Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Tamar's scarf in the news

A Turkish court acquited an archeologist who wrote that Islamic-style headscarves date back to what harlots -- she specifically wrote priestess harlots -- wore.

From the AP article:
A court Wednesday acquitted a 92-year-old retired archaeologist who was put on trial for writing in a book that Islamic-style head scarves date back more than 5,000 years - several millennia before the birth of Islam - and were worn by priestesses who initiated young men into sex.

Muazzez Ilmiye Cig, an expert on the ancient Sumerian civilization of Mesopotamia, which arose around the third millennium B.C., was the latest person to go on trial in Turkey for expressing opinions, despite intense European Union pressure on the country to expand freedom of expression.

They would have presumably put Moshe Rabbenu on trial. From parshat Vayeshev, in Bereishit 38:14:
יד וַתָּסַר בִּגְדֵי אַלְמְנוּתָהּ מֵעָלֶיהָ, וַתְּכַס בַּצָּעִיף וַתִּתְעַלָּף, וַתֵּשֶׁב בְּפֶתַח עֵינַיִם, אֲשֶׁר עַל-דֶּרֶךְ תִּמְנָתָה: כִּי רָאֲתָה, כִּי-גָדַל שֵׁלָה, וְהִוא, לֹא-נִתְּנָה לוֹ לְאִשָּׁה. 14 And she put off from her the garments of her widowhood, and covered herself with her veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in the entrance of Enaim, which is by the way to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she was not given unto him to wife.
טו וַיִּרְאֶהָ יְהוּדָה, וַיַּחְשְׁבֶהָ לְזוֹנָה: כִּי כִסְּתָה, פָּנֶיהָ. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought her to be a harlot; for she had covered her face.
and a bit later in the same perek:

יט וַתָּקָם וַתֵּלֶךְ, וַתָּסַר צְעִיפָהּ מֵעָלֶיהָ; וַתִּלְבַּשׁ, בִּגְדֵי אַלְמְנוּתָהּ. 19 And she arose, and went away, and put off her veil from her, and put on the garments of her widowhood.

though a midrash (famous, cited by Rashi) reinterprets pasuk 15 and explains she covered her face while in Yehuda's house -- כִּי כִסְּתָה, פָּנֶיהָ. How that works out with the various pesukim, I'm not going to get into here.

As an aside, I thought I saw somewhere that nowadays they actually have reversed from that initial position, and nowadays do not claim that temple priestesses (heirodules) had intercourse with worshippers as part of the service.

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