[b-hebrew] Why Are Rebekah and Dinah Called "Boys"?

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Mon Dec 17 11:50:32 EST 2007


Why are each of Rebekah and Dinah referred to as being a “boy”/“na’ar”/N(R 
in the Patriarchal narratives?  Why is neither such young woman referred to as 
being a “girl”/“na’arah”/N(RH?
 
1.  Rebekah is called a “boy”/“na’ar”/N(R five times.  Genesis 24: 14, 16, 
28, 55, 57
 
2.  Dinah is called a “boy”/“na’ar”/N(R three times.  Genesis 34: 3, 3, 12
 
3.  No person in the Patriarchal narratives is ever called a “girl”/“na’arah
”/N(RH in the singular.
 
4.  A second meaning of “na’ar”/N(R or “na’arah”/N(RH is “servant”.  
Here, where servants are involved, we see the expected gender differentiation:
 
(a)  Rebekah’s female servants are called, in the plural:  
nun-ayin-resh-chet-yod-heh.  Genesis 24: 61  That would seem to be a feminine plural ending.
 
(b)  Abraham’s male servants have a different spelling:  
nun-ayin-resh-yod-mem.  Genesis 14: 24  That looks like the typical male plural ending.
 
So if we’re talking about “servants”, at least in the plural, nothing is 
amiss in the Patriarchal narratives.
 
6.  Deuteronomy also refers on many occasions to a young woman as being a “boy
”/“na’ar”/N(R.  
 
I don’t think that other books in the Bible refer to a young woman as being a 
“boy”/“na’ar”/N(R.  Only the Patriarchal narratives and Deuteronomy do 
that.  In the rest of the Bible, a young woman is a “girl”/“na’arah”/N(RH, not a 
“boy”/“na’ar”/N(R.
 
7.  Why are each of Rebekah and Dinah referred to as being a “boy”/“na’ar”
/N(R in the Patriarchal narratives?
 
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois




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