Judges 5:30

George Athas gathas at mail.usyd.edu.au
Sun Sep 26 19:16:47 EDT 1999


Henry Churchyard wrote:

> [...]  I'm
> not demanding an obscene English translation for it -- but "girl" is a
> weak translation because it avoids the issue of the significant
> meaning difference between _rah.am_ and _na`ara_h, while "maiden" and
> "damsel" go in entirely the wrong direction.

The connotation of the root N(R seems to be "inexperienced" and, thereby, "young". The
word _raxam_ seems to mean "girl" but not with the connotation of "inexperienced". Perhaps
this means that the "girls" threw themselves at the victors??? The context doesn't really
tell us much. Remember that it's Sisera's mothers attendants who are speaking here. They
may be referring to "wenches" who threw themselves at the victorious soldiers, or may just
be a sharp perjorative term for "innocent" women who were raped by the soldiers, perhaps
akin to "slut". The text is a little ambiguous.

The irony, though, is that THE _raxam_, Ya`el, got the better of Sisera. In the Jdg 4
narrative, Ya`el definitely comes across to Sisera as a _raxam_ - a wench who is all too
willing to "look after" him. However, her actions show that she is still "innocent" though
fatally cunning. She is not an inexperienced girl (or na`arah) - she is definitely a
cunning _raxam_.

Regards!
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GEORGE ATHAS
 Dept of Semitic Studies,
 University of Sydney
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Tel Dan Inscription Website is at
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