[b-hebrew] "Sodomite" in 2 Kings 23.7 & Homosexuality

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Wed Jul 14 04:29:22 EDT 2004

On 14/07/2004 05:04, Bearpecs at aol.com wrote:

>I also think it is likely that a qadesha associated with a sanctuary may  not 
>have been a "temple prostitute" in the sense of a woman who commited sexual  
>acts for cultic, ritual reasons.  I am not aware of any evidence that  ancient 
>Israel practiced ritual sex for cultic purposes -- or even acknowledged  for 
>example any sympathetic magic of human sex encouraging agricultural  
>fertility.  (And if you say that all the evidence has been expurgated from  the Bible, 
>then why would the mention of qedeshot not also be expurgated?)   Rather, I 
>would suggest that a qedesha may have been a woman (presumably a  slave) 
>dedicated to the sanctuary, just as other items were dedicated to the  sanctuary.  
>Her income would then have belonged to the sanctuary.   Thus, she may have been 
>a prostitute, and a "holy" prostitute in the sense that  her cost went to the 
>upkeep of the holy sanctuary, but not a "temple prostitute"  in the classic 
>meaning of the term.  (A qadesh -- whether performing  homosexual or 
>heterosexual acts -- would similarly have been a sanctuary  prostitute but did not engage 
>in sex for cultic purposes.)  This  would be just as deplorable in the eyes 
>of the Bible as temple prostitution, but  I suggest is more consistent with 
>what we know of the theological  environment.
The answer to your theory is in what Yigal wrote:

>In all of
>these, it refers to something that the Bible regards negatively, some
>forbidden practice. Since the root QD$ is usually related to things
>"sacred", one would assume that here, too, the reference is to some
>forbidden cultic activity.

Furthermore, in many of the references QADESH is linked to the 
idolatrous practices of the neighbouring nations. It is clear that, to 
the faithful Israelites who wrote the Bible books, this was something 
alien, idolatrous and detestable which had been imported into Israelite 
religion by syncretists. Ritual sex for cultic purposes was indeed never 
a part of normative Yahwism. But the Bible repeatedly tells us that 
non-normative pagan practices were imported into Yahwism, and condemned 
by the biblical authors. Even without the explicit references, we would 
expect cultic prostitution to be one of these practices. 2 Kings 23:7 is 
one of the passages in which these practices are condemned, in that they 
were stamped out by Josiah who is commended as the ideal faithful king 

So, although we cannot be sure exactly what a QADESH did, we cannot 
argue that it was not temple prostitution because this was not an 
Israelite practice. Israelite practice in the pre-exilic period did not 
always match the ideals of the Deuteronomist, and the texts bear witness 
to that in their condemnations. Indeed, at times, such as the reign of 
Manasseh, Israelite practice was much like that of the surrounding 
nations, including child sacrifice (2 Kings 21:6), and the use of the 
word QADESH in association with such periods suggests that temple 
prostitution was included.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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