[b-hebrew] etymological fallacy and the meaning of almah

Harold Holmyard hholmyard3 at earthlink.net
Mon Jul 30 22:46:16 EDT 2007

Dear Kenneth,
> Recently, someone on b-hebrew said that almah meant virgin because its root 
> comes from a verb that means to be hidden , and virgins were hidden. What 
> about the word olam ? Does it also come from "hidden"?

They are three different roots that have the same consonants. The 
derivation of the root related to "olam" is unclear. So it conceivably 
could be related to the root meaning to hide. The word rendered "almah" 
is related to a root pertaining to youth. It is a separate root, as far 
as we know, from the root meaning to hide. Actually, HALOT says that 
somebody thinks the root referring to youth is related to the root 
producing "olam." The common denominator, in his thinking, was the idea 
of “unknowing, uninitiated." The article was found at: Gerleman ZAW 91 
(1979):338–49. So by that connection, there could be a link among all 
three theoretically. But they are treated as three distinct roots by the 

Harold Holmyard
> Also, I read on an internet site that there is something called an 
> etymological fallacy  http://www.fallacyfiles.org/etymolog.html
> How do you know if the idea that almah means virgin because its root means 
> "hidden" is an etymological fallacy? I never even heard of etymological 
> fallacy until a few hours ago, so I really don't know much about it.
> Kenneth Greifer
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