- And with mankind [zakar] you shall not lay lyings (as with) womankind; it is abomination [tow`ebah] (Leviticus 18:22) And if a man ['iysh] also lie with mankind [zakar] as with womankind, both have committed an abomination [tow`ebah]; they shall surely be put to death, their blood (shall be) upon them. (Leviticus 20:13)
There are a few cases in which zakar appears to refer to men in general (those being Joshua 17:2 and Jeremiah 30:6). Therefore, in order to know for sure whether zakar in Leviticus refers to all men or just sacred men, one must look at the context surrounding these verses.
- And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 18:21) Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.
And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name.
And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and kill him not:
Then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people. (Leviticus 20:2-5)
There is another indicator that zakar is indeed referring to sacred males dedicated to idols. The Hebrew word tow`ebah, translated as "abomination," is used throughout the Old Testament to refer to actions that are religiously unclean or to idols themselves, but not necessarily to something that in itself should be considered evil. For example, Deuteronomy 27:15 describes idols and graven images as "an abomination unto the Lord," while Genesis 43:52 states that eating and breaking bread with the Hebrews was an "abomination unto the Egyptians," in the sense that it was against their beliefs to eat with "heathens." Tow`ebah was also used to refer to letting your children pass through the fire (Deuteronomy 12:31), eating food sacrificed to idols (Deuteronomy 14:3), and sacrificing the wrong kind of animal (Deuteronomy 17:1). It was also used to refer to putting on gender-discordant clothing as a service to idols (Deuteronomy 22:5).
In conclusion, Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 cannot be used to condemn homosexuality because the context surrounding them shows that homosexuality in itself is not being condemned. If one were to find a less intimidating but more linguistically correct interpretation of Leviticus 20:13, it would read the following:
- If a man lies with a male dedicated to Molech, both have committed an unclean religious act; they shall be put to death, their blood shall be upon them.