The Prostitute, The Hooker, or The Harlot

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Right off the bat I want to tell you that this post isn’t leading up to me pulling you into some worn out joke beginning with, “A Prostitute, a Hooker, and a Harlot walk into a bar…”. This is a fun little exercise to show you how our thoughts are influenced by how we perceive different words, and then in turn apply them to what we read, hear, or see. I hope that you enjoy taking part in it, and possibly this will create a change in the way you view certain things.

Okay, since we got that out of the way, lets get to it. I want you to get somewhere quiet and away from distractions. I’m going to write a word, and what ever the first picture is that comes to your mind, I want you to either remember it or write it down. Describe it with the most detail you can. You can close your eyes if that helps too. After the first word, move on to the next, and then on to the last. Try not to look at the upcoming word while you are thinking on the current one. You might want to cover the next word with your finger or something if you feel tempted to look. There are no right or wrong answers, so don’t think too hard, just put the first thing that comes to mind. I will share with you what I see too, and then relate it to something interesting that I had never thought about. Oh, I’m excited, this is going to be fun. Here it goes….

Word number one is Prostitute…

Word number two is Hooker…

And word number three is Harlot…

You can open your eyes now! So, did you have three different pictures come to mind, or were they all the same? When I did this, I was amazed that I had a totally different snapshot go through my head for each one. Here is what I saw…

Prostitute…I saw a young blond headed woman about 20 years old scantly dressed. She had on a bright blue sparkly mini skirt, high heals, and a cropped top. She seems confident in her occupation, choosy on who she gets in the vehicle with.

Hooker…I saw a woman who looked like she was in her late forties early fifties. Here hair was light brown about shoulder length, and all disheveled. She was dressed in a filthy, tight white dress, and had a small jacket on. She is hanging on the doors of the men passing by, basically begging for them to pick her up.

Harlot…I saw a woman in her mid to late twenties, with long dark hair. She was dressed in a plain brown dress, with a ribbon tied at the waist. She is standing in a desert village, and quietly walks back to her home after leaving a man’s house she is not married to.

Did any of you have similar thoughts? I’m not trying to be all weird or anything by making you think about these things, but don’t you think it’s odd to have a different idea for the exact same thing, but called by a different name? According to dictionary.com, the definition of prostitute is a person, in particular a woman, who engages in sexual activity for payment. If you look up the words hooker and harlot, each of them simply mean a prostitute. In effect, these words describe the exact same thing! But why are they different in my mind? The answer to that could be a little complex to pin down directly, but what I have allowed myself to watch on TV or read in books has built my own definition of each word. Another thing that might have added to my separating the ideas of these words, could have came from influence of what the people around me say or think about them. Isn’t it wild how the snapshots in our brains are made? You may be laughing about my idea of a harlot and think “What in the world made her think that?” lol, I’m pretty sure I got that idea from Sunday school flyers when we did lessons on Rahab or Mary Magdalene, or it quite possible might have came for some an old silver screen rendition of Bible times. (Side note, do some research of Mary Magdalene on your own. Did the Bible say she was a prostitute, or is that something that man made up? You might find something interesting details in a quick study.)

So, where am I going with this? I want you to read the verses below with the knowledge of how my brain defines the word harlot.

[Judges 2:17] 17 “Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they played the harlot after other gods and bowed themselves down to them. They turned aside quickly from the way in which their fathers had walked in obeying the commandments of the LORD; they did not do as their fathers.”

[Jeremiah 2:20] 20 “For long ago I broke your yoke and tore off your bonds; But you said, ‘I will not serve!’ For on every high hill And under every green tree You have lain down as a harlot.”

[Hosea 4:12 ] 12 “My people consult their wooden idol, and their diviner’s wand informs them; For a spirit of harlotry has led them astray, And they have played the harlot, departing from their God.”

[Revelation 17:1] 1 “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters,…”

Now, these are just 4 of the 82 times the word harlot is used in the NASB translation of the Bible. I encourage you to go look up for yourself the other 78 times this word is used. You will see time and time again, the Father talking about His children playing the harlot, going after their own fleshly desires, and leaving the righteous Instructions He laid before them. These Instructions were to give them blessings and yet they chose the curses of the world instead.

All of this got me to thinking…”How does the Bible define the word harlot?” Using the BlueLetter Bible App to find the definition according to Strong’s, in the Hebrew the word translated to harlot is zanah. It means to commit fornication, be a harlot, play the harlot, to be a cult prostitute, etc. In the Greek, the word used is porne meaning a woman who sells her body for sexual uses, a prostitute, a harlot, one who yields herself to defilement for the sake of gain, etc. Reading these definitions, I clearly see that Yah defines the word harlot with the same definition as all three words above that I somehow separate in my head. When we leave the arms of the Almighty who brought us in to go after the desires of this world, we are in essence prostituting ourselves out to these things, trying to gain things like pleasure, fulfillment, joy, or wisdom from the world instead of from the One who gives these things freely.

As I was taking all of this information in, I started thinking about the bias I have to what the word harlot means. Does my idea of each of those verses I wrote above look a little different than what it might really mean in context? Does the meek dark headed “harlot” I envision lessen the severity of what Yah defines as being a harlot? What if I were to replace that word harlot in the scriptures with the word hooker in the verses in the Bible when I read them? Wouldn’t the text take on a whole different kind of view?

Lets go back up to the verses above, and replace the word harlot with hooker. Keep in mind what my idea of what the word hooker means, or if you had a separate vision of them too, think about what you saw for that word. Now, instead of seeing a dark headed woman in a plain brown dress, I see a pitiful disheveled woman, begging for love from any stranger that will stop her way. Isn’t this what it should feel like to be a harlot? Dirty, shameful, and pitiful to look at? Oh, this makes my heart ache thinking about that? The “harlot” chasing after other gods only to lead herself into a spiral of misery! She may have started out looking like the “prostitute” that I described, feeling in control of what she was doing, but now she finds that she is the “hooker”, clinging to what ever kind of false love she can get her hands on.

I don’t know about you, but when I read the Text now, my eyes are open to an all new array of thoughts. The idea of “being the harlot” isn’t something I just need to skim on by when I read through the Words of our Father. I need to keep check on myself! Am I behaving like the bride of The Groom or am I behaving like a prostitute, laying down for another god? Have I made idols for myself? Am I putting these things before Yah? I am so ashamed to say that there are things that are sometimes out of order. I have chased little gods in the form of men, work, food, or worldly goods. I believe I have even put myself up as a god thinking that I have provided for myself, or that somehow I am in control. Thankfully the Father is loving and forgiving, and when I realize my error and ask for His forgiveness turning away from my harlotry, He is waiting for me with arms open wide. I am so thankful for His unrelenting love!

I pray that we are all aware of how the world around us has defined the way we see different words, and that when we see them in the Scriptures, we will take the time to make sure those ideas are put into the correct context of what Yah is speaking about. If we do this, we will able to see the magnitude of His grace and we won’t be tempted to down play the severity of His corrections. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I so hope it blessed you dear friend!

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