Abstract: In this thesis, I present the major points of contention with traditional biblical scholars' assumption that the Hebrew 'qe_de_s_ot ' (Hosea 4:13-14) were cult prostitutes. First, in a word study of the Hebrew root 'qds_,' I demonstrate that its range of meanings in no way includes sexual activity. Second, by reviewing extra biblical ANE texts in which cognate terms for 'qe_de_s_ot ' occur, I demonstrate that there is no unambiguous evidence supporting the notion of institutionalized sex cults. Third, I argue that ancient Greek sources, which purport to describe sexual rites among ANE peoples, are too rhetorical to be regarded as historically accurate accounts. The mistaken notion of ANE cult prostitution arises out of scholars' failure to recognize texts such as Hosea 4:13-14 as primarily polemical in intent. On the basis of both the connection made between sacrifice and the ' qe_de_s_ot' in Hosea 4:13-14 and the pairing of 'qe_de_s_ots cognates with sacrificial activity in the extra biblical material, Ipropose that the ' qe_de_s_ot' were official assistants to priests in Canaanite-styled sacrificial rites.