[b-hebrew] virginity

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Wed Jul 18 23:46:40 EDT 2007

Dear Isaac,

The G in "glmt" is really a Gh, the letter "ghayin", related to 'ayin but 
pronounced deeper in the throat. This letter still exists in Arabic. The 
ancient Hebrews kept the distinction between the two even though they used 
the same sign for both of them, somwhat like Shin and Sin. So that some 
'ayins are orriginally ghayins. For Example, this is why the city name 'Azza 
in Hebrew became Gaza in Greek - because that how in was still pronounced in 
Hellenistic times (and is still pronounced in Arabic). That's why 'Amorah is 
"Gommorah". In this case, the Ugaritic proves that the 'ayin in 'almah is 
really a ghayin.

Yigal Levin

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Isaac Fried" <if at math.bu.edu>
To: "Tory Thorpe" <torythrp at yahoo.com>
Cc: "B Hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2007 6:34 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] virginity

> Tory,
> It appears to me that the "Ugaritic" word glmt = galmat? you are
> quoting below is from the root GLM, 'to have shape, to have body, to
> be compact'. The word ends in the personal pronoun AT for the woman
> itself. The word GOLEM, 'fetus', of Psalms 139:16 is one of the words
> derived from this root. The root GLM is of the root family BLM, KLM,
> CLM, SLM, $LM [hence the name $ULAMIT of Songs 7:1, in which both the
> U and the IT are personal pronouns] and TLM.
> Isaac Fried, Boston University
> On Jul 18, 2007, at 9:45 PM, Tory Thorpe wrote:
>> Dear Bill,
>> On Jul 18, 2007, at 6:03 PM, Bill Rea wrote:
>>> Tory wrote:-
>>>> If Isaiah had intended physical virginity to be clearly
>>>> understood he
>>>> would have undoubtedly wrote "woman/girl whom no man had known..."
>>>> which is the manner in which the Hebrew author of Jdg. xxi 12
>>>> expresses physical virginity so as to remove any possibility of
>>>> doubt.
>>> This is an assumption on your part. As such you can't elevate an
>>> assumption to a fact. The Judges 21:12 can easily be read otherwise.
>>> To insist that the author must have added ``whom no man had known''
>>> to remove doubt is a reasonable assumption but no more reasonable
>>> than believing the author was engaging in repitition for literary
>>> effect.
>> It is more than merely an assumption when one considers, for example,
>> the annunciation formula in the Hymn of Nikkal from Ugarit: hl glmt
>> tld bn, "Look, the almah will give birth to a son" (UT 77:7). This is
>> strikingly similar to Isa. vii 14. Ugarit and ancient Israel shared a
>> conventional idiom, but used it differently. Cyrus H. Gordon always
>> rendered glmt (= almah) in Ugaritic texts by "maid" and never
>> "virgin" since another text from Ugarit puts glmt in parallelism with
>> 'att ("wife"), thus showing that the two are synonymous terms. The
>> implication is that the etymological counterpart of Ugaritic glmt in
>> BH may also be applied to a young wife. Gordon wrote: "almah means a
>> 'young woman' who may be a virgin, but is not necessarily so" (JBL 21
>> [1953], p. 106). I don't think its possible to be more nonpartisan
>> than that given the evidence currently available. Nothing has really
>> changed since H. Schultz, Old Testament Theology (Edinburgh, 1892),
>> II p. 414, agreed with the rabbinic understanding that almah has to
>> do with years of age, not marital status or chastity per se.
>> One needs to evaluate your assertion that the negative expressions in
>> Gen. xxiv 16 and Jdg. xxi 12 were added by the biblical author merely
>> for literary effect against the evidence from Sumerian and Akkadian.
>> Similar negative expressions are used in these languages; there is no
>> single word for "virgin". There is no one word for "virgin" in
>> Ugaritic or in Mishnaic Hebrew. I would also add Biblical Hebrew
>> because of the way betulah is defined in the Mishnah and in the
>> cognate languages of the ancient Near East. In this instance at
>> least, I could cite others, the Mishnaic Hebrew illumines the BH. For
>> other examples, see R. Gordis "Studies in the Relationship of
>> Biblical and Rabbinic Hebrew" Louis Ginzberg Jubilee Volumes (New
>> York, 1946), pp. 173-200; idem, "Biblical Hebrew in Light of Rabbinic
>> Usage" in Sepher Tur-Sinai (Jerusalem, 1961), pp. 149-167.
>> Tory Thorpe
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