[b-hebrew] Re: [b-hebrew YHWH's attitude towards zonah

Patrina patrina at bestmail.us
Thu Jul 15 21:04:19 EDT 2004

On Wed, 14 Jul 2004 16:59:00 -0500, "Stoney Breyer"
<stoneyb at touchwood.net> said:
> *my* point is that the use of a kadeshah in Genesis 38 does seems (I am
> not saying this is proven) to have some more honor, or was at least less
> embrassing, than using a zonah.  That would seem to explain why the
> Adullamite was out looking for a kadeshah to redeem Judah signet,
> braclet, and staff, rather than a zonah.  
> Oh, I quite agree. But we still don't know whether "qedeshah" is a
> euphemism for "zonah", a professional girl of higher class than a
> "zonah" ("hetaira" vs "porne"), or somebody entirely different who could
> be comically confused with a "zonah". I think this is the question this
> whole thread derived from: is a qedeshah a ritual copulatrix, a
> prostitute whose earnings went to a religious corporation, or a sacred
> servant whose service was nonsexual?. 

Deuteronomy 23:18 - You shall not bring the hire of a zonah, or the
price of a dog (?male prostitute), into the house of YHWH your Elohim
for any vow: for both of these are an abomination to YHWH your Elohim.  

Here would have been the perfect verse to mention kadeshah if there were
any major problems with this.  I think it seems clear that a distinction
was made in those days between a sanctioned kadeshah, whose services
would have been available in the temple precincts, and a zonah who
operates on the highways and byways.  

In an ANE context, it's no surprise that a kadeshah was regarded as
"holy", since virgins commonly did this before marrying.  And what
better way to begin your reproductive life that giving birth to a "holy"
child and dedicating your "firstborn" to the deity who "opened" your
womb?  It seems to me that's how they probably would have understood it.
 Then, after being blessed with fertility, the women were ready for
marriage.  It was not uncommon to sleep overnight in the temple. 
Although the writer of 1 Samuel 2:22-25 indicates that Eli's sons were
doing the wrong thing by sleeping with the women who came to the temple,
it is likely that they regarded it as their prerogative - if not their
duty - during that period.  Obviously, at a later period it was not
acceptable.  Their greater sin was probably taking the best portions of
meat from the sacrifices unlawfully (1 Samuel 2:12-17)!

Patrina Nuske Small
Adelaide, South Australia
  patrina at bestmail.us

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