BIBLE NAMES REVEALED: HARLOT

(Message by Tanny Keng)

1. Bible Names Revealed

a) The Bible is an historic record of real people and places. Learn who's who, their relationships, and the meaning of their names.

2. Harlot

a) Syonyms: prostitute, whore, camp follower, Cyprian, bawd.

i) Hebrew: zonah (Genesis 34:31; 38:15). In verses 21-22 the Hebrew word used in kedeshah, i.e., a woman consecrated or devoted to prostitution in connection with the abominable worship of Asherah or Astarte, the Syrian Venus. This word is also used in Deuteronomy 23:17; Hosea 4:14. Thus Tamar sat by the wayside as a consecrated kedeshah.

ii) It has been attempted to show that Rahab, usually called a “harlot” (Joshua 2:1; 6:17; Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25), was only an innkeeper. This interpretation, however, cannot be maintained. Jephthah’s mother is called a “strange woman” (Judges 11:2). This, however, merely denotes that she was of foreign extraction.

iii) In the time of Solomon, harlots appeared openly in the streets, and he solemnly warns against association with them (Proverbs 7:12; 9:14. See also Jeremiah 3:2; Ezekiel 16:24, 25, 31). The Revised Version, following the LXX, has “and the harlots washed,” etc., instead of the rendering of the Authorized Version, “now they washed,” of 1 Kings 22:38.

iv) To commit fornication is metaphorically used for to practice idolatry (Jeremiah 3:1; Ezekiel 16:15; Hosea throughout); hence Jerusalem is spoken of as a harlot (Isaiah 1:21). 

v) Hebrew: nokriyah, the “strange woman” (1 Kings 11:1; Proverbs 5:20; 7:5; 23:27). Those so designated were Canaanites and other Gentiles (Joshua 23:13). To the same class belonged the “foolish,” i.e., the sinful, “woman.”

vi) In the New Testament, the Greek pornai, plural, “harlots,” occurs in Matthew 21:31-32, where they are classed with publicans; Luke 15:30; 1 Corinthians 6:15,16; Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25. It is used symbolically in Revelation 17:1, 5, 15-16; 19:2.


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