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The wikipedia article is not clear:

Prostitution was common in ancient Israel, despite being tacitly forbidden by Jewish Law.

What was the law forbidding prostitution? Given that prostitutes could take professional disputes to court, what was the legal role of prostitution?

I can't simply google up this type of question. This question is controversial due to it's political significance.

Most sober historians would argue that, as some of the comment says, that the Torah only prohibits cult prostitution and not regular entrepreneurs.

Most "born again" Christians would argue that it's always been illegal.

Also what constitute marriage and prostitution may differ in ancient Israel than what's now.

Now, we probably decide based on 2 things. Whether the marriage is registered at the state and whether an explicit contract of sex for money is involved.

I bet ancient Israelites do not differentiate marriage and prostitution that way. I bet most "marriage" in ancient culture is never registered officially anywhere. Perhaps they think promiscuity is the issue?

So the answer to this question is pretty "nuanced"

I asked in history stackexchange because I want a more sober objective answer. I bet laws in ancient Israel isn't much different from laws in pretty much most ancient culture. And perhaps we can make more educated guess on that.

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Why the vote closes? This is a very important historical question. – Jim Thio Nov 27 '13 at 6:46
It's not obvious, it's a question whose answer can be easily looked up with a simple search, and is answered in Wikipedia. You have added some parts, which improves it a bit but now it is instead unclear what you are asking as you now answer the original question. – Lennart Regebro Nov 27 '13 at 8:18
More relevant questions are how the Jewish Laws and the laws during say, Roman era in ancient Israel differed, or what exactly the legal status of prostitutes are in the Bible (which is a complex topic, although probably also best left to external sites who can delve into those depths) and similar. – Lennart Regebro Nov 27 '13 at 8:25
@JimThio It seems to differ by period, and the Wikipedia doesn't actually claim that Jewish law explicitly forbids it. And "Ancient Israel" is a fuzzy concept stretching thousands of years and multiple religions. – Lennart Regebro Nov 27 '13 at 10:41

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