used as the sexual connotation to the verse. Shekobeth means sex, so it is “lying down (shakab) for copulation (shekbeth).”)

Lev 15:24 “And if any man lie (shakab) with her at all, and her flowers be upon him, he shall be unclean seven days; and all the bed whereon he lieth (shakab) shall be unclean.”

(Commonly confused for sex: Like the above verse, this use of shakab is speaking about lying down, not sex. It is speaking about a man laying in the same bed next to a woman with her period. If the blood gets on him, he is unclean and any bed he lays on is unclean. This is made clear by other verses: “You are not to approach a menstruating woman to have sexual relations (`ervah) with her” [Lev. 18:19] and “’If a man lies with a woman during her monthly period and has sexual relations (`ervah) with her, he has exposed the source of her flow, and she has also uncovered it. Both of them must be cut off from their people.”[Lev. 20:18] This shows that the punishment for the crime of having sex with a woman on her period was to be exiled out of their community (cut off from their people), not just be considered unclean for 7 days. Therefore this use of shakab is most certainly speaking of lying down on a bed, not sex. )

“However, he would not heed her voice; and being stronger than she, he forced her and lay (shakab) with her.” 2 Samuel 13:4 (Amnon rapes his sister Tamar.)

“For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled , and the women ravished (shakab)…” Zechariah 14:2 (Speaking of the rapes of women in opposing cities.)

“…for in her youth they lay with her (shakab), and they bruised the breasts of her virginity, and poured their whoredom upon her.”Ezekiel 23:8

“If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed (engaged/unmarried) unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie (shakab) with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.” Deuteronomy 22:23-24 (Sexual coercion of an engaged woman.)

Could Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 be a commandment to not rape a male rather than not to have consensual same-gender sexual relations?

Lev 19:20 “And whosoever lieth (shakab) carnally (shekabah) with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed , nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death , because she was not free .”

(Commonly confused for sex: Once again, shakab appears to be speaking about sex, but is talking about lying down. This is proven by the word following which is shekabah for “carnally” and gives the lying down a sexual meaning. Shekabah means “sex.”)

Lev 20:11 “And the man that lieth (shakab) with his father’s wife hath uncovered his father’s nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death ; their blood shall be upon them.”

(Rape, coercion or deception: Any man that sleeps with his father’s wife must not do so openly, so this could be rape and/or coercion and deception. )

Lev 20:12 “And if a man lie (shakab) with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death : they have wrought confusion; their blood shall be upon them.”

(Rape, coercion or deception: Likewise, any man that sleeps with his son’s wife must not do so openly, so this could be rape and/or coercion and deception.)

Lev 20:13  “If a man also lie (shakab) with mankind, as he lieth (mishkab) with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death ; their blood shall be upon them.”

(Possible rape, coercion, and/or deception: [Refer to Leviticus 18:22 above.] Please also read Homosexuality in the Bible? An Alternative Perspective)

Lev 20:18 “If a man lies (shakab) with a woman during her monthly period and has sexual relations (`ervah) with her, he has exposed the source of her flow, and she has also uncovered it. Both of them must be cut off from their people.”

(Commonly confused for sex: Shakab is used for literally “lying down” with a woman because the translated word for sexual relations [`ervah] in uncovering her nakedness is implied after the fact.)

Lev 20:20 “And if a man shall lie (shakab) with his uncle’s wife, he hath uncovered his uncle’s nakedness: they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless.”

(Rape, coercion or deception: Any man that sleeps with his uncle’s wife must not do so openly, so this could be rape and/or coercion and deception.)

Num 5:13 “And a man lie (shakab) with her carnally (zera’), and it be hid from the eyes of her husband, and be kept close , and she be defiled , and there be no witness against her, neither she be taken with the manner…”

(Deception or “laying down”: The verse implies deceptive coerced sex due to the man having sex in secret with another man’s wife. At the same time, shakab may be only speaking as laying down because zera’ is the word translated for “carnally” which gives it the sexual meaning.)

Num 5:19 “And the priest shall charge her by an oath , and say unto the woman, If no man have lain (shakab) with thee, and if thou hast not gone aside to uncleanness with another instead of thy husband, be thou free from this bitter water that causeth the curse …”

(Deception – this is talking about sex, but not traditional sex. It is talking about a ritual that a priest must perform with a wife if the husband becomes jealous and begins to suspect that his wife is deceiving him by cheating with another man. The woman has to drink some ‘bitter water’ concoction and she is seen as guilty of deceiving her husband if she gets a curse of her belly swelling and her thigh rotting. This is very bizarre. Bottom line, when the priest says “if no man have lain with thee” he is specifically referring to a deceptive relationship outside of her marriage. Therefore, shakab still is NOT referring to sex without deception, coercion or rape.)

Deut 22:22 If a man is found sleeping (shakab) with another man’s wife, both the man who slept (shakab) with her and the woman must die.”

(Deception and possible coercion: A man and woman must be deceptive in order to have an affair.)

Deut 22:23 “If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he lies with (shakab) her,  you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death.”

(Deception and possible coercion: A man has deceptively coerced an engaged woman to have sex with him. The engaged woman is also found guilty because she did not verbally cry for help, thus assuming her consent.)

Deut 22:25 “But if a man find a engaged damsel in the field, and the man force her and lie (shakab) with her: then the man only that lay (shakab) with her shall die…”

(Rape: A man raping an engaged woman. It appears that if the woman is engaged, than she is spared because she is not yet married and will be made “clean” by her husband to be.)

Deut 22:28-29 “If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes (shakab) her and they are discovered,  he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.”

(Rape: A woman who is not yet engaged is raped by a man. This verse also shows how women were not held in high regard during Bible times, as the woman was commanded to marry her rapist and bought at a price.)

Deut 27:20-23 “Cursed be the man who mates (shakab) with his father’s wife, and comes between his own father’s sheets, Amen.  Cursed be the man who mates (shakab) with any beast, Amen.  Cursed be the man who mates (shakab) with his sister, born of the same father or the same mother, Amen.  Cursed be the man who mates (shakab) with his wife’s mother, Amen.”

(Deception, coercion and rape: A man who sleeps with his father’s wife has deceived his father. A man who has sex with an animal has raped it. A brother who has sex with his sister has likely raped or coerced her in deception. A man who has sex with his mother-in-law has been deceptive, likely coercive and possibly performed rape. In each of these verses, the context is made clear that shakab does not mean a consensual committed life-long relationship. It seems to lack the quality of love and seems motivated by lust.)

Deut 28:30 “Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie (shakab) with her…”

(Deception, coercion and/or rape: In context, this chapter speaks of many calamities coming to the one who does not follow God. A man is engaged to be married, but another man coerces her away and/or rapes her.)

1 Sam 2:22 “Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept (shakab) with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting.”

(Coercion and/or rape: It is described by some Bible commentaries that these women were Canaanite shrine prostitutes. This is aligned with sex outside of commitment. Other commentaries describe the sons of Eli coercing sex and or/raping these women.)

2 Sam 11:2-4 “One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”  Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept (shakab) with her. Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.”

(Coercion, deception, and/or possible rape: In context, David knew that Bathsheba was married to Uriah, but sent for her and had sex with her regardless. Although we do not know the exact reaction of Bathsheba, we can safely assume that David coerced her to commit adultery and deceived Uriah by taking his wife into his bed. If Bathsheba did not want to sleep with David but did so anyway, it still could be considered rape because she did this against her own desire and David had power over her being the king. Let it be noted that not all rape is violent assault, but can some times be propagated by verbal and emotional coercion to “manufacture” consent based on unequal power and domination.)

2 Sam 11:11 “Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie (shakab) with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”

(One must look in context. If we were simply to see the phrase “lie with my wife” it would seem to be talking about a marital sexual encounter. To the contrary, David is attempting to coerce Uriah to leave battle to have sex with his wife so that David’s affair is kept concealed due to Bathsheba’s pregnancy. Uriah clearly does not believe in leaving the battle to have sex with his wife, so in context this is speaking of being against a coerced sexual encounter.)

2 Sam 12:11 “Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie (shakab) with thy wives in the sight of this sun.”

(Possible rape and/or coercion: David’s punishment was for his own wives to be adulterous with others out in the open.)

2 Sam 12:24 “And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay (shakab) with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the LORD loved him.”

(On first glance, this seems to be a use of “shakab” without coercion, deception or rape. We must note that the matter in which David had attained Bathsheba was consummated in complete deception, coercion and perhaps even rape. Although she lay with him now by choice, their entire union was born out of these things. Another possibility is that this use of shakab simply means “to lay down.” He went in to comfort her and could have lain next to her. It is only the next line which reveals that they then had a son that would make one see this as sexual.)

2 Sam 13:11 “And when she had brought them unto him to eat , he took hold of her, and said unto her, Come lie (shakab) with me, my sister.”

(Coercion: Amnon coerced his sister to lay with him)

 2 Sam 13:14 “Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay (shakab) with her.”

(Rape: Amnon raped his sister Tamar.)

Isaiah 13:16 “Their little children will be dashed to death before their eyes. Their homes will be sacked, and their wives will be raped (shakab).”

(Rape: self-explanatory.)

Ezekiel 23:8 “She did not give up the prostitution she began in Egypt, when during her youth men slept (shakab) with her, caressed her virgin bosom and poured out their lust upon her.”

(Rape and coercion: A metaphor for adult men sexually taking advantage of a child. The true meaning is about Egypt [the men] corrupting the Samarians [the virgin who became a prostitute].)

Zechariah 14:2 “I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped (shakab). Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city.”

(Rape: Self-explanatory.)

Context

Leviticus 18 (KJV)

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the LORD your God. After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances. Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the LORD. The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness. The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover. The nakedness of thy son’s daughter, or of thy daughter’s daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover: for theirs is thine own nakedness. The nakedness of thy father’s wife’s daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s sister: she is thy father’s near kinswoman. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother’s sister: for she is thy mother’s near kinswoman. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine aunt. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter in law: she is thy son’s wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife: it is thy brother’s nakedness. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, neither shalt thou take her son’s daughter, or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness; for they are her near kinswomen: it is wickedness. Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time. Also thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is put apart for her uncleanness. Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour’s wife, to defile thyself with her.Thou shalt not give any of thy seed to be consecrated to the idol Molech, nor defile the name of thy God. Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion. Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled; That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.

So first we have a greeting, then specific acts to being with people near of kin from verses 6-20, then we have acts that are specific to the Idol worship of Molech in verses 21-24. The last verses 25-30 describes the inhabitants of the Land of Canaan which committed these customs before the Israelites came into the land.

Molech was the fertility god that many people at the time of Leviticus were following in Canaan and abroad instead of God. When you read the entire chapter of Leviticus 18, you will see previous to the 19th verse, it speaks of all sexual prohibitions specific to those too close to your kin. Then we switch gears in verse 19 and mention “giving seed to Molech.” Afterwards are a list of things that were commonly associated with idolatry in shrine rituals to praise Molech, which included men giving their sperm as a sacrifice to Molech by that of bestiality and an emission through the male shrine prostitutes. This was an extremely common and well-known practice among worshipers of Molech and other false gods in idol worship. Remember that male prostitutes who have sex with men are not representative of all gays and lesbians, just as heterosexual woman prostitutes do not include all heterosexuals.  Also note an alternative translation of Leviticus 18:21 states, “You shall not offer your children (instead of ‘seed’) as sacrifice to Molech.” This is even more curious because all of chapter 18 speaks of sexual acts up until this verse which (in this translation) is not sexual, and then following are sexual things associated with idol worship of Molech. Looking closer at the Hebrew translation shows that the word zera (זָ֫רַע) used for “seed” or “children” also means semen, seminal and/or intercourse. The Hebrew word before this for “offer” is nathan (נָתַן) which also means “perform.” With this said, an actual alternate translation of the verse could be “you shall not perform intercourse as sacrifice to Molech” or “you shall not offer your semen as sacrifice to Molech.” Although Molech may have been given children, those without children would be required to give semen, as it was seen as a sacrifice of life. Thus, following the general theme of Leviticus 18, a sexual act would seem to be more accurate. This appears to show that Leviticus 18:22 is not speaking to the general audience, but to those involved in these practices which were not only sexually immoral, but idolatrous before the Lord.

Likewise, the 20th chapter of Leviticus (which includes 20:13) begins with a strong warning about Molech and lists all of the punishments of those who participate in the forbidden sexual practices in Moses’ law, including those associated with idolatry. The King James Version states, “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed (semen) unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones. And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed (semen) unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name. And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed (semen) unto Molech, and kill him not: Then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people.” The New International Version states, “The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing in Israel who sacrifices any of his children to Molech is to be put to death. The members of the community are to stone him. I myself will set my face against him and will cut him off from his people; for by sacrificing his children to Molech, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. If the members of the community close their eyes when that man sacrifices one of his children to Molech and if they fail to put him to death, I myself will set my face against him and his family and will cut them off from their people together with all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molech.” Leviticus 20:1-5.  (NIV)

We can learn a lot from the last line of this verse: “with all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molech” (Leviticus 20:5). This reveals how the people used sex and prostitution within their idol worship. Other verses give similar proof. Leviticus 17:7 states, “They must no longer offer any of their sacrifices to the goat idols to whom they prostitute themselves.” Also in Judge 2:17, “Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them.

Note that worship of Molech was so detested that the land upon which the main shrine sat was desecrated and later used as the city trash dump. There, trash would burn night and day. The former shrine is better known as “Gehenna” but is also referred to as “Molech Valley.” This place has been compared to Hell , even by Jesus in the Gospels.

Lastly, it must be mentioned that the Bible was not originally divided into chapters and verses. Chapters were made and changed through the years since 1240 to 1551. The Bible was then divided into verses in 1555 by a typographer, Robert Estienne, who wrote the Latin Vulgate. It was reported that he completed this task while traveling from Paris to Lyons France on horseback. This comes into scrutiny that a single man inserted verses into the Bible without the divine inspiration found of its original authors, hence the context of many writings have been lost. When we separate the Books of the Bible into small subcategories, it leaves room for taking things out of context. If Leviticus chapter 18 had been made into a new chapter at verse 19 (speaking of Molech), or if verses 19-24 had been made into one verse rather than six, than many readers would be able to see that the following verse were speaking specifically of sexual acts within idol worship.  The Bible must be read as a whole to be properly understood, not by simply picking and choosing specific verses out of context and assume meaning. This would be similar to taking half of a quote out of any modern book and assuming the meaning of the entire story.

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From → Biblical, Sexuality

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