"Do not do as in Egypt" as written in Leviticus 18 indicates what kind of practice? A rabbi from Brazil (I am Brazilian) with whom I have contact cites Rambam, which refers to the homosexual relationship of both men and women with each other, but does the Rambam have any basis to prove this? The rabbi did not give detailed directions for this. Are the practices of Egypt that Leviticus condemns not the forbidden relationships that the text forbids and that there is no mention of sexual relationships between women? Or is there another basis for condemning this act, if it is condemnable in Judaism, I realize that there are movements that do not condemn it. Thanks

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    relevant (duplicate?): What does Judaism think about homosexuality?
    – mbloch
    Commented Sep 27, 2022 at 17:18
  • I had already observed these issues before asking a question, my point is focused on female homosexuality and its basis of prohibition by segments of Judaism such as orthodox, which is largely based on Rambam, my doubt is the basis they find to decree that " do not do as in Egypt” refers to lesbianism.
    – Thales
    Commented Sep 27, 2022 at 18:11
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    The Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Talmud Yevamos 8:6) states: If she is a female, no female disables a female. In the explaining footnote on Sefaria, it explains: In the tradition of the Yerushalmi (Giṭṭin 8:10, fol. 49c) a lesbian relationship disables from heave for the House of Shammai but not for the House of Hillel. In the opinion of the Babli, Yebamot 76a, lesbianism is undesirable but not sanctionable. [Rabbinic practice follows an obscure baraita(Sifra Emor Parasha 9(8))
    – Shmuel
    Commented Sep 27, 2022 at 18:51
  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/105754/… Commented Sep 28, 2022 at 19:45
  • The Sifra (a Talmudic-era work) states that when Leviticus says "don't act like the Egyptians", it refers to "women marrying women." If I understand correctly, you are asking whether there are other historical sources to support this contention of the Sifra -- were women marrying women in the time of the Torah? It's a fair question; but from a halachic perspective we'd accept it as binding in and of itself. Note that some rabbis, by the way, view it is a rabbinic prohibition, and the Sifra's creative reading as a Biblical hook upon which to hang it, so to speak.
    – Shalom
    Commented Sep 28, 2022 at 21:57

1 Answer 1


The Rambam was not a legislator such than he made up altogether new categories of law and prohibitions. The Mishneh Torah is an attempt to systematize as a restatement the law of the rabbis as it emerges from the two Talmuds, the Tosefta, the Sifra, and the Sifre.

Here is how he describes the law in the MT (H. Issure Biah 21:8):

נשים המסוללות זו בזו--אסור, וממעשה מצריים הוא שהוזהרנו עליו: שנאמר "כמעשה ארץ מצריים . . . לא תעשו" (ויקרא יח,ג); ואמרו חכמים, מה היו עושים--איש נושא איש, ואישה נושאה אישה, ואישה נישאת לשני אנשים.

Lesbian relations [נשים המסוללות lit. women rubbing against each other] are forbidden. This is "the conduct of Egypt" which we were warned against, as [Leviticus 18:3] states: "Do not follow the conduct of Egypt." Our Sages said: What would they do? A man would marry a man, a woman would marry a woman, and a woman would marry two men.

This is not a novel idea of his own. He is echoing the earlier statements found in the Sifra and Talmud.

Sifra, Ahare Moth 8:8:

"כמעשה ארץ מצרים וכמעשה ארץ כנען לא תעשו", יכול לא יבנו בנינים ולא יטעו נטיעות כמותם? תלמוד לומר "ובחוקותיהם לא תלכו" – לא אמרתי אלא בחוקים החקוקים להם ולאבותיהם ולאבות אבותיהם. ומה היו עושים? האיש נושא לאיש והאשה לאשה. האיש נושא אשה ובתה, והאשה נישאת לשנים. לכך נאמר "ובחוקותיהם לא תלכו".

"As the deed of the land of Egypt and as the deed of the land of Canaan, you shall not do," I might think they should not build or plant as they do; it is, therefore, written (Joshua 11:15) "and in their statutes you shall not walk." I have proscribed for you only those statutes which were instituted for them and for their forefathers and for the fathers of their forefathers. What did they do? A man would wed a man, and a woman, a woman. A man would wed a woman and her daughter, and a woman would wed two — wherefore Scripture states "and in their statutes you shall not walk."

See also discussion in Shabboth 65a and Yehbahmoth 76a regarding the eligibility of נשים המסוללות to marry into the Kehunah (priesthood), where this behavior is clearly proscribed.

  • The rabbi I have contact with states that prohibitions that are not clear in the Torah came to be prohibited by intuition, indicating how they came to the conclusion that in the land of Egypt and Canaan there was this status of illicit relationship of man-man, woman-woman. , that is, something deduced by them. He is right? Or would this ban have some documentary basis? There are the laws of Hammurabi, has not something similar been found in Egypt in this respect?
    – Thales
    Commented Sep 28, 2022 at 21:36
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    @Thales It seems like you are shifting goalposts here a bit. If you are asking if there is external historical basis/evidence for the rabbinic view that lesbian physical relations are characteristic of historic Egyptian conduct, that is an entirely different query than what you have asked. I will note however, that such views in the early rabbinic period are also expressed by Clement of Alexandria (who lived and taught in the Egyptian setting). Commented Sep 29, 2022 at 0:06
  • Look, I had not heard of Clement of Alexandria dealing with this issue, it is already a great advance in the sense of validating the rabbinical decisions on the subject, I really liked your answer, I will even mark it with a like. Thanks
    – Thales
    Commented Sep 29, 2022 at 1:12

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