Don’t tell the Evangelicals, but the bible has sex in it. A lot.

English: Illustration to The Holy Bile, Judges...

English: Illustration to The Holy Bile, Judges, chapter 3. Eglon assassinated by Ehud. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, Joseph was a “stud,” as Peter Enns describes him, but he wasn’t the only sex fiend in Scripture. The Bible is actually a very human book, in that it deals with the full range of human passion, including, well, sex.

For example, did you know that God freed Israel by a homosexual rape? He presented the tribute to Eglon, king of Moab, who was very fat, and after the presentation went off with the tribute bearers. He returned, however, from where the idols are, near Gilgal, and said, “I have a private message for you, O king.” And the king said, “Silence!” Then when all his attendants had left his presence,  and Ehud went in to him where he sat alone in his cool upper room, Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” So the king rose from his chair, and then Ehud with his left hand drew the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into Eglon’s belly. The hilt also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade because he did not withdraw the dagger from his body. (Jdg 3:17-22 NAB)

A couple of things here. First, there is a similar story in the Avesta. Second, the fatted king is made a sacrifice. Third, there are two men alone here. Ehud sticks in his blade into the “stomach” of the king and kills him. Rape was a way to rid a king of his authority and manhood. Ehud did just that. If you don’t read it as the authors (re)wrote it, you miss a lot.

Why are we concerned when we speak vulgar (I mean that in both ways) about Scripture when there are so many vulgar (again) things in Scripture? Indeed, if you haven’t read the Song of Solomon in the original erotica, you haven’t read the Song of Solomon. Granted, they have better, more concealed words for body parts than we do, but…there are there. A lot.

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Post By Joel Watts (9,936 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, working on the use of Deuteronomy in the Fourth Gospel. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

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6 thoughts on Don’t tell the Evangelicals, but the bible has sex in it. A lot.

  1. I never realised that about the Eglon story. How do we know it has this sexual meaning?

    • The blade into the bowel, the “dirt”, the fact that Ehud was naked. Plus, the Avesta counterpart has a sexual connotation as well

  2. A few questions. First, what exactly is the origin of that quote in your post? I’d be interested in reading it. I’m guessing its in one of Enns’ books, but I’m unable to find out which one. Second, I’d like to distinguish between four possibilities:

    (1) The author (or final redactor) of the Ehud story didn’t have any notion of sexual overtones in his head as he penned this story.
    (2) The author of the Ehud story told a story about a guy stabbing a king in the stomach with a sword, and he deliberately added sexual overtones to compare the situation to homosexual rape, just as Habakkuk 2:15 uses an implication of homosexual rape as a political metaphor.
    (3) The author of the Ehud story intended his readers to know that the story is about a homosexual rape but uses euphemistic language.
    (4) One author of the Ehud story wrote a story about a homosexual rape, and then a redactor attempted to sanitize the story later by rewritting it as the tale of a stabbing, and this redactor either (a) wanted overtones of rape to still be apparent to the reader, or (b) sought to completely desexualize the story but his work has been uncovered recently.

    I could believe (1) and (2) about equally easily, and I could also believe (3) if I saw pretty serious parallels. (4) would be even harder. I wish I could take Enns’ word for it straight from a quote, but some of his past work, like this doozy of a quote on the inhabitants of Nod, concerns me:

    Some have solved this problem by saying that Adam and Eve had a lot more children that Genesis simply neglects to mention, and so Cain married his sister. I suppose if one must, one can take refuge in this explanation. But this scenario seems a bit desperate—not to mention uncomfortable. Plus, this explanation is completely made up. Genesis neither says nor hints that the residents of Nod are Adam and Eve’s offspring. They are just “there.”

    • Why does that quote bother you? That is the standard quote given, especially considering the implications of “thought” among Young Earth Creationists.

      You make up a lot of possibilities instead of simply reading the text in known quantities. Euphemistic language is prevalent in Scripture. I mean, read Ruth. She wasn’t just being nice, but she was, um, being nice. Song of Solomon is filled with such language. So is Ezekiel.

      The quote from Enns is found in his recent book by Patheos.

  3. The quote I reference bothers me because the residents of Nod are not just “there” in the Bible. They’re not even mentioned. And yet Enns, in the article I linked to, goes so far as to refer to Nod as an “inhabited city,” despite the fact that the text never refers to Nod as a city, nor does it fill it with inhabitants. Further, Enns doesn’t seem to have found the reference to other sons and daughters of Adam and Eve which is indeed found in Genesis, nor the assertion that Eve was the “mother of all living.” My take: YEC theory deserves criticism, but the sort of criticism Enns’ made in his Biologos article plays so fast and loose with the text that it will only justify the YEC tendency to see people like Enns as sloppy Bible readers. In this case, Enns has given them every reason to think so.

    Of course I try to delimit the possibilities in a text that has been the subject of multiple interpretations and then try to choose between them on the basis of evidence. It seems like a better route to me than simply taking the word of Enns from a random quote of one of his books that you fail to cite. If you want me to believe you, it’s going to take a bit more, including a citation of exactly where you got that quote from, a citation to the story from the Avesta, and some indication that the sort of language found in the Ehud story is indeed euphemistic for homosexual rape. Merely asserting that the Bible does use euphemistic language is a far cry from demonstrating that it is using it here.

    It’s one thing to say the text has sexual overtones. That’s an easy case. It’s a lot harder to say that we should read the Ehud story as a rape scene. Not necessarily impossible; I’m just unfamiliar with anyone actually making the case for it in a detailed, careful way. If you’re willing to make that case though, or if you can point me to somewhere someone else has, I’m willing to give it a look.

    • Mitchell – First, I think that Enns is using the usual YEC stance in his comments, but doesn’t believe them. He is drawing a satirist vein to get the blood flowing back to the brain.

      Note that Enns is not talking about Ehud – but about Joseph and Potipher’s wife.

      Do you have access to Ebsco? Sacred Witness : Rape in the Hebrew Bible

      There is also a forthcoming article that I’ll see if I can get you a copy. One of the things you need to consider is the story of Yael as well, which is another rape and a reversal of it.

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