I wrote the following in the Tree of Life chapter:
Since Yesod is on the middle pillar between Hod and Netzach and rules sex and reproduction, it behooves us to contemplate the Leviticus laws beyond their assumed meaning. Again we are faced with the potential displacement of spiritual guidance with overly obsessive laws concerning purity. Case in point is the Leviticus law prohibiting a man lying with another man as he lies with a woman.
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
Leviticus 20: 13, KJV
The interesting thing about this verse is that the word “mankind” is translated from the Hebrew word zakar, z (zayin), k (kaf), r (resh). There are only three other instances of this word in the biblical texts. One is a reiteration of the first and the other two are in the New Testament. If a seldom used word appears in a verse that is as widely quoted as this one, I take note: this is important. The Hebrew word for womankind is Isha, which is the common word for women. Zakar, on the other hand, is only used in this singular context and in the repetitions in similar verses. Since this is a special occurrence, a deconstruction of the word itself can provide clues to the intent being communicated by looking at the meaning of each letter.
The first letter in zakar is zayin, which Yitzchak Ginsburgh defines as meaning “a woman of valor”, which seems odd to begin a word denoting mankind. Ginsburgh says “‘The Shabbat Queen’ who, in general, signifies woman in relation to man-- ‘the woman of valor is the crown of her husband’-- has the power to reveal in her husband his own superconscious crown, the experience of serene pleasure and sublime will innate in the day of Shabbat.”
The next letter, kaf, means the crown: the power to actualize potential.
This represents the crown Sefirah of Keter as it sits at the top of the Tree of Life, waiting for consciousness to rise up to its highest position. The word kipah begins with the kaf and expresses the notion of God’s palm on the top of one’s head (yarmulke). The final letter, resh, means process: the art of clarification which is hopefully gained by a letter-by-letter analysis. Resh also means head, as well as the beginning of wisdom. That meaning also hints at the second Sefirah of Chokhmah, which also sits high up in the Tree of Life.
The woman of “valor” can be viewed as our own inner bride that has been pushed deep into the subconscious through several thousand years of dominant patriarchal culture. Since she is subconscious – at least for most males – the natural impulse is to project her “separateness” onto willing or unwilling partners we engage with in the World of Assiah or Action.
Thus, Leviticus’ meticulous prohibition against “laying” with a laundry list of prohibited companions serves less as a warning and may be perceived as more of a directive for males to reclaim the disowned female qualities within.
St. Paul reiterated the law in his writings but he used an entirely different word that contained the Greek prefix “arsen.” This word connotates “fire” as associated with the inner serpent called the Kundalini – liquid fire – found in eastern religions. This is the same substance called the Holy Breath – the Ruach (spirit) called Shekinah in Hebrew, which is the feminine aspect of God. The word is also tied to extreme male domination.
When and if I am able to submit an edit for this section, the first correction I would make is concerning the word Zakar. At the time I did the search, I only found it in the few passages I referenced. With today's new Bible Concordance software - it makes it much easier to scour the books to find find any other instances. I went ahead and checked on it again and to much embarrassment, I found 58 occurrences. It is interesting to me that it is first referenced in Genesis 1:27
Here you can see that man is associated to Adam who was created as Them - male (Zakar) and female (Onekeba). In Genesis 5:2 they - the male and female will be called Adam or Man. Genesis 6:9 talks about the two-ness of everything (male and female) that should reside in the Ark. The Noah narrative continues with the same references to male and female and then we switch gears in Genesis 17:10. Now Abraham comes in the picture along with God's covenant which now requires that males be circumcised. The word of for circumcision is a variation of the word Moyal (which is what a rabbi who performs this in modern times). The word for foreskin is araletchem or variations. The appearance of this word also occurs in Deuteronomy 10:16 where it refers to a circumcision of the foreskin of the heart. This could have led to Paul's departure from conventional notions concerning circumcision of the foreskin of the penis (there is no clarification of where the circumcision was to take place or what foreskin was referred to. This verse does not reference males or females. There are a couple of different words translated to stiff-necked people however, probably in the context of hardened hearts which is our clue here that what's being talked about is a method to soften one's heart which means to me - a development of the female trait of compassion.
But, there is also a Kabbalistic interpretation in that the foreskin is referencing the sefirah of Yesod which together with Malchut represent the sacred phallic. The circumcision is the removal of the impurity that would prevent a "clean" connection with the sefirah above Yesod - Tiferet which represents the heart. So now we are talking about a spiritual oneness that the Torah promotes and the actualization of it that Paul promotes as the "heart" he references is likely the same sefirah Tiferent but approaching it from the top down. Whereas the Torah moves from sexual lust up to love, Paul seeks to move from the harsh judgement of Gevurah/Din - down to Tiferet. The foreskin acts as a dividing force preventing these unions and must be sacrificed to overcome/rise above the binary relationships preventing the unions.
Based on the lack of normalization of the word for foreskin, I think it is safe to say that the word could be interpreted in different ways depending on the context and even with that, there is always room for re-interpretation as I've suggested above.
Back to Zakar, we visit this word again in Leviticus. This where we see Zakar being paired - not with Female but with Woman or Wife - depending on how it's translated. Prior to Leviticus 18:22 where this occurs, Zakar is used alone in verses concerning purity - around sacrifices and the priesthood. In 18:22 it translates Zakar to mankind where everywhere else we've seen it as male. Then we have womankind coming from the work Isha which means Woman or Wife. There is nothing about a male lying with another male in this verse - that comes in 20:13.
Adding more confusion around all this we now have a man in Hebrew -v' ish which is the common name for man when talking about mankind, is paired off with Zakar who here is translated as mankind which we've already substantiated really means male, who are then compared as to lying with a woman (Isha). So we don't have a man lying with a man nor a male lying with a male we have a man lying with a male.
The first instance of the word v'ish (with man) occurs in Genesis 19:31.It occurs in a strange story of Lot's daughters complaining that there is no man on earth who can come into the them in the manner of earth's (nature?). They devise a plan to get their father drunk on successive nights where each daughter takes a turn sleeping with him so they can get pregnant. This begs the question as to why there we no earth men available to sleep with? We know these were the times of Sodom and Gomorrah of which we are told there were men of evil. We know sodomy is derived from this story. But who were these people? One Rabbi speculates that there were aliens and hybrids running around at the time who were known as the Nephilim. In any event this usage of Ish continues in ways that infer evil or taintedness and is the word used in the purity laws of Leviticus and the Exodus massacres we come upon later.
I think we can draw from this that the reading of Leviticus 20:13 is filled with nuance that cannot be simply translated as a prohibition against homosexuality. We can deduce much from the absence of the word female. If we were talking strictly in sexual terms why we would not pair the word male with the word female?
The first use of the word Isha (woman) occurs in Genesis 2:23. It is where the bone from Adam is taken to create a woman. This is why the word is interchangeably used as wife. So now we an interesting conundrum - If Adam consists of male and female and here the division takes place, what are we to make of the later prohibitions in Leviticus? Why not say Adam shouldn't lay with Adam like Adam lies with Eve? This would be pretty clear as to what's going on. No, it seems we have an evil inclination or intent in play with ish in relationship to a male but it even gets a bit weirder as we continue to deconstruct the verse. Let's review where we're at up to now: If a man with un-pure intent, lies with a male ... the next word is mishkebay which is translated here as "as those who lie". The only other appearance (yes I checked) other than Leviticus 18:22 above is found in Genesis 49:4 where it is translated as "from the bed" as in "you went up from the bed of your father and then you defiled it". Let's fill that in to Lev 20:13 - If a man with un-pure intent lies with a male from the bed of a woman then we have an abomination... So more confusion - are we talking about an un-pure man trying to get a threesome going? Or, perhaps this is about having a male pretending to be a wife or a woman? Or is this about keeping the un-pure man out of bed - period? Or is this about protecting an innocent since Zakar is first used in Genesis as having been created by God to pair with the female to become the Adam? Or finally, is this about anything to have to with an external expression of what might strictly be an internal psychological reality. After all - to this point there has been no proof of the battles of Joshua where the multitudes of Ish were supposedly slaughtered. Perhaps the whole debate is an internal meditation on the warring factions of ourselves as found in other stories such as the Bhagavad Gita.
For now, I'll stand by the analysis I put into the book that we are looking at a more Jungian type of psychological projection issue. The word Zakar does relate to more female characteristics that are most likely suppressed and projected outwards where men of un-pure intent can take advantage of this shadow expression which in the extreme shows up in rape. The integration of the male and female qualities is important to Tikkun Olam as I understand it today. How that is expressed between consenting adults is not for me or anyone imo to say.
I will add another addendum in that I think there is a possibility that underlying the prohibition of what appears to be homosexuality is an amplification of the original sin of eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil - Daat - which promises to make one like Gods but also to become mortal and truly die. I read this as being thrown into the Binary experience (even God appears to us as binary in his mercy vs. judgment ways). In Leviticus we are told the binary experience of homosexuality will also result in death speaks to limitations of the binary position in and of itself imo. Death itself is presented as binary even though the presence of an afterlife would void the duality). Rather than speak of the act as an abomination, it would be more accurate to speak of it as queerness without all the political correctness used to normalize the term. Queer Theory put sex and gender across spectrums where the binary view, characteristic of a closed system, gives way to the open system of Queer Theory.