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Eunuch In The Bible And Its Meaning In Hebrew And Greek

Eunuchs are among the most controversial issues in the Bible that spark debates throughout the ages. This is because it involves gender identity. According to popular Biblical interpretation, Eunuchs are castrated men—those who have no sex organs and who are given responsibility for the king’s harem of wives and concubines.

However, there is another meaning in the Bible. The Hebrew word saris (eunuch) is used to denote persons under the employ of a king or other authoritative figure in the Bible, but castration isn’t necessarily involved.

To fully understand this term and why eunuchs were the way they were, it is important to explore their meaning through various lenses: biblical and historical.

What Is Eunuch Meaning In The Bible?

Biblical eunuchs[1] have often castrated males or those who cannot give sons from birth. Someone could be a eunuch if he did the kind of work typically done by eunuchs, but he could still have sex if he wanted to. Intentional castration was performed for the sole reason of eradicating sexual desire and sexual intercourse.

It was standard practice to have men born who served the royal harem castrated. In Esther 4:4, we learn about Queen Esther’s eunuchs.

Jesus’ gospels discuss eunuchs in the context of whether or not marriage is good in Matthew 19:12. He explains that some people want to live as eunuchs so that they can enter the kingdom of heaven, while others are born eunuchs that way or are made eunuchs by others. If you can accept this, you should get it.

Jesus Christ classifies these people into three categories: those who are “born that way,” those who are “made eunuchs by others,” and those who choose to become “eunuchs” on their own own.

Some people are born unable to have sexual immorality or relations with a female; these people are considered natural eunuchs. Anyone who has been castrated against their will is considered a forced eunuch. Some eunuchs, but not everyone, who choose to forego marriage and remain single voluntarily do so because they feel it will help them serve the Lord more effectively in some way.

Some people are called by God to a life of celibacy and remain single or remain unmarried (and therefore celibate). In 1 Corinthians 7:7–9, Paul addresses the single Christians who are serving the Lord.

Some homosexual organizations contend that when Lord Jesus mentions eunuchs who were “born that way,” He was referring to homosexuals. Bible authors, however, do not equate gay men with a eunuch. And while homosexuality is uniformly condemned in both the Old and New Testaments, eunuchs are never mentioned as being in sin.

On the other hand, traditional biblical interpretations of the role of the eunuch see them serving as the castrated male head of the king’s harem. The eunuch identity can be portrayed in several ways, though. Castration is not generally associated with the Hebrew term saris (eunuch), which in the Bible means “servant” to a ruler, as Smith’s Bible Dictionary expresses.

man leaning on wall with bible and eunuch meaning in bible

What Is The Eunuch Meaning In Hebrew And Greek?

The Hebrew word saris (sometimes spelled cariyc) for eunuch appears 45 times in the Old Testament (OT). The Greek Septuagint renders 31 of those occasions as eunouchos. There are four occurrences of the word eunouchos in the New Testament.

The Greek word eunouchos can refer to three different people: (1) a chamberlain, (2) a castrated person, or (3) a person who intentionally abstains from marriage.

For United Bible Societies, “it is not strange that, by a quite normal process of semantic change, the word evolved to designate a castrated man,” given that “some of these key officials, in certain societies, were castrated because of their occupations” (such as protecting the harem).

What Are The Types Of Eunuchs?

Both “a castrated man” and “a person or entity with some form of disability” are examples of what the word “eunuch” means in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. To understand more, there are three types of eunuchs mentioned.

Created By God

Eunuchs are discussed extensively in Matthew 19, but this is the most crucial verse. One of Christ’s most profound statements is summarized in verses 10 through 12.

Here, Jesus taught the three types and distinguished between three distinct eunuchs. A eunuch-born male constitutes the first category. That is to say, he is born without any testicles.

It is God’s will that some, not all men, be born without testicles or birth defects, as a physical defect or physical condition, and these individuals are thus eunuchs. Because God says in Exodus 4:11–12 that He is the one who causes insensibility, deafness, and blindness.

Made By Men

In Leviticus 21:17–21 and 22:22–24, the Holy Bible makes it clear that males who have had their testicles crushed are disqualified from being priests in Israel. In addition, a man who has been castrated is not allowed to enter the temple of the Lord, according to Deuteronomy 23:1.

Made By Oneself

In the third category of a eunuch, we find the guy who has chosen to forego marriage in order to devote his entire life to the service of God. Since the disciples had just asked Jesus, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is best not to marry,” the context of Jesus’s statement is clear.

To put it another way, “for the sake of the kingdom of heaven,” some men may opt out of marriage for its sake. The apostle Paul claims that he never married because he was too busy serving God. Remember what he said in 1 Corinthians 7:7-8.

Other Eunuchs In The Bible

The seven eunuchs that worked for King Xerxes were Biztha, Harbona, Karkas, Zethar, Abagtha, Bigtha, and Mehuman. The king ordered them to “bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown,” so that she could be admired by the commoners and the nobility. However, Queen Vashti declined to appear (Esther 1:10-12).

It is stated twice in the book of Esther that Hegai was “the king’s eunuch, who [was] in charge of the women” (Esther 2:3). King Xerxes of Babylon deposed his wife, Queen Vashti, and ordered Hegai to bring young women of noble birth into his harem. King decided to make whichever of the young women he found the most attractive queen.

Hegai plays a vital role in the tale of Esther, one of the women kidnapped into the harem of the king. According to Esther 2:15, Hegai gave Esther some advice that paved the way for her to become queen.

One of Queen Esther’s eunuchs, named Hathak, revealed Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews to Esther (Esther 4:1-9).

From Acts 8:26–39, we learn that the Queen of Ethiopia had a eunuch who was “an important officer in command of all the money.” The Ethiopian eunuch court official was returning home after attending services in Jerusalem. When “an angel of the Lord” (v. 26) told Philip to “walk over and join this chariot,” Philip finally grasped the messianic significance of the passage he had been reading from Isaiah (vs. 29).

The eunuch was baptized in the surrounding lake after Philip “opened his mouth and, beginning with this Scripture” (v. 35) shared the gospel with him. The eunuch man from Ethiopia who put his confidence in Jesus is a good example of how anyone from any background can enter God’s kingdom. His tale can be found in Acts 8:26–39.

man holding a bible and eunuch meaning bible

Conclusion

Paul tells us that being a physical eunuch is not a need for salvation in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35. Intense service to the Lord Jesus Christ is a choice we may make. It’s a private matter between each person and the Lord.

“But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. . . . This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 7:32, 35 (NASB)

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