Temple Dancers and Priestesses

CODEX Entry 1531: Temple Dancers and Priestesses


The fertility rituals of Baal involved virgins, kadeshem, who would dance to rhythmical music. Young boys, kadesh¹, from 12 to 14 years of age, worked within the main hall of the temple, carrying large bronze bowls. The role of these women was highly respected, and they were not to be touched by the male temple worshippers, protected by temple guards². In the Hammurabi’s code of laws³, the rights and good name of female sacred sexual priestesses were protected. The same legislation that protected married women from slander, also applied to them. They could inherit property from their fathers, collect income from land worked by their brothers, and dispose of property. These rights were extraordinary, considering the role of women at the time. However, from the 5th century B.C, across the entire region, this ritual slowly degenerated into ritual intercourse in return for funding for the priests of the temples4. Later, all young women in the region were required to go to temple and sell their virginity to the highest bidder. This bastardization of their original roles can even be seen today with the devadasis of India.




¹ 1 Kgs. 14:22-24; 15:12; 22:46; 2 Kgs.23:7; Deut. 23:17-19; Lev. 18:3, 24-30, 20:23
² James Frazer, The Golden Bough
³ L.W.King, translation
4 Herodotus, Kurke, Baudin, A.B. Ellis, Dubois, Dupouy, Hartland, Bertholon, G. A. Barton, Hogarth, R. V. Russell, Westermarck, Brooks, Henriques, Astour, Delaporte, Yamauchi, Desai