28 February 2015

Possibly Gay Bible Stories #5: Elisha and the dead boy

From Chapter 4 of Strange Flesh: The Bible and Homosexuality
I believe that it is fun to play with the Scriptures to see what they might hold for us if we are willing to use our imagination. -Thomas Bohache1
The Bible is a big book that is filled with stories. So it’s not surprising that some of them involve, or appear to involve, homosexuality in one way or another. In most cases, though, it’s a matter of interpretation (and imagination). So let your imagination run wild as you read these stories. Imagination is often the key to a gay interpretation.

5. Elisha and the dead boy

Elisha2 was Elijah’s disciple, and when it came to raising little boys from the dead, his master must have taught him well.3

The story begins when a woman from Shunem befriends Elisha. She immediately recognized him as a man of God, so she fed him and asked her husband to give him a place to stay.

Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually. Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither. 2 Kings 4:8-10
So Elisha stayed in the room they made for him.
And... he came thither, and he turned into the chamber, and lay there. 2 Kings 4:11
Elisha wanted to repay the woman and her husband. So he asked his servant, Gehazi, to look into it. Gehazi said, “Well, she has no children and her husband is old.”
He said to Gehazi his servant … What then is to be done for her? And Gehazi answered, Verily she hath no child, and her husband is old. 4:12-14
Which gave Elisha an idea. He’d make the old woman pregnant!
He said, Call her. And when he had called her, she stood in the door. And he said, About this season, according to the time of life, thou shalt embrace a son. 4:15
The woman thought that was a crazy idea. She and her husband were too old to have kids.
And she said, Nay, my lord, thou man of God, do not lie unto thine handmaid. 4:16
But Elisha made her pregnant anyway. And she had a baby boy. (In the Bible boys always result from miracle pregnancies.)4
And the woman conceived, and bare a son at that season that Elisha had said unto her, according to the time of life. 4:17
Years later, the boy was out helping his dad when he grabbed his head and cried out, “My head, My head.”
When the child was grown, it fell on a day, that he went out to his father to the reapers. And he said unto his father, My head, my head. 4:18-19
By the time they got back to the house, the boy was dead.
And when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died. 4:20
The woman put her dead son on Elisha’s bed and went to find Elisha on Mount Carmel.
And she went up, and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door upon him, and went out. So she went and came unto the man of God to mount Carmel. 4:21-25
When she found him, she said, “Why did you give me a son? I didn’t ask for one!”
Then she said, Did I desire a son of my lord? did I not say, Do not deceive me? 4:28
Elisha responded by telling his servant Gehazi to gird his loins, go back to Shunem, and lay Elisha’s staff on the face of the child.
He said to Gehazi, Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way … and lay my staff upon the face of the child. 4:29
So Gehazi traveled to Shunem and laid Elisha’s staff on the dead boy’s face. (The body must have been a bit stinky by now since Shunem is about 20 miles from Mount Carmel.)5
And Gehazi ... laid the staff upon the face of the child. 4:31a

But shucks! The magic trick didn’t work.

But there was neither voice, nor hearing. 4:31b
Gehazi went back to Mount Carmel to tell Elisha the bad news.
Wherefore he went again to meet him, and told him, saying, The child is not awaked. 4:31b
So Elisha returned to Shunem to take care of things himself. When he arrived, he went into the room, closed the door, and prayed to God.
And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD. 4:32-33
Then he lay down on top of the dead boy’s body, put his mouth on the boy’s mouth, his eyes on the boy’s eyes, and his hands on the boy’s hands.
And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands. 4:34a
While still in this position, he stretched himself upon the dead boy’s body until the flesh began to warm.
And [he] stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. 4:34b

But Elisha still wasn’t through. He got off of the boy and walked around a bit.

Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro. 4:35a
Then he lay down on top of the warming body until the boy sneezed seven times.
And [he] went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times. 4:35b
And with that, the boy opened his eyes.
And the child opened his eyes. 4:35c
Now that was a strange story, wasn’t it? But it might be even stranger. Here’s how Keith Sharpe explains it in The Gay Gospels,
Obviously the staff ... is a symbol for Elisha's penis. However ... without the rest of his body being there to call down the full force of Yahweh's energy the penis substitute is impotent."6
The miracle required the real thing. When Elisha supplied that, the boy's dead body became warm. And when the boy came to life for real, he sneezed seven times.

Jennings, as usual, goes a bit further suggesting that there was more to this sneezing thing than meets the eye.

Sneezing… is like another act -- the act of ejaculation. Ejactulating seven times is a sign of rather extraordinary vitality. … Elisha’s act of getting upon the boy … is an act of sexual arousal, whose success is represented not only by erection … but also by multiple ejaculation.7
Anyway, the story shows how much God loves homosexuality. But then I guess that's kind of obvious, what with Leviticus 20:13 and all.
    1. Thomas Bohache, “To Cut or Not to Cut” in Take Back the Word: A Queer Reading of the Bible, p.228.

    2. Elisha is perhaps best known for sending two bears to kill 42 boys for making fun of his bald head.

    As he [Elisha] was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. 2 Kings 2:23-24

    3. See Possibly Gay Bible Stories: 4. Elijah stretched himself on the child three times

    4. Here is a list of the Bible’s miracle births. All resulted in baby boys.

    Isaac, Genesis 18:10-15, 21:1-2
    Jacob and Esau, Genesis 25:21-26
    Joseph, Genesis 30:22-24
    Samson, Judges 13:2-24
    Samuel, 1 Samuel 1:5-20
    The Shunammite woman’s son, 2 Kings 4:14-17
    John the Baptist, Luke 1:5-13
    Jesus, Luke 1:27-38

    5. Easton’s Bible Dictionary: Shunem

    6. Keith Sharpe, The Gay Gospels: Good News for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered People, p.133.

    7. Theoldore W. Jennings, Jacob's Wound: Homoerotic Narrative in the Literature of Ancient Israel, p.104.


Ray said...

Just 2 questions:
If the "staff" is a penis, why would a prophet allow his servant to remove it and take it 20 miles away? And how?
Why does the book's author believe that sexual molestation of a dead child(necropedophilia?) equate to homosexuality.

I think that in a bid to prove themselves correct, the author(s) of books like these have to contort their brains around some very odd ideas.

Maybe the Bible is full of homosexual acts, but I have never had any of these types of writers say anything to persuade me.

Stephen said...

Well, obviously the prophet's penis couldn't be 20 miles long... only god is that well endowed. The staff is a *symbol* (or surrogate) for the penis... sort of like a dildo. Notice the boy didn't "sneeze" until the real McCoy got there.

It is true that the authors of these (more recent) books have to use a little imagination ("contort their brains") to develop some of these scenarios. However, it's no more brain contorting than is required to accept most of the bible as anything but tall tales.
Steve Weeks

Steve Wells said...

I agree with you, Ray. I'm not sure what the author (God?) was suggesting in this strange story. That's why I call it a "possibly gay Bible story."

What do you think was going on with the staff? Was it just a failed magic trick?

And why did Elisha lie down on the dead boy, putting his mouth, hands, and eyes on the dead boy's corresponding body parts until the flesh warmed?

And what's with the sneezing seven times?

What do you think God was trying to tell us in this story?