Know what else is banned by the Bible?
Lying about your virginity, seems like a good place to start. That’s prohibited in Deuteronomy 22:20-21. Oh, and in the same book, it is also written that it is a sin not to bleed when you lose your virginity. And even as raping an engaged female is considered a sin, so to is being raped in the city if you’re an engaged female. Talk about victim-blaming.
You can’t eat blood, Genesis says. And Exodus makes it clear that it’s sinful to consume meat and dairy together – so burn in hell, Jollibee cheeseburgers! That’s what you get for breaking our hearts one day before Valentine’s day.
And while we’re on the subject of food, Exodus also prohibits eating leavened bread – basically your average loaf of white bread – on the feast of unleavened bread, which is Passover, which this year runs from April 10 to 18. So, watch out. And Deuteronomy prohibits eating marine animals that don’t have fins or scales (so, I’m guessing eels and catfish?), and non-kosher things.
Genesis says males must be circumcised; Deuteronomy prohibits trying to convert people to other religions, and ignoring the judgement of a priest (oboy, are we ALL in trouble now!). And we’re only getting started.
Here’s 76 other things that might make you wake up at night, sweating cold bullets; from guilt, y’know? And these are just from Leviticus.
1. Burning any yeast or honey in offerings to God (2:11)
2. Failing to include salt in offerings to God (2:13)
3. Eating fat (3:17)
4. Eating blood (3:17)
5. Failing to testify against any wrongdoing you’ve witnessed (5:1) – I agree with this, of course, but compliance with this directive nowadays can probably get pretty hairy, pretty quickly.
6. Failing to testify against any wrongdoing you’ve been told about (5:1) – I agree with this, too, but hasten to add that we’ve got the Rules of Evidence, and the much less frequently quoted rules of common sense, to contend with now.
7. Touching an unclean animal (5:2) – If I’m not mistaken, dogs are considered unclean animals too. Sad.
8. Carelessly making an oath (5:4)
9. Deceiving a neighbour about something trusted to them (6:2)
10. Finding lost property and lying about it (6:3) – Funny thing. I imagine the promise of a reward has worked far better than this kind of plain prohibition.
11. Bringing unauthorised fire before God (10:1) – I wonder if bringing guns to church would be covered by this injunction.
12. Letting your hair become unkempt (10:6) – OMG, I am doomed.
13. Tearing your clothes (10:6)
14. Drinking alcohol in holy places (10:9) – ICYMI, Mompo – the wine used in mass – is an alcoholic beverage, and can be bought at Php 180.00/750ml bottle via alak.ph.
15. Eating an animal which doesn’t both chew cud and has a divided hoof (11:4-7) – FYI, this includes pigs, so bawal ang lechon.
16. Touching the carcass of any of the above (11:8)
17. Eating – or touching the carcass of – any seafood without fins or scales (11:10-12)
18. Eating – or touching the carcass of – eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, the red kite, any kind of black kite, any kind of raven, the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat. (11:13-19)
19. Eating – or touching the carcass of – flying insects with four legs, unless those legs are jointed (11:20-22) – I’m drawing a blank on which insect only has four legs.
20. Eating any animal which walks on all four and has paws (11:27) – I’m looking at you Oro.
21. Eating – or touching the carcass of – the weasel, the rat, any kind of great lizard, the gecko, the monitor lizard, the wall lizard, the skink and the chameleon (11:29)
22. Eating – or touching the carcass of – any creature which crawls on many legs, or its belly (11:41-42)
23. Going to church within 33 days after giving birth to a boy (12:4) – Strange this.
24. Going to church within 66 days after giving birth to a girl (12:5) – Vaguely sexist this one.
25. Having sex with your mother (18:7) – Duh.
26. Having sex with your father’s wife (18:8) – Or your mother’s husband, I assume.
27. Having sex with your sister (18:9) – Ew.
28. Having sex with your granddaughter (18:10) – Or grandson, yeah?
29. Having sex with your half-sister (18:11)
30. Having sex with your biological aunt (18:12-13)
31. Having sex with your uncle’s wife (18:14)
32. Having sex with your daughter-in-law (18:15)
33. Having sex with your sister-in-law (18:16)
34. Having sex with a woman and also having sex with her daughter or granddaughter (18:17) – Uh-oh, Woody.
35. Marrying your wife’s sister while your wife still lives (18:18)
36. Having sex with a woman during her period (18:19)
37. Having sex with your neighbour’s wife (18:20) – Sex, sex, sex. Sheesh. Obsessed much?
38. Giving your children to be sacrificed to Molek (18:21)
39. Having sex with a man “as one does with a woman” (18:22) – Here’s that “abomination” clause.
40. Having sex with an animal (18:23) – Alright. That’s really gross, the cuteness of gerbils notwithstanding.
41. Making idols or “metal gods” (19:4) – Coins are metal; so this can mean money, right?
42. Reaping to the very edges of a field (19:9) – I dunno man.
43. Picking up grapes that have fallen in your vineyard (19:10) –
44. Stealing (19:11)
45. Lying (19:11)
46. Swearing falsely on God’s name (19:12) – Hence, I think, the practice of swearing oaths with one hand on a Holy Book.
47. Defrauding your neighbour (19:13)
48. Holding back the wages of an employee overnight (19:13) – We’ve come up with so many rationalisations for doing this, and tbh, some of them pretty fair.
49. Cursing the deaf or abusing the blind (19:14) – I would think that NO ONE should be subjected to abuse.
50. Perverting justice, showing partiality to either the poor or the rich (19:15)
51. Spreading slander (19:16)
52. Doing anything to endanger a neighbour’s life (19:16)
53. Seeking revenge or bearing a grudge (19:18)
54. Mixing fabrics in clothing (19:19) – Oh, shoot.
55. Cross-breeding animals (19:19)
56. Planting different seeds in the same field (19:19)
57. Sleeping with another man’s slave (19:20) – And yet, slavery itself is legit.
58. Eating fruit from a tree within four years of planting it (19:23)
59. Practising divination or seeking omens (19:26) – Lagot si Stargazer.
60. Trimming your beard (19:27) – ehem.
61. Cutting your hair at the sides (19:27) – Never did like mullets.
62. Getting tattoos (19:28) – Aww.
63. Making your daughter prostitute herself (19:29) – Duh.
64. Turning to mediums or spiritualists (19:31)
65. Not standing in the presence of the elderly (19:32) – Just good manners, I should think.
66. Mistreating foreigners – “the foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born” (19:33-34) – hmmm … but what if the native-born were being treated like dirt?
67. Using dishonest weights and scales (19:35-36)
68. Cursing your father or mother (20:9)
69. Marrying a prostitute, divorcee or widow if you are a priest (21:7,13) – But not a single girl?
70. Entering a place where there’s a dead body as a priest (21:11) – This is confusing.
71. Slaughtering a cow/sheep and its young on the same day (22:28)
72. Working on the Sabbath (23:3) – OMG, I am doomed.
73. Blasphemy (24:14)
74. Inflicting an injury; killing someone else’s animal; killing a person must be punished in kind (24:17-22)
75. Selling land permanently (25:23) – Native Hawaiians didn’t even think land could be owned, let alone sold.
76. Selling an Israelite as a slave (25:42) – Doesn’t apply to foreigners, apparently, but see Prohibition #66.
Ok. Seriously now.
Modern Biblical scholarship – particularly Jewish commentaries – now hold that a lot of these prohibitions are based on very practical considerations at the time of their formulation. That prohibition against slaughtering cows on the same day as their offspring are slaughtered, for instance, is believed to warn against the careless decimation of one’s livestock. In the same vein, Onan’s fate is now interpreted as a social lever to promote procreation – what with children being necessary for the survival of the tribe, it probably did seem like a terrible waste to “spill (one’s) seed on the ground.”
This to me seems like a reasonable perspective to have. From that starting point, it becomes fairly simple to groups these prohibitions into various categories and then to apply rigorous reasoning to each one. Prohibitions against murder and sexual crimes (like incest and rape), for instance, remain reasonable and beneficial today, I should think. Bans that enforce behavioural norms – like standing in the presence of elders – also still make sense. In fact, they make more sense now than ever before.
Put otherwise, these prohibitions are not intended to protect the sensibilities of God, but to protect the people and ensure harmonious co-existence all around. Thus as far as I understand it, for the modern Jews, this view of scriptural prohibitions allows them to forego some of the bans for the simple reason that the evils those bans sought to protect against are no longer objectively dangerous to the tribe. And that might be a lesson everyone would do well to learn.