"...nor let the eunuch say 'Here I am, a dry tree". For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths and choose (the things) that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in my house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off." (KJV)
"And let not any eunuch complain, "I am only a dry tree." For this is what the LORD says: "To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant - to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off." (NIV)
In a clinical sense, a "eunuch" is a castrated male, but in ancient times, the term likely also included any male who could not procreate. We have come to believe that the eunuchs were slaves, forcibly castrated, to serve the pharaohs and kings within the walls of their homes and castles. This ostensibly - though medically incorrect - rendered them "harmless" to the women of the court. In fact, there were slaves who were castrated, but there were also those who sought out the positions in the court that were frequently held by eunuchs. They did so under their own need or free will as these were positions of power and respect. That suggests that the eunuchs of the Bible, were in fact, transgenders. It is only better medicine and better surgical skills that distinguishes me from them. Accepting that notion is critical to much of what follows not only in this lesson, but of other verses that also cite the eunuchs.
That said, does this mean what I think it means? A place in Heaven (or at least the Temple) for transgenders better than men (sons) or women (daughters)...everlasting? When I discuss other faith beliefs, we'll learn that many hold transgender souls with some sort of mystical esteem. Perhaps this is what Isaiah wishes to impart as well. In a strictly theological view, Heaven is Heaven - there aren't areas or partitions or some places that are better than others. Still...it is an interesting promise nonetheless!
Of course, this segment falls flat if you do not accept the notion of eunuchs being the ancient word's transgenders. And thus this definition from the Bible itself:
"For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from (their) mother's womb; and there were some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men; and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuch's for the kingdom of heaven's sake." (KJV)
Initially I wasn't going to include both KJV and NIV texts for each verse - that would help shorten the essay - but when I went to read the NIV version of Matthew a glaring discrepancy arose: "For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it." This is why it is extremely difficult to accept the Bible in literal terms. "Renounced marriage" is not something that is part of the definition of the eunuch. There was many who "renounced marriage" in that day...and there are certainly plenty of modern day people who have "renounced marriage", or are not married, who are not also transgender. This translation clouds the text and alters its meaning dramatically. On the other hand "because they were born that way" is a much more direct explanation than "from their mother's womb". Yes, transgenders are "born that way".
Taken together, these verses from Isaiah and Matthew (the KJV text especially) seem to contradict, if not completely negate, those of Deuteronomy. Both come much later in the Bible, Isaiah being near the end of the Old Testament and Matthew is the initial book of the New Testament. There are other instances where "newer" verses are said by many theologians to supplant, or override, "older" ones.