Babylonian Sacred Sex Workers
Babylonian women, obliged to serve as cult prostitutes once in their lifetimes, would sit along different roads and byways and burn chaff. The chaff was used for ancient erotic rites and considered a type of aphrodisiac, according to scholarly interpretations of Baruch 6:42 in the Old Testament of The New American Bible. Baruch served as the prophet Jeremiah's scribe, and his book contains prayers and praises of God, as well as poetry and admonitions against idolatry. (The Book of Baruch is not included in the Old Testament of the King James Version of the Bible.)
The Babylonian women serving as sacred sex workers in the temple of Ishtar accepted money for their lovemaking, but the amount did not matter and the men offering money were never refused. The act was considered sacred, and the money therefore consecrated. The women were made holy through the conjugal act. They wore an unbroken cord to signify that they had not yet fulfilled their obligation. The more beautiful the woman, the faster she could be “made holy.” The less attractive among them might spend a few years in an effort to fulfill their obligation. Once they had performed their duty, the women were free to leave the temple, marry, and have children. The Babylonians granted women the same status as men. As wives, however, later Sumerian texts noted that temple women could be indifferent and unsympathetic wives, having been treated as goddesses while in the temple.
The Whore of Babylon came to symbolize evil doings in the world. Jesus' Apostle John the Divine, at the end of his lifetime in the last few years of the Common Era, used the Great Whore in his book of revelation to depict evil.
Scholars assert that the Whore of Babylon's identity in Revelation cannot be known with certainty, but most likely represented the evil-doing, debauchery, and pagan worship associated with Rome, seat of the Roman empire, during John's lifetime. The fledgling Christian communities believed that idolatry and pagan worship was wrong, and preached against it. And although Jesus demonstrated through his actions egalitarian treatment of women, the Hebrews continued a patriarchal system that accorded men the superior position above women and children in the social strata of their communities.