[b-hebrew] Zonah v Qadeshah in Gen 38

Stoney Breyer stoneyb at touchwood.net
Wed Jul 14 16:36:13 EDT 2004

David Kimbrough: it is a NOT trade mark of a common prostitute (both in
ancient and modern times in the Levant) to wear a veil.  "Proper" women
cover their faces, a zonah certainly would not.
Peter Kirk: As for * ky kSth Pnyh *, surely that explains not why Judah
thought Tamar was a prostitute but why he did not recognise his own
Vincent Medina: It is not clear what made Judah think she was a zonah.
Perhaps the very fact that she was sitting beside the road gave this
impression (as previously noted, the veil would not have been the clue).
The narrator does not tell us, so it is beside the point. 
SB: He sure sounds like he tells us.  He doesn't say "he didn't know her
because she had covered her face," he says "he took her for a zonah
because she had covered her face."  And at the very least veiling must
be *consistent* with prostitution, or Judah could *not* have taken Tamar
for a zonah. 
As long as we're engaging in conjecture: Perhaps prostitutes *had* to
wear veils because their calling was so shameful. Or perhaps prostitutes
covered themselves because there was something erotic about it. Perhaps
removing a woman's veil had the same sort of erotic significance that
removing a woman's girdle had for the Greeks.  Rebekah is a "proper
woman" who apparently did *not* wear a veil in the company of her
escort, but put one on to meet her new husband. And perhaps qdeshot,
too, wore veils (like Moses, to protect bystanders from their divine
effulgence? Or vice versa?), and that's why they're associated with
prostitutes. Or, contrariwise, perhaps prostitutes assumed veils in
order to associate themselves with qdeshot, either for an extra erotic
fillip or as an act of countercultural self-assertion.
Stoney Breyer
Writer, Touchwood

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