Genesis 38:21
Then he asked the men of that place, saying, Where is the harlot, that was openly by the way side? And they said, There was no harlot in this place.
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(21) Where is the harlot . . .?—Heb.,Whercisthe kedeshah (see Genesis 38:15) that was at Enajim by the wayside? “Enajim (the two founts) by-the-wayside,” seems to have been the full name of the village. (See Genesis 38:14.)

38:1-30 The profligate conduct of Judah and his family. - This chapter gives an account of Judah and his family, and such an account it is, that it seems a wonder that of all Jacob's sons, our Lord should spring out of Judah, Heb 7:14. But God will show that his choice is of grace and not of merit, and that Christ came into the world to save sinners, even the chief. Also, that the worthiness of Christ is of himself, and not from his ancestors. How little reason had the Jews, who were so called from this Judah, to boast as they did, Joh 8:41. What awful examples the Lord proclaims in his punishments, of his utter displeasure at sin! Let us seek grace from God to avoid every appearance of sin. And let that state of humbleness to which Jesus submitted, when he came to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, in appointing such characters as those here recorded, to be his ancestors, endear the Redeemer to our hearts.Judah now comes into criminal, and, though unknown to him, incestuous sexual intercourse with Tamar. "And many were the days," a year or somewhat more. "To Timnah." This town is about twenty miles northwest of Hebron. There is another, however, in the hills about seven miles south of Hebron. "Put on a veil;" to conceal her face from Judah, or any other beholder. "The qate of Enaim." This is supposed to be the same as Enam Joshua 15:34. "And thy lace." This is the cord by which the signet was suspended round his neck. "Courtesan." The original word קדשׁה qedêshâh means one consecrated to the worship of Ashtoreth, in which chastity is sacrificed.18. signet, &c.—Bracelets, including armlets, were worn by men as well as women among the Hebrews. But the Hebrew word here rendered "bracelets," is everywhere else translated "lace" or "ribbon"; so that as the signet alone was probably more than an equivalent for the kid, it is not easy to conjecture why the other things were given in addition, except by supposing the perforated seal was attached by a ribbon to the staff. No text from Poole on this verse.

Then he asked the men of that place,.... Or "of her place" (d), of the woman's place, supposing that she dwelt somewhere thereabout:

saying, where is the harlot that was openly by the wayside? that sat there very publicly some little time ago: the word for "harlot" (e) comes from another, which signifies to sanctify or separate to holy uses; and harlots were so called, either by an antiphrasis, by way of contradiction, being unholy; or because, as Jarchi observes, they were separated and destined to whoredom; or because they were such as were devoted to Venus, and the worshippers of her, and prostitutes in her temple, and in the temples of other Heathen deities; but it is questionable whether such practices as yet were used:

and they said, there was no harlot in this place; they had not known any harlot to frequent that place lately, and Tamar sat there so small a time as not to have been observed by them.

(d) "viros loci ejus, scil mulieris", Piscator, Schimdt. (e)

Then he asked the men of that place, saying, Where is the harlot, that was openly by the way side? And they said, There was no harlot in this place.
21. harlot] Heb. ḳedêshah, that is, a woman dedicated to impure heathen worship: see Deuteronomy 23:17; Hosea 4:14. The Heb. word denotes “a woman dedicated to the service of some god, or goddess.” Her dedication consisted in the sacrifice of her chastity. This repulsive and strangely degrading custom prevailed generally among Semitic races, and was associated with the impure and immoral rites of the Phoenician, Syrian, and Babylonian worship.

Verse 21. - Then he asked the men of that place, saying, Where is the harlot, - literally, the consecrated, the prostitute being regarded as "one devoted to the worship of Astarte, a goddess of the Canaanites, the deification of the generative and productive principle of nature," corresponding to the Babylonian Ashtarte, whose worship was of a grossly libidinous character (Herod., 1:199). Cf. Deuteronomy 23:19; Numbers 25:1; Hosea 4:14; and vide Keil on REFERENCE_WORK:Keil & DelitzschDeuteronomy 23:19 that was openly by the way side? - or, that was in Enajim on the way, ut supra, ver. 14). And they said, There was no harlot (or kedeshah) in this place. Genesis 38:21After this had occurred, Thamar laid aside her veil, put on her widow's dress again, and returned home. When Judah, therefore, sent the kid by his friend Hirah to the supposed harlot for the purpose of redeeming his pledges, he could not find her, and was told, on inquiring of the inhabitants of Enayim, that there was no קדשׁה there. הקּדשׁה: lit., "the consecrated," i.e., the hierodule, a woman sacred to Astarte, a goddess of the Canaanites, the deification of the generative and productive principle of nature; one who served this goddess by prostitution (vid., Deuteronomy 23:18). This was no doubt regarded as the most respectable designation for public prostitutes in Canaan.
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