[b-hebrew] virginity & Deuteronomy 22

Bryant J. Williams III bjwvmw at com-pair.net
Sat Jul 21 03:53:00 EDT 2007


Dear Michael,

Sorry that I am late in reply.

First, the previous e-mail was quoting from TWOT and Bruce Waltke's take on
the article of Wenham's.

Second, I do disagree with both since it is quite clear from reading the
passage of Deuteronomy 22 that what is at stake is the question of the
virginity of the "young woman" at the time of her marriage. Betulah
(primarily "virgin") and Almah (primarily "young woman" may refer to state
or age) both have some semantic overlap. Thus, there are several meanings,
but the context will determine which level of meaning is being emphasized
whether it is the primary, secondary, tertiary, etc.

Third, I think that it should be remembered that since both terms have to be
understood not only in accordance with their literary genre
(narravtive/prose, poetry, prophetic-poetry, legal, liturgical, etc.), but
also in their historical, grammatical, syntactical and cultural contexts. I
do not like to eisegete the text with ideas/concepts from later periods and
read those back into the text. When this happens one ends up with a
pre-text, out of context which is really NO TEXT AT ALL.

Various semantics have been played with the term "virgin." Some think it is
"virgo intacta." Others think it might or might not depending on the
circumstances. I say that it is fully clear in most of the cases when the
entire context is taken into account. In most of the texts presented some
have even used the comments of Rabbinic Judaism, Josephus, Philo, etc. All I
have to say is that that is fine to a certain extent. It, at least, tells us
how the Jews understood it at the time of the first century BC and later.
Furthermore, the Greek OT, although a translation, is also a commentary on
the text.

Finally, the context of this passage of Deuteronomy 22 is as follows:

22:13:    Man takes a wife and cohabits with her and then hates her (KJV),
spurns her (RSV), tiring of her (modern language), dislikes her (NIV).
22:14:    Charges are brought against the woman that she was not a "maid =
virgin." These charges are in the form of slander, libel, etc.
22:15:   The father and mother then bring the evidence, the proof of
virginity of the "damsel" before the city gate to refute the charges against
their daughter.
22:16-17:    The nature and motive of the charges are presented and refuted.
22:18-19:    Since the evidence proves that he accusation is groundless,
then the man is punished by the elders of the city, fined 100 shekels of
silver which is given to the woman's father and the man is not allowed to
divorce her "until death do us part."
22:20-21:    Should the accusation prove to be fact, no proof of virginity
is provided, then the woman shall be put to death in front of her father's
house by the men of the city. The reason? She played the fool by having
pre-marital sex/committed harlotry BEFORE marriage. However one wants to
think otherwise, it is quite clear that sex by the woman BEFORE marriage was
definitely considered EVIL. Thus, the EVIL was to be put away from among the
people of the city.

I also have written notes in my bible giving the following for the entire
passage of Deuteronomy 22:13-30,
22:13-17 = Slander
22:18-21 = Harlotry/Fornication (Pre-marital sex/sluttish behavior)
22:22-24 = Adultery with another man's wife
22:25-26 = Rape/Adultery of a "Betrothed woman" (civil contract which
considers both parties already married, but NOT consummated), Special
Circumstance #1
22:27-29 = Rape, woman who is a virgin, NOT betrothed, Special Circumstance
#2
22:30       = Incest
See also Leviticus 18 and the sexual perversions of the Canaanites that the
Israelites were not to commit.

En Xristwi,

Rev. Bryant J. Williams III

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <michaelabernat9001 at sbcglobal.net>
To: "b-hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 8:07 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] virginity & Deuteronomy 22


> Bryant,
> I cannot see how Wenham's interpretation fits eiter Josephus or Philo.
> Josephus comments on this passage, ". . .let her be stoned, because she
did
> not preserve her virginity till she were lawfully married. . ."
>
> Philo refers to the same passage in The Special Laws III, "When those men
> who marry virgins in accordance with the law, {6}{#de 22:13.} and who have
> sacrificed on the occasion and celebrated their marriage feast, and who
yet
> afterwards preserve no natural affection for their wives but treat them
with
> insolence, and behave to freeborn citizens as if they were courtesans, if
> they seek to procure a divorce, and to being able to find any pretext for
> such a separation, then betake themselves to bringing forward false
> accusations, and from an absence of any clear grounds of impeachment
direct
> all their charges at things which cannot be made certain, and come forward
> and accuse them, saying that though they fancied that they had been
marrying
> virgins, they found on the first occasion of their having intercourse
> together, that they were not so. When, I say, these men make such charges
> let all the elders be assembled to decide on the case, and let the parents
> of the woman who is accused also appear, to make their defence in this
their
> common danger. (81) For in such a case, not only are their daughters
> themselves in danger, as to their reputation as having preserved the
> chastity of their bodies, but their guardians are likewise imperilled, not
> only because they have not kept them safe till the important period of
their
> marriageable age, but because they have given in marriage as virgins those
> who have been defiled by others, deceiving and imposing upon those who
have
> taken them to wife. (82) Then if they appear to have justice on their
side,
> let the judges impose a pecuniary fine on those who have invented these
> false accusations, and let them also sentence those who have assaulted
them
> to corporeal punishment, and let them also pronounce, what to those men
will
> be the most unpleasant of all things, a confirmation of their marriage, if

> their wives will still endure to cohabit with them; for the law permits
them
> at their own choice to remain with them or to abandon them, and will not
> allow the husbands any option either way, on account of the false
> accusations which they have brought."
>
> Further, Rashi's comments on Deuteronomy 22:20 makes it clear that the
> husband was falsely accusing her of having sex with another man after they
> became engaged.
>
> Sincerely,
> Michael Abernathy
>
>
>
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Bryant J. Williams III" <bjwvmw at com-pair.net>
> To: "Isaac Fried" <if at math.bu.edu>; "Uri Hurwitz" <uhurwitz at yahoo.com>
> Cc: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 11:49 AM
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] virginity
>
>
> > Dear Isaac,
> >
> > In a article by Bruce Waltke, TWOT, Vol. 1, pp. 137-138. In commenting
on
> > an
> > article by Gordon Wenham, "Betulah 'A Girl of Marriageable Age,'" VT
> > 22:326-348, Waltke says,
> >
> >    "But Wenham does call into question the conclusion that word must
mean
> > 'virgin' in Deut 22:13-21 because he offers a plausible interpretation
> > assuming the general meaning "nubile adolescence." In the first place,
> > 'betulim,' tokens of virginity (vv 14, 15, 17, 18) is morphologically
the
> > regular form for abstract nouns in biblical Hebrew designating age
groups
> > (cf. NE'URIM, "youth"  ZEQUNIM, "old age"). Moreover, according to him,
> > the
> > "tokens of virginity" called for by the elders are not the sheets of the
> > wedding night but garments stained by blood during her last period, and
by
> > producing these the girl's parents count refute the jealous husband's
> > complaint that his wife was with child by another man while she was
still
> > in
> > her Father's house. Finally, he argued that this interpretation
admirably
> > suits the sentence that if such tokens could be produced she should be
> > stoned to death "because she wrought folly in Israel by playing the
harlot
> > IN HER FATHER'S HOUSE" (Deut 22:21). Thus the "tokens" served  as a
test.
> > proving that she was not pregnant when was married. If she was not
> > pregnant,
> > she was presumed to be a virgin. If this interpretation of 'betulim' is
> > correct then this would further sustain the thesis that 'betula' is a
> > "girl
> > of marriageable age," since the onset of menstruation would be the
> > clearest
> > sign that she had attained that age.
> >
> >    Since Wenham has presented a strong case that the interpretation test
> > not one of virginity but of chastity, one must concede that 'betulim' or
> > 'betula' does not speak of virginity in this disputed text."
> >
> > Furthermore, Waltke comments, "Like Greek PARQENOS, Latin VIRGO, German
> > JUNGFRAU, Betula originally meant "young marriageable woman" but since
she
> > was normally a virgin it not difficult for this meaning to become
attached
> > to the word. This more technical meaning is a later development in
Hebrew
> > and Aramaic and is clear it meaning by the Christian era. When the
change
> > took place is not clear.
> >
> >    What is clear is that one cannot argue that if Isaiah (7:14) in his
> > famous oracle to Ahaz had intended a virgin he could used betula as more
> > precise term that alma."
> >
> > It would seem, then, that Waltke and Wenham agree that since betula is a
> > young girl of marriageable age, then alma would necessarily mean about
the
> > same, but closer to the "ladies in waiting." These "ladies in waiting"
> > would
> > also be of marriageable age and, possibly, married (young woman). This
> > would
> > mean that alma would include the daughters of the queens and concubines
of
> > the harem which would fit quite well with the context of Song of Solomon
> > 8.
> >
> > The fact that alma is used in Isaiah 7:14 gives enough ambiguity to the
> > prophecy to allow the angel in Matthew 1 to refer to this passage as a
> > fulfillment of it in the dream to Joseph, Son of David.
> >
> > En Xristwi,
> >
> > Rev. Bryant J. Williams III
> > ----- Original Message ----- 
> > From: "Isaac Fried" <if at math.bu.edu>
> > To: "Uri Hurwitz" <uhurwitz at yahoo.com>
> > Cc: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> > Sent: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 4:20 AM
> > Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] virginity
> >
> >
> >> Uri,
> >>
> >> It would be interesting to hear from you what you think the bible
> >> means by BTULAH and BTULYIM. According to Deuteronomy 22:13-21 the
> >> life of a woman may depend on this definition.
> >>
> >> Isaac Fried, Boston University
> >>
> >> On Jul 16, 2007, at 8:14 PM, Uri Hurwitz wrote:
> >>
> >> > Now that the discussion took a clear anatomical turn,one
> >> >   may ask whether  such  anatomical aspects really belong
> >> >    in a list dealing with linguistic matters?
> >> >
> >> >   Uri Hurwitz
> >> >
> >> >
> >> > ---------------------------------
> >> >  Get your own web address.
> >> >  Have a HUGE year through Yahoo! Small Business.
> >> > _______________________________________________
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> >> > b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
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> >> >
> >>
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