Harlot

(1.) Heb. zonah (Gen. 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
Deut. 23:17; Hos. 4:14. Thus Tamar sat by the wayside as a
consecrated kedeshah.

It has been attempted to show that Rahab, usually called a
"harlot" (Josh. 2:1; 6:17; Heb. 11:31; James 2:25), was only an
innkeeper. This interpretation, however, cannot be maintained.

Jephthah's mother is called a "strange woman" (Judg. 11:2).
This, however, merely denotes that she was of foreign
extraction.

In the time of Solomon harlots appeared openly in the streets,
and he solemnly warns against association with them (Prov. 7:12;
9:14. See also Jer. 3:2; Ezek. 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.

To commit fornication is metaphorically used for to practice
idolatry (Jer. 3:1; Ezek. 16:15; Hos. throughout); hence
Jerusalem is spoken of as a harlot (Isa. 1:21).

(2.) Heb. nokriyah, the "strange woman" (1 Kings 11:1; Prov.
5:20; 7:5; 23:27). Those so designated were Canaanites and other
Gentiles (Josh. 23:13). To the same class belonged the
"foolish", i.e., the sinful, "woman."

In the New Testament the Greek pornai, plural, "harlots,"
occurs in Matt. 21:31,32, where they are classed with publicans;
Luke 15:30; 1 Cor. 6:15,16; Heb. 11:31; James 2:25. It is used
symbolically in Rev. 17:1, 5, 15, 16; 19:2.