medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
On Fri, 21 Feb 2003, Cameron Kippen wrote:
> Date: Fri, 21 Feb 2003 15:21:38 +0800
> From: Cameron Kippen <[log in to unmask]>
> Reply-To: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
> <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: [M-R] The meaning of feet
> medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
> My name is Cameron Kippen and I am a podologist (study of the foot in health
> and disease) and shoe historian. A colleague has asked me to verify
> something they were told but have found no evidence to support. To ancient
> Judaic people, "foot" or "feet" were a euphemism for penis. In Ruth 3:1-9
> Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek
> rest for thee, that it may be well with thee? And now is not Boaz of our
> kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night
> in the threshingfloor. Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy
> raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself
> known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking. And it
> shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall
> lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he
> will tell thee what thou shalt do.
> And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do. And she went
> down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade
> her. And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to
> lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered
> his feet, and laid her down.
> And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned
> himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet. And he said, Who art thou?
> And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over
> thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.
> According to my colleague the story doesn't make a lot of sense as it reads.
> But would if
> "feet" were a euphemism for penis.
> Can anyone shed more light on this
> Much appreciated
I am just a lay person, with an interest in history, but, to me, from
the above text, "feet" means just the appendages at the bottom of the
legs; and "uncover his feet" means, to me, removing the coverings from
his feet; eg, taking off his sandals, or, in mediaeval (?) and Victorian
England (and other similar countries), taking off his boots, etc.
I cannot see the references to Christ washing people's feet, as
referring to anything other than that; washing people's feet, as a
gesture of humility.
To validate or refute the allusion to genitalia, I suggest that the
approriate thing to do, would be to find a Talmudic (?) scholar, and
seek advice. I am not sure whether that is the appropriate term, but,
from memory, there were scholars who interpreted the ancient holy books
of Judaism (the Talmud, the Zohar, the Qabbalah, etc), to apply the
In Perth (the city where curtin uni lives), there are synagogues, and it
should be easy enough, to contact one, to find a person regarded as
sufficiently authoritative, to comment on your proposition. Also, UWA
has a department of classical studies, and, Murdoch Uni (and possibly
other local universities) teach theology, including comparative
theology, so there should be resources in Perth, from whence to find
I may be completely wrong in all of this (I did say that I am only a lay
person), but, the above is my understanding.
"So once you do know what the question actually is,
you'll know what the answer means."
- Deep Thought,
Chapter 28 of
"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
A Trilogy In Four Parts",
written by Douglas Adams,
published by Pan Books, 1992
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