The people represented during the eras of the Bible were no prudes. Known as the world’s oldest profession, escort service industry was common and described in the Bible. Several references exist, along with many escorts having important roles in Jesus’ life and helping to promote the will of God.
References in the Bible
In the Bible, prostitution was referred to many times. The word “harlot” appears 40 times in the Old Testament and 8 times in the New Testament. “Whoredom” and “whoring” are present 9 times in the New Testament and occur 83 times in the Old Testament verses. God’s word addresses prostitution in at least 140 verses. Many references to prostitution were general, as prostitutes were common sights at the temples where religious sexual ceremonies were used to worship other gods and idols, including the fertility gods.
General attitudes about escorts
During these eras, prostitution was not defined the way it is today. Wealthy men often had multiple wives and concubines. When a woman belonged to a man, it was highly immoral for her to engage in relations with any other married man. However, it is agreed that the moral code of the day did not frown upon men experiencing sexual pleasure with single, unattached ladies.
Additionally, escort services often referred to the religious sexual encounters used for worshiping at the temples. Temple escorts assisted in the worship of idols or other gods besides God.
Escorts were famously forgiven by God and Jesus in the Bible. Forgiveness of the sin of prostitution was equal to any other type of forgiveness, and women who engaged in prostitution were not thought to be “bad” people without other merits or values.
Specific mentions in the Bible
It is well understood in the Bible that many women turned to adult dating as a means to support themselves, their families and their children after being left single due to a loss of a husband or father.
In Ezek 16:8-26 escorts are described for the ornate jewelry and flashy (and revealing) clothing they wear that helped them to attract men and gain customers. In a time that women did not dress garishly, these escorts stand out among other women.
The story of Rahab is told in Joshua 2. Rahab, a common harlot, helps secure the safety of Joshua’s spies when they sneak into Jericho. She is described as intelligent, personable and very loving, despite her history as an escort. Because she showed faith, her relationship with Jesus is secured and she becomes part of the lineage to the Messiah.
Hos 4:10-19 warns the people of Israel about the temple prostitutes. They are instructed to have nothing to do with the temple prostitutes or priests (or priestesses) in order to abide God’s word. It is made clear through scripture that those who disobeyed sinned.
Money earned by prostitution was banned as a gift to the temple in Deut 23:18. It was considered money of ill-begotten ways and could tarnish the purpose of the temple.
Some students of religion and the Bible insist that the views concerning human sexuality during the eras represented in the Bible are not accurately depicted. It is theorized that the Church refused to embrace the openness in which people accepted sex and disregarded the healthy relationship people had with their bodies. It is with this basis that experts hypothesize that the current day moral codes that condemn escorts and other open expressions of sexuality were established.