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Virgin, Virginity

vur’-jin; vur-jin’-i-ti:

(2) `almah, rendered in the Revised Version (British and American) by either "damsel" (Ps 68:25), "maiden" (so usually, Ex 2:8, etc.), or "virgin" with margin "maiden" (So 1:3; 6:8; Isa 7:14). The word (see OHL) means simply "young woman" and only the context can give it the force "virgin." This force, however, seems required by the contrasts in So 6:8, but in 1:3 "virgin" throws the accent in the wrong place. The controversies regarding Isa 7:14 are endless, but Septuagint took `almah as meaning "virgin" (parthenos). But in New Testament times the Jews never interpreted the verse as a prediction of a virgin-birth--a proof that the Christian faith did not grow out of this passage. See IMMANUEL; VIRGIN BIRTH.

(3) parthenos, the usual Greek word for "virgin" (Judith 16:5, etc.; Mt 1:23, etc.). In Re 14:4 the word is masculine. In 1Co 7:25 ff the Revised Version (British and American) has explained "virgin" by writing "virgin daughter" in 7:36-38. This is almost certainly right, but "virgin companion" (see Lietzmann and J. Weiss in the place cited.) is not quite impossible.

(4) neanis, "young woman" (Sirach 20:4).

(5) Latin virgo (2 Esdras 16:33).

The Old Testament lays extreme emphasis on chastity before marriage (De 22:21), but childlessness was so great a misfortune that death before marriage was to be bewailed (Jud 11:37,38). Paul’s preference for the unmarried state (1Co 7:29 if) is based on the greater freedom for service (compare Mt 19:12), and the Greek estimate of virginity as possessing a religious quality per se is foreign to true Jewish thought (such a passage as Philo Mund. opif., section symbol 53, is due to direct Greek influence). Some have thought to find a trace of the Greek doctrine in Re 14:4. But 144,000 lst-century. Christian ascetics are out of the question, and the figure must be interpreted like that of Jas 4:4 (reversed).

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