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Torah QueeriesWeekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible$
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Gregg Drinkwater, Joshua Lesser, and David Shneer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780814720127

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814720127.001.0001

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Sex in the Talmud: How to Understand Leviticus 18 and 20

Sex in the Talmud: How to Understand Leviticus 18 and 20

Parashat Kedoshim (Leviticus 19:1–20:27)

(p.157) Thirty Sex in the Talmud: How to Understand Leviticus 18 and 20
Torah Queeries

David Brodsky

NYU Press

This chapter argues that the rules against homosexual sex in the readings of Parashat Kedoshim of Leviticus have been mischaracterized as a prohibition against homosexuality. In a 1992 responsum on the homosexuality, Joel Roth, states, “Lev. 20:13 clearly calls homosexuality a to'evah. Yet the subject of this verse is not female homosexuality, and it probably is not even male homosexuality.” Instead, the subject of Leviticus 20:13 seems to be some specific form of male same-sex intercourse and not homosexuality as a category or identity. Classicists and historians have largely confirmed these findings, as have scholars of the Bible and rabbinics. Their numerous studies have shown that reading notions of identity into earlier texts that mention sexual acts is problematic and misleading.

Keywords:   homosexual sex, Joel Roth, homosexuality, Bible, rabbinics

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