A Place and a Name

Besides foreigners, God also says in Isaiah 56 “Do not let the eunuch say I am cut off”.  It seems that eunuchs, whoever they were, did not feel they had a place in God’s House.  God warns that we should not let them feel that way.

I don’t know who eunuchs were.  We use a Greek word to translate the Hebrew word saris.  I don’t believe that eunuch and saris are exact equivalents.

Eunuch seems to come from the idea of “being made gentle,”  eunous meaning gentle in Greek.  In the culture familiar with horses, a wild stallion is gentled by gelding it.  This idea can easily be carried over into our normal understanding of eunuch.  It would explain why a eunuch would use such phrases as “I am cut off” or being a “dry tree”.

The Hebrew word saris, however, is used describe generals, people in elite fighting units, court officials with in the Judean royal courts and, in the case of Potiphar, a married man.  It is hard to imagine that a term for a gelded male would be used to describe the leader of the Judean army of King Zedekiah or the trusted court officials of King David. Yet there is something about a saris that caused the early translators to use the term eunuch to translate it.

My best guess is that it had less to do with physical equipment and more to do with sexual orientation, some form of sexual diversity.  If you are one who feels “the love that cannot be named” or who is barred in so many places from adopting a child and from having your relationships recognized as legitimate family relationships, then you can relate to the saris who feels “cut off” or like a “dry tree”.

For those who are labeled as sexual deviants instead of part of the sexual diversity of all nature, the words of Isaiah 56 may be a special salve for their spirits.  God says, “I will give you, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name better than sons and daughters: I will give them an everlasting name that cannot be cut off.”

There is truly room in God’s House for all.  If only that was true in all churches that claim to be houses of God as well.

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