Divine wisdom about hygiene

June 24, 2012 • 11:59 am

Thank Ceiling Cat! I have finally finished the first five books of the Bible: the Pentateuch or Torah of Judaism. I have found much to puzzle me, and much that is revolting (more on this next week), but also a few things to LOL at. Here is one, from Deuteronomy 23:13-14.

And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:

For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.

In other words, don’t make Yahweh step in your crap! I wonder if the Israeli army has those paddles on their guns?

94 thoughts on “Divine wisdom about hygiene

    1. Yeah, those old JEWS are pretty revolting.

      No one likes them when they fight back…people much prefer the World War Two Scenario where they all just get gassed.

      Chris Hitchens hated it that they fought so hard in the OT days…they could have been wiped out then and we could have “been spared the whole thing” (GING, Hitchens, page 229)

      One thing, Jerry, be careful that your Fucking Jew Hatred does not come out! They will be all over your ass on that one!

        1. I’m curious, is there any other religion that is also considered by some to not be a religion? “Jewish” is referred to as a religion, and/or a race, and/or a culture. Offhand I can’t think of another label that is treated similarly.

      1. Jerry IS a Jew you numbskull. Also: criticising ludicrous beliefs is not the same thing as hating a race of people.

        P.S. Hitch was a Jew too.

      2. You’re just angry the poop scoopers were sold out at your local mart. I wonder if Yahweh’s punishment for stepping in someone’s turd is giving that doodoodoer a toilet swirlie.

            1. I put him back under the bridge. I am actually a self LOVING Jew. I love the culture, dislike the delusional beliefs. Sue me.

  1. Somehow I never noticed this particular pearl of wisdom before.

    It also show how unhesitatingly dishonest religion-makers are. There is nothing wrong with rules for more hygienic community living, there is no need at all to say “and this is because of God”.

    1. Yea, I think I read the whole shebang many times, but I never recall this poop-paddling verse. Good on Jerry!

    1. That’s Leviticus 13-14 (yes, two whole chapters), so the longsuffering Dr. Coyne has already passed that point.

      As has been pointed out, one of the many criticisms that one can level at the bible is that the supposedly omniscient and loving creator gave minimal medical information, much of it incorrect, and somehow seemed to be ignorant of microbes (and, indeed, any living entity smaller than an ant).

  2. That’s interesting because if you read Ezekiel 4:12, among the many bizarre and uselessly unnecessary commandmends, God commands Ezekiel to eat a shit sandwich.

    1. Damn, I kind find my bible (usually kept in the Fiction section in my bookcase).. but, I will take your word for it. I want to believe!

          1. I’m not concerned enough to actually shell out money for one, it will turn up eventually! lol

            1. I think he means you can read it free on the web. Then you can toss that other one if you find it. Clear space for something better!

      1. 4:12 And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight.

        1. They mean to use the human ‘dung’ as fuel, which is not so dim in a dry environment. In North America bison dung was used as fuel on the prairie.

        2. Ungulate dung is a common and pretty good source of fuel largely due to the nature of the food… lots and lots of grass. Humans… not so much.

        1. And a version that is a couple of languages and a couple of thousand years closer to the original?

    2. There’s a company that makes a whole, sprouted grain bread called “Ezekiel 4:9” http://www.foodforlife.com/our-products/ezekiel-49 They quote from 4:9 on their packages but in typical cherry picking fashion they only quote the nice sounding part:

      “Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt…”

      One can only hope that they aren’t actually baking up their bread with human dung.

  3. I laugh the term ‘ease thyself’

    So god created all things but he can’t deal with a bit of poop lying around?

  4. If the Nepalese peacekeepers in Haiti had followed that rule maybe they would not have started a cholera epidemic.

    1. Indeed, the passage, and many like it, are clearly reasonable advice that the advice-givers wanted people to take seriously, so they added it to the holy writings as if it were a commandment of their god.

  5. ALL kinds of interesting stuff there (in Deuteronomy) ..
    .. for instance, regarding ‘Jesus having died for my sins’ (the most popular one among the many reasons I should believe, according to my Christian friends) ..
    maybe next time I should point them at Deuteronomy 24:16:

    The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

  6. Usually, by the time you’ve reached Deuteronomy (the second — or repeated? — law, bye the bye), your eyes are glazed over, and you simply skim over the verses as though they’re coated in ether. How good for you to have spotted this one! LOL, indeed!

    1. Agree, many times bible-reading is an exercise of social norms / acceptance rather than actually reading the bible (i.e. you want others see you that you’re a bible reader).

  7. It just struck me. One can generate a lot of engaging religious greeting cards with quotes as these, published under the “WTF?” line of memorable moments.

  8. Given that “thyself”, you must be reading the KJV or one of its close descendants. Suggestion: glom onto a more recent translation (being careful to select one with no known biases or translation quirks) and see how it handles some of the more ridiculous passages.

    I use the “New English Bible” published in the early 1960s. As far as I know, it’s unbiased, though of course it doesn’t reflect any scholarly advances in understanding the bibbbbbblical text since that time.

    Some translations suffer from biases like the JW’s “New World” which exaggerates passages underpinning various JW weirdnesses. Another more recent translation makes the profound mistake of always using the same English word to translate a given Greek or Hebrew word regardless of context and the sometimes widely varying shades of meaning. Avoid such.

  9. May we presume that part of the “much that is revolting” will be the first of the big “god is on our side and he wants us to commit genocide on our enemies” passages, the one in Numbers 31?

  10. What is learned is that failure to practice camp hygiene while serving as a soldier abroad in god’s armed forces will cause god to turn away from his soldiers.

    Therefore, hygiene is good because god says it is good, not because hygiene is an inherently intrinsic good.

    Euthyphro dilemma solved.

  11. This verse is well known among long distance hikers. It was in Colin Fletcher’s Complete Hiker (Outdoor Ethics)and has occasionally appeared in National Park Service blurbs given out when getting back country permits. And yes, some of those back country rangers are “god;” especially the ones who rescue those unfortunate souls who get lost or hurt. So indeed, god has walked among many camps.

    1. I own a book (for real) called “How to Shit in the Woods” which I’m pretty sure doesn’t mention this, but that’s good to know.

      1. This prescription was also familiar to early Polar explorers and is the origin of the euphemism “I am just going outside and may be some time.”

        1. Perhaps the original use of the phrase —

          With 400 miles (670 km) still to travel across the Ross Ice Shelf, the party’s prospects steadily worsened as, with deteriorating weather, frostbite, snow blindness, hunger and exhaustion, they struggled northward.[71] On 16 March, Oates, whose condition was aggravated by an old war-wound to the extent that he was barely able to walk,[72] voluntarily left the tent and walked to his death.[73] Scott wrote that Oates’ last words were “I am just going outside and may be some time”.

          1. I have just finished reading Ronald Huntford’s recent (2010) parallel edition of Amundsen’s and Scott’s expedition diaries. Hence the quote: it was an exercise in macabre humour, camping lore at the end of the world.

            And thanks for providing a reaction, which I had hoped for but didn’t expect. I find the deaths of Scott, Evans, Wilson, Bowers, and Oates as absurd and unnecessary as anything in the OT. The current bout of souped-up Scott lionizing gives me the creeps.

  12. And if you’re having a pee – or poopcident 1) then OUT of the camp you go!


    If there be among you any man, that is not clean by reason of uncleanness that chanceth him by night, then shall he go abroad out of the camp, he shall not come within the camp:

    1) That’s actually a made-up word for when our cats miss the litter box.

    1. I hate to break it to you, but that’s not about peeing or poopcidents, but what were once delicately known as “nocturnal emissions”.

    2. Is that not about the risk of not being recognised on return & killed by being mistaken for the enemy?

    1. In case you hadn’t noticed, there are a few hundred million people who think the Bible is a divinely inspired guide to living today, not a cultural artifact of people who lived a few thousand years ago.

      We know why we have to clean up our poop, and it’s to prevent disease, not because God ordered us to.

  13. I once read that poor poop control was the major cause of death in ancient wartime. Seriously. Looks like there actually may be a good reason to scare troops into thinking god wants you to clean up after yourself.


    wikipedia: Lack of field hygiene and sanitation were major contributors to non-combat related casualty and death in pre-modern field armies, and continued to remain as serious threats to soldier health in modern warfare during the First World War, on the Eastern Front during the Second World War, in the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

    faqs.org: Poor sanitation also leads to diarrheal diseases, such as dysentery. During the Civil War, diarrheal diseases caused more deaths than battle wounds

    1. Yeah, I was just thinking of one simple example: The battle of Waterloo (1815):

      190,000 men get together to fight each other for a few days .. and not a restroom in sight!
      And precious few soldiers had ‘paddles on their weapons’!

    2. Question is: could anyone at the time make the connection between ‘poor poop control’ and people dying of infectious diseases? Or were the Isrealites just ordered to bury their poop because of the stench?

      1. Yes, it is a **website**, who’s entries just happen to be organized by date, run on WordPress, uhm, “website” software 🙂

  14. When you’re done, you could publish this as “Travels with Jerry: In Search of the Beautiful Poetry of the Bible”, or something like that.

  15. “I wonder if the Israeli army has those paddles on their guns?”

    I’m pretty sure Israel is a secular nation.

    1. That’s why they have military conscription for everyone except the really really religious folks who have better things to do, like stoning sabbath-breakers.

      Or maybe that’s actually a secular provision for mental health in the ranks.

  16. The more ancient texts I read, the more inclined I am to believe Julian Jaynes’s hypothesis (“The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind”) which could be very crudely distilled down to the assertion that until two or three thosand years ago people attributed their ideas (all their ideas) to an interior voice – a god or muse, or a devil of course. He regarded schizophrenia as a reversion or incomplete integration. Anyway – latrine digging is a good idea.

  17. When you were reading Genesis, did you notice a couple of genetically dodgy passages?

    Noah is described clearly as an albino, and yet the current population of the world fails to show an appropriate distribution of the condition.

    Jacob exposes Laban’s mating ewes to partially stripped branches to influence the colouring of the lambs (his deal with Laban was that he would receive all the particoloured lambs) and it allegedly worked. (Shylock quotes this as an example of cunning business practice in “The Merchant of Venice”.)

  18. Jerry, wait until you get to Ahab eating his own dung and drinking his own piss (actual Bible words)…

    1. “he left him not one that pisseth against a wall, neither of his kinsfolks nor of his friends” 1 Kings 16:11

      1. Piss did not have the crude connotations in the 17th C it has today, so it is hardly startling that it was used. Shakespeare wrote in the Two Gentlemen of Verona
        “he had not been there—bless the mark!—a pissing while, but all the chamber smelt him.”

  19. Other, less archaic, religions also have lavatorial fixations. For example, the adherents of the iPod sect of Appleism did recently beseech their landsharks to harass and intimidate the purveyors of the iPood, a “paddle” for performing these “functional sacrifices.”
    Joyfully, I discover that local suppliers now have these, which is slightly more encouraging than the double-the-price option of getting one from Oz, just to spite the shamens of Appleism.

  20. Telling soldiers they must carry a shovel/entrenching tool seems like pretty good advice to me. The roman legions carried them, and I believe both the U.S. army and NATO forces have them as part of their regular kit.

    I’m guessing they put it in the Torah for the same reason fundies today demand we mention ‘God’ on money, the pledge, etc. – because they think people will take an order more seriously when you say ‘God orders it’ than when you say ‘the government orders it.’

  21. Clearly, the passage is a metaphor of the utmost profundity.

    Non-theologians are so literal. 😉

  22. Well, you see, before the Fall, elimination of bodily wastes was not an issue. Just like all the carnivores were vegetarians.

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