I had a discussion with some people that thought Leviticus 19:29 could have just prohibited forcing your daughter to become a prostitute. One person argued that prostitution wasn’t wrong on its own while the other stated that prostitution was wrong not because it was premarital sex but because sex was supposed to be free! This view about premarital sex being permitted is becoming more common among Christians today so I thought I’d share what I’d found. All verses are in YLT unless otherwise noted.
`Thou dost not pollute thy daughter to cause her to go a-whoring, that the land go not a-whoring, and the land hath been full of wickedness. (Lev 19:29)
1 How can we take the meaning of “cause to” given the definition? http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cause “Cause” is different than “force” even though force certainly can be a cause. Can we cause our brother to stumble only if we do it forcefully? Romans 14:13-23
2 Gesenius defines the word translated “pollute” as “to lay open, to give access to [“to profane from the idea of opening”]
The “laying open” is easier to understand if you look at the father as having responsibility for the daughter (other examples are his right to annul her oaths and refuse a marriage) There are many ways to “lay open” your daughter to prostitution, and I think forcing them to become one is certainly laying open access. I think their issue with it being an intensive Piel of “profaning” (hence they think it implies force) is resolved with Gesenius by the fact that laying open access to your daughter is an intense way of profaning your daughter (or is REALLY profane to put in another way)
I also should point out that that word for pollute/profane is only used in that exact form in Leviticus 19:29 and Lev 18:21
http://biblehub.com/text/leviticus/18-21.htm Lev 18:21 doesn’t really give us much insight but it would seem a bit odd if it allowed you to let God’s name be profaned and only prevented you from forcibly profaning it.
The expanded Brown Driver B
1 defile, pollute:
a. sexually, Genesis 49:4 (poem) = 1 Chronicles 5:1 (the father’s bed); a woman = זנהLeviticus 19:29; …https://www.studylight.org/lexicons/hebrew/hwview.cgi?n=2490
However the “opening” in that lexicon is only in the Hiphil:
Hiph`il also begin (literally untie, loosen, open, ….
3 The word translated “harlotry” refers both to prostitution and premarital sex.
For instance: ‘They shall not take a woman who is profaned by harlotry, H2181 nor shall they take a woman divorced from her husband; for he is holy to his God. ( Lev 21:7 KJV)
then they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her unto death because she has committed an act of folly in Israel by playing H2181 the harlot H2181 in her father’s house; thus you shall purge the evil from among you. (Deu 22:21 KJV)
Would you say that this only applies if she did it for money? Of
“Thus you are different from those women in your harlotries, in that no one plays H2181 the harlot H2181
But my point is that it means both things (gaining monetarily from promiscuity and just plain promiscuity) and is narrowed by context. This is why I think the respected Stone’s edition to the Tanakh translates this word is many places as “promiscuity” because that is the broadest definition.
I would also point out as a matter of context that promiscuity in any form is looked at as negative and used as a
It also condemns promiscuity in the next part of the verse:
“so that the land will not fall H2181 to harlotry H2181 and the land become full of lewdness.” It doesn’t say anything about
The word H2490 implies sexual defilement. The word is never used for sexual uncleanliness, even in it’s expanded
If it was about “uncleanness” it would say uncleanness, not defilement, which is a much stronger negative word.
They also seem to think that the Piel form implies force, but it’s really just an intensive
And the only place I can find “force” used to describe the Piel verb in general is a force in terms of intensity, not in terms of overpowering
There seems to be a lot of nuance in the Piel forms of words
“The biblical Hebrew D stem (
And while they can mean “violence” in some cases, that is only for certain words and even then there is debate occasionally:
One of them was arguing that in places like Deut 23:7 it only prohibited cult prostitutes and not regular prostitutes. However, I argued that qedesh and zonah (cult-prostitute and prostitute) were used as synonyms. I cited the following:
“Contrary to the claims of some 20th-century scholarship, the Hebrew Bible never refers directly to cult prostitutes. Many modern Bible translations are simply misleading in this respect. Much of the confusion results from a misunderstanding of a few Biblical texts that mention
qedeshot, the plural of qedeshah, which is related to qodesh, “holy place.” Originally qedeshahreferred to a “consecrated maiden,” but Biblical authors used it in the sense of “harlot. ””
“As Lipiński argues, however, there is nothing in the story of Judah and Tamar to suggest sacred prostitution was involved; rather, it seems that
zonahand qedeshahwere synonyms and that the latter has simply been misinterpreted by translators.
Qedeshah likely originally referred to “consecrated maidens” who were employed in Canaanite and later Phoenician temples devoted to Ashtoreth worship. As such, the Biblical writers came to associate the fertility rites of Ashtoreth worship with sacred prostitution, and the word
qedeshah, therefore, came to be used as a pejorative term for “prostitute. ””
When they responded that the articles I quoted narrowly defined “cult prostitution” as Ashteroth worship. I responded: The main article does not use this as an argument from what I have seen. Here are examples of arguments it uses about Israel related to Astoreth:
The Hebrew meaning of qedeshah as harlot possibly derives from the perception that some “consecrated” maidens employed in Canaanite temples were also prostitutes in the context of fertility cults, especially of the goddess Ashtoreth. Indeed, the simple fact that such women served a heathen deity may have led to the understanding of the word qedeshah by outsiders in the sense of “harlot” and to its use in Biblical Hebrew as a synonym of zonah, “prostitute.” In short, in the Hebrew Bible, qedeshah (and its plural) simply refers to a prostitute, not to a cult prostitute in particular.
. . .
A widespread modern misunderstanding of the term asherah as a pagan goddess has led some to conclude that cult prostitution was involved in this passage, i.e., 2 Kings 23:7. It thus becomes important to unpack this reference to asherah and explain how it became confused with a Canaanite goddess, either Ashtoreth or Ashratu. The conclusion, however, as we shall see, is that asherah in the Bible refers to a shrine or sacred grove, not to a goddess.
The confusion can be easily recognized because in several West Semitic languages (Assyro-Babylonian, Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew), the common word for shrine (aširtu/ešertu in Assyro-Babylonian, ’šrt in Phoenician, ’trt in Aramaic and ’šrh/’šyrh in Hebrew) is similar to Ashtoreth (’štrt) and to the name ’Atrt of the Ugaritic goddess Rabbatu Atratu Yamma, “The Lady Who Treads upon the Sea.” The similarity of Biblical asherah to these terms in other related languages led modern mythographers to invent a goddess Asherah in the Bible. Modern translators followed suit.
It is clear, however, that asherah in the Bible cannot refer to a goddess. In the Bible, asherah has a plural, ’šrym,3 sometimes ’šrwt.4 This would hardly be the case if asherah were a goddess. Moreover, in the Bible asherah sometimes occurs with the article ha- (“the shrine”)5 and with the pronominal suffix (“his shrine”), as in the well-known Hebrew inscriptions from Khirbet el-Qom, near Jerusalem (yhwh w’šrth, “Yahweh and his shrine”), and from Kuntillet ‘Ajrud in the Sinai (yhwh šmrn w’šrth, “Yahweh of Samaria and his shrine”; yhwh tmn w’šrth, “Yahweh of the South and his shrine”).a This proves that asherah cannot be a proper name. In addition, asherah could be “built” (1 Kings 14:23), “made” (2 Kings 21:7), “set up” (2 Kings 17:10) or “installed” (2 Chronicles 33:19), again showing that asherah cannot be a goddess. Asherah was no deity but simply a grove or a shrine that eventually became a small construction.6
Provincial shrines, like those referred to at Khirbet el-Qom and Kuntillet ‘Ajrud, were prohibited after the centralization of religious observance in Jerusalem by King Josiah in the seventh century B.C.E. (2 Kings 23), but the prophet Jeremiah in the
seventh–sixthcenturies B.C.E. still refers to the asherim(in the plural), the sacred groves or shrines in the shade of spreading trees. In other texts, such as Jeremiah 2:20 and 3:6–10, the metaphors of prostitution and adultery are used as poetic descriptions of Judah’s infidelity to the Lord.
These passages do not allude to cult prostitution performed by young Judahite women, although the existence of fertility cults in Canaan was certainly known. They were even exported by Phoenicians to the western Mediterranean and appear in Phoenician and Carthaginian colonies.
“At Pyrgi, north of Rome in what was Etruria, archaeologists uncovered a temple (Temple B) from about 500 B.C.E. A bilingual inscription found in the excavation records the dedication of a “holy place” to the Etruscan goddess Uni (Latin Juno), called Ashtoreth in her Phoenician version.”
None of these are making the argument that there is no evidence of cult prostitution in Israel because there is
A further explanation is needed concerning the qadesh. In the well-known cuneiform texts from Ugarit (on the Mediterranean coast of modern Syria), which date to about 1200 B.C.E., qdšm (= Hebrew qedeshim) are often mentioned with the khnm (= kohanim, “priests”) and seem to be cultic servants assisting the priests. There is no indication that they were male prostitutes. They were simply priestly assistants. The qdšym of older Biblical psalms may have exercised a similar function, but the word was later understood in the sense of “holy men” and vocalized accordingly. In fact, the priestly assistants got a bad reputation in the seventh century B.C.E., as shown by 2 Kings 23:7, possibly indicating that prostitution did occur in the Temple, even a kind of cult prostitution. In the time of Josiah, the Biblical text tells us, the king “pulled down the houses of the qedeshim in the House of the Lord, where women were renting2 cubicles as a shrine (asherah)” (2 Kings 23:7, my translation). There is no evidence, however, that the qedeshim were male cult prostitutes. As at Ugarit, the qedeshim were priestly assistants. In 2 Kings 23:7, Josiah is said to have torn down the cubicles (literally, houses) of the qedeshim (male) in the Temple precinct. The qedeshim are thus said to have been renting houses in the Temple precinct to some women, possibly for prostitution. Perhaps the men were also acting as pimps.
Note that the women who rented their houses (or cubicles) are not called qedeshot. Whatever the women were doing in the cubicles (the JPS translation suggests they were weaving coverings for the shrine), it had something to do with a shrine, as indicated by the term asherah, which designates a shrine, a sacred grove or a tree under which an illicit cultic ritual is performed.
. . .
Cult prostitution existed in some parts of the Near East as well as in the Phoenician colonies of the western Mediterranean. It reflected the ritual practices of the Canaanites surrounding ancient Israel and Judah. Its faint reflection recorded in the Hebrew Bible serves as a metaphoric allusion to Israel’s infidelity to God or as a synonym of harlotry. Modern translations of the Hebrew Bible often
unfortunatelygive another impression. There is a single passage (2 Kings 23:7, discussed above) that may contain an obscure reference to cult prostitution; it mentions a shrine rented to women in the precinct of the Temple and destroyed by King Josiah. But that is all.
There is a mistaken notion that “
The earliest Biblical attestation of qedeshah is found in the story of Judah and Tamar in Genesis 38. Judah’s son Er, married to Tamar, died. Judah then gave his second son Onan to Tamar. Onan also died. Judah was reluctant to give his third son Shelah to Tamar, as was required when a brother died without children. Later, Judah himself was widowed. He saw a woman on the road, assumed her to be a harlot (zonah), and slept with her. He gave her his seal as assurance that he would pay her with a sheep from his flock (Genesis 38:15–18). The zonah turned out to be none other than his daughter-in-law Tamar, who had dressed herself in a veil and sat by the road because Judah had refused to give her his third son as a husband. When Judah’s friend went to redeem the pledge, he inquired of the people of the town where he could find the assumed prostitute. They replied that there was no qedeshah in the area (Genesis 38:20–21). Obviously the two words (qedeshah and zonah) are used as synonyms. And there is no indication whatever that cult prostitution is involved. There is no cultic context here.
Lipinski says something similar
No Israelite shall be a prostitute (a prohibition expressed in the third person): “There shall be no prostitute (
qedeshah) among the daughters of Israel; there shall be no qadeshamong the sons of Israel” [my translation]. The word qedeshahhere is a synonym of zonah, which is used in the prohibition in verse 19 [i.e. verse 18 in English]. This is the same situation we have seen in the story of Judah and Tamar.
I can also observe that the Hebrew uses these words as synonyms:
There shall be no whore H6948 of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite h6945 of the sons of Israel. (Deu 23:17 KJV)
Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, h2181 or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are
This is how the septuagint treats it as well translating both as porneia (G4203/G4204)
17 There shall not be a harlot G4204 from the daughters of Israel, and there shall not be one whoring G4203 from the sons of Israel. 18 You shall not bring the hire of a harlot, G4204 nor the price of a dog, G2965 into the house of the lord your God for any vow. For [4an abomination 5to the lord 6your God 3are 1even 2both].Deuteronomy 23:17-18 https://studybible.info/interlinear/Deuteronomy%2023:17-18
κύων, κυνός+ N3M/F 3-19-4-10-6=42http://www.glasovipisma.pbf.rs/phocadownload/knjige/greek%20lexicon%20for%20the%20septuagint.pdf
Ex 11,7; 22,30; Dt 23,19; Jgs 7,5
dog Ex 11,7; id. (as derogatory term for non-Jews) Ps 21(22),17; male prostitute Dt 23,19
→ LSJ Suppl(Dt 23,19); LSJ RSuppl
The same is true of the judah and tamar:
When Judah saw her, he thought her to be
an harlot; H2181 because she had covered her face.
Then he asked the men of that place, saying, Where is the harlot, H6948 that was openly by the
way side? And they said, There wasno harlot H6948 in this place.
And he returned to Judah, and said, I cannot find her; and also the men of the place said, that there
wasno harlot H6948 in this place.
And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Judah, saying, Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; H2181 and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. H2183 And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt. (KJV)
Or take the LXX ABP of Genesis 38:15-24:
15 And [2seeing 3her 1Judah], assumed her to be a harlot. G4204 For she covered up her face, and [3not 1he recognized 2her]. 16 And he turned aside to her in the way. And he said to her, Allow me to enter to you. For he did not know that [2his daughter-in-law 1she is]. And she said, What will you give to me, if you should enter to me? 17 And he said, I will send to you a kid of the goats from out of my flocks. And she said, You should give a deposit until you send it. 18 And he said, What deposit shall I give to you? And she said, Your ring, and the pendant, and the rod in your hand. And he gave them to her, and he entered to her. And [2in 3the womb 1she conceived] from him. 19 And rising up she went forth. And she removed her lightweight garment from herself, and put on the garments of her widowhood. 20 [3sent 1And 2Judah] the kid of the goats by the hand of his shepherd the Adullamite, to deliver by him to the woman the deposit. And he did not find her. 21 And he asked the men of the place, Where is the harlot, G4204 the one being in Enaim upon the way? And they said, There was no [2here 1harlot G4204]. 22 And he returned to Judah, and said, I did not find her, and the men, the ones from the place, say, There was no [2here 1harlot G4204]. 23 [3said 1And 2Judah], Let her have them, but lest at any time we should be ridiculed, I indeed sent this kid, but you have not found her. 24 And it came to pass after three months, it was announced to Judah, saying, [3fornicated G1608 1Tamar 2your daughter-in-law]. And behold, [2in 3the womb 1she has one] out of harlotry. G4202 [3said 1And 2Judah], Lead her out, and let her be incinerated!https://www.stepbible.org/?q=version=ABP|reference=Gen.38&options=HNVUG
Gn 38,24; Ex 34,15.16(bis); Lv 17,7
to commit fornication, to play the harlot [abs.] Gn 38,24; to commit fornication with, to play the harlot
with [ἐπί τινα] Ez 16,26; id. [ἔν τινι] Ez 16,17; to resort to sb for fornication [εἴς τινα] Nm 25,1; to
prostitute, to cause to commit forni-cation [τινα] Lv 19,29
to go whoring after [ὀπίσω τινός] Ez 20,30; to seduce into immoral practices [τινα] 2 Chr 21,11
Cf. HARL 1986a, 266; HELBING 1928, 78; →LSJ RSuppl; TWNT
A different version of the Septuagint even feels the need to add the idolatrous context to Deuteronomy 23 to make the case clear, showing that the original words did not necessarily mean just cult prostitution but included prostitution in general:
17 There shall not be a harlot of the daughters of Israel, and there shall not be a fornicator of the sons of Israel; there shall not be an idolatress of the daughters of Israel, and there shall not be an initiated person of the sons of Israel. 18 Thou shalt not bring the hire of a harlot, nor the price of a dog into the house of the Lord thy God, for any vow; because even both are an abomination to the Lord thy God.
Septuagint Greek definitions from here: http://www.glasovipisma.pbf.rs/phocadownload/knjige/greek%20lexicon%20for%20the%20septuagint.pdf
One other thing I think is interesting in the paper is that this adds some context to Lev 19:29:
In the ancient Near East, women could in fact be dedicated by their fathers or their masters to a deity. Women could also devote themselves to the service of a god or a goddess in order to secure their living. This was done mainly by young widows without grown children, by repudiated wives, by female slaves sent away (like Hagar, Abraham’s concubine in Genesis 21), by lonely women, etc.
Lipinski goes on to describe another nuance in their argument:
These “consecrated” persons performed tasks in the sanctuary, provided domestic help in temple annexes, perhaps provided musical entertainment and possibly sexual services, remitting their fees to the temple. However, qedeshot in the Bible never appear as performing religious sexual rituals, which is the key attribute of a cult prostitute. Women on duty at the entrance to Israelite sanctuaries are mentioned in Exodus 38:8 and 1 Samuel 2:22, but their tasks are not described, and they are not called qedeshot.
At the end of their paper Lipinski has this as well:
Genesis 38:15, 20–21
When Judah saw her, he took her for a harlot (zonah); for she had covered her face.
Judah sent the kid by his friend the Adullamite, to redeem the pledge from the woman; but he could not find her. He inquired of the people of that town, “Where is the cult prostitute (qedeshah), the one at Enaim, by the road?” But they said, “There has been no prostitute (qedeshah) here.”
Deuteronomy 23:18–19 [17–18 English]
No Israelite woman shall be a cult prostitute (
qedeshah), nor shall any Israelite man be a cult prostitute ( qadesh). You shall not bring the fee of a whore ( zonah) or the pay of a dog [i.e., male prostitute] into the House of the Lord your God in fulfillment of any vow, for both are abhorrent to the Lord your God.
It looks to me like their main argument is from the biblical text and from Hebrew grammar concerning “Asherah.” Their argument that cult
They (the people who believe in premarital sex) also stated that in the story of Judah and Tamar the context is cultic prostitution. I responded:
There is no cultic context here, she is sitting in the open not in a temple (as is the practice of cult prostitutes) and he recognizes her as a prostitute simply because she has covered her face. An interesting parallel is Rebecca wearing a veil for Isaac. Surely we are not to conclude that Rebecca is acting
The veil is also used as a means of enticement/attractiveness/sexuality when Rebecca is being led by Abraham’s servant to meet for the first time her new fiance, Isaac. (Gen 24) Upon being told that the man in the distance ishttp://curiousjew.blogspot.com/2008/02/symbolic-veil.html )
in factIsaac, she puts her veil on. (v. 65) Mind you, she had no veil on for the entire journey with Abraham’s servant – APPARENTLY, there was no “modesty requirement” compelling her to wear a veil when with the servant. Rather, when she meets her fiance – someone who she wants to and should look sexually attractive for! ( seev. 67) – she then decides to put on a veil.
(Much of this answer is developed at length by Olivia Wizniter, at
In addition, it seems like Lipinski is saying that there wasn’t archaeological evidence in the area that Judah and Tamar were in for that. In
“And she put her widow’s garments off from her, and covered her with a vail, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife.”
If Shelah was betrothed it would have been a big deal to break off the engagement so he could marry someone else. (engagements were treated like marriages) Remember Judah is planning on Shelah NOT marrying Tamar. Tamar obviously doesn’t think that she is going to marry Shelah, this is the whole reason she seduces Judah.
Another reason to connect H3611 and H2181 (hence prostition and “cultic” prostitution) is the following:
Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, h2181 or the price of a dog, H3611 into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are
Gesenius notes that
On the biblical and translational evidence alone I think it’s pretty overwhelming that qedashah and zonah are synonymous.