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In relation to a question, Does Isaiah 7:14 refer to a virgin?

καὶ προσέσχεν τῇ ψυχῇ Δινας τῆς θυγατρὸς Ιακωβ καὶ ἠγάπησεν τὴν παρθένον καὶ ἐλάλησεν κατὰ τὴν διάνοιαν τῆς παρθένου αὐτῇ

Greek Septuagint of Genesis 34:3

To translate a Hebrew word נַעֲרָה the Greek Septuagint calls Dinah ἡ παρθένος in Genesis 34:3 after she was raped in a verse earlier. Why does the Greek Septuagint of Genesis 34:3 refer to Dinah as a virgin?

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Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter, born by Leah, was a virgin. She went out to see the daughters of the land. In Gen. 34:2–3, the narrator then uses a series of vav-consecutives to describe a sequence of events.

And Shechem, the son of Hamor:

v. 2:

  • וַיַּרְא אֹתָהּ (“and he saw her”)
  • וַיִּקַּח אֹתָהּ (“and he took her”)
  • וַיִּשְׁכַּב אֹתָהּ (“and he lay with her,” i.e. “had intercourse with her”)
  • וַיְעַנֶּהָ (“and he humbled her,” i.e. “raped her”)

v. 3:

  • וַתִּדְבַּק נַפְשׁוֹ בְּדִינָה בַּת יַעֲקֹב (“and his soul was attached to Dinah,” i.e. “he was attached to Dinah”)
  • וַיֶּאֱהַב אֶת הַנַּעֲרָ (“and he loved the young woman”)
  • וַיְדַבֵּר עַל לֵב הַנַּעֲרָ (“and he spoke to the heart of the young woman”)

Because the author does not cease to use the vav-consecutive, it yields the idea that these events happened consecutively, some even simultaneously (he took her, raped her, and humbled her; he was attached to her, loved her, and spoke to her heart).

Therefore, the translator(s) who produced the LXX may have simply referred to Dinah as τὴν παρθένον (“the virgin”) since she was indeed a virgin at the time that Shechem raped her. There is no break in the sequence of events, so if she was a virgin before the encounter, the translator does not see it necessary to identify her as anything but a virgin throughout the entire span of events.

Although there is no vav-consecutive in Greek, the same phenomenon can be demonstrated by simply beginning each clause with the conjunction καί.

v. 2:

  • καὶ εἶδεν αὐτὴν (“and he saw her”)
  • καὶ λαβὼν αὐτὴν ἐκοιμήθη μετ᾽ αὐτῆς (“and after he took her, he lay with her”)
  • καὶ ἐταπείνωσεν αὐτήν (“and he humbled her”)

v. 3:

  • καὶ προσέσχεν τῇ ψυχῇ Δινας (“and he cleaved to the soul of Dinah”)
  • καὶ ἠγάπησεν τὴν παρθένον (“and he loved the virgin”)
  • καὶ ἐλάλησεν...αὐτῇ (“and he spoke to her”)
  • 1
    +1. Of note the translator does switch to ἡ παῖς for הַנַּעֲרָ in v. 12. Not sure if that’s in recognition of her sexual experience or not. (One wouldn’t think! Poor thing.) – Susan Mar 14 '15 at 0:50
  • @Susan you've a sharp eyes, LXX does switch from ἡ παρθένος to ἡ παῖς while both DSS and MSS stay הנער. Do you have access to Aquila and Theodotion? I'm unaware of existing Rabbinical commentaries regarding such a switch in v. 12 but I think it is to emphasize that she was a young child at that time. – Adithia Kusno Mar 14 '15 at 6:47
  • @H3br3wHamm3r81 can you elaborate more from Greek translation that there is no break in the sequence of events? – Adithia Kusno Mar 14 '15 at 6:52
  • @H3br3wHamm3r81 can you build an argument from the Greek text? If Dinah was referred to as the virgin because she was a virgin before the event why then the Hebrew text use a young maiden instead? How do you explain the usage of a young maiden in the Hebrew text instead of the virgin in the Greek text? You might want to check Rabbinical commentaries on this passage. – Adithia Kusno Mar 25 '15 at 1:29
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According to Dr. William Yarchin, Dean of Department of Biblical and Religious Studies at Azusa Pacific University (at about the 23 min mark), the Hebrew word for "Young Woman" is mistranslated to Greek as "virgin" in the Septuagint sometimes which may be where the requirement that the mother of the Messiah had to be a virgin comes from. This requirement was not inherent to the Hebrew text, but it was to the Greek audience to which Jesus was incarnated. The same mis-translation likely applies for Dinah in Genesis 34:3, and she was simply a young woman who obviously was no longer a virgin.

The Hebrew word "נַעֲרָה" which the Septuagint translates as "τὴν παρθένον" can mean either "virgin" or "young woman" as young unmarried women in ancient Hebrew culture were assumed to be virgins. This is an understandable assumption in the culture as unmarried young women could not yield a bride price and as women of the time were treated as property, there were penalties for sale of misrepresenting the state of the property and intentionally selling "defective merchandise" as it were.

This instance of problematic translation may well be one of the reasons that Jewish scholars returned to the original Hebrew after the first couple of centuries A.D. instead of continuing to use the Greek translation as Yarchin discusses.

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It is very simple, in that times (200bce) was the word "παρθένον" NOT used only for virgins, it is not a mistranslation, simply, this word was also used for a "yung woman". https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%CF%80%CE%B1%CF%81%CE%B8%CE%AD%CE%BD%CE%BF%CF%82#Ancient_Greek

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