Him that pisseth against the wall...

(Tim: w/thanks to Stephen) This one's a howler. You'll want to watch it. My response?

On the one hand: Chapter and verse numbers aren't original to the text of Scripture so they're not inspired by God. It's purely accidental that Genesis 5:5 records the death of Adam. And I imagine every sister, wife, and mother would like to make a rule that men have to sit down when the facilities are shared. Who can blame them? I mean, be honest guys; how good's your aim?

But on the other hand: He's exactly right about the King James getting this one right and all the other translations getting it wrong...

Look at the NASB (the version I use), RSV, ESV, NIV, NLT, TNIV, or NIVI and every one of them mistranslates the original Hebrew construction using "every male," "all your sons," or "every last male." Is that what the inspired Hebrew says?

No. Here's the entry for this Hebrew construction from William Rosenau's Hebraisms in the Authorized Version of the Bible.

Similarly, Isaiah 30:22 is cleaned up by the NASB, RSV, and ESV, while the gender-neutered non-Bibles get this one right. It should be "menstruating woman" or "menstrual cloth," either of which are considerably more descriptive than the ESV's "unclean things."

Honestly, the more I see such things, the more I wish Bible translators would stop trying to clean up the work of the Holy Spirit. I mean, how difficult is it, really, to figure out who's being killed when they're referred to as "any that pisseth against the wall?"

Unless, of course, you live in Germany.


An even better example of translation in the KJV, and one which the liberals might actually appreciate, is from James ch 2:3.

The modern versions read something like, "you show special attention to the man in the fine clothes".

The KJV reads, "ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing".

On my last trip to England I visited Hampton Court Palace where I learned something fascinating - I think it was Cromwell who got tired of that particular phenomenon so he had red crosses on a white border painted around the bottoms of the walls.

No Christian knight would dare. . .


When I visited Amsterdam the men pissethed everywhere. So, I suggest we all just steer clear of Europe in general. Can I get an amen?!

When Mary Lee and I were first married, our pastor had formerly served an international church in Kuwait. Explaining why she hadn't liked living in Kuwait so much, our pastor's wife told us it wasn't uncommon for Kuwaiti men to take a leak on the tires of their parked car even if she was sitting in the passenger's seat waiting for her husband. They'd simply look at her and finish their business.

Europe and Kuwait, I'd say.

I wonder if there isn't an interesting anthropological essay waiting to be written, elucidating all the hows, wheres, whens, whys, and before whoms it has or does take place.

I recall a scene in the first of the Aubrey/Maturn novels, a dinner party attended by several Admirals, Captains and their wives. Between courses, the senior Admiral is telling a story to the folks around the table. Without ceasing his monologue, O'Brian describes him rising from his seat, walking to a sideboy on one wall of the room, opening a cabinet door and withdrawing a small chamberpot. Turning his back to the dinner guests (I guess he was modest, no?), he looses his fly and lets fly into the pot, while he continues through his tale. As he secures his fly, he winds down his story and completes it as he returns to his chair.

If anyone ever writes a commentary on the Aubrey/Maturin novels, I expect him to tie this scene to some actual dinner party, or to someone's account of one.

On the matter of Hebraisms that go untranslated, I was introduced to one by Bruce Waltke during a seminary survey of the major prophets. He pointed out that Ezekiel almost exclusively uses the plural noun gellulim to refer to idols. The noun arises from GLL, usually rendered as "to roll." From this root come a variety of nouns including the term found so often in Ezekiel. Waltke insisted (and BDB makes the same point) that the term means "turds" or possibly "dung balls" if it has in mind what dung beetles are always rolling around on the ground.

I've never seen a translation that illuminates this. Pity.

Father Bill,

Glad to read about another fan of O'Brian's books!

I also recall the scene you describe. As I remember it (having read that particular section recently), the women had actually withdrawn into another room, and the men were sitting at the table still drinking their port wine. So it wasn't quite as odd a situation as it might seem. It would take quite a bit of wine to make me consider taking out the chamber pot among friends, though!

I stand corrected, Shane. It's been a couple of years since I've read it. I have now read about 15 or 16 of them out loud to my wife. This scene was one of the few that prompted a flabbergasted "WHAT???" out of her, propmpting me to go back to the beginning of that paragraph to ensure I hadn't skipped a few lines. I guess I'm confounding her reaction with what I supposed should have been others' reactions within the scene.

Now, I'll have to go dig it up and see if the Admiral was as modest as I had recalled. I guess it was truly a different age that had hand-held chamber pots tucked away in the cabinets of the dining room!

The HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Version, 2003) has a note at 1 Sam. 25:22, "Lit. "of those of his who are urinating against the wall." Because this is an idiom for "men," I like that the HCSB chose that word as the text's translation. And yes, "men" may well be a better translation than "males."

I'm going to visit my fiance in Germany in 9 days. I'll let you know if there's anything about not being aloud to pee standing up. That's crazy to me. Just to be a rebel, I might stand up whenever I go to the bathroom in any way.

Now we know what the problem is with America. Too many sitters. Sounds like a new political platform ought to be established, not to mention a new denomination.

Fr. Bill,

You "stand" corrected, do you?

The full text is no longer online, but Leithart had a piece on the term used in the Nabal story.


Just musing over the whole standing vs squatting and it occured to me the immense usefulness of a man's ability to stand and piss - to be able to keep vigil while doing the necessary thing during a battle. Not that this is a definitive argument against women in the military, but you can see the great wisdom of God in giving MEN this ability. It makes me much more certain of two things - it really is MY duty to protect those under my care (I am even more equipped for the job than I thought) and can a Germany full of squatters really ever pose a big threat (what if this was the policy during WWII - the Allies would have literally caught them with their pants down!)

Grüße aus dem Vaterland. Thanks for the KJVO take on the German Sitzpinkler. Yes, it is a genuine phenomenon. Just google the word. Many Germans encourage men to be Sitzpinklers, though it's hardly THE LAW, and there are certainly aspects of the culture that discourage manliness. Bis bald.

Speaking of disgusting infrastructure, I'm also told that the gutters around Japanese bars can be a sight (and I presume smell) to behold.

A dear friend of mine who's a seminary grad and now files tax forms and cleans the toilets of a Willow Creek wannabe church for a living has this to say:

"When I clean the turlots, I leave the ladies' seats down and the men's up; after all, little boys wait until the last minute and, if the urinals are in use, they race into the stalls with pants down to the ankles ready to aim and fire.

"Hopefully, we won't have some geezer sitting on the stool with the stall door unlocked when that happens!

"The next time I build a house there will be a urinal in every bathroom!"

I guess I was on the right track when I wanted to install a stand up urinal on the wall (next to the piano) in my pub. It got vetoed in the later stages of construction...something about stinking.


Isaiah 3:22 should be Isaiah 30:22.

Thanks for the post. While it's humorous in a way, I learned some things.


As someone who likes to champion men dressing like men and women like women, I can't resist pointing out that this distinction [squatting versus standing] is one of several reasons for difference in dress. It is a little awkward to normally bring this up, but since the subject is already out in the open, I'll proceed...

A big difference between a woman in pants and a man in pants is that the woman has to get undressed to "go." Not very convenient. This is (besides general modesty) one of the reasons women have been wearing skirts for eons. They don't have to expose themselves.

I've actually noticed this on a bus trip way up in the Andes mountains of Peru. Some women were seen going out alongside the road while the bus was driving by. There was nothing immodest about it and wasn't even noticeable what they were doing except for a tell-tale rivulet in the dirt.

If they had been the sort who wished to mimic American fashion, they'd have to have wiggled out of their tight jeans and mooned the bus to accomplish the same thing.


A woman in pants make about as much practical sense as a man wearing his backwards. --MMc

> Many Germans encourage men to be Sitzpinklers

This goes against the normal trend, that of women wanting to mimic men, thinking doing so makes them more equal. It is a bit disappointing that the German women are trying to re-train the men, instead of choosing to be more manly themselves.

Sitting on a public toilet seat when it isn't necessary doesn't sound too smart in this germ-conscious age.

I have been to restrooms in Asia where there was no place to sit, not even a fixture. An elongated hole was built into the tile floor. If I am not mistaken, this was also my wife's experience in the Ladies' Room.


Late, I will stand up in defense of the land that birthed the recovery of Sola Fide out of a toilet in a Wittenberg tower ("kloke", the word used by Luther in the original, has a disputed meaning, although I have very few doubts about it):

First, Germans do have a fond, almost romantic relationship to the "quiet room", as the bathroom is called there - That same room can be called "toilet" in Germany without it being considered offensive, whereas I have been told to better not use the word in polite company down here in Florida.

Second: it is NOT the inspired truth that all men in Germany are being encouraged to take a seat, everywhere. This is true mostly for places where there are no urinals (which's productions Germans have truly mastered), such as private homes and "klokes" in trains and some restaurants. And for the sake of Protestant cleanliness and servant leadership in the home, the practiceof taking a seat in such places is to be commended and passed on to our sons.

Thirdly, to prove above assertion: when, some 2 years ago, I travelled to a smaller Bavarian town to support my local soccer team play the team of that town, I was told by the indigenous people there that there is one main reason for why there are hardly any trees growing anymore in the soil behind the stand where the hardcore supporters of the guest teams have their place... and having joined these supporters in taking their stand, the thesis seems plausible to me.

Fourthly, the encouragment to take a seat in certain cases is not limited to Germany, but extends to most Northern and Western European countries I have been to. Ultimately, I trace it back to the Protestant elevation of the home and marriage, and as a proof that Max Weber's thesis of Lutheran Germany being sociologically "behind" other Protestant countries was profoundly misguided.

And finally, Luther reports his theological breakthrough explicitely while "SITTING" in the "kloke". And while there are good reasons for not being Lutheran, this ought to be seen as a prophetic paradigm and emulated with pride. Maybe, here we have a reason why the "fresh voices" in theology these days often come from women....

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