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  #1  
Old Oct 28, '10, 9:19 am
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JAGCath28 JAGCath28 is offline
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Default Question about Eunichs

This question came about in our Acts study last night. We covered Acts 8 where it talks about Philip and the Eunich. I never realized that eunichs were unable to participate fully in the Jewish community due to the inability to be circumcised. This raised a question about the Northern and Southern Kingdoms when they went into captivity. Weren't some of the Jewish men (or boys) forced to become eunichs? I'm basing this question loosely on that movie "One Night with the King" which was supposed to be about Esther. In that movie, many of the young Jewish boys were forced to become eunichs. So, did some of them become eunichs and if so, how did this affect their ability to participate in the community since they were circumcised before becoming a eunich?

Thanks!

Jessica
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  #2  
Old Oct 28, '10, 9:43 am
Cachonga Cachonga is offline
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Default Re: Question about Eunichs

Quote:
Originally Posted by JAGCath28
This question came about in our Acts study last night. We covered Acts 8 where it talks about Philip and the Eunich. I never realized that eunichs were unable to participate fully in the Jewish community due to the inability to be circumcised.
I had never heard this before. As I understand it, a Levite could not serve in the Tabernacle (before the building of the Temple) or the Temple (once it was built) if he was a eunich. Other than that, I'm not aware of any restrictions on eunichs participating in the Jewish community.
Quote:
This raised a question about the Northern and Southern Kingdoms when they went into captivity. Weren't some of the Jewish men (or boys) forced to become eunichs? I'm basing this question loosely on that movie "One Night with the King" which was supposed to be about Esther. In that movie, many of the young Jewish boys were forced to become eunichs. So, did some of them become eunichs and if so, how did this affect their ability to participate in the community since they were circumcised before becoming a eunich?
Daniel and his three friends would fall under this category of young men being made into eunichs. However, since they were not Levites (and even if they were, there was no Tabernacle/Temple to serve in), it didn't matter.

BTW - while I haven't seen "One Night with the King", I have found such movies, documentaries, etc... to be a dubious source of any meaningful Biblical information. I would suggest you watch the movie for entertainment value, not factual spiritual content.

Hope this is helpful!

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  #3  
Old Oct 28, '10, 9:58 am
Epistemes Epistemes is offline
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Default Re: Question about Eunichs

Scholars differ on the reasons for Deut. 23:1,2 -- but the implications aren't quite so obscure. The Biblical consequence for a Jew with such a condition who is not "admitted into the congregation of the Lord" means not being able to marry a Jewish woman. The punishment provided under Biblical law for a Jew who performs such surgery is lashing.

Based on these consequences, and given that this verse falls within a section dealing with foreigners at large, it appears that such cutting of the member or crushing of the testicles implicitly aligned the Israelite with the foreigners because some non-Israelite cults demanded emasculation as part of the initiation rite. This is why the men were segregated from the rest of the congregation.

In the ancient Near East it was common for men to be sexually mutilated upon being captured, subjugated and enslaved by a foreign power. In such instances, due to the fact that such emasculation was not voluntary, the same consequences wouldn't be applicable. It would be the same as if a male child was born with such diseased organs, or if the organs had to be removed for some other medical reason.
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Old Oct 28, '10, 10:23 am
jmcdzzz jmcdzzz is offline
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Default Re: Question about Eunichs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cachonga View Post
BTW - while I haven't seen "One Night with the King", I have found such movies, documentaries, etc... to be a dubious source of any meaningful Biblical information. I would suggest you watch the movie for entertainment value, not factual spiritual content.

Hope this is helpful!

Pax!
Agreed on the movies. And this one was one of the worst of the lot. Horrible, artistically, and factually.
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  #5  
Old Oct 28, '10, 10:40 am
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JAGCath28 JAGCath28 is offline
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Default Re: Question about Eunichs

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Originally Posted by jmcdzzz View Post
Agreed on the movies. And this one was one of the worst of the lot. Horrible, artistically, and factually.
Oh....I didn't think it was that bad. especially considering the types of movies that are out today. I know that I shouldn't base any real Biblical fact on this movie, but remembering that in the movie, young jewish male captives were caused to be eunichs seemed very plausible to me that this actually happened during their captivity.

Epistemes, thank you for your response. Yes, Deuteronomy 23: 1-2 was what I was speaking of regarding not being able to be part of the community. In the Acts study (put out by Ignatius Press and Jeff Cavins), the Eunich was reading Isaiah 52-53, the suffering servant. Jeff brought up that if he continued reading, specifically Isaiah 56: 3-8, that he would see the future promise of being admitted into the Lord's community, and that this was fulfilled through the Messiah coming, Jesus which was what Philip was telling him when he told him who the author was speaking about (Read Acts 8 to get the context).

I was unaware the law of Deut. 23 regarding eunichs and so learning about that last night led me to question "What happened to the jewish male captives who were forced to become eunichs?" I brought this question up and some people looked at me like I had 3 heads for even thinking that they were forced to become eunichs in captivity. I don't think it's that far-fetched considering the pagan cultures that took them over.

So, I guess my question overall is two-fold. 1) Were some jewish males in captivity forced to become eunichs? I'm looking for sources whether Biblical or secular historical.
2) And if they were, what were the implications once this happened? Were they prevented from being fully part of the Lord's community?
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Old Oct 28, '10, 10:53 am
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Default Re: Question about Eunuchs

And I've been misspelling Eunuch. Sorry......
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  #7  
Old Oct 28, '10, 12:44 pm
Epistemes Epistemes is offline
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Default Re: Question about Eunichs

Quote:
Originally Posted by JAGCath28 View Post
So, I guess my question overall is two-fold. 1) Were some jewish males in captivity forced to become eunichs? I'm looking for sources whether Biblical or secular historical.
2) And if they were, what were the implications once this happened? Were they prevented from being fully part of the Lord's community?
You've already addressed, in part, the answer to both of your questions. Take a look at Isaiah 56. I believe it is reasonable to infer that the eunuchs in question, those who appear to be lamenting their current state due to the fact that they are unable to produce offspring, are men who have men captured and mutilated. That answers part 1 of your question; however, for further evidence, the Torah and Nevi'im (Prophets) records sexual mutilation performed by Israelites on their enemies, but only after (or at) the enemies' death in battle. See for instance 1 Samuel 18:27:

"David went out with his men and killed two hundred Philistines; David brought their foreskins and they were counted out for the king, that he might become the king's son-in-law. Saul then gave him his daughter Michal in marriage."

Although the verse names only the foreskin, one might suppose that in the context of collecting their war trophies, David and his officers were not careful to take only the part specified. Circumcision is, of course, a precise and delicate surgery - collecting war trophies, not so much!

As for part 2 of your question, look at Isaiah 56, again. My ESV version offers the heading "Salvation for Foreigners" to this chapter. Participation in the future messianic salvation is offered to all who believe in the Lord and keep his commandments, regardless of origin or social condition. Since, as I've stated above, we can rightly intuit that the eunuchs mentioned in this chapter are captured men, possibly even Israelite men, it should seem evident that such men who were involuntarily mutilated were not excluded from the congregation.
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  #8  
Old Oct 29, '10, 7:15 am
Oldtimer_7 Oldtimer_7 is offline
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Default Re: Question about Eunichs

Jews recognized three different conditions of becoming a eunuch. First, there were those who were naturally born or lest their testicles as a result of disease. Second, there were those who either castrated themselves or who were castrated by others, Finally, there were those who chose chastity.

The operative laws had to do with being fruitful and multiplying. If a man's son became a eunuch, then he had not fulfilled the commandment. If a man were a eunuch, then he could not father children, the prime reason for marriage. Even the most conservative rabbis allowed divorce in the case of infertility.

Finally, many of those groups that practiced castration to allow men to be the keepers of the bed, the literal translation of the term eunuch, also removed part of the penis. Since this precluded circumcision, the man could never become a Jew.
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