Deuteronomy 23:18

18 You shall not bring the fee of a prostitute or the wages of a dog[a] into the house of the LORD your God in payment for any vow, for both of these are an abomination to the LORD your God.

Deuteronomy 23:18 Meaning and Commentary

Deuteronomy 23:18

Thou shall not bring the hire of a whore
Which was given to her as a reward for the use of her body:

or the price of a dog;
not of the firstborn of a dog, the price for the redemption of it, as some; nor for the loan of a hunting dog, or a shepherd's dog for breed, as Josephus F26 interprets this law. Abarbinel understands it figuratively of a sodomite, comparable to a dog, for his uncleanness and impudence; see ( Revelation 22:15 ) ; and the price of such an one the gain he got by the prostitution of his body to unnatural lusts; and so as the hire of a whore answers to one in ( Deuteronomy 23:17 ) , the price of a dog to a sodomite here; and in this he is followed by some, nor is it a sense to be despised; though the Jews F1 understand it literally of a dog, and of the exchange of another creature with that; so Onkelos renders it,

``the exchange of a dog:''

now neither of these might a man bring

into the house of the Lord thy God for any vow;
that is, when a man vowed to offer any sacrifice to the Lord, it was not to be anything that was given to a whore as her hire; as, for instance, as Jarchi, if he gave her for her hire a lamb, it was not fit to be offered; which agrees with the Jewish F2 canons,

``what is the hire of a whore? if one says to a whore, take this lamb for thy hire, though an hundred, they are all forbidden; and so if one says to his neighbour, lo, this lamb is thine, that thine handmaid may lie with my a servant, Rabbi says it is not the hire of a whore, but the wise men say it is.--If he gives her money, lo, this is free; wines, oils, and fine flour, and the like, that are offered on the altar, are forbidden; (but the commentators say F3, wheat, olives, and grapes, out of which fine flour, oil, and wine are made, are free;) if he gives her consecrated things, lo, these are free, birds, they are forbidden.''

Now this law seems to be made in opposition to the customs and practices of the Phoenicians and Canaanites, whose land the Israelites were going to inhabit; whose women, as we are told F4, used to prostitute themselves in the temples of their idols, and dedicate there the hire of their bodies to their gods, thinking thereby to appease their deities and obtain good things for themselves; and the like did(See Gill on :) {e},

``what is the price of a dog? if a man says to his neighbour, take this lamb for that dog; so if two partners divide, one takes ten (lambs), and the other nine and a dog; what is in lieu of the dog is forbidden, but those that are taken with him are free:''

a whore and a dog are fitly put together, because both are libidinous, impure, and impudent; perhaps the vileness and baseness of the creature is chiefly regarded in this law, to keep up the credit and veneration of sacrifices as sacred things; and it may be in reference to the worship of this creature, as by the Egyptians, who are said to worship a dog, their god Anubis F6, the image of which had a dog's head on it; or to its being offered in sacrifice to idols, as it was by others; the Colophonians sacrificed the whelps of dogs to their goddess Enodius, as others did to Enyalius or Mars F7:

for even both these [are] an abomination to the Lord thy God;
both the hire of the whore and the price of the dog, when brought as a sacrifice to him; the one being a breach of the moral law, and the other tending to bring into contempt the sacrifices of the ceremonial law, if not a favouring idolatry, than which nothing is more abominable to God, who cannot endure anything evil, base, and impure.


F26 Antiqu. l. 4. c. 8. sect. 9.
F1 In R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 28. 2.
F2 Misn. Temurah, c. 6. sect. 2, 4.
F3 Maimon. & Bartenora in ib.
F4 Athanasius contra Gentes, p. 21.
F5 Misn. ut supra, (F2) sect. 3.
F6 "Oppida tota canem venerantur", Juvenal. Satyr. 15. l. 8. "latrator Anubis", Virgil Aeneid. l. 8. prope finem.
F7 Pausanias in Laconic. sive, l. 3. p. 188.

Deuteronomy 23:18 In-Context

16 He shall dwell with you, in your midst, in the place that he shall choose within one of your towns, wherever it suits him. You shall not wrong him.
17 "None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, and none of the sons of Israel shall be a cult prostitute.
18 You shall not bring the fee of a prostitute or the wages of a dog into the house of the LORD your God in payment for any vow, for both of these are an abomination to the LORD your God.
19 "You shall not charge interest on loans to your brother, interest on money, interest on food, interest on anything that is lent for interest
20 You may charge a foreigner interest, but you may not charge your brother interest, that the LORD your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

Footnotes 1

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.