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'almah

Entry for 'almah in the Hebrew language dictionary Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti libros by Ludwig Kohler and Walter Baumgartner. Published 1948-1953 by Brill. 

Lexicography is the study of what words mean. Because the Bible was written over two thousand years ago, the meaning of its vocabulary is not always certain. Some words are rare or obscure; others have changed in meaning over time. Scholars are constantly on the lookout for places where previous understandings of particular words might be mistaken.

This famous example is the Hebrew word ’almah in Isa 7:14. The ancient Greek translation rendered it as parthenos, which usually means “virgin,” as it is cited in Matt 1:22-23. However, many scholars think that the Hebrew word actually referred to a stage of life (that is, young woman) rather than a lack of sexual experience. In fact, many words that came to mean virgin originally indicated a woman’s age: the Latin word virgo, from which we get the English term virgin; the German Jungfrau; the Greek parthenos; and the Hebrew betulah. (The latter is used for a widow in Joel 1:8, and its Ugaritic cognate is used of the sexually active goddess Anat, suggesting that in fact the word does not refer to a virgin.)

Entry for almah in the Hebrew language dictionary Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti libros by Ludwig Kohler and Walter Baumgartner. Published 1948-1953 by Brill.

A goddess in the Ugaritic (Canaanite) pantheon.

A West Semitic language, in which most of the Hebrew Bible is written except for parts of Daniel and Ezra. Hebrew is regarded as the spoken language of ancient Israel but is largely replaced by Aramaic in the Persian period.

Isa 7:14

14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.

Matt 1:22-23

22All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:23“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him ... View more

Joel 1:8

8Lament like a virgin dressed in sackcloth
for the husband of her youth.

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