Kosher Queers

55 — Chayei Sarah: The Prophet-Wife Tag Team

November 12, 2020
Kosher Queers
55 — Chayei Sarah: The Prophet-Wife Tag Team
Kosher Queers
55 — Chayei Sarah: The Prophet-Wife Tag Team
Nov 12, 2020

This week, we have an unfortunately timed conversation and totally coincidental conversation about the feasibility of coups. Plus, Lulav introduces us to Bigger Batsheva, we scoff at (and also honor) the idea of personal continuity, and encounter David being an extraordinarily messy bisexual.

Transcript available here.

This week's reading is Kings I 1:1-1:31. Next week's reading is Malachi 1:1–2:7.

Go listen to Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. Also, a note: depending on how you define 'resigned' and 'pope' and 'history', Benedict XVI was the most recent in a tradition of six to eleven Catholic popes who voluntarily renounced their title. He is, as far as we can tell with a cursory Wikipedia search, the only one to have then taken the title of 'Supreme Pontiff Emeritus.'

Content note: rape mention around 25:22 and end of that relevant segment at 25:55.

Support us on Patreon or Ko-fi! Our new website, still a little bit under construction, is at Send us questions or comments at [email protected], follow us on Twitter @kosherqueers, and like us on Facebook at Kosher Queers. Our music is by the band Brivele. This week, our audio was edited by Lulav Arnow, and our transcript was written by Reuben Shachar Rose and Jaz Twersky. Our logo is by Lior Gross, and we are not endorsed by or affiliated with the Orthodox Union.

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Show Notes Transcript

This week, we have an unfortunately timed conversation and totally coincidental conversation about the feasibility of coups. Plus, Lulav introduces us to Bigger Batsheva, we scoff at (and also honor) the idea of personal continuity, and encounter David being an extraordinarily messy bisexual.

Transcript available here.

This week's reading is Kings I 1:1-1:31. Next week's reading is Malachi 1:1–2:7.

Go listen to Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. Also, a note: depending on how you define 'resigned' and 'pope' and 'history', Benedict XVI was the most recent in a tradition of six to eleven Catholic popes who voluntarily renounced their title. He is, as far as we can tell with a cursory Wikipedia search, the only one to have then taken the title of 'Supreme Pontiff Emeritus.'

Content note: rape mention around 25:22 and end of that relevant segment at 25:55.

Support us on Patreon or Ko-fi! Our new website, still a little bit under construction, is at Send us questions or comments at [email protected], follow us on Twitter @kosherqueers, and like us on Facebook at Kosher Queers. Our music is by the band Brivele. This week, our audio was edited by Lulav Arnow, and our transcript was written by Reuben Shachar Rose and Jaz Twersky. Our logo is by Lior Gross, and we are not endorsed by or affiliated with the Orthodox Union.

Support the show (

Jaz: Hi Lulav. 

Lulav: Hey Jaz, why are you tired today?

Jaz: I'm tired today because a friend called me urgently at 1 in the morning. He's okay now though. 

Lulav: Cool. 

Jaz: Why are you tired today?

Lulav: I made bad life decisions related to video games. 

Jaz: Well. 

Lulav: (laughs) So, yeah, that's the energy we're starting off with but hopefully not actually the energy we're starting off with. (Jaz laughs) Um, Jaz has anything cool and queer or Jewish happened to you lately?

Jaz: Well, not Jewish but there's a friend of mine who I usually hang out with like once a week and have ever since we've become friends, and while they were moving and getting settled into their new place, we weren't hanging out for a few weeks. 

Lulav: Mmm. 

Jaz: And the other day, we finally like, had a call and got to hang out for a while again and that was really really super nice. 

Lulav: Yay. 

Jaz: And this friend is like, of a sort of similar identity and at a similar place around issues and questions that we're figuring out about gender and sexuality. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: In terms of our process and how long we've been thinking about different things and so it was really nice to have like, another person who I could bounce ideas and thoughts and concerns off of in a way that I haven't really been able to for a while. 

Lulav: That’s super cool. 

Jaz: Yeah. It was really nice. 

Lulav: So, is this the friend who you met on Tinder but ended up not dating and instead just being weekly friends?

Jaz: Yes. 

Lulav: That's really cool. (chuckles)

Jaz: Um, weekly friends is a really weird way to put it, but yes we are friends. 

Lulav: Uh (sighs) like, there are very few people who I talk to on a weekly basis, I think there are like three of them, so. 

Jaz: Wh-

Lulav: I guess, okay, I hang out with —

Jaz: That's not true. 

Lulav: — the Rainbow Rumpus people and — 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: — like, the Blades teens but. 

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: (sighs) I don't know. Yeah. 

Jaz: There's like maybe 10 of us. 

Lulav: Okay, but you and this friend actively schedule the times that you hang out, right?

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: Rather than having like, a default time?

Jaz: Yeah. 

Lulav: So that's what I was talking about, where it's like, you, Tova, and Mercury are like the three people who I will talk to in any given week even if I wasn't planning to. 

Jaz: (chuckles) Okay. Even though, as per we're recording, we are often scheduled to. 

Lulav: Okay that’s — (Jaz laughs) but I also talk to you more than that so, whatever. 

Jaz: Yes, that's true. (Lulav laughs) Uh — 

Lulav: I talk to you a lot. 

Jaz: Yes. 

Lulav: It's nice having you in my life. 

Jaz: (laughs) We talk most days. Anyway, what’s something cool and queer and Jewish you did recently?

Lulav: So, we are in a changing of the seasons, which is to say we're a little bit after the autumnal equinox, I think

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: By like a month, and so because we live in the frozen north, Bshir Tikva group text was blowing up about like, oh hey we have snow this morning!

Jaz: Awe!

Lulav: So, baruch atah Adonai, eloheinu melech haolam, shechehiyanu vekimanu vehigiyanu lazman hazeh. 

Jaz: Amen. 

Lulav: It's nice to have snow again. 

Jaz: That's so nice. 

Lulav: It did not stick around, like, the lawn here is still very green, but I did get to see some pictures from St. Paul-ish. 

Jaz: That's so nice. It's raining here. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: And it's cloudy and overcast and a little bit chilly so it's perfect weather to be inside and cozy and hanging out with a book and I'm gonna see if Emily will make a thing that she promised us she'll try and make, which I think is like, hot chocolate and wine. 

Lulav: Oh! Okay. 

Jaz: And you know that I don't usually drink at all, but it's shabbat when I will usually have like, a little bit —

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: — and this sounds like it's a drink that's like, mostly chocolate, so. 

Lulav: This sounds like gastric hell but I also am not sure what your exact proclivities are in that department, so. 

Jaz: I'll risk it for chocolate. 

Lulav: Okay. 

Jaz: But — 

Lulav: I just know that I get wine coughs when I drink red wine. 

Jaz: Oh, okay. 

Lulav: It sounds delicious though. 

Jaz: Yes. Also my housemate Emily makes very delicious sweets in general, and they're often perfectly fine for me to eat because she's vegan so they don't have dairy which is what really — 

Lulav: Nice. 

Jaz: — generally is the thing that's bothering me. Anyway —

Lulav: Keep up your reputation as a milk-unfed beauty. 

Jaz: (laughs) Anyway, Lulav are you ready to start the episode?

Lulav: I sure am. 

[Brivele intro music]

Lulav: Welcome to Kosher Queers, a show with at least two Jews and generally more than three opinions. Each week we bring you queer takes on Torah. They're Jaz — 

Jaz: And she's Lulav — 

Lulav: And we're here to joke about Judaism and talk Tanakh together. Today our chevruta is learning the haftarah of Chayei Sara, which is First Kings, 1:1 — 1:31. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: So like, the very beginning of Kings I.  

Jaz: Yeah. It's right exactly at the beginning. 

Lulav: So Jaz, last week you said that Kings II was Melachim. 

Jaz: Mm hmm. 

Lulav: What is Kings I? 

Jaz: I think it's also Melachim. 

Lulav: How are they differentiated if they are differentiated?

Jaz: My understanding is that they were not differentiated originally—

Lulav: Oh. 

Jaz: — in the Hebrew. (Lulav laughs) They were differentiated when they got translated. 

Lulav: How dare. Do you think that's a Septuagint thing or a Christian thing?

Jaz: Not sure. This actually, this thing that I'm looking at that we talked about last time that's from the British and Foreign Bible Society— 

Lulav: Mm. Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — renders it as “Melachim alef” — 

Lulav: Oh! 

Jaz: — which is still Kings, so. 

Lulav: And Melachim bet?

Jaz: Yes. 

Lulav: Nice. So, first we have a summary of last year's parsha, which I have the great honor of delivering to you, the like, kid of mitzvot. 

Jaz: What?

Lulav: The kid mitzvah. 

Jaz: What?

Lulav: This is your b’nei mitzvah portion, right?

Jaz: Yes. 

Lulav: So I get to tell you about your b’nei mitzvah portion. 

Jaz: Excellent. Beautiful. (Lulav chuckles) I don't remember if we talked about this last year, have we talked about the different ways that I sometimes refer to it?

Lulav: Oh, do tell. 

Jaz: Well, because when I originally had this particular celebration— 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 

Jaz: — I referred to it as a bat mitzvah, I sometimes still do that, and when I am around people who are less likely to validate my gender instinctively — 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: — I'm more likely to refer to it as a b'nei mitzvah, so like, some of the time it feels unnecessary to me. I called it a bat mitzvah at the time, and I can still do that. And some of the time I'm like, well… I'm not a girl now, I don't know if I was a girl then, like, I don't know if it (Lulav giggles) makes sense, and sometimes when I'm around people who I don’t think can fully grasp that nuance, I'm like, I'm not a girl, you can't refer to me as a girl, you can’t hear me refer to myself as any way that might imply that I was ever a girl. 

Lulav: Right. 

Jaz: Or would be cool with you using terms that are gendered about me in the past. But like, if I'm in a context that's not like that, that's like, more trans-normative, I am sometimes down to refer to my past things as like, a bat mitzvah from when I was a girl, you know like. (laughs) 

Lulav: Wild. Yeah, just like, from me knowing you that you would ever refer to yourself as a girl unironically (Jaz laughs) like even in the past is wild to me. 

Jaz: I — yeah. I don't do it a lot. I just think its okay to hold onto some like, nuance — 

Lulav: Yeah. 

Jaz: — like, I didn’t know about being nonbinary then, and maybe if I had it would have been different, but I wasn’t like, gender questioning really at age 13. 

Lulav: Mm hmm. 
Jaz: And so, it sometimes feels not fair to put the person I currently am on my 13 year old self —
Lulav: Right.
Jaz: — and that includes gender as well as lots of other things that I might be interested in now that I wasn't at 13. Like, I think there's a lot of continuity from the people we are when were little to the people we are now —
Lulav: Mm hmm.
Jaz: — but also ways we change. I told you but not our listeners that my mom found an old letter I'd written when I was eight, (Lulav laughs) and—
Lulav: That sounded exactly like you these days.
Jaz: It sounded exactly like me. Uh — it didn't, because I gave a slightly more cisnormative explanation than I would have given now —
Lulav: Right.
Jaz: — but it was like, my brother asked a question about gender and I responded with a very rabbinic answer. 
Lulav: It sounds like if you of today were in the year 2004.
Jaz: Yeah. Yeah. (Lulav laughs) 

Lulav: So yeah, I've had similar stuff in my life. There's the constant code switching of being a trans person who didn't transition at the age of three.
Jaz: Uh huh.
Lulav: And there was this time when my mom found an old photo album that she had at her family's Christmas or something? Or maybe it belonged to her mom? I'm not sure what the case was, but anyway there was like, a picture of me as a little baby in there —
Jaz: Aww.
Lulav: — and we were talking about it and my aunt referred to the baby with my dead name —
Jaz: Mmm.
Lulav: — and I was like, "no, that's Lulav".
Jaz: Right.
Lulav: "She's a baby."
Jaz: Right.
Lulav: And we had a conversation about how, you know, regardless what I thought was true at the time, this is who I am —
Jaz: Mm hmm.
Lulav: — and who retroactively I have been.
Jaz: Right.
Lulav: But like, in a less aggressively catholic scenario, there's also this tension where it's like, I don't stand by the person who I was like, seven years ago.
Jaz: Mm hmm.
Lulav: But also, I am the same person? But I'm a different person — so there's like —
Jaz: Yeah! 
Lulav: — this whole juggling of past and present and the unity of any one person's narrative that's really hard to deal with. (laughs) 
Jaz: Yeah. Anyway, I was just thinking about this also because now I have more copies of the Tanakh — 
Lulav: Mm hmm. 
Jaz: — but I also opened up my copy that I got for my b’nei mitzvah and looked at the post-its that are still there (Lulav laughs) marking off my haftarah portion, and marking off the segment of the haftarah portion that I was going to read out loud —
Lulav: Mm hmm. 
Jaz: — and chant because I wasn't doing the whole thing, just part of it, and I don't remember it. 
Lulav: (laughs) Right?
Jaz: Like, I remember Chayei Sarah quite well. 
Lulav: Hm! 
Jaz: I don't remember the haftarah portion, but I once really did. 
Lulav: (laughs) And so, that was this portion right?
Jaz: That was this one. 
Lulav: Okay. That’s wild. 
Jaz: Right, it's quite memorable. And it is — 
Lulav: Do you remember which haftarah portion you read?
Jaz: Again, I didn't, but I have post its that are right here, so. I did only out loud… from the beginning of line 15 to the end of line 18. 
Lulav: Okay, so we will zoom back in on those when you get to them. 
Jaz: Yeah. 
Lulav: So, can I have 40 seconds to tell you about your own area of expertise. (Jaz laughs) Maybe even 35 if I want to live dangerously. 
Jaz: Do you want to live dangerously? 
Lulav: Mmm, sure. 
Jaz: Ready, set, go. 
Lulav: Comparing Sarah to Moshe, it turns out that spite keeps you alive seven years longer than being the most important prophet in our people's history. Avraham makes sure to document a property transfer, then of course his head servant wears a scroath to get a cousin for Yitzak to marry. Eliezer chances, perhaps by angelic boon, to find a helpful young lesbian who fits the bill. Rivka's mom wants one last hug. When they get back Rivka startles and hides from the men which is not the most heterosexual thing she could do? New gf's makes everything better for father and son, and we end with genealogy and peaceful death. 
[timer goes off]
Jaz: Nice job!
Lulav: Thank you. 
Jaz: How come when you live dangerously it works out for you?
Lulav: (laughs) I'm a Jill of all trades, (Jaz laughs) and am naturally talented at anything that I don't have to work for. (Jaz laughs) If it requires work, I am subpar but... 
Jaz: Anyway, if you wanna listen to the longer discussion of Chayei Sara, that's episode 5: Women of Valor And Agency, and you can go check that one out. 
Lulav: Yay. 
Jaz: But, Lulav, how does that parsha connect to the haftarah we're reading today?
Lulav: So that's actually a really good question. (Jaz laughs) The most direct connection I can find is in the first two lines when David is getting old and he needs a wife for himself, kind of in the same way that Avraham took a new wife in Ketura. 
Jaz: Okay. 
Lulav: And also kind of in the sense that we're looking for, you know, a wife for an important person to the narrative. 
Jaz: Okay. 
Lulav: Which kind of is like the lets find Yitzhak a wife thing. 
Jaz: Okay. 
Lulav: But honestly, I think that this particular haftarah would have been much better suited for Toldot, which is next week because you have all this stuff about like, who will inherit the birthright, and mothers inserting themselves into the drama, and it just feels so much more like Yitzhak taking the leadership of the family from the presumptive heir?
Jaz: Mmm. 
Lulav: Even though in this case, what's his name — Shlomo! 
Jaz: Solomon?
Lulav: Yeah. Solomon, or, I learned this for the first time literally an hour ago, Shlomo. 
Jaz: Aww, you didn't know that one? That's so sweet. 
Lulav: I w- (sighs) so, there's a thing that I'm increasingly learning where all these Yiddish names that I'm used to hearing actually are names of Biblical figures that I'm also used to hearing. I couldn't give you any examples other than this right now. 
Jaz: Okay. 
Lulav: But, yeah. It's pretty fun. 
Jaz: Yeah. 
Lulav: I got lost on a rabbit hole, what was I saying?
Jaz: You were talking about Solomon taking over and fighting with his brothers?
Lulav: Right, so in this case, Shlomo is the presumptive heir of the kingdom of Yisrael— 
Jaz: Mm hmm. 
Lulav: — and so it's more reasserting his claim than it is usurping it, but you know, kind of like how Iseau is a jock who asserts that he's the one in charge, we have Adonijah — what is that in Hebrew?
Jaz: Adoniya? 
Lulav: Adoniya? Great. 
Jaz: Mm hmm. 
Lulav: Thank you. Is that just like, the Lord is G-d?
Jaz: I believe so. 
Lulav: That's such a basic name. (Jaz giggles) What does Shlomo mean?
Jaz: Uhh. 
Lulav: Speaking of rabbit holes, okay. 
Jaz: I think it's related to peace. Shin, lamed, mem?
Lulav: Ohhh. 
Jaz: Or like, completeness? Wholeness, something like that?
Lulav: That's interesting. Okay, so those are the two levels of connection that I see here. One is I have no idea why they didn't choose Toldot, and the other is of course the old man is getting a new wife, even in his advanced years. 
Jaz: Yeah, do you remember how many wives David has? I went and looked it up. 
Lulav: Oh boy, I was not in charge of context for this so I did not look it up but I'm guessing 70?
Jaz: No. He has 18. 
Lulav: Oh, okay. I'm not going to say that's a more reasonable number, because its not, but —
Jaz: Remember when you were like, a king should have two spouses, max. 
Lulav: Right. (both laugh) 
Jaz: Yeah, so David’s got 18. 
Lulav: (laughs) Though, to be fair, like I said back then, I don't think that all of these are what you would traditionally refer to as spouses. 
Jaz: Right, like I — 
Lulav: Or, like, what we would think of as spouses with the like, level of emotional dedication? These are definitely what you would traditionally think of as spouses, which is political marriages. 
Jaz: Yes, that's what I was gonna say. (Lulav chuckes) A lot of them were political alliances. They also don't all happen at the same time, in that like — 
Lulav: Mm hmm. 
Jaz: — Michal is his first wife, and then Michal dies before he marries some of the other ones, you know like — 
Lulav: Oh. Does he have an obscene number of children, or is just like, the two?
Jaz: He's got a lot of children. 
Lulav: Okay. 
Jaz: He's got about the same number of children as he has wives — 
Lulav: Okay. 
Jaz: Give or take a few? Several of his children kill each other, so. (Lulav laughs) Yes. 
Lulav: Woof. 
Jaz: Also interestingly, I think possibly because all of his children are like, a child of David, but they have different mothers — 
Lulav: Mm hmm,. 
Jaz: — in this piece, they're called things like — 
Lulav: Oh!
Jaz: "Adonia Ben Hagit", which is his mother's name. 
Lulav: Yeah. 
Jaz: And, in sort of later tradition, people were often just called, "Son of their father" or "Daughter of their father."
Lulav: Mm! But this is a matrilineal surname. 
Jaz: Yeah. 
Lulav: Interesting. 
Jaz: And, it's not because like, the mother has more status or anything. Like, David is the king. 
Lulav: Yeah, I don't think we have polygynandry, we just have polygyny. 
Jaz: Uhm.
Lulav: Sorry Shachar, I'll spell those for you. 
Jaz: I got it. But, these people, to distinguish them basically, are named after their mothers. It's not clear who names them, whether David or their moms name them, it doesn't come up in this narrative, but who their mother is matters a great deal, and that's part of why Solomon, even though he's not the oldest son, is the heir. 
Lulav: Mm hmm. So, is there more context that you had or did you want to take us through the haftarah?
Jaz: The only other context I would have is this story takes place pretty late in David's life. 
Lulav: (snorts) Sure does. 
Jaz: We get more of David's life earlier, not in Kings but in Samuel, so Shmuel wanted to get you to this point. 
Lulav: Mm hmm. 
Jaz: And so like, the story that we were hearing about David and Yonatan, back in episode 51, happens much much earlier in his life and so by this point Yonatan has been dead for many years — 
Lulav: Achk. 
Jaz: — and David has all of these different wives, none of whom are as dear to him, and it's probably worth telling a little bit about the story of Batsheva, in case — 
Lulav: That's important context, huh. 
Jaz: Yeah. Story of Batsheva deserves its own like, chunk of time, but the brief version — ugh. The brief version is please go listen to Leonard Cohen's “Hallelujah” (Lulav laughs) but, yeah David sees a woman bathing on a rooftop and decides to marry her but there is a problem which is that she's already married and also he hasn't asked her but he doesn’t think that's a problem, (Lulav snorts) um— 
Lulav: Woof. 
Jaz: — and he decides that both of those problems can be solved by the fact that he's the king. He sends her husband off to war, where he dies. David does, to be clear, sleep with and effectively marry Batsheva while her husband is away at war before he dies, but he can't get in trouble for it because her husband is dead. Then she is his wife and gives him many children. 
Lulav: Woo- I must say again, -f. 
Jaz: I will note that in the tradition of not wanting to think too badly of David, there has been (Lulav giggles) different explications offered for parts of this, including that they were like, “well, it wasn't technically cheating because before going off to war all of the soldiers offer their wives a gett so that they’re divorced so that if they’re like, lost at war and its not known exactly what happened to them, their wives are free to remarry.” 
Lulav: Hey, remember when we had a traditionally considered righteous patriarch who, like, absolutely detested one of his wives and also impregnated his slaves? Like I don't think we need to hold David to that much of a high moral standard to be like, part of the patrilineage. 
Jaz: Uh huh. Anyway, and then there was a note that I remembered cuz I was learning about it in a piece of Talmud actually that was like, and then the sages in the town would ask a question of David, which is nonsense because there were not rabbinic sages at that time, (Lulav laughs) those didn't come about until later but they were like, “and the sages would ask David this question: ‘what is the punishment for an adulterer,’ and David would reply with something that was like, ‘this is the punishment for an adulterer but the punishment for somebody who shames them in public is not getting a share in the world to come.’” Like, I'm going to be punished but making fun of me for it is worse. 
Lulav: This dude is so toxic!
Jaz: Yeah, that seems like not the behavior of somebody who has like, really owned up to realizing what he did was wrong and taking responsibility for it. 
Lulav: Sorry for like, dunking on important figures in the history of Judaism, but also like — 
Jaz: Sorry not sorry? Like I don't — yeah. 
Lulav: We are from a very problematic tradition. A bracha for you: may you be better than David. 
Jaz: Thank you? (Lulav laughs) Um, yeah I hope so too. Okay. 
Lulav: Oh uh, one more connection, Batsheva’s wife- oh, sorry, Batsheva’s husband was Uriah the Hittite— 
Jaz: Mm hmm. 
Lulav: And Avraham buys the burial plot for Sara from the Hittites. 
Jaz: Hey, does that mean David sent her, like, immigrant husband off to a war so that he can marry her?
Lulav: H-woof. Why don't you hit-tite us up with the lines of this haftarah?
Jaz: Oh my goodness. Okay, so this haftarah and this book starts with David being old and advanced in years, as they say, and then they find a girl to be like, a young beauty to sleep next to him. (Lulav snorts) So they find Abishag, and they — the narrative makes it really clear that she like, cuddles with him and brings stuff to him and does not have sex with him.
Lulav: Hm.
Jaz: I don't know why this is super relevant to the narrative that she's here, except maybe as an indication of his age, that David who has like a bajillion wives is really old and not even trying to sleep with this young beauty.
Lulav: Mmm. Can I also mention a connection to things that we’ve read before?
Jaz: Yes.
Lulav: The lady who had an Airbnb for Elisha the prophet was also a woman from Shunam.
Jaz: Huh. Yeah. Sure. So, they have this bit with Abishag and then we move directly without any connection (Lulav laughs) over to Adoniya ben Hagit who's going around telling everybody that he's going to be king. Sets himself up with like horses and chariots and people to run with him and David doesn't say anything about that. They note that Adoniya was born after Avshalom who was another of David's sons who is now dead in a different story that we can talk about.
Lulav: Mm. Yeah, most of the references that I've heard to Avshalom have involved the interjection "oh!", (Jaz laughs) so I assume there was something tragic there.
Jaz: Yes, deeply so. He kills his brother so — mm. It's a sort of longer and tragic story that I don't know incredibly well but I think boils down to sort of, there is one daughter of David who we know by name along with like, a bunch of sons.
Lulav: Mm.
Jaz: And the daughter, Tamar, is raped by one of her half-brothers. Avshalom is her full brother, and he goes and kills the half-brother and runs away. There's a cave somewhere, with like beautiful with like beautiful stalactites and stalagmites that I went and visited once that's called like, Avshalom's cave—
Lulav: Hm.
Jaz: — and it's like, supposed to be where we ran away to, anyway and then tries to lead an uprising against David and it does not work and he dies. (Lulav laughs) Anyway, he's one of the oldest sons which is why it's relevant that Adoniya is born like right after him.
Lulav: Mmm.
Jaz: Cuz Adoniya is the oldest surviving son.
Lulav: Okay so this is actually kind of like the situation is Tolodot where Esau is the older one.
Jaz: Yes. Adoniya is the older one. Solomon is significantly younger. (Lulav laughs) I don't think we get an age. Solomon, I don't even think is Batsheva’s oldest son.
Lulav: Mmm.
Jaz: But David has said that Solomon’s going to be king, because he apparently gets to just throw the rules of inheritance out the window cuz he's king. (Lulav scoffs) Adoniya is like, "uhh, my fathers old and dying and I'm the oldest" and his fathers never told him off for it (Lulav chuckles) so Adoniya like, talks to some priests and they support him and some other priests do not. The prophet Nathan or Natan does not, and David's military does not.
Lulav: (giggles) Generally not a good idea to throw a coup without a military.
Jaz: Yeah. Tricky that. (Lulav chuckles) I really want to emphasize here how much David is painted as being really avoidant of conflict, imo.
Lulav: Oh my G-d, yeah. Was that kind of the basis for Avshalom’s rebellion?
Jaz: I don't know that story well enough.
Lulav: Okay.
Jaz: Partially, is my vague recollection. He was like, listen, I killed them because you didn't do anything.
Lulav: Mm hmm.
Jaz: You're not suited to this.
Lulav: Yeah.
Jaz: Anyway, but incredibly conflict avoidant, even with his children (Lulav laughs) who don't respect him, partially it seems because he also does not respect them or their mothers.
Lulav: Yeah, listen, you don't get to have 18 spouses by setting good boundaries or confronting problems when they arise (laughs) or… 
Jaz: Yeah. Yeah.
Lulav: Woof.
Jaz: Especially because they only get to have him, it's not like they get to have other people —
Lulav: Right?
Jaz: — when he gets to pick between the 18 of them,.
Lulav: That's the whole thing I was saying with polygynandry, like, it only works if everybody gets choices.
Jaz: Uh huh.
Lulav: Otherwise it's just… this is so bad. (Jaz chuckles) Anyway.
Jaz: Anyway, also there's this moment where like, Adoniya’s like, "I'm going to make a feast to celebrate", and the english renders this as he invites all his brother princes —
Lulav: Mm hmm.
Jaz: And the Hebrew has it like "et kol achav bnei hamelech."
Lulav: Hm! 
Jaz: Which is like "and all his brothers who are sons of the King", (Lulav giggles) which does a little bit make me wonder if his mom did in fact have other children who were not sons of the king.
Lulav: Mmm.
Jaz: And so he had other brothers who were like, half-siblings with his mom and a non-king dude, (Lulav chuckles) which would imply that they found other lovers on the side, which I would be in support of.
Lulav: Hm. Okay.
Jaz: Cuz otherwise it's not necessary to include "all of his brothers that are sons of the king". (Lulav laughs) You could just say "all his brothers."
Lulav: Okay yeah, that's interesting. But specifically he doesn't invite Natan or Benaiah or the fighting men or his brother Shlomo. 
Jaz: Right? He sure doesn't. 
Lulav: Hey, how do you invite all of your brother princes but not invite a brother prince? 
Jaz: Really good question. (Lulav laughs) I wonder if it is a slight, like he sent out invitations that were like, "I’m inviting all of the princes who are sons of the king" and then he didn't invite him because he's like, "I don't know, I don't know if Solomon’s really a son of the king."
Lulav: Wow, okay. (Jaz laughs) I see how it is. 
Jaz: But again though, Batsheva has other children. 
Lulav: True. 
Jaz: So it does really imply that he invited Solomon's full brothers and they came, (Lulav snorts) which is why — I guess it doesn't say that they came. 
Lulav: They were invited according to the text. 
Jaz: Yeah. (Lulav laughs) 
Lulav: He probably sent out those invitations to everyone of those kids except Shlomo — 
Jaz: Mm hmm. 
Lulav: — because he assumed they were gonna mark down as maybe and then not actually show up day of, (Jaz snorts) but he knew that Shlomo would be like, “yes, I am coming” and then show up also. 
Jaz: (laughs) Shlomo's an annoying little brother. 
Lulav: (laughs) Or a good guest. I haven't used Facebook events to plan things in a very long time but I feel like that's just good etiquette. 
Jaz: To say that you're going to a place if you're going. 
Lulav: Yeah. 
Jaz: Eh. Remember when my friend was like, "yes, of course Jaz, I'll be at your birthday party" and then just wasn't. 
Lulav: I do remember that. I am waving to the mountains. 
Jaz: (laughs) Where my friend lives, in the mountains. 
Lulav: Uh huh. 
Jaz: Yeah. Okay. So anyway, Natan devises a plot with Batsheva — 
Lulav: Mm hmm. 
Jaz: — and they go out of their way to be like,  "you said to Batsheva, Solomon's mother, you must of heard that Agoniya son of Hagid has assumed the kingship without David knowing about it," which is interesting to me that this celebration marks him as assuming the kingship. I would have assumed its like, a plan to be king but for him to say, "I'm already king" — 
Lulav: Hm. 
Jaz: — while his father is still alive is fascinating. I thought you couldn't do that, you had to wait till the king died. 
Lulav: Yeah, I mean— 
Jaz: This implies that you can resign from being king and have somebody else take over and this is a little bit like — 
Lulav: If only. 
Jaz: And the — we were talking the other day about how the Pope resigned and it was like, I didn't know you could do that, and he made up his own title of Pope Emeritus (Lulav chuckles) because nobody had ever done that before. 
Lulav: I think he was the second person in history?
Jaz: This is the extent of my knowledge about how popes work. 
Lulav: DiCo!
Jaz: That's not true, I have a little bit more, but not a lot more. (Lulav laughs) But anyway, this implies that David could resign at any point and he just doesn't. 
Lulav: See, that's actually the thing about monarchy, you can just do whatever you want, it depends on the real power that you have to see that through. 
Jaz: What?
Lulav: So like, for instance, David could just abdicate and be like, "Okay, I'm not king anymore, figure it out." 
Jaz: Uh huh. 
Lulav: And that seems like a pretty easy and straightforward thing that could happen. 
Jaz: Well, it seems like this is maybe informed by he wants to pick the next person to be king though. 
Lulav: Mm hmm. 
Jaz: And if he wants to pick the next person to be king, he like, can't abdicate until he's sure that that person is king. 
Lulav: Yeah. 
Jaz: Because otherwise — 
Lulav: Succession crisis. 
Jaz: And also these people are super willing to kill each other. 
Lulav: Yeah. Also, I do want to note, per your notes on our planning document — 
Jaz: Mm hmm. 
Lulav: — that this episode is going to be airing like nine days after an election, so…  
Jaz: Ahhh. You're right, I forgot about that. 
Lulav: This will probably be really relevant discourse. (Jaz makes unhappy noises) Ahhh! Okay. 
Jaz: Yeah, I don't want to talk about that too much cuz I dont know whats gonna happen. I remember listening to podcast episodes in 2016. 
Lulav: I don't want to get Hillary-d. 
Jaz: Yeah. 
Lulav: (laughs) Okay, so, moving on, what's this thing that Natan is saying to Batsheva? 
Jaz: Natan devises a plan, and the plan is basically, you go in and tell him that Adoniya is doing this and ask him if this is what he wanted and then I will come in immediately after and say the same thing. (Lulav laughs) That's the whole brilliant plan. (Lulav laughs) Gotta love a prophet. 
Lulav: Also, Abishag is there again. 
Jaz: Yes. I mean she's just there being beautiful. She doesn’t play a role, particularly. 
Lulav: Though she is one person who isn't directly going to benefit from this particular transmission of power because Natan clearly wants to choose the king, and Batsheva is the mother of the guy who they’re trying to get confirmed. 
Jaz: Right. 
Lulav: So there is just like, a totally uninvolved lady who has no children sitting there like, "oh, I guess this is going on." 
Jaz: Right. And it is to Abishag’s advantage for David to live and be king as long as possible —
Lulav: Mm. 
Jaz: — because her placement and security depends on if that is gonna come to an end, at least for him to be in control in picking the next one. 
Lulav: Mm. 
Jaz: You know, him. 
Lulav: That's a good point.
Jaz: Yeah. I am just going to reiterate here that David is an extraordinarily messy bisexual.
Lulav: (laughs) So messy! So messy.
Jaz: So messy.
Lulav: He lives for drama except for doesn't do anything with it.
Jaz: No! He's — yeah. Batsheva like comes in and bows. Also, I will just note I have the story of Purim stuck in my head, unseasonably, (Lulav laughs) where Esther goes to the king and is like, putting her life in her hands to do so, to save people's lives and Batsheva goes to the king and is just totally allowed to do that because she's his wife and of course she would be able to, which is a nicer version I think.
Lulav: Mm hmm.
Jaz: And the thing he says is, "what troubles you?" Like, they've at least got a decent working relationship.
Lulav: Yeah.
Jaz: And I do a little bit wonder about therefor what's going on with Hagit, who is both the king’s other wife, who, I don't know if she's alive anymore —
Lulav: Yeah, she like, doesn't show up.
Jaz: Right. Is she not alive and that's why she's not in this narrative? Or do they just not talk to her? What's the deal? Presumably she also lives in the palace and Batsheva knows her. They're metamours.
Lulav: Hmm. So Wikipedia says that her name means festive or I think the translation I would go with is "party girl."
Jaz: (laughs) Uh, well, because it's related to “chag”?
Lulav: Ohhh, yeah, Hagit! Okay. That's fun. So presumably he is partying and not trying to involve herself in politics (Jaz laughs) or dead. Who knows?
Jaz: I am into the version where like, the king hooked up with the party girl and let her continue to go out dancing or whatever, and then the son is raised by nannies mostly because the king is continually too involved with his other wives and his mom didn't really want to be a mom and so he grows up with a chip on his shoulder and that's why he wants to be king.
Lulav: Though I do want to point out Adoniyah is like, also a party boy.
Jaz: Yeah, true!
Lulav: Literally this whole chapter is about him throwing a party. (giggles)
Jaz: You're right, maybe he's buds with his mom.
Lulav: They're drinking buddies, aww! That's... sweet?
Jaz: Mildly unhealthy?
Lulav: Yeah! Okay, (laughing) that's the exact combination of words that I think represents my feelings about this.
Jaz: It does not however say he invites his mom to his party, so —
Lulav: (chuckles) Or his dad!
Jaz: That's true, but he is trying to usurp his dad, so.
Lulav: Yeah.
Jaz: It's a little different.
Lulav: Yeah. (sighs) This guy, he knows how to work a crowd but he doesn't know how to work the levers of power. Cuz like, he doesn't have the military on his side, he doesn't have the throne prophet on his side, he doesn't have any of the priests on his side,
Jaz: He has a couple priests on his side.
Lulav: Okay. Abiatar.
Jaz: He does not, however, have the ear of the king or his mom going to talk to the king.
Lulav: Right.
Jaz: And also, the king is like, really smitten with Batsheva still in a way that he does not seem to be smitten with anybody else.
Lulav: Yeah.
Jaz: Okay so, Batsheva bows, the king asks what's up, she's like, "hey so, I'm sorry if I misunderstood, but you told me that my son was gonna be king, so why is this other dude now king? Are you aware of this?"
Lulav: Okay, that's an interesting read on it. Because the way I'm hearing this is, "Husband dearest, remember how you promised that my son will be king and will succeed you? But your other kid is saying that he's king. Did you... know that was happening? All eyes are on you, babe!"
Jaz: That's the same thing I said, yeah!
Lulav: (laughs) Very different connotations I think.
Jaz: (laughs) Eh. (Lulav chuckles) Anyway, she continues to tell him what is going on, and is like, you know, otherwise, if you decide not to take any action because you're so conflict-avoidant, (Lulav snorts) both of us will be regarded as traitors and you know that we're your favorite.
Lulav: (laughs) Oh my G-d. This is giving me like, cold sweats about 2016. (laughs)
Jaz: Uh huh! Uh huh! Do you want to say more about that?
Lulav: No, just that that was probably the height of bad poly drama in my life. 
Jaz: So, then Nathan arrives. So, quick poll here: did David and Natan also have a thing?
Lulav: Um, so I haven't read the Shmuel books in a very long time. I could not tell you. However, it does look like Natan's delivery here is —
Jaz: Virtually identical.
Lulav: — Much more like what you were saying? Like it's virtually identical but more, like — it's less manipulating their relationship, and more like, “hey babe, I uh, just came across this thing that I'm not sure is correct! You must have said ‘Adoniyah shall succeed me.’” (both chuckle)
Jaz: That's also manipulating! It's just differently manipulating.
Lulav: Right. (laughs) Anyways, that is to say, Natan and David definitely had a thing.
Jaz: Okay great.
Lulav: That's the energy here. (chuckles)
Jaz: A little bit. They do the same thing of they introduce him, he bows —
Lulav: Mm hmm.
Jaz: I will say that David does not ask him what's up in the same way he does to his wife. (Lulav chuckles) Natan just begins talking. Also Batsheva maybe leaves the room right now.
Lulav: What? No! "She was still talking to the king when the prophet Natan arrived."
Jaz: Yes, but as soon as Natan is done speaking, David's response is "summon Batsheva.”
Lulav: Oh!
Jaz: And she enters the king's presence.
Lulav: Okay!
Jaz: So she maybe leaves the room at some point.
Lulav: So they have like a “don't kiss and tell” thing going on, huh?
Jaz: (chuckles) There's gotta be some reason — this feels relatable to me, to be like, they're talking and then the other one comes in, and you're like, “ah, well, I'll see you later,” and so that feels fine to me, that she's like, "ah, next one's turn."
Lulav: I'm a messy b-word who lives for drama —
Jaz: Uh huh.
Lulav: So would probably not leave the room unless asked or it were real uncomfortable. (chuckles)
Jaz: Okay but they agreed to this beforehand. They're buddies.
Lulav: Mm hmm. That's fair.
Jaz: And I think they coordinated it so as not to make it seem suspicious that they were both saying the same thing differently.
Lulav: Yeah, also there's that whole thing of "can't miss you if you don't leave." Like, maybe hearing this whole thing over again in the absence of Batsheva when he was just talking to her is like, uhh, get her back real quick? This is very important to resolve now.
Jaz: Yeah. Also I do like that there's different energy here, where she comes in and she's like, a little confrontational about it, (Lulav chuckles) and the king asks her, what's wrong? And she launches into this whole thing that's she's upset up. When Natan comes in, David doesn't ask what's wrong cuz maybe he's not coming in with "what's wrong" energy and he is instead coming in with a little bit more of a (gently) "oh, you must have asked for this and I didn't know about it — can this decision have come from you, my dear?" (Lulav giggles) Which is much more of a, like, I'm sitting and rubbing your feet while I ask you a question type of deal. (Lulav laughs) And then the king is like, “oh no, this is real serious,” and then he brings back the person who's actually more directly involved. (Lulav laughs) Batsheva's real happy about it because he stands up and he's like, “no, we're going to put Solomon in power. He will be the king and I will make sure of it today, hayom hazeh.” (Lulav chuckles) 
Lulav: And to wrap things up — 
Jaz: She bows and says, like, “may you live forever.” That's it. That's the whole thing Also, sorry, just — 
Lulav: Mm? 
Jaz: The next line also implies that this time, Nathan has left the room, because then David says, "summon to me the priest Zadok, the prophet Natan," — 
Lulav: Oh hey! 
Jaz: And this other guy, who I think is another priest. So it really does imply to me that they have some kind of agreement worked out where they're not in the same room at the same time. 
Lulav: It's like an Abbott and Costello bit or something. 
Jaz: (laughs) Maybe they're just the same person. 
Lulav: (laughs) Oh no! I love that but also (Jaz laughs) I don't think that works (Jaz laughs) like logistically, but also I love that? Have you ever seen Batsheva and Natan in a room together? (Both laugh) Or, maybe there are two Batshevot, like the bigger Luke theory. 
Jaz: Nooo. 
Lulav: (laughs) I don't know why we would be positing that, but — 
Jaz: Nooo. 
Lulav: It's very fun to do. 
Jaz: Noooo. (both chuckle) Bad. 
Lulav: Okay. If you were redacting this haftarah portion, where do you think you would have cut it off? 
Jaz: Hmm. Where would you have cut it off? I don't know. I don't have a great answer to that. The thing is that the haftarah is short, so the rest of the story continues, but like this is a decent resolution is terms of like, the — 
Lulav: Yeah. I guess here? 
Jaz: Yeah. 
Lulav: Like, this is a denouement to the climax of the preceding line — 
Jaz: Mm hmm. 
Lulav: — and I don't feel like you need it but also this is where the act ends, I guess. 
Jaz: Mm. 
Lulav: Or the scene. I don't know. 
Jaz: I just really feel like it emphasizes for me how odd it is that the haftarah is not in any discernible chronological order. 
Lulav: Right? Cuz like yeah — if we're doing it for haftarah rather than a chronological reading where we're defining these as chapters, I would definitely cut it after 30 because I don't think that bowing low or asking that the old guy live forever are terribly important — I don't know. 
Jaz: Mm. Hey, Lulav. 
Lulav: Yes Jaz? 
Jaz: I think it's time for Rating G-d's Writing, (Lulav gasps) the segment in which we pick two scales and rate the parsha based on them. 
Lulav: Okay! I think it is too. 
Jaz: So, Lulav, out of 18 wives, how many wives would you rate this parsha? 
Lulav: I would rate this parsha 12 wives. 
Lulav: There's some repetition in the middle there, so I forgot how to count and missed six of the wives (Jaz laughs) but you know, it's got some good slapstick going on when we really do a deep read on it and also as a messy b who lives for drama, this is a very dramatic chapter (Jaz laughs) love succession crises. 
Jaz: Okay. 
Lulav: Jaz — hmm. (laughs) 
Jaz: Oh no. 
Lulav: Out of three people who you love very dearly, the prophet who helped you ascend to the throne, your wife who you stole from a foreigner who you sent to die in the war and the bigger version of your wife (laughs) who you stole from a foreigner who you sent to die in the war — out of those three, how many would you rate this parsha? 
Jaz: This isn't a rating scale, this is a bonus episode of Do, Die, or Marry and you're too early for that.
Lulav: That's fair. Okay. 
Jaz: Tune into our bonus content, available for our patrons, if you want to hear that one I guess. 
Lulav: Yeah, we're doing like two episodes every week. 
Jaz: Yeah. 
Lulav: That we record immediately after doing gender of the week. Ooh, okay, out of an escort of 50 outrunners, what would you rate this parsha? 
Jaz: Aww. I would rate this parsha like 40? 
Lulav: Okay. 
Jaz: Maybe 45. It's got drama, it's got characters, it's got plot, (Lulav chuckles) it's got moral ambiguity, high-stakes manipulation, people being named for their moms and siding with their moms over their dads and identifying more with them — it's got a lot of interesting stuff going on.   
Lulav: Certainly sounds like a 45 to you. 
Jaz: Yeah. 
Lulav: Cool. Jaz, can you take us to the close? 
Jaz: Yeah. Thanks for listening to Kosher Queers! If you like what you’ve heard, you can support us on Patreon at, which will give you bonus content and help us keep making this for you. Also, if you can’t commit to ongoing support but would still like to contribute, you can give to our Ko-fi, which is at You can also follow us on Twitter @kosherqueers or like us on Facebook at Kosher Queers, or email us your questions, comments, and concerns at [email protected], and please spread the word about our podcast! Our artwork is by the talented Lior Gross. Our music is courtesy of the fabulous band Brivele, whose work you can find on Bandcamp. Go buy their album, they’re great. Our sound production this week is done by my lovely co-host, Lulav Arnow. 
Lulav: I'm a messy b who lives for audio editing. (Jaz laughs) Our transcript team of Jaz, Reuben, DiCo, and Khesed brings you full transcripts of every episode. You can find a link to those in the episode descriptions on Buzzsprout.
Jaz: I’m Jaz Twersky and you can find me @WordNerdKnitter on Twitter. I recorded this audio on the traditional lands of the Lenape people. 
Lulav: I’m Lulav Arnow and you can find me @spacetrucksix on Twitter, or yell at me @palmliker! Or, now, for definitely sure, check out my bio at
Jaz: Oh yeah, please go check out our website if you haven't looked at it yet. It's excellent. (Lulav chuckles) I really like that we got the, uh — 
Lulav: Domain name?
Jaz: Domain name, thank you, but you can also go to and it will redirect you. That's okay.
Lulav: Anyway, I recorded this audio on the traditional lands of the Wahpékute and Anishinaabeg.
Jaz: Have a lovely queer Jewish day!
[Brivele outro music]
Jaz: This week's gender is replete with cis nonsense. 
Lulav: This week's pronouns are he or she.