Tag Archives: divine right of kings

you are not my boss

parshat shoftim

When the month of Elul arrives, the Jewish High Holidays are soon to follow, but what is so Jewish about these High Holidays (ימים נוראים lit. Days of Awe)?  Unlike the three pilgrimage holidays (שָׁלשׁ רְגָלִים ), Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur don’t celebrate the Exodus from Egypt or the giving of the Torah to the Jewish People.  Their only commonality shared by all Jewish holidays is that they are an adaptation of earlier Pagan holidays. Unlike Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot which were originally agricultural and harvest holidays, Rosh Hashanah is a deeply political holiday and it’s adaptation was not so much a transition as it was a radical paradigm shift.

As we shall see, the most important holiday celebrated in both Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia was the annual New Year rebirth, judgment and coronation of the King as god. So the best introduction to Judaism’s rendition of this king-making celebration is to understand Judaism’s love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with kingship.

When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein; and shalt say: ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are round about me’;
thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose; one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee; thou mayest not put a foreigner over thee, who is not thy brother.
Only he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses; forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you: ‘Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.’
Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away; neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.
And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book, out of that which is before the priests the Levites.
And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them;
that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left; to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children, in the midst of Israel. Deuteronomy 17: 14-20)

 כִּי-תָבֹא אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר ה’ אֱ-לֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ, וִירִשְׁתָּהּ, וְיָשַׁבְתָּה בָּהּ; וְאָמַרְתָּ, אָשִׂימָה עָלַי מֶלֶךְ, כְּכָל-הַגּוֹיִם, אֲשֶׁר סְבִיבֹתָי
שׂוֹם תָּשִׂים עָלֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ, אֲשֶׁר יִבְחַר ה’ אֱ-לֹהֶיךָ בּוֹ:  מִקֶּרֶב אַחֶיךָ, תָּשִׂים עָלֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ–לֹא תוּכַל לָתֵת עָלֶיךָ אִישׁ נָכְרִי, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-אָחִיךָ הוּא
רַק, לֹא-יַרְבֶּה-לּוֹ סוּסִים, וְלֹא-יָשִׁיב אֶת-הָעָם מִצְרַיְמָה, לְמַעַן הַרְבּוֹת סוּס; וַ ה’, אָמַר לָכֶם, לֹא תֹסִפוּן לָשׁוּב בַּדֶּרֶךְ הַזֶּה, עוֹד
וְלֹא יַרְבֶּה-לּוֹ נָשִׁים, וְלֹא יָסוּר לְבָבוֹ; וְכֶסֶף וְזָהָב, לֹא יַרְבֶּה-לּוֹ מְאֹד
וְהָיָה כְשִׁבְתּוֹ, עַל כִּסֵּא מַמְלַכְתּוֹ–וְכָתַב לוֹ אֶת-מִשְׁנֵה הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת, עַל-סֵפֶר, מִלִּפְנֵי, הַכֹּהֲנִים הַלְוִיִּם
וְהָיְתָה עִמּוֹ, וְקָרָא בוֹ כָּל-יְמֵי חַיָּיו–לְמַעַן יִלְמַד, לְיִרְאָה אֶת- ה’ אֱ-לֹהֶיךָ, לִשְׁמֹר אֶת-כָּל-דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת וְאֶת-הַחֻקִּים הָאֵלֶּה, לַעֲשֹׂתָם
לְבִלְתִּי רוּם-לְבָבוֹ מֵאֶחָיו, וּלְבִלְתִּי סוּר מִן-הַמִּצְוָה יָמִין וּשְׂמֹאול–לְמַעַן יַאֲרִיךְ יָמִים עַל-מַמְלַכְתּוֹ הוּא וּבָנָיו, בְּקֶרֶב יִשְׂרָאֵל

The institution of the monarchy was the ultimate divine concession to the shortcomings and shortsightedness of the chosen people.  This same sentiment is presented in the Book of Samuel (Samuel I 8: 4-22)

Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah.
And they said unto him: ‘Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways; now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.’
But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said: ‘Give us a king to judge us.’ And Samuel prayed unto the LORD.
And the LORD said unto Samuel: ‘Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee; for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not be king over them.
According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, in that they have forsaken Me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.
Now therefore hearken unto their voice; howbeit thou shalt earnestly forewarn them, and shalt declare unto them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.’
And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king.
And he said: ‘This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: he will take your sons, and appoint them unto him, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and they shall run before his chariots.
And he will appoint them unto him for captains of thousands, and captains of fifties; and to plow his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and the instruments of his chariots.
And he will take your daughters to be perfumers, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. …..
And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king whom ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not answer you in that day.’
But the people refused to hearken unto the voice of Samuel; and they said: ‘Nay; but there shall be a king over us;

We should keep in mind that the appointment of a human King and the appointment of a human Messiah are one and the same.. both are a major concession to the lack of vision and faith by God’s flock.  Both a King and the Messiah are the anointed of God [1]

The monarchy was accepted, with legal restrictions and much of the prophetic tradition represents a check and balance on the monarchy [2]

Getting back the New Year’s Coronation Festival in the Ancient Near East, the Classical study was written by Henri Frankfort and called Kingship and the Gods: A Study of Ancient Near Eastern Religion as the Integration of Society and Nature and is available for download here.

Frankfort details how in Mesopotamia the festival of the new year lasted twelve days; it was a time of purification, of renewal of the vegetation. It was also a time of dramatic reenactments, the most important of which were the rites of the Sacred Marriage, and the recitation of the Sumerian creation epic, Enuma elish. It was at this time that the destinies of both gods and mankind were fixed, and the king began his reign on new year’s day.  (see)

One fascinating aspect of the Akitu involved a kind of ritual humiliation endured by the Babylonian king. This peculiar tradition saw the king brought before a statue of the god Marduk, stripped of his royal regalia and forced to swear that he had led the city with honor. A high priest would then slap the monarch and drag him by his ears in the hope of making him cry. If royal tears were shed, it was seen as a sign that Marduk was satisfied and had symbolically extended the king’s rule. Some historians have since argued that these political elements suggest the Akitu was used by the monarchy as a tool for reaffirming the king’s divine power over his people. (see)

Likewise in Ancient Egypt there was the Sed Festival held in the Fall hat celebrated the continued rule of a pharaoh. The ancient festival might, perhaps, have been instituted to replace a ritual of murdering a pharaoh who was unable to continue to rule effectively because of age or condition. … They primarily were held to rejuvenate the pharaoh’s strength and stamina while still sitting on the throne, celebrating the continued success of the pharaoh.   The Sed-festival developed into a royal jubilee intended to reinforce the pharaoh’s divine powers and religious leadership.

Writes Frankfort: “

The Egyptian calendar started with the first day of the first month of the Season of Inundation (1 Thoth), a day originally coinciding with the beginning of the rise of the Nile.  But four months later there was another new beginning: the inundation ended the Nile returned to its bed, and the new crops were sown.  The first day of the first month of the “Season of Coming Forth” (1 Tybi) was consequently celebrated as a rite de passage appropriate to a new beginning, although it was not the Calendrical New Year’s Day.  This “New Year’s Day” in autumn was presided over by a snake-demon called Nehebkau, a name which can be translated as “Bestower of Dignitaries” or as “Uniter of the Ka’s” (of Horus and Osiris), and we have , in both cases, an illusion to the definitive assumption of power by the new king.  … it was fitting that a king should be crowned to re-establish harmony between nature and society which had been shattered by the death of the previous ruler.  Hence it is said of Tuthmosis I, when he indicates the date for the coronation of Hatshepsut: “He knew that a coronation on New Year’s Day was good as the beginning of peaceful years.” (pp 103-4). [3]

This understanding of the context of the New Year’s Festival in the Ancient Near East, radically changes our understanding to the Jewish New Year holiday, Rosh Hashanah.  What Rosh Hashanah becomes is a radical statement of independence of all human rule.

On Rosh Hashanah we declare God King as a direct and vocal rejection of the widespread and widely known (at the time) traditions of making a human of blood and flesh… into a divine king.

Although God as king always enters into our prayers (e.g. Blessed are You King of the Universe…), it is on Rosh HaShanah that we have the focal point on Malchiot – Kingship, culminating at the end of the Neilah service where we end the service with the threefold repetition of “Praised is His name, whose glorious kingdom for ever and ever,” that recalls the threefold declaration: “The Lord is king (present), the Lord was king (past), and the Lord will be king (future).”

Ultimately, it is in our New Year’s Festival that we reject our people’s request for a human king (and a human anointed one) as we reject the rule of any human being and we declare God is King.  For a humanist… it doesn’t get any better, because the emphasis is not that God is King… but that no human can rule us.  We say to all tyrants and others attempting to form our opinions and curtail our actions and imagination… you are not my boss.

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[1]

To-morrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be prince over My people Israel, and he shall save My people out of the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon My people, because their cry is come unto Me.’ (Samuel I 9: 16)

 כָּעֵת מָחָר אֶשְׁלַח אֵלֶיךָ אִישׁ מֵאֶרֶץ בִּנְיָמִן, וּמְשַׁחְתּוֹ לְנָגִיד עַל-עַמִּי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְהוֹשִׁיעַ אֶת-עַמִּי, מִיַּד פְּלִשְׁתִּים:  כִּי רָאִיתִי אֶת-עַמִּי, כִּי בָּאָה צַעֲקָתוֹ אֵלָי

And the spirit of the LORD will come mightily upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man. Samuel I 10:6

וְצָלְחָה עָלֶיךָ רוּחַ ה’, וְהִתְנַבִּיתָ עִמָּם; וְנֶהְפַּכְתָּ, לְאִישׁ אַחֵר

[2]

As Frankfort, Wilson, and Jakobsen write in The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man: An Essay of Speculative Thought in the Ancient Near East (p348)  “A jealous concern for their traditional prerogatives was kept alive among the people by various agitators, notably the prophets.  Nathan’s rebuke of David, as Elijah’s of Ahab, was a direct denial of the assumptions of divine right and a bold affirmation of the principle that the king was amenable to the same standards of right, the same pervasive natural law as his humblest subject.  Here, too, it is apparent, was the principle basic to the entire attitude of the prophets and other progressive thinkers toward the monarchy: the king ruled, not by divine right, but under divinely imposed responsibility”

[3]

For further reading regarding Nisan and Tishrei as Kinmaking New Year’s festivals including actual Mesopotamian liturgy that has striking parallels to the Rosh Hashanah liturgy see Kingship and the Gods chapter 22 The New Year’s Festival pp 313-) here

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Filed under Bible, Chosen People, divine birth, divine right, Religion, Torah, Uncategorized

Prince William chose well…..

parshat kedoshim

I am a fan of Rabbi Jonathan Saks and was hoping that the right honorable Lord Saks would, in his weekly torah thoughts; Covenant and Conversation, provide a blessing to William and Kate on their royal nuptials with the obligatory link to the weekly parsha.

Although the Chief Rabbi did post a blessing on the day of the marriage… and he did attend the wedding, there is alas, no tie-in to the weekly torah reading to be found.

It is left to me, a mere pageboy here in the suburbs (or is that colonies?) to shed some light on the subject of royal marriage and how it relates to the clarion call of our parsha… Kedoshim. You shall be Holy…

1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying:
2 Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them: Ye shall be holy; for I the LORD your God am holy. (Leviticus 19: 1-2)

Chapter 19 of Leviticus has been characterized as a parallel to the Ten Commandments. Rav Hiyya explained that the reason it was to be read “unto all the congregation” is because most of the essential laws of the Torah can be derived from it. (Leviticus Rabba 24). I invite you to read it! It is in my humble opinion, far superior to the Ten Commandments. It’s lyrical in the way it seamlessly moves from the ethical to ritual. It calls the lie to anyone who would distinguish between ritual law and moral law…. As Everett Fox writes: “[It] is wide-ranging and rhetorically powerful. It extends holiness to virtually all areas of life – family, calendar, cult, business civil and criminal law, social relations, and sexuality.” (The Five Books of Moses, Everett Fox p. 600.)

What detracts from the breadth of vision, is the emphasis in the preceding and following chapters (Leviticus 18, also read at the afternoon service of Yom Kippur, and chapter 20) which seem to be fixated on sexual perversion of every kind.. and I mean every kind, including incest, bestiality and homosexuality.

I will argue below, that much of what the Torah detests about sexual perversion, has less to do with being puritanical and more to do with a rejection of the politics of the autocratic rule and tribal caste system of the Canaanites and the Ancient Near East. Stay with me…. It’s an interesting ride…

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It will be no surprise to a reader of this blog, that when it comes to the Bible, I am not a monarchist… I believe that the Exodus Revolution was in large part, a rejection of the monarch and an embrace of the commoner; The Israelites were not to be ruled by any man.. but by God alone.

Ultimately, the Jewish people failed, and in Samuel I 8:5 ask Samuel: “make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” The embrace of a mortal King implied the divine right of that king and a divine lineage for our monarchy had to follow… and that lineage takes us back to creation itself.

The divine right of kings is really an extension of an earlier, more basic idea of the divinity of kings….

In the first account in Chapter 1 in Genesis, Adam was created God-like, in the image of God, as a unitary being and as such did not need to procreate… or at least did not need a mate to procreate. God as we know… is eternal and does not need to procreate. When we first meet Adam… either does he.

In Genesis 1:26-27 we read: “And God said: ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; …… And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.”

With the birth of feminism, we all learn of a Lilith interpretation, (which is the basis for a Feminist Magazine by that name), and in the first chapter of Genesis provides another independent female mate, created with (and not from) Adam, called Lilith. I will leave this Lilith narrative for later… for now I reference an alternative explanation of how Adam was created as a single being… but also male and female. The Midrash cited by the classical commentators, Rashi and Ibn Ezra, explains these words in the following manner: The Adam was created as an androgynous being with two sides, male and female; moreover, these two sides were later separated in order to form two separate beings – man and woman (Genesis Rabbah 8:1). The tradition that the first human being was created as an androgynous being is also cited in the Talmud (Berochot 61a, Eruvin 18a).

How man procreates defines whether he is an earthly parallel to God…or whether he, unlike God, cannot replicate Himself and is in need of an “other”.

An understanding of this premise explains the low Biblical regard of both royalty and incest (inbreeding) as well as ritualistic bestiality, harlotry and homosexuality all of which are laid out in detail in Leviticus 18 – 20.

In this context one can understand Genesis 1:18 “And the Lord God said: It is not good that the man should be alone: I will make a help meet for him.” Rashi quotes Genesis Rabba: “So that people should not say that there are two authorities. The Holy One Blessed Be He among the heavenly beings is single, and has no mate, and the other one, among earthly beings has no mate.”

The message here is that were a man to stay celibate, or be sexually self-sufficient (androgyny), or mate with a being with which he cannot reproduce; such as an animal, a goddess or another man.. he is in a way mimicking the divine, claiming divinity and thereby challenging God.

A few verses latter, after woman has been created from Adam’s rib, the Bible writes: “And the man said: This now, bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh, to this shall be called Woman, because out of Man was this one taken.” Rashi is struck by “this now” and writes: “This teaches that Adam came to each animal and beast in quest of a mate and he found no satisfaction in them (Babylonian Talmud, Yebamoth 63a). (Don’t you love Rashi!)

Having created Mankind from a split pair, there was no way to escape initial inbreeding, but at least Eve is characterized as an opposite being, and Eve, unlike the animals enables mankind to reproduce an “other”.

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh” Genesis 2:24 Rashi comments: “The Holy Spirit says this to forbid to the “children of Noah” unchaste behavior (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 57b)” in other words, the source of unchaste sexual behavior (“Arayot” in Hebrew) is when a man does not leave his father and mother… sister, brother etc. but mates with them!

So how did the next generation procreate with such a small gene pool? The most straightforward response, is that just as Adam had no choice but to mate with Eve.. who was after all, flesh of his flesh… so too Cain had to mate with a sister.

In Leviticus 20:17 the Bible writes: “And if a man shall take his sister, his father’s daughter or his mother’s daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness, it is a shameful thing (Hebrew: “Chesed).

Rashi comments: “In the Aramaic language “shame” is “Hasuda”. And it’s Midrashic interpretation (of Hesed lit. kindness): If you say, “Cain married his sister, there the Omnipresent performed a kindness to build the world from him, as it is said (Psalms 89:3) The world is built (through) kindness” Siphra; Sanhedrin 58).

One wonders… whether both explanations complement each other… “the world is built on shame….

In any case, the biblical premise remains… inbreeding is a rejection of God and a rejection of God’s role as man’s only ruler. Royalty wants to mix and re-mix it’s blood to protect their superior “blue” blood and to justify the subjugation of the commoner and stranger. God wants us, wherever possible, to leave our father and mother and create our bloodline with our fellow human commoners.

Getting back to Genesis… the other solution to the shallow gene pool problem was to marry the gods:

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of the gods saw the daughters of man that they were fair; and they took for themselves wives, whomsoever they chose.” (Genesis 6:1-2)

Rashi comments on the troubling “sons of gods”: “The sons of the rulers and magistrates.”

Whether the “sons of gods” are divine beings or human rulers, the breeding of such beings with the daughters of man was the source of all evil.. three verses later God confronts the wickedness of man and the story of the Flood and Tower of Babel follow without interruption.

The rest of the Bible is a dynamic tension between ridding man of earthly rulers while recognizing that mankind is tragically susceptible to the worship of the divine in human form.

Of course the belief in a divine child is the core of the Jesus myth and we Jews like to think that it is totally alien to Judaism, but the truth is that not only was the child of god fairly common in ancient lore but as we have just seen.. it appears in the earliest chapters of Genesis. … it doesn’t stop there…

The barren matriarch is a common Biblical theme, followed by a miraculous birth. Since any miraculous birth is by definition a divine birth we have to admit that the notion of a son of God is hardly unique to Christianity.

Sarah, our first matriarch, is a woman of 90 and barren. Her husband, Abraham at 99, is no youngster. Miraculously Sarah gives birth… but was it Abraham’s child or God’s?

1 And the LORD remembered Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as He had spoken. 2 And Sarah conceived, and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. (Genesis 21: 1-2)

The word for “remembered” (Hebrew “pakad”) is a euphemism for having marital connection with… (see Jastrow Dictionary p1206) and see Babylonian Talmud, Yebamot 62b:

Rabbi Joshua ben Levi said: Whosoever knows his wife to be a God-fearing woman and does not duly visit her (in a conjugal sense – pakad) is called a sinner; for it is said: “And thou shalt know that thy tent is in peace; and thou shalt visit thy habitation, and shalt miss nothing.” (Job 5:24)

Rabbi Joshua ben Levi further stated: “It is a man’s duty to pay a (conjugal) visit to his wife before he departs on a journey; for it is said: “And thou shalt know that thy tent is in peace; and thou shalt visit thy habitation, and shalt miss nothing.”

(For this interpretation of a Divine conjugal visit to Sarah see also The logic of incest: a structuralist analysis of Hebrew mythology By Seth Daniel p. 78 and 97 … but I read it first many years ago somewhere else…. but can’t remember the source…)

It would appear that for all of its distaste for the divine right of rulers, and by extension, the tribalism and caste system that royal lineage induces.. it was hard for the Bible to fully wean itself from the allure of being genetically special and being the progeny of a human-divine pairing.

When it came to the Davidic monarchy, the references to inbreeding and divination are less esoteric.

On one side of his lineage, David came from Ruth the Moabite. The name Moab means literally “from the father” which is because the progenitor of Moab is the issue of Moab’s mother and grandfather Lot.

31 And the first-born said unto the younger: ‘Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth.
32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.’
33 And they made their father drink wine that night. And the first-born went in, and lay with her father; and he knew not when she lay down, nor when she arose….
37 And the first-born bore a son, and called his name Moab–the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day.

On the other side of his royal lineage, David comes from the tribe of Judah. Judah’s son Peretz was the issue of a union between himself and his daughter-in-law who he took to be a temple prostitute.

15 When Judah saw her, he thought her to be a harlot (Hebrew: “zonah”); for she had covered her face. (Genesis 38: 15)

Tamar provides her services on credit…. And when Judah looks to make payment he talks to the locals:

21 Then he asked the men of her place, saying: ‘Where is the harlot, (Hebrew: Kadesha”) that was at Enaim by the wayside?’ And they said: ‘There hath been no harlot (Hebrew: Kadesha”) here.’

I had always been fascinated how the lineage of the Davidic monarchy is so full of sin and had always assumed that there was a deep message here… along the lines of “strange are the ways of the Lord” and “The world is built on Hesed (kindness/shame), etc. which all boils down to Shlomo Carlebach’s line… “You never know!”.

Clearly the Bible is intent on having David’s line emanate from incest on one side and breaking the law of lying with a daughter-in-law (Leviticus 20:12), and/or harlot on the other.

But within the context of the dynamic of royal inbreeding, with relatives and gods, the details of Judah and Tamar take on a new nuance.

Kadesha (from Hebrew: Holy one, feminine) was a sacred/cultic prostitute. According to some scholars, such as Samuel Noah Kramer in The Sacred Marriage Rite, in late Sumerian history kings established their legitimacy by taking part in the ceremony in the temple for one night, on the tenth day of the New Year festival Akitu. It is a general belief among scholars that a form of “Sacred Marriage” ritual or Hieros gamos was staged between the king of a Sumerian city-state and the High Priestess of Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare. Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers there were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna. The temple housed priestesses of the goddess. In Mesopotamian mythology, Lilitû is called the handmaiden of the goddess Inanna or “hand of Inanna.” Babylonian texts depict Lilith as the sacred prostitute of the goddess Ishtar, the Assyrian and Babylonian counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna. (see Wikipedia: Sacred Prostitution)

We can suggest that Judah, the forbearer of King David, like Tamar, was trying to insure a heir, and with his son’s having failed to provide, he attempted, in Ancient Near Eastern Kingly fashion; a sacred marriage with a Kadesha – a sacred prostitute – a handmaiden of God.

Returning with this new understanding of the sexual tension between Divine Royal breeding on the one hand and the alternative of leaving one’s gene pool and loving the “other”.. we can now make sense of the exhausting descriptions and proscriptions against prohibited sexual activity in Leviticus 18 -20…

The Biblical sense of Kedusha-Holiness is truly lyrical. God exhorts his people not to try to be holy like He is holy in the Ancient Near Eastern sense that man should compete with God by appointing human gods as leaders, and by building castes and tribes dedicated to protecting a holy blood lineage, but rather the Biblical invitation to be Holy as God is Holy is to act like God, in his most human form… Mah hu rachum, af ata rachum… Just as He is merciful, so shall you be merciful… (Talmud expounding on the Yom Kippur liturgy). The seamless transistions the ethical and ritual is an invitation to imitate God… Just as He is merciful and embraces the stranger and the common wage earner and just as He is honorable in business dealings.. so should you too …. It is a rejection of the stratification of divine rulers and common subjects.

So as we are captivated by the pomp and circumstance of the marriage of William and Kate, we need to also congratulate William, (whose mother, Diana… the People’s Princess, was a commoner) for his choice to leave his bloodline and cleave unto Kate… a commoner. The British throne is pointing in a new direction and in the opionion of this lowly pageboy,  William and Kate deserve our thanks and best wishes or as they say in Old English: Mazel Tov!

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