תִּזנוּת, taznuth' πορνεία, illicit sexual intercourse, especially of a married woman). SEE ADULTERY. From the Scriptures we learn that long before the time of Moses, morals had become very much corrupted, and not only the prostitution of females, but of boys, was very common among many nations, and even made a part of the divine worship, as may be inferred from the Hebrew words kadesh, a prostitute boy, and kedeshah, the feminine of it, which words properly, and originally mean a person religiously set apart and consecrated to the flagitious vice in question (De 23:18; 1Ki 14:24; Job 36:14; Ge 38:21-22; Nu 21:1; De 23:18; Hom. 4:14). How great the corruption of manners with reference to the marriage relation was among the Egyptians appears from Herodotus (2:11.1) as well as the Bible. The wife of one of the oldest kings was untrue to him. It was a long time before a woman could be found who was faithful to her husband and when one was at last found, the king took her without hesitation for himself. With impudent shamelessness Potiphar's wife seeks to seduce Joseph (Ge 39:7). The evidence of the monuments is also not very favorable to the Egyptian women. Thus they are represented as addicted to excess in drinking wine, as even becoming so much intoxicated as to be unable to stand or walk alone, or "to carry their liquor discreetly" (Wilkinson's Egypt 2, 167). To prevent those evils to which the Greeks and Roman philosophers refused to oppose any decided resistance. Moses made the following regulations:
1. That among the Hebrews no prostitute, either male nor female, should be tolerated; and that if the daughter of a priest especially were guilty of fornication, she should be stoned and her body burnt (Le 21:9); because these things, as Moses observes in Le 19:29; De 23:17-18, were a great abomination in the sight of God. Further, in order that priests of avaricious minds should not, in. imitation of other nations, make crimes of this kind a part of the divine worship, he enacted,
2. That the price of prostitution, though presented in return for a vow, should not be received at the sanctuary (De 23:18). This law, it seems, was sometimes violated in the times of the kings (2Ki 23:7). He also enacted,
3. That the man who had seduced female should marry her, and in case the father would not consent, should pay the customary dowry, viz; thirty shekels: — in case violence had been offered, fifty shekels (Ex 22:16; De 22:23-29), This law appears to have originated in an ancient custom alluded to in Ge 34:1-12. Finally, to secure the great object, he enacted,
4. That any one who, when married was not found to be a virgin, as she professed before marriage, should be stoned before her father's house (De 22:20-21). These laws, it must be admitted, were severe; but prostitutes of both sexes, notwithstanding their severity, were set apart in the time of the kings for the service of idols (Pr 2:16-19: A, 3-6; 7:5-27; Kings 14:24; 15:12; Am 2:7; Am 7:17; Jer 3:2; Jer 5:7; Joh 8:3-11). Among the Greeks and Romans of the apostles' day licentiousness was fearfully prevalent. SEE HARLOT.
In Scripture this word occurs more frequently in its symbolical than in its ordinary sense. In the Prophets woman is often made the symbol of the church or nation of the Jews, which is regarded as affianced to Jehovah by the covenant on Mount Sinai. In Ezekiel 16 there is a long description of that people under the symbol of a female child, growing up to the stature of a woman, and then wedded to Jehovah by entering into covenant with him. Therefore, when the Israelites acted contrary to that covenant by forsaking God and following idols, they were very properly represented by the symbol of a harlot or adulteress offering herself to all comers (Isa 1:2; Jer 2:20; Eze 16; Ho 1:2; Ho 3:5). Thus fornication, or adultery (which is fornication in a married state), became, and is used as the symbol of idolatry itself (Jer 3:8-9; Eze 16:26,29; Eze 23:37). SEE IDOLATRY.