Thursday, September 15, 2016

Highly Elastic?!

"The Hebrew Bible, when read in its original language, offers a highly elastic view of gender.”  That, it seems, is the judgment of one rabbi teaching not in synagogue or schule but on the pages of the New York Times.  His point is that those who read the Old Testament in the Hebrew find a view of gender that bends and the biggest gender bender is Yahweh.  This "a dual-gendered deity," according to Rabbi Sameth, is testified to in the very name of God.
The four-Hebrew-letter name of God, which scholars refer to as the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, was probably not pronounced “Jehovah” or “Yahweh,” as some have guessed. The Israelite priests would have read the letters in reverse as Hu/Hi—in other words, the hidden name of God was Hebrew for “He/She.”
From all accounts, Biblical scholarship understands “Yahweh” as from the third-person singular of the verb “to be” (hayah), whether a qal imperfect (“he is” or “he will be”) or the causative hiphil imperfect (“he causes to come into being, he creates”).  Scripture supports this in several passages -- from the interpretation given in Exod 3:14 (“Say to the sons of Israel, ‘ehyeh [‘I am’ or ‘I will be’ (who I am/will be)] sent me to you”) to the use of shortened forms of Yahweh at the end (“Yah” or “Yahu”) or beginning (“Yeho” or “Yo”) of Hebrew names to the spelling “Yabe” known to the Samaritans to transliterations “Yao,” “Ya-ou-e,” and “Ya-ou-ai” as they appear in some Greek texts, the idea of a dual gendered deity is an invention. There appears to be no historical evidence to support Sameth’s rather creative but novel interpretation.  (Thanks to

It is one more example of someone's own ideology -- in this case a sexually slanted ideology, shaping the interpretation of Scripture and finding support for this reading where there is clearly none.  This is the common complaint against modern exegesis. While conservatives are often accused of allowing ideology to influence what the text says or means, it is precisely those who enter the Scriptures with a chip on their shoulders who seek to find what is new or novel but just happens to support the modern social construct and then to insist that this is what Scripture meant all along!

Faith does not read into Scripture what you want it to say.  This is the gravest of all the lies foisted upon Scripture and placed into the mouth of God.  The vantage point of faith is the hear the Word and listen from the posture of faith and believe what God says.  We are captive to the Word and the Word is not captive to us.  Invention is the mother of all disasters when it comes to the Word and the principle of catholicity needs to be applied liberally in the face of those who change the meaning of the words as often as they change shirts.  Scripture is not highly elastic but clear, consistent, and constant.  The Word of the Lord endures forever.  With all due respect to Rabbi Sameth.


John Flanagan said...

Modern interpretations of the Bible usually claim more accuracy than the old KJV because they believe scholarship has become more advanced than it was in the past, and that even linguistic meanings need updating. It is a true and false notion. The scholars who seek "gender neutrality" in the Bible and in contemporary thinking are nothing more than politically correct advocates no longer even hiding a wider agenda for erase natural, biological, and tempermental differences between men and women and make sure this narrative is broadly believed. It is an unreasonable and misguided idea, but many academics teach it today. It is natural for these thinkers to apply gender politics to even the Bible, but such foolishness must be rejected.

ErnestO said...

This web page does a succinct job of refuting Rabbi Sameth -

Kirk Skeptic said...

R Sameth's congregation Pleasantville Community Synagogue, is ultraliberal and hence one shouldn't be surprised at his flumdiddle; he demonstrated that his is just a minister in the Church of Liberalism - Jewish Synod.