In Hebrew, does Leviticus 18:22 really say "while with" a woman?

by Mr. T

The Tanakh or Hebrew Old Testament

The Tanakh or Hebrew Old Testament

No, I don't believe that is at all what the Hebrew text says. Let's go through it carefully. Here is the Hebrew text of Leviticus 18:22. And here is the Hebrew text of Leviticus 20:13.

Here is the most complete list of online commentaries on Leviticus, a massive resource available free for anyone interested in doing additional study. No translation, no lexicon, no interlinear, no commentary I have examined lists a meaning of mishkab which includes "while with" a woman as a possible translation of the Hebrew text. The true meaning of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 is shrine prostitution.

I do not see any translation which gives the Hebrew word, mishkab, the meaning of "while with" a woman. Are you aware of any translation which translates it that way? I am unable to find that translation or that meaning given to the Hebrew word, mishkab, anywhere.

The Complete Jewish Bible translates it this way:

"You are not to go to bed with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination."

The Jewish Publication Society Old Testament, 1917, translates it this way:

"Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is abomination."

The Hebrew Names Version translates it this way:

"You shall not lie with a man, as with a woman. That is detestible."

The ever-faithful old King James Version, 1611 translates it this way:

"Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."

The Peshitta, Lamsa Translation translates it this way:

"You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; because it is an abomination."

The Wycliffe Bible, 1395 translates it this way:

"Thou schalt not be medlid with a man bi letcherie of womman, for it is abhomynacioun."

The Message Bible translates it this way:

"Don't have sex with a man as one does with a woman. That is abhorrent."

The Young's Literal Translation translates it this way:

"And with a male thou dost not lie as one lieth with a woman; abomination it is."

The Reina Valera Version (La Biblia Reina-Valera) translates it this way:

"No te echarás con varón como con mujer: es abominación."

Here is a definition of mishkab and a list of every time mishkab is used and how it is translated in the KJV. In its 46 occurrences in 44 verses, it is never translated "while with."

I would be interested to know why you believe the Hebrew text of Lev 18:22 and 20:13 should be translated "while with" a woman.

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Comments for In Hebrew, does Leviticus 18:22 really say "while with" a woman?

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Oct 23, 2013
Hebrew text of Leviticus 18:22
by: JIM

Leviticus 18:22 - The translations of this verse found in most English Bibles are not supported by the Hebrew text.

"Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." King James Version

Correct translation: And with a male, thou shalt not lie down in
a woman's bed; it is an abomination.

I have the full translational analysis but can't post it in 300 characters.

Sep 27, 2014
Read ALL the words
by: Scott

I urge you so very strongly to reconsider this verse. If you string all of the Hebrew words together as they are worded per the lexicon, it makes little sense, but let's give it a try. "To be lain with (verb) man (noun) lying down (masculine noun) woman (noun) a disgusting thing (feminine noun)". It is to say that to lie with a man in the sense of how one lies with a woman is a disgusting thing. The masculine noun turns the "lying down" into an act, not just a verb. "To be lain with man in the manner one lies with a woman is abomination."

I pray wholeheartedly that this is not shrugged off as hate speech or otherwise. I only aim to follow Jude's 23rd verse. I personally have sought the definition of sin for nearly two years now, and what separates the sins of Leviticus 18 as a chapter from other "sins" is the fact that it says in verse 26, "The native-born and the aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things." It applies to EVERYONE. This is not an Israeli purity law.

All of these things, from the various forms of incest to homosexual acts to bestiality, are so vile that the land vomited them out. It made the land sick. It is why Paul is so fervently against it in the New Testament, as well as malice, greed, slander, etc. You can also reference Matthew 19, when Jesus says, "But it was not this way from the beginning." I know you're familiar with that argument, so I won't elaborate. Please do not fall prey to the prophecy of 2 Timothy 4:3.

Rick's comment: Hi Scott - I appreciate that you earnestly believe what you wrote but regardless of your sincerity, your conclusion is flawed. Lev 18:22 and 20:13 have never been about gays or lesbians.

1. None of the human authors of the Bible link those verses to gays.

2. Jesus never links those verses to gays.

3. Our ancient Jewish spiritual ancestors never linked those verses to gays.

4. Early Christians did not link those verses to gays.

5. The church fathers did not link those verses in Leviticus to gays.

If your view was correct, someone between 1400 BC to around the time of Christ, would have linked those verses to gays and homosexuality. Yet they did not.

The reason why is, those verses prohibit shrine prostitution, not gay guys or gay gals falling in love with each other and spending their lives together as a couple.

Please take time to click on the text links and get familiar with the information. What I present is strongly supported historically and even the most virulent anti-gay Christians admit that the context of Lev 18:22 and 20:13 is cult prostitution or shrine prostitution or temple prostitution - different names for the same idolatrous activity.

By the way, Jude never condemns gays and lesbians, never mentions gays and lesbians.

Jan 27, 2016
I am a certified Hebrew linguist. Here's your answer.
by: Michael

I have been a Hebrew linguist by profession since 2008, with a level 3 reading skill on ILR standards, and I am currently in Seminary as a graduate student. This article intrigued me, so I decided to look into it myself. My mind has not been changed.

Here is the Hebrew text for Leviticus 18:22 :

ואת-זכר לא תשכב משכבי אשה תועבה הוא

I hope those characters will show up, because this is important. The first letter (from right to left) is the "vav," or "waw" depending on how you ask, and that simply means "and." The next to letters, "et," to put it simply is an indefinite article that specifies that the next word is what's intended to be emphasized. Next is "Zachar," a Hebrew word for "male," or man. The 8th and 9th letters spell "Lo," which means "no," "don't," or "shall not," depending on the context of the sentence. The next word is pronounced "tishkav," which by itself literally translates to "he will not lay."

Next you see "mishkavey," which is a combination of two words, "mi" which means "From," "of," or "with", depending on the context. Again we see the same root "shkav" (like "tishkav" above) which means "to lay." The grammatical construct of "mishkavey" in Hebrew means that this word is part of a "סמיכות", prounounced "smikhut." Simply put, this word is attached to the next word. Next is the word "Isha." This word means "woman," and there is no alternative translation.

Next is "tu-eva," which means abomination, and finally we have "hu," which is a masculine word that means "he," or "it," depending on the context.

When you put it all together, what you essentially have is:

"And male will not lay (from/of/with) "layers of women. He/it abomination."

When doing professional translation, you can't just do a word for word translation with a dictionary - it doesn't quite make sense in the target language because each language uses words and grammar that vary in every language. I suspect by now it seems a bit clearer why this passage is so often referred to as one that condemns homosexuality. What it says in prettier English, as is reflected by most modern professional, scholarly, actual translations outside of the LGBT community, is:

"And a man shall not lay with "layers of women." It is an abomination."

"Layers of women," which doesn't make sense in English, logically translates to: "Men," or "those who lay with women," and in order to transfer the full meaning of the original Hebrew into English, many translations therefore include "as with a woman" in this verse.

This is how we came to our fully translated verse, Leviticus 18:22 :

Leviticus 18:22: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination" (KJV).

I don't have the time to go over another verse in-depth right now, but Leviticus 20:13 uses the EXACT same vocabulary and grammatical constructs used in this verse, and the meaning is the same.

And just to clear up any confusion, since I see this is another issue of contention on your site... the word meaning to "lay" here definitely has a sexual connotation. Surely laying in the vicinity of another person is not "an abomination." The word used for "lay" is the same word used in Genesis 39:7 as well when Potipher's wife tempted Joseph and asked him to come "lay" with her."

There is no mention of "Molech" in this verse, and there is no reference to "shrine prostitution" either, though I see how that would be a victory for the LGBT cause if it was true. A handful of people have unjustly attempted to re-interpret this verse to say what they want to hear, including the untrained and anonymous authors of the Queen James Bible. Unfortunately, this verse states rather clearly that sexual relations between two men is a sin.

I noticed that your list of various translations of Leviticus 18:22 were all in English, and that you did not do an in-depth review of the Hebrew in this passage before criticizing it. What are your linguistic credentials to be making such a claim? Do you have any background in translation, or any kind of language certification?

I also read your biography and I did not notice any linguistic studies or experience, only a Bachelors in Bible Studies if I remember correctly. This alone calls into question your credibility on this matter.

Furthermore, the website that you listed as a resource also includes commentary on the Bible's clear declaration of homosexuality as a sin, which makes me think you're picking and choosing whichever bits of commentary support your view rather than objectively looking at all of the evidence.

One last note, you can't just go with whatever English translation you want either, specifically in reference to the Jewish Publication Society Tanakh you referenced. Yes, it shows the text in Hebrew, but the translations are not entirely accurate. As a self-proclaimed Christian you should understand this - look up the prophecy about Jesus being "pierced," in reference to his crucifixion. After Jesus came and fulfilled that prophecy on the cross, the Jews ceased to accept that translation of that verse instead opting for returning "as a Lion" to fit their view of what the Messiah was going to be like. In other words, you need to actually study the Hebrew in all of its complexity and tiny little grammatical nuances before you can claim that it was mistranslated. Looking at the English and twisting it around isn't enough.

My friend, I understand where you're coming from, and I know what it's like to be trapped in a sin... but the Bible is very clear, here and elsewhere, that homosexuality is a sin.

It is true "that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16, NIV). However, even the demons believe that there is one God (James 2:19), so what is belief according to John 3:16 then? In James chapter 2 it says very clearly that faith, without good works, is dead (James 2:17, James 2:26). At its most basic level, good works includes obedience and repentance.

Jesus also said "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers!'" (Matthew 7:21-22, NIV).

I fear that if you do not confess your sin (homosexuality) to Jesus and ask forgiveness, that you will end up in the category of those described in this passage above, and based on your biography, you have certainly done great things as a Christian. But as I demonstrated above, Leviticus 18:22 definitely refers to laying with a man "as with a woman," and the fact that the grammatical construct is different from what you would expect in English in no way affects the meaning of God's original Holy Word. The Old Testament does indeed condemn homosexuality. You would need to understand Hebrew to know that.

Rick's comment: Hi Michael - I'm sure we are all greatly impressed with your erudition and learning. However, you have not proven your case nor have you interacted with anything I wrote.

Your opinion is that Lev 18:22 and 20:13 condemn gay relationships yet nothing you wrote supports that. You pointed out that there is no mention of Molech in this verse, as if that is conclusive. Did you miss Molech in Lev 18:21 and 20:2, 3, 4, 5?

Being "a Hebrew linguist by profession since 2008, with a level 3 reading skill on ILR standards" does not convey discernment, understanding and wisdom in "rightly dividing the word of truth," 2 Timothy 2:15 or in biblical exposition. All scripture is given in a biblical cultural doctrinal historical linguistic literary and religious context. The context of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 is shrine prostitutes.

Apr 07, 2016
by: Charles

Polygamous marriages, which I must add the bible never said "one" man "one" woman. It also doesn't speak against womankind lying with each other. It isn't specified as it is, could that be for a reason.

May 26, 2016
by: RavMoshe

I am a Messianic Jew, which is a Jew that believes in Messiah and is born again.

In The RSTNE (Restored Scriptures True Name Edition)which is translated straight from the Hebrew by a Rabbi scholar, Wayiqra (Leviticus) 18:22 You shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Wayiqra 20:13 If a man also lies with mankind, as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their dahm (blood) shall be upon them.

But, Romiyah 1:26 For this cause יהוה gave them up to vile affections: for even their women did change the natural sexual relations into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural sexual relationship with the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men committing shameful acts, and receiving back in their own selves repayment for their error.

So lets put 2 and 2 together, so to speak.
Wayiqra 18:22 and 20:13 call this act an abomination which means to abhor or detest.

Gilyahna (Revelation)20:8 But the fearful and unbelieving and the abominable and murderers and those who whore and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: this is the second death.

Define abomination as you like but if it is worthy of the lake of fire, then it is a lot worse than what you are trying to water it down to be.

Oh, by the way, until I got saved, I was in the homosexual lifestyle. I was not born that way.
Neither were you. That is just an excuse to remain in sin, which is what homosexuality is.

Shalom B'Shem יהוה

Rick's comment: Hello RavMoshe - You cited some verses and alleged that they refer to homosexuals. They do not. The context of all of the verses you cited has nothing to do with gays and lesbians.

I have hundreds of pages of carefully sourced information on this website which makes the case.

You haven't made a case at all for your beliefs. You even accused me of watering down God's truth. Is that the best you have? Baseless accusations and out of context verses alleged to prove your beliefs?

You cited a few verses and you expect us to believe your slant on them, without factoring in context. Moshe, I expect more from you than that.

That might work on little children and people who prefer to farm out their thinking to others but it doesn't work with real disciples of Jesus who read, study and believe the Bible, 2 Timothy 2:15.

To add an air of authenticity to your comment, you then claimed you were in the homosexual lifestyle before you got saved but you didn't say you were gay. Why is that?

I am thankful that you got saved but you have alleged that no one is born gay without any proof to back up your claim. Have you never read Matthew 19:3-12? Jesus tells us about eunuchs who were so born from their mother's womb.

In New Testament times, gay people were included in the group known as born eunuchs therefore Jesus has clearly told us that some people are born gay.

You apparently disagree with Jesus, probably because you take the discredited Exodus view that no one is born gay, that everyone is born heterosexual, therefore being gay is a sinful choice made by the individual.

Your views sound like the old Exodus International scam. Did you know that Exodus admitted they didn't see anyone change their sexual orientation in the 38 years they operated?

So they shut down their entire ministry because it was a failure from start to finish, as far as changing anyone's sexual orientation. Their sexual orientation change efforts never worked for anyone in 38 years.

May 26, 2016
Look at the culture
by: Phil

"when a man lies with a male the lyings of a women....". Given the context and the cultural evidence, it seems pretty clear. The male priests dressed as women to ritualistic sex. Isn't this repeated in other parts of the Torah regarding temple prostitution? And wasn't that the practice of the Canaanites?

Rick's comment: Hi Phil - Good points. There is more detail on my shrine prostitutes page.

Jun 03, 2016
New take on this
by: BobZ

Full disclosure: I'm Jewish, not Christian, and have no credentials other than my own self-guided studies.

My reading of the original Hebrew, along with the context of a lot of Leviticus, shows me an alternative interpretation, one that I haven't seen before (and one that I'm actually quite proud of). It also fits better with the strong desire expressed in a lot of these commandments to keep the Jewish people from mixing things that should not be mixed.

This isn't a condemnation of male homosexuality at all - it's a condemnation of BIsexuality - a man cannot lie down (have sex with) a man who also has sex with women! This also fits well with the prohibitions about temple prostitution - it's very likely that male prostitutes had sex with both men and women. The verse has been twisted by many generations of translators and commentators making assumptions and allowing their own prejudices bleed through to their translations - but I'm pretty well convinced I have it right.

Rick's comment: Hi BobZ - Interesting take on these verses. Because bisexuals are such a small percentage of the human race, I think this view is a stretch yet in the Leviticus chapter of my book, Gay Christian 101, published in June, 2007, I list 18 possible interpretations of Lev 18:22 and 20:13. Here is interpretation #10.

"10. Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13 forbid substitutional sexual behavior, i.e., heterosexual substitution for sexual gratification, a heterosexual or bisexual man lying with another man, as though he were lying with a woman - view of some liberal Jews.

Rabbi Gershon Caudill makes this argument. "It should be noted that it is not the normal homosexual practice for a man to lie with
another man as though he were laying with a (preferred) woman.

This is heterosexual substitution for sexual gratification. [In other words, a heterosexual man would do this but a homosexual man
would not.] In fact, if a man were thinking of using his sexual partner as though he were a woman, and not the man that he is, it would
not be a true homosexual relationship, as one of the parties involved is pretending that the person he is laying with is a (preferred)
woman. Why should he lay with a man when he could find women that would lay with him?"

Jun 08, 2016
Very interesting debate
by: Researcher

I am hot on the trail with this topic as well. it would seem that in every case where a verse is said to be against homosexuality, when looking at the translated hebrew or greek words it paints a different picture.

As of right now I am inclined to think what somebody just said above, that is that the verse in question was talking about "men that lay with women". Lets think about this. why the need to further complicate the writing if it just meant "men with men"?

I notice that the word translated as "men" is a completely different word from the word translated as "mankind". What would be the reason to not just re use the same word "men" again in that verse?? obviously the word translated as "mankind" means something else other than "men".

Rick's comment: Hi Researcher - Here are the Hebrew words of Leviticus 18:22.

we know the english translation is completely wrong because "mankind" would include woman. mankind is our KIND as human beings so we know this is way off base. It doesn't take a linguistic scholar to see this. This topic of homo sexuality is not the only place we find these hidden clues to the true meaning of important verses.

Rick's comment: I don't follow your logic. The old KJV is perfectly fine, perfectly accurate. To say it is completely wrong is an opinion not supported by evidence.

Stuff like this is being found in other places about other topics and this issue seems to follow the pattern of other truths that have been found. At this point there is ample evidence to at very least but the brakes on regular homosexual condemnation until further deep study can be done. I definitely see that ANY sexual act that is used as a ritual or sex magic is an abomination, that is what seems to be pretty clear and common sense.

What we see with this issue reminds me of the instances where Jesus was criticized by the scribes and pharisees for doing something they thought the law forbid. But it would always turn out the the scribes and pharisees were guilty of ADDING or taking the law too far and out of context from what God said.

If it turns out to be true that "regular" "moral" homosexuality is natural to those that are born that way, then a wwwhhhoollllleeee lot of people are going to be held accountable for altering Gods word and prosecuting these people. There is going to be literal hell to pay.

Oct 16, 2016
Can Leviticus 18:22 be about child molestation?
by: Lee French

Once read that Lev 18:22 was [is] mistranslated. So I looked it up. If you read up Lev 18:22 --- you will find the KJV has the text "Thou shall not lie with mankind as with womankind it is an abomination." … key text … "with mankind"; in Hebrew which is H2145 (Strong’s); the Hebrew pronounced as ‘Zakar’. The (root) word is used as: boy (2), intimately* (3), male (56), males (19), man (4). If you go to the actual word "Zakar" (H2145); it is used 58 times [?].

If you review the context of the 58 times, you will notice an odd consistency. The translation of this word in context continually infers is younger male (sometimes it outright says younger). Now an interesting part: The beginning "Thou shall not lie…" H7901. DIFFERENT. So what is the context of H7901? "lie" as in bed, sleep, usually (not always) with sexual connotation. However – all references are to older – usually father (some examples include passing seed, w/wife).

So – is the context of Lev 18:22 more about (male [?]) child molestation? One more point: There seems to be no other reference (law) in the Old Testament that deal with the topic of child molestation.

Rick's comment: Hi Lee - You make an interesting point. Some ancient Jews, in the Babylonian Talmud, believed Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 were talking about pederasty - incest.

Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 54a and 54b

"GEMARA. Whence do I know that pederasty is punished by stoning? — Our Rabbis taught: [If a man lieth also with mankind, as the lyings of a woman,29 both of them have committed on abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them,]30 A man — excludes a minor; [that] lieth also with mankind — denotes whether an adult or a minor; as the lyings of a woman — this teaches that there are two modes of intimacy,31 both of which are punished when committed incestuously. R. Ishmael said: This verse comes to throw light [upon pederasty..."

Oct 22, 2016
by: Beth Young

There seems to be broad agreement that there are two nouns, most often translated in previous comments as "lying" and "women". But the first word actually seems to be "beds".

My friend who lectures on the Torah says that the phrase has no clear translation - it would, no doubt, have had a clear meaning when it was first written but we all know from people's misuse of English sayings that original meanings can be lost within a few generations.

It clearly came to be taken as a prohibition on male male sex, but there are other instances of the Torah being reinterpreted as ethics changed. Why this strange phrase if it simply prohibits male male sex?

The prevalence of traditional interpretations does not make them valid. Furthermore the KJ translation seems to be inspired by an Athenian regulation (which is translated in exactly the same way but is definitely not a prohibition on male male sex, just a rule about how it is done).

As the interpretation changed, the position of the prohibition in the overall text may well have been moved too (common in redactions). For all anyone knows it might just as well mean that
two men can't have sex in the beds of woman.

Rick's comment: Hi Beth - You make an interesting point. I agree that Lev 18:22 had a clear meaning when originally given and, I would say, the same clear meaning today.

That meaning had nothing to do with two gay guys or two gay gals falling in love and being a couple.

God and Moses intended to prohibit shrine prostitution, using anal sex and/or male-male sex to worship the pagan gods and goddesses of that ancient time.

People back then used anal sex as a form of imitative magic, to compel the gods to bless their flocks, fields and families with increase.

Increase in their family was necessary because as pointed out in Lev 18:21, in the immediate context of this clobber passage, some people were sacrificing their children as offerings to the false gods.

Gay men and lesbians are not at all the context of these verses.

Nov 15, 2016
by: Piera

Good day, please forgive my English, I hope that my thoughts are clear though. I can see that this is a quite powerful discussion (2014-2016) and still going. I am interested in what I've read in this post mainly because of the highly intelligent and educated way you people communicate. Forgive me for slightly changing the direction of interpretation and discussion.

Did anyone research the distinction in Hebrew and Greek between:

1) being born with a certain physical sexual orientation,

2) choosing for a different sexual orientation than your physical birth,

3) and the genetic defect as a result of the fall in Genesis,if any of these are present in Scripture?

According to me: It is clear that most participants in discussions on this subject all over the internet argue from a certain perspective and the angle is not known to the other participants. The result is that they actually discuss various sub-themes of the topic and the arguments get caught in an infinite circle. It is also clear that the perspective influences the linguistical and contextual information presented to clarify interpretation.

This post is just a constructive search from my side for the truth regarding the Scripture about this matter. If no one replies, I respect that. Thank you

Jun 19, 2017
My understanding from what I've read
by: Antonia

Just so you know, I'm not a scholar in language interpretation but I believe I'm supposed to take the word as my own understanding.
I was born male and, since day one, was taught that being gay is wrong. Theoretically, this article wouldn't even pertain to me as I've always been into women. However, after 44 years, I've since discovered that I'm transgender.
Okay, two things I've had to deal with. 1-Is being transgender a real thing? 2- oh crap, does that make me gay because I like women?
After lots of prayers and soul searching, I've came to an understanding that being transgender isn't a sin and God didn't make a mistake, but simply it's another genetic mismatch much like intersex and hermaphrodite people that requires treatment if one desires.
As far as being gay, I don't believe the true word of God condemns homosexuality at all. I believe from what I've read that the verse in Leviticus states that man shouldn't lay with -mankind- (more than one person as in group sex), or -as with woman- (layers of women - or multiple women).
Aside from all that, I base most of my understanding on the Holy Spirit, who convicts His followers of any wrongdoings, and who convicts me when I'm in the wrong. However, I feel no conviction for being a homosexual, transgender woman.

Aug 11, 2017
To a certified Hebrew linguist - January 27, 2016
by: Dean

Man, Michael, you really need to keep studying. You may be certified in Modern Hebrew, but your Biblical Hebrew skills are lacking.

First, "et" is not just a definite article, it is the MDDO, or Marker of the Definite Direct Object. It marks a noun as a direct object (hopefully we will not have to get into English lessons as well), and can also be translated as "with."

Second, you suggest that תִשְׁכַּ֖ב (your "tishkav") is translated "He will not lay." Actually, that verb is a Qal second person singular imperfect, which should be translated "You shall not lie." Put this all together with the negative particle "lo" and the Waw (remembering that Hebrew verbs don't need separate pronouns), and we have, "And you shall not lie with a man."

You are way off with מִשְׁכְּבֵ֣י. The preposition "min" is not present here; this is strictly a noun, "A place of lying," a bed or a couch. This noun is plural and in the construct state, so when combined with the noun for "woman," in the absolute, we get a construct chain which indicates possession: "the beds of a woman."

Put it all together, nothing fancy; it's just Hebrew: "And you shall not lie with a man in the beds of a woman." The last bit you pretty much got right; it is a verbless clause: "It is an abomination." All together now: "And you shall not lie with a man in the beds of a woman; it is an abomination."

So, the prohibition is against you lying with a man in the beds of a woman. I would think God would have been more clear with His law if this was a universal prohibition, maybe saying something more like "You shall not lie with a man anywhere." But that's not what it says.

P.S I have studied Greek and Hebrew at the graduate level.

Oct 19, 2017
thoughts, questions & possibilities
by: Gionni

Dean: Thank you so much for your thoroughly explained interpretation of this pivotal text!
I was already familiar with this novel, alternate translation which I find fascinating and a bit perplexing. Unfortunately I am unable to find a trustworthy and accurate method or source by which I can either verify or nullify the grammar supporting your interpretation—or that of any of the other commenters...
However, I must say that your presentation has a sense of confidence and conciseness which is more powerful & convincing than the others (IMHO).

Next, Michael... I can't ignore your statement about the "rarity" of bisexuality! You had a fair amount of my trust, support and respect until you threw that 'factoid' out there.
I'm sorry, I don't mean to be rude, but: do you have ANY familiarity whatsoever with the history of human sexuality and sexual expression⁈ Apparently not, because it is not until the modern era that the even the concepts of "gay", "lesbian", and "homosexual" in a strict & exclusive sense came into existense!
Any meaningful & open-minded study of sexual behavior and sexuality of any pre-modern culture that contains what we often consider "examples of homosexuality" will actually reveal that what is actually described and what was practiced was: some form of bisexuality! Please, further your research and try to just understand "what is" rather than trying to frame it within the paradigm and customs of modern western civilization.

Personally I feel that, if you're going with that interpretation (layers of women—those who lay with women), the more appropriate concept to extract would be to NOT violate one's own nature and attraction-orientation. In other words, men should not lie (have sex) with men who are attracted exclusively to women. I realize there is not strong support for this perspective; which is unfortunate because I feel that the real abomination would be the sacred act of sex between two individuals who do not have a mutual attraction of even each other's gender!

Dean: It would be marvelous if you could somehow provide references to support your grammar & translations because I feel that yours is the correct & superior explanation! Thank you nonetheless for sharing your perspective.

It seems very odd that Michael has not responded to your comment at all— it's been several months now...

Nov 27, 2017
Historical evidence and context
by: Daniel

Rather than analyse the grammar wouldn't it be better to explore the historical evidence?

These are set laws with set punishments.

But what they are prohibiting is open to interpretation.

In historical accounts from ancient Israel is there evidence of men being put to death...

*For acts of homosexuality?
*For performing acts of homsexuality in a womans bed?
*For lying down to sleep with another man) in a womans bed?
*For engaging in orgies
*For performing acts of adultery with another man
*For having sex against ones inclination?

Without the historical context of how the law was originally enforced its meaning is lost to interpretation.

May 08, 2018
The Current Bibles are Flawed
by: Dusty

I am wondering if it is even worth looking into anymore. The Bible is completely flawed in more ways than one. Not just Leviticus, but among other books and chapters and verses that have been COMPLETELY mistranslated into what we define as Christianity today. There's a chance that we aren't right about anything. From gays to simply the concept of hell to even our concept of God.

Rick's comment:
Jesus teaches Hell 101.

Christians pretend to understand God, and place Him in this container that says that He is only meant for Christianity. As a Gay Christian, is this your same thinking? That this all powerful, all knowing, all loving being is only for the Christians THOUGH this ideal isn't present anywhere in the Bible. But is God seriously that limited to who He can save? I don't know. It's just strange.

Rick's comment: Hi Dusty - Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins. Then He arose from the dead so we can be saved.

Jesus didn't die so everyone can be a Muslim or a Buddhist. He died for our sins so that all of us can get saved, be real Christians and go to heaven eventually.

Here is one link about How to get Saved and two links to what we at gaychristian101 believe about the Bible.

The Bible is not flawed. It is God's perfect and inerrant word to all who will believe it. I encourage you Dusty, to read, believe and obey the King James Bible. It will RADICALLY change your life for the better.

What must I do to be saved?

What we believe about the Bible.

What we affirm about scripture.

Jun 13, 2018
Question by a student
by: Christian


First, some of my credentials include being an active Pastor at a Non-Denominational Christian Church of over 5,000, and a Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies, OT and NT Theology.

I was sent a link to this page by a high school student struggling with the idea of homosexuality being a sin, so here’s my question.

Regardless of how one translates this single verse, wether it’s referring to homosexuality or not, how can you discredit every other verse saying very blatantly that marriage is only to exist biblically between a man and a woman or that any sexual act outside of marriage is a sin?

Then, continue to say that a man engaging in any sort of sexual act with another man, outside of the biblical definition of marriage (which is confined biblically as between a man and a woman regardless of translation or linguistics) is not a sin?

Leviticus 18:22 aside, does any other verse regarding the laws and sinfulness of sex outside of marriage not prove to you in anyway that homosexuality is a sin?

Rick's comment: Hi Pastor - My website covers some of the things you've asked so this will be a brief sound-bite answer.

Every verse of scripture has a context. That context includes biblical, cultural, doctrinal, historical, linguistic, literary and religious elements. Only when we factor in those elements can we understand what a verse means.

There are no verses of scripture which, in context, condemn being gay or lesbian or homosexual. Every verse used to condemn gays and lesbians is, in context, addressing the problem of cult or shrine or temple prostitution - not two gay guys or two gay gals falling in love and getting married and spending their lives together as a couple.

Shrine prostitutes in Lev 18:22 and 20:13

I am a conservative, Bible believing, soul winning, disciple making gay Christian. I believe the Bible is inerrant. I am in no way liberal or Bible denying.

I believe Christians should live clean, holy, Godly lives as biblical disciples of Jesus.

I am not an absolute complementarian. Yes, males and females are complementary but the Bible does not teach absolute complementarianism. That is something people read into the text and then teach it as if the text says it.

Adam and Eve and Complementarity

I hope this is helpful in answering your questions.

Jan 11, 2019
If you choose to follow one, follow all.
by: Becky

As I am not Jewish,the Book of Laws, the Holiness Code, for me is obsolete. Reason being, Jesus said, because he died for our sins, there is now only laws that need be followed is to love thy father and accept him as the one and only God, and love thy neighbor as thyself. Anything and everything else follows those laws. His stating this made the other laws, which included:

**5.When you offer a sacrifice of well-being to the Lord, offer it in such a way that it is acceptable in your behalf. 6.It shall be eaten on the same day you offer it, or on the next day; and anything left over until the third day shall be consumed in fire. 7.If it is eaten at all on the third day, it is an abomination; it will not be acceptable. 8.All who eat it shall be subject to punishment, because they have profaned what is holy to the Lord; and any such person shall be cut off from the people. 9.When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God. 15.You shall not render an unjust judgement; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbour. 16.You shall not go around as a slanderer* among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood* of your neighbour: I am the Lord. 17.You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbour, or you will incur guilt yourself. 18.You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord. 19.You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your animals breed with a different kind; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed; nor shall you put on a garment made of two different materials.**

So,if you believe certain verses are against gays, you should also believe being gay is just as "un-Godly" as not leaving your scraps for the poor, having relations with a menstruating woman, plant two different seeds, wear a garment of two different materials, or not loving thy neighbor.....

Why is something so important put with such trivial things? Why is something so supposedly important so unclear and placed alongside garment wear?

Feb 07, 2019
Hebrew question
by: Mike

Why do you believe the words שכבי אשה are written in the genitive case? The preposition מ- is just that, a preposition, a separate word. Normally Hebrew verbs, participles, etc. consist of three root letters... in this case שכב. Normally in Hebrew when you have two nouns put together in that form, one describes the other... so in this case it would literally mean "those-who-lie" (שכבי) with "woman" (אשה).

In order for your "shrine prostitute" translation to stand, you have to read that preferred translation into this verse. When you read something into a verse that's called eisegesis, when what we should be doing is searching for the verse's original intended meaning (exegesis). At face value all this phrase/verse says is that a man should not lie with "those-who-lie with woman" (the quoted portion all being part of a single inseparable grammatical construct in Hebrew).

I'm paraphrasing to keep it short and simple, but Leviticus 18:19 says to not sleep with women on their period, 20 says don't lie with your neighbor's wife, 21 talks about the fire of Molech and not profaning God's name, 22 says a man should not lie with "those-who-lie with woman", 23 says don't have sex with animals, and 24-25 says don't defile yourselves. There does not seem to be any particular order but the context of this whole section is sexual depravity, not necessarily just "shrine prostitution," so your insertion of shrine prostitution here seems like a stretch.

Likewise in Leviticus 20:10 a man is not to sleep with another man's wife, 11 don't sleep with your father's wife, 12 don't sleep with your daughter in law, 13 says a man should not lie with "those-who-lie with woman", 14 don't marry a woman and her mother, etc... Again there does not appear to be any particular order to these, but the general context again is "sexual depravity," not just "shrine prostitution," so again your insertion of shrine prostitution seems forced.

Also do I understand correctly that you derive the concept of shrine prostitutes primarily from Romans in the New Testament? Because traditionally the Old Testament books were written thousands of years earlier, and Roman customs involving "shrine prostitution," etc. would not have necessarily been present in the ancient Hebrews' time. It seems odd to re-translate "those who lie with woman" (שכבי אשה) twice (Lev 18:22 and 20:13), to re-translate a female "harlot" (קדשה), μαλακοὶ which literally means "soft" or "effeminate" (1 Cor 6:9) and ἀρσενοκοῖται which at face value is literally a combination of the two words "man" and "bed," all as "shrine prostitutes." It also seems strange that the Hebrew authors wouldn't have used some variation of the word זנות which literally means "prostitution," or other similar words, instead specifically opting to use vocabulary that says "a man shall not lie with one-who-lies with woman..."

It seems like you picked the one translation you prefer and you're superimposing that preferred translation into all of these other very different Hebrew and Greek phrases?

How do you explain the Hebrew grammar of Leviticus 18:22? Aren't you just isolating that one word (שכב) despite the Hebrew grammar and asserting it means "shrine prostitute"?

And how do you justify imposing the "shrine prostitute" translation on all of these various phrases that at face value seem to just describe "men lying with men" or "men bedding each other" or "harlots" in general, etc.? Aren't you reading your preferred meaning into Scripture, rather than determining what Scripture originally said?

God bless.

Rick's comment: Hi Mike- I'm not a Hebrew scholar so I leave the grammar to others. What I point out is, world class Hebrew scholars, some of whom have two earned doctorate degrees, admit that the context of Leviticus 17-20 is cult or shrine or temple prostitution and the idolatrous activities which accompanied it.

You seem to think I believe that Lev 18:22 and 20:13 should be translated to say, shrine prostitutes. I have never ever believed or written that. I never make an argument to change the translation. My argument is about context.

You wrote: "your insertion of shrine prostitution here seems like a stretch."

Pastor Rick responds - Believing that shrine prostitution is the context of Lev 18:22 and 20:13, is the general view of conservative Christian commentators for hundreds of years.

It isn't new information at all and it isn't something I made up. I point that out in more detail on my Shrine Prostitutes page.

I hope you'll read that page and the links to more information. Many thanks for your comment.

Apr 12, 2019
Could zakar be a phallic idol
by: Alex

Could the zakar of lev 18:22 and 20:13 be the same as in Ezekiel 16:17. The context seems pretty similar.

Rick's comment: Hi Alex- That's an excellent suggestion that I hadn't noticed before. Thanks for pointing it out.

Adam Clark, 1760-1832, Commentary

"Ezekiel 16:17 - And madest to thyself images of men - tsalmey zachar, male images. Priapi are here meant, which were carried about in the ceremonies of Osiris, Bacchus, and Adonis; and were something like the lingam among the Hindoos. Herodotus, lib. ii, c. 48,49, gives us an account of these male images,

"(47) The Egyptians carry images with movable phalluses in their processions for Dionysus, rather than just phalluses as the Greeks do. (48) The phallic procession for Dionysus was introduced to Greece by Melampus via Cadmus and Phoenician Tyre. (49) Most Greek gods are borrowed from Egypt; exceptions are Poseidon, the Dioscuri, Hera, Hestia, Themis, the Graces and the Nereids. Poseidon is of Libyan origin."

This was done at the worship of Bacchus in Egypt: and they who wish to see more may consult Herodotus as above. In this phallic worship the women were principally concerned.

(Priapus was an ancient fertility god, represented by an erect phallus. His father was said to be Dionysus and his mother Aphrodite though some sources have Zeus as father of Priapus.)

The Bible is clear that the children of Israel WERE worshiping false gods in Egypt, in the wilderness and when they first arrived in the promised land.

Amos 5:25-26 - In addition to worshiping the Lord in the wilderness, Israel also worshiped other gods, carrying along "Sikkuth (or "tabernacle") your king (or "Molech") and Chiun, your idols."

Molech worship included the astrological worship of Saturn and the host of heaven and the actual sacrificing of children (2 Kin. 17:16,17).

Warned against Molech worship (Deut 18:9-13), Israel nevertheless pursued all facets of it, continuing with Solomon (1 Kings 11:7) and his descendants (1 Kin. 12:28; 2 Kin. 17:16,17; Jer. 32:35) until Josiah (2 Kin. 23:10).

Stephen cited Amos 5:25-27 when he recounted the sins of Israel in Acts 7:42, 43

"Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?

Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon." Acts 7:42-43, KJV

Israel was worshiping Molech or Moloch during their forty years wandering in the wilderness.

The context of Leviticus 17, 18 and 20 is idol worship and Molech worship. They carried small shrines to their false gods, similar to the shrines mentioned in Acts 19:24.

"Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD." Joshua 24:14, KJV

"Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel." Joshua 24:23, KJV

Jun 03, 2019
18:22 is true but doesn't apply to Christians
by: Badgehunter

These follow: Eating pork, hares, shellfish.

Leviticus 11:3: Any animal that has a cloven hoof that is completely split into double hooves, and which brings up its cud that one you may eat.

Leviticus 11:6 And the hare, because it brings up its cud, but does not have a [completely] cloven hoof; it is unclean for you;

Leviticus 11:7-8 continuality to 11:3: And the pig, because it has a cloven hoof that is completely split, but will not regurgitate its cud; it is unclean for you. You shall not eat of their flesh, and you shall not touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.

Leviticus 10-12: But any [creatures]that do not have fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers, among all the creeping creatures in the water and among all living creatures that [live] in the water, are an abomination for you. And they shall be an abomination for you. You shall not eat of their flesh, and their dead bodies you shall hold in abomination. Any [creature] that does not have fins and scales in the water is an abomination for you.

Also Leviticus: 15:19-33 Which bans of sex with woman during menstruation.

Rick's comment: Hi Badgehunter- I think the point you are making is, modern Christians don't follow the rules in Leviticus because Leviticus is for Jews, living under the law of Moses, in the land of Israel.

Leviticus is inspired scripture and is legitimately part of the Bible but it was not written for us, Christians on the grace side of Calvary, to practice, since it was written to Jews, before the coming of Messiah Jesus, on the law side of Calvary.

You make an excellent point and you are right!

What must I do to be saved?

Jul 01, 2019
by: Von

If literally God himself appeared to you and told you personally that you were wrong and homosexuality is a sin and its an abomination, would you repent and refrain from same gender sex in obedience or not? Seriously, would you repent or not?

Rick's comment: Hi Von - Imagining God coming down from heaven and personally speaking to someone is not how Christians determine the will of God. Because I am a Bible believing Christian, I don't deal in hypotheticals.

The Bible has a very clear passage that is similar to your question.

"For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:" 2 Peter 1:16-19.

More sure than what?

The written scriptures of the Bible are MORE SURE, than the genuine voice of the real God, speaking from heaven.

Why? Because human beings have trouble hearing and remembering what we hear. If it's written down in the Bible vs. spoken from heaven, what is written down in the Bible is more sure than the voice of God speaking from heaven.

THAT is what the Bible says.

Christians should never trust apparitions or visions of angels or even the voice of God Himself, who claims to speak authoritatively to them, over what the Bible says in writing.

Christians go by what the Bible says, in context.

How do we know that for sure?

We know that for sure because that is what the Bible actually says - 2 Peter 1:16-19.

What about "more sure" don't you understand?

Jesus also warned us:

"For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." Matthew 24:24.

What must I do to be saved?

Jul 14, 2019
On Michael's comment
by: Bill

Michael, thank you for your scholarship. I've been looking for Hebrew expertise. However, I am confused over two statements.

In your 9th paragraph you tell us "layers of women" (in Leviticus 18:22) logically translate to "men." Hmmmm. Might "layers of men" then logically translate to women? Could you elaborate on how that "logically" works?

I understand you have a point of view also, but that's a big leap.

Second, you tell us that Leviticus 20:13 also uses "the exact same vocabulary" and construct (as 18:22). I could be wrong but I'm not sure that's exactly correct either. Lev 20:13 reads, "If a man (ish) lies with a man (zakhar) as one lies with a woman.

While "ish" translates "man," "zakhar" is more complicated. It most often means "consecrated males"--human or animal.

Two questions then remain for me: One, why does the author "logically" mean "men" when he writes "layers of women?"

And two, why doesn't the author of 20:13 simply write, if "ish" lies with "ish"... instead of modifying the second male?

Aug 18, 2019
Confused As Well
by: Seeker

If I read a translation which stated, 'layers of women' I would think that what was being forbidden was a man lying with multiple women at once. So I too am confused and await clarification.

Oct 21, 2020
I'm not going to argue.
by: Pat

We are all going to find out in the end who's right. I gave my life to the Lord 25 years ago. And decided I would no longer have any sex.

I wonder, as you talk about this subject, how many other sins that we deal with, that we need to go to the Lord and ask to be forgiven for.

My face was on fire over a minute. That will definitely give you a perspective that you never want to go to hell.

I'm saved by:
God's grace alone
Through faith alone
in Jesus alone.

The more I learn the more I want to follow and obey God in every little aspect of my life. Do likewise.

May 19, 2022
translation in luther bible
by: myname

I recently read a 1929 version of the Luther translation of the Bible (German) and noticed that the verse is very differently translated than in later editions.
Translated from German it would mean "Do not lay with a boy as you would with your wife."
Take of that what you might but I think it adds credibility to the theory that the word commonly translated to man, in this case, might refer to younger males in this context.
This would add to the theory mentioned by another commenter above.
Take of that what you might but looking through more of it the idea that it refers to young children or kids might actually be reasonable.

Feb 03, 2023
You're all forgetting something important!
by: Ken

All through the Torah, we find that the bed of a wife is a very sacred place. Violating the bed of a wife is serious sin.

How can a man violate the bed of a wife? If you are a male (not the wife's husband), then simply lying down on a wife's bed is a sin.

Why? Because anyone can make the assumption that the male was having sex with the wife, which would be adultery, and punishable by death.

Contrary to the usual translations, these verses prohibit a man (non-husband) from even lying down on a wife's bed.

If these verses meant to prohibit ANY kind of sex, it would have used the same wording used in all the other surrounding verses: "uncover the nakedness", "mate", "lie carnally", etc. In this one single case, it says, "lie on the wife's beds"

Oct 25, 2023
by: Leland

I was in a non-denominational ministry from age 25-30. I am now 58. At age 36 I intensely studied and prayed about these scriptures and others deemed anti-gay. I used an old fashion Strong's Concordance.

First, I compared those scriptures with the scriptures in that chapter. Most seem like laws directed towards men, in what they must do to protect women.

The first "man" is listed as a husband, and the second "man" is listed more like a single man. Then the "as with" was more like "as he lies with his wife. Therefore, it would logically say and reads as "a husband shall not lie in the bed WHILE he's with a wife."

I came this conclusion again, because the other verses are in line with what men must do to protect women. Plus, there is no scripture that says, "a woman shall not lie with another woman as with a man."

Additionally. I thought. A man can't lie with another man in the same manner as he lies with a woman. Different sex organs. My conscience is clear.

Oct 26, 2023
by: Leviticus

I meant to write "a husband shall not lie in bed with a single man WHILE HE IS WITH his wife." That's how it reads to me after much study and prayer. The contention is not with the word LIE. It's with AS WITH. Let's have the linquistics gentleman give us a deep interpretation of that section.

Jan 02, 2024
just a simple consideration
by: Sol

I'm truly sorry if this ends up being a double-post, I have bad internet connection and as such I fear that my old comment was deleted.

I'm opening this up by saying that I don't have any Hebrew NOR bible-interpretation backgrounds, and I'm simply here to point out a different possible point of view after passing the last hour or so reading the discussion.

Specifically after the last few comments, if we take for a fact that "lying in a wife's bed" is considered as having an intercourse with her, couldn't we say that this verse refers to having a sexual act with both a woman and a man at the same time?

To be exact, if it says not to lie on a woman's bed with another bed, couldn't it imply that the thing to be considered an abomination is not only to let someone be an adulterer, and let them have such intercourse with your own wife?

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