[b-hebrew] bethulah equals virgin?

Steve Miller smille10 at sbcglobal.net
Thu Oct 13 00:05:44 EDT 2005

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Yigal Levin" <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il> Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 
2005 12:20 AM

> Hi Steve,
> Bethulah means "virgin".

Could it be more general to mean a morally virtuous woman: either a virgin 
or a woman faithful in marriage to one husband from her virginity?

>Na'arah neans "young woman" - either unmarried or
> betrothed but unconsumated.

yes. hence they are called na'arah until verse 13, but not after.

>Ahasuerus collected "na'aroth bethuloth" "young
> virgins", kept them in his harem, but only consumated his "marriage" to 
> them
> after a year - up to that point, they were still virgins. So that in 2:17,
> Esther is compaired to the other "women" and "virgins".

That year was up in verses 14-16. I think you are saying that the "women" in 
v17 are those who already had their time with the king, and the virgins are 
those who had not yet. But if they had not had their time with the king, how 
could the king compare Esther to them?

Before they were called na'aroth bethuloth. Now just bethuloth because the 
marriage has been consumated.

I think the reason for the words nashim and bethuloth is because some of 
them were not bethuloth.

> 2:19 seems to be a problem, since afetr their first night with the king, 
> the
> women were no longer virgins. Might it mean that he had a second round of
> collectng virgins; maybe this was why Mordecai was worried - he thought 
> that
> Esther had failed at her mission!

If you isolate 2:19 you might think that, but it does not make sense in the 
context. The king has already given Esther the royal crown, given her 
Vashti's position of queen, held a public banquet in her honor, gave gifts 
and amnesty in her honor, ... and then he is going to look for another 
Also, I think it would be a poorly written narrative to bring in such a 
thought without any explanation.

Mordecai was always sitting in the King's gate, so there is no indication he 
was any more worried this time than at others. (I think he was a lobbyist 
for Israel.)

> Joel 1:8 compares Israel to a betrothed virgin whose husband died before
> consumation.

Hard for me to be satisfied with that explanation. The phrase "of her youth" 
or "of his youth" is used often in the Bible, and we can see from its usage 
that it refers to something in the past experience. The phrase is especially 
similar to Malachi 2:15, "wife of his youth".

> Deut. 22:19 uses both terms to reffer to her previous status, since that 
> is
> what the husband is challenging.

that is reasonable.

thank you,
-Steve Miller

> Yigal
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Steve Miller" <smille10 at sbcglobal.net>
> To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2005 4:22 AM
> Subject: [b-hebrew] bethulah equals virgin?
>>I came across this in my daily reading:
>> In Esther 2:17, 19, the Hebrew word betulah seems to refer to married
>> women:
>> In 2:2 and 2:3 the king's advisors advise to gather naaroth bethuloth
>> נְעָרֹות בְּתוּלֹות for the king. The word naaroth leaves no doubt that
>> the women are unmarried.
>> In 2:4, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13 before the consumation of the marriage, the young
>> women are just called naaroth נְעָרֹות by the Bible narrative.
>> In 2:14-16 their marriages to the king are consumated
>> In 2:17, & 19 they are called בְּתוּלֹות but never again נְעָרֹות by the
>> Bible narrative.
>> The Septuagint translates bethuloth in 2:14 as parthenos. 2:19 does not
>> exist in the Septuagint.
>> These go along with Joel 1:8 & Deut 22:19.
>> -Steve Miller
>> Detroit

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