We continue from K.J.Aaron's book
BAAL IN THE BATHROOM
Many centuries before Thomas Crapper invented the modem
flush toilet, the Israelites were given instructions for
disposing of human waste.
Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou
shall go forth abroad: and thou shalt have a paddle ... and
it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt
dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which
cometh from thee (Deuteronomy 23:12,13).
Bowel movements were to be made outside the camp and the
human waste covered. Though we would drink of this as a sanitary
measure, their reason was different, as the passage goes on to
FOR the ford thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to
deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee;
therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean
thing in thee, and turn away from thee (Deuteronomy 23:14).
Today we think of God as one who fills the universe, one who
loves men, one who desires to save life instead of destroying it.
But here, some feel, Yahweh is reduced to a tribal deity who
favors one tribe and helps them kill their enemies, but threatens
to turn away from them if he sees their unburied waste!
In some ancient religions, human waste was actually offered
to idols. According to rabbi Solomon Jarchi, the worshipper of
Baal presented his naked posterior before the altar, unburdened
his bowels, and made an offering of his excrement to the idol. A
Jew whose intention was to ridicule this practice, entered the
shrine of Baal, defecated and wiped himself on the idol's nose.
Unaware of his motive, certain workers at the shrine praised his
A Hebrew term Jeremiah used for Babylonian gods (Jeremiah
50:2) means "balls of excrement." Among the abominations of the
Canaanites were idols called "dungy gods" (Deuteronomy 29:17,
margin), Baal-zebul means god of dung; while Baal-zebub (2 Kings
1:2) means god of flies (Strong's Concordance, 1176). With dung
being offered to these gods, it is no wonder flies gathered! They
did not gather to honor the "god of flies," nor did any of these
gods create flies. Instead the feces became breeding places. All
of this may enter into the Mosaic regulation about the burial of
human waste. Yahweh did not require, or accept, such; he did not
even want to see it in their camp (Deuteronomy 23:12,13).
The "phylactery," a tiny leather box containing certain
passages from the law of Moses, is worn by Jewish people on the
arm or head (Deuteronomy 6:8). As their religion developed, the
Mosaic commandment about a clean camp was eventually expanded to
mean one should not wear a phylactery while having a bowel
movement. The Talmud records the story of a youth who laid aside
his phylactery near a street while he used a toilet. A harlot
picked it up and went into the school house, saying, "See what
that fellow has given me in payment" When the youth heard this,
he climbed to the roof, threw himself down, and died.
During a time of reform in Israel, "they brake down the
image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a
draught house" (2 Kings 10:26-28). The Hebrew wording means "a
sink" and is linked with the word meaning "to evacuate the
bowels" (Strong's Concordance, 4280, 2716). In other words, as
Moffatt translates it, they turned the house of Baal into a
Jesus used the word "draught" in Mark 7:18,19: "Do ye not
perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the
man, it cannot defile him; because it entereth not into his
heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught." The
word translated draught means "a place of sitting apart, i.e. "a
privy" (Strong's Concordance, 856).
According to the historian Josephus, one group of Jews, the
Essenes, were so strict in their sabbath keeping, they would not
"go to stool thereon" - they refused to have a bowel movement on
When the prophets of Baal failed to receive answers to their
prayers, Elijah mocked them: "Cry aloud: for he is a god; either
he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or
peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked" (1 Kings 18:27).
What was meant by the word "pursuing"? According to Strong
it means "a withdrawal (into a private place)" (Strong's
Concordance, 7873). The Pulpit Commentary points out that the
word is used euphemistically, meaning a withdrawal for the
purpose of relieving oneself. Rabbi Jarchi translated this
phrase: "Perhaps he is gone to a private place to unload his
belly." The Living Bible, in modem English, very correctly says:
"Perhaps he is ... out sitting on the toilet"!
The prophets of Baal had cried out to him from dawn. It was
now noon. If Baal had not heard them all this time because he was
sitting on the toilet, he was not only a god who needed a toilet,
he was also constipated!
Pretending to have a message from God, Elud approached the
king of Moab and stabbed him "into his belly ... and the dirt
came out" (Judges 3:15-22). Our translators have obviously put
"dirt" here as an euphemism. The Hebrew word pertains to the anus
(Strong's Concordance, 6574). Clarke points out that either the
contents of the bowels issued through the wound or he evacuated
in the natural way from shock.
When this happened, not realizing the king had been
assassinated, his servants wondered why he had not returned into
the main part of the house. "Surely he covereth his feet," they
concluded (Judges 3:24). The margin says: "doeth his easement";
Goodspeed translates it: "is only relieving himself'; and Lamsa:
"Perhaps he has gone to the toilet." There is no doubt that the
expression "covering the feet" is an ancient, though now
obsolete, Hebrew euphemism for relieving the bowels. We meet the
expression again when Saul went into a cave "to cover his feet"
(1 Samuel 24:3). It is rendered "to answer the call of nature"
(Berkeley), "to relieve himself" (Moffatt), "to empty his belly"
(Vulgate), etc. After this, Saul apparently took a nap. It so
happened that David and his men were hiding in this very cave.
David could have killed him, but instead only cut off a portion
of his robe.
When Saul went into the cave, did he not suspect that David
and his men might be inside? The Bible does not say, but rabbis
later invented a most curious tale: In his foreknowledge, God
knew Saul would come to this cave, so he caused a spider to weave
her web over the mouth of it. When Saul saw the web, he took for
granted that no person had lately entered the cave?
Euphemisms, such as "covering the feet," do not always
coincide with the thing they represent, but acquire their
meanings through repeated usage. In the United States, since
about 1900, the term "rest room" has been in use, even though
such is not literally a place to rest. This point was once the
basis for a segment of the "Candid Camera" television series. In
a room with numerous cots, people were resting. Outside the door
a sign said: "Rest Room." As unsuspecting people entered, an
attendant pointed them to cots that were available on which they
could rest! The humor was to be seen, of course, in the
expression on the faces of people when they discovered this was a
rest room (literally), and not a rest room with toilets!
Writing obscenities or drawings on rest room walls,
sometimes called graffiti, is not a recent phenomenon. Drawings
of the sex organs of men or women (or together in sexual union)
were believed by some ancient people to have a magical effect.
In Pompeii, graffiti were preserved almost intact when Mount
Vesuvious erupted in 79 AD. and buried the city in volcanic ash.
Giuseppe Fiorelli, who was appointed in 1864 to do excavations
there, noted that the rain of ash had often hardened so closely
around corpses, even though they had decomposed, their exact
outline was preserved. By pouring a solution of plaster into the
hollows, not only were the shapes of bodies reproduced, but even
facial expressions, the outline of clothing and sandals!
The first cast shown here belongs to a man dashed against
the floor by the fall of a roof. His fingers are clinched and
elbows drawn as if trying to lift the weight from his body. The
second cast belongs to a man ill in bed, apparently unable to
attempt an escape. Another casting shows a watchdog left chained
behind the street-door of the house of Vesonius Prinius. Another
victim of Vesuvius was the grown son of Drusilla, a famous Hebrew
beauty, who heard Paul preach years before at Caesarea (Acts
A painting preserved on a wall in Pompeii shows Priapus
weighing his enormous phallus. A collection of graffiti from
temples of Priapus, first published in the late fifteenth century
as an appendix to Virgil, describes how Priapus punished
transgressors in various indecent ways.
The accompanying illustration, carved in relief on a slab of
travertine at Pompeii, is a phallus bordered by the words: "Hic
Habitat Felicitas," ("Here dwells happiness"). Another example of
graffiti read: "I liked a girl with a proper mat, not depilated
and shorn, then you can snug in from the cold, as an overcoat
she's worn." Another: "Lovers, like bees, sip a life as sweet as
honey." Beneath this, a witty addendum simply said: "Vellem" ("If
only it were true"!).
Some were humorous: "I wonder, wall, you do not smash,
beneath the weight of all this trash." Another wisely admonished:
"Don't cast lustful glances or make eyes at other men's wives."
An example of a different type of graffiti, from a different
place and time (third century), was apparently written for the
purpose of ridicule. It is believed to be a caricature of Jesus
on the cross, but with the head of a donkey. Next to him is a
Christian with hand raised in worship. The caption reads:
"Alexamenos worships his god."
Most people are familiar with the product known as ammonia,
but may not realize that the word itself is based on the name of
the Egyptian god Ammon. Apparently the priests of Ammon produced
ammonia from nitrogenous organic matter in the fourth century
B.C.- thus the name. Ammonia, commonly used in modem cleaning
products, is also one of the ingredients of urine. Understanding
this gives a degree of credibility to an ancient and widespread
practice: using urine for washing.
According to a primitive superstition, the condition of a
person absent on a trip - whether he was well or ill, safe or in
danger - could be determined by looking at his urine in a bottle,
a custom pictured in the centuries-old drawing included here.
The parents of one of the boys in a Sunday School class
owned a liquor store. When Christmas came, the boy presented his
teacher with a gift neatly wrapped in a box. The teacher didn't
suppose it was a bottle of liquor, but had noticed a wet spot
where something had leaked out. When asked to guess what was in
the box, the teacher said: "Coke?" "No." "Seven-Up?" "No." So the
teacher wiped his finger through the wet spot and tasted it -
still unable to tell. When he gave up, the boy exclaimed: "A
The humor of this story rests heavily on the repulsion most
people experience at the very thought of tasting urine.
Nevertheless, as strange as it seems, drinking urine was a
part of ancient folk medicine. It was used as a remedy for snake
bite. A eunuch's urine was believed to promote fertility in
women. The ancient medical treatise Avicenna featured lengthy
articles on the virtues of using animal urine and waste,
including dove's dung (cf. 2 Kings 6:25).
There have been people, past and present - even a few famous
names being among them - who believed in drinking their own urine
as a tonic. Some who do this have quoted Proverbs 5:15, but
obviously out of context!
In two places (2 Kings 18:27; Isaiah 36:12), the Bible
records the words of Rabshakeh: "Hath my master sent me to thy
master and to thee to speak these words? hath he not sent me to
the men that sit upon the wall, that they may eat their own dung,
and drink their own piss with you?" Not normally used as a
preaching text, these words conveyed the idea of utmost scorn and
On one occasion, when David felt Nabal had insulted him, he
ordered his men: "Gird ye on every man his sword" and they headed
toward Nabal's ranch. But Abigail, Nabal's wife, met them and
sought to ease the tension. Notice David's rough and crude way of
speaking to her: "As the Lord God of Israel liveth, which kept me
back from hurting thee, except thou hadst hasted and come to meet
me, surely there had not been left unto Nabal by the morning
light any that pisseth against the wall" (1 Samuel 25:34).
King Jeroboam disguised his wife and sent her to the prophet
Ahijah to inquire about the condition of their child who was ill.
Though the prophet was old and blind, he discerned who she was,
told her the child would die by the time she got back home, and
voiced a divine rebuke in these words: "I will bring evil upon
the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that
pisseth against the wall ... and will take away the remnant of
the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung, till it be all
gone" ( 1 Kings 14:1-12).
When king Zimri came to power, he immediately "slew all the
house of Baasha: he left him not one that pisseth against the
wall, neither of his kinfolks, nor of his friends" (1 Kings
The word "piss" entered the English language, around the
thirteenth century, its immediate ancestor being the old French
"pissier." At the time of the King James translation, "piss" did
not have the slang meaning it has acquired today. Nevertheless,
some question why Biblical writers needed to describe the
position by which people urinated. In contrast to women who
squatted, men stood and "pissed against the wall." Most modern
translators, though not as true to the original, have simply put
"males" in these passages.
Without sewers, human waste had to be carried out of the
city, requiring, as it did for Jerusalem, a dung gate (Nehemiah
3:13). If the offscouring and refuse was not removed - it piled
higher and deeper - and was understandably abhorrent. This
explains and gives weight to the words of Jeremiah: "Thou hast
made us as the offscouring and refuse in the midst of the people"
Malachi phrased a divine rebuke to priests in these words:
"Behold, I will ... spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of
your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it"!
(Malachi 2:3). The idea here is that they would be so covered
with dung, when the man came to carry away the dung, they would
be carried off too!
Sometimes Paul was also blunt in his examples: "I have
suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that
I may win Christ" (Philippians 3:8). The Greek word he used for
dung is "skubaton," denoting refuse, that which is thrown away
from the table or excrement from the body.
Though some ancient cities, like Corinth, had crude public
toilets through which a stream of water ran, a more practical
toilet, featuring a water closet, was invented in the sixteenth
century by Sir John Harington. Perhaps this is why, today, a
toilet is sometimes called a "john." Interestingly, at the time
of Sir John, in slang, toilets were called "jacks." Using this
term as a pun, The Metamorphosis of Ajax, a book published in
London in 1596, included the accompanying drawing of Harington's
newly invented toilet. A holy man while sitting on the toilet is
tempted by a devil - typical of sixteenth century drawings. To
show that this toilet featured water, the artist included fish
swimming in the water tank!
But the invention of the valve-and-siphon arrangement which
modem flush toilet possible is attributed to Thomas Crapper.
An article in the Los Angeles Times (November 28, 1978) says:
Because of a prudish distaste for vulgar humor people have
not spoken out about a man I admire, the late Thomas
Crapper, inventor of the modem flush toilet more than 100
years ago.... Crapper's shop in King's Road, Chelsea, was
bombed in the war (World War I] and obliterated by postwar
development .... Because his own name became the popular
name (in America) for the machine he had invented, people
forgot Crapper the man and assumed that the name had some
According to the article, the word "crapper" was introduced
into American slang by soldiers who brought the word home in
1918. Reference is made to the book "Flashed with Pride: The
Story of Thomas Crapper." But is the whole story a hoax? Not
according to the Dictionary of Mis-Information - written to
expose hoaxes and clarify misconceptions - which argues that
Thomas Crapper (1837-1910) was indeed the inventor of the modern
"Famous First Facts" says the first toilet paper was made in
1857. Prior to this, back over the centuries, various things were
used for the purpose the paper now serves. Medieval European
cities had public privies which provided a communal stick. If
such a stick is that which is called an "abominable branch"
(Isaiah 14:19) and people put it to their noses in heathen
worship (Ezekiel 8:17), we can see how gross this worship really
According to Ezekiel, God told him to illustrate his message
by eating bread "baked with dung that cometh out of a man, in
their sight" (Ezekiel 4:12). When he complained that he had only
eaten kosher food, "then he said unto me, Lo, I have given thee
cow's dung for man's dung, and thou shalt prepare thy bread
therewith" (verse 15).
Some, commentators say this means he baked cakes using the
dung for fuel, not as an ingredient. They mention how Arabs, in
areas where wood is scarce, use dried dung for this purpose.
American pioneers used buffalo chips for fuel. But there are
others who argue that Ezekiel actually kneaded dung with the
dough! If the dung was only a fuel source - which was a fairly
common practice - how would this make "defiled bread" as the text
requires? It may be Ezekiel actually ate bread made with cow dung
to illustrate his message - and this he did daily for over a
Isaiah, another big name among Biblical prophets, described
the deplorable conditions of his time in these words: "The priest
and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are
swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong
drink ... for all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so
that there is no place clean" (Is" 28:7,8). The word "filthiness"
in this text means "excrement" (Strong's Concordance, 6675), What
wording is here! Vomit! Excrement! Imagine coming to a table to
eat a meal, but the food is second handrecycled through the
bowels or thrown up as vomit! This is very strong wording.
Similar wording was used by Jeremiah who likened the country
of Moab to a drunken man who would "wallow in his vomit"
(Jeremiah 48:26,27). The picture here is greatly intensified -
not just because the man vomits - but because he wallows in it!
Various other nations would drink from the cup of divine wrath
"and be drunken, and spew, and fall" (Jeremiah 25:27). Habakkuk
spoke of "shameful spewing" (Habakkuk 2:16). Zophar said those
who swallow riches "shall vomit them up again" (Job 20:15), and
Moses spoke of the land vomiting out its inhabitants because of
sin (Leviticus 18:25).
In the New Testament, Peter preached that backsliders were
like a dog that returns to its vomit. (2 Peter 2:22). To the
lukewarm church, Jesus said: "I will spew [vomit] thee out of my
mouth"! (Revelation 3:16)--the text for a classic John R. Rice
sermon: "Church Members Who Make Christ Sick!"
To be continued with "Rape, Mutilation, and Perversion"
Entered on this Website June 2007