The Bible is a book of understanding. It is really a Jewish book wherein all the laws of God are to be found. The laws for sexual purity are as important to a practicing Jew as it is to have a Synagogue. For this reason, before a Synagogue is even built or established a mikveh must be established for females. In your study of Jewish law and custom concerning sexual purity remember that it was the laws of God that put females on a higher level of respect and honor then any other religion. Young girls, even wives were to be treated with respect and honor by a father and or husband. They were not to follow the ways of the pagans and heathens who openly sold their girls, boys, and wives for prostitution. These sexual immoralities were part of the rituals around the pagan altars of the false gods. But not so in Israel with the true God.
Virginity was looked upon by God as a special holiness. It was personal in nature but indicated the inner sanctification and holiness of the female. If she loved God she would follow and obey his commandments. Adultery and fornication were not sexual sins treated lightly. They could carry the death penalty. The Ten Commandments cover adultery as well as sexual immorality of those not married. Within these restraints a female who refused to live by God's laws and had sexual relations outside of the marriage union was said to play the whore or the harlot.
Please understand that both single and married females could be whores and harlots. The terms whore and harlot describe a female who has sexual relations outside of the marriage union. It is only sexual relations of a female with her husband that she is not a whore or a harlot.
Many scholars are confusing the world by translation of the Hebrew word "zana" (Strong's #2181), as a cult prostitute or a woman committing adultery. In the one case females are told if they do not accept money for their sexual favors they are not a whore or a harlot. They are told if they are not married they can have sexual relations and they are not a whore or a harlot. This is false. It is within the context of a text that will determine if the female is married or single and if the therm whore or harlot is fitting to describe her sexual conduct.
The first mention of harlot is found in Genesis 34:31. It is the case where Hamor took Dinah the daughter of Jacob and had sexual relations with her. Her brothers were angry that he dealt with her as an harlot. In other words Hamor did not want Dinah as a wife but as a single girl for a garbage can for his seed, which harlots are. Dinah was not married. She was single. Yet the custom of that day was you do not have sexual relations with a single female or you are making or treating her like a harlot (sexual garbage can).
Anyone who has sexual relations with a single female is guilty of making and treating her like a harlot. He is guility of making her committ whoredom and she could afterward be called a whore. While many females today do not mind being called a whore, it is still a degrading identity that no child would want his mother called in front of him/her.
There are other texts of Scripture that will bring understand upon this. But the bottom line is only a married female who has sexual relations with her husband cannot be called a whore or harlot in this relationship. All other relationships of a female outside of marriage and she is classified in the Scriptures as a whore or a harlot. Both come from the same Hebrew word.
A female who is a whore or a harlot can be a prostitute if she charges for her favors. Many females do not charge and they are not prostitutes.
It would be very nice if scholars would stop all of the different interpretations and keep with the law of God and make it plain to all the world.
May God bless us all, and may all those beautiful females wanting a real live of holiness keep themselves pure to their wedding union. You will not regret it. And you may avoid a deadly discease that will not allow you to ever see any of your grandchildren.
Israel, holiness to God forever!
Dr. Gary Reckart
Apostolic Theological Bible College