This chapter is all about euphemisms. The Hebrews would have understood them, but we who have sanitized the Bible, don’t understand them.
I mentioned the other day that Dr. Marvin Wilson, my Bible 101 prof, told us that when Ruth uncovered Boaz’ feet, it was not the things at the end of his legs that was referred but Boaz’ dangly bits.
What Marv omitted to tell us is that there are a number of other places where “feet” is used as a euphemism for genitalia for both women and men.
I was especially astonished to read that the six-winged seraphim in Isaiah had “feet” to cover while in the presence of Yahweh. Aside from the fact that it is surely courteous and respectful to hide one’s genitalia from one’s Creator, it has never occurred to me that seraphim had any such bits. Ok, that last sentence was facetious.
He also explains an expression used frequently “hand under the thigh.” I’ve always pictured this as one man sitting down and the oath taker sliding a hand literally under one of the thighs of the man to who he was swearing the oath. No such thing. Gist says what was actually taking place is that the one swearing the oath was taking in hand the testicles of the one to whom he was swearing. Gently, one trusts. He also points out that “testify” and “testicles” have the same root. I never knew that.
The question I am thinking about is this: do I want an earthier translation of the Bible? Do I want to read in my Bible about penises, testicles, vulvas, and vaginas? Well, why not? These aren’t dirty words. They are body parts created by God who found everything God created good.
Yes, I too as an adolescent skimmed the Bible looking for the “dirty bits” and I daresay this would provide more seemingly dirtier bits. But might it not also help us have a healthier respect for our bodies and for the bodies of others?