I was watching the 1966 movie "Hawaii" last night, when I came upon this dialog:
Jerusha Hale: I felt so good after my bath that I washed my skin with oil of lilac.
Abner Hale: I smell it. (Pause) Moses forbad the use of perfume.
Jerusha: Proverbs say that ointment and perfume rejoice the heart.I suppose I should provide some context for those who haven't seen the movie.
Abner: Isaiah cursed the women who used perfume and abased themselves unto hell.
Jerusha: Esther perfumed herself for a whole year.
Abner: She was under compulsion.
Jerusha: Oh, I think you just like the smell of perfume on my skin.
Abner Hale is a Calvinist minister sent to Hawaii in the 1820s to convert the pagans. On the sea voyage, Abner's wife, Jerusha, tries to seduce her husband by wearing perfume. The biblical argument ensues, and apparently Jerusha wins since a son is conceived during the voyage.
But who had the more biblically correct argument?
Here are the relevant verses.
Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart. Proverbs 27:9Abner's:
Esther was brought also unto the king's house ... Now when every maid's turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours). Esther 2:8-12
As for the perfume which thou shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves ... it shall be unto thee holy for the LORD. Exodus 30:37It's a tough one, isn't it? Two to two, with no verse clearly taking precedence. But maybe Abner and Jerusha left out some verses. If you know of any, let me know.
Because the daughters of Zion are haughty ... the LORD will discover their secret parts ... And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink. Isaiah 3:16-24
In any case, I added another contradiction to the SAB - Is it OK to use perfume?
In his comment, Daryl pointed out that Jesus had his feet washed with expensive perfume, and he didn't mind a bit. In fact, it seems like he got a kick out of it. Here's how the NIV puts it:
Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:3So that pretty well settles it. Jerusha was right. If perfume was good enough for Jesus' feet, it's good enough for anybody's anything.
I'll add John 12:3 to the contradiction. Thanks Daryl!
And teavee found the correct anti-perfume verse from Isaiah that Abner referred to in his dispute with Jerusha -- Isaiah 57:9.
And thou wentest to the king with ointment, and didst increase thy perfumes ... and didst debase thyself even unto hell.And an anti-perfume verse from Proverbs (7:17). (See vv.5-27 for the context.)
(I've also changed the contradiction name to "Is it OK to use perfume?", as teavee suggested.)
And thanks also to Nate for the references to Luke 7:37-38 and Mark 14:1-9.