DEUT 23:18 AND THE LITERAL AND METAPHORICAL ASPECTS OF THE HIRE OF A HARLOT
AbstractThe language of prostitution is used in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in both literal and metaphorical senses. Although harlots (prostitutes) and prostitution are mentioned in the HB/OT (Lev 18; 21:1–15 and Deut 23), these harlots are not punished like people who are caught in the act of adultery. The specific reference that is hinted at in Deut 23:18 and the question pertaining to the nature of the activity denounced by Yahweh in the text has generated speculation and requires some study. This article systematises the possibilities, literally and metaphorically – evaluating prostitution as foreign, religiously deviant or morally detestable. The critical concern of this article is what, according to Deut 23:18, God hates: harlots, the practice of prostitution or the use of the wages (gifts) thereof for the redemption of vows; and what these imply. In this article, the clear pairing in the prohibition of Deut 23:18 – “hire of a harlot” (אֶתְנַן זוֺנָה) and “price of a dog” (מְחִיר כֶּלֶב) – are both metaphorical symbols of shame and disgrace and should not be accepted for fulfilling religious vows.
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