[b-hebrew] Lev 18.22; 20.13 (submission)

rpunkboy at netzero.com rpunkboy at netzero.com
Sun Nov 7 20:10:36 EST 2004


Here, is my analysis of Lev. 18.22; 20.13. I would like to recieve any feedback or responses to it. It mainly depends on Jerome T. Walsh's assertion that Lev. 18.22 address the passive partner (2001). Would you agree or disagree? 

Typically, Leviticus 18.22 is translated by English bibles as “You are not to lie with a man as one lies with a woman; it is an abomination,” with the phrase miškěbě iššâ being understood as a relative participle clause referring to the active penetrator, “as one lies with a woman.” However, as Jerome T. Walsh has rightly pointed out, miškěbě is a cognate of sâkav, “to lie,” thus, making it an internal/absolute object or schema/figura etymologica.  The cognate direct object construction “regularly describes an action performed by the subject, not the subject’s experience of someone else’s action”  So “Let the earth produce produce (i.e. vegetation), “they feared a fear” (Ps. 14.5), “Jerusalem has sinned a sin” (Pr. 15.27), and “they have dreamed a dream” (Jo. 3.1) would confirm Walsh’s initial remarks. And miškěbě iššâ should be understood as having a genitive since it is in the construct-absolute state; thus, the cognate sâkav in 2 Sam 4.5b reads wěhu΄ šōkhěv ě΄t miškav haṣṣharayim, “he was lying down the laying of noontime,” not “with” noontime. And Genesis 49.4 states: “you went up to the lyings (miškěbě) of your father,” which conveys masculine norms of sex as opposed to miškěbě iššâ, “lyings of a woman,” feminine norms of sex. Lev 18.22; 20.13 should be read word-for-word as “to lie the lyings of a woman with a man” or “to lie with a man as a woman,” making the verses subject the passive partner (i.e. pathic) and the recipient of the “lying” as the active partner, “with a man.” And the recent Generative linguistic analysis of the first four books of the Torah by Asya Pereltsvaig (Yale) has demonstrated that cognate objects in Biblical Hebrew function either as arguments or adverbials; miškěbě iššâ is an adv-CO.  This reading is also  supported by a tannaitic colloquy in Sipra Kodeshim 9.14 (third-century CE): 
A. We heard the punishment, but we did not hear the prohibition. 
B. Scripture says, “Do not lie with a male as one lies with a female”   
C. I only have a prohibition for the penetrator, where is there a prohibition for the one penetrated? 
D. [. . .]
E. Rabbi Akiba says, “Do not lie with a male as one lies with a female,” read it [qere]: “Do not be laid.” 

R. Akiba’s niphal conjunction with its rereading of the Massoretic qal vocalization or the more preferable syntactical reworking would make Lev. 18.22 address those who are pathics amongst the recently exiled free male Israelite citizens (Lev. 17.1; 18.1-3, 27; 19.13, 14; 20.2, 21.1): the recipients of the Holiness Code (Lev. 17-26). 


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