Deuteronomy 23:17 (KJV) states: “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.” This is an “error” by the authors of the KJV. The word qadesh in the original text was mistranslated as “sodomite.” Quadesh means “holy one” and is here used to refer to a man who engages in ritual prostitution in the temple. There is little evidence that the prostitutes engaged in sexual activities with men. Other Bible translations use accurate terms such as shrine prostitute, temple prostitute, prostitute and cult prostitute.
Source: OCRT: Bible and Homosexuality
In this passage, the actual word that is being translated is qadesh, which means “holy one” or “someone set apart for a holy purpose.” In this case the word is referring to people who commit ritual acts of prostitution in order to honor their deity. The clearest translation of this concept would simply be “temple or ritual prostitute.”
For example, Deuteronomy 23:17 should be translated thusly: “There shall be no ritual prostitute of the daughters of Israel, or a ritual prostitute of the sons of Israel.”
Any translation which translates qadesh as “pervert” or “sodomite” is blatantly mistranslating. An example which shows this clearly is found in the New King James version which translates qadesh in its male form as “perverted one” but translates qadesh in its female form as “ritual harlot”; both should be “ritual harlot or prostitute”!
This paper is provided as a service of the Metropolitan Community Church of Topeka, authors Rev. Jonathan Loppnow and Rev. Paul C. Evans. It may be reproduced freely as long as the entire text is reproduced and unaltered, all attributions are left intact and it is not sold for profit or included in a for-profit publication.
Whosoever founder and Editor Emeritus Rev. Candace Chellew (she/her) is the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians. She earned her masters of theological studies at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, was ordained in December 2003, and trained as a spiritual director through the Omega Point program of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. She serves as the spiritual director of Jubilee! Circle in Columbia, S.C., and blogs at Motley Mystic.