na`arah

George Athas gathas at mail.usyd.edu.au
Tue Sep 28 23:20:36 EDT 1999


John Ronning wrote:

> > That's, in essence, my point. The root N(R does imply inexperience. Therefore, when it's
> > applied to the word _na`arah_, it implies a girl who has had no sexual experience - ie, a
> > girl who is not yet married but ready to be married.
>
> Problem with that George - Ruth (a widow) is called NA`ARAH
> Ruth 4:12 etc.

Well pointed out, John. Widows who had no children had their status changed from "wife" to
"virgin/maiden" (_na`arah_) because they returned to their paternal household (_beyt-'ab_) and
could be married off again. Being a "virgin" in ancient Palestine was not so much about
physical status as marital status. Ruth is an exceptional case in that she choses not to return
to her paternal household - ie, she goes completely against the logical norm of the day.

The root N(R does still imply "inexperience". That is why it is used in a range of situations
with meanings such as "apprentice", "junior", "acolyte", "lad", "girl", etc. Eg, at 40 years
old, Rehoboam was a _na`ar_. The word commonly translated as "maiden" or "virgin" has its
etymology in this understanding.

Best 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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