Disclaimer: This post contains sexually suggestive material. You HAVE been warned.
I just had to share this.
My Hebrew Bible teacher had heads spinning in class tonight when we got somewhat off topic. We started with a fairly tame discussion about what’s really going on in Joshua. (Yay for me, right?? For those of you who don’t know, Joshua 1 is my text for the semester in my Preaching class.)
So we’re through Chapter 1 and we hit Chapter 2 and we talk about how Joshua isn’t exactly obeying God’s instruction and we start talking about the spies Joshua sent out. So in Joshua 2:1b most Bible translations say something along the lines of, so the two men went to the house of a prostitute named Rahab, and they slept — or spent the night — there. Our teacher went on a tangent about the sexualization of Rahab (she was labeled a prostitute) and the “goodness” of the Israelite men (all they did was sleep, right?). He points out in Hebrew the last part is properly translated “and they lie there,” which means — bibically — that the men had sex with Rahab. But the Bible translators don’t want us “good Christian folk” to think about the Israelite men “getting some” while they’re supposed to be doing the Lord’s work. Yep, that’s what he said.
Now I’m just going to put it out there, I assumed “getting some,” as the teacher so tactfully put it, WAS the reason they went to Rahab’s house and nothing else needed to be said. I mean who goes to the house of a prostitute JUST to sleep?? That’s like saying you subscribe to Playboy for the articles. OK, yeah, right.
So the teacher continued his train of thought by pointing out two passages where the writers, or translators, want to be clear that there is sexual activity going on. He goes on to say “know” is not used as a verb to describe intercourse in these particular settings.
His first example was Genesis 19:31. For those of you thinking Genesis 19 is about Sodom and Gomorrah, you are right but you’re wrong about where the teacher was going with his thought. (Here is where you dust off your Bible and turn to Genesis 19:31.)
Got it? Say, “Amen.” If you need more time, say “Wait!” 🙂
I should also take this moment to clarify that we use the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, so everything I’m about to write is based upon that translation.
For those of you who don’t have a NRSV or don’t feel like Googling an on-line NRSV bible, the word “know” is used in the passage as is “lie.” So he wanted to know which word, then meant “had sex with.” Then he asked how the word “know” was actually used in the NRSV. He then re-raised the question about what the Israelite men were really doing at Rahab’s house. Laughter ensued.
He then took us a few chapters deeper, to Genesis 38. He directed us to Verses 8 and 9. Again, this is in the NRSV. There is sex described, but it is never described as “getting to know” the other person, he said. Yet again he re-raises the question about what was going down at Rahab’s. More laughter.
Just when we thought he was done, because he’d made his point, he goes back to Joshua 2 but this time to Verse 8. He asks one of us to read the passage out loud. The NSRV says, “Before they went to sleep, she came up to them on the roof…” And the teacher stops the student reading the verse and says, dripping with sarcasm, “Oh come on! This is just Round 2 with the prostitute and we know it!” We were done.
And so am I.