[b-hebrew] Definite Article 7:14

Tory Thorpe torythrp at yahoo.com
Mon Jul 16 12:26:01 EDT 2007

On Jul 16, 2007, at 8:24 AM, Harold Holmyard wrote:

> Dear Tory,
>>> HH: There's no biblical reference which indicates that "almah"  
>>> describes
>>> a married woman.
>> I supplied one unambiguous reference from The Song of Sol. You simply
>> choose to deny it because of your theology. If I supplied another
>> reference, you would undoubtedly deny that one as well and for the
>> same reason.
> HH: Your reference is far from "unambiguous." There are queens and
> concubines mentioned. Your assumption that alamoth were not virgins  
> but
> members of a harem would make them wives or concubines.

I never said all the alamot in the king's harem were not virgins.  
Presumably some were and others were not.

> Concubines were not wives, so there is even less of a basis for  
> thinking that "alamoth,
> the third member of a list in Song of Solomon, were wives.

Why do you think a royal concubine was not a royal (lesser) wife?

> HH: The Bible says that his many wives that drew Solomon away from the
> Lord. The Song of Solomon was written when he still had only 60 queens
> and 80 concubines. Later he had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kgs
> 11:3). He was apparently young at the writing of the Song and had not
> acquired all these wives and concubines yet.

I suppose that's an argument for dating the composition of the Song.

> You may be assuming that
> the "alamoth without number" constituted part of the 700 wives he had,
> but that is not a necessary assumption. If Solomon was married to a
> woman, then she was a queen, by definition.

It would be "not a necessary assumption," but I never suggested that  
the alamot in Song of Sol. vi 8 were part of the 700.

>>>>> The Jews who translated the Septuagint in 200 B.C.E. or so  
>>>>> evidently
>>>>> felt that the word implied a
>>>>> virgin.
>>>> False. The "Jews" who created the LXX did not restrict the  
>>>> meaning of
>>>> PARQENOS to physical virgins (cf. Gen. xxxiv 3). So you cannot  
>>>> say it
>>>> implies physical virginity in Isa. vii 14 even in the Greek  
>>>> version.
>>> HH: Yes, there are exceptional cases with PARQENOS, but the word
>>> generally means virgin...
>> But then the word evidently did not have this generic meaning for the
>> Alexandrian Jewish translators working in the 3rd century BCE. What
>> you said was that the "Jews" who created the LXX felt the word almah
>> implied a physical virgin. The example from Gen. xxxiv 3 (and
>> elsewhere) shows that you cannot make that deductive leap.
> HH: The word PARQENOS is glossed as "virgin" in the lexicons. It
> regularly means "virgin." Dinah had been a virgin until this guy raped
> her. You seem to be trying to make an unusual case govern the  
> meaning of

No. You brought up the LXX to prove what "Jews" believed in the 3rd  
century. I merely pointed out a weakness in that argument. Regardless  
of the lexicons, it is clear that PARQENOS had a wider semantic range  
among the Jewish translators of the Hebrew Bible than just physical  

> HH: There is a law requiring unmarried women to be virgins. And  
> alamoth
> were unmarried as far as we know.

Who are the "we"? I think it is very, very safe to assume that  
Immanuel was not born in the 8th century BCE to an unwed almah.

> HH: You have not shown that it refers to married women in biblical  
> times.

You are saying that a word that connotes youth and means "young  
woman" cannot be used of a married female in biblical times. Looking  
at Isa. vii 14 in its 8th century setting, what was the fate of the  
almah who became pregnant and gave birth to the boy Immanuel since  
she was not, in your opinion, a married girl?

> HH: To me the word seems to be used of young women before they  
> married.

But the way you read biblical law, a girl engaging in pre-marital sex  
before marriage is culpable. Is it your belief then that the  
historical almah, the 8th century girl, conceived a child out of  

> HH: Nothing says the alamoth were part of Solomon's household. Nor  
> does
> anything require that Shulamith was not.

The Shulemite is described as a girl who worked out in the fields.  
Royal women stay inside and do not work in the fields. So you can  
imagine the irony of the king falling head over heels for her when  
his harem included queens, concubines, and yes, alamot = young women.  
It can scarcely be denied that young women (physical virgins or not)  
were part of the royal harem.

> HH: Genesis 2 shows God's ideal for marriage. And it is only  
> obvious and logical.

Harold, you are doing it again. Can you at least pretend to check  
your theology at the door? Other ideals one could draw from Gen. ii  
are nakedness, uncircumcision, and a vegan diet. That was a bygone  
era from the perspective of the Jewish authors of the Bible. The  
words we are debating were used in a completely different setting.

> HH: I know the source language, and there aren't any main verbs in  
> that
> verse in the part where you are inserting a present tense. They  
> have to
> be supplied. It is a prophecy he is giving, so it can refer to the
> future. By the way, the translators of these Bibles know the source
> language. I refer to the translations precisely because the men who  
> did
> them were authorities in the language.

Okay, where I see an adjective followed by the Masoretic participle  
(not the imperfect TLD), I see almost the exact same construction  
appearing in Gen. xvi 11. There is also the demonstrative used here  
and in Isa. vii 14, which to me makes "Look, the young woman is  
pregnant and about to give birth to a son" the most plausible and  
most nonpartisan translation of the controversial passage. I say  
nonpartisan because you can still make the young girl in this  
translation of mine out to be an unwed physical virgin if one's  
theology requires that.

Tory Thorpe

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