Naked Bible Podcast Episode 79: Leviticus 17-18 Posted by DrHeiser | Dec 18, 2015 | Biblical Study & Translation, Hebrew Bible (OT), Leviticus, NakedBible | The episode is now live. Share: Rate:
Good stuff Mike, Good stuff,
Just to clarify Jews’ view on homosexuality being a sin, Reform Jews don’t believe in the divinity of the Torah, don’t believe in actual Revelation (i.e. God giving Moses laws) and many simply don’t believe in God or of the national origins of Israel, hence, they wouldn’t even dream of believing homosexuality being a sin.
Now regarding your interoperation of semen ‘literally’ being the implanting of a child into the womb, I find that hard to believe they believed that. The reason is that there is a separate law regarding two men quarreling and causing the miscarriage if a woman is accidentally hit. The punishment for a homosexual is death….so you would think that the punishment for the man causing the miscarriage would be death too…..but it’s not. He is supposed to pay a fine. So did they actually believe it is a baby dying if man spills his seed while sodomozing another man? It’s perhaps a push. Maybe it is simply against the spilling of “potential” life. But again, it is hard to believe one would get death if in other occasions you did not get it.
Regarding Canaan having sex with his mother? Awesome. I heard it from a rabbi at our synagogue. The same can be said about Rueben sleeping with Bilha, and Absalom having sex with David’s concubines.
Understood on the reformed view of Torah. Such a view is (as you know) quite different than more conservative strains and ancient views.
The miscarriage passage isn’t a contradiction of the “planting” idea — she loses the child already planted. The reason for the different punishments in the miscarriage passage is not due to the deaths being unequal – the death of a person is the result in both instances. The variance in punishment/ payment has to do with social status. You get the same inequities in Hammurabi’s code — different penalties for taking the life of a man, woman, free child, slave.
The examples of Reuben and Absalom are good ones – capture the point of usurpation.
Im confused. Do you see inequalities when it comes to the death penalty in the Torah? An individual is put to death if he commits murder, whether man or woman, rich or poor. Regarding planting the seed, it seems the miscarriage is even more reason to put the culprit to death since the “planted seed” is even more developed in the pregnant mother. Also, why wouldn’t masturbation be listed as a crime punishable by death.
I’m just reporting that in the miscarriage passage there is no reason to conclude that the contents of the womb was not a person. The variance in penalties was not an indication of “non personhood”. The ancient Israelite (and the ancient Babylon of Hammurabi’s day” would have recognized each case as the death of a human being. But these laws at times reflect variance in punishment based on social class at the time (and of course intent). I’m just reporting the original context.
There’s no specific law about masturbation, so it’s speculation (though logical) that it would have been a capital crime given the worldview. Natural emissions were not viewed as having such “malicious” intent, though. I think it’s also worth pointing out that in this culture men and women tended to marry at a much earlier age, so (again speculation) this was perhaps far less of an issue than other cultures. Onan of course was killed (by God no less) for “spilling the seed on the ground” (Gen 38) — but the context is clearly not masturbation; that was about refusal to raise up life for his deceased brother’s name and his wife. The malicious (selfish) intent there is clear.
Still not clear on issue of social standings.
In both examples of homosexual sodomy and miscarriage perpetrator, it is a male against another male. (with miscarriage, it is against the expectant father, who one owes a fine to). So where do the social standings differ that the punishments would be different? In both instances, “personhood” has been killed off. If anything, even if the miscarriage WAS unintentional, it should still receive are more sever punishment than a fine….at the very least the guilty party having to run to a haven city. Again, that is if it is personhood being killed. And in the instance of the miscarriage, the “personhood” is far more developed, than just wasting semen like the sodomist would do. Even an ancient Israelite would notice that.
So since in both examples you have male perpetrators causing harm to another male (equal social standings) and the fact that a miscarriage is far more developed than simply wasting semen, perhaps it is an argument that in the Torah, the death penalty for a homosexual has nothing to do with “personhood” being actually killed off.
Great article you posted alongside the podcast. I have a question about the Hebrew word that is used in gen 9:22,25; in English translation we read ‘brothers’ in the two verses. Are these the same words in Hebrew? If yes; could the text in verse 25 mean (taken the maternal incest view) that Canaan is equated with his (half)brothers Shem and Japheth as born from the same mother? If yes; then I think this could be another proof of the maternal incest case brought forth in the article…
Yes, they are the same Hebrew lemma. An interesting suggestion, though the lemma can refer to extended relatives. But it could be read the way you suggest (i.e., a deliberate choice in light of the usurpation trajectory that arises from the maternal incest view).