John Ronning ronning at
Wed Sep 29 15:49:06 EDT 1999

George, you wrote:

> 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.
But a widow could also be described as the "woman" i.e. wife
of her dead husband
> 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.

Can't we also include "youth"?  E.g. the little girl
(na`arah qetannah) captured by the Arameans (2
Kings 5:2) - I think it's her youth, not sexual experience
or marital status or eligibility that's
the point. We shouldn't be trying to prove anything by
etymology anyway.

Na`arah may usually be used of a single girl, but it doesn't
"mean" single girl, as is clear from the fact that it is
used of the Levite's concubine (Judges 19),



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