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

Stoney Breyer stoneyb at touchwood.net
Fri Jul 16 08:18:26 EDT 2004


Patrina - Thanks for your very relevant observations.

Yes, the juxtaposition of these two verses does seem not only to
distinguish but to associate the hierodule and the whore.

But why are they associated? The immediately preceding verses enjoin
protection of runaway slaves, the immediately following verses condemn
usury and, without prejudice to YHWH's contractual dues, urge people to
think twice before making expensive commitments to Him. The context is
not only sexual but economic exploitation. So while, as you suggest, the
sense of thse two verses may be "Do not prostitute your children either
by giving them to the temple brothel or by encouraging them to
free-lance" it could, equally, be "Do not pledge your children to temple
service, and *especially* don't pledge them to service as prostitutes." 

PNS: 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.  

This is a very familiar and plausible reconstruction of ANE fertility
cults. If that's what they did, that's quite likely to be why they did
it. But is there any evidence that they actually did it? My impression
(no more than that, and I'm happy to be corrected) is that current
scholarship says "no". 

Stoney Breyer
Writer / Touchwood







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