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Youre In, Youre Out!

Notes on Ritual, Ethics, and Sectarianism in Leviticus 18 (and 20)

David Ariel G. Anota

1 Identifying the rationale for the laws in Leviticus holds the hermeneutical key to the understanding of the individual injunctions. Although in some instances it is elusive (e.g., dietary laws in Lev 11), in others it is expressed (e.g., Lev 18, 20). The rationale usually contains either one or both of the following two elements: it identifies what is (1) prohibited or opposed and what is (2) advocated. It functions primarily to situate the injunctions in a broader ethical, theological context. Commentators differ in opinion with regard to the rationale for the laws in Leviticus 18.1 Common among them, however, is the concern for the preservation of the family, and consequently, the society.2 This is indeed a major concern in this chapter, but it is not the central issue. Milgrom observes a more specific rationale: procreation. 3 A few pages later, he mentions mixture ofsocial roles, but did not develop the thought further. Houtman offers a stranger suggestion, cosmic order. He uses the general attitude towards sex in the OT,4 as context, citing particularly Gen 6. So far, the above suggestions have not satisfactorily explained the place of Molech-injunction (esp., 18:21) in the series of sexual laws. What has usually been done was to explain the nature of the cult, but not the function of the prohibition in the present context. Milgrom simply argued that there are two prohibitions in chaps 18, namely, Molek worship and illicit sexual unions.5 In this paper, we will show that laws in Lev. 18 (and Lev 20) are primarily concerned with the self-identity of Israel.6 Defining sexual taboos was only a secondary concern. To do this we will first (I) identify the major issues in the two chapters before we proceed to (II) propose a different reading and (III) address

J. Milgrom (2000); P.J. Budd (1996); J.E. Hartley (1992); B.A. Levine (1989); R.K. Harrison (1980); J.R. Porter (1976); C. Houtman (1984, pp. 226-228). 2 Porter: peace and harmony among those living together (145); Harrison: individual and communal wellbeing; Levine: socio-economic (cf. Harrison [1980, 189]); Hartley: integrity of extended family (298); and Budd: stability and well being of the family (influenced by Porter). He deduced this from what may be called a semen (urz) motif which he believes is the common denominator of the prohibitions. See Milgrom (2000, 1567). This is probably a continuation of the life-death motif in chapter 17. As will be shown later, life-death motif has strong textual support, but it does not address all the issues in the chapter. 4 See also, T. Frymer-Kensky (1989, 89-102). 5 Milgrom (2000, 1559). 6 For a general survey on the development of sectarianism in ancient Israel, see S. Talmon (1987, 587-616).

2 the question regarding the function of Molech injunction in 18:21 and 20:2-5. Finally, a (IV) short reflection on the relevance of the study for today is provided. I Chapter 18 poses three outstanding problems to a careful reader: (1) incompleteness of the prohibited relationships,7 (2) contradiction between the law and the practice of the patriarchs and Davidic line, and (3) Molech.8 The first is quite intriguing. For example, not mentioned in the list are cousins, brother-full sister (and father-daughter9), and ones uncle (either fathers or mothers brother). T. Frymer-Kensky provides a convenient solution to this problem. According to him, incest laws prevent individuals from crossing over the lines between households or blur distinctions between units of a family.10 This is not to suggest, however, that the laws prohibited relations with those living in the same household. 11 These laws are basic laws, which is to say, they are unlikely to cover situational cases; rather may have provided ethical principles.12 First, patrilineage, matrilineage to the first degree (i.e., uncle and aunt, and their families) and ones wifes immediate family (vv. 17, 18) are prohibited
In this paper, we shall call these relationships incestuous. The term incest (fr. L. incestus, impure) is defined in Merriam Websters Collegiate Dictionary (10th ed) as sexual intercourse between persons so closely related that they are forbidden by law to marry. It is used throughout this paper to refer to prohibited sexual relationships listed in 18:7-18 // 20:11-12, 14, 17, 19-21. The absence of stipulation in 18:10 and 18:18 in chapter 20 does not quite diminish the fact that they are taboo, but it raises a question on whether they were consistently considered in the law. The English equivalent of the Latin term is therefore preferred in this paper, although such equivalence would technically include 18:19-23 // 20:13, 15-16, 18. Three terms need to be included in the working definition of the term incest here: marriage, kinship, and sexual intercourse. For a diagram of this list, see S. Rattray (1987, 537-44 [544]); cf. B.A. Levine (1989, 253-255). 8 A fourth problem has been raised but will not be discussed here i.e., intermarriage between Israel and foreigners. Suffice it to note here that taboo on intermarriage was likely to be a post-exilic ethic. This would situate the present text in the pre-exilic era. For discussion, see Milgrom (2000, 1584-86). 9 Rattray has offered a plausible explanation on full sister and daughter (1987, 542). 10 See Frymer-Kensky (1989, 95). M. Douglas was first to mention this in her 1966 edition of Purity and Danger (pp. 41-57). 11 For composition of household, see N. Gottwald (1979, 285-92). There is debate on whether the family structure alluded to in these prohibitions is a household (e.g., Bigger 1979) or an extended family (e.g., Hartley 1992). The former was used as argument for Canaan occupation, pre-exile dating urban setting; the latter for wilderness, pre-Canaan era (semi-)nomadic setting. The text does not concern itself with the details of family structure; it is applicable to both setups. These argument, however, have been used to explain the incompleteness and/or the rationale for prohibitions. 12 N. Gottwald (1979, 302-303) has attacked this reading, arguing that this would render the listing of specific offenses here redundant. However, redundancies occur everywhere in OT.

3 (ones own family is assumed). Second, ones brothers and sisters (step or full blood) family is off limits. Third, the farthest reach, granddaughters are off limits. These make up what we now call an extended family,13 but would have probably defined the limits of a family unit (wrcb rac lit., flesh of your flesh; better, bloodline or near of kin, v. 6) during that time.14 Moreover, it is also interesting to note how lesbianism was excluded from the list.15 This does not mean such relations did not occur, but that it was not considered a taboo.16 The second problem has to do with the efficacy of the law in the history of Israel. The prohibitions in these verses may not have originally been a polemic against Canaanite sexual practices; it may have been an indictment of the sexual practices of the Patriarchs and Davidic line.17 The polemic against Canaanite sexual practices may have originally been confined to verses 21-23. Incest prohibition is an anthropological constant.18 Obviously, sexual prohibitions in Leviticus 18 and 20 were not normative in Israel at all times. The more primitive is likely to have more sexual tolerance than the relatively urbanized community. As Gottwald asserted, the prohibitions against incest/marriage described in Leviticus and Deuteronomy were not in force throughout all Israel at all times, or were not at any rate uniformly sanctioned.19 Nevertheless, it is important to note that in the final form of the text (as we have it now),20 H uses these sexual prohibitions as polemic argument against Canaanite cultures, thereby providing a moral justification for the conquest (for preCanaan readers) and explanation for exile (for post-exile readers). Its impact is dual, to
The prohibitions here extend until the fourth generation. The modern idea of extended family goes as far as third degree. 14 Cf. N. Gottwald (1979, 303). 15 Eventually, however, this was included in the rabbinic interpretations (L.I. Rabinowitz and P. Grossman 1965, 135 [21.8]). 16 To suggest that lesbianism does not involve true physical union (e.g., Frymer-Kensky 1989, 97) is quite an over-reading. 17 For a detailed list, see Milgrom (2000, II:1528f.). Carmichael (1997) offers a different listing, although his argument is quite erroneous (cf. Milgrom 2000, 1591ff.). 18 C. Levi-Strauss (1969, 12). 19 N. Gottwald (1979, 302). 20 S.F. Bigger (1979, 187-203) has suggested redaction in chapter 18. In this paper, we are going to deal with chapter 18 in its canonical form.

4 stigmatize other peoples specifically, Canaanite customs thereby, distinguish Israel from them. The third problem has baffled many exegetes and is the focus of this paper: how does ]lml rybuhl pass through [fire?]21 to Molech in 18:21 (and ]lml wurzm }ty [whoever] will give [some of?] his descendants in 20:2) function in the context? Three convenient solutions may be suggested.22 First, since the context lists legal stipulations on prohibited sexual relations, the expression must have to do with impure sexual practices of the cult, such as temple prostitution. Second is that verses 18:21-23 contain polemic injunctions against specific Canaanite custom, both sexual and cultic. 23 This is to say that verses 7-19 are not the immediate context of the Molech injunction. 24 However, neither of these solutions satisfactorily answers the problem. Against the first suggestion, indeed hnz prostitution is mentioned in 19:29, 20:5, and 20:6, but none refers to cultic prostitution.25 The former may be read in the context of social practice rather than cultic rite (cf. 21:7, 14), while the latter two passages clearly refer to idolatry with Molech, and with mediums and familiar spirits.26 Moreover, against the second suggestion it may be argued that the injunction against Canaanite customs in

Prb. with cab fire, cf. 2Kgs 23:10, Jer 7:31; 32:35. This addition, however, is an interpretation of the nature of the Molech cult. In its present context, the expression rybuhl does not connote passing through fire, rather, offering. This may have been a point of contention the nature of offering. Did it involve sacrifice? In OT, the usual term for sacrifice is not bru but brq. Hartley (1992, 336-37) lists four solutions; Milgrom (2000, 1558f.) adds two others before appending his reading, which was only a summary of what has already been suggested. 23 So Milgrom (2000, 1559) suggests. 24 So Wenham (1979) suggests. 25 Cf. W. Holladay (1971, 90) who suggests cultic prostitution. P. Bird (1989, 75-94) has persuasively argued that hnz, when used in the cultic context, does not refer to cultic prostitution but the word is a metaphor for unfaithfulness. Her reading fits well in the present context. 26 J. Day (1989, 22-24). Molech cult may have involved or has been associated with ancestral worship (Hartley [1992, 336-37, suggestion 4]). Hence, the prohibition against mediums and familiar spirits in 20:6 follows the Molech injunction (cf. Deut 18:10-12). One may notice that most of the prohibitions in chaps. 18 and 20 are splitting hairs addressing sexual practices of historical figures (see p. 3) and popular religious practices. As J. Day (1989, 68) notes: it was more than that the Molek cult was not felt incompatible with YHWH. This explains the severity of the Molech offense, its syncretistic nature, thereby warranting special mention.


5 18:3, 6 applies not specifically to verses 19-23 only but to the whole list of apodictic laws in this chapter, as verse 24 argues.27 A third suggestion is necessary: that 18:21 is a hermeneutical clue to the ethical undercurrent of the laws in this chapter; i.e., that the law presents a choice between life (YHWH) and death (Molech),28 fertility (approved sexual relations) and infertility (taboo sexual relations, cf. 20:20, 21).29 The punishments for violating the sexual laws in chapter 20 show death-motif, while the preamble in 18:5 provides the life-motif (cf. Lev 26). Personally, I find this reading quite sensible. However, not all taboos in chapter 18 lead to death (e.g., 18:18); hence, we need to ask: when does a law become a matter of life and death? While, indeed life-death, fertility-infertility, and blessed-cursed motifs may have been employed here (particularly in chapter 20), I suggest that a more pressing issue is being addressed in this law: i.e., the self-identity of Israel.30 In fact, this is the whole concern of H. Chapter 20 poses one conspicuous problem: its relationship with chapter 18. This chapter was probably intended to list capital offenses (cf. Deut 27:16, 20-23; Amos 2:7), and not to complement chapter 18; hence, the inclusion of materials from other chapters (e.g., vv. 6, 17). Its similarity with chapter 18 31 provides clues as to appropriate social sanctions for prohibitions that endanger national interest. This is evident in the change of

Question regarding function of a particular verse in its immediate context necessarily assumes the final form of the text. 28 Blessed life is a consistent promise to those who obey the law (e.g., Lev 26; cf. Deut 30:19). In its present use, the law itself has inherent power to grant life. 29 Menstruation may have been associated with death (P.P. Jenson 1992, 79f). Its corresponding term is semen; this perhaps explains the use of urzl in 18:20a. However, both are also potential life elements (life liquids, G.J. Wenham [1983, 432-34]). The motif of fertility and infertility in these stipulations is consistent with the polemic association of life with YHWH and death with other gods; that YHWH, and YHWH alone, is giver and protector of life. A known fertility cult in the Old Testament, Asherah, may have once been associated with YHWHsm (S.M. Olyan [1988]). It appeared to have been survived by women (S. Acherman [1989, 109-124]). But in H, life is clearly associated with YHWH or the obedience of his statutes and ordinances; more boldly, H asserts that the law (the obedience to it) gives life. This is the force of 18:5b. 30 P.P. Jenson (1992, 88) notes of two polarities that are important to make sense of the full range of the Priestly world-view: normality-anomaly (structural) and life-death. 31 The similarity of content between chaps 18 and 20 leads some to suggest palistrophic structure in Leviticus, with chapter 19 at the center (Hartley 1992). J. Milgrom (2000) extends the pivotal role of chapter 19; he suggests it is the center of the Torah.


6 addressee. Sexual taboos were considered as national concern (at par with murder); not only that violation of the sexual prohibitions (except for 18:18) meant death penalty or permanent social stigma; it also meant estrangement from YHWH which, when escalated to national scale, would eventually lead to exile (18:25, 28; 20:22, 23). According to C.J.H. Wright, offenses that merit capital punishment may directly or indirectly be traced as crime against the Decalogue.32 There may be a bit of generalization in this conclusion, especially in light of the present text; but if this holds true to other crimes that merit capital punishment, then our suggestion above is plausible indeed. However, two verses remain quite elusive in this suggested reading, 18:18 and 21. How do these two prohibitions endanger national interest? How do they defile the land? These verses pose problems because they cannot be easily categorized with the rest; one is not considered a capital offence, the other is not a sexual taboo. II Written laws are institutionalized behavioral patterns of a society. Laws provide order in and self-identity of the society. Order is usually defined according to set patterns. Set patterns are established through a continuous process of social control 33 distinguishing taboo from what is approved or clean.34 Severity of sanction on a taboo35 depends on two factors: (1) rigidity of the borders of set patterns, and (2) the severity of its impact against the social structure, which embodies the shared ideology and values of the society.

C.J.H. Wright (1983, 153). This explains the inclusion of 20: 6//27 (see p. 4, n. 26) and 9. Laws in Lev 18, 20 are not easy to categorize. Criminal law, civil law, family law, and cultic law merge in these laws. 33 According to R.L. Akers (1977, 8), social control refers to the formal and informal ways society has developed to help ensure conformity to the norms. The term norm refers to group-supported definitions of expected behavior in specific situations (7). Since taboo does not only apply to behavior, the use of the term social control here is not only applied to behavior but to the entire spectrum of social means of maintaining conformity to shared social values and ideas. 34 M. Douglas (1988, 94-158). E. Zuesse (1974, 482-504 [493]) defines taboo as the structural behavior of culture which sustains culture. 35 F. Steiner (1956, 20-21) observes, Taboo deals with the sociology of danger itself. M. Douglas (1988, 94ff.) notes the same function of taboo. According to her, taboo defines power and danger in the society. This is true since taboos are usually accompanied with threat of sanction when violated.


7 In the language of the Priestly writer, two terms refer to what we call taboo, the first is quite general, impure (amf); the second, specifically used as antonym to holy (cdq), profane (llj).36 That which we call approved, P calls holy (cdq) and clean, pure (rhf). These concepts are interdependent (Lev 10:10); one defines the other. Moreover, the concepts pure and impure in Leviticus are used in two ways: ritual and moral; the concept holy is used in three ways: ritual, moral and being (when referring to YHWH); and, the profane concept is usually used to refer to a deliberate offense against the name of YHWH. The overlap in the application of these terms and the interdependence of their definitions37 forces one to question which concept came first: profane/impurity or holy/purity?38 The third use of holiness may provide us a hermeneutical clue. The term cdq has the root meaning separation.39 The idea of separation carries with it the connotation separation from and to (cf. Lev 20:26). But when used of YHWH, the term is usually associated with his moral attributes,40 and primarily to his wholly otherness. The concept of Otherness (i.e., holiness) of YHWH may have given the occasion for development of Israels ethical laws.41 As P.P. Jenson had pointed out, the

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The piel of llj abounds in H. According to Milgrom (1976, 86), llj is the equivalent in H for lum in P.

The overlap is not one of meaning but of semantic function in defining taboo. Two works are seminal in the studies on the semantic range of these terms, P.P. Jenson (1992) and N.D. Amorim (1986). 38 A related question had been posed, especially with regard to the dietary laws: which came first, the criteria or the taboo. J. Milgrom (1990, 183-186) argues that criteria, however unarticulated it was, came first before taboo; cf. D.P. Wright (1990, 194-198). 39 Some scholars have abandoned this etymological meaning already, claiming that it is in fact a necessary consequence rather than the basic connotation of the root. (P.P. Jenson [1992, 48, n. 4].) Certainly this has merits when referring to the divine being; however, the idea of separation is still within the semantic range of the term cdq. This is evident especially in the characteristic admonition in H to be holy, for I YHWH your God am holy (19:2b). 40 J. Milgrom (1989, 103-9 [106]). 41 As R. Otto (1973, 75) had forcefully argued, the ethical import in the term holy is a product of a long process of rationalization and moralization of the numinous. But the ethical element was not original and never constituted the whole meaning of the word (5). The term numinous refers to that object that arouses a specific human response, which R. Otto calls, creature-feeling (8-11); in short, it refers to the divine. This is quite plausible especially in the context of a highly superstitious society. (By superstition is meant the sensitivity of the society to the reality of the divine.) In Israels experience, the process by which the holy adopts an ethical import was a long struggle of sifting YHWH from other gods in the surrounding. This process involved the formation of Israels culture.

8 term holy, when applied to YHWH, carries with it a corresponding claim of ownership. 42 This sense of belongingness to YHWH became the functional context of the formation of their cultural distinctive, setting her apart from peoples in Canaan. 43 From this may be inferred that the llj-cwdq holy-profane concept may have come earlier than the more ritual (and ethical?) terms amf-rhf pure-impure. At least this is true in the context of Leviticus 18 and 20. Moreover, ethical and ritual standards of Israel in the P material may have been borne out of their understanding of the exodus event. Two factors may have governed their development. First is the polemic against Egyptian religious and social practices. Second is their contemplation of the exodus event, from slavery to freedom, vis--vis their encounter with the divine. The former finds traces in the preamble of Leviticus 18 and final summons in 20:26;44 the latter, in motive clauses such as one found in 25:38, which usually occur after laws that have to do with social justice. From this we may infer that llj-cwdq holy-profane or amf-rhf pure-impure concepts are governed primarily by the concern to establish and maintain self-identity of Israel as a people, and as a people of YHWH.45 Since A. Alts The Origins of Israelite Law, 46 form criticism of OT law had barely progressed. Alts suggested categories apodictic and casuistic have been criticized on grounds of generalization. However, his classifications remain quite indispensable. D. Patrick in his book Old Testament Law suggested sub-forms, which are notable but

Jenson (1992, 48). We are not going to trace the epigenesis of the term holy. The intention is to link the concept of holy and the ethical laws, and to stress the point that one in fact developed out of the other. 43 As C.J.H. Wright (1983, 19f.) has already noted: Old Testament ethics are built upon Israels understanding of who and what they were as a people, of their relationship to God, and of their physical environment their land. 44 Polemic stipulations against Canaanite practices may have developed later (during the settlement or resettlement era [post-exile], e.g., 18:25, 27) but its essence appears to be derived from polemic against Egyptian practices (pre-settlement or wilderness wandering era). Milgrom (2000, 1519), however, asserts that polemic against Egypt in this chapter has no function in the prohibition. He supports this using the peroration where only the Canaanites are mentioned to pollute the land. 45 As P.P. Jenson (1992, 74) noted: the primary concern is often the preservation of order through the appropriate retribution or ritual, rather than the consequences by overstepping the bound. 46 A. Alt (1966, 79-132).


9 barely had following.47 For example, his concept of remedial,48 a sub-form of casuistic law, is also observable (and is better expressed, I reckon) in J. Milgroms cwdq-tafj-amf (impurepurification offeringholy) form.49 This form is common in the sacrificial laws (chs 1-7) and purification rules (chs 11-15) in Leviticus.50 According to this form, whenever an individual has defiled (amf) himself, a tafj purification offering is prescribed. The form applies to both moral and ritual impurity.51 The only difference is the word used to refer to the outcome rhf purified for ritual impurity, and jlsn forgiven for moral impurity.52 The terms rhf and jlsn are correlative forms of cwdq.53 In the Holiness Code, however, the concept of tafj (and not necessarily the word) is scarcely found.54 Pollution of the land (Lev 18, 20) cannot be purified; it leads to

D. Patrick (1985, 23-24). His suggestion appears to be a development of E. Gerstenbergers critique of A. Alt (Wesen und Herkunft des Apodiktischen Rechts, Wissenschaftliche Monographien zum Alten und Neuen Testament, vol 20 [Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1965]), as reviewed in p. 23. 48 D. Patrick (1985, 23). See J. Milgrom (1989). Milgrom treats amf and cdq as antonyms (105). Leviticus, however, employs another antonym for amf, i.e., rhf pure (usu. ritual). (G.J. Wenham [1979, 26]) Milgrom does not quite distinguish rhf from cdq. P.P. Jenson (1992, 47) notes such distinction of their use in Leviticus: holiness (and its opposite, the profane) represents the divine relation to the ordered world, and the clean (with its opposite, the unclean) embraces the normal state of human existence in the earthly realm. Hence, a variant form may be found common in 5:14-26 and 7:1-10, rhf-\ca-amf impure-reparation-pure. \ca may be differentiated from tafj in that it usually employs economic recompense. (J. Milgrom [1983, 249-54]) This is perhaps characteristic of the Priestly Law, as D. Patrick (1985, 260) notes: The Holiness Code and priestly Law are the only legal traditions in the Pentateuch to prescribe rites solely for atoning for guilt. References are too numerous to list here. Another type of offering, hlu burnt offering, may have also dealt with sin (Lev 1:4); but scholars do not quite agree as to the function of this offering. See G.J. Wenham (1979, 55-63); J. Milgrom (1971, 61); cf. J.R. Porter (1976, 14, 20). The concept expressed in the amf-cwdq form, as explored by J. Milgrom, does not distinguish ritual from ethics. M. Douglas (1988, 129-139) offers the same conclusion, using anthropological approach. According to her, the concepts of pollution (or ritual impurity) and moral uprightness work hand in hand in determining conformity-deviance and punishment (133). rhf and jlsn are only correlative terms of cwdq in that they do not actually express holiness, rather only absence of defilement. (cf. Wenham [1979, 26.) The term tafj usually occur with preposition }m (14:9; 15:30: 16:16; cf. 12:6, 8). For one to be holy, there needs to be a divine act or divinely ordained act, and the term used is usually cdq in piel or hiphil form. Waltke-OConnor (1990, 438) suggests that piel is used to refer to the results, while the hiphil on the process. The form occurs only once in H (19:20ff). The tafj and \ca forms appear to be absent when the transgression is considered as an offense against the identity of the community. These offenses may be considered external pressures threatening to breach the foundational elements of the communitys self-identity.
54 53 52 51 50 49


10 an inevitable exile. Moreover, laws in this corpus may generally be classified according to Alts categories. This is true to the text we are about to investigate. Legal stipulations in chapters 18 may be categorized as apodictic laws 55 and stipulations in chapter 20, casuistic. Except for stipulations on stepmother (18:8),56 granddaughter (18:10) and sororate (18:18),57 all the apodictic laws (in 2nd person sg.) in chapter 18 are transformed into casuistic laws58 (in 3rd person pl.) in chapter 20, and further rearranged according to the severity of punishment. Punishment in chapter 20 is of two kinds: divine sanction 59 and death. The difference is quite superficial in the present context; nevertheless, they are differentiated by enforcer: YHWH executes the former; while in the latter, the community does the work. Both forms, however, are found in the Molech offense, thus conveying the severity of the transgression (aggravated offence: apostasy and murder), as expressed in its punishment utter estrangement. The emphasis of the punishments has to do with the preservation of the identity of the community, as a people of YHWH. 60
When the tafj and \ca forms are absent, another word characterizes the consequence, trk cut-off a capital punishment usually executed by the community itself. 55 The apodictic stipulations in chapter 18 are of three different patterns, two of which are in chiasm: (1) apodosis-motive-apodosis (vv. 7, 15), (2) apodosis-motive (vv. 8, 10-14, 16, 17, 22, 23), and (3) apodosis (vv. 9, 18-21). 56 This one appears to be assumed in 20:11. 57 Stipulation in 18:17 occurs in 20:14 in reverse order. 58 Interestingly, v. 19 combines the stipulations in 18:12, 13 and retains the apodictic form; it only adds the appropriate consequence for the offense. This has two forms, estrangement from YHWH and from the people (trk cut off, v. 5; cf. vv. 17, 18). The idea of trk in vv. 17 and 18 is gradual. This punishment is generally reserved for religious and sexual offenses (Hartley [1992, 285]). Another form is observable, acy wnwu he shall bear his guilt (v. 17) wacy \nwu they shall bear their guilt (v. 19). This probably refers to social stigma, which has the force of trk cut off, as the parallel in v. 17 suggests. If the rearrangement of the list of offenses here (compare ch. 18) is indeed graded according to the severity of punishment, this social stigma is severe enough to convey the idea of trk, as 18:29 suggests. It is better termed, estrangement. However, one may ask whether such forms of punishments, when not accompanied with death sentence, were permanent or temporary. The absence of tafj and \ca may render these punishments permanent. Three terms express this, twm death (usu., doubled), ld + b- blood [shall be] upon and trk cutoff. These terms convey the idea of complete separation i.e., separating the offender from the community. (Another form is ambiguously used, }wu + acn bear guilt. This has a force of social stigma estrangement [e.g., 20:19; cf. 20:17].) By inference, this separation act is necessary to keep the community from being defiled. Capital punishment is theoretically meted when the offense is against the foundational value/s of the society (cf. 17:14), in this case, self-identity social and religious practices that differentiate them from other peoples (\ymauh-}m \kta ytldmh, 20:24 [ldbaw, 20:27]). The root ldb usually comes with the preposition }m and conveys an idea of separate from or distinguish between. The offenses listed here have the effect of blurring
60 59

11 Chapter 18 has a simple structure. It begins with a preamble (vv. 2-5),61 and ends with warning and advocacy (vv. 24-29, 30).62 Sandwiched are the apodictic laws63 concerning incestuous relations (general, v. 6; details, vv. 7-18) and miscellaneous taboo relations (vv. 19-23).64 The preamble may further be divided into three major parts: (1) address ([commission from YHWH to Moses for [addressee]), (2) prohibition, and (3) advocacy; each punctuated with \kyhla hwhy yna I am YHWH your God.65 This refrain establishes the I-thou relationship, hence the source of authority behind the legal stipulations.66 The prohibition in the preamble (v. 3) and the warning in the end provide the motive for the laws stipulated in verses 6-23. The advocacy reiterates the last part of the preamble (vv. 4, 5) and functions as inclusio. Chapter 20 has a more complex structure. It does not begin with a preamble (cf. vv. 7-8 ) but appears to assume the same (cf. vv. 22-24). As mentioned earlier, most of the transgressions here were taken from chapter 18 and graded according to severity. 68
this distinction. To maintain the demarcating line, an act of separation has to be carried out. I wonder if the same idea holds true with other capital punishments. (Cf. premeditated murder [Ex. 21:12ff.; Num. 35; Deut. 19], man-stealing [Ex. 21:16; Deut 24:7], persistent disobedience to authority or parents [Deut 17:12; 21:18ff.], false prophesy [Deut 13:2ff], profanation of the Sabbath [Num 15:32ff.], blasphemy [Lev 24:13ff.], and magic and divination [Ex 22:17].) 61 J.E. Hartley (1992, 291); also, G.J. Wenham (1979, 249f.) For its form, see D.J. McCarthy (1963, 109ff.) 62 Hortatory statements in H generally have two basic contents: obey the law, and distinguish themselves from Canaanites through (a) ethical holiness and (b) contemplation on Egypt-Exodus experience. See 18:2-5, 2430; 19:1-2, 19a, 37; 20:22-26; 22:31-33; 25:17-18, 38 [45, 55]. 63 Grammatically, v. 17 appears to be a transition. Verses 18-19 are different from other prohibitions here in that they are time-bound (v. 18, hyyjb; v. 19, cf. 15:24). G.J. Wenham (1979) categorizes the section I have labeled miscellaneous taboo relations as banned Canaanite customs; and vv. 6-18 as sexual laws, with the view of marriage. He argues that the latter laws are applicable only after divorce; else, adultery law applies (pp. 253-54). (Cf. M. Noth [1977, 134]; N. Gottwald [1979, 285-92].) Granting that marriage is in view, the applicability of these laws need not be after divorce since these relationships are not labeled as adultery, but altogether a different kind of taboo. As Gottwald (1979, 302) has noted, incest is never legitimated by marriage.
65 66 67 64


The LXX version retains \kyhla (

) in verse 5 for consistency.

Cf. D. Patrick (1985, 154). Verses 20:6//27, 9 are strange insertions. If these were originally in the list, chapter 20 may not have been dependent on chapter 18. It may just be a list of offenses that merit capital punishment. For 20:6//27, cf. p. 4, n. 26. Lev 20:9, through llq, is thematically consistent with dsj and twdu + hlg; the three terms convey disgrace. Notice the absence of the stipulation in 18:18. The severity of its offense does not qualify for a punishment that merits social stigma, death or divine sanction. It may just be a proverb; it does not occur elsewhere. But it provides significant information here: that polygamy is not prohibited, but tolerated in these laws.

12 Several verses, however, show dependence on chapters other than 18 (cf. 20:6, 27//19:26, 31; 20:9//19:3a; 20:25//11:4ff). Verses 22-23 resonate 18:24, 27-28. Verses 24, 26 provide the motive for the laws in this chapter. Verse 27 is an expansion of verse 6, detailing the manner of execution. How verse 25 got inserted here and how it functions in the context is a matter of conjecture. It appears to point back to chapter 11. This may have been a Priestly insertion, an attempt to connect H with the rest of P materials, 69 or that chapter 11 was once part of H.70 The addressee in chapter 18 is a sexually responsible male Israelite, while in chapter 20, the community.71 These laws may have been part of the instructions given to young men going through their initiation rites to full manhood.72 Three periods appear to be referred in these two chapters, (1) post-Egypt, pre-Canaan (18:3; 20:22); (2) Canaan occupation, pre-exile (18:27, 28; 20:23); and, (3) post-Canaan, post-exile (18:25, 27?).73 The manner of stipulating the laws in these chapters follows a discernible structure: not uncover nakedness74 + negative labels (perversion [18:23; 20:12], abomination [18:22; 20:13], wickedness [18:17; 20:14], and shameful thing [dsj, 20:17]. The negative labels have the same import in meaning as amf impure. Both moral and ritual (18:19//20:18) impurities are found here. Another term also conveys the same idea of impure but is

Most scholars agree that H is not originally part of P. The original H code is said to exclude chapters 2123 (and 26?). See D. Patrick (1985, 151). 70 So suggests D. Patrick (1985, 161). This is most plausible. Chapters 11-15 has a characteristic ending, trwt taz this is the law concerning. Chapter 11 has similar ending as chapters 18 and 20, such that 11:46-47 appears to be a redactors work. The doubling cya cya (20:2) is a familiar form which means that these laws were addressed to all the hearers; and perhaps, more specifically, the male audience. 72 See also E.S. Gerstenberger (1996, 257-58). Gerstenberger claims that apodictic laws are characteristic of the family and clan and of their processes of education and socialization but did not support the claim. This is quite reductionistic. Laws in chaps 18, 20 may indeed have this process of education and socialization as its Sitz Im Leben. Cf. J.E. Hartley (1992, 290) suggests that this was used as instructions from priest to laity. This is applicable, however, in ch. 20. 73 Milgrom (2000) argues that several vocabularies limit H to pre-exilic era. Chapter 20 rephrases this into if-then: if the man (rca cya) has uncovered [near kin ID] nakedness. The expression uncover nakedness is a euphemism for sexual relations. (A.C.J. Phillips [1980, 38-43].) In OT, sex was not seen simply as an act of passion, but an act with the intent to marry.
74 71


13 specifically used to refer to Molech-offense, llj profane (18:21; 20:3); where it occurs, the object is the name of YHWH.75 In summary, the motive clauses found in the beginning (18:2-5) and ending (18:24-30; 20:22-26) of these chapters provide sufficient rationale for the laws: i.e., the law on sexual morality in chaps 18 and 20 have to do with Israels self-identity. This is consistent with Hs preoccupation with the command: \kyhla hwhy yna cwdq yk wyht \ycdq you shall be holy, for I YHWH your God am holy (19:2; cf. 20:26). This command addresses two concerns: (1) a polemic against other peoples, which was intended to distinguish Israel from other cultures cultural purity; and (2) an advocacy of YHWH cult cultic purity, which was intended to characterize Israel (shape its faith and culture) as a people. These two concerns have to do with Israels survival as a people (exile motif), hence the severity of the punishment (estrangement-death motif); and the urgency of the prohibitions (Sits Im Leben), a family issue at the same time a community and cultic concern. We may say, therefore, that in these two chapters the main concern is not so much of what is prohibited behavior, than what is being protected. The concept of holiness in H permeates ritual, piety, and ethics. III But how may this resolve the function of Molech injunction? Scholars have approached the Molech problem in these chapters by asking three basic questions: (1) is m)l#K a name of a god? (2) What was the nature of the cult? (3) What was its origin? A fourth question came a bit later, from theological concern: how is child sacrifice to Molech different from or related to offering of firstborn to YHWH? J. Day, in his influential work on Molech, has addressed the questions above quite decisively. The following are his conclusions:
1. Molech is a name of a god.76 He further supports this reading (after examining extra-biblical materials) by quoting Isaiah 57:9 (cf. 28:15, 18; Job 18:13-14), which he believes are implicit references associating Molech with the underworld god.
The OT records four other specific offenses considered as profaning YHWHs name: (1) false oath (Lev 19:12), idolatry (Ezek 20:39), (3) breaking the covenant (Jer 34:16), and disfiguring ones self (Lev 21:5, 6). 76 Until O. Eissfeldts provocative work on the subject in 1935 entitled Molk as sacrificial term in Punic and Hebrew and the end of the god Moloch (ET), m)l#K was widely accepted as a name of a god. (For review of different interpretation on Molech, see G.C. Heider [1985, 1-35].) Recent studies, however, are inclined to

2. Molech cult was of Canaanite origin (Ammonite, 1Kgs 11:7), involving human sacrifice.77 The cult was probably found in the valley of Hinnom, at the Topheth.78 3. The epithet Molech is actually a compound word of klm king + the vowels of tcb shame. This combination is a deliberation distortion of a divine name,79 suggestive of its image in the Old Testament one of the rival gods to YHWH for Israels loyalty. 4. The cult is in no way related to the dedication of the firstborn to YHWH,80 although syncretism may have been practiced.

Semantically, 18:21 is connected to 18:20 through the terms ]urzm // urzl [v. 20a, and }tt-al // vv. 20a, 23. These terms convey a theme common to prohibitions in verses 1923, i.e., the wasting away of ones seed (see also p. 5, n. 29).81 This may also be thematically linked with the sexual prohibitions in the preceding verses. Their association with impurity (amf)82 here may have to do with the behavioral deviation from its primary function. Sexual function is a social construct. In the present context, the sexual function involves, procreation (vv. 19, 22), maintenance of social identity and structure (v. 20), and preservation of descendant (v. 21) all of which ensures preservation or survival of a society.83 Nevertheless, such semantic link in verse 21 with the theme of

reject Eissfeldts thesis (see J. Day [1989, 9-13]). Few notable scholars supported Eissfeldts thesis. N.H. Snaith (1966, 123-24) and M. Weinfeld (1972, 133-54), as cited in Day (1989, 20-21), argued using three rabbinic traditional understanding of the Molech cult. For review of rabbinic readings, see G. Vermes (1981, 108-24). 77 That human sacrifice was common during that time is supported in the study of A.R.W. Green (1975). Strangely, however, this practice is not attested to in Ugarit. (W.F. Albright [1942, 93].) 78 See J.A. Montgomery (1908, 24-47). 79 Day (1989, 56-58). 80 Cf. J. Milgrom (2000, 1586-91). Gerstenberger (1996, 292), however, believes that these previously refer to the same practice, but was later dissociated. This makes Molech a fictitious deity. The belief that human sacrifice to YHWH was once practiced survived in some Jewish literature. See 81 Two works mentioned this already, Eilberg-Schwartz (1990) and Biale (1992). Milgroms procreation motive has similar reasoning.
82 83

The terms abomination (hbuwt, 18:22), and confusion (lbt, 18:23) are modifiers of amf in vv. 19-23,

Reading fertility-infertility motif in these verses would provide an intriguing rhetoric. The sexual practices of the Canaanites and the Molech cult may have primarily constituted what we now call fertility rites which was intended to ensure productivity of the land. The prohibitions here are then used to show the reverse effect of the rites i.e., defile the land, which causes it to vomit its inhabitants. This becomes an occasion also for advocacy that fertility of the land is guaranteed in no other way than obedience to the statutes and ordinances of YHWH. One may actually find continuity of theme in this reading with Ps concept of purification. In P, sanctuary care was intended to ensure divine presence; this is done through the observance of the different sacrifices. In H, land care was intended to ensure occupation of Canaan. Since no sacrifice is available to purge the land from defilement, H makes sexual and cultic chastity an urgency that the community cannot easily

15 sex in the immediate context, although quite undeniable, is a shallow connection. The Molech offense goes beyond the concern for preservation of seed. Its primary concern is to maintain the identity of the cult of YHWH, particularly, YHWHs status in Israel; 84 hence the emphasis on ]yhla \c-ta lljt alw so that85 you profane the name of your God. However, we are still left with the question on the function of Molech in these chapters. Following the train of thought above, we may suggest that the concern in both chapters is sustaining a functional social structure through maintaining the social identity.86 Three elements important in maintaining social structure are represented in the prohibitions in chapter 18. They are social roles or identity (vv. 7-18),87 sexual functions (vv. 19, 20, 22, 23), and cultic identity (v. 21). The first is concerned with preservation of the basic unit of the society. As I have already noted above, the second has to do with perpetuation or survival of the society. The third has to do with maintaining the identity of the entire society itself through the identity of the cult. This leaves us two verses, 18:18 and 22.
ignore. However, sanctuary care and land care are only elements to a more pressing concern which P and H are trying to construct using the laws i.e., self-identity of Israel. 84 Gerstenberger (1996, 253) has noted this. According to him, 18:21 unifies the ideological interests of the Deuteronomist tradition, which is exclusive worship of YHWH; and Priestly tradition, which is protecting YHWHs honor and holiness. It is best to read alw here as a logical sequence than simply as negative conjunction nor, especially in light of 20:3 (ycdq \c-ta lljlw [prb lljw] ycdqm-ta amf }uml in order to defile my sanctuary and profane my holy name). }uml may be used to express purpose or result. In 18:21, the impact of alw is one of result, while in 20:3, one of purpose. 86 As M. Douglas (1988, 131), commenting on Nuer tribe and their adultery and incest rules: The integrity of the social structure is very much at issue when breaches of the adultery and incest rules are made, for the local structure consists entirely of categories of persons defined by incest regulations, marriage payments and marital status. 87 Social roles or identity is emphasized in the structure of the prohibitions (cf. p. 9, n. 55). Three different manners of emphasis are employed in the structure. The first emphasizes whose nakedness it is that one is violating (ones father [v. 8], ones sister [v. 9], ones own [v. 10], and ones brother [v. 16]). The expression used here may have spelled exclusivity (vv. 8, 16) and responsibility to protect (vv. 9-10). The second focuses on rac (of ones father [v. 12], ones mother [v. 13] and ones wife [v. 17]). A violation of the prohibitions under this expression confuses social identity: between the offender and his father (v. 12, become brothers-in-law), between the offender and his mother (v. 13, sisters-in-law), and between the offenders wife and her mother/daughter (v. 17). The addition of the term hmz wickedness in v. 17 may have to do with the loss of mother-daughter identity should the prohibition be violated. The third simply reiterates the identity of the victim (mother [v. 7]; step-sister [v. 11], aunt [v. 14], and daughter-in-law [v. 15]). Such repetition has derogatory import, an expression of sheer disgust.

16 Prohibition in 18:18 may have well been a proverb, partly because chapter 20 does not consider it a capital offense88 and partly because it does not easily fit in different categorizations of the prohibitions in this chapter. But here we will maintain that 18:18 is still concerned with the preservation of the basic unit of the society. This chapter provides two ways by which this concern is met: (1) preservation of the basic structure (role and identity) of rac, and (2) maintaining the \wlc between its members89 (cf. 20:9). The qal inf cs rrxl (18:18) has a basic meaning of state of conflict i.e., the emphasis is not primarily on the rivalry between two wives (hence, not anti-polygamy90), but between sisters. The rivalry has sexual undertones (cf. 2Sam 20:3). Another term that suggests that the primary concern here is maintaining social structure is the term lbt confusion (18:23; 20:12).91 This term is thematically linked with the law prohibiting the mixing of two different kinds 19:19 (cf. Deut 22:9-11).92 Seedseed, and linen-wool mixing may not have been consistently in the taboo list (cf. Deut 22:9 and Num 15:40 respectively). But crossbreeding (ubr) appears to be a consistent taboo. The use of lbt in 20:12 may have been intended to convey the idea that violation of the incest laws in 18:7-16 is in fact a confusion, but one of social role or identity. 93 The core idea of this theme is that of bringing together two naturally or ritually incompatible elements. At the top of the list of incompatible elements is the cdq-llj confusion (18:21; 20:3; 21:7, 14).
Usually, whenever a prohibition concerning sex appears in OT, a corresponding assessment of the severity of its offense (and punishment) is mentioned. In 18:18, we are given only rrx, which is barely an offense. 89 Porter (1976) has already noted this. 90 Contra A. Tosato (1984, 199-214). 91 Bestiality may have been primarily an offense committed by a woman. Physiologically, it is quite difficult for a male to mate with any beast. However, 18:23a and 20:15 mentions male offender. It is interesting to note also that ubr (crossbreed) describes hca-hmhb union (18:23b//20:16) but only }tn + bkv (lit., give your/his lying) describes an cya-hmhb relation. The specific term ubr may limit lbt to refer only to hcahmhb union and amf to cya-hmhb relation, as 20:15, 16 suggest. Nevertheless, the parallelism in 18:23 equates amf with lbt. Whatever this difference suggests, two important themes run through the prohibition: (1) wasting of seed, and (2) mixture.
92 93 88

Lev 19:19 is lexically correlated with Deut 22:9-11 through the word \yalk of two different kinds. Not mixing of semen, as Olyan (1994, 197-205), or Milgroms too simplistic procreation (2000,


17 Moreover, concerning the prohibition in 18:22//20:13, one may notice a textual problem in the phrase hca ybkcm. Most English translations and commentaries read simile here, as [one lies] with a woman. A convenient argument in support of this reading is the use of bkc lie (sexual intercourse implied) to produce a pun with bkcm thereby comparing hca woman with rkz man (i.e., male). Syntactically, however, the phrase may be understood as locative [in] a womans bed. This is consistent with the form of ybkcm, a construct. What is taboo in the homosexual act? Or, is it in the violation of a boundary, womans bed? Left alone, the passages cannot suggest one reading over and against the other. The immediate context attests to both possibilities. Lev 18:20-21 and the context of chapter 20 suggest a transgression of boundary, violation of exclusivity. On the other hand, 18:19 suggests cultic impurity.94 However, this remains a very shallow link, unless otherwise it can be established that cultic purity is the common theme in 18:19-23. It may be possible to make a sound scholarly conclusion to the issue on homosexuality using these passages, as I would suggest here. However, it is difficult to construct a normative ethical principle from them. Our methodology here allows both reading: that the phrase hca ybkcm may have meant not only locative boundary but also one of social role (esp., in light of male addressee + the sexual undertone of bkc).95 This renders the textual issue simply a vocalization problem academic, so to speak. IV But what has this got to do with the Church today? Are we to identify the modern Canaanites so that we may distinguish ourselves from them? Who are they? How does the idea of preserving self-identity benefit Christian ethic today? Short notes are suggested below to address these questions.

Homosexual act does not fit in the concept of lbt in 18:23. The primary sense of the term hbuwt is cultic (so Holladay). 95 The homosexual taboo questions the reading that in OT female sexuality is portrayed as a possession of the male. This is an incomplete picture. The taboo actually provides another perspective: the female has exclusive use of the male sexuality! The bed, in this taboo, is a female territory, which the male has to acknowledge as sacred.


18 1. Cultural and cultic purity. What distinguished Israel from other nations was not one of race but of culture and cult. This is explicitly affirmed in the use of the term rg variously translated as stranger, foreigner, or sojourner (18:26; cf. 20:2). The rg is not treated here as among other nations as long as he keeps YHWHs statutes and ordinances. The punishments in chapter 20 and threats of exile in 18:24ff // 20:22ff and death-excommunication in chapter 20 are glaring affirmations of this idea: an Israelite (by blood) is not immune to alienation from YHWH, the cult and the community if he violates the prohibitions. Obedience is still the rod that demarcates the insider from the outsider. This theme is common in the prophets: cultic sacrifices are not the end by themselves; moral obedience to Gods will in ones daily life is more important (cf. Is 1:10-17; Jer 7:22-23; Hos 6:6; Amos 5:21-24). Basic in the cultural distinctive of Israel affirmed in these chapters is human dignity and familial \wlc. This is affirmed through preserving an individuals social identity and role, especially the marginalized in this case, the women. One has no right to deprive somebody of his/her self-identity, which is largely governed by his/her sense of belongingness and social role. Rapid change in social roles today does pose a lot of structural problems? But this is not what the text is trying to address. The text addresses the potential dissolution of self-identity in a relationship (in this case, familial). For example, should the prohibition in 18:7 be violated the woman is both ones mother and wife. Such is a confusion of role, social identity, and belongingness of the woman. Emphasis on familial \wlc may be likened to the admonition concerning the unity of the church. The entire book of Philippians addresses this issue. Internal harmony was not only integral in the survival of Israel; it was also to characterize them as a people (cf. John 17:21). Cultic distinctive of Israel in these chapters is defined by way of negation; it may be violated in two ways: (1) apostasy, which in its simplest form is a deliberate attempt to abandon exclusive worship of YHWH, either totally or in syncretistic sense; and, (2) tolerance of the breach (false pacifism). But cultic purity is not achieved by not doing the prohibited, but primarily by keeping YHWHs ordinances. Holiness/purity always has a

19 proactive sense.96 Hence, we read of the feasts of YHWH in the succeeding chapters. This is punctuated with the deep sense of belongingness, YHWHs people in YHWHs land (cf. 25:23) doing YHWHs commandments. This is not asceticism. This only means that full enjoyment of YHWH is defined according to his terms and not according to how the people would like to define it. Both culture and cult converge in their affirmation of life. Life is a divine gift which man needs to protect and nurture. Part of protecting life is the elimination of destructive and non-life producing relationships. Part of nurturing life is ensuring the survival of the next generation; this involved perpetuation of the cultural and cultic distinctive, through an act of passing on of tradition (sitz im leben) and advocacy (social sanction). Life is consistently portrayed in these chapters as existential, always in social context. 2. The importance of community. Israel had a strong sense of community. Modern societies cherish individuality. Here lies a huge ethical challenge. Today, community is often disregarded in exchange for economic gain. Although, some families (especially, those that have been barely influenced by globalization) are still able to maintain a strong influence on its individual members, many a person in urbanized families increasingly lose respect with such ties. (Admittedly, there are many instances where familial ties are easily abused.) One of the many differences, if I may make a distinction, between Catholic and Protestants is the role of community in ones spirituality. The former had maintained community influence mainly through rituals, while the latter had emphasized personal relationship a bit too much. Recently, however, Protestants have rediscovered the importance of cell groups or support groups in the discipleship of its members. The community functions mainly as check and balance. It provides the individual a sense of accountability, authority, and belongingness. Ones sense of accountability is highly dependent on ones attitude towards authority. These are integral elements in the formation and maintenance of ones spiritual walk and ethic. A word of caution, however, needs mention here. Sectarian attitude of Israel was not intended to isolate her from other people. (This strong polemic attitude came later in the NT.) It certainly had in view
Verses 4, 5 provide clues how obedience to the statutes and ordinances of YHWH is done: (1) proactively (tqj something prescribed BDB), and reactively (myfpcm judgment BDB).

20 the possibility of social interaction with other peoples. (This is evident in the mention of rg.)The whole point is not that an Israelite should not mingle with other peoples, but that an Israelite should distinguish himself from them through a holy lifestyle. Admittedly, it is extremely difficult to live a holy lifestyle alone today; hence, the emphasis on community. And, as our text suggests, community begins in the family. Hence, the church needs to strengthen and nurture a strong family amidst attempts to disintegrate it. 3. Role of land as spiritual thermometer.97 This concept is quite alien to the modern mind. The prophets mention that one of the primary reasons for exile was failure to keep the Sabbath which eventually lead to widespread social injustice. Apostasy and disobedience to the statutes and ordinances of YHWH was the root. Most of these are traceable in H. But sexual immorality is barely mentioned, although our text considers it among the major statutes and ordinances. Theoretically, however, dysfunctional family, when it becomes widespread, eventually leads to dysfunctional society. The widespread social injustice is often reflective of the health of the family. Culture and cult are perpetuated primarily through the family. Hence, it is not surprising that H constructs most of his ethics on the family level i.e., familial \wlc; yet makes it a community concern. 4. Shame theology and capital punishment. A Filipino Christian may not have difficulty affirming most of the prohibitions in Lev 18. But Lev 20 poses serious problem, not to mention the dietary law in verse 25. Capital punishment on sexual crimes (except adultery) may not be applicable in an increasingly multicultural mega polis, where individualism is cherished and morality becoming relative. Social stigma on sexual crimes has been around but is gradually losing its power. Within the Christian circle, the impact of social stigma is easily lessened when the offender individual transfers church affiliation. (Although, admittedly, some offenders are victims of personal [political] agenda!) Moreover, the concept of tafj and \ca is a constant in Christian ethics. The Church is to strike a balance between social stigma, and tafj and \ca. Social stigma in these chapters may have meant labeling (}wu + acn bear guilt). But this is only applicable when tafj and \ca are absent. On the other

Borrowing C.J.H.Wrights term (1983, 59ff.).

21 hand, it may mean excommunication, as the idea of trk suggests. In most instances, the Church is left splitting hairs on extremely difficult situations. In some instances, she remains undecided. As has been repeatedly pointed out in this paper, ethical stances do have a structural, not only existential, dimension. This means that, in the final analysis, our primary ethical concern must be founded upon the affirmation and preservation of foundational ideologies of Christianity, and not of some principles of people whose ethics no longer speak for present situations. A relevant case we need to address here is homosexuality (18:22; 20:13). Christian ethics deal with homosexuality according to categories, perhaps according to severity. The first is homosexual orientation. The second is homosexual act. The third is between the committed, non-exploitative and exploitative homosexual relationship. Those who have more tolerant ethics within the Church accept a committed, nonexploitative homosexual relationship. To be certain, any exploitative relationship (heterosexual or homosexual) is a taboo. More conservative taste struggles even with homosexual orientation, while those who have relatively humanistic inclinations draw a hard line between orientation and act. Our text has been used to support or rebuke stances on the issue. As already noted above (see p. 16), homosexuality is taboo in our text. But we must be careful to distinguish orientation from act. (Effeminate behavior is not homosexuality.) Our text limits the taboo to actual intercourse; and it does not distinguish between committed, non-exploitative and exploitative relationships. Both receive the same penalty (20:13). However, a problem arises from here: is this taboo normative in the OT? It is one thing to resolve what the text has to say, and another to construct from it a normative ethic.98 A larger concern is sexual promiscuity and tolerance. The Canaanites in our text should not be equated with the world in general. The statutes and ordinances take precedence in identifying them, not geography or affiliation. We may ask the question: how tolerant can the Church be concerning sexuality? Our text consistently treats sex in the context of marriage and procreation. Premarital sex is elsewhere considered exploitative (cf. Deut 22:13ff.). Paul (1Cor 7) highlights that premarital sex is primarily an

In OT, legal stipulations on sexuality always have exclusivity motif (cf. p. 16, n 95).

22 offense against the sanctity of marriage. The idea of exploitative (or non-exploitative, for that matter) premarital sex may be used to construct an ethic to legitimate premarital today; but this argument closely resembles the Corinthians argument in many ways. Hence, Paul approaches the issue in the context of marriage and not simply on the act. Our text may not be as mature in its insight as that of Paul, but it does have deep concern for the dignity of the woman (the economic dimension is quite secondary) and harmonious relationship between sexes. (Sex in OT is never treated simply as passion, but a social force.) Polygamy, although tolerated in OT in general, probably was not practiced in the rural areas for economic reasons; certainly, it is taboo in NT. Marriage remained a sacred institution. Our text actually protects the \wlc of the relationship between couples, particularly, the woman her role, emotional and psychological well-being, and dignity.99 Two other prohibitions need attention, 20:6 and 20:9. Use of mediums and familiar spirits has deep roots in the Filipino culture. Although this has been almost successfully eliminated in the church, some forms of superstition continue its influence. The church is continually challenged to distinguish these seemingly harmless superstitious practices and their implications to the foundational Christian faith, particularly, the goodness and sovereignty of God. Injunction in 20:9 may encounter a complex matrix of objections. I do not wish to address situational cases one after another. What is necessary is to point out the limits of the text. Two important elements need mention here. First, the text does not assume that the parents are obedient parents. In the language of today, they need not be obedient Christians. Second, the text does require the child to be obedient to the statutes and ordinances of YHWH. Contradictions between the parents ethic, and the statutes and ordinances of YHWH may occur, but such contradiction does not license the child to llq curse his parents. The term llq is limited to verbal abuse. This has a wide range of implications: from public humiliation through derogatory remarks to a more subtle form of disrespect. This is normative in OT and NT.
Note how these prohibitions portray the intimate relationship of couples: (1) offense against the woman is also an offense against her husband; (2) the honor of the husband depends on the chastity of his wife (or the woman under his responsibility).

23 5. The purification and reparation offerings as paradigm. Finally, moving from H to its larger P context, the tafj and \ca concepts can also be a paradigm for Christian ethics insofar as their conciliatory and reparative function are concerned. The process involved in tafj and \ca is instructive in restoring a deviant. Three movements are involved. (1) The transgression is recognized. Although this is done quite implicitly, the appropriation of tafj and \ca is itself a recognition that a breach has been committed. (2) A reorientation process is undertaken. For \ca this process involves reparative act, i.e., usually in the form of economic payment for damage done. In the tafj, this is not quite clear. Nevertheless, we may say that an offering is not only an act of acknowledging breach, but primarily an act of [re-]affirming what is right (the norm). (3) The deviant is reinstated to the society through cultic act declaring him/her rhf purified, or jlsn forgiven. This involves public reacceptance of the ex-deviant to the fellowship. These three stages are important elements in the Churchs disciplinary process. Soon as the person finish the whole process social stigma is eliminated. This implies that the society is in fact obligated to recognize the whole process as effectual. To do otherwise is to commit breach.