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Holman Bible Dictionary

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Additional Resources
• Nave's Topical Bible
Harlot (prostitute)
• Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
Harlot, inn keepers: & Hospitality, Inn
• Easton's Bible Dictionary
• Fausset's Bible Dictionary
• Smith's Bible Dictionary
• International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Greek - harlot, harlots
Hebrew - harlot's wages
Hebrew - harlot, harlot's
Hebrew - harlot
Hebrew - harlot, become a harlot, commits flagrant harlotry, fall to harlotry, harlot continually, harlot's, harlotry, harlots, making her a harlot, play the harlot, play the harlot continually, played the harlot, playing the harlot, plays the harlot

A prostitute. The most famous harlot in the Bible is Rahab of Jericho, who saved the Israelite spies sent by Joshua to scout out the Promised Land (Joshua 2:1). Israel spared her and her family when they conquered and destroyed Jericho. She continued to dwell with the Israelites (Joshua 6:23-25). She is listed in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:5). Her action on behalf of the Israelite spies won her a place in the roll call of the faithful (Hebrews 11:31; compare James 2:25).

The Bible gives few details of the ways in which harlots like Rahab practiced their trade. Evidently, harlots might solicit along the roadside (Genesis 38:14-15). Brothels, which often served as taverns and inns, were also known in the Ancient Near East. Rahab's house may have been one (Joshua 2:1). It is possible that the prostitute had a distinctive mark on her forehead (Jeremiah 3:3) and breasts (Hosea 2:2). She might attract attention by her clothing, jewelry and make-up (Jeremiah 4:30; Ezekiel 23:40; Revelation 17:4). Flattering with words (Proverbs 2:16) and making sweet music (Isaiah 23:16) might be used to lure or soothe a client. Her payment might be in money, or it could be in jewelry (Ezekiel 23:42) or other items of value (Genesis 38:15-18; compare Luke 15:30).

Although harlots were considered socially inferior, they did have legal rights, as is evident from the incident recorded in 1 Kings 3:16-22. See Fornication; Prostitution.

Wilda W. Morris

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor.. "Entry for 'HARLOT'". "Holman Bible Dictionary".
<>. 1991.


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