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S6. Engaging in Prostitution.    [Make a Comment]

We are not to participate in prostitution of any kind.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed be He):

Key Scriptures


Leviticus 19:20 (Maimonides RN355; Chinuch C570)
Do not debase your daughter by making her a prostitute, so that the land will not fall into prostitution and become full of shame.

Deuteronomy 23:19(18) (Maimonides RN100; Chinuch C571)
Nothing earned through heterosexual or homosexual prostitution is to be brought into the house of ADONAI your God in fulfillment of any vow, for both of these are abhorrent to ADONAI your God.

Ezekiel 16:32-38
Here is a wife who commits adultery, who goes to bed with strangers instead of her husband; but also instead of receiving gifts like every other prostitute, you give gifts to all your lovers, you bribe them to come to you from all over the place and have sex with you! You are the opposite of other women - you solicit the fornication, you aren't solicited; and you pay them, they don't pay you - you're the opposite! All right, you whore, listen to the word of ADONAI! Adonai ELOHIM says: 'Because your filth has been poured out and your privates exposed through your acts of fornication with your lovers, and because of all the idols of your disgusting practices, and because of the blood of your children, which you gave them, therefore, look! I am going to gather all your lovers, to whom you have been so very nice, all the ones you hate right along with all the ones you love - I will gather them against you from all over the place and expose your private parts to them, so that they will see you completely naked. I will pronounce on you the sentence that applies to women who commit adultery and murder; I will bring on you the death [decreed for] furious jealousy.

Proverbs 7:10-22
Then a woman approaches him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart. She's the coarse, impulsive type, whose feet don't stay at home; rather, she stalks the streets and squares, lurking at every streetcorner. She grabs him, gives him a kiss, and, brazen-faced, she says to him, "I had to offer peace sacrifices, and I fulfilled my vows today. This is why I came out to meet you, to look for you; now I've found you. I've spread quilts on my couch made of colored Egyptian linen. I've perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. Come on, let's make love till morning; we'll enjoy making love. My husband isn't at home, he's gone on a long trip; he took a bag of money with him and won't be back till the moon is full." With all her sweet talk she convinces him, enticing him with her seductive words. At once he follows her like an ox on its way to be slaughtered; like a fool to be punished in the stocks ...

Proverbs 23:27-28
A prostitute is a deep ditch, and a forbidden woman like a narrow well. She lies in wait to snatch her prey and adds to the number of faithless men.

Proverbs 29:3
Whoever loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but a patron of prostitutes wastes his wealth.

1 Corinthians 6:16-17
Don't you know that a man who joins himself to a prostitute becomes physically one with her? For the Tanakh says, "The two will become one flesh"; but the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.


Exodus 34:15-16
Do not make a covenant with the people living in the land. It will cause you to go astray after their gods and sacrifice to their gods. Then they will invite you to join them in eating their sacrifices, and you will take their daughters as wives for your sons. Their daughters will prostitute themselves to their own gods and make your sons do the same!

Leviticus 17:6-7
The cohen will splash the blood against the altar of ADONAI at the entrance to the tent of meeting and make the fat go up in smoke as a pleasing aroma for ADONAI. No longer will they offer sacrifices to the goat-demons, before whom they prostitute themselves! This is a permanent regulation for them through all their generations.

Deuteronomy 31:16
ADONAI said to Moshe, "You are about to sleep with your ancestors. But this people will get up and offer themselves as prostitutes to the foreign gods of the land where they are going. When they are with those gods, they will abandon me and break my covenant which I have made with them.

Isaiah 1:21
How the faithful city has become a whore! Once she was filled with justice, righteousness lodged in her; but now murderers!

Jeremiah 5:7
Why should I forgive you? Your people have abandoned me and sworn by non-gods. When I fed them to the full, they committed adultery, thronging to the brothels.

Ezekiel 16:16-17
You took your clothes and used them to decorate with bright colors the high places you made for yourself, and there you continued prostituting yourself. Such things shouldn't happen, and in the future they won't. You also took your beautiful jewels made of my gold and my silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself male images, with which you continued to prostitute yourself.

Ezekiel 16:35-37
'All right, you whore, listen to the word of ADONAI!' Adonai ELOHIM says: 'Because your filth has been poured out and your privates exposed through your acts of fornication with your lovers, and because of all the idols of your disgusting practices, and because of the blood of your children, which you gave them, therefore, look! I am going to gather all your lovers, to whom you have been so very nice, all the ones you hate right along with all the ones you love - I will gather them against you from all over the place and expose your private parts to them, so that they will see you completely naked.'

Hosea 3:1-5
ADONAI said to me, "Go once more, and show love to [this] wife [of yours] who has been loved by her boyfriend, to this adulteress - just as ADONAI loves the people of Isra'el, even though they turn to other gods and love the raisin cakes [offered to them]." So I bought her back for myself with fifteen pieces of silver and eight bushels of barley. Then I told her, "You are to remain in seclusion for a long time and be mine. You are not to be a prostitute, and you are not to be with any other man; and I won't come in to have sex with you either." For the people of Isra'el are going to be in seclusion for a long time without a king, prince, sacrifice, standing-stone, ritual vest or household gods. Afterwards, the people of Isra'el will repent and seek ADONAI their God and David their king; they will come trembling to ADONAI and his goodness in the acharit-hayamim.

Hosea 4:6-19
My people are destroyed for want of knowledge. Because you rejected knowledge, I will also reject you as cohen for me. Because you forgot the Torah of your God, I will also forget your children. The more they increased in number, the more they sinned against me. I will change their glory into shame. They feed on the sin of my people and are greedy for their crimes. But the cohen will fare no better than the people; I will punish him for his ways and pay him back for his deeds. They will eat but not have enough and consort with whores but have no children, because they stopped listening to ADONAI. Whoring and wine, both old and new, take away my people's wits. My people consult their piece of wood, their diviner's wand speaks to them; for the spirit of whoring makes them err, they go off whoring, deserting their God. They sacrifice on the mountain peaks and offer incense on the hills under oaks, poplars and pistachio trees; because they give good shade. Therefore your daughters behave like whores, And your daughters-in-law commit adultery. I won't punish your daughters when they act like whores, or your daughters-in-law when they commit adultery; because the men are themselves going off with whores and sacrificing with prostitutes. Yes, a people without understanding will come to ruin." If you, Isra'el, prostitute yourself, still Y'hudah has no need to incur such guilt. Don't go to Gilgal or up to Beit-Aven, and don't swear, "As ADONAI lives." For Isra'el is stubborn as a stubborn cow; will ADONAI now feed them like a lamb in a big pasture? Efrayim is joined to idols; let him alone! When they finish carousing, they start their whoring; their rulers deeply love dishonor. The wind will carry them off in its wings and their sacrifices bring them nothing but shame.

Psalms 106:38-39
Yes, they shed innocent blood, the blood of their own sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to Kena'an's false gods, polluting the land with blood. Thus they were defiled by their deeds; they prostituted themselves by their actions ...

2 Chronicles 21:10-13
Nevertheless, since that day Edom has remained free of Y'hudah's domination. Livnah revolted against him at the same time, because he had abandoned ADONAI the God of his ancestors. Moreover, he built high places in the hills of Y'hudah, caused the people living in Yerushalayim to prostitute themselves and drew Y'hudah away. A letter came to him from Eliyahu the prophet which said, "Here is what ADONAI, the God of David your ancestor, says: 'You have not lived by the examples of Y'hoshafat your father or Asa king of Y'hudah. Instead you have lived by the example of the kings of Isra'el and have caused Y'hudah and the people living in Yerushalayim to prostitute themselves, just as the house of Ach'av caused [Isra'el] to prostitute themselves. Moreover, you killed your brothers from your father's house, men better than you.


Joshua 6:17-25
But the city and everything in it is to be set aside for ADONAI and therefore to be destroyed completely; only Rachav the prostitute is to be spared, she and everyone with her in her house, because she hid the messengers we sent. So you, keep clear of everything reserved for destruction. If you bring a curse on yourselves by taking anything set aside to be destroyed, you will bring a curse on the whole camp of Isra'el and cause great distress there. All the silver and gold, and all the brass and iron utensils are to be separated out for ADONAI and added to the treasury of ADONAI." So the people shouted, with the shofars blowing. When the people heard the sound of the shofars, the people let out a great shout; and the wall fell down flat; so that the people went up into the city, each one straight ahead of him; and they captured the city. They completely destroyed everything in the city with the sword - men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys. Y'hoshua said to the two men who had reconnoitered the land, "Go into the prostitute's house and bring the woman out with all that she has, as you swore to her." The young men, the spies, went in and brought out Rachav with her father, mother, brothers and all she had; they brought out all her relatives and put them safely outside the camp of Isra'el. Then they burned the city to ashes with everything in it, except for the silver, the gold and the brass and iron utensils, which they put in the treasury of the house of ADONAI. But Y'hoshua spared Rachav the prostitute, her father's household and everything she had; and she has continued living with Isra'el from then until now; because she hid the messengers Y'hoshua had sent to reconnoiter Yericho.

Luke 7:37-50
A woman who lived in that town, a sinner, who was aware that he was eating in the home of the Parush, brought an alabaster box of very expensive perfume, stood behind Yeshua at his feet and wept until her tears began to wet his feet. Then she wiped his feet with her own hair, kissed his feet and poured the perfume on them. When the Parush who had invited him saw what was going on, he said to himself, "If this man were really a prophet, he would have known who is touching him and what sort of woman she is, that she is a sinner." Yeshua answered, "Shim'on, I have something to say to you." "Say it, Rabbi," he replied. "A certain creditor had two debtors; the one owed ten times as much as the other. When they were unable to pay him back, he canceled both their debts. Now which of them will love him more?" Shim'on answered, "I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt." "Your judgment is right," Yeshua said to him. Then, turning to the woman, he said to Shim'on, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house - you didn't give me water for my feet, but this woman has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair! You didn't give me a kiss; but from the time I arrived, this woman has not stopped kissing my feet! You didn't put oil on my head, but this woman poured perfume on my feet! Because of this, I tell you that her sins - which are many! - have been forgiven, because she loved much. But someone who has been forgiven only a little loves only a little." Then he said to her, "Your sins have been forgiven." At this, those eating with him began saying among themselves, "Who is this fellow that presumes to forgive sins?" But he said to the woman, "Your trust has saved you; go in peace."

Hebrews 11:31
By trusting, Rachav the prostitute welcomed the spies and therefore did not die along with those who were disobedient.

James 2:25
Likewise, wasn't Rachav the prostitute also declared righteous because of actions when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another route?


Deuteronomy 23:18(17)-19(18) (Maimonides RN100, RN355; Meir MN133; Chinuch C570, C571)
No woman of Isra'el is to engage in ritual prostitution, and no man of Isra'el is to engage in ritual homosexual prostitution. Nothing earned through heterosexual or homosexual prostitution is to be brought into the house of ADONAI your God in fulfillment of any vow, for both of these are abhorrent to ADONAI your God.

1 Kings 14:24
Also there were male and female cult-prostitutes in the land attached to these shrines, doing all the disgusting things which the nations did that ADONAI had expelled ahead of the people of Isra'el.

1 Kings 15:11-12
Asa did what was right from the perspective of ADONAI, as David his ancestor had done. He rid the land of cult-prostitutes and removed all the idols his ancestors had made.

1 Kings 22:46(45)-47(46)
Other activities of Y'hoshafat, all his power that he demonstrated and how he made war are recorded in the Annals of the Kings of Y'hudah. He rid the land of the male and female cult-prostitutes remaining from the time of his father Asa.

2 Kings 23:7
He smashed the houses of the cult prostitutes that were in the house of ADONAI, where the women also wove garments for the asherah.


Leviticus 21:7
A cohen is not to marry a woman who is a prostitute, who has been profaned or who has been divorced; because he is holy for his God.

Leviticus 21:13-15
He [the Cohen Godol] is to marry a virgin; he may not marry a widow, divorcee, profaned woman or prostitute; but he must marry a virgin from among his own people and not disqualify his descendants among his people; because I am ADONAI, who makes him holy.

Hosea 4:9-11
But the cohen will fare no better than the people; I will punish him for his ways and pay him back for his deeds. They will eat but not have enough and consort with whores but have no children, because they stopped listening to ADONAI. Whoring and wine, both old and new, take away my peoples wits.'


Numbers 15:38-39
Speak to the people of Isra'el, instructing them to make, through all their generations, tzitziyot on the corners of their garments, and to put with the tzitzit on each corner a blue thread. It is to be a tzitzit for you to look at and thereby remember all of ADONAI's mitzvot and obey them, so that you won't go around wherever your own heart and eyes lead you to prostitute yourselves;

Supportive Scriptures

Matthew 15:19-20
For out of the heart come forth wicked thoughts, murder, adultery and other kinds of sexual immorality, theft, lies, slanders ... These are what really make a person unclean, but eating without doing n'tilat-yadayim does not make a person unclean.

Romans 1:26-28
For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting

Romans 13:13-14
Let us live properly, as people do in the daytime - not partying and getting drunk, not engaging in sexual immorality and other excesses, not quarrelling and being jealous. Instead, clothe yourselves with the Lord Yeshua the Messiah; and don't waste your time thinking about how to provide for the sinful desires of your old nature.

1 Corinthians 5:1-5
It is actually being reported that there is sexual sin among you, and it is sexual sin of a kind that is condemned even by pagans - a man is living with his stepmother! And you stay proud? Shouldn't you rather have felt some sadness that would have led you to remove from your company the man who has done this thing? For I myself, even though I am absent physically, am with you spiritually; and I have already judged the man who has done this as if I were present. In the name of the Lord Yeshua, when you are assembled, with me present spiritually and the power of our Lord Yeshua among us, hand over such a person to the Adversary for his old nature to be destroyed, so that his spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 5:9-13
In my earlier letter I wrote you not to associate with people who engage in sexual immorality. I didn't mean the sexually immoral people outside your community, or the greedy, or the thieves or the idol-worshippers - for then you would have to leave the world altogether! No, what I wrote you was not to associate with anyone who is supposedly a brother but who also engages in sexual immorality, is greedy, worships idols, is abusive, gets drunk or steals. With such a person you shouldn't even eat! For what business is it of mine to judge outsiders? Isn't it those who are part of the community that you should be judging? God will judge those who are outside. Just expel the evildoer from among yourselves.

1 Corinthians 6:13
"Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food"? Maybe, but God will put an end to both of them. Anyhow, the body is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.

1 Corinthians 6:18-19
Run from sexual immorality! Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the fornicator sins against his own body. Or don't you know that your body is a temple for the Ruach HaKodesh who lives inside you, whom you received from God? The fact is, you don't belong to yourselves

1 Corinthians 10:8
And let us not engage in sexual immorality, as some of them did, with the consequence that 23,000 died in a single day.

Galatians 5:19
And it is perfectly evident what the old nature does. It expresses itself in sexual immorality, impurity and indecency

Ephesians 5:3
Among you there should not even be mentioned sexual immorality, or any kind of impurity, or greed; these are utterly inappropriate for God's holy people.

Colossians 3:5
Therefore, put to death the earthly parts of your nature- sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed (which is a form of idolatry)

1 Thessalonians 4:3-5
What God wants is that you be holy, that you keep away from sexual immorality, that each of you know how to manage his sexual impulses in a holy and honorable manner, without giving in to lustful desires, like the pagans who don't know God.


The words "prostitutes" and "whore" are both found in the Bible, and are similar. A "whore" is a sexually loose woman, and a "prostitute" is a whore who sells her sexual favors for a price. Used in this way they are nouns, but both words can also be used as verbs. When they are used as verbs (e.g. to "whore" or to "prositute" one's self) they are often not referring to sexual activity but rather to giving or selling oneself against society's acceptable norms or God's will (e.g. prostititing onself to the heathen gods).

Whereas classically, the Mitzvah prohibiting prostitution alludes only to a man paying a woman to have sexual intercourse, this Mitzvah includes the wider prohibition mentioed above, which is most often exemplified by Israel selling herself through its sinful conduct. That is why the statement of this Mitzvah is "We are not to participate in prostitution of any kind or in any way."

Prostitution, by definition, has to have a price of sale, so what might men's (or women's) price or gain be for prostituting themselves? It varies from time to time, but it has typically been power, safety, economic advantage, or social acceptance.

Here are some Scriptures that speak directly to the point without using the word "prostitute". It is subtle but, in each case, the prostituting offender gives something of himself in order to get something or achieve something in return.

Proverbs 29:26: Many seek the ruler's favor, but it is from ADONAI that each gets justice.

John 12:42-43: Nevertheless, many of the leaders did trust in him; but because of the P'rushim they did not say so openly, out of fear of being banned from the synagogue; for they loved praise from other people more than praise from God.

Galatians 1:10: Now does that sound as if I were trying to win human approval? No! I want God's approval! Or that I'm trying to cater to people? If I were still doing that, I would not be a servant of the Messiah.

Classical Commentators:
Maimonides, Meir, and HaChinuch wrote two mitzvot each that allude to prostitution. One of thtem relies on Leviticus 19:29 that prohibits making one's daughter into a prostitute, but they express their mitzvot as not having sex outside of marriage. The other mitzvah that each wrote relies on Deuteronomy 23:19(18) and commands against bringing the financial fruits of prostitution into the Temple as an offering to the Lord.


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