By Huizinga Johan
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Additional info for A definition of the concept of history
These things include semen and menstrual blood. When a woman has a menstrual period she is in a ·ta¯me¯’ condition for seven days. When a man has a ﬂow of semen, he too is ·ta¯me¯’ and must wait a day and then bathe. Excrement (solid and liquid), however, is not ·ta¯me¯’. It cannot be ·ta¯me¯’. If it were, then humans would all be ·ta¯me¯’ almost every day of their lives! Olyan blurs the distinction between excrement and the ·ta¯me¯’ ﬂuids by using the phrase “deﬁling liquids” to describe all of these.
But an overview of ancient Near Eastern and Greek attitudes toward homosexuality from times both before and shortly after the biblical texts were written offers us an alternative way of understanding homosexuality in the Bible from the way in which we might be inclined to see it from a twenty-ﬁrst-century Western perspective. Although separated in time and space from biblical Israel, stories, 30 THE BIBLE NOW laws, and other ancient Near Eastern texts still provide a nearer context in which to understand the biblical injunction against homosexuality than our modern world does.
And, third, the offense is strictly Onan’s and nobody else’s. One cannot conclude from this episode that, biblically, it is wrong for any man to spill seed in any situation. It is a very speciﬁc story about a singular case in a family’s history. It has no broader application, and there is in fact no law against masturbation or withdrawal during sex anywhere in the Bible’s law codes. 17 Also, one can argue that in homosexual sex the female egg is no more or less “wasted” than the male semen. The ancients may have known less than we do about anatomy, but they were able to know that there was something going on inside a woman that interacted with a man’s semen to produce pregnancy.