[b-hebrew] Definite Article 7:14

Harold Holmyard hholmyard3 at earthlink.net
Mon Jul 16 14:07:16 EDT 2007

Dear Tory,
>> 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.

HH: The women that weren't virgins were either wives, concubines, or 
nothing (potential somebodies). This is by definition. There were two 
accepted legal states for a woman in sexual relations with a man: wife 
and concubine. Even your Assyrian example seems to talk about different 
types of concubine, but our text contrasts the concubines with these 
>> 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: This is a tricky matter because the same Hebrew word means both 
"wife" and "woman." The reason I make the distinction is that the Bible 
sometimes does:

Gen. 32:22 And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his 
two womenservants, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford Jabbok.

HH: Sometimes in Genesis Bilhah and Zilpah seem to be wives, but the 
narrator clearly distinguishes them from his wives in Gen 32:22, even 
after Bilhah and Zilpah had already borne sons to him.

HH: Other texts distinguish wives from concubines:

2Chr. 11:21 Rehoboam loved Maacah daughter of Absalom more than any of 
his other wives and concubines. In all, he had eighteen wives and sixty 
concubines, twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters.

2Sam. 5:13 After he left Hebron, David took more concubines and wives in 
Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him.

2Sam. 19:5 Then Joab went into the house to the king and said, “Today 
you have humiliated all your men, who have just saved your life and the 
lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and 

Dan. 5:2 While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring 
in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken 
from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives 
and his concubines might drink from them.

Dan. 5:3 So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from 
the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives 
and his concubines drank from them.

Dan. 5:23 Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. 
You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your 
nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised 
the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which 
cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who 
holds in his hand your life and all your ways.
>>>>>> 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: It evidently did have that meaning for the Jews who translated the 
LXX for they use PARQENOS in almost every case in contexts where the 
Hebrew word or context calls for the idea of virginity.

>> 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 
> virginity.

HH: The word means "virgin" in almost everyone one of the 64 references 
I find listed in the OT and Apocrypha. Dinah was a virgin when Shechem 
raped her, and he may developed these tender thoughts towards her 
partially for the reason that he violated her this way. So he could have 
thought of her as a violated virgin.
>> 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: The woman could have been a virgin when Isaiah gave the prophecy. A 
virgin [now] will conceive. Isaiah does not say that she will stay a 
virgin but that she is a virgin at the time of the prophecy.

>> 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: No, I said long ago that the time frame for the ruin of the northern 
kingdom and Syria involved the virgin marrying, conceiving, having a 
baby, and raising him to the point that he almost is old enough to 
discern good and evil. But remember, I am only using "virgin" because it 
is traditional. I have already said that the word does not 
etymologically mean virgin but that it probably had that connotation. A 
connotation is different from a denotation.
>> 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 wedlock?

HH: No, I said long ago that I believed she got married. We are speaking 
about facts presented that involve the passage of time for the defeat of 
the northern kingdom. The marriage could be part of that passage of 
time. But there are other possible solutions, I suppose, for the 
Christian. It might be that the word PARQENOS did have a broader meaning 
in the third century B.C.E. but that it came to have the narrower 
meaning of virgin by the first century C.E. So the Gospel of Matthew 
could have quoted Isa 7:14, giving it the narrower meaning of the first 
century C.E. This solution seems somewhat unlikely to me, since someone 
could easily have said, "Well, when Isaiah used almah, it did not have 
that meaning of virgin, nor did PARQENOS have that meaning centuries ago 
when the LXX translators chose it for Isa 7:14. So, Matthew, you are 
simply misusing Scripture. "
>> 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: The Song of Solomon records the whole relationship of a woman who 
evidently became a wife of Solomon. So it can give us the beginnings of 
that relationship, when she still lived with her brothers.
>> 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: Some things don't change. God gave Adam and Eve clothing. He changed 
the food allowance after the Flood. He never changed his ideal for 
marriage. He allowed bigamy, but he never presented it as desirable, as 
far as I know.
>> 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.

HH: That's an argument, but the construction is not exactly the same, 
since what follows the adjective in Gen 16:11 is pointed by the 
Masoretic text as a waw plus the perfect.

Harold Holmyard

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