In fleshing out minor characters in Scripture, performance artist Peterson Toscano shared an insight: “feet” in the text (and I believe he mentioned “thighs,” too) can be a euphemism for “penis” or “genitals.” So when Zepporah tosses her son’s bloody foreskin at Moses’ “feet” (note the parallel), she’s screaming, “What kind of man are you who would place us all in jeopardy!”

Much of the Hebrew Bible is likely far “earthier” than we’re likely to hear from the pulpit. How much do we lose, then, in translation? How much are fundamentalists, too, missing?



  1. We do indeed lose a lot in translation. There are puns and wordplay in Hebrew that translators don’t get, or they try to protect us. I have been told that when Elijah taunts the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18 the words we have in English don’t quite convey the contempt. Where Baal is described as “busy” in English, the Hebrew supposedly suggests Baal is unavailable because he has gone for a piss.

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