mal ((1) zakhar, zakhar, zakhur (the root means "to stand out," "to be prominent," here a physiological differentiation of the sex, as neqebhah, "female," which see); (2) 'ish literally, "man"; (3) by circumlocution, only in the books of Samuel and Kings, mashtin beqir; ouron pros toichon, which the Revised Version (British and American) euphemistically renders "man-child" (1Sa 25:22,34; 1Ki 14:10)): Gesenius has rightly pointed out that this phrase designates young boys, who do not as yet wear clothes, of whom the above description is accurate, while it does not apply in the case of adults, even in the modern Orient. We know this from the statement of Herodotus ii.35, relating to Egypt, and from Jg 3:24; 1Sa 24:3. The Greek translates these words with arsen, arrhen, while 1 Macc 5:28,51 has the adjective arsenikos.
The above words (the phrase mashtin beqir excepted) are used promiscuously of animals and men, e.g. "Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee seven and seven, the male ('ish) and his female, of the birds also of the heavens, seven and seven, male (zakhar) and female" (Ge 7:2-3). A careful distinction was made in the use of male and female animals in the rules concerning sacrifice; in some offerings none but males were allowed, in others females were permitted along with the males (Le 3:6). The same distinction was made in the valuation of the different sexes (Ge 32:14-15; Le 27:5). Certain priestly portions were permitted to the Levites or the male descendants of Aaron for food, while women were not permitted to partake of the same (Nu 18:10-11).
As a rule Jewish parents (as is now common in the Orient) preferred male children to daughters. This is seen from the desire for male progeny (1Sa 1:8-18) and from the ransom paid for firstborn sons to Yahweh (Ex 13:12; Lu 2:23). It was reserved to the New Testament to proclaim the equality of the sexes, as it does of races and conditions of men: "There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus" (Ga 3:28).
Among the prominent sins of oriental peoples, "the abominations of the nations which Yahweh drove out before the children of Israel" was one of the most heinous character, that of sodomy, against which God's people are repeatedly warned. The Greek expression for the devotee of this vice is a compound noun, arsenokoites, literally, "he who lies with man," the abuser of himself with mankind, the sodomite (1Co 6:9), while the Hebrew qadhesh, literally means the (male) devotee of lascivious and licentious idolatry (De 23:17; 1Ki 14:24; 15:12; 22:46; 2Ki 23:7; Job 36:14).
H. L. E. Luering