1 Samuel 25:22, Please don’t pee on my wall!

So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.

//What on earth is this all about? David appears to be miffed at people peeing on the wall, and promises to go after them, leaving none of them alive by morning. Is it really that serious a crime?

While this verse may be interpreted in today’s vernacular as a warning about posting pissy sayings on one’s facebook wall, in Bible days it was a common euphemism. One who “pisseth against the wall” is merely anyone who pees standing up. That is, a male. The phrase actually occurs six times in the King James version, though its bawdiness is covered up in more delicate translations.

So why resort to graphic language? Why not just say “male”?

It’s poetry, guys, which would probably be appreciated if we hadn’t become so Victorian! The Jewish Talmud quotes Rabbi Johanan sharply criticizing “anyone who reads the scripture without tunefulness.” The Hebrew Bible is a literary achievement, meant to be read in a rhythmic, melodic chant. “Wall,” or beqir, sounds very much like “morning,” or boqer. Read the verse aloud in your best Hebrew to hear the alliteration: ad ha-boqer mashtin beqir.

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