A scholarly response on what the Hebrew and Aramaic Bible says concerning LGBTI people.
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The word m’haym-na (singular) no doubt means: a homosexual, a trusted one, a believer and a celibate (chaste) person. M’haym-na means a homosexual in the verses I quoted at the beginning of this pamphlet. M’haym-na also means a person that is “trustworthy, trusted or faithful” (see Tobit 5:9; Matt. 24:45; 1 Peter 5:12). M’haym-ne (plural) means believers here: “…be an example to the believers..”(1 Tim. 4:12 Lamsa). Lastly, M’hay-man (indefinite singular pronunciation) means a "celibate one" here: "But concerning virginity: I don't have a commandment from God; but I am giving [you] advice, as a man, even I who has received mercy from God, that I should be a celibate person." (1 Cor. 7:25 P'shitta).
The word m’haym-na is also defined as a “eunuch” or “castrated man.” However, it literally refers to a person that is “trusted” or “faithful” (Rev. 3:14). M’haym-na acts as both an adjective and a noun in the Aramaic language. The Aramaic language doesn’t let the reader know if the “trusted one” or “eunuch” is castrated or not. However, some of the “trusted ones” were castrated because the king of Babylon wanted “trusted ones” that were unblemished [i.e. not castrated] (Dan. 1:4). The only way for a reader to perhaps consider that the “trusted one” is castrated is when the “trusted one” is a royal official. Then again, some of the royal officials that were “trusted ones” weren’t castrated in the Bible. So the reader won’t know if the trusted one is castrated unless some other words are used to say that the “eunuch” is castrated. The word m'haym-ne also doesn't always refer to royal officials. Luke 16:11 (Peshitta) says "If therefore you were not trusted ones(or faithful ones) with wealth dishonestly gotten, who will entrust to you the true [wealth]."
Nevertheless, whether a person understands a eunuch as an unblemished homosexual or a castrated male, they were both trusted in two major functions. We see this by examining the Bible. They were trusted around women in dwelling, communication and dealings. One major underlining reason would be to prevent an illegitimate child. They were also trusted as civil servants. They weren’t able or less likely to have children, which made them less likely to kill the king and start their own dynasty. 1st Ezra (1st Esdras) 3:7 suggests that wise eunuch guards advised the king because of their wisdom.
Some of the trusted ones (eunuchs) guarded the king when he slept in his bedroom. They were either inside the bedroom guarding the king on his bed or outside the bedroom doors (1st Ezra [1st Esdras] 3:4, 8). First Ezra 3:4 (Aramaic Text) says: "Then those(ha-non) three young men, the bodyguards, [even] those(ha-len) who were guarding(watching, preserving) the body of the king, said one to another." The pronoun word "those" in Aramaic has a masculine, feminine & common designation for the genders. It's usually used when both genders are referred to in the sentence. The first pronoun ha-non (those) is masculine because it designates the masculine word "young men." However, the second pronoun ha-len (those) is a common designation describing men here. This suggests that eunuchs (trusted ones) were not viewed totally as men. And hence the Semitic designation of the genders would be male, female and eunuch (trusted one). In India, however, LGBT people were known as the third gender. This should be emphasized because the Aramaic language only has words that are masculine or feminine; no neuter words like the Greek language.
Every word in scripture is important. In the book of Daniel, it says that the king wanted males that were handsome. God didn’t have to have the word “handsome” in His holy word at this place. The information would have still been sufficient for readers to be educated without that word. However, God is preserving a valuable connection on why the king wanted handsome eunuchs. God is showing today’s readers the homosexual tendencies of the king toward eunuchs. The following paragraphs will clear up some misconceptions regarding eunuchs.
The primary meaning for a eunuch is not a castrated man, but more often as a trusted one. The context tells if the trusted one is a commander, doorkeeper or other occupation. In Gen. 39:1 it says: “..And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, commander of the guard,..” Literally, the Aramaic text says that Potiphar was a trusted one of Pharaoh, a “commander.” So the context tells us what type of trusted one that Potiphar was, he was a commander. In Esther 2:21, we are told that Bigthan and Teresh were “trusted ones,” of those that kept the door, so they were door keepers. A homosexual “trusted one” was also a keeper of women; as was the case of Hegai in Esther 2:3.
Homosexual eunuchs weren’t always castrated. In the Book of Acts it talks about an Ethiopian Eunuch under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, going into the Temple in Jerusalem to worship (Acts 8:26-27). But in (Deuteronomy 23:1) it says that a castrated male is not to enter the congregation of the LORD. The Book of Acts, chapter (8:26-27) is a good reference of a Eunuch that was not castrated.
Castration was done for some of the following reasons. Castration was performed on beaten enemy warriors (See 1 Sam. 18:25, 27; 2 Sam. 3:14). Additionally, some men castrated themselves because they were transgender persons or because of religious reasons. Lastly, castration was done as a form of punishment: “he who is wounded by affliction and (or) has [his] penis cut off shall not enter into the assembly of YHWH.”(Deut. 23:1 Masoretic Hebrew Text). The Hebrew word dac-ca was translated into Aramaic as mu-ca-cha “affliction, humiliation, abasement, submission” at Psalm 90:3 and as ma-ci-ca "afflicted" at Isaiah 57:15. Dac-ca suggests an “affliction” by “beating (smiting),” “breaking into pieces” or “crushing” as the verb root da-ca is translated in the KJV or NKJV. The related word dac is translated as “afflicted” (KJV) and “oppressed” in the (KJV, NKJV). Additionally, Dac-ca is personified in two places in the Hebrew text and translated into Aramaic as ma-ci-cai: “those afflicted in” and mach-i-we: "the maimed, wounded ones;” as in: “those afflicted in spirit” (Ps. 34:18) or “the spirit of the maimed (or wounded ones)” (Isa. 57:15). Mach-i-we (Syr. Pron. mach-e-we) literally means "those made to feel pain, suffering" or "those who are in pain" (Lamsa). The verb cew was also used to make the word ce-wa "pain." Nevertheless, Mach-i-we means the "maimed, wounded ones" at 2 Maccabees 8:28 and Luke 14:21. Another related word Ma-ce-wu-tha means: "infliction of pain, wounding."
The KJV added the word stones (i.e. testicles) plus translated the word “and” as “or” at Deuteronomy 23:1; though it is unclear if or is the correct interpretation: “He that is wounded in the stones(testicles), or hath his privy member(penis) cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.” Though the KJV carries a lot of the meaning of the original Hebrew text, it fails to communicate to English readers that this verse is referring to men that were punished, and hence can’t enter into the congregation of the LORD. Thus, this verse isn’t referring to transgender persons who voluntarily remove their genitalia.
This verse may be describing an alternate punishment for adultery because the Aramaic text translated Deuteronomy 23:1 as: “No adulterer shall enter into the assembly of the LORD.” (Deut. 23:1 Lamsa). This would mean that the other punishment was more severe: “the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.” (Lev. 20:10 NKJV).
Sa-ris is the Hebrew transliteration of the Akkadian word sa-resi (Also pronounced sa-res). The s’s in Sa-resi may have a “sh” sound; with a possible pronunciation of sha-reshi. Sa-resi is from the Akkadian words sa “man” and resi “of the Head.” Resi is the genitive form of resu (Head). The literal meaning of sa-resi is “Head Man” or “Head.” The word “Man” is not needed in the understanding of a “Head.” Sa is connected to many Akkadian nouns such as sa-ariti (lit. “man of the shield” or “shield-man”). A “Head” in the Semitic languages of Hebrew and Aramaic refers to “a person in authority or who has a leadership role.” I am making an educated guess that this is the meaning of sa-resi in the Akkadin language, since Akkadian is a Semitic language. I am not proficient in Akkadian and I have not read any books in Akkadian.
The defining of sa-ris as a “Head” or a “person of authority” is very similar to one of James Strong’s definitions. He also defined sa-ris, as “a minister of state.” Even though “a minister of state” is not the root meaning of sa-ris, it definitely appears to be its meaning in usage.
James Strong is obviously wrong when he says that sa-ris is from an unused root meaning “to castrate.” A root meaning of “to castrate” is wrong because of the proof I presented that sa-ris is from two Akkadian words, and by the fact that some of the saris’ were not castrated. The Bible records that Potiphar was a sa-ris (translated as officer at Gen. 37:36 & 39:1) and had a wife. So he was clearly not castrated.
The definitions of all the Akkadian words are from the ASSYRIAN ENGLISH-ASSYRIAN DICTIONARY, Copyright The Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, 2007.
Note: The Preface to that Dictionary states: “The Standard Akkadian entries deriving from the inscriptions of Neo-Assyrian kings were edited by Luukko and Van Buylaere, the supplementary ones (culled from Akkadian literary, religious, and scientific texts) by Parpola and Van Buylaere.”