Talk:Sacred prostitution

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Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment[edit]

This article was the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment, between 1 September 2021 and 20 December 2021. Further details are available on the course page. Student editor(s): Greyandpurple. Peer reviewers: Mpride2.

Above undated message substituted from assignment by PrimeBOT (talk) 08:31, 17 January 2022 (UTC)[reply]

Priestesses of Vesta in Rome[edit]

In ancient Rome, the priestesses of goddess Vesta had the two duties of always maintaining lit the goddess' fire, and to initiate young boys to sex at the moment of tonsura. The famous Rea Silvia, mother of Romulus and Remus, was one of these. The use of maintaining an always lit fire has been recorded in many coastal temples, and has been ideally connected with the preference (or exclusive licence) granted to sailors to use these services. It has been supposed that these fires should indicate the route to sailors, exactly like modern lighthouses.

This whole paragraph is dubious. The first half of the first sentence is at least accurate, but:

  1. tonsura means "shaving", which was part of a Roman boy's initiation into manhood, but they called it depositio barbae. The ceremony further involved putting on the toga virilis for the first time, but where does this idea of sexual initiation come from? I can't find any support for this. . . well, anywhere.
  2. Rea Silvia was killed for breaking a vow of celibacy -- so either Vesta went through priestesses very quickly, or there's something wrong here.
  3. What does the stuff about coastal temples (assuming it's true) have to do with this? Vesta has been fairly conclusively identified as the goddess of the hearth, and her perpetual flame with the practice of keeping the house's fire constantly burning, which was easier than relighting it every day. This practice survived into the 20th century in some places.
  4. Furthermore the whole idea doesn't jibe with the extremely male-centric Roman concept of sexuality. Granted that this mindset changed somewhat in the later years of the Empire, under influences from other cultures, but Vesta's cult dates back to pre-Republican times.

The Romans may have had some fertility cults, such as those of Isis and Cybele, but the worship of Vesta was not one of them. -- 19:15, 19 Mar 2004 (UTC)


With the use of the loaded term prostitution rather than hieros gamos, and without mention of transgenderism in any way, this article is totally biased and fails to present its subject in proper context. Christianity has a long history of completely failing to understand transsexuality, and this is one of the examples. --Eequor 16:03, 19 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Not entirely sure what transsexuality has to do with it. Granted, there were transsexual temple prostitutes, but many hierodules in many cultures were garden-variety females. As for the word itself, it's not technically accurate (some cultures' hierodules were paid for their services, some were not), but that is nevertheless a widely-used anthropological term describing precisely the range of phenomena addressed by this article. "Hieros gamos", in contrast, describes a narrower class of rites (narrower still if you interpret it to refer only to the original rite of that name, and not simply to any mating/wedding of man and god). I'd advise either adding a section to the article explaining that many forms of what's called religious prostitution were not actually prostitution, or... well... coming up with a more accurate name than "hieros gamos", I suppose. Can't think of any alternatives, really. Then again, I have been awake for about 34 hours, maybe it'll come to me when I wake up. 04:45, 18 June 2006 (UTC)[reply]


From the original: "The Hebrew original employs the word "qedsha" in Judah's question, as opposed to the standard Hebrew "zonah". The word "qidsha" is derived from the root Q.D.Sh, which signifies uniqueness and holiness; thus it probably represents a religious prostitute, a term uncommon among the Israelites,"

The word is Qidosha which means "holy woman"... Qidsha means "She bless'/blessed"

Actually, the word you are looking for is Qedesha,Kedesha, קְדֵשָה, which means a paid prostitute. YUBachur 3:46, 3 June 2012

Strongs Gen 38:21 interpretation of "harlot" "H6948 קדשׁה qedêshâh ked-ay-shaw' Feminine of H6945; a female devotee (that is, prostitute): - harlot, whore."

This is obviously an incorrect interpretation, however it may be a contextual interpretation...

So is this qedsha or qidsha, anyway? Cema 03:30, 19 December 2005 (UTC)[reply]

By the way, the similarity of the words for "holy woman" and "prostitute" doesn't necessarily mean that temple prostitution was common, since the word for "holy woman" (or a variant thereof) could have been adopted to the "prostitute" meaning as a euphemism (or an advertising expression to highlights the purity of a prostitute). [Comment added by a visitor on 2008-03-19.] —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:43, 19 March 2008 (UTC)[reply]

i am certain that qedesha is from the root that translates as separate, usually with holy connotations, but as i was taught in an orthodox school at age 15, in this context literally meaning sparate from normal life to be used for sex.not a referance to temple prostitutes, which seem to be a total myth as every orthodox tradition states that the levels of modesty and the amount of privacy associated with sex in the time of the temple exceeds even the modern ultra-orthodox standards.

Qedesh in Athens?[edit]

Quoth the article:

In Greece, Solon instituted the first Athenian brothels (oik`iskoi) in the 6th century BC, and with the earnings of this business he built a temple dedicated to Aprodites Pandemo (or Qedesh), patron goddess of this commerce.

Why is that non-Greek name used as a synonym for Aphrodite? Did the Greeks consider that to be another name for her? --Jfruh 03:00, 24 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Aphrodite was herself a foreign goddess, adopted by the Greeks from the Phoenicians. "Qedesh" may have been a Phoenician title for Ashtoreth (pick your variant name), and would have signified "the Holy One" - a term used also in Hebrew (closely related to Phoenician) to denite consecrated temple courtesans of Canaanite religious practice. So, in answer to your question, quite possibly. (talk) 09:09, 6 May 2012 (UTC)[reply]


Didn't some Jewish prophet marry a prostitute to teach Hebrews a lesson?

The prophet Hosea was instructed to marry a harlot, whom he later divorces. Both the marriage, resulting children and divorce are used as object lessons to the Jewish people. I don't think this qualifies as religious prostitution though.--Dunedan 18:48, 22 November 2005 (UTC)[reply]
There are many classical commentators who claim that this anecdote is metaphorical. However, even assuming the literal interpretation of the text, you are correct: this would not qualify as religious prostitution. It would even support the view that there was no sacred prostitution in the Temple, as this is a singular, unnatural requirement, implying that such unions were uncommon and certainly not mandated.-YUBachur 3:52, 3 June 2012

Citations? Any at all?

Biblical references[edit]

I altered language in this section to reflect that the interpretations associating phrases like "the price of a dog" are euphememisms for homosexuality represent somewhat speculative hypotheses, which should be attributed and sourced. Removed claim that this is "according to the Bible" since it's according to a particular school of commentary's interpretation of the Bible. Also removed this passage

these passages are often cited by conservative Christian denominations as indication of proscription against same-sex relations (homosexuality and bisexuality) [citation needed],

This claim has no cited sources and I question whether any traditionalists hold it. Conservative Judaism, in an otherwise comparatively liberal recent opinion on homosexuality (See Conservative Halakha#Homosexuality, expressly rejected claims that these passages concern the subject on grounds that the hypothesis is pure speculation. The passages commonly cited by traditionalists in Judaism are Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13. Suggest that conservative Christian editors (there are quite a number of them on e.g. Wikipedia:WikiProject Christianity be consulted to see if this claim correctly describes what conservative Christian opinonmakers actually believe. Best, --Shirahadasha 07:36, 5 January 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Terrible Article[edit]

Maybe someone with knowledge on the subject and with better resources should write this article. It is terrible and the first paragraph is poorly written. This is exactly why an increasing number of post-secondary institutions are not allowing the citation of wikipedia, as a legitimate primary source of information, in academic works. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rabrams20 (talkcontribs)

Can you improve it? Be bold! --Shirahadasha 06:30, 7 May 2007 (UTC)[reply]
In the Ancient Near East section, what is meant by "argues taxatively?" A more standard adverb would be an improvement, but I can't offer one: I don't understand the meaning. Ohayrt (talk) 15:53, 10 September 2022 (UTC)[reply]

Greece and Rome[edit]

What abou the greco-roman temples in which this occured? Like the Temple of Bona Dea in Rome? ΤΕΡΡΑΣΙΔΙΩΣ(Ταλκ) 01:55, 22 June 2008 (UTC)[reply]


Whenever I see any essay denying what has been recorded, particularly by persons contemporary to events, I always have to consider whether or not this is a modern revision (lie) for political reasons. The author of this article seems to be trying to assert that early and modern cultures "really" adhered or adhere to current Western practices and attitudes or those current attitudes the so-called historian rejects. A general rule is that revision is falsification and propaganda. --Calypsoparakeet (talk) 11:18, 12 June 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Recent changes[edit]

The changes I made were to remove unsupported speculation, innuendo, and misrepresentation of the underlying sources. If there is a particular thing I removed which you think *is* determined from the sources than cite it exactly and clearly. Thanks.Wjhonson (talk) 18:57, 6 July 2009 (UTC)[reply]

So let's look at some of these removals:
  • Unlink specific website used in bibleverse, a better alternative should be created [6]
    • You are welcome to go to Template talk:bibleverse if you don't like these templates and think they could be improved. But meantime, they are available for a reason and their use is encouraged. It is very helpful, if a Bible verse or a Quran verse is cited, for the reader to be able to go click straight to the text and see the exact verse in its full context. That is why these templates exist, and their use is encouraged. As for the translations chosen, yes it would be a good feature if the template made it easier to change translation, eg in a frame around the link provided. That could well be a good thing to suggest at Template talk:bibleverse. But until then, linking to 'HE' is useful for parallel Hebrew and English, to show the full Hebrew text of the verse in question. As for the Hosea verse, the specific NASB link sources the version of the translation given in the next lines, which points up the characteristic Hebrew parallelism particularly well; it's a Bible Gateway link, so the reader can easily compare several further renderings.
    • I can't see anything is served by removing this links - the idea that we are better served with no link, rather than a link to a particular translation, is not one I would subscribe to without very good reason.
  • biblegateway is a sucky sucky sucky site [7]
    • Ditto.
  • not "female" just consecrated person [8]
    • The -ah at the end of kedeshah marks it out as specifically referring to a female, as opposed to the form kadesh. Compare yeled boy, yaldah girl; melech king, malchah queen; etc.
  • not "sex", and not definite
    • Okay, so calling Qedesha/Qetesh the "goddess of sex" was an oversimplification. But it is clear (sources concur) that her image was directly sexual, and that physical love was, at the very least, one of her key associations. "Goddess of sex" gives the reader a much more relevant and useful steer in the context of this article than "one of their Godesses".
  • delete speculation of meaning behind warning [9]
    • The point is to alert the reader to the clear parallelism made, here and elsewhere, between instances of kedeshah and instances of zonah. I submit that the Hebrew Bible is quick to link the two. Someone else might say it is only quick to parallel the two. I think that is splitting hairs. But the point here is to alert the readers to the claim, and then let them make up their mind on the evidence. It is not enough to just quote the verse, in the way you have left the text. It should also be introduced to the reader why the verse is being quoted.
  • Delete unreferenced clause which appears scurrilous
    • Google for "kinaidos" and you will find it means exactly what the article says it means. Since that is also exactly the sense and derivation proposed for keleb, (and the behaviour imputed to the kedeshim), it is entirely on-point to flag it here.
So: "unsupported speculation, innuendo, and misrepresentation of the underlying sources" ? I was providing links. It was you that removed them. If you think there is "misrepresentation" here, let's see some sourced argumentation to support that claim. All I have done is merely present the standard scholarly take on these words, and how they fit together. Jheald (talk) 19:12, 13 July 2009 (UTC)[reply]


Revised page to illustrate the distinction between 'classical' and 'revisionist' views of sacred prostitution. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:23, 11 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

I agree! Where it says 'Kedeshah' weren't really known in ancient world and have not been substantiated, it's total bullshit! And is the work only of modern feminist 'historians' who, because they have no knowledge of the ancient art of sacred sexuality, think it's something bad and/or demeaning, and deny it, but they're wrong. ... And as for my 'source', think about it. ;)


Is anyone interested in renaming this article to something more appropriate? For example (and feel free to add a recommendation) USchick (talk) 23:04, 30 April 2010 (UTC)[reply]

  • Sacred marriage (mythology)
  • Oppose Article seems to do what it says on the tin, at the moment. We have a different article on Hieros gamos: this is not it. Jheald (talk) 04:10, 1 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Surviving references[edit]

To user Your personal opinion of what you think is ludicrous is irrelevant. If you don't like the comparison, feel free to offer a credible source of where the idea originated. Why did the Masters of the Mishna feel the need to go out into the street to bring Shabbat into the Holy Temple, prepare for her a canopy with cushions and treat her like a Bride? Is there any other female who gets similar treatment in a Jewish temple? Hierodules were selected from the road, brought into the temple and served alongside with priests for the glory of God. The revisionist view in Judaism is the one that barred women from the temple entirely, which did happen eventually. The Masters of the Mishna are the ones who wrote down the oral history. Do you have an earlier source than the Masters? USchick (talk) 14:25, 29 May 2010 (UTC)[reply]

False Mesopotamian History[edit]

This article includes the paragraph:

"Later, as the introduction of metal tools spread from one culture to another, during the Iron Age, advanced technology revolutionized warfare. Through a series of invasions, indigenous populations of Mesopotamia were conquered, with the invaders imposing their own system of government and their own theocracy of monotheism.[15]"

The "iron age invaders" of Mesopotamia were the Hittites and Assyrians. The Assyrians and Hittites were polytheists. Furthermore, the Sumerians, Akkadians and Babylonians were also polytheists with high priestesses AND high priests. The head of the Sumerian-Akkadian pantheon is male, and the heaven deity is also male. The above gibberish must be removed. NJMauthor (talk) 20:53, 3 June 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Biased Revisionism[edit]

the "sabbath bride" section is ludicrous and not at all related to sacred prostitution, but rather some revisionistic view of "original mother-goddesses being replaced by the bad, male monotheist god". The "Sabbath Bride" is an original Jewish idea, and was never seen as a goddess, nor was prostitution practiced in reference to this personification of the Sabbath. A separate article regarding the "Sabbath Bride"-metaphor would be a more appropriate place to discuss it's origins and similarities to other female personifications, such as the personification of the Christian Church as a woman, a common image in the middle ages, once again unrelated to the practice of sexual acts in fertility cults.

 —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ben Ammi (talkcontribs) 22:59, 10 June 2010 (UTC)[reply] 

Ben Ammi (talk) 00:52, 11 June 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Ben Ammi, I fully support you in wiping out any of the ridiculous Original Research in this article. You are correct about the Sabbath bride. NJMauthor (talk) 04:13, 12 June 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Modern day Iranian sacred prostitution[edit]

An article at, purports to translate a document from the Shrine of the Imam Reza that appears to not only condone sacred prostitution, but to actively solicit for it. The change I made was almost immediately removed. I believe that it would be profitable to discuss whether it should be included or not.K012957 (talk) 19:23, 27 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Anti-Iranian blogs are not reliable sources. — goethean 19:42, 27 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
What Goethean said. Pimping for Allah? Drmies (talk) 20:04, 27 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
How can one go about verifying the authenticity of a document and its translation?K012957 (talk) 20:41, 27 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
You are talking about a JPG on a weblog. If the issue has not been discussed in any article or book, then there is no chance of verifying it to Wikipedia's standards. — goethean 21:42, 27 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks, I'll look for an article. Meanwhile see Nikrah mut'a which describes the process and how the sunni don't and the shia do. —Preceding unsigned comment added by K012957 (talkcontribs) 17:34, 28 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
If you intend to add content to this article, you will need to find a reliable sources which explicitly ties the practice to sacred prostitution. See WP:OR. — goethean 18:54, 28 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

The concept of temporary/weekend/hourly marriage is common in Islamic theology. Does that qualify as "sacred prostitution"? Probably not, since Islam itself -- to my knowledge -- doesn't think of such arrangements as prostitution, even if that is the end effect.

Silverstarseven (talk) 01:18, 26 August 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Moved around sections[edit]

I grouped related information together and moved the Near East information into its own section. USchick (talk) 01:47, 8 September 2010 (UTC)[reply]


In the article it is claimed that the biblical word "kelev" means dogs. Not; it is meant as a man-servant or scout. There was no Hebrew word for dog when Eliezer Ben-Yehuda helped create the modern lexicon. He chose the word "kelev."Mwinog2777 (talk) 19:47, 9 August 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Reference to Judaism[edit]

In this section

Whatever the cultic significance of a kedeshah to a follower of the Canaanite religion, the Hebrew Bible makes it clear that cultic prostitution had no place in Judaism. The word Judaism is used incorrectly here. There was no use of the word Jew until after the Babylonian exile. The HB largely refers to Israelite and Judahite religions. The Primary Source used is for Deutronaomy which is too early to use the word Judaism. I am happy to use another term such as Israelite and Judahite religion, but Judaism is not correct. Note that use Debresser removed the phrase worship of Yahweh, which he/she incorrectly referred to as cult of Yahweh. What other term should be used, as the Primary source of Deuteronomy is clearly referring to Yahweh worship here, as opposed to one of the other Israelite/Judahite gods/goddesses. Suggestions for re wording are welcomed.Johnmcintyre1959 (talk) 19:51, 15 September 2015 (UTC)[reply]

External links modified[edit]

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Split article?[edit]

This article seems to tie together very different phenomena across time and space. The subtopics don't hang together well, and I don't think it makes sense to maintain the scope as is.

I propose splitting the Ancient Near Eastern, Greek, and Roman from the other sections to create a more coherent article. It seems like the other sections should be deleted or re-distributed to other articles. Thoughts?

-Artemeesia (talk) 00:55, 17 August 2017 (UTC)[reply]


I'm moving the Japan section to the talk page because it is such a mess. The main source is a website with advice about visiting "sex clubs" in Japan. That site cites no sources, and is neither scholarly nor neutral. I have no idea what "Kuly, 198" is. Trying to search for it just leads back here.

Seems heavy-handed to remove the section. "Kuly, 198" refers to: Kuly, Lisa. "Locating Transcendence in Japanese Minzoku Geinô: Yamabushi and Miko Kagura," Ethnologies 25.1:191–208. (2003) See notes & references on Miko --John B123 (talk) 10:56, 12 December 2017 (UTC)[reply]
I found no mention of temple prostitutes in Kuly's work. It seems that they came from the sex club source, which is obviously biased and contains no references to actual research. I will remove that source and rewrite the section to be more in line with Kuly. --Gaahsbgz (talk) 17:01, 20 October 2021 (UTC)[reply]


Sacred prostitution was once practised by the Miko within traditional Shinto in Japan. There were once Shinto beliefs that prostitution was sacred, and there used to be lodgings for the temple prostitutes on the shrine grounds. This traditional practise came to an end during the beginning of the Meiji era, due to the encroachment of Western Christian morality, and the government implementing the Shinbutsu bunri; which, among other things, drastically decreased the roles of the Miko, and modified Shinto beliefs until it became what is now colloquially referred to as State Shinto.[1][2][full citation needed] (talk) 01:52, 12 December 2017 (UTC)[reply]



Temporary/alternative marriage arrangements do not qualify as prostitution as a concept in Islam. "Sacred" prostitution is even further and such arrangements, if even taken as prostitution —which is not the way it is legalized in Islam— is a social arrangement and does not have a sacred aspect to it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2001:56A:F109:F800:6442:AC9B:FC19:F9C6 (talk) 21:22, 23 February 2018 (UTC)[reply]

Whilst temporary marriages may not be considered as prostitution in Islam, in practice its widely used to circumvent anti=prostitution laws, and iddah after a temporary marriage is often not adhered to. However, whatever your view on temporary marriages, I don't see they qualify to be included as sacred prostitution, and neither does concubinage, John B123 (talk) 21:47, 23 February 2018 (UTC)[reply]
I agree with that they are widely used to circumvent anti-prostitution laws. How widely iddah is adhered to in practice, I do not know; however, if it's not adhered to, then that kind of marriage would be legally problematic due to the Islamic jurisprudence,, apparently, and that would constitute malpractice by Muslims rather than a workaround endorsement for prostitution in Islam. And yes, my main objection is, regardless of whether you classify this as prostitution or not, it is definitely not "sacred" prostitution. 2001:56A:F109:F800:6442:AC9B:FC19:F9C6 (talk) 22:41, 23 February 2018 (UTC)[reply]
Thought the same thing. I saw this discussion and decided against deleting. Why does anyone want to add sexual slavery in general and concubinage which is not sacred prostitution is beyond me. (talk) 11:13, 7 August 2018 (UTC)[reply]

Sodom and Gemorah - pre-Israelite?[edit]

"However, there are multiple examples of condemnation and instructions against male same-sex intercourse (e.g., Sodom and Gomorrah, Leviticus 20:13) in the Torah that predate Judaism.[citation needed]"

Is anyone aware of any evidence that Sodom and Gomorrah predate Judaism? Or are we taking Leviticus as a historical source, and is that what authorities say we should do? deisenbe (talk) 22:22, 2 July 2018 (UTC)[reply]

Controversial rewrite of the article[edit]

On May 1, 2019 the entire article was rewritten by User:Naugrith under the pretext of "Entire article rewritten and reordered to adhere to norms of modern scholarship and latest research". I find this rewrite a tendentious action destined to favor heavily a single academic posture in clear detriment of the existent academic plurality about the topic of the article, and I consider it to be a deep detriment to the encyclopedic value of the article. I would like to gather opinions in order to clear it out, and hopefully reverse it in order to give the article its informative neutrality back. Thank you. Creador de Mundos (talk) 20:06, 30 June 2019 (UTC)[reply]

I tend to agree. Whilst I can see no objection to the view being put forward added to the article, it shouldn't overpower the article, as it does now. --John B123 (talk) 21:16, 30 June 2019 (UTC)[reply]
Thank you both for your interest. I did my best to retain everything that was backed up by a relevant academic source, but to be honest the article was so poorly written, it was pretty much just speculation when I found it. There were no modern academic sources used for any of its statements. If there had been, I would have been happy to retain them. I certainly do not wish to favour one position over others, if there is genuinely a plurality of opinion among modern scholars of the subject. But of all the multiple scholars I have read who are experts in this subject I have not yet found one who fundamentally disagrees with the majority opinion which I have summarized and extensively cited. It is certainly not the position of a single academic, as anyone can see from checking the multiplicity of different academic sources I have utilised. The subject is notoriously rife with misinformation across the internet, and I wanted the article to reflect the current scholarship. If anyone can add to the article by including alternative contemporary scholarly arguments then please do so and I will be delighted with any additional information that anyone can provide. But my rewrite of the article is fully sourced, and academically robust. I would hope that no one would seek to remove it just because they may disagree with contemporary scholarship on the subject. Thank you. Naugrith (talk) 11:37, 1 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
The article now reads as if Sacred prostitution was generally a myth, is that the viewpoint you're trying to get across? --John B123 (talk) 17:17, 1 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
While I have no problem with the thesis that sacred prostitution is just an elaborate myth, Wikipedia's policies are not about selecting a relatively strong viewpoint and making it omnipresent to the point the topic becomes synonymous with it. The article was neither "poorly written" nor composed of speculations: it was well divided in sections and contained a long list of sources faithfully transcribed. It contained, in fact, several of the sources you chose to override the entire article (Budin, Assante, etc), only it treated them as the individual viewpoint current they are. The article as it is now, on the other hand, is objetively at odds with Wikipedia's neutrality policies for the aforementioned reasons. Creador de Mundos (talk) 22:14, 1 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
Having had no further viewpoints put forward for a couple of weeks, I suggest we revert to this this revision. I have no objections to user:Naugrith adding recent research/opinions, but this should be kept in context and not be given undue WP:WEIGHT. --John B123 (talk) 19:29, 15 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
The referenced revision still shows this very problem in its foretext. I would suggest to edit it too, to make it less based on the single opinion that led us to this debate. In any case, I intend to work on the reception of the article's topic, so I offer to do it myself. Creador de Mundos (talk) 19:47, 15 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
If you're willing to take on the task, then thanks and I'll leave it to you as to where you start from. Cheers. --John B123 (talk) 20:00, 15 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
Wait a moment. Upon closer inspection, I note that there are not significant differences between your proposed revision and the current one. I have to oppose to its reversion because it would have no purpose. Creador de Mundos (talk) 20:03, 15 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
Apologies, I linked to the wrong revision, it should have been this revision. --John B123 (talk) 20:20, 15 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
I see. Very well, with this new revision I think we can proceed. I'll built my work over this version. Creador de Mundos (talk) 21:25, 15 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
@Creador de Mundos and John B123: I have quite a lot of references and material I am prepping to drop on this talk page. I agree the article needs to be much more nuanced, and fully reflect the range of discussion in current academic views, and the balance found in reputable secondary works. Jheald (talk) 22:12, 15 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
I'm more than interested in seeing your material, though I believe it would be more productive to see your work incorporated to the article itself and not dropped on the talk page. If you want to revert the article to the mentioned revision yourself and then add your work there (or directly work on the current version, if it makes it easier for you), you have my blessing. Creador de Mundos (talk) 23:14, 15 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
Too many other commitments at the moment to take that on, I'm afraid.
I also have to say there are aspects of User:Naugrith's edit that I quite like. It reads quite well, the structure works, it's actually an easier and quicker read despite the extensive additional material that's been added (that it would be good to keep). But it's marred by a relentless "single truth" POV. And unfortunately much of the ease and cleanness is likely to be in tension with properly reflecting the uncertainty and doubt and multiplicity of views that WP requires we must properly reflect. But it would be good to keep the article as tight as we can.
What I've got at the moment is a dump of far more than ought finally to go into the article -- it's basically a collation of everything reasonably RS I've so far looked at. So it needs to be boiled down a lot. But useful perhaps to drop on the talk page for reference; and for us to discuss and think through. Jheald (talk) 23:26, 15 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
I believe, too, than his edit has valuable material. In fact, a lot of what he wrote was already in the article to start with, and better placed in my opinion. It is only, as you say, the way to put it... About the dump, I'm not sure that this is the best place to discuss about historiography, but if that helps you to select and extract from the sources, we will have to proceed. Let's open another section in that case; the points start to be cumbersome. Creador de Mundos (talk) 00:53, 16 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
User:Creador de Mundos said “Wikipedia's policies are not about selecting a relatively strong viewpoint and making it omnipresent to the point the topic becomes synonymous with it.” I would completely agree with this. I did not believe that this is what I was doing. I included several different viewpoints, from several different scholars, and placed them within the appropriate context of the state of modern scholarship as a whole. The fact of the matter, according to my research, is that the consensus of modern scholarship considers that sacred prostitution was a myth. I see no benefit to the reader in obscuring this fact.
You state: “The article was neither "poorly written" nor composed of speculations: it was well divided in sections and contained a long list of sources faithfully transcribed.” I would disagree with this in the main. The previous revision was the product of many different revisions, some sections contained some very good material, and other sections were brief and extremely poor, with little worth to the reader. Yes some of the primary sources were faithfully transcribed (i.e. Herodotus) and I kept this, and added more primary sources also. The material under ‘Sacred Marriage’ was very useful and I kept it and placed it in context, with further information from other scholars. The section covering the Hittites for instance was useless, citing a book by an agricultural scientist as support for its inaccurate claim. The section on Japan directly contradicted the page on the Miko, which it linked to. To improve it, I took the information directly from the page on the Miko, to replace the poor and inaccurate summary of it that was there. Similarly, the section on India directly contradicted the page on the Devadasi it linked to. Again, I took the information from that Wikipedia page and followed up on its citations, to replace the brief and inaccurate summary of it that was used.
The previous revision mentioned in passing modern scholars, but only superficially, and, in places, inaccurately. The previous revision stated, inaccurately, that “Pirenne-Delforge, suggests that ritual sex did exist in the Near East, but not in the Greek or Roman worlds in classical or Hellenistic times.” I have read the source that was cited in support of this comment, and that is not Pirenne-Delforge’s position - she makes no claim that ritual sex existed in the Near East. The previous revision also gave greater weight to the speculations of James Frazer – an amateur Edwardian mythologist, rather than to modern scholars published and peer-reviewed in the field of ANE studies.
You state: “The article as it is now, on the other hand, is objectively at odds with Wikipedia's neutrality policies”. I fundamentally disagree. I think there is no bias in the article, except a bias towards modern scholarship, over against 19th century mythologizing and the misinformation often written by non-experts such as agricultural scientists.
User:John B123, User:Jheald and user:Creador de Mundos. I would be delighted to see my work enhanced by additional materials, even and especially anything that may contradict it, as long as it is by reputable modern scholars of the field. I do not believe however that anything I have written is inaccurate or biased, and so I would strongly disagree with your proposal to scrap my work altogether to revert back to a version before I added the extensive information by modern scholars. This would greatly diminish the value of the page, and be a case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Naugrith (talk) 11:18, 17 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
I understand your need to defend your editions, but by this point three users to one have agreed about the neutrality issues, and that question has been open by a long enough time. Our main task now should be how to rework the article in a way or another in order to solve them.
User:Jheald, you seem to have a lot to say source-wise about it; if you wish to work over the current revision, I believe both User:John B123 and me will be expectant to see your contribution, as I don't think there will be any major disagreement if it helps to increase its neutrality. In case that, as you said, you cannot dedicate so much time to work on the article as you dedicate to gather your info, I think it would be useful to have access to your work so we could take care of it. Creador de Mundos (talk) 12:55, 17 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
Fair enough. Having read through User:Jheald's excellent work below, I'm convinced by the breadth and depth of the scholarship presented. Thank you very much for taking the time to work on this. It's superb and can only enhance the article. Naugrith (talk) 12:44, 22 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
I see you still ruined the article with your bias after that discussion, Stephanie... (talk) 23:47, 3 August 2023 (UTC)[reply]

Fruits of some reading[edit]

@Naugrith: I have to say, I do agree with the concerns and viewpoint of User:John B123 and User:Creador de Mundos above.

The statement that Today the mainstream consensus among scholars is that such practices are an historical myth, they never existed in practice but were rather a common literary trope used to denigrate foreign cultures and peoples is very strong. So is the consistent authorial presentation of a single "modern" viewpoint.

There are places where we do make such statements -- eg Global warming#scientific discussion or The Exodus#The Exodus as myth -- but when we do do so, such statements cannot just reflect our own individual, or even collective, editorial assessment of the balance of recent material. That would be considered our own original research, which is not what Wikipedia sets out to do (see WP:NOR). Any such assessment must be referenced to a source specifically making that claim, a source that we are confident does represent the full broad stream of modern scholarship.

It's also a fundamental aim of Wikipedia to try to fairly represent all relevant current views of a subject (WP:NPOV), not to write the article from a single position, no matter how convinced we may be by its arguments. Yes, a powerful and sustained critique has been made of previous ideas of cult prostitution over the last 35 years. But as far I can see the proposition that cult prostitution "never existed", although taken as a real possibility, has not achieved overwhelming scholarly consensus; and nor do I see its proponents claiming that consensus.

Here's some content I've culled from some reading. It's not particularly systematic or exhaustive, but it may be some useful material to discuss, in relation to what scholars have been writing, and how secondary sources have been assessing the balance of the discussion.

I confess I did get down a bit of a rabbit-hole in terms of qedeshah in the Hebrew Bible. I do think what we currently say on that is very poor, even if what we end up with ultimately should be much longer.

I look forward to any thoughts or rebuttals any or all of this may suggest, in the "discussion" subsection at the end.

Babylon and Assyria[edit]

Looking at what sources do say, starting in Babylonia and Assyria, one recent overview is in Jerrold S. Cooper (cv)'s 2006 article "Prostitution" for the Reallexicon der Assyriologie.[1] He makes clear from the opening of his section "Sacred prostitution" that he sees no consensus:

9. "Sacred" prostitution. The place of prostitution, or, more narrowly, sexual acts (apart from the "sacred marriage" at the beginning of the 2nd millenium) in Mesopotamian cults is very controversial. (for: eg Wilhelm 1990,[2] Lambert 1992,[3] Radner 1997, 218f,[4] Da Riva/Frahm 1999/2000,[5] Schwemer 2001, 600;[6] against:Arnaud 1973,[7] Westenholz 1989,[8] Beard/Henderson 1997,[9] Assante 1998,[10] Glassner 2002[11])

Marten Stol (cv; cv2) similarly introduces the issue as very much the subject of live debate at the start of Chapter 21 of his book Women in the Ancient Near East (2016):[12]:

Whether or not temple prostitution actually existed in Mesopotamia has been a widely discussed issue in academic circles. Points of view differ so vastly that some find evidence for it everywhere, and others detect it nowhere.

footnoting that

No temple prostitution existed according to D. Arnaud, J. Assante, M. I. Gruber, B. Menzel, M. van de Mieroop, J. G. Westenholz.

In general see B. Menzel, Assyrische Tempel II (1981) 27* f. (note 308); J. S. Cooper, RlA XI/1–2 (2006) 18–20, § 9, 'Sacred prostitution'; J. G. Westenholz, 'Heilige Hochzeit und kultische Prostitution im Alten Mesopotamien. Sexuelle Vereinigung im sakralen Raum?', in: Wort und Dienst. Jahrbuch der Kirchlichen Hochschule Bethel, Neue Folge 23 (1995) 43–62; M. van de Mieroop, Cuneiform texts and the writing of history (1999) 151–153.

though the rest of his chapter is written from the general perspective that cult prostitution did exist.

Indeed, the first reference that was removed in Naugrith's edit, a 2010 Spiegel article, was devoted to there being live academic debate in this area, contrasting "a fraction of female gender researchers" with "moderate scholars".[13]


S. Budin, in The Myth of Sacred Prostitution in Antiquity (2008) is uncompromising in her claim that "Sacred prostitution never existed in the Ancient Near East or Mediterranean". But more than one reviewer, while praising her for making some strong points, questions whether she can actually prove this thesis. Thus, for example, Will Deming (U. Portland):

"It is by no means clear that Budin has managed to exonorate the uncompromising nature of her thesis that sacred prostitution never existed anywhere in antiquity" [10]

or Kiara Beaulieu (Brock University)

"The chapter abruptly ends with the statement that "There were no sacred prostitutes in the ancient Near East," which provides no real conclusion to this otherwise informative chapter (p. 47). This minimal conclusion leaves the reader positing that the present‐day absence of evidence for a past practice, of course, is not definitive proof that it never existed. One suspects that some readers may wonder whether Budin has been as over‐confident with other evidence, as she has been with this conclusion.
The title of Chapter three "The So‐Called Evidence" has a similar air of over‐confidence."[11]

Corine Bonnard (University of Toulouse) agrees with Budin that sacred prostitution as generally understood is a myth, but in a detailed review considers that Budin's discussion of Herodotus (and some other authors) is weak, and criticizes Budin for setting up a limited definition and then limiting herself to trying to certify that particular texts or evidence do not fall within it, being so focused to prove this limited negative within her own definition, that she does not fully explore how the material could be interpreted, or discuss wider possible forms of 'sanctified' sexuality or sexuality in connection with the sanctuary that may have been present, beyond the transactional. Over and above all of this she calls out Budin for excessive self-confidence and arrogance in presenting herself as setting out to "close" the debate, rather than to add to it and create new avenues for scholarship.[14]

More authors[edit]

Other authors hold back from going as far as Budin. Thus for example, in his book on Hosea chapter 2, Brad E. Kelle (2005)[15] presents the critique of cult prostitution at some length, but ultimately advocates heavy skepticism of the idea, short of Budin's out-and-out rejection:

"In the final analysis one must question the notion of widespread cultic or ritual prostitution in ancient Israel and the idea of its powerful influence upon texts of the Hebrew Bible... The idea of an institution of cultic prostitution can no longer be sustained without great caution and should certainly not be assumed without investigation".

Similarly Oden (1987):[16]

"Discovering unambiguous evidence for any such rites amongst these religions remains quite difficult"

Karel van der Toorn, writing the entry on the subject[17] for the Anchor Bible Dictionary (1992) notes that

"In recent years, however, the widely accepted hypothesis of cultic prostitution has been seriously challenged. Various scholars have argued that the current view rests on unwarranted assumptions, doubtful anthropological premises, and very little evidence. At the same time the Ugaritic and Mesopotamian material, often referred to as evidence of cultic prostitution in neighboring civilizations, has been critically reevaluated and shown to be less unambiguous that it has often been assumed."

yet nevertheless, in view of what he interprets as its prohibition in Deuteronomy, considers it might have occurred to discharge an obligation or a vow, as he had previously suggested in a 1989 article.[18]

Jessie DeGrado (2017)[19] is fully signed-up that

"decades of Assyriological and Ugaritological scholarship have found no substantiation for the idea that cultic prostitution existed in the ancient Middle East, as well as the fact that none of the biblical passages explicitly refer to cultic prostitution" (p.16)

but notes that nevertheless

"the myth of the sacred prostitute continues to resurface in secondary literature" (p.2)

citing multiple recent authors

"e.g.,Davies 1992: 126-127;[20] Macintosh 1997: 157-158;[21] Day 2004: 12-13;[22] Stager 2008: 567;[23] Miller 2009: 506;[24] Dearman 2010: 166;[25] Claassens 2012: 670 n. 40;[26] Kim 2012: 556.[27]"

Robert Alter is another who, having considered the literature, still prefers to translate qedeshah as "cult harlot", giving the following note in his 2004 translation at Dt 23:18 :[28]

cult-harlot ... cult-catamite. The precise meaning of these two terms, qedeshah and qadesh is disputed. There is no clear-cut evidence that ritual prostitution was practiced in the ancient Near East, though it remains an undeniable possibility. (Ritual prostitution was known in nearby Asia Minor, the original homeland of the Hittites who often pass through the Biblical scene.) Exceptionally, the female qedeshah is presented here before the male qadesh, suggesting she was the more familiar type. The story of Judah and Tamar in Genesis 38 makes it clear that qedeshah was some sort of more refined or dignified designation for a prostitute: Judah takes Tamar for a "whore" (zonah); Hirah his emissary then refers to her more decorously as a qedeshah Since the root means "sacred", it is a reasonable inference that the qedeshah was either a woman who prostituted herself as part of the cult (in that case, a fertility cult) or a prostitute working near the site of a sanctuary who devoted part of her professional income to the sanctuary. Since the pilgrim obligation to participate in the temple service was laid upon the males, the qadesh would in all likelihood have been a homosexual prostitute, as the translation "cult-catamite" is meant to indicate.

Hebrew Bible (issues with our text)[edit]

Currently regarding qedeshah in the Hebrew Bible we say the following (also added to the article on the semitic root Q-D-Sh at the same time by the same anon, (diff2, diff2):

The terms kedeshah and zonah however are synonymous[29] and are often used interchangeably in the Hebrew Bible.[30] ... The term refers simply to "she who is set apart for sexual services, a prostitute".[29][31][32]

"Mayer Gruber, after a comprehensive examination of relevant sources, concludes regarding the qadistu and the Hebrew קְדֵשָׁה [kedesha] that 'there is no evidence either that the Akkadian qadistu was a prostitute or that Hebrew קְדֵשָׁה was a cultic functionary'.[31][33][8]

This is closely based on David A Glatt-Gilad's entry "Qedeshah" for the Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion (originally 1997):[29]

QEDESHAH (קדשה; she who is set apart [for sexual services]), a prostitute. The semantic affinity between the term qedeshah and the adjective qadosh (holy) historically led scholars to assume the qedeshah functioned as a sacred harlot in temple fertility cults. However, late twentieth-century research indicated that the evidence for the qedeshah's sexual role in the cult, both within biblical Israel and outside of it, is extremely tenuous. Thus the biblical references to qedeshah are best understood as being synonymous with zonah (prostitute). Such women offered their services either on the highway (Gen 38) or in the vicinity of temples, where they could attract a larger number of clients (Hosea 4 13-14) The practice was strongly condemned and outlawed as an abomination to the Lord, both in the Torah and by the prophets (cf Dt 23.18) Reference is also made to male prostitutes (qadesh, cf 1 Kgs 15.12).
* Gruber 1986,[31] Yamamauchi1973.[32]

Our text over-states the case however. zonah and qedeshah are not "often" used "interchangeably" in the Bible. zonah (Strong H2181) or the corresponding verb zanah occurs 93 times in the Hebrew Bible,[34] whereas qedeshah (Strong H6948) is only used in three places;[35] casually saying that zonah and qedeshah "however are synonymous", "simply... a prostitute", is misleading. The word qedeshah is not the usual word zonah. In each place where it occurs it appears to be being used to convey something that goes beyond just zonah. As Alter notes above, in the story of Tamar in Genesis 38, it appears to be an element of deliberate storytelling in Hirah using this uncommon word rather than the direct zonah used by the narrator. In Hosea 4:12-14, the word occurs at the culmination of a diatribe paralleling omnipresent sexual immorality with the people "cheating on their god" in the shrines of the groves and the high places, "But I will not call your daughters to account for playing the harlot; nor your brides for committing adultery / For it is the men who go off with zanot; and with the q'deshot they sacrifice".[36] Again, this is a very particular choice of word.


And then there's Deuteronomy 23:18, forbidding the daughters of Israel from being a qedeshah and the sons of Israel from being a qadesh, immediately before a cryptic verse disassociating "temple vows" from the "hire of a zonah" or the "price of a dog". Why the use of qedeshah here? Evidently, as a parallel to the word qadesh. And what is a qadesh? Our text (and Glatt-Gilad) just says "male prostitute". But this is contested. In all the word qadesh (Strong H6945) occurs in 5 other places in the Hebrew Bible.[37] One (Job 36:12), in the context of God sending affliction to cause those who have gone astray to repent, is quite obscure: "But they that are godless in heart lay up anger; they cry not for help when He bindeth them [with affliction] / Their soul perisheth in youth, and their lives as the qadeshim". The other four appearances all occur in the context of, or adjacent to, verses related to cultic practices -- such practices being re-established in the groves and the high places under Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:23-34); Asa removing idols (1 Kings 14:11-15); Jehoshaphat continuing the work of Asa his father (1 Kings 22:41-46); Josiah purging the temple of the instruments and emblems of worship of Baal and Asherah "And he broke down the houses of the qdeshim, that were in the house of the LORD, where the women wove coverings for the Asherah." (2 Kings 23:4-7).

From Ugarit several lists are known including the word qdsm immediately after khnm ("priests").[22]: 12  Some lists appear to be of groups of people in the city, others of specifically temple personnel.[38]: 12  The role of the qdsm is not clear. Cult-singers or cult-prophets have been suggested. But it seems clear they were cultic functionaries of some kind.[15]: 129  The evidence is not available to say what their activities may or may not have involved. Indeed the evidence available in total about Ugarit cult and ritual is still quite limited.[39]: 232  But in general Pardee (2002) finds it striking that

"The fertility cult so dear to the hearts of older generations of Hebrew and Ugaritic scholars shows up clearly in neither corpus [the poetry and the prose]; the sexual depravity that some have claimed to be characteristic of the Canaanite cult in general has left no track in any of the Ugaritic texts translated above...[39]: 234 

-- an absence that Kelle (2005)[15]: 130  quotes Hilliers (1985)[40]: 258  describing as the "Ugarit as embarrassment" motif.

Historically an association of homosexuality has been made with the qdeshim. Jewish texts including the Talmud and Rashi associated the word with homosexual acts, and the KJV consistently translated it as "sodomites".[41][42]: 22  Associations have also been made with gender-transgression or effeminacy, perhaps related to the Torah prohibitions against cross-dressing (Deuteronomy 22:5). Some traditionalist writers such as De Young (1991)[43]: 165f  strongly defend these connotations, arguing on the basis of interpretations of words used in early translations, that perhaps reflected contemporary practices in parts of the Greek world; and also possible attributes of presumed male cult prostitutes in Babylon and Assyria -- concerning whom Cooper (2006) writes

"A number of terms designate male personnel (assinnu, kurrgarrû, kulu'u, sinnišānu) who are associated with the Ishtar cult and whom texts refer to in disparaging ways, suggesting that they are homosexual, effeminate, eunuchs, or some combination of these... Their cultic roles may have included sexual acts, but there is no direct evidence of this, nor is there any explicit evidence for male prostitution in general."[1]: 20 

Just as a critique has developed of female cult prostitution as a fever dream of overheated scholars,[44] so too the assumed existence of male cult prostitution also been questioned. After all, the Hebrew text says nothing of sexual activity. It just uses the word qadeshim.

The insistence that qadesh must mean a common male prostitute seems to be driven from the conclusion that qedeshah is a female common prostitute, so qadesh must parallel this. Other authors start from the position that, on the basis of the texts in Kings (and its etymology, and the apparent Ugaritic parallel) is that what we can infer most securely about the word qadesh is some kind of cultic association, that in the views of some may have had some kind of sexual or gender-transgressive dimension, while others see no reason to assume this.

Hebrew etymology[edit]

The statement that the word kedeshah literally means set apart... she who is set apart for sexual services, a prostitute comes directly from the 1997 Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion entry quoted above,[29] in turn drawing on Gruber (1986),[31] but it should also be reviewed.

While it has indeed been suggested that the semitic root q-d-sh might have its original etymology in a notion of being "set apart" (this ultimate etymology is not accepted without debate),[19]: 20  nevertheless, as our article Q-D-Sh presents in more detail, in all other contexts where it is found it is with the meaning of being separated (if this is correct) in the very particular sense of being set apart as being ritually purified or consecrated, hence holy or sacred -- a hugely different notion from set apart "for sexual services" (whatever that is meant to mean), as we glibly write.

Gruber accepts this more typical meaning for the Akkadian word Qaditsu, and presumably also for the Ugaritic qdsm personnel (I haven't been able to access his paper to check). But to avoid a cultic linkage for the Hebrew word qedeshah, he insists that in just the case of these Hebrew verses the root cannot have this association. Even for those who accept the translation "prostitute" at Dt 23:17 without cultic overtones this assertion that the meaning should have a different etymological underpinning here from what is usually understood for Q-D-Sh has not found much wider acceptance (eg Tigay (2003).[45] Others reject the whole translation.

The uncritical inclusion of Gruber's etymology in the article should therefore be reconsidered.


So where does this leave the word qedeshah?

As a further data-point at looking at how secondary sources weigh the primary discussion, the standard study translation used in Reform Judaism (Plaut, revised ed 2006)[46] opts for "No Israelite woman shall be a prostitute, nor shall any Israelite male be a prostitute" for Deut 23:18, but with an attached note that is very equivocal, suggesting that the correct rendering is wide open:

18. The force of the apparently paired terms (k'deishah/kadesh) is uncertain; the extent to which it is sexual, cultic, or both is disputed (cf eg Hos 4:14, 2 Kings 23:7) For consistency, the translation here emulates Chaim Stern's rendering in Gen 38:21 ("courtesan"; see there). Others "cult prostitute ... cult prostitute"; "unauthorised type of priest ... unauthorised type of priest"; or "prostitute ... unauthorised type of priest". At any rate the formerly widespread notion that sexual orgies were a part of Near Eastern fertility rites has been discredited.[45][47][48][49][50]19. "Fee of a whore" In the ancient Near East, temples often added to their income by renting out whores, much as they leased out their livestock; neither venture was directly cultic.[51][17]

Earlier, Genesis 38:21 received the note:

Courtesan (k'deishah) The word occurs frequesntly in the Tanach, and is connected to kadosh (holy), suggesting to some that the k'deishah was a cult functionary at a pagan shrine who participated in fertility rites [17]. Judah does not want to say that he picked up an ordinary prostitute and uses a term slightly more ambiguous, to give his relationship a more acceptable status.

with further reference (p.1510):

[17] Biblical scholars disagree about the precise activity of the k'deishah (and also of the male k'deishim). Some believe that such persons were prostitutes who contributed part of their income to the sanctuary; others believe that sexual rites were practiced in order to induce the gods to do likewise and thereby assure fertility to the land. Herodotus tells of such practices in Babylonia. (History I:199). See further:[31][17] and below, at Deut. 23:18

Priestess or prostitute?[edit]

Although herself convinced that cult prostitution is a myth, DeGrado (2018) writes:[19]

it is not only sexist attitudes that have caused scholars to cling to the idea of cultic prostitution. The translation of "cultic prostitute" is appealing because it explains the usage of קדשה in a variety of contexts in a way that alternative translations do not.[19]: 16 

Amongst other things the translation also lines up with the double Greek translation of Deuteronomy 23:18 by the Septuagint, via a double prohibition, against the daughters and sons of Israel being prostitutes, and also against them being an initiated one (of a religious cult). (see eg[19]: 16 ; cf also Liddell and Scott on eg τελέω, τελεσφόρος, τελισκόμενος, etc.[52])

As a result,

The understanding of the קדשה as a cultic prostitute has appealed to interpreters from Jerome to Sayce because it explains how the word might have a semantic range that encompasses both cultic officials and prostitutes.[19]: 19 

For DeGrado it is the conclusion that cultic prostitution did not exist, that then requires the text to be re-examined:

Given the lack of evidence for the association of the קדשה or qadištu with the ostensible practice of cultic prostitution, the semantics of קדשה must be revisited in a way that explains the usage of the word without resorting to phantom practices and institutions.[19]: 19 

As we have seen, not all scholars share DeGrado's conviction in her premise.

And for at least some, it is the text in the Bible that remains a major sticking-point to such a conclusion. Thus for example for Deming (2010), in his review of Budin (2008) is prepared to say that

with regard to the classical material, one must agree with Budin, or at least admit that she has the better argument

but writes that

as a biblical scholar, I find her structural interpretation (à la Trible) of Genesis 38 (38–42) and her tentative analysis of Deuteronomy (i.e., "although it is possible", "may", "could" [36]) to be inconclusive"[53]: 592 

But if not "cult prostitute", what then?

According to DeGrado,[19]: 2 n2 

The most extensive studies of the relevant biblical texts and cognate evidence are Gruber 1986[31] and Westenholz 1989.[8] See also the discussions in Bird 1997;[54] Keefe 2011: 53-57.[55]

However,[19]: 4 & n9 

Gruber (1989: 133-135) ... argues that the קדשה is used in biblical and post-biblical Hebrew to denote "prostitute" and never "cultic functionary". Both Westenholz (1989: 246-249) and Bird (1989: 87), by contrast, maintain that קדשה ,like the masculine noun קדש and the Akkadian qadištu, refers exclusively to cultic functionaries, with no sexual connotations.

In support of their conclusions, each side postulates a different "base root meaning" for קדש ... Gruber (1986: 171) postulates that the "base root meaning" of קד״ש is "to be separated". Westenholz (1989: 248) and Bird (1997: 58 n. 49), by contrast, maintain that the root designates holiness. Both then postulate a straightforward development based on the noun-type qatil+at and define קדשה as either "one who is set apart" (so Gruber) or "one who is consecrated" (so Westenholz and Bird).

Kelle (2005) agrees that "the Hebrew term קדשה is simply another word for prostitute". [15]: 128  This fits for the usage in Genesis, where there is no cult or cult activity in the text. Hosea's "with the q'deshot they sacrifice" does associate q'deshot with religious activity, but an argument sometimes made is that might be the poet punning on the religious associations of the root Q-D-Sh, without necessarily implying that the q'deshot had a function that was associated with sacrifice.[citation needed] However, at least in the view of DeGrado "Gruber's interpretation of the קדשה as (only) a prostitute creates interpretive difficulties when applied to Deuteronomy 23:18, in which the קדשה is mentioned alongside the קדש , a cultic functionary."[19]: 5 

Noll (2007) is in the other camp, asserting that "no ancient biblical author believed that the Canaanites or anyone else was having sex in their temple services",[56]: 83  and further argues that if the word is equated with prostitute in Genesis, then "the creative humor of the tale is lost".[56]: 84  But, as DeGrado writes, this introduces narrative difficulties: "Judah's attempt to find the prostitute זונה he has hired will certainly fail if he asks the townspeople to find a priestess."[19]: 15 

So, in the view of DeGrado:

Neither the interpretation of the קדשה as a "priestess-not-prostitute" (so Westenholz) nor as a "prostitute-not-priestess" (so Gruber) adequately represents the semantic range of Hebrew word in biblical and post-biblical Hebrew.[19]: 13 .


Are there further possibilities?

I haven't been able to access the full article, but Lipiński (2014)[57] opens with the introduction

Contrary to the claims of some 20th-century scholarship, the Hebrew Bible never refers directly to cult prostitutes. Many modern Bible translations are simply misleading in this respect. Much of the confusion results from a misunderstanding of a few Biblical texts that mention qedeshot, the plural of qedeshah, which is related to qodesh, "holy place". Originally qedeshah referred to a "consecrated maiden", but Biblical authors used it in the sense of "harlot".

According to an accompanying blog piece,[58] Lipinski is of the view that sacred prostitution did exist in the ancient world,

archaeology has shown that Ashtoreth worship and associated rites of sacred prostitution were common throughout the ancient Mediterranean. At the Etruscan site of Pyrgi, excavators identified a temple dedicated to Ashtoreth that featured at least 17 small rooms that may have served as quarters for temple prostitutes. Similarly, at the site of Dura-Europos on the Euphrates, archaeologists uncovered a temple dedicated to Atargatis, the Aramaic goddess of love. Fronting the entrance to the temple were nearly a dozen small rooms, many with low benches. Although the rooms were used primarily for sacred meals, they may also have been reserved for the sexual services of women jailed in the temple for adultery. Such a situation prevailed at the temple of Apollo at Bulla Regia, where a woman was found buried with an inscription reading: "Adulteress. Prostitute. Seize (me), because I fled from Bulla Regia." Sacred prostitution, therefore, existed in much of the ancient world and reflected the ritual practices of Ashtoreth worship.

Qedeshah likely originally referred to "consecrated maidens" who were employed in Canaanite and later Phoenician temples devoted to Ashtoreth worship. As such, the Biblical writers came to associate the fertility rites of Ashtoreth worship with sacred prostitution, and the word qedeshah, therefore, came to be used as a pejorative term for "prostitute" ... there is nothing in the story of Judah and Tamar to suggest sacred prostitution was involved ancient Israel, sacred prostitution was simply a synonym for harlotry.

Further detail of Lipiński's views can be found in Lipinksi (2013),[42] where he take a fairly expansive view of Classical accounts of cult prostitution.

Deut 23:18 he sees as a late addition to Deut 23:19 (an assessment also made by Bird [59]: 5 ), where he believes qadesh may simply mean "pimp", possibly paralleling 2 Kings 23:7, which he believes should be translated that "Josiah caused to be pulled down the houses of the qedeshim in the House of the Lord, where women were renting cubicles as a shrine (asherah)".

He's not very committal as to what the role of qedeshah may have involved in Canaanite religion, as opposed to further afield, but argues that by the time of the Hebrew Bible, the word had systematically come just to mean "harlot".

transferred associations[edit]

Another suggestion is that even if cult prostitution did not exist in fact, Hebrew Bible authors may have thought that the women were available (perhaps because of how they dressed, or how they presented themselves, or their apparent independence), and characterised them disparagingly, leading to the widely referenced suggestion of Oden (1987) that perhaps

"sacred prostitution should be investigated as an accusation rather than a reality"[16]: 132 

feeding into

the category of charges that one society levels against others as part of that society's process of self-definition... the symbolic use that various societies make against the neighbors by way of marking clearly the boundaries of their own sense of self. ... In the present case, it tells us something about ancient Israel, ancient Greece and Rome, early Christian tradition, and the modern theological tradition. But the accusation may tell us little or nothing about those religions against which the charge is levelled.

Kelle glosses this as understanding the Bible and Classical texts that make this accusation as

examples of ethical boundary marking between societies, that is the degradation of an "other" for the sake of establishing one's own identity.[15]: 132 

Alternatively, the sense of the word may have shifted with time, and may have gained additional meanings or associations.

Noll[56]: 83  writes that

In Mesopotamia, there is evidence that these unmarried individuals [female temple personnel] became sexually promiscuous in ways that had nothing to do with religious observance

which he compares to the report of the wicked sons of the High Priest Eli, who "slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting", according to 1 Samuel 2:22.

(Noll cites to see Dijkstra (2001)[60]: 182  for the possible role of priestesses in early Israelite religion).
(Other texts that have sometimes been seen as perhaps connecting sexual immorality with religious sites include Ezekiel 16:16 where "gaudy high places" are part of Jerusalem's metaphorical prostitution, and Numbers 25:1-3 where the men of Israel are committing sexual immorality with Moabite women, and are sacrificing with them)

By way of analogy, DeGrado compares how the English word "hussy" derives from the respectable "housewife",[19]: 22  and cautions that it may be a mistake to assume the meaning of the word qedeshah is necessarily monovalent in the Hebrew Bible, always conveying exactly the same sense wherever it occurs -- comparing for example the ways the word princess can be used in different registers and with different connotations in English.[19]: 21  So her thesis is that perhaps the word can simultaneously (or, alternatively, at different points in time) connote both a "priestess" (in Deuteronomy) and a "prostitute" (in Genesis), without necessarily having to connote the two together -- a dessert topping and a floor wax.

There's a little about this -- hand-adjusting the preferred fit of three data-points to two meanings -- that brings the dangers of overfitting to the back of this old data analyst's mind, with adages about parsimony and Occam's razor. But as 'Just So' stories go, it seems not impossible.


As Wikipedians our task is not to try to identify The Truth singular, but rather to try to properly assess the range of reasonable doubt, and then try to present that range succinctly but accurately.

With regard to the Babylonian and Mesopotamian material, I do wonder whether some of the scholars cited as those defending cult prostitution may have formed their views in a much earlier period of scholarship, and may not have revised their conclusions since. Wilfred G. Lambert was making the assessment as long ago as 1957 for example of cult prostitution that "No one doubts its prevalence, but little was known of its functioning".[61] Frédérique Apffel-Marglin's article "Hierodouleia" for the Encylopedia of Religion was re-written in 2005.[62] But how much is a hold-over from the 1987 edition?

A sceptic might cast aspersions about "the old guard" and summon up Max Planck's line that “a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die", but that may be grossly unfair both to the individuals in question and to their work -- and fundamentally mischaracterise the make-up of the group who are not so sold on the critique.

I personally haven't dug into the citations in enough detail to be at all confident I know which the specific texts or points of disagreement are, and how each camp lines up; nor or to properly judge the balance or reasonableness of arguments on each side. Secondary sources still seem cautious about calling it.

Something like this,

The mesopotamian vocabulary is being redefined with a view towards functions as described in the cuneiform texts, not based on the accusations of later Classical and Christian authors. The Biblical qedeshah is being seen more as non-Yahwistic priestesses, a holdover from Canaanite times, which was redefined in insulting fashion to refer to common whores.

part of the conclusion of a 2006 piece by Budin,[63] may be about as far as we should go -- presenting the intellectual re-evaluations as still tentative, ongoing, functional, and not universally accepted.

There is also the complication of

prostitution that was profitable to, and at times organized by, the temple and its administration,[17]: 512  [64]

even if not necessarily related to cultic activity.

With regard to the Classical authors, Oden's line that

What appears to be a list of a dozen sources may in fact be a list of a couple of sources, perhaps even and ultimately a single source: Herodotus[16]: 146 

is widely cited, but not universally accepted; nor indeed does it claim to be decisive. There's more to be said than just presenting something like this as a cut-and-dried case.

Finally, the notion that the presence of "cult prostitute" in discussions and translations arose purely as an artefact of

uncritically reading into the primary documents, texts from Ugarit, Mesopotamia, and ancient Israel, the titillating descriptions of Babylonian "initiation rites" and ritual "prostitution" as recounted by Herodotus and later Greek and Latin writers.[65]: 12 

(which is basically the presention in the current text of the later sections) is rhetorically powerful, and probably has an element of truth, but is not, I think, the whole story.

As presented by DeGrado, and defended by eg Alter and writers like Day,[22] and ackowledged eg in Plaut above, there are definite reasons for why some translators continue to choose such translations. The furthest I think we can positively go is to say that the evidence (and scholarly sentiment) is not conclusive, either way. But (as discussed above), I think there's a lot in our current discussion of qedeshah that in a negative direction we should be actively rooting out.

Some further references / comments[edit]

  • Yamauchi, Edwin M., Cultic Prostitution, A Case Study in Cultural Diffusion, in A., Harry, Hoffner, , Jr., ed., Orient and Occident: Essays Presented to Cyrus H. Gordon on the Occasion of His Sixty-fifth Birthday (AOAT 22; Kevelaer: Butzon & Bercker, 1973) 213–22[32]
    We currently cite this paper in three places: supporting a general statement that cult prostitution never existed, supporting a claim about hieros gamos, and supporting a questionable etymology for qedeshah. I haven't read the paper, but from what I have seen quoted about it, I question whether it endorsed any of these assertions. As I understand it, the "case study" rests on the academic consensus (despite fragmentary evidence) that sacred prostitution had been a real thing, that one could indeed discuss as having "culturally diffused" from Mesopotamia.
  • Eugene J Fisher (1976), "Cultic Prostitution in the Ancient Near East? A Reassessment", Biblical Theology Today 6, 227-8 doi:10.1177/014610797600600306
    One of the first papers to question the assumption
  • Stephen M Hooks (1985), "Sacred Prostitution in Israel and the Ancient Near East" (PhD thesis, Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati)
    "Our systematic survey of the 'evidence' of sacred prostitution in Mesopotamia, Canaan and Egypt has yielded absolutely no proof that the alleged practice ever existed" (conclusion, p.205)
  • S. M. Baugh (1999), Cult Prostitution in New Testament Ephesus: A Reappraisal, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 42.3 (1999): 443-460.
    "Despite the received opinion to the contrary, I do not believe that cult prostitution was practiced in Greek (and Roman) regions of the NT era."



  1. ^ a b Jerrold S. Cooper (2006), "Prostitution", Reallexikon der Assyriologie vol. 11. Berlin: W. de Gruyter. 12-22. (author copy)
  2. ^ G. Wilhelm (1990), "Marginalien zu Herodot: Klio 199", in Festschrift W.L. Moran 505-524
  3. ^ W.G. Lambert (1992), "Prostitution", in V.Haas (ed), Aussenseiter und Randgruppen (= Xenia 32), 127-157
  4. ^ K. Radner (1997), "Der neuassyr. Rechtsurkunden als Quelle für Mensch und Umwelt (= SAAS 6)
  5. ^ R. Da Riva / E. Frahm (1999/2000), Šamaš-šumu-ukin, die Herrin von Ninive und das bab. Königssiegel, AfO 46/47, 156-182.
  6. ^ D. Schwemer (2001), Die Wettergottgestalten Mesopotamiens und Nordsyriens im Zeitalter der Keilschriftkulturen
  7. ^ D. Arnaud (1973), "La prostitution sacrée en Mesapotamie, un mythe historiographique?", RHR 183, 111-115
  8. ^ a b c J. Westenholz (1989), "Tamar, Qedēšā, Qadištu, and Sacred Prostitution in Mesopotamia", Harvard Theological Review 82, 245-265
  9. ^ M. Beard, J. Henderson (1997), "With this Body I Thee Worship: Sacred Prostitution in Antiquity", Gender and History 9, 480-503
  10. ^ J. Assante (1998), "The kar.kid / ḥarimtu, Prostitute or Single Woman?", UF 30, 5-94
  11. ^ J.-J. Glassner (2002) Polygynie ou prostitution: une approche comparative de la sexualité masculine, CRRA 47, 151-164
  12. ^ Marten Stol (2016) Women in the Ancient Near East, De Gruyter. (Open Access chapter)
  13. ^ Schulz, Matthias (2010-03-26). "Sex in the Service of Aphrodite: Did Prostitution Really Exist in the Temples of Antiquity?". Spiegel Online. Retrieved 2016-01-01.
  14. ^ Corinne Bonnet, De la prostitution sacrée dans l’Antiquité, et du bon usage de la démonstration en histoire, Les Études Classiques 77 (2009), p. 171-177.
  15. ^ a b c d e Brad E. Kelle (2005), Hosea 2: Metaphor and Rhetoric in Historical Perspective. Society of Biblical Lit. pp. 123-132 (Google Books)
  16. ^ a b c R. Oden (1987), The Bible without Theology: The Theological Tradition and Alternatives to It. Harper & Row. (Google Books)
  17. ^ a b c d K. Van der Toorn (1992), "Cultic Prostitution", Anchor Bible Dictionary 5:510-513
  18. ^ K. Van der Toorn (1989), "Female Prostitution in Payment of Vows in Ancient Israel", Journal of Biblical Literature 108(2), pp. 193-205 (JSTOR)
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Jessie DeGrado (2017), "The qdesha in Hosea 4:14: Putting the (Myth of the) Sacred Prostitute to Bed", Vetus Testamentum 68(16). doi:10.1163/15685330-12341300 /
  20. ^ Davies, G., 1992, Hosea: Based on the Revised Standard Edition. London: Marshall Pickering
  21. ^ Macintosh, A., 1997, Hosea. Continuum International Publishing Group.
  22. ^ a b c Day, J., 2004, "Does the Old Testament Refer to Sacred Prostitution and Did It Actually Exist in Ancient Israel?" Pages 2-21 in Biblical and Near Eastern Essays: Studies in Honour of Kevin J. Cathcart. Edited by C. McCarthy and J. F. Healy. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Supplement Series 275. New York: T&T Clark (Google Books)
  23. ^ Stager, L. E., 2008, "Dogs in Healing in Phoenician Ashkelon". Pages 565-568 in Ashkelon 1: Introduction and Overview (1985-2006). Edited by L. E. Stager, J. D. Schloen, and D. M. Master. Cambridge: Harvard Semitic Museum Publications
  24. ^ Miller, J. E., 2009, "A Critical Response to Karin Adams's Reinterpretation of Hosea 4:13-14". Journal of Biblical Literature 128: 503-506.
  25. ^ Dearman, A., 2010, The Book of Hosea. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans
  26. ^ Claassens, L. Juliana M., 2012, "Resisting Dehumanization: Ruth, Tamar, and the Quest for Human Dignity"., The Catholic Biblical Quarterly: 659-674.
  27. ^ Kim, D., 2012, "The Structure of Genesis 38: A Thematic Reading". Vetus Testamentum 62: 550-560.
  28. ^ Robert Alter, The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary, 2004, W.W. Norton, ISBN 0-393-01955-1. Retained unchanged in Robert Alter, The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary, 2018, W.W. Norton, ISBN 0-393-29249-5
  29. ^ a b c d Berlin, Adele, ed., The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion, 'Qedeshah', by David A Glatt-Gilad, Oxford University Press, 1997/2011 (Google Books)
  30. ^ For example, see Genesis 38:15-24, Interlinear Bible
  31. ^ a b c d e f Mayer Gruber, Hebrew Qedesha and Her Canaanite and Akkadian Cognates, Ugarit-Forshungen 18 (1986) 133-148
  32. ^ a b c Yamauchi, Edwin M., Cultic Prostitution, A Case Study in Cultural Diffusion, in A., Harry, Hoffner, , Jr., ed., Orient and Occident: Essays Presented to Cyrus H. Gordon on the Occasion of His Sixty-fifth Birthday (AOAT 22; Kevelaer: Butzon & Bercker, 1973) 213–22
  33. ^ S. Tamar Kamionkowski, Gender Reversal and Cosmic Chaos: A Study in the Book of Ezekiel, 2003
  34. ^ "Lexicon results for zanah (Strong's H2181)". Blue Letter Bible. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  35. ^ "Lexicon results for qĕdeshah (Strong's H6948)". Blue Letter Bible. Retrieved 5 April 2018. incorporating Strong's concordance (1890) and Gesenius's Lexicon (1857).
  36. ^ Translation in part from DeGrado (2018)
  37. ^ "Lexicon results for qadesh (Strong's H6945)". Blue Letter Bible. Retrieved 5 April 2018. incorporating Strong's concordance (1890) and Gesenius's Lexicon (1857).
  38. ^ Peter Craigie (1977), Tyndale Bulletin 28 155-169 [1]. Reprinted in Duane L. Christensen (1993), A Song of Power and the Power of Song: Essays on the Book of Deuteronomy. Eisenbrauns. (Google Books)
  39. ^ a b Dennis Pardee (2002), Ritual and Cult at Ugarit, Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature. (via
  40. ^ Delbert R. Hillers (1985), "Analyzing the Abominable: Our Understanding of Canaanite Religion", Jewish Quarterly Review N.S. 75(3), 253-269 (JSTOR)
  41. ^
  42. ^ a b Edward Lipiński (2013) Cult Prostitution and Passage Rites in the Biblical World, The Biblical Annals 3/1, 9-27
  43. ^ James B. DeYoung, The contributions of the Septuagint to Biblical Sanctions against Homosexuality, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 34 157-177
  44. ^ "Feel the longing, the desire, in this collective delusion," write Mary Beard and John Henderson of historians' sweaty-palmed accounts, according to [2]
  45. ^ a b Jeffrey Tigay (2003), JPS Torah Commentary, comments on Dt 23:17 reproduced at [3].
  46. ^ Gunther Plaut (2006), The Torah: A Modern Commentary (Revised Edition), CCAR ISBN 0881232491. Revised by David E.S. Stein
  47. ^ Jeffrey Tigay (2003), Excursus 22: "The Alleged Practice of Cultic Prostitution in the Ancient Near East", in JPS Torah Commentary ISBN 0827603304
  48. ^ Tikva Frymer-Kensky (1992), In the Wake of the Goddesses Free Press. ISBN 0029108004 pp. 199-202
  49. ^ E.A. Goodfriend in C. Meyers, ed (2000). Women in Scripture Houghton-Mifflin ISBN 0395709369
  50. ^ "The earlier view is detailed in eg Driver, p. 265" (Samuel R. Driver, A critical and exegetical commentary on Deuteronomy, C.U.P. 2e 1896 / 4e 1918)
  51. ^ E.A. Goodfriend (1992), "Prostitution", Anchor Bible Dictionary 5:505-510
  52. ^ Henry George Liddell; Robert Scott [1940], A Greek-English Lexicon, p. 1771 via Perseus)
  53. ^ Will Deming (2010) "The Myth of Sacred Prostitution in Antiquity" (review), Theology Faculty Publications and Presentations 1, University of Portland
  54. ^ Phyllis Bird (1997), "The End of the Male Cult Prostitute: A Literary-Historical and Sociological Analysis of Hebrew Qādēš-Qědēšîm". Pages 34-77 in Congress Volume: The Fifteenth Congress of the International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament, Cambridge 1995. Edited by J. A. Emerton. Leiden: Brill.
  55. ^ Alicia A. Keefe (2011), Woman's Body and the Social Body in Hosea. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. (Google Books)
  56. ^ a b c Kurt L. Noll (2007), "Canaanite Religion", Religion Compass 1/1 (2007):61–92 doi:10.1111/j.1749-8171.2006.00010.x (
  57. ^ Edward Lipiński (2014), Cult Prostitution in Ancient Israel?, Biblical Archaeology Review 40 49
  58. ^ Biblical Archaeology Society Staff, Sacred Prostitution in the Story of Judah and Tamar?, August 7, 2018
  59. ^ Phyllis Bird (2015), Of Whores and Hounds: A New Interpretation of the Subject of Deuteronomy 23:19, Vetus Testamentum 65(3) 352–364 doi:10.1163/15685330-12301200 JSTOR 43894549
  60. ^ Meindert Dijkstra (2001), 'Women and Religion in the Old Testament', in B Becking, M Dijkstra, MCA Korpel and KJH Vriezen, Only One God? Monotheism in Ancient Israel and the Veneration of the Goddess Asherah, pp. 164–88, Biblical Seminar 77, Sheffield Academic Press, London. (Google Books, but not p. 182)
  61. ^ Wilfred G. Lambert (1957-1958), "Morals in Ancient Mesopotamia", Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society "Ex Oriente Lux" (JEOL) 15 p. 195
  62. ^ Frédérique Apffel-Marglin (2005), Hierodouleia in Lindsay Jones, ed, Encylopedia of Religion (2e) via Thomson-Gale.
  63. ^ Stephanie Lynn Budin, Sacred Prostitution in the Ancient World, in Melissa Hope Ditmore (ed), Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006. (Google Books 1 / Google Books 2)
  64. ^ cf also "There appears to be some evidence of prostitutes (Akk. ḫarimtu) on temple rolls in Mesopotamia" alluded to by Bird [4]; also the slaves donated to be prostitutes to benefit the templae at Corinth [5]
  65. ^ Irene E. Riegner, The Vanishing Hebrew Harlot: The Adventures of the Hebrew Stem ZNH Google Books


Impressive job! More than I had imagined, in fact. We can start moving it into the main article. Creador de Mundos (talk) 14:47, 20 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]

Agreed. This is fantastic work. I'd be delighted to see it added in as it greatly enhances the article. Naugrith (talk) 12:41, 22 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks! I have now updated the article on the root Q-D-Sh (diff), so I hope that's now fair and accurate.
Closing some tabs, I found another couple of links that may be further useful data-points as to how cult prostitution may currently be viewed by scholars in Classics-orientated academia. On the one hand, considering a 2005 suggestion that two mythological characters might be being paralleled in a poem because they were both involved in organising sacred prostitution, the author in this chapter [12] remarks that This complex thesis will raise eyebrows in the current critical climate, highly skeptical of all references to ‘sacred prostitution’ (in various forms). On the other hand, the author of this review chapter seems less prepared to write off the whole notion of cult prostitution.[1]
I am going to bow out now, and wish you well. Clearly there is now widespread skepticism; but also it's not universal. It's quite a challenge to convey that. Good luck with all you can do to find the right balance; while I hope also keeping the article as tight and terse and succinct as you can. Sometimes it can be useful to have more material on the talk page than necessarily goes into the final article! So long as the material here can help find the right line for the article (and/or be a resource, if people want to reopen or question particular points or balances), then it will have done its job.
All best, Jheald (talk) 22:32, 26 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
Splendid, and even more splendid that we all now agree. Then, can we start adding all this info to the article? This week I'm unfortunately too busy, but next I will be able to do. Creador de Mundos (talk) 13:07, 30 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]
Apologies for dropping out of these discussions, I have been tied up else-where. Some brilliant research which will enhance the article no end. --John B123 (talk) 16:06, 30 July 2019 (UTC)[reply]


  1. ^ Jennifer Larson (2013), "Sexuality in Greek and Roman Religion", in Thomas K. Hubbard (ed), A Companion to Greek and Roman Sexualities, Wiley. pp 214-229 Google books

Addition to the article[edit]

Well, it seems integrating all this info into the article will be a long project. I'm unfortunately not familiar enough with the topic's source intricacies and their sheer mass will be difficult to handle. Someone interested to help? Creador de Mundos (talk) 23:20, 5 August 2019 (UTC)[reply]

I think this article should be rewritten as it doesn't currently represent npov but only a single pov. Oranjelo100 (talk) 01:21, 8 August 2019 (UTC)[reply]

I certainly agree, and if you read a bit above, you'll see everybody does. Creador de Mundos (talk) 19:28, 10 August 2019 (UTC)[reply]
@Jheald:@Creador de Mundos:@John B123:This is certainly excellent work by Jheald. However I see very little that fundamentally disagrees with the article as I'd written it. Most of the quotes Jheald has provided seem to be broadly in support of the idea that at the least there is little evidence for sacred prostitution, and Jheald has provided many additional sources who are relatively firm in their support for it never having existed as well. There are certainly several scholars mentioned who disagree with the revisonist argument, and I agree it is important to include them. But they do not overwhelm the field of scholarship nor should they be a reason for the scholarship from Budin et al to be scrubbed and removed from sight.

Personally, I see nothing in Jheald's work that would require fundamental change to the article as I had written it. I completely understand that its tone was somewhat overenthusiastic in its presentation of Budin et al's argument. And I would certainly agree with presenting the other side as clearly as possible, and not presenting a consensus where there is none. But apart from the necessity of including the opposing scholars, and rewriting some of the biased language, I think the majority of my article is still extremely good and valuable to readers.

Such an approach would be certainly better than the current article which the page has been reverted to, which has simply deleted reams of important information and now presents a viewpoint that is extremely biased the other way, with a blatant agenda to delegitimise all revisionist historians by continually calling them "gender researchers" in distinction to "mainstream historians".

Therefore I see no reason why my article cannot be enhanced by the incorporation of Jheald's additional comments, rather than deleted in its entirety, which appears to be a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

I have made revisions to my article to incorporate as much of Jheald's work as I can, and I will be happy to post this to the site, unless anyone has a reasonable opposition to this?

I can see no reason to revert the article to a former version. As it stands it puts forward both the traditional viewpoint and also the view of some modern historians that SP was a myth. It does so with due weight to the modern scholars views, but, unlike previous versions, their views do not overpower the article. --John B123 (talk) 16:19, 19 September 2019 (UTC)[reply]

I agree with John B123. This has been discussed for a long time and it is idle to reopen it. Naugrith, your article's revision, which you consider extremely good and valuable in contrast to how I considered it spectacularly anti-wikipedic, was dismissed by all the present users. Budin and company have not been scrubbed; their existence and stance are acknowledged in the current article since its very foretext, despite they are still a relatively reduced number of authors in a sea of academic opinions (and let's not forget your article fed almost entirely of that small amount of authors). In fact, the sole fact that the foretext itself acknowledges the intense academic conflict about SP in an objective light should dispel any notion that the article has just switch directions in its bias, especially because this and other mentions compose an impartial concession that your article actually didn't make. About the "gender researchers" and "mainstream historians", those terms are not made up; they were in Heald's first and main source about this academic conflict, and judging by the cited authors's resumes, I don't think it is a departure from reality. Creador de Mundos (talk) 16:22, 19 September 2019 (UTC)[reply]
I was waiting to see if JHeald would respond but I see that they haven't. To Creador de Mundos, I disagree that it is "idle" to reopen any discussion. The nature of wikipedia means that articles are being constantly refined and this article can certainly do with further improvement. Your desire to shut down discussion is unworthy of the medium. While there are some sections that are good in the current article, and additional citations and sources that are valuable, the excessive scrubbing of my work and unilateral decision to revert back to an old version as its basis has caused it to be somewhat messy, and contain sections that consist solely of single sentence speculations, and other comments based solely on non-historian sources. Blatant inaccuracies that I spent a considerable amount of time removing have been reintroduced.
It is also clearly inaccurate and biased to refer to Assante, Westenholz, Arnaud, Budin and many others as Gender Researchers when they are ANE specialist historians of excellent reputation. There is no defence for such overt 'poisoning of the well', however much you try to claim this is a legitimate description of them. It merely reveals your own bias.
Your opinion may be that my work was "spectacularly anti-wikipedic" but I feel that's unnecessary rhetoric and has no place here. In fact, my revision of the article was mostly fine but I accepted it required enhancing with the addition of other material to balance it, which I was unaware of when I wrote the revision but which JHeald kindly provided. I approved of the decision to add JHeald's work to my article in order to balance it, and understood that was what was being proposed. Instead you appear to have unilaterally chosen to simply delete most of the article and revert back to an old version to which you've added some additional material of your own. You've ignored most of JHeald's work and my own, with much of the incredible additional scholarship and quotes that JHeald provided not being used at all.
You claim this was a result of extensive discussion, but the truth is that it was not. There was no discussion, you simply ignored me because you had no respect for me. JHeald, on the other hand, largely supported my work. They said, "I also have to say there are aspects of User:Naugrith's edit that I quite like. It reads quite well, the structure works, it's actually an easier and quicker read despite the extensive additional material that's been added (that it would be good to keep)".
JHeald's analysis of the subject was indeed balanced and responsible. A far cry from your own. Instead, you have taken it upon yourself to ignore both me and JHeald, and unilaterally decided to delete more than 2000 words of my article which we both wanted to keep, revert to an older poorer version, scrap the improved structure completely, and then add material of your own, mostly consisting of fringe opinions from non-historians.
This has left the current revision to be flawed and unbalanced as a result. It is currently messily structured, heavily speculative in places, and gives far too much weight to secondary sources from non-historians such as Nancy Quall-Corbett who is a psychoanalyst, and Singh, who is an agricultural scientist, as well as the overemphasis on the speculative and outdated views of James Frazer. Your decision to delete the views of modern experts in ANE studies and replace them with the views of non-historians is wrong. That isn't 'balance'. The views of specialist experts should carry more weight than those who are not.
JHeald concluded their contribution with the statement, "Clearly there is now widespread skepticism; but also it's not universal." My own article conclusively presented the "widespread skepticism", and to balance this, there just needed to be some amendments and additions to show that this skepticism, though widespread, wasn't universal as I assumed it to be. Instead of doing this you've chosen to downplay and delegitimise all skepticism as much as you can. This ideological agenda is clear in the section you've added titled "Modern Views", which ignores the "widespread skepticism" entirely, and focuses solely on the opinions of a feminist theorist, a psychoanalyst, an actress, and other non-historians. Giving such overwhelming weight to these fringe opinions and presenting them as the entirety of "Modern Views" is clearly the furthest thing from a "balanced" presentation of the facts.
The article now also contains old inaccurate statements such as its false claim that Delforge "suggests that some form of temple prostitution might have existed in the Near East" even though the article cited for this nowhere contains such a statement, but rather supports the opposite view, that it never existed in the Near East. I removed this false statement when I made my revision because it was simply untruthful. But you have brought it back, because it supports your pov, no matter that its false.
These blatant inaccuracies and overt bias throughout means that the article now requires significant and extensive editing to retain the existing factual information and historical citations while removing its bias, speculation, and reliance on irrelevant sources - to make it accurate, readable, useful, and worthy of wikipedia. I was hoping that @Jheald: would be able to do this as they are clearly the best person to do so. But if they don't have the time, then I'll give it another go when I have some time to do so. Creador de Mundos and John B123, you're clearly unwilling to make the article accurate or unbiased yourself, or to discuss it with me respectfully and fairly. So I suspect that there's little point in attempting to discuss this further with you.Naugrith (talk) 11:12, 4 October 2019 (UTC)[reply]
You can overreact as much as you want, my friend, because I have seen worse and will see worse still. Reopening a discussion is idle when it serves to no other purpose than to prolongue an neverending debate where a side is simply unwilling to observe Wikipedic objectivity. Your work was reverted because no other user ever agreed with it, not even Heald, who only recognized a basic point; while the current version might have its own imperfections, I'm pretty sure nobody will oppose again the notion that it is not as grievously flawed as it was yours. If I have a bias, it is a bias for a medium where all respectable academic opinions will be covered in an impartial topic instead of having an arbitrarily chosen and not completely popular one overcoming the rest in an almost propagandistic fashion (and let's not forget your article called the topic a myth in almost every section and paragraph, not to mention the incredibly lengthy defenses (themselves out of place) of a thesis supported by what the reference section showed they were just a handful of sources regardless of their authors's professional excelence).
If you are sorry that most of your work was deleted, a topic I will not opine about, maybe you should have familiarized yourself more with this medium and what is tolerated and what is not in its policies. Heald's work was interesing, and it was used in the best way we active users found (and let's not forget again I tried to contact him several times only to be ignored) in order to preserve those objective policies, but part of his work had the same problem as yours, and it was not even complete; he barely covered the Biblical/Mesopotamian section, and most of it were precisely the kind of long defenses that I mentioned they have no place in this wiki. I find highly entertaining that you call unbalanced the current revision while at the same time not calling such your own pamphlet, but I see necessary to make some corrections in your accusations: the psychonalist Corbett was sourced in sections talking about modern/sexologic interpretations of the topic, not about history, which is evidently not her field; outdated or not, Frazer had an enormous academic role and while other, opposing authors have the right to add to or commentate about it, it should not be deleted, or otherwise we would have to delete all of Freud's role in psychiatry; the "Modern views" section is obviously dedicated to moral and philosophical perceptions, not to historical research, which is treated in the rest of the article (as we say in my country, you seem to find it wrong that hens are in the henhouse); and your article certainly presented so little of that existent skepticism (you seem to treat Heald as a sort of authority, something that has no place in those debates) that no user in this discussion refrained from calling it unbalanced.
I will not enter your little victim game. If you are really claiming to believe your own words about how the current article is less objective, balanced, complete and sensible than your revision, we might start to have reasons you are actually a troll. Therefore, if you are going to ignore this consensus, I suggest you to watch your actions hereinafter, because there will be consequences if you don't, as there will be for any vandal or person that attacks the pillars of colectivity Wikipedia is built over. Have a nice day. Creador de Mundos (talk) 16:03, 4 October 2019 (UTC)[reply]
I agree there's little point in discussing this further. It's obvious that unless the article reflects your viewpoint then you will be claiming it's biased. There is more than one viewpoint and WP should include them in the article. Some modern scholars question that SP ever existed, which is brought out in the article. It seems this is becoming another Equine Carcass. --John B123 (talk) 16:09, 4 October 2019 (UTC)[reply]
Nice comparison. Surely it seems to be. Creador de Mundos (talk) 16:56, 4 October 2019 (UTC)[reply]

Question for discussion about accurate representation of cited sources before making any edits[edit]

The article is called: "Sacred prostitution"

and starts with:

"Sacred prostitution, temple prostitution, cult prostitution, and religious prostitution are general terms for a sexual rite consisting of sexual intercourse or other sexual activity performed in the context of religious worship, perhaps as a form of fertility rite or divine marriage (hieros gamos)."

But then caveats that with:

"Some scholars prefer the terms "sacred sex" or "sacred sexual rites" to "sacred prostitution" in cases where payment for services was not involved."

Reading the citations listed it seems more of the sources use `sacred sexual rites' or similar than the term prostitution or at least mention than calling the practices prostitution was generally a description made after the fact by latter scholars. In the interest of academic neutrality wouldn't calling the article: "sacred sexual rites" (with a redirect from any searches for sacred prostitution) with the article listing that these activities are sometimes called as above, be a more accurate (and less loaded) reflection of the scholarship?

(I also note that it seems explicit payment for services was the exception rather than the norm in most of the instances discussed in the bulk of the article, so that `sacred sex rites' is also the more often accurate term for the collective practice as it doesn't exclude sacred prostitution as an example. Where as the reverse is not true).

Thoughts? — Preceding unsigned comment added by EarlEDaze (talkcontribs) 05:34, 19 March 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Certainly, it seems difficult to tell apart literal prostitution from unpaid sex from what sources tell us about sexual rites. The fact both are included here is because, as you said, academia has traditionally covered both under the same term due to this inability to certainly differentiate between both. I think your idea about the rename has a good basis, but we have already a separate article for that, sexual ritual. You might want to expand on it. Creador de Mundos (talk) 16:04, 21 March 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Discussion at Talk:Devadasi[edit]

 You are invited to join the discussion at Talk:Devadasi § RfC: Should article reference reports of sexual exploitation and prostitution in the modern day. Ujwal.Xankill3r (talk) 07:18, 13 December 2020 (UTC)[reply]


stop pushing your theory (talk) 23:44, 3 August 2023 (UTC)[reply]


"Nevertheless, zonah and qedeshah are not interchangeable terms: the former occurs 93 times in the Bible, whereas the latter is only used in three places, conveying different connotations." If you're taking a stance, state your stance! What do you mean? Not that it matters much, since you're quoting no author. Why do you want that bullshit detail to be there? If it's true, it's trivially true. And Strong's isn't a source! It's not even a good source for word frequency in the corpus, the way you're using it! And rules policing to reinstate unsourced content? Come on. Explain to me why you want the claim to be true. @Johnb123 Temerarius (talk) 02:51, 16 March 2024 (UTC)[reply]

@Temerarius: There is lengthy discussion above by multiple editors on this and other items leading to the inclusion of the text you dispute. Strong is widely cited in other publications which per WP:SCHOLARSHIP makes it an acceptable source. If you wish the text removed you need to give good reason, not just it's "bullshit", and gain consensus. --John B123 (talk) 08:29, 16 March 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Who? The fact it's been turned over on the talk page doesn't make it significant. It's a nonclaim in response to an imagined claim. It's misleading to readers both with knowledge and without. Temerarius (talk) 17:58, 16 March 2024 (UTC)[reply]
Strong's isn't a general source! It's Strong's. It's got issues. It's applicable for narrow purposes. It's to be used carefully, not indiscriminately. Temerarius (talk) 17:59, 16 March 2024 (UTC)[reply]
You're telling me that by the rules, you're... allowed to keep the material on. It's up to Wikipedia standards. Sure, if you argue so. But you're arguing "may" while I'm arguing "should." Temerarius (talk) 18:03, 16 March 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I don't care if the article takes a stance, I care that it's transparent about the meaning of the stances it takes. Temerarius (talk) 18:04, 16 March 2024 (UTC)[reply]
I also refer to Strong's by the way, but narrowly. Temerarius (talk) 18:11, 16 March 2024 (UTC)[reply]
The fact it's been turned over on the talk page doesn't make it significant. It's called consensus, that's the way Wikipedia works. --John B123 (talk) 22:04, 16 March 2024 (UTC)[reply]