[b-hebrew] YHWH's attitude towards zonah
peterkirk at qaya.org
Fri Jul 16 10:34:02 EDT 2004
On 16/07/2004 14:54, Stoney Breyer wrote:
>Surely the point is: (v.17, English) No temple prostitution among
>Israelites; (v.18) don't even bring the earnings of prostitutes into the
>temple because that makes them effectively temple prostitutes; because
>YHWH detests temple prostitution.
>But, Peter, doesn't that paraphrase, like Patrina's explanation, beg the
>question rather than answer it? ... the question being What *is* a
>More narrowly, is the common understanding of qedeshah as "temple
>prostitute" based on any *reliable* evidence that "temple prostitution"
>was actually practiced in Canaan or anywhere else in the ANE? May it not
>equally be the same sort of myth as the Witch Cult of Northern Europe?
Fair enough as a question. I will not attempt to provide any evidence
from outside the Hebrew Bible and the LXX. But I will look at the
evidence from within it:
There were people known as qadesh and qadesha, sometimes found within
Israel (1Ki 14:24, 15:12, 22:46, 2Ki 23:7) but (at least from the
perspective of the Deuteronomist) incompatible with true Yahwism (Deut
23:17 and the contexts of the Kings references). They were apparently
associated with idolatry (1Ki 15:12) and during a period of apostasy
their houses were in the house of YHWH (2Ki 23:7).
There is a clear association between qadesha and zona, in Hosea 4:14
where the two words are used in poetic parallelism and in Genesis 38
where the same woman is referred to as zona and qadesha, as well as in
Deut 23:17,18 where the context strongly suggests a link, with the
interpretation I gave above.
The LXX renderings of the Hebrew are clear in Deut 23:17,18: PORNH =
(female) prostitute and PORNEUWN = (masculine) sexually immoral; also
Genesis 38:21,22: PORNH three times. This is clear evidence of an
ancient Jewish understanding of qadesh(a) as referring to prostitution.
Elsewhere the renderings are more obscure but some suggest a religious
dimension: SUNDESMOS (1Ki 14:24), TELETH ("mysteries"?) (15:12),
ENDIHLLAGMENOS (22:46 some MSS), KADHSIM (2Ki 23:7), TETELESMENOS
("initiates"?) (Hos 4:14), AGGELOS (!) (Job 36:14).
All of this strongly suggests that qadesh(a) is in fact a reference to
prostitution, and a kind of prostitution which had religious links and
significance. Beyond that, and without extra-biblical evidence, we
cannot be certain, but "temple prostitute" certainly fits well. There is
very little evidence for your theory of a religious role not involving
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
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