Wisdom from the Hebrew Bible

English: Hebrew Bible text as written in a Jew...
English: Hebrew Bible text as written in a Jewish Sefer Torah. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once upon a time when I was teaching a course using the books of the Bible as the main reading assignment, a student asked me why I always used the phrase “Hebrew Bible” instead of “Old Testament” when talking about the earliest books.

“Simple.  Because “Old” has a certain connotation, as in”superseded”. But for many it’s not old at all.”

Here’s an old (as in been around a while now) response to Dr. Laura.


English: Radio counselor Dr. Laura Schlessinger
English: Radio counselor Dr. Laura Schlessinger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


On her radio show, Dr. Laura said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following response is an open letter to Dr. Schlesinger, written by a US man, and posted on the Internet. It’s funny, as well as quite informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I’m confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan,

James M. Kauffman,

Ed.D. Professor Emeritus,

Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia

P.S. (It would be a damn shame if we couldn’t own a Canadian.)

And watch a dramatization here:

 

7 thoughts on “Wisdom from the Hebrew Bible

  1. Here are a couple of comments from Episyllogism’s Facebook page which has been viewed by over 400 folks. (Note to the 400: feel free to comment here or there!)

    From Ken Cathers: Thanks Bob for sharing this. Of course I have many friends who are Christian and yes they are good people. However,as you have illustrated to base any argument of moral superiority on scripture is dangerous business.
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · Yesterday at 8:52am

    Episyllogism The problem, of course, is that one has to make a judgment about which of the commands to follow!
    And thanks to John Opgaard for the link to The West Wing.

    Like

  2. “The problem, of course, is that one has to make a judgment about which of the commands to follow!”

    Profound. And that judgment is a moral judgment. And that suggests the moral judgment is made before going to the text.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If Christians ignore God and switch to Jesus, then they should know Jesus:

    “Think not that I come to send peace on earth: I come not to send peace, but a sword. For I come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughters against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And the man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” Matt.10:34-35-36. See also Luke 12:51-52-53.

    “And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.” Matt.10:21; Mark 13:12 and Luke 21:16.

    “If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother and wife and children, and brethren and sister; yea, and his own life also he cannot be my disciple.” Luke14:26.

    These verses show you the other side of Jesus, a side not preached regularly in Sunday sermons.

    Like

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