Journeys to the Twilight Zone
by Farrell Till
Scooping And Copping
The Twilight Zone, where the children of Israel lived and worshipped their god Yahweh,
was indeed a strange place. Perhaps the only thing stranger than this god was the legal
system that he imposed on his "chosen people." On our last journey, we learned
that Yahweh abhorred anything that was blemished, and so he had ordered all people with
physical handicaps to distance themselves from the tabernacle altar, lest they profane
Yahweh's holy sanctuary with their presence. Even blemished animals, especially those with
crushed testicles, would profane Yahweh's altar if they were offered as sacrifices.
Apparently it was easy to "profane" Yahweh in those days. In Deuteronomy
23:12-13, the chosen ones were told that they should "have a place outside the
camp" where they could "go," and that they should take with them a
"paddle" so that when they "sit down abroad," they could "dig
with it and turn and cover that which comes from [them]." Well, that makes sense.
With three million people wandering across the Sinai on their trek to the promised land,
human waste would certainly have posed a serious sanitation problem. What better way to
dispose of it than to require each person to carry a pooper-scooper?
But wait a minute. Just when we are about ready to commend the wisdom of Yahweh for
revealing to his children the need to maintain sanitation in their camp, we read on in the
text and find that the welfare of his people wasn't really the reason for this
commandment. No, not at all. The chosen ones were to dig with their paddles and bury their
excrement, because "Yahweh your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you
and give your enemies over to you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that he may see no
unclean thing among you, and turn away from you" (v:14). So that was the real reason
for this law. If Yahweh should have stepped in anything while he was walking about in the
midst of the Israelite camp, it might have disgusted him so much that he would have turned
away from his chosen ones. After all, if Yahweh couldn't abide crushed testicles, we can
imagine how offensive he would have found an unburied pile of excrement. Perhaps this
Yahwistic aversion explains why when the "fullness of time" came for Yahweh to
send his only begotten son to redeem the world, he chose just to "overshadow"
Mary (Luke 1:35) and then assume the role of absentee father, which, of course, left all
of the diaper changing to Mary.
At any rate, Yahweh was very sensitive about matters that pertained to bodily
functions. As already noted, we have seen that he just couldn't tolerate crushed
testicles, and so this could be the reason for a peculiar law in Deuteronomy 25: "If
two men fight together, and the wife of one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand
of the one attacking him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the genitals, then you
shall cut off her hand; your eyes shall not pity her" (vs:11-12). Today, if a woman's
husband should be attacked, she would probably know that a swift way to rescue him would
be to administer a quick, hard blow between the attacker's legs, but that's today. Back in
the Twilight Zone of biblical times, a woman dared not do this unless she wanted to run
the risk of being known the rest of her life as Lefty.
For some reason, Yahweh said nothing about the opposite situation in which two women
would be fighting, and the husband of one should grab the crotch of his wife's attacker.
One can only conclude that Yahweh, in his inscrutable wisdom, considered copping a feel to
be a much worse offense for women than men. Why is anyone's guess, but it could be that
this law had something to do with Yahweh's abhorrence of crushed testicles. A woman who
grabbed a man's genitals could very likely damage merchandise that was precious to Yahweh,
but the risk of damage wouldn't have been so great if a man grabbed a woman's genitals.
Certainly, there would have been no testicles to crush, and this seemed to be the thing
Yahweh was especially sensitive about.
Like many other commandments of Yahweh, these that we have looked at on this journey to
the Twilight Zone raise more questions than they answer. The chosen ones were to carry
paddles with them so that they could bury their excrement, but they had with them large
herds and flocks of livestock. So what about the excrement from these animals? Did they
have to bury it too? Or did Yahweh consider a cow chip less offensive than human
excrement? In a fight, a man's wife could not assist him by seizing his opponent's
genitals, but what were Yahweh's chosen ones supposed to do if two men were fighting and
no wife intervened, yet one of the men grabbed the other's genitals? Would this have cost
the man his hand? If not, why not? Wouldn't damage to the genitals be the primary concern
of a god who couldn't abide crushed testicles, so why would he care about the gender of
the hand that had inflicted the damage? We have no answers to these questions, because we
read nothing in Yahweh's holy word about what was to be done to men who damaged the
genitals of other men. It just seemed that Yahweh had a low threshold of tolerance for
women who were impudent enough to dare risk damaging male genitalia. It makes one wonder
if maybe this Yahweh was merely a god that Hebrew men had created complete with their own
male concerns and biases.
Nah! Why, in the Twilight Zone, even the mere thought would have been blasphemy. These
are all questions whose answers will just have to wait until the sweet bye and bye.
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