Any That Pisseth Against The Wall

I imagine I may be offending some sensibilities with this one, but hey, just quoting the Bible.

In six verses of the Old Testament the KJV includes the phrase any “that pisseth against the wall.” This is an anti-euphemism for “men.”

I remember seeing this is a kid. Hilarious.

Also confusing.

But mostly hilarious.

Now, you may just think the translators of the KJV were just creepy old men getting a little graphic.

However, for all those who bash on the KJV because their new pet translation is “more literal,” the KJV accurately translates the Hebrew. That’s what God breathed there.

Deal with it.

The ever so literal New American Standard even puts a footnote that “pisses against the wall” is the literal translation.

This raises the issue of profanity. Profanity is from the word “profane,” which merely means, “Common.”

Profanity is mostly just a bunch of rich, educated snobs mocking common people, so they label the common man’s language as “profanity.”

Profanity shifts as society shifts. “Piss” is not a word I want my kids going around saying. At the same time, I do want them reading their Bibles. Do I censor God’s Word? The ESV, NASV and NIV all censor God here.

“Piss” was a fine word for Hebrew-speaking folk to say, and it was fine for the KJV day, not so much today.

In fact, the NIV has a problem with all the uses of the word “man” in the Bible! Now translating “he who pisses against the wall” as “men” is profane in some minds!

Ah yes. Bottom line is this: we should be sensitive to the cultural notion of profanity. But also lighten up knowing that this idea shifts over time. Let your speech be always with grace.

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2 thoughts on “Any That Pisseth Against The Wall”

  1. The Hebrew is earthy, from what I understand. Moab was like a swimmer swimming in manure, idols are like dung, soldiers lie in fields like dung, we are unclean like menstrual rags. The KJV translators got delicate in Leviticus describing feminine problems (end of a chapter).

    Gotta love people who think that Biblical people never talkwd in earthy ways.

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