Marry Like an Egyptian

Marry Like an Egyptian July 9, 2012

Someone on Facebook mentioned, as part of an argument against same-sex marriage, a passage in Maimonides saying that the ancient Egyptians would marry a man to a man and a woman to a woman.

To me, this seemed to provide still more support for an argument in the precise opposite direction.

Maimonides was in fact drawing from the earlier Sifra, the famous commentary on Leviticus. The gist of the entire discussion in both sources is that same-sex relations between women were not viewed in those times in the negative way that most opponents of same-sex relations today view them.

But either way, the very statement that rejection of same-sex marriage in Israel was part of an attempt to distinguish Israel from its neighbors means that, from a Christian perspective, it ought perhaps to be placed in the same category as boiling a kid in its mother’s milk.


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  • Nour Mohand

    not correct. they never did that ( men marry men ) .

    • That may or may not be true – I would be interested to know what evidence you are drawing on. But it is rather beside the point. Even if the reason for not boiling a young goat in its mother’s milk did not in fact have anything to do with differentiating between Israelites and their neighbors, historically interpreters have understood it this way, and Christians as a result have set aside that law and do not follow it. And so it is really the history of interpretation, and the character of commands about homosexual relations, that is the focus of my interest here.

  • Lucian

    Zoophilia was also wide-spread in ancient times, for instance in Mesopotamia, where the Babylonian Empire was located, from which the Jews also wanted to separate themselves… are we to draw the same conclusion about this practice as well, given its interdiction in the same book (Leviticus) ?

    • Can you please provide references to some relevant Mesopotamian primary sources to substantiate your claim?