From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

(πορνεία, and cognates)

1. Meaning of term. -(1) πορνεία is used sometimes in the strict sense of ‘prostitution’ or ‘fornication’ ( 1 Corinthians 6:13), It is thus different from μοιχεία, or ‘adultery’ ( Hebrews 13:4 [cf.  Mark 7:21] Didache , 2f.). This strict sense, however, can be retained with certainty only when the two words occur side by side. In the pagan world, while μοιχεία was regarded as sinful on a woman’s part mainly on the ground that it infringed the husband’s rights, fornication or sexual intercourse outside the marriage bond or even by husbands was allowable. St. Paul ( 1 Thessalonians 4:3 ff.) demands chastity from married men. The wife (interpreting σκεῦος as ‘wife’ [see Milligan’s Thess. , London, 1908, for opposite view]) is to be had in holiness and honour. Christian morality is contrasted with pagan in this respect. Illicit sexual intercourse with a married woman is not only an infringement of the husband’s rights, but violence done to the Holy Ghost. Christianity regards fornication and adultery alike as sinful. Cato looked on fornication as a preventive against libidinous intrigues with married women (Horace. Sat . i. 2). Cicero says it was always practiced and allowed ( pro Cœlio , xx). It was defended not only as customary but as a necessity of nature. Alexander Severus furnished governors with concubines. The Cynic and early Stoic philosophers excused it on the ground that ‘naturalia non sunt turpia.’ This St. Paul combats ( 1 Corinthians 6:12-20). It is not a natural thing like food; for, while the nutritive system of man belong to the perishing schema of this world, the body is the organ of the spirit and the temple of the Holy Ghost, bought by Christ for His own service. To unite it to a harlot is an act of sacrilege, of self-violation, and it breaks the union between Christ and the believer.

How different this is from the lame censure of Epictetus ( Enchir . 33) and the practice of Marcus Aurelius, who had his concubine (see Lecky, History of European Morals 8, London, 1888, ii. 314ff.).

(2) πορνεία is used also in a generic sense, μοιχεία being specific. In Pauline terminology μοιχεύω is found in quotations from the Septuagint(seventh commandment), while πορνεία is used for immorality in general (cf. Theophylact on  Romans 1:29 : πᾶσαν ἁπλῶς τὴν ἀκαθαρσίαν τῷ τῆς πορνείας ὀνόματι περιέλαβεν). This is probably the meaning in  Acts 15:20, though some interpret it of marriage within the prohibited degrees ( Leviticus 18:20). The Jews allowed proselytes to marry even with their nearest relatives, and, according to John Lightfoot ( Hor. Heb. , new. ed., Oxford, 1859, iv. 132), the case of incest in Corinth ( 1 Corinthians 5:1 f.), where a Christian had married his father’s wife, while the father was possibly still alive, arose out of this custom. This is highly doubtful. In  Acts 15:20;  Acts 15:29 πορνεία is used in the general sense of immorality. We are not concerned in this article with the vexed question of what constituted fornication in the case of re-marriage after divorce. Our Lord’s teaching on this point is doubtful, owing to the absence of the qualifying expression in Mark, although the existence of the qualification in Matthew indicates that in the early Church re-marriage was allowed to the guiltless party. Whether, again, marriage within the prohibited degrees constituted πορνεία is not discussed in the NT.

But from the richness of the phraseology for sensual sins we can gather how wide-spread and multiform this evil was. We find uncleanness (ἀκαθαρσία), licentiousness (ἀσέλγεια) often side by side with πορνεία ( 2 Corinthians 12:21,  Galatians 5:19,  Ephesians 4:19). So often is πλεονεξία found alongside πορνεία that many are inclined to regard the former as itself a form of sensuality. But it is best to regard both as characteristic sins of heathendom. Others associate them psychologically, saying that forgetfulness of God compels the creature to either one or other (Bengel and Trench). The NT seems to have a genetic account of this sin (fornication) in more than one place. Our Lord (Mark 7) deduces it from evil thoughts; St. Paul from the desire of evil things ( 1 Corinthians 10:8), from the lusts of the flesh ( Galatians 5:19), and from ἀδικία ( 1 Corinthians 6:13 f.). The lists of vices, however, are not arranged in groups following a psychological order. They have their counterparts in pagan literature (see Dobschütz, Christian Life in the Primitive Church , p. 406ff.; and Deissmann, Licht vom Osten 2, Tübingen, 1909, p. 238f.). They vary in different places. The connexion between drunkenness and vice is also recognized ( Ephesians 5:18; cf. Test. Jud . xvi. 1). Groupings of vices and virtues early arose, arranged in connected lists for catechetical and homiletic purposes, but the order is variable (cf. Hermas, Vis. 3). There was no public opinion in paganism to suppress fornication. Hetairai moved about the streets freely, and often played a large rôle in public affairs. One thinks of Phryne and others. Religious associations sanctioned vice. The temples had their courtesans (ἱερόδουλοι; sec Ramsay, Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia , i. [Oxford, 1895], 94f.). The cult of Aphrodite Pandemos at Corinth may be mentioned, as well as smaller cults like that of the Cabiri at Thessalonica and the Chaldaean Sybil at Thyatira. Trade-gilds (ἐργασίαι), which were numerous, afforded means of corruption. Almost everywhere the air was tainted, so that to have no intercourse with fornicators was like going out of the world. Christianity never formed itself into a ghetto, and so the danger of moral pollution was always present. The very fact that the pagan gods were represented as prone to sensuality had a degrading influence on ordinary morality, however much the stories of the gods may have been ridiculed or allegorized in enlightened coteries. ‘If a god does so, why should not I a man?’ (Terence, Eunuch . iii. v. 42). Ancient custom, the callosity of public feeling, the contamination of commerce and religion, the sanctions of libertine on enlightenment-all these had to be combated and overcome in the interests of purity.

(3) πορνεία is sometimes used also to indicate apostasy from God-so often in Revelation. This meaning lies very near the surface whenever the word occurs in conjunction with idol-worship or meats offered lo idols. In the Apostolic Decree this thought is latent. To buy meat in the open market was dangerous-forbidden in  Acts 15:20,  Revelation 2:14;  Revelation 2:20, though by St. Paul it was allowed. He bases the right on the law of expediency, but he recommends regard for the weak brother’s conscience ( 1 Corinthians 8:4-13;  1 Corinthians 10:18,  Romans 14:20 f.). The Greek Church still regards this law of meats as binding, though the Western Church followed St. Paul from early times. But everywhere fornication is prohibited. At Thyatira, as at Corinth, some defended fornication on Gnostic grounds, as Jezebel; but not only fornication but idol-meats also are prohibited by the seer. The Christians had to break away from their trade-gilds to avoid contamination; and this involved serious sacrifice. The example of Israel tempted by Moabitish women to apostasy and lust at Balaam’s instigation was a warning ( Revelation 2:14, 1 Corinthians 10). See articleNicolaitans. It is probable that we can understand the conjunction of fornication and idol-meats in  Revelation 2:14;  Revelation 2:20 and 1 Cor. only on the early Christian view of demonic influence acting through food and thus tempting to lust (see B. W. Bacon in Expositor 8th ser. vii. [1914] 40ff.).

2. Attitude of Christianity towards fornication .-Christianity opposed fornication in every form, not only overt acts but even lustful thoughts. There were things that should not even be named among Christians. It saw in marriage a preventive against fornication; St. Paul, though desiring the unmarried to remain as they were, yet, rather than run the risk of incontinence or the fire of lust, allowed them to marry. So strong was the reaction against impurity that St. John regards the chaste unmarried (παρθένοι) as a select group ( Revelation 14:4). Fornication is a sin against the body; it is a defilement of God’s temple; it is a violation of the self in a special sense; for it the wrath of God comes on men, and God’s judgment awaits it. The very beginning of sanctification is incompatible with fornication. St. Paul condenses into one sentence the Christian attitude: ‘Flee from fornication’ ( 1 Corinthians 6:18). It is directly opposed to God’s righteousness, and St. John brands fornicators with the opprobrious terms κύνες,*[Note: perhaps he has in mind sodomy (παιδοφθορία or paederasty of  Romans 1:27,  1 Timothy 1:10,  1 Corinthians 6:9, Didache, 2 f.).] ‘dogs,’ ‘defiled’ ( Revelation 17:4;  Revelation 18:3, etc.). These cannot enter the city of God. St. Paul’s dealing with the Corinthian case indicates that fornication excludes from church fellowship.

Literature.-See Commentaries on relevant passages; W. M. Ramsay, Letters to the Seven Churches , London, 1904; E. v. Dobschütz, Christian Life in the Primitive Church , Eng. translation, do. 1904; J. G. W. Uhlhorn, The Conflict of Christianity , Eng. translation, New York, 1876; O. Zöckler, Askese und Mönchtum 2, Frankfurt am M., 1897; and for literature on Apostolic Age generally see Dobschütz, p. 380.

Donald Mackenzie.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [2]

Fornication usually refers to sexual immorality by unmarried people, whereas adultery refers to sexual immorality by married people. Sometimes the Bible speaks of fornication to denote sexual immorality in general. It regards as immoral any sexual relations outside marriage or with any person other than one’s marriage partner ( Matthew 5:32;  1 Corinthians 5:1;  1 Corinthians 6:13;  1 Corinthians 6:18;  1 Corinthians 7:2;  1 Thessalonians 4:3-4). The union of a man and a woman to become ‘one’ means, by definition, that it excludes all others ( Genesis 2:24;  Matthew 19:5-6).

Sexual relations without marriage

In ancient Israel it was of greatest importance to maintain one’s virginity up till the time of marriage ( Deuteronomy 22:13-21). Fornication by a person engaged to be married was treated as adultery ( Deuteronomy 22:22-27; see Adultery ). Unengaged people who had sexual relations were to marry, unless the girl’s parents objected ( Exodus 22:16-17;  Deuteronomy 22:28-29).

These laws impressed upon people that sexual intercourse is not merely a physical activity that people may engage in for their own pleasure, regardless of other considerations. It is part of a total commitment of a man and a woman to each other in a lifelong relationship ( Romans 7:2). Those who treat sexual intercourse as no more than a physical function reduce themselves to the level of animals. They deny the dignity that God has given them as human beings designed for full inter-personal relations ( Romans 1:24-27;  1 Corinthians 6:13;  1 Corinthians 6:18;  2 Peter 2:12).

Wrong desires produce wrong behaviour

Often fornication occurs because people, instead of trying to avoid sexual temptation, encourage it. They do not control their thoughts and feelings, and soon they find that they cannot control their behaviour ( Proverbs 6:23-27;  Proverbs 7:6-23;  Matthew 5:28;  Colossians 3:5;  2 Timothy 2:22;  1 Peter 2:11; cf.  Genesis 39:7-10; see Temptation ).

Human sexuality is one of God’s gifts ( Genesis 2:18;  1 Timothy 4:1-4) but, as with all God’s gifts, people can properly enjoy it or shamefully abuse it. No matter how strong a person’s sexual urges may be, the only satisfaction God allows for those urges is within the exclusive commitment of one person to another in lifelong marriage ( 1 Corinthians 7:2;  1 Corinthians 7:9;  1 Thessalonians 4:3-4;  Hebrews 13:4; see Marriage ). As for prostitution, bestiality, incest and homosexual practices, God condemns them as perversions ( Leviticus 18:6-18;  Leviticus 18:22-23;  Leviticus 19:29;  Leviticus 20:10-21;  Romans 1:26-27;  1 Corinthians 6:9-10;  1 Corinthians 6:13-18;  1 Timothy 1:9-10;  Revelation 21:8).

Some people may feel no shame concerning their sexual misbehaviour and may not even see it as sinful ( Ephesians 4:19;  1 Peter 4:3-4;  2 Peter 2:12-14). This may be common among people who do not know God ( Ephesians 4:17-19;  1 Thessalonians 4:5), but should not be tolerated among those who call themselves Christians. The church should remove from its fellowship those who openly reject God’s standards by persisting in shameful sexual misconduct ( 1 Corinthians 5:1-5;  1 Corinthians 5:11).

There will always be people, both from outside the church and from within, who, being genuinely sorry for their sexual misconduct, turn from it and ask God’s forgiveness. They can be assured that God will forgive, but they must also be assured that the church will forgive. Christians must be compassionate and understanding in giving support to those who have fallen into wrongdoing and need help ( Matthew 9:12-13;  John 8:10-11;  1 Corinthians 6:9-11;  2 Corinthians 2:7;  Galatians 6:1-2;  Hebrews 8:12).

Holman Bible Dictionary [3]

Old Testament Normally women are the subject of the Hebrew verb zanah , but in  Numbers 25:1 men “began to commit whoredom.” The clearest example is that of Tamar sitting on the roadway to entice Judah (  Genesis 38:12-34 ). Such action was subject to criminal prosecution bringing the death penalty ( Genesis 38:24; compare  Leviticus 21:9;  Deuteronomy 22:21 ). Fornication meant being unfaithful to a marriage commitment ( Judges 19:2 ).

Israel's neighbors practiced a fertility religion in which prostitution was part of the worship. This led naturally to describing worship of other gods as prostitution ( Exodus 34:15-16;  Judges 8:27 ,Judges 8:27, 8:33;  Hosea 4:13 ). This concept is central for Hosea's preaching based on his experience with his unfaithful wife Gomer. Ezekiel also used this concept ( Ezekiel 16:1;  Ezekiel 23:1 ) and extended it to include political treaties with foreign enemies ( Ezekiel 16:26 ,  Ezekiel 16:28;  Ezekiel 23:5 ).

New Testament The New Testament also condemns prostitution. Here again prostitution played a central role in worship in places like Corinth and Athens. Greek philosophers could even distinguish the roles of prostitutes for pleasure, slave mistresses to give daily care to the master's body, and wives to produce legitimate children. Some Stoic philosophers reacted against such practices and condemned sex outside marriage. Many women used the situation to take slave lovers for themselves or become lesbians.

Jesus went against Jewish tradition and forgave prostitutes and opened the way for them to enter God's kingdom through faith ( Matthew 21:31-32; compare  Hebrews 11:31;  James 2:25 ), though He still regarded fornication as evil ( Mark 7:21 ).

Paul extended the use of the Greek term for fornication to cover all sinful sexual activity. He dealt with the problem particularly in writing the Corinthians who faced a society permeated with sexual religion and the sexual sins of a seaport. A believer must decide to be part of Christ's body or a prostitute's body ( 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 ). The believer must flee sexual immorality and cleave to Christ, honoring Him with the physical body. Fornication is thus a result of sinful human nature ( Galatians 5:19 ) and unsuitable for God's holy people ( Ephesians 5:3;  1 Thessalonians 4:3 ).

The Book of Revelation also says much about fornication, condemning those guilty to eternal punishment ( Revelation 2:21-22 ). Revelation, as well as the prophets, extends the meaning of fornication to include political and religious unfaithfulness ( Revelation 14:8;  Revelation 17:2 ,Revelation 17:2, 17:4;  Revelation 18:3;  Revelation 19:2 ).

As a whole, the New Testament uses porneia , most often translated fornication, in at least four ways:

1. Voluntary sexual intercourse of an unmarried person with someone of the opposite sex ( 1 Corinthians 7:2;  1 Thessalonians 4:3 ).

2. A synonym for adultery ( Matthew 5:32;  Matthew 19:9 ). See Adultery; Divorce .

3. Harlotry and prostitution ( Revelation 2:14 ,Revelation 2:14, 2:20 ).

4. Various forms of unchastity ( John 8:41;  Acts 15:20;  1 Corinthians 5:1 ).

Gary Hardin

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [4]

Whoredom, or the act of incontinency between single persons; for if either of the parties be married, it is adultery. While the Scriptures give no sanction to those austerities which have been imposed on men under the idea of religion, so on the other hand, they give no liberty for the indulgence of any propensity that would either militate against our own interest or that of others. It is in vain to argue the innocency of fornication from the natural passions implanted in us, sense "marriage is honourable in all, " and wisely appointed for the prevention of those evils which would otherwise ensue; and, besides the existence of any natural propensity in us, is no proof that it is to be gratified without any restriction. That fornication is both unlawful and unreasonable, may be easily inferred, if we consider,

1. That our Saviour expressly declares this to be a crime,  Mark 7:21-23 .

2. That the Scriptures declare that fornicators cannot inherit the kingdom of God,  1 Corinthians 6:9 .  Hebrews 12:16 .  Galatians 5:19-22 .

3. Fornication sinks into a mere brutal commerce, a gratification which was designed to be the cement of a sacred, generous, and tender friendship.

4. It leaves the maintenance and education of children as to the father at least, utterly unsecured.

5. It strongly tempts the guilty mother to guard herself from infamy by methods of procuring abortion, which not only destroys the child, but often the mother.

6. It disqualifies the deluded creatures to be either good wives, or mothers, in any future marriage, ruining that modesty which is the guardian of nuptial happiness.

7. It absolutely disqualifies a man for the best satisfactions; those of truth, and generous friendship.

8. It often perpetuates a disease which may be accounted one of the sorest maladies of human nature, and the effects of which are said to visit the constitution of even distant generations.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [5]

This was very common among the Gentiles, which accounts for its being mentioned in the message sent from the conference at Jerusalem to the Gentiles,  Acts 15:20,29; and its being so often prohibited in the epistles. The word is sometimes used where 'adultery' is the sense.  Matthew 5:32;  Matthew 19:9 . It often has in the O.T. a symbolical reference to the turning from God to idols.  2 Chronicles 21:11,13;  Isaiah 23:17;  Ezekiel 16:15,26,29; and in the N.T. to unfaithful intercourse with Babylon, the mother of harlots.  Revelation 14:8;  Revelation 17:2,4;  Revelation 18:3,9 .

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [6]

 2 Chronicles 21:11 (a) The word is used to describe the wickedness of a people who forsake the true GOD, and the blessings which He gives in order to follow the attractions of the ungodly world, and of false gods. (See also  Isaiah 23:17;  Ezekiel 16:15,  Ezekiel 16:29;  Judges 1:7;  Revelation 2:21).

 Revelation 17:2-4 (a) GOD thus describes the wickedness of that which claims to be the Church of GOD as it supports and invites wicked men of the world to join with them, and to partake of their religious exercises. (See  Revelation 18:3;  Revelation 19:2).

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [7]

This word is used in Scripture not only for the sin of impurity between unmarried persons, but for idolatry, and for all kinds of infidelity to God. In  Ezekiel 16:1-63 , the Jewish church is symbolized as a female infant, growing up to womanhood, and then wedded to Jehovah by covenant. When she breaks her covenant by going after idols, she is justly reproached as an adulteress and a harlot,  Jeremiah 2:20   3:8-9   Hosea 3:1 . Adultery and fornication are frequently confounded. Both the Old and New Testaments condemn all impurity and fornication, corporeal and spiritual-idolatry, apostasy, heresy, and infidelity. See Adultery .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [8]

 Leviticus 21:9 19:29 Deuteronomy 22:20,21,23-29 23:18 Exodus 22:16Adultery

But this word is more frequently used in a symbolical than in its ordinary sense. It frequently means a forsaking of God or a following after idols (  Isaiah 1:2;  Jeremiah 2:20;  Ezekiel 16;  Hosea 1:2;  2:1-5;  Jeremiah 3:8,9 ).

King James Dictionary [9]

FORNICA'TION, n. L. fornicatio.

1. The incontinence or lewdness of unmarried persons, male or female also, the criminal conversation of a married man with an unmarried woman. 2. Adultery.  Matthew 5 . 3. Incest.  1 Corinthians 5 . 4. Idolatry a forsaking of the true God, and worshipping of idols.  2 Chronicles 21 .  Revelation 19 .

Webster's Dictionary [10]

(1): ( n.) Incest.

(2): ( n.) Unlawful sexual intercourse on the part of an unmarried person; the act of such illicit sexual intercourse between a man and a woman as does not by law amount to adultery.

(3): ( n.) Adultery.

(4): ( n.) Idolatry.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [11]

Used for adultery ( Matthew 5:32). Also spiritual unfaithfulness to the Lord, Israel's and the church's husband (Ezekiel 16; Jeremiah 2; Hosea 1;  Revelation 17:4).

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [12]

whoredom, or the act of incontinency between single persons; for if either of the parties be married, the sin is adultery.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [13]

See Sexual Immorality

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [14]

FORNICATION . See Crimes and Punishments, § 3 .

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [15]

תִּזְנוּת , taznuth' Πορνεία , illicit sexual intercourse, especially of a married woman). (See Adultery). From the Scriptures we learn that long before the time of Moses, morals had become very much corrupted, and not only the prostitution of females, but of boys, was very common among many nations, and even made a part of the divine worship, as may be inferred from the Hebrew words Kadesh, a prostitute boy, and Kedeshah, the feminine of it, which words properly, and originally mean a person religiously set apart and consecrated to the flagitious vice in question ( Deuteronomy 23:18;  1 Kings 14:24;  Job 36:14;  Genesis 38:21-22;  Numbers 21:1;  Deuteronomy 23:18; Hom. 4:14). How great the corruption of manners with reference to the marriage relation was among the Egyptians appears from Herodotus (2:11.1) as well as the Bible. The wife of one of the oldest kings was untrue to him. It was a long time before a woman could be found who was faithful to her husband and when one was at last found, the king took her without hesitation for himself. With impudent shamelessness Potiphar's wife seeks to seduce Joseph ( Genesis 39:7). The evidence of the monuments is also not very favorable to the Egyptian women. Thus they are represented as addicted to excess in drinking wine, as even becoming so much intoxicated as to be unable to stand or walk alone, or "to carry their liquor discreetly" (Wilkinson's Egypt 2, 167). To prevent those evils to which the Greeks and Roman philosophers refused to oppose any decided resistance. Moses made the following regulations:

1. That among the Hebrews no prostitute, either male nor female, should be tolerated; and that if the daughter of a priest especially were guilty of fornication, she should be stoned and her body burnt ( Leviticus 21:9); because these things, as Moses observes in  Leviticus 19:29;  Deuteronomy 23:17-18, were a great abomination in the sight of God. Further, in order that priests of avaricious minds should not, in. imitation of other nations, make crimes of this kind a part of the divine worship, he enacted,

2. That the price of prostitution, though presented in return for a vow, should not be received at the sanctuary ( Deuteronomy 23:18). This law, it seems, was sometimes violated in the times of the kings ( 2 Kings 23:7). He also enacted,

3. That the man who had seduced female should marry her, and in case the father would not consent, should pay the customary dowry, viz; thirty shekels: in case violence had been offered, fifty shekels ( Exodus 22:16;  Deuteronomy 22:23-29), This law appears to have originated in an ancient custom alluded to in  Genesis 34:1-12. Finally, to secure the great object, he enacted,

4. That any one who, when married was not found to be a virgin, as she professed before marriage, should be stoned before her father's house ( Deuteronomy 22:20-21). These laws, it must be admitted, were severe; but prostitutes of both sexes, notwithstanding their severity, were set apart in the time of the kings for the service of idols ( Proverbs 2:16-19 : A,  Proverbs 2:3-6;  Proverbs 7:5-27; Kings 14:24; 15:12;  Amos 2:7;  Amos 7:17;  Jeremiah 3:2;  Jeremiah 5:7;  John 8:3-11). Among the Greeks and Romans of the apostles' day licentiousness was fearfully prevalent. (See Harlot).

In Scripture this word occurs more frequently in its symbolical than in its ordinary sense. In the Prophets woman is often made the symbol of the church or nation of the Jews, which is regarded as affianced to Jehovah by the covenant on Mount Sinai. In Ezekiel 16 there is a long description of that people under the symbol of a female child, growing up to the stature of a woman, and then wedded to Jehovah by entering into covenant with him. Therefore, when the Israelites acted contrary to that covenant by forsaking God and following idols, they were very properly represented by the symbol of a harlot or adulteress offering herself to all comers ( Isaiah 1:2;  Jeremiah 2:20; Ezekiel 16; Hosea 1:2; 3:11). Thus fornication, or adultery (which is fornication in a married state), became, and is used as the symbol of idolatry itself ( Jeremiah 3:8-9;  Ezekiel 16:26;  Ezekiel 16:29;  Ezekiel 23:37). (See Idolatry).

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [16]

In Scripture this word occurs more frequently in its symbolical than in its ordinary sense.

In the Prophets woman is often made the symbol of the church or nation of the Jews, which is regarded as affianced to Jehovah by the covenant on Mount Sinai. Therefore when the Israelites acted contrary to that covenant, by forsaking God and following idols, they were very properly represented by the symbol of a harlot or adulteress, offering herself to all comers (;; Ezekiel 16;; ). And thus fornication, or adultery (which is fornication in a married state), became, and is used as, the symbol of idolatry itself .