Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Wacky Bible Quote of the Day: Deu 25:11-12

Deu 25:11 When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets:





Deu 25:12 Then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity [her].



(images from The Brick Testament, previously mentioned here.)

48 comments:

BrooklynWolf said...

I agree with you that there are many statements in the Bible that are looney based on a straight reading.

But you know that Jews don't interpret that verse literally.

The Wolf

Sadie Lou said...

I love those. I really do.

R10B said...

After she has released the secrets one would hope.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Bad translation.

It's more like:

she stretched out her hand and grabbed him by his no-no place

;-)

Jewish Atheist said...

But you know that Jews don't interpret that verse literally.

This is true. But why don't they? If the Torah didn't mean it literally, why use such strange and strong language? It's discussing a matter of law, not providing a story with a moral. What if we "interpreted" American law in the same fashion? ("Well, Your Honor, the law wasn't being literal when it said I should be executed...")

I suspect the verse presents more of a problem to Christian literalists like Sadie Lou and JC Masterpiece than to Orthodox Jews, though.

Sadie Lou said...

I suspect the verse presents more of a problem to Christian literalists like Sadie Lou and JC Masterpiece than to Orthodox Jews, though.

So when Jesus says if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out--I take that literally? Or when he says if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off?
No.
You are not making the distinction between what is literal, what is imagry, what is symbolism, what is parable, what is metephor.

CyberKitten said...

JA said: why use such strange and strong language?

If you consider how many times the Bible has been translated, mis-translated, copied & mis-copied, edited & re-edited over the last 2K years... I'm surprised that it makes as much 'sense' as it does.

Jewish Atheist said...

Sadie Lou: I wasn't aware that you made the distinction. How can you tell what is "literal, what is imagry, what is symbolism, what is parable, what is metephor?"

For example, how do you know that the Creation story isn't parable or symbolism?

Jewish Atheist said...

cyberkitten: I doubt an Orthodox Jew is going to use that as an answer. :)

R10B said...

JA, why must you give Sadie Lou head aches?

Sadie Lou said...

JA
You should pay more attention. :) I've said it here before. I think common sense is a huge contribution for what should be taken literally. Education from people who have studied the word--Matthew Henry comes to mind. It is clear the bible uses these methods to convey principles. Jesus spoke in parables often.

As far as the creation story goes, all I really know for sure is that God wants us to know that He is the alpha and the omega. The beginning and the end. Maybe it happened exactly the way it was written in Genisis, maybe it didn't. Maybe that's the best way He could have explained what He did so that we'd understand...

cyberkitten--
Have you ever heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls?

r10b--
He's not bothering me. I enjoy this.

R10B said...

The Bible is not ambiguous about important issues. Taken as a whole, themes are repeated often enough that you don't usually need to ask yourself what exactly one verse or one word in one verse means.

We have denominations for that stuff. For instance; in my church grabbing of secrets is frowned upon but not grounds for excommunication.

Sadie Lou said...

r10b--
What denomination are you? (if you don't mind me asking)

Jewish Atheist said...

The Bible is not ambiguous about important issues.

Then how is it that both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Pat Robertson believe(d) they are/were following it? How can Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush both be Christians?

In short, if the Bible is so unambigous on the important issues, how come people can't agree on what it teaches?

CyberKitten said...

Sadie Lou said: I think common sense is a huge contribution for what should be taken literally.

Unfortunately Sadie - Sense is FAR from common.....

CyberKitten said...

Sadie Lou said: cyberkitten--
Have you ever heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls?

Yup.

What about them?

Laura said...

Sadie said: "I think common sense is a huge contribution for what should be taken literally."

That's absolutely true. The point JA is trying to make (I think) is that it doesn't make sense to take the bible literally. If you take it literally, what can common sense have to do with it at all? The entire Bible, verse for verse, is a a literal transcription of God's word according to a true literalist. Using common sense to interpret verses goes against the principle of Biblical literalism. For a true literalist, it's all or nothing.

Literalism works better for the Old Testament (which is mostly codes of conduct and history of the Hebrew people). That's why many literalists are the "fire & brimstone" "wrath of god" type christians.

Literalism falls apart when you try to apply those codes of conduct (written in a very different time and place and culture) to our current social/political context, or try to apply them universally to all cultures. It falls apart even more when you get to Jesus' parables.

Muslim scholars argue the same thing regarding the way the Qu'ran is used as Islamic law, stating that the laws (such as men taking 4 wives) were written for a very specific purpose, no longer applicable in today's world. (that law, by the way, was written after many men died in a war and women had no means of self support - so men took several wives in order to take care of all the widows).

Sadie Lou said...

In short, if the Bible is so unambigous on the important issues, how come people can't agree on what it teaches?
Sorry, but why would it be God's fault or the fault of God's word that people can't agree on it's meaning?
Wouldn't that be the fault of the people?
A painter could paint a beautiful painting and then people could sit and argue about the context of it's meaning all the live long day--is that the painter's fault?

R10B said...

Then how is it that both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Pat Robertson believe(d) they are/were following it? How can Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush both be Christians?

Because they all believe(d) what Jesus said in John 14:6, "...I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me."

Jewish Atheist said...

Sorry, but why would it be God's fault or the fault of God's word that people can't agree on it's meaning?

I was responding to R10B, who wrote, "The Bible is not ambiguous about important issues." If it's unambiguous, people should have no trouble agreeing on its meaning.

A painter could paint a beautiful painting and then people could sit and argue about the context of it's meaning all the live long day--is that the painter's fault?

The verses in question aren't an abstract piece of art, they're a matter of law. If God didn't mean that we should cut off her hand, why did he say we should? Why did He need to add "thine eye shall not pity [her?]" What did He mean by those verses?

What is your methodology for determining which verses are meant to be taken literally vs. symobolically vs. metaphorically vs. parabolically? (Is that a word?)

You said that it's just "common sense." But if nobody can agree on which is which, obviously "common sense" isn't sufficient.

R10B

Because they all believe(d) what Jesus said in John 14:6, "...I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me."

So when you wrote "The Bible is not ambiguous about important issues," the only important issue you were referring to is John 14:6? What about morality? What about religion vs. national law? What about war and abortion? I would argue that these are all important issues and that the Bible is ambiguous on all of them.

asher said...

I'm sorry..I used to be an Orthodox Jew and I'm pretty sure they interpret it the way it reads. Of course, you have to wonder how a woman would think to grab a guy's crotch when her husband is in a fight.

If there is any commentary on this verse I'd love to hear it.

Deut. is deemed to have a different "holiness" than the previous four books. They only discovered it years after the Kingdom was established and many think it's some kind of forgery.
You tell me.

Sadie Lou said...

You said that it's just "common sense." But if nobody can agree on which is which, obviously "common sense" isn't sufficient.

Gave other examples of how I, personally, determine what is literal and what is not. I can't speak for everyone. Not everyone has common sense--like cyberkitten and Laura already pointed out. Besides common sense, I also make good use of teachers, for instance Matthew Henry. He commented on every passage in the bible so let's look at what he says about Duet.25:11-12
II. A law for the punishing of an immodest woman, v. 11, 12. The woman that by the foregoing law was to complain against her husband's brother for not marrying her, and to spit in his face before the elders, needed a good measure of assurance; but, lest the confidence which that law supported should grow to an excess unbecoming the sex, here is a very severe but just law to punish impudence and immodesty. 1. The instance of it is confessedly scandalous to the highest degree. A woman could not do it unless she were perfectly lost to all virtue and honour. 2. The occasion is such as might in part excuse it; it was to help her husband out of the hands of one that was too hard for him. Now if the doing of it in a passion, and with such a good intention, was to be so severely punished, much more when it was done wantonly and in lust. 3. The punishment was that her hand should be cut off; and the magistrates must not pretend to be more merciful than God: Thy eye shall not pity her. Perhaps our Saviour alludes to this law when he commands us to cut off the right hand that offends us, or is an occasion of sin to us. Better put the greatest hardships that can be upon the body than ruin the soul for ever. Modesty is the hedge of chastity, and therefore ought to be very carefully preserved and kept up by both sexes.

Now, you're not suggesting that this law is still in effect for Christians are you? You were just speculating that it was a harsh crime for a seemingly little offense, right?

Jewish Atheist said...

Sadie Lou,

Matthew Henry seems to be taking the verse literally. However, your comment above ("So when Jesus says if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out--I take that literally? Or when he says if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off?
No.") sounds like you don't take it literally. Do you disagree with him here, or am I missing something?

Sadie Lou said...

I think you are confusing the old covenant with the new covenant. Yes that translation was interpreted correctly by Henry. Yes it was a real law to be followed. No we are not under that law anymore for when Jesus died on the cross, he fulfilled the law, not abolished it--but finished it. We do not die by the law anymore.

Jewish Atheist said...

So you believe that the verses were meant literally at the time?

R10B said...

I retract the unambiguous claim. The many Bible commentaries and the many divisions in the church clearly attest to it. I'm not admitting to any deficiency in the text. Interpretation is just that, and in some cases the Bible seems purposefully vague. I meant only to say that by weaving together the many stories and propositions, a larger, more unified picture emerges; that of God's plan to reconcile Man to Himself. But I overshot wildly. Funny that I could write something that even I don't agree with.

Jewish Atheist said...

Funny that I could write something that even I don't agree with.

Happens to the best of us. :) It's those who can't admit when they're wrong who are in trouble.

I meant only to say that by weaving together the many stories and propositions, a larger, more unified picture emerges; that of God's plan to reconcile Man to Himself.

That sounds like a whole discussion in itself. Perhaps you should write a post about it.

R10B said...

When I can confidently moderate such a topic I will, and you'll be the first jewish atheist to score an invite.

Laura said...

"Yes that translation was interpreted correctly by Henry."

Says who? Who's authority was used to decide which translation was "correct"? Some human being. Human beings are fallible and can make mistakes. What happens if people decide his translation is wrong in certain areas? Is there room for discussion and deliberation on "the word of God"? It sounds like a big contradiction to me.

Shlomo said...

Re: you have to wonder how a woman would think to grab a guy's crotch when her husband is in a fight.

Ever have a woman (or anyone) grab your nuts and squeeze real hard? Try it out and you’ll have you’re answer. It will definitely ruin your day.

In this case, she is doing what she can to protect her husband. Either the Torah doesn’t want women to break up fights or, as I suspect is the case, Moses was worried that the patriarchal nonsense he instituted would create a few “Lorena Bobbitts”, so he figured we should offer special protection to “Mr. Winkie.”

“Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned.”

asher said...

to sl aronovitz:

Focus.

Two guys are in a fight. The wife of one of them grabs the other fighter's nuts and applies pressure.

This is the situation. What I asked was how could a woman get in between two guys fighting like that and manage to squeeze his nether reigions? The whole sitation is so strange it must logically have some other reason.
Perhaps says that men's testicles are more important than a woman's attempt to save her husband's life..who the hell knows.

Shlomo said...

Asher,

Further elucidation.

You operate in an environment where people generally do not come to blows over their differences. I worked security in bars and night clubs. I have seen women go for the other man's Mr. Winkie (or their own man's.) It's not pretty. Women in a fight can be very, very vicious, and unlike the macho-men who puff themselves up and take risks to swing at each other, women get right to the vulnerable spots without hesitation.

In those times, if a woman's husband was injured in a fight, she would be left without parnoso. She wasn't protecting him so much as she was herself.

Ever go yo a baseball game and a ground ball takes a bad hop and crushes some poor 2nd baseman in the cajoles? Every man in the stadium feels a sympathy pain at that moment. It was for this reason that Moshe enacted such a rule to punish those who hurt Mr. Winkie.

Sadie Lou said...

JA--
Yes. I believe that was a law for that time.

Laura--
It's not rocket science. It's clear that this was a real law. See sl aronovitz's explanation of why this would be a law even though it seems "wacky" to us. Keep in mind: Americans are not the last word on everything. The Bible was written to accomidate everyone: Jews and Gentiles. Just because Scripture goes against the American "grain" doesn't mean Scripture is wrong. It's quite possible America is wrong--in fact, I'm certain of it.

Jewish Atheist said...

Sadie Lou,

So do you think the law was fair and reasonable?

Sadie Lou said...

It's not up to me to decide what's fair and reasonable. I'm not of that time nor am I God. I don't think stoning your disobedient children was fair and reasonable either--but I don't have to think it's fair.
My kids very rarely think I'm being fair or reasonable.
;)

Jewish Atheist said...

All I know is that if my Dad ordered me to chop off my sister's hand because she grabbed a man's balls, I would disobey him and stop taking his advice seriously in the future.

Sadie Lou said...

I think this law fits in nicely with the description of Talionic Justice: In which case, God allowed man's poetic justice of "eye for eye, tooth for a tooth" until Jesus puts an end to that form of justice in his teachings.
So when a woman publically disgraced herself with such an aggressive form of brutality, she was repaid in kind with the loss of her hand. I also heard that later the law suggested that her hair (down there) be shaved off instead. I think the whole thing is strange.

Shlomo said...

This rule like most of the other rules were to make sure that MEN ruled the rulings. Mr. Winkie is the 'sweet spot', and doing damage to it is not only a matter of personal injury or insult, but damage to it could stop the other guy from making babies or taking his pleasure. This was a society created by men, for men, and women were more or less property.

The 'logic' here isn't tough to figure out. The 11th commandment is "Don't mess with Mr. Winkie, bitch!" Moses was doing a 'solid' for his homies. Pimp hand way strong!

Shlomo said...

When we hear of new legislation being added, we usually wonder what happened to make this new law necessary.

One would think that the normal Tort rules would apply here, but it's obviously not the case. There is something more to this than personal injury.

Now if a man squeeze's the bejeebus out of another man's beytzim, what is his punishment? The Torah doesn't say "Ayver tachas Ayver" (Ayver literally means limb, but it is usually used in reference to the 'limb'.)

Sadie Lou said something about her punishment as having her pubes shaved off. Firstly, how would you know that from the Scripture, and secondly, where would I apply for that job?

asher said...

Just wondering...has anyone actually seen a fight where this happened? In every fight I've ever seen the women are off on the side crying about their men getting pummeled. (When two women fight everyone enjoys the show). I guess aronovitz has worked some very scary bars and night clubs.

Shlomo said...

Asher,

Do you think Israeli women would sit by and do nothing to help the man they love? How about South American women? How about black women? A lot of women on this planet and in this age are NOT the mousy little crybabies you imagine them (or want them) to be. Those tougher ones are the kind of women I love.

As far as bars and clubs....It really doesn't matter what social class one is speaking of, once alcohol is added, anything can happen. The reason that many clubs (I worked in the upscale ones) have security is to protect the club from law suits that other patrons would file if they were hurt in an alercation. When a man and woman get into a physical fight and a bouncer tries to break them up by restraining the husband, 7 out of 10 times the woman will attack the bouncer in defense of her man. Seen it many times.

Laura said...

Sadie - my point wasn't the nature of the law itself, or who is doing the interpretation. It was that literalism, no matter how you slice it, doesn't work.

Literalism: Adherence to the explicit sense of a given text or doctrine.

If the Bible is the literal and eternal law and word of God, then it can't be taken piecemeal (these passages are archaic so we'll throw them aside because somehow we know that God didn't mean for those to apply to us right now, but we like these over here), but literalism also doesn't work in the entirety either (because as you said, common sense says the laws aren't eternal and forever applicable). So either way - literalism does not work.

Shlomo said...

One HAS to assume that the Bible is literal. Otherwise, one has to believe that God doesn't mean what he says or say what he means, and is incapable of communicating His wishes clearly with that thing He created.

If we assume that one part is to taken literally and another figuratively, then we are left to question how to tell the difference and by what standard to decide. the Bibles themselves do NOT offer any information on this, leading this reader to assume that everything is meant quite literal. The tone of the OT in terms of adherence to WORDS (Ayleh haDEVARIM)sugggests a straight-forward and literal law giving.

Some suggest that God left it up to us to interpret the Bibles where it seems unclear. For those of you who ascribe to this, please tell em where you get the authority to make that decision? Is it somewhere in the Scripture? And if it isn't, then how do you assume such authority?

If we can willy-nilly translate and interpret on our own, then it is liley that you are not fulfilling God's Word, but your own; in effect picking and choosing the meanings YOU want from the Bible, as ooposed to the literal meanings that God likely intended, which is why He said it in the 1st place.

Laura said...

SL - then how come we don't still adhere to all the laws in the Bible if it's eternal, literal, and we're given no authority to interpret or change it? Why aren't we still punishing people who don't observe the sabath? Or who eat shellfish? Or who wear cotton and linen together (or white shoes after labor day)?

Just curious. Anyone who does not follow the Bible to the absolute letter cannot be a true literalist. Anyone who does, cannot possibly survive in modern society.

Sadie Lou said...

Just curious. Anyone who does not follow the Bible to the absolute letter cannot be a true literalist. Anyone who does, cannot possibly survive in modern society.

This is probably the single, most frustrating thing about arguing religion with unbelievers. I can't seem to get through people's heads that there are different covenants with the Lord throught history.
The one we are currently living under is the covenant of grace.
God sent his only son to die on the cross to satisfy his wrath against past sins, present sins and future sins.
Up until Christ's death and ressurection, God's people satisfied his wrath through obedience to the law and animal sacrifice as well as offerings.
There was also the Levitical/Temple laws
There was the Mosaic law
There was man-made laws
People get these things all jumbled up in their minds because they don't take the time to figure out the real story. People just hear "don't wear clothing of mixed fibers" and go," That's wacky!" without trying to understand it's origins.
It's like an alien from space coming to America and saying," That is SO wrong that you guys make people of color sit at the back of the bus; you're wacky." without researching the history of that statement.

Laura said...

I think we're agreeing Sadie (gasp). You have to take the context of the laws into account. But my earlier point in this discussion was that far too many "christians" focus on the Old Testament fire & brimstone laws rather than the true teachings of Jesus. The problem there is, as you said earlier, many of Jesus' teachings are allegorical - meaning in need of human interpretation - meaning not to be taken literally, but figuratively, within the context of a given culture and time.

Sadie Lou said...

That is exactly what I'm saying Laura. That's why I enjoy talking to you--
I think too many denominations of the faith focus on the fire and brimstone too.
They make Jesus' salvational work on the cross secondary to one's own merits.

Phil said...

I think the reason that nut-squeezing is so strongly discouraged is not de facto misogynism, but related to the severe proviso's against 'seed spillage', i.e., to waste a sperm is to waste a man, and to waste a man is to waste a universe, ad infinitum.