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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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Fear Factor: Lesbian Sex and Gay Men

Fear Factor: Lesbian Sex and Gay Men

Parashat Emor (Leviticus 21:1–24:23)

(p.170) Thirty-One Fear Factor: Lesbian Sex and Gay Men
Torah Queeries

Joshua Lesser

NYU Press

This chapter discusses lesbian sex in the readings of Parashat Emor of Leviticus. The text state that a priest “shall not marry a woman defiled by harlotry, nor shall they marry one divorced from her husband for they are holy to God.” In the Talmud, there is a connection drawn between the word “harlotry” (liznot or zonah) and the term mesolelot, which in contemporary translations is also rendered as “sexual lewdness.” In a 12th-century commentary, mesolelot was defined as women rubbing their vaginas together. This lesbian sexuality is seen as a “minor infraction,” since such sexual act was foreign or inconsequential to the Biblical authors and that historically Jewish sexuality is a heterosexual man's world.

Keywords:   lesbian sex, lesbian sexuality, harlotry, Parashat Emor, Leviticus

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