The commerce of the cities was almost wholly carried on at, and in, the temples. As in Egypt, so in Chaldea, the priest stood next to the king. The king was par excellence the head of the priesthood — the representative of the Planetary god among men. But he had under him a body of priests, some of whose offices were hereditary, and some he selected to perform for him the multitudinous daily sacerdotal functions. At the head of these was the high priest or ishshaku, whose chief duty was to pour out the libations to the gods, and to preside over various orders under priests and priestesses, such as the “saugutu” class, who had charge of the harem of god; the “kipu” and “saugutu” class who managed the finances of the temple (then as soon afterward a most important class), while the “pashoshus” anointed with holy, performed oil, the god’s statues of stone, or metal, or wood, that were always clothed with vestments and adorned with jewels; they also anointed the holy vessels, basins, bowls, etc. used in the ritual ablutions, and also the victims to be sacrificed, both of beasts and, on great occasions, the human sacrifices.
There were also connected with the temple service, the official butchers, augurs, soothsayers, prophets, record keepers, and, not least, several classes of holy courtesans.
Almost every hour there was a fresh sacrifice or ceremony of some sort, additional to the regular morning and evening sacrifices. These priests also manufactured the money of the land in their temples, claiming the gold and silver as “sacred” and the gift of the gods to their great priest, the king. They likewise conducted commercial transactions at the temples and took charge of estates or moneys; were intermediaries between borrowers and lenders for a good commission, the interest rate being from twenty to twenty-five percent per annum in old Chaldea.
They had gifts of fields, flocks, and slaves come to them by will when the worshipers died (or, mayhap [sic], while they yet lived), in order to appease the god or to gain his favor.
To maintain these vast establishments for this Planetary worship, there was, further, an annual subsidy granted to the temples from the state treasury, such as gifts of beasts, birds, fish, liquors, bread, incense, gold, silver, copper (moneys always by weight), gems, precious woods, and, after a successful raid or war, always their tithes (legally a tenth, under later Empire times the bulk) of spoils were take, especially slaves and herds.
Vast areas of cultivated lands were given to the temples, of which the priests cultivated a part, the rest were rented or else farmed by their hosts of slaves, which included gardeners and laborers of all sorts.
Very many, too, of the articles in daily use by the people, as well as the luxuries of life, were produced in factories owned by the temples under the direction of these holy (?) men of the gods; who likewise added to their revenues by maintaining, in connection with the worship of the gods, troops of women singers, and the wailers for the dead, and the sacred prostitutes.
So debasing was this worship of the planets upon women of this first settlement and kingdom of men after the Flood, as it is now revealed to us by their literature, that the public prostitution of every woman, by at least one act, became obligatory by law, a thing that continued for centuries thereafter, as is witnessed by the testimony of Herodotus as late as 500 B.C., who was a personal observer of the things he then speaks of as existing in the palmiest days of Babylon.
This same low estate of woman was found in Palestine in this period and even a lower depth. All through the Old Testament times is seen this same great debasement of women. The “groves” and “high places” against the later prophets of Jehovah thundered their anathemas, were but the resorts of abandoned women whose sins constituted the worship, and long after the last prophet (Malachi) had denounced this yet existing degradation of women, the Apocryphal Book of Baruch speaks of this same old Chaldean custom as then prevailing.
There are those who complain of the severity of Moses and carp at his statues, but they were the only media that preserved the chastity of woman and made it possible for the Christ to be born of mankind.
It is impossible to comprehend or even faintly know the condition of woman in those early ages, apart from this religion that then was the all to mankind.
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.