Dr. Charles Lee Fineburg, 1909-1995, also earned his Th.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins. In his commentary on Jeremiah in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 6, p. 399, Dr. Fineburg writes:
"In Canaanite religion the main emphasis was on fertility and sex. Worship was entered into in order to insure the fertility of the land, the animals, and the people. Sacred prostitution was practiced widely. Among the sacred objects were stone altars, and the sacred tree or grove (so G.E. Wright, "The Archaeology of Palestine," The Bible and the Ancient Near East, ed. G.E. Wright [London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1961], pp. 73-112).
It is interesting to remember that Dr. Feinburg taught John MacArthur at Talbot Theological Seminary. MacArthur has remarked that Dr. Feinburg was his favorite professor.
Howard F. Vos
Howard F. Vos, "An Introduction To Bible Archaeology" Revised ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1953) pp. 17-19.
Dr. Vos earned the B.A., Wheaton College; M.A. and Ph.D., Northwestern University; Th.M. and Th.D., Dallas Theological Seminary. He is Professor Emeritus of History and Archaeology at The King's College, Tuxedo, New York, and Adjunct Professor at the King's campus in the Empire State Building, New York City. He is the author of twenty-five books including: Beginnings in Bible Geography, Can I Trust The Bible, Genesis and Galatians in the Everyman's Bible Commentary Series and co-author of the Wycliffe Encyclopedia.
Isn't it interesting that one of the most vocal opponents of gay Christians devotes more than ten pages of his book, pp. 100-110, to proving that shrine prostitutes were a major problem in ancient Israel, while insisting that the Levitical prohibitions do not address the problem of shrine prostitutes?
If Drs. MacArthur, Unger, Fineburg, Vos, Gagnon and the other conservative scholars we've quoted on this page are right, that shrine prostitutes were a major problem in ancient Israel, (and I believe they are right on this point), it makes more sense to understand Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 as prohibiting the primary form, shrine prostitution, in which homosexual intercourse was practiced in Israel but NOT as a universal prohibition of homosexual practice, which is unrelated to fertility goddess worship.
In plainer words, Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 were not intended to prohibit lesbian practice, a committed, faithful, non-cultic relationship between two women. Lesbianism is not mentioned or addressed anywhere in the Old Testament. And Lev 18:22 and 20:13 were never intended to prohibit a committed faithful non-cultic relationship between two men.
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The Holiness Code was given to keep Israel faithful to Jehovah, the True God. Israel violated the Holiness Code and drifted into idolatry. God judged Israel for her sins of idol worship and shrine prostitution, sexual worship of the fertility goddess [not homosexuality] for the next fifteen hundred years.
Some Christians make the mistake of equating men and women devoted to qadesh and qedeshah, the Canaanite fertility goddess, with modern gays and lesbians. The Hebrew words qadesh and qedesha are found in the following verses.
- Deuteronomy 23:17-18
- 1 Kings 14:24
- 1 Kings 15:12
- 1 Kings 22:46
- 2 Kings 23:7
- Job 36:14
Notice that nothing in the context of these verses deals with a faithful, non-cultic partnership between two men or two women. Wise students of scripture will also note that verses which mention sodomites are not talking about the geographical area called Sodom in the Bible.
Every verse in the Bible which mentions sod@mite or sodomites is referring to shrine prostitutes who worshiped the Canaanite fertility goddess.
The Hebrew word for Sodom is Cedom, an entirely different word than qadesh or qadesha. Cedom is from a Hebrew root meaning “to scorch or burn.”
What We Learn From
Qadesh is a Hebrew word which means a male prostitute dedicated to the fertility goddess.
What We Learn From
Sodom or Cedom is an entirely different Hebrew word than qadesh or qedesha.
False assumptions lead people to believe the Bible condemns committed, faithful, non-cultic partnerships between two men or two women when in actual fact, the Bible never condemns committed, faithful, non-cultic, same sex relationships.
55 times our English Bibles use the word Sodom and related English words, sod@mite, sod@mites, Sodoma. Yet strangely enough, in Hebrew, Sodom and sod@mite are not related words. For this reason, many Christians draw the wrong conclusion, that Sodom and sod@mites are related when in fact, they are not etymologically related.
- Never in any of the Sodom passages does God say that the sin of Sodom was homosexuality.
- Never in any of the Sodom passages does God or a human author of the Bible link Sodom with homosexuality.
- Never in any of the sodomite(s) passages does God or a human author of scripture link sodomites(s) with a committed, faithful, non-cultic relationship between two men or two women.
On the other hand, whenever the Hebrew words qadesh or qadesha are used in scripture, they refer to a pagan worshiper of the fertility goddess. Therefore when we translate from Hebrew to English (or any other language) we must retain the original Hebrew meaning.
Because qadesh and qadesha did not refer to gay men or lesbian women in committed, faithful, noncultic relationships in any Biblical reference where those words are used, it is wrong to assert that qadesh and qadesha mean homosexual in the English when they clearly did not mean homosexual in the Hebrew.
Israelites were forbidden to bring the hire of a whore, a zanah, prostitute, or the price of a dog, kelev, a male shrine prostitute, into the house of the LORD.
Zanah is a Hebrew word which, in the Bible, often means street prostitute. Scripture also inserts zanah into the text when describing shrine prostitution or Molech worship, Leviticus 20:5. This Link will open in a new page. This clinches the undeniable link between the word zanah and shrine prostitutes.
Qadesh and Qedeshah are Hebrew words which, in the Bible, also refer to shrine prostitutes.
Two other times in scripture, God links qedeshah with zanah, whore, prostitute, Genesis 38:21-24 and Hosea 4:14.
At the time of this incident, Judah didn't even know he was having sex with his daughter in law. When Judah attempts to reclaim his pledge from Tamar (which he had given her so she would have sex with him), he asks:
“Where is [the qedeshah], the female shrine prostitute, who was openly by the wayside?” Genesis 38:12-30.
In Genesis 38:24, Judah is informed that his daughter in law has played the harlot, zanah, prostitute and is with child by whoredom, zanuwn, prostitution.
In the Genesis 38 passage, the Holy Spirit links qedeshah and zanah precisely as He links the same concepts in Leviticus 20:5, Hosea 4:14 and 2 Kings 23:5-10.
If qedeshah signifies all homosexuals, as so many modern Christians believe, then zanah in the same passage must signify all heterosexuals, therefore heterosexuality is wrong.
Of course, that is an illogical argument on both sides.
Qedeshah is a Hebrew word with a specific meaning. God the Holy Spirit is careful to use the word qedeshah to only indicate shrine prostitutes. Qedeshah is never used to mean homosexuals in the Bible.
Serious students of scripture also note that the qedeshah in our Genesis 38:12-30 passage, was a female who had procreative sex with a man and became pregnant. This is not homosexuality.
God links the qedeshah, shrine prostitutes and zanah, street prostitutes because what they share in common is a type of prostitution.
“I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, zanah, prostitution, nor your brides, daughters in law when they commit adultery, naaph, idolatrous worship: for themselves are separated with whores, [zanah], female prostitutes, and they sacrifice with harlots, [qedeshah], female shrine prostitutes.” Hosea 4:14.
“And there were also sodomites, [qadesh[, male temple prostitutes [shrine prostitutes] in the land: and they did according to all the abominations, towebah..." 1 Kings 14:23.
The Holy Spirit, in 1 Kings 14:23-24 uses the Hebrew word towebah to describe the abominations of Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13 and 1 Kings 14:23-24.
This Links the activity to shrine prostitution Leviticus 18:21, not homosexuality as we define it today, a committed, faithful, non-cultic relationship between two men or two women.
“And he took away the sodomites, [qadesh], male temple prostitutes out of the land.” 1 Kings 15:12.
“And the remnant of the sodomites, [qadesh], male temple prostitutes...” 1 Kings 22:46.
“And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, [qadesh], male temple prostitutes [shrine prostitutes], that were by the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the grove, asherah, sacred poles set up to worship the goddess.” 2 Kings 23:7.
2 Kings 23:5-20 provides another undeniable Link between shrine prostitutes and Molech worship. Leviticus 20:5 also links Molech worship to shrine prostitution, twice using the Hebrew word zanah (prostitute) to describe the illicit sexual worship of Molech.
- God placed the Levitical prohibition of male-male intercourse in the specific context of forbidding Molech worship, Leviticus 18:21-22.
- God deals with shrine prostitution in the Bible under the rubric of Molech worship.
- Molech worship included worship of Molech’s fertility goddess consort, Ashtoreth.
- Molech worship is described as abomination-towebah, Leviticus 18:27-29.
- Shrine prostitution is described as abomination-towebah, 2 Kings 23:13.
- The Holy Spirit tells us the reason King Josiah destroyed the high places is so “that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.” 2 Kings 23:10.
This passage, in 2 Kings 23:5-20, links sodomites, male temple prostitutes or shrine prostitutes, with worship of Molech. Because God links Molech and shrine prostitutes, wise Christians must also make and affirm this link. It is dishonest for nongay Christians to refuse to acknowledge this clear teaching of scripture.
Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 are not talking about homosexuality in general. Scripture is quite clear on this.
“no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.”
Since the Holy Spirit tells us the problem was false worship of Canaanite gods, it is wrong to ignore the clear statement of the Holy Spirit and insist, as some Christians insist, that the real problem was homosexuality.
If God intended us to believe the problem was homosexuality, God would have stated that clearly and unmistakably. Instead, God made it clear that the qadesh and qedesha were shrine prostitutes.
“They die in youth, and their life is among the unclean, qadesh, male temple prostitutes [shrine prostitutes].” Job 36:14.
These were not homosexuals in the sense in which we use the word homosexual today. They were idolatrous pagans, shrine prostitutes who rejected Jehovah and worshiped Ashtoreth, the Canaanite fertility goddess.
George Rawlinson, 1812-1902, in History of Phoenicia, written in 1889, describes Molech as a god worshiped by the Canaanites and Phoenicians. Here is his description of shrine prostitutes.
“At the head of the Pantheon stood a god and a goddess, Baal (Molech) and Ashtoreth... As Baal was the embodiment of the generative principle in nature, so was Ashtoreth of the receptive and productive principle. She was the great nature goddess, the Magna Mater, regent of the stars, queen of heaven, giver of life, and source of woman's fecundity...
"the worship places of religious cults in ancient Palestine were located atop hills and mountains."
Cybele had become the most prominent fertility goddess by New Testament times. In first century Rome, Cybele had five temples, one of which sat atop the Palatine Hill overlooking the Circus Maximus.
Fertility goddess temples contained idols, an asherah pole representing the fertility goddess and massebah, stone pillars which were phallic symbols, representing the male deity.
Dr. Martens links six religious activities to the pagan worship of the ancient Canaanites:
- burning incense
- offering sacrifices
- eating sacrifices
- praying to false gods
- [shrine] prostitution, and
- sacrificing children to the false god.
The entire list of forbidden acts in Leviticus 18 and 20, such as sex with a sister, sex with a step-mother, sex with a menstruating woman, sex with an animal, same sex activity in worship of the Canaanite fertility goddess and sacrificing children are said to be the doings of the Egyptians and Canaanites, Leviticus 18:3 & 21, 20:2-5 & 23.
These pagan practices, including shrine prostitution, were forbidden for Israel.
Marrying a close blood relative (incest) was a practice which came to be associated with the Egyptian cult of Osiris. Isis, the Egyptian Queen, was called Mother of God and Lady of Heaven. She was both mother and wife of the reigning Egyptian king. When God gives Moses the Law on Mt. Sinai, the practice of marrying one’s sister or aunt, is prohibited.
(From Margaret Murray, The Splendor That Was Egypt, Hawthorn, 1963, pp. 105-106).
“(40) And I imagine that the cause of this is that among many nations there are actually rewards given for intemperance and effeminacy. At all events one may see men-women [androgynes] continually strutting through the market place at midday, and leading the processions in festivals;
and, impious men as they are, having received by lot the charge of the temple, and beginning the sacred and initiating rites, and concerned even in the holy mysteries of Ceres
[Ceres is another name for Cybele, the fertility goddess first century Romans referred to as the Mater Deum or Mother of the gods]. Remember, Philo lived from 20 BC to AD 40. He probably wrote this around AD 35.
(41) And some of these persons have even carried their admiration of these delicate pleasures of youth so far that they have desired wholly to change their condition for that of women, and have castrated themselves and have clothed themselves in purple robes...
[Philo here describes the castrated Galli priests who served Cybele or other fertility goddesses worshiped in Rome].
(42) But if there was a general indignation against those who venture to do such things, as was felt by our lawgiver..."
Moses was the Jewish Lawgiver. Philo refers to Moses' writings in Leviticus 18:22; 20:13 and tangentially Deuteronomy 23:17 and links those verses to the shrine prostitution he has witnessed in the Roman empire.
The view that Lev 18:22 and 20:13 prohibits temple prostitution or shrine prostitution is therefore, at least 2000 years old. Our gay Christian viewpoint is rock solid, historically accurate and reflects Jewish and Christian views for more than two thousand years.
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