Presentation on theme: "The Human Body The construction of human-ness in the Hebrew Bible."— Presentation transcript:
The Human Body The construction of human-ness in the Hebrew Bible
Psalm 16:7-10 NRSV (7) I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. (8) I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. (9) Therefore, my heart is glad and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure. (10) For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit. More literal Hebrew (7) I bless YHWH, who advises me; also, nights, my kidneys chasten me. (8) I place YHWH before me continually; so from my right hand I will not slip. (9) Therefore, my heart is glad, and my liver rejoices; also, my flesh [or “my penis” or “the issue of my penis”] dwells in security. (10) For you do not abandon my throat (nephesh) to Sheol; you do not give your faithful one to see the Pit.
Nephesh Genesis 2:7 “then the LORD God formed man (a person) from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man (person) became a living being (nephesh)”.
Death, Blood and Nephesh Job 34:14-15 14 If he should take back his spirit to himself, and gather to himself his breath, 15all flesh would perish together, and all mortals return to dust. Psalm 104:29-30 29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. 30 When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground. Ecclesiastes 12:7 7and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the breath returns to God who gave it. Genesis 9:4 4 Only, you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. Leviticus 17:11, 14 11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you for making atonement for your lives on the altar; for, as life, it is the blood that makes atonement 14 For the life of every creature—its blood is its life; therefore I have said to the people of Israel: You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off. Deuteronomy 12:23 23Only be sure that you do not eat the blood; for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the meat.
Exercise on the Body In this exercise, you are to look up the biblical material associated with each body part. Summarize, in brief, what you learn about each. Pick one verse from each category and be ready to explain it. Face: Exodus 10:28; 33:11-23; 34:30- 35; Lev 20:3-6; Numbers 26:22-27; Deuteronomy 31:17-18; Psalm 4:6; 11:7; 44:24; Ezekiel 4:7; 6:2. Hair: Leviticus 19:27-28; Ezekiel 44:20; Number 6; Jeremiah 9:25; Judges 16: Eyes (Genesis passages only for some fun): 3:5-7; 13:14; 21:19; 27:1; 29:17; 39:7; 48:10; 49:12. Ears: 1 Samuel 3:11; 2 Samuel 22:7; 2 Chronicles 6:40; Nehemiah 8:3; Job 13:7; Psalm 44:1; Isaiah 6:10; Zech 7:11. Mouth/Tongue: Exodus 4:12-16; Numbers 22:38; 23:5; Deut 23:23; 30:14; Job 35:16; Psalm 17:3; 50:9; 51:15; Prov 10:11, 31, 32; 18:4, 21. Hand/Arm: Exod 6:6; Deut 4:34; 5:15; 26:8; Psalm 136:12; Jeremiah 21:5; Ezek 20:33-34 Feet: Gen 18:4; 19:2; Exod 3:5; 4:25; Ruth 3:4 -8; 1 Sam 25:24; 2Sam 22:10; Psalm 8:6; 17:5; 119:105; Prov 6:18; Isa 6:2; 60:4.
Song of Songs Chapter 5:10 My beloved is all radiant and ruddy, distinguished among ten thousand. 11His head is the finest gold; his locks are wavy, black as a raven. 12His eyes are like doves beside springs of water, bathed in milk, fitly set. 13His cheeks are like beds of spices, yielding fragrance. His lips are lilies, distilling liquid myrrh. 14His arms are rounded gold, set with jewels. His body is ivory work, encrusted with sapphires. 15His legs are alabaster columns, set upon bases of gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as the cedars. Chapter 7:1 How graceful are your feet in sandals, O queenly maiden! Your rounded thighs are like jewels, the work of a master hand. 2Your navel is a rounded bowl that never lacks mixed wine. Your belly is a heap of wheat, encircled with lilies. 3Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle. 4Your neck is like an ivory tower. Your eyes are pools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bath-rabbim. Your nose is like a tower of Lebanon, overlooking Damascus. 5Your head crowns you like Carmel, and your flowing locks are like purple; a king is held captive in the tresses.
Ecclesiastes 12: 1-7 Remember your creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come, and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; 2before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return with the rain; 3in the day when the guards of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the women who grind cease working because they are few, and those who look through the windows see dimly; 4when the doors on the street are shut, and the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low; 5when one is afraid of heights, and terrors are in the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along and desire fails; because all must go to their eternal home, and the mourners will go about the streets; 6before the silver cord is snapped, and the golden bowl is broken, and the pitcher is broken at the fountain, and the wheel broken at the cistern, 7and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the breath returns to God who gave it.
Leviticus 21 – The Normative Body The Lord said to Moses: Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: No one shall defile himself for a dead person among his relatives, 2except for his nearest kin: his mother, his father, his son, his daughter, his brother; 3likewise, for a virgin sister, close to him because she has had no husband, he may defile himself for her. 4But he shall not defile himself as a husband among his people and so profane himself. 5They shall not make bald spots upon their heads, or shave off the edges of their beards, or make any gashes in their flesh. 6They shall be holy to their God, and not profane the name of their God; for they offer the Lord’s offerings by fire, the food of their God; therefore they shall be holy. 7They shall not marry a prostitute or a woman who has been defiled; neither shall they marry a woman divorced from her husband. For they are holy to their God, 8and you shall treat them as holy, since they offer the food of your God; they shall be holy to you, for I the Lord, I who sanctify you, am holy. 9When the daughter of a priest profanes herself through prostitution, she profanes her father; she shall be burned to death. 10 The priest who is exalted above his fellows, on whose head the anointing oil has been poured and who has been consecrated to wear the vestments, shall not dishevel his hair, nor tear his vestments. 11He shall not go where there is a dead body; he shall not defile himself even for his father or mother. 12He shall not go outside the sanctuary and thus profane the sanctuary of his God; for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is upon him: I am the Lord. 13He shall marry only a woman who is a virgin. 14A widow, or a divorced woman, or a woman who has been defiled, a prostitute, these he shall not marry. He shall marry a virgin of his own kin, 15that he may not profane his offspring among his kin; for I am the Lord; I sanctify him. 16 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 17Speak to Aaron and say: No one of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the food of his God. 18For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, one who is blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, 19or one who has a broken foot or a broken hand, 20or a hunchback, or a dwarf, or a man with a blemish in his eyes or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles. 21No descendant of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the Lord’s offerings by fire; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the food of his God. 22He may eat the food of his God, of the most holy as well as of the holy. 23But he shall not come near the curtain or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries; for I am the Lord; I sanctify them. 24Thus Moses spoke to Aaron and to his sons and to all the people of Israel.
The Body In Leviticus the holiness code says that if God is holy then human beings who are in relationship to God must also be holy Lev 11:45 : “For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God; you shall be holy, for I am holy.” The integrity of the human body is a key. Another word for integrity is wholeness. The language for such completeness in Leviticus is “clean” as opposed to “unclean.” Absolute purity (as with God) is impossible to attain, but you can acquire ritual purity or cleanness What comprises bodily integrity What you eat (Lev 11) Animals that chew the cud and have divided hooves are okay as are products from them Water creatures with easily removable fins and scales are good Birds (as long as they are not birds of prey) are acceptable “Right” or “fit” versus “torn” What your body bears Children cause temporary ceremonial uncleanness (Lev 12) Male children 33 days Female children 66 days Diseases (Lev 13-14) Leprosy Discharges (Lev 15) Penile discharges Ejaculation Menstruation Non-menstrual blood
Making a Covenant Covenant or b e rit tyrb “Cut” a covenant Genesis 15:17: “When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces.” No obligations for Abram appear in chapter 15 “God said to Abraham, ‘As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between you and me.” Genesis 18:9-11 Includes slaves and foreigners in your household You are cut off from the people if you do not follow this command
Circumcision – Marking the Covenant in the Body Male children are born with a “hood” of skin covering the penis Circumcision removes it and leaves the head exposed A doctor or person officiating makes a cut, pulls back the foreskin with a special instrument that holds it in place, and then cuts the foreskin off.
More on Circumcision Circumcision was a rite associated with marriage or fertility Abram circumcised before the birth of Isaac Moses’ strange story – “bridegroom of blood.” The Hebrew root “htn” refers to a “circumciser” and also to a “father-in-law” (because he often did it prior to marriage) and to a “son-in-law” and a “bridegroom” Dinah’s brothers demand circumcision of the Hivites to marry their sister (Gen 34) Circumcision is necessary for the passover (Exod 12:43-49; Josh 5:2-12) Being uncircumcised is physical and spiritual Jeremiah 6:10-12 True circumcision is a sign or a symbol – a physical mark – of what should be an inward change: Deut 10:12-22 Deut 30:1-10
Circumcision as a unique sign Lev 19:27-28: You shall not round of the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard. You shall not make any gashes in your flesh for the dead or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the Lord Lev 21:5 They shall not make bald spots upon their heads, or shave off the edges of their beards, or make any gashes in their flesh.
Genesis 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let us make ‘adam in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created ‘adam in his image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. ‘adam = humankind “us” and “our” – sodh or “heavenly council” Creation of male and female simultaneous here; separate in Gen 2:4b-25
Genesis 5:1b-2 When God created ‘adam (humankind), he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them “adam” when they were created.
Image and Likeness
Psalm 8:5-8 Yet you have made them(1) a little lower than God (2), and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the sea. (1) mortals (2) ‘elohim – can also be translated “gods” or “divine beings”
Ezekiel 26And above the dome over their heads there was something like a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was something that seemed like a human form. 27Upward from what appeared like the loins I saw something like gleaming amber, something that looked like fire enclosed all around; and downward from what looked like the loins I saw something that looked like fire, and there was a splendor all around. 28Like the bow in a cloud on a rainy day, such was the appearance of the splendour all round. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of someone
Some Conclusions God made humans in God’s image To maintain this connection with the image of God, humans must attend to the way they care for their bodies What humans ingest is key because what we eat makes up who we are What comes out of the human body is also important and must be attended to ritually Marks on the body are either to be made by God (Gen 4) or ordered by God (Gen 17) The body is a representation and its wholeness reflects the wholeness, completion, and holiness of God. It is not necessarily a physical connection, but humans maintain the physical as a symbol of their spiritual order