4. “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.”
18:22 NKJV). The Hebrew literally says: “You
shall not lie with a male [on] the bedding (or bed) of a woman (or wife), it is a despised
thing (or despicable act).” The Bible doesn’t always tell us why something is “despised,”
and hence we have to use reason. It is likely that the two men were having sex on the bed of the woman to despise her and
rub it in her face that she wasn’t woman enough. Reuben slept with his father’s wife on his dad’s bed to
despise his father Jacob. Also, according to the book “How
the People Lived in the Bible [HPLB], on pg. 117, it states: “The women’s portion of the tent was separated by
a curtain from the men’s half, and it was strictly off limits. A male stranger who entered a woman’s quarters
could be punished with death. Sisera hid in Jael’s tent, but paid for it with his life (Judg. 4:18-21).”
The plural Hebrew word mish-che-be (the bedding of) appears only 3 times in the Hebrew OT. The three places
are at: Gen. 49:4, Lev. 18:22 & Lev. 20:13. The “bedding” or “bed” in tents consisted of the mattress which was stuffed with straw
or feathers or animal skins spread out. [HPLB, pg. 139]. The Bible seems to support this definition. In the book of Judith,
it states: : “and her maid entered and spread for her [Judith] on the ground lambskins before Elpharna
(Holofernes) that she took from Boga to lie down on them…” (Jud. 12:15). Nevertheless,
another reference says the Jewish bed consisted of the mattress (i.e. mat), or one or more quilts (Smith’s Bible Dictionary,
pg. 79 under “bed”). Or according to the Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible (pg. 236); “the bed" consisted
of blankets spread out on the floor of the tent.” The following verse shows that collectively, “the
bedding” was considered “a bed.” Jacob said this to Reuben “you went up onto the bedding
(plural) of your father, onto my bed (singular) [you] ascended, and defiled it.”(Gen. 49:4).
to take notice of is that when the word mish-cab (bedding, mattress, bed) is in the plural
construct form, pronounced mish-che-be, the word “on,” as well as the word
“the,” are left out, and need to be inserted in the English translation. An example of this is at Gen.
49:4, which says: “Turbulent as the waters, you [Reuben] will no longer excel, for
you went up [onto] your father’s bed (Lit. [the] bedding of your father),
onto my couch and defiled it.” (Gen. 49:4 NIV). The word “onto” is added in our English translation
because it was needed to convey the thought given. The word “on” could have equally been chosen; and that verse
would say: “…, for you went up [on] your father’s bed..”
The Hebrew word mish-cab
literally means “something laid upon.” This noun is made from the verb shacav
“to lie upon.” In the Bible, the word mish-cab (bed) was often the”
ground” (Isa. 57:7). A person’s outer garment was his layer over the ground and himself (Ex. 22:26-27; Deut. 24:12-13);
and hence his covering. That is why God says to return any “cloak” as a pledge “before the sun goes
down…What will he sleep in?...” The bed was also made up of spread out material. According to Smith’s
Bible Dictionary, under the listing “bed” (pg. 79), it reads: “the Jewish bed consisted of the mattress,
a mere mat, or one or more quilts; the covering, a finer quilt, or sometimes the outer garment worn by day.” Linen was
also used as a covering on the bed (Proverb 7:16).
At 1 Chronicles 5:1, the writer uses a synonym for mish-che-be, which
is ye-tzu-e “spreads, bedding.” The Aramaic translation again translated this
Hebrew word here collectively in the singular as tish-wi-tha “the mattress, bedding,
bed, rug, and / or carpet.” So we see that mish-cab does carry the meaning of “bedding;”
as it also does at 2nd Samuel 17:28 (NIV).
At Gen. 49:4, Jacob curses Reuben for sleeping with his wife
(or specifically concubine – See also: Gen. 35:22) on his bed. That is why I’m thinking that the phrase “bedding
of a woman” may be saying “bedding of a wife.” Ish-sha is translated
as both woman and wife in our English Bible.
word to-e-vah is translated as abomination in Bible versions. To-e-vah comes from the root word ta-av, which James Strong defines as
meaning: “to abhor.” Webster’s New World Hebrew Dictionary defines ta-av
as: “to despise.” To-e-vah means an “abhorrence,” “something
despised” (LXX), and / or a despicable act or deed.
The Aramaic text collectively
translates the Hebrew word “bedding” (pl.) as “bed” (sing.). It closely matches the literal Hebrew
translation, saying: “You shall not lie with a male [on] the bed of a woman, it is an abhorrence
(ta-maa).” The Aramaic text doesn’t use the word “on” when
the verb “to lie down” precedes the noun “bed;” as in this example and in the following example. The
following is an example of the Aramaic language not using the word “on” in conjunction with “bed;”
when it is needed to express the meaning into English. 2 Samuel 4:5 literally says this in the Aramaic: “…and
they came about the heat of the day to the house of Esh-Bashol * (Heb. - Ish-Bosheth). And he was lying [on] the bed at noon.” As you can see, the Aramaic didn’t
use the word “on” in the text. But “on” was needed to convey the meaning into English.
(* See details about the name Esh-Bashol near bottom of page)
Aramaic word ta-maa literally means “unclean.” It can also mean “an
abhorrence (despised thing) and abomination” like how Dr. Lamsa and A Compendious Syriac Dictionary define
it. The word “unclean” got the meaning of “an abhorrence” because anything unclean was despised. It
should be noted that the Hebrew word to-e-vah, which means “something despised”
also means “unclean.” This is evident in that to-e-vah was translated as “unclean”
in some places in both the Aramaic and Greek Old Testament. The defining of to-e-vah as
“unclean” would make sense at Deuteronomy 14:3, which would then say: “You shall not eat any unclean
At the end of chapter 18, at verse 30, God said:
“…that you do
not commit any of these abominable customs..” (NKJV). The Hebrew word khuq-qoth
is translated as customs here, but means statutes (or laws per the Aramaic and Greek translation).
Khuq-qoth refers to religious, city and/or national laws. As you can see, the Bible says
that the prohibition of lying with a male on the bedding of a woman was a religious (and maybe a national or city) law.
REFERENCES FROM STRONG’S CONCORDANCE:
; a prim. Root; to loathe, i.e. (mor.) detest:- (make to be) abhor (-red), etc.
8441 to-e-bah ; fem. act. part. of 8581; prop.
something disgusting (mor.), i.e. (asnoun) an
abhorrence; espec. idolatry or (concr.) an idol: - abomination [113x], abominablething [2x], abominable [2x]
STRONGS EXPANDED EXHAUSTIVE CONCORDANCE OF THE BIBLE
WITH THE BEST OF VINE’S)
[NOTE: The 2nd Hebrew letter, Beth, has
a “b” and a “v” sound. Strong pronounces to-e-vah as to-e-bah and ta-av as ta-ab.]
Saul’s fourth son Ish-Bosheth (“man of shame”) was originally given the name Esh-Baal (1 Chr.
8:33; 9:39), meaning “man of Baal.” Though the Hebrew word Baal means “lord, owner,” it is also the
name of a Canaanite god. Because of the Hebrew peoples’ aversion to Baal, the word bosheth was used as its substitute;
as it is at Jeremiah 11:13. So we see how Esh-Baal got the name Ish-Bosheth.The Hebrew names Esh-Baal and Ish-Bosheth were both transliterated as “Esh-Bashol” in the Aramaic
Old Testament. Esh-Bashol is mainly from the Hebrew name Esh-Baal but the vowel (“o”) and the letter sound (“sh”)
are from the word bosheth, which were reversed and put into the name. This reversing of the vowel (“o”) plus a
consonant also occurs in some other names which were transliterated from the Hebrew.
Is the Bible Against Homosexuality? by Mattai "the Preacher" ©
2003-2009. All rights reserved.