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Of Whores and Hounds: A New Interpretation of the Subject of Deuteronomy 23:19

In: Vetus Testamentum
Author: Phyllis Bird1
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The prohibition in Deut 23:19 against offering the “wages of a prostitute” (אתנןזונה) or the “price of a dog” (מחירכלב) in payment of a vow has generally been interpreted in connection with the proscription of the קדשה (“consecrated woman”) and קדש (“consecrated man”) in v. 18 as directed against some form of “cultic prostitution.” But the 2 m sg. verb raises the question of what a man is doing paying vows with a harlot’s fee. An investigation of v. 19 apart from the redactional v. 18 and an investigation of the key terms in their wider distribution in the Hebrew Bible yields a new understanding of the subject of this law and the idioms it employs.

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