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ver. 16. “ and the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had man known her,” still Eleazer cannot be supposed to have made her being so a condition; and indeed, he does not make use of the same word as is made use of ver. 16., where it is abone bythula, and this must of force and of necessity, be rendered virgin, because the text explains it so; “ neither had man known her.” But of the word nobyn hanglma, made use of in the 43d verse, there is no immediate force and necessity apparent to oblige us to render it virgin. Again, the 43d verse is only a repetition of the prayer made by Eleazer, ver. 14., in which verse he makes use of the word myin hanangara, and by repeating to Bethuel and Laban, in the stead thereof, mbyn hangalma, it appears plain, that they are synonymous; consequently it is plain that abby alma, is of the same signification as
. Now we find this last word is applied to a young woman, or damsel, who has been known by man, Exod. xxxiv. 3., where the word aan hanangara, is twice used, speaking of Dinah after Shechem had humbled her; nay, the word is made use of when speaking of a young widow; Ruth i. 8. “ And Boaz said to the young man that was placed over the reapers, to whom belongethnayan hanangara, speaking of Ruth, who was a widow. So that since they are used one for the other and are synonymous, and the one can be and is applied to a woman known by man, the other cannot be intended to signify a virgin not known by man; particularly since there is another word which (as I shall hereafter show) is always used where the sense is confined to a virgin proper, viz. abına bythula.
And again, Abraham had adjured him only a wife, and a woman, Gen. xxiv. 4. " And take a wife to my son Isaac.” Again, ver 7. “ And thou shalt take a wife;" ver. 8, " and if the woman.” Since then Abraham had not adjured Eleazer to take a virgin, we cannot suppose that he made her being such a condition.
As such neben hangalma, in Gen. xxiv. does not imply a virgin, because it is only made use of in the room and stead of 1999 hanara, as a synonymous term or appellative; and because when the text wishes to 'confine the sense to give us an idea of the purity of Rebecca, another word is made use of, and which word is never applied but to a subject where perforce and of necessity virgin must be intended; viz. nbına bythula.
The second text given us to examine, is Exod. ii. 8. and which is in these words, “ And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, go, and neben hanglma, went and called the child's mother.” Miriam, here spoken of by the name abbyn hanglma, was Moses' sister, and she, whether she was or was not a virgin, might have watched to see what would become of her brother. It was perhaps necessary that she should have affection; it was also necessary that she should have patience; and it might also be necessary that she should be young and nimble, but there was no immediate necessity for her to have been a virgin. If she was a young unmarried woman, it would have been sufficient for the purpose of watching the child, that in case of accident or other necessity, she might haste to the mother with information, but there was no immediate necessity that she should have been a virgin. Miriam is supposed to have been at this time about ten years old; and as such might have been a virgin, but as there was no immediate necessity to particularize her being such, she is called opbyn hangalma, which only signifies young in years, although, perhaps she was or was not of the age of puberty, and not hına bythula, a virgin, or maid. Consequently the word here again used, does not of force and necessity intend virgin, and although Miriam might at this time have been such, still it was not here intended to convey such an idea, but merely that she was a young woman.
Thirdly, Psalms Ixviii. 25.— The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after, among them were the damsels playing on timbrels."
on timbrels." Here the word translated damsels, is niby alamuth; but does the psalmist intend that these young women were virgins, perforce and of necessity ? or is there any such necessity ? Was it not common for ancient matrons to worship with musical instruments and psalmody ? as well as all the females of Israel? vide Exod. xv. 20. 21. “ And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.'' Are we to suppose that Miriam, at this late day, was a virgin? She was then upwards of ninety years of age ! " And all the women went after her with timbrels.” Surely no one will aver his belief that all the females who came out of Egypt, young and old, were virgins! Yet they worshipped God in psalmody. We find Deborah, the wife of Lapedath, who calls herself a mother in Israel, worshipped God in psalmody; as such we are not to suppose these young women spoken of by the psalmist were of necessity virgins, because they were psalm singers, or such as played on instruments to accompany the singers ; since they might be singers or musicians and not be virgins. So that there is no force, no necessity, no obligation to say the word here used, niby alamoth, intends virgins, but young women generally, whether virgins or not
The 4th is Proverbs xxx. 19.-" And the way of a man mebya Bangalma.” And this the Bible translators have rendered, “ with a maid,” meaning, I must suppose, a virgin. A pretty virgin this, to be sure! one who “ eateth, wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no evil.” Nay, Agur explains his meaning to be, an “ adulterous woman,' that is, a young, letcherous woman of the married state, who commits the crime of adultery, and conceals her guilt. For, take the 20th verse in connexion with the 18th and 19th, and read, “ There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four, which I know not: the way of an eagle in the air, the way of a serpent upon a rock,
way of a ship in the midst of the sea, and the way of a man nobya bangalma. Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no evil.” Thus we find Agur’s Alma was an adulteress, consequently could not be a virgin : far is this text from showing the word to be, as St. Matthew and the Bible translators have rendered it, (a virgin,) one who is pure, unspotted, unhumbled, that it is here applied to one who is an impure adulteress ; therefore it can only signify a woman young in years, or as I have translated it in our text, young woman.
The next text is in Cant. i. 3.—“ Therefore do the virgins love thee.” The whole verse reads thus: “Because of the savor of thy good ointment, thy name is as ointment poured forth; therefore do the virgins love thee.
The word here translated virgins is niby aulamuth, but without any immediate necessity, because, for the same reason, that is, “ because thy name is as precious ointment poured forth,” young women might love him whether virgins or not. There does not then appear any necessity to translate the word aulamuth, virgins. We now come to the last text given us.
Cant. vi. 8. There are three score queens, and four score concubines, and virgins without number."
Here again the word aulamoth is translated virgins, without any force or necessity appearing for so translating it; for, according to the reading, a party consisting of queens, concubines and young women, are called together to hear the praise of the only one, the only beloved one of the poet. As such there is no more necessity for these young women to be virgins, than for the queens and concubines; for it is of his only beloved alone that the poet sings, verse 6th: “My dove, my undefiled, is but one ;" that is, that she only (alone) is undefiled; not so the rest, who are in this verse called daughters, nuz banoth, a word signifying either married or unmarried, virtuous or otherwise, all are the daughters of their mothers.
We have now found that alma and naara are synomous, having the same signification, and mean young woman, that is, young in years; that alma will apply even to a young adulterous woman, and therefore can never be taken to intend and signify a virgin. As such my translation of the word opbyn hangalma, in our text, young woman, is correct.
I have before shown from Gen. xxiv. 16. that the Hebrew word for virgin is abına bythula, and is always put for an object pure and undefiled, unhumbled, not known by man. I will here repeat it, together with some others, where the sense is confined to such an object perforce and of necessity.
The first, Gen. xxiv. 16—“And the damsel was very fair to look upon, abına bythula, a virgin ; neither had any man known her.”
2d. Exod. xxii. 16.-"If a man entice a maid that is not betrothed.” Here again the word translated a maid is mbona bythula, and means a virgin; for this law does not apply either to a widow, or to a young woman who had previously been humbled.
3d. “ According to the dowery of virgins.” Here again the word is nbınan habythuloth, and not mnya hangalomoth.
4th. Levit. xxi. 3.—“ And for his sister, a virgin.” Here again the sense is confined; for a priest could have no unmarried sister not a virgin, for such, if unmarried, were burnt by the law, and if a widow, she was then abuya byngula ; and indeed the Hebrew text is plain, for it says, who never has been with a man," and not as the Bible has translated, “ which hath no husband.”
5th. Same chap. 13.—“ And he shall take a wife in her virginity.” Same chap. 14.—“ A virgin of his own people.”
6th. Deut. xx. 14.-“I found her not a maid." The Hebrew word is obina I found not of her bythulem virginities, that is, the signs which a virgin should give, and these signs are called, bythulem, as a proper name.