The World's Oldest Profession!

Anceint Brothel In Pompeii

I grow weary of people referring to prostitution as “the world's oldest profession," because that just isn't Biblical. Now, there are over 100 reverences to prostitution in the Bible, so prostitution was a thriving profession going way back to Old Testament times.  We see that Judah mistakenly slept with his daughter-in-law when he was out chasing prostitutes (Genesis 38), and Rahab, a prostitute, was a historical figure in the history of Israel (Joshua 2,6) as well as the lineage of Jesus (Matthew 1:5). Despite these references prostitution is not the first profession mentioned int he Bible. 

The first profession mentioned in the Bible is gardening.  "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." (Genesis 2:15).  The second profession mentioned in the Bible is zoologist: "Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name" (Genesis 2:19)  

Now gardening has both intrinsic and extrinsic reward.   As far as extrinsic reward it provides the most direct connection between working and eating. (2 Thessalonians 3:10).  As far as intrinsic reward, the gardener fulfills the first divine directive of making the earth a fruitful garden.   As such, I would argue that gardening and its more extensive counterpart farming deserve to be conducted in a sanctified manner, honoring the creator by not destroying what was created with pesticides and other chemicals just to make a profit, but that is a topic for a different discussion

Oregano growing in planter box

By continuing to fulfill the divine directive to name and classify all the animals, zoologists have inherent value, but the extrinsic rewards do not tend to be as lucrative.  The median salary of zoologist with a PhD is considerably less than that of a computer scientist with a bachelor’s degree. Thus, I limit my zoological interests to reviewing my phylogenetic cards on weekends.  (I do have a latent preoccupation with catching one of the toads I hear behind the psychiatry office buildng at night to see if by chance they are arroyo toads, but to date they have remained elusive; I can hear them but I can't catch them.)


Majorcan midwife toadSpecies of the Day: Majorcan midwife toad

I will admit that the desire to maintain an income level enough to provide for my family has guided some of my decision making.  For example, there was a point, after completing my six-year term as a national coordinator for a study of alcoholic cirrhosis at the VA Medical Center Cooperative Studies Program, that I applied for two jobs at the University of California at Irvine, one as a biochemist, and the other as a programmer. The biochemistry lab was doing work that seemed to be an extension of a that for one of my first-author publications, "Acidosis Stimulates Beta-Endorphin Release During Exercise" in the American Journal of Applied Physiology.  The programmer/analyst job was at the UCI Brain Imaging Center and offered me the chance to continue my interest in studying the Brain.  However, when contemplating the two jobs I noted that programmers, at the time, got paid $13K more per year than chemists."  At the time, I had two children, Asha and Elliot, who were not about to eat $13K fewer groceries, so I decided I was a programmer.  

Yes, I am all about the groceries. There is a certain wealth in having a full refrigerator.  Above, I have mentioned making good career decisions as an assurance of having a full refrigerator.  However, during the course of my career, coinciding with progression of my faith, I have come to see honoring The Divine with my first and my best as also assurance of having a full refrigerator.  The inherent blessing in honoring The Divine with your first and your best is one of the first object lessons of The Bible. (Genesis 4:2-5). Later God gives us the assurance of having a full refrigerator, and meat on the grill if we do this. (Malachi 3:10).  Which brings us back to the problem with prostitution. 

Certainly, prostitution could not be the oldest profession because the customers would need something to trade.  Given that the barter system existed before money, the first thing traded was food, the fruit of the gardener or farmer’s labor.  The bread for services exchange is mentioned in Proverbs 6:26.  Going back to the story of Judah we see that he was willing to trade a whole goat, a source of meat and/or milk, for a single encounter with a prostitute.  Now, that does not make a lick-o-sense to me: “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.”  (Isaiah 55:2)

Dried onion coated Pacific rock fish in a white wine mushroom chutney.
Onion coated Pacific rock fish in a white wine mushroom chutney


I have always acknowledged that the strongest drives of man are for “Food, sex, a good bowel movement, a sensible nap in between, and a warm place to conduct all of the above, not always in that order.  Infact, food takes priority over sex, because I can go a lot more days without sex than I can go without food.  ( I confess: I have given in to using the pleasure of food as a substitute during periods of long abstinence.) It just does not make sense to exchange a good meal at a nice restaurant for an encounter with a prostitute.  In comparing the value, consider that we sometimes take pictures of a good meal at a restaurant and post them on social media.  No reasonable person proudly post pictures of his encounters with prostitutes. (I know of one actor who did a televised interview displaying and boasting of his live-in arrangement with two porn actresses, but the general consensus is that actor was pushed beyond reason by drug addiction and possible mental illness.) Usually, most reasonable people, spend money trying to cover up such encounters, which ironically becomes unreasonable, because the coverup often cost more than the cost of the encounter, either monetarily or in terms of reputation.  (Is $130K and years of professional and leagal hastles, worth a one night stand with even the best porn star?) Anyway, one of the Biblical assurances is that keeping company with prostitutes leads to squandered wealth. (Proverbs 29:3)

Of course, what do I know, I don’t get out.  I am not even trying to be out there.  As I head into Memorial Day weekend, I am content to stay home, tend to the few herbs I have growing in front of my domicile, and cook a good meal. Tonight, I will be taking some line caught tuna that my son Elliot landed on his last fishing trip, and marinating it in balsamic vinaigrette seasoned with garlic, fresh oregano and rosemary I grew, and basil.  After marinating, the fish is removed, quick seared on each side in a pan, and set aside to rest on a plate. Then in the pan I sauté shallots, Italian parsley and a lot more fresh herbs. Just before the shallots are clear I add in the reserve of the marinade. While all this is going I will have a some fresh formed fusilli from the local Italian deli boiling, so I will add a bit of the pasta water to the simmering vegetables.  Then I will put the fish on the bed of sautéed vegetables to simmer.  I will finish with some diced ripe tomatoes and a half a cup of orange juice reduction to marry the sweet with the acid.  After I eat, I will sit back and enjoy the afterglow of a good meal.  The Lord will have richly provided; that is what satisfies.   

Leave a comment

Name .
Message .

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published