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ḲEDESHAH (plural, Ḳedeshot):

The ḳedeshot were sacred prostitutes attached to the Temple as priestesses of Ashtoreth or Astarte. The worship of Ashtoreth was introduced by Solomon (I Kings xi. 5); and it is possible that the obscene rites connected therewith were practised near the Temple, which was practically a chapel royal while the kingdom lasted. It is even stated that Tamar adopted the professional dress of a ḳedeshah to ensnare Judah (Gen. xxxviii. 21). The male counterparts of the ḳedeshot, the ḳedeshim, are mentioned in the reign of Rehoboam (I Kings xiv. 24); they were removedby Asa (ib. xv. 12) and by Jehoshaphat (ib. xxii. 47); and Josiah even found it necessary to break down their houses at the time of his reforms (II Kings xxiii. 7). Hosea (iv. 14) refers to ḳedeshot. The Deuteronomic legislation, which represents Josiah's reformation, declared against the practise of such rites. "There shall be no ḳedeshah of the daughters of Israel, nor a ḳadesh of the sons of Israel" (Deut. xxiii. 18, Hebr.). It is doubtful, however, whether the rites were altogether abolished; for Ezekiel gives a full account of them, obviously from scenes witnessed during his lifetime (Ezek. xxiii. 36-48). It is even probable that there was reversion to these rites by Jehoiakim (II Kings xxiii. 37), Jehoiachin (ib. xxiv. 9), and Zedekiah (ib. 19). It has been suggested by Jacobs that the Nethinim were the descendants of these ḳedeshot.

Bibliography:
  • Jacobs, Studies in Biblical Archœology, pp. 114-116, London, 1894.
E. G. H. J.
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