- So it came about when the command and decree of the king were heard and many young ladies (naʿărâ) were gathered to the citadel of Susa into the custody of Hegai, that Esther was taken to the king’s palace into the custody of Hegai… - Esther 2:8
The term bĕtûlâ denotes a young woman, who is characterized by her virginity. In these cases, the term virgin best translates the Hebrew term.
- Can a virgin (bĕtûlâ) forget her ornaments, Or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me Days without number. - Jeremiah 2:32
The term ʿalmâ denotes a marriageable girl, young woman (before the birth of her first child). This term is used seven times in the Hebrew Scriptures.
- Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin (ʿalmâ) will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. - Isaiah 7:14
In each of these seven references, the term ʿalmâ describes a young woman who was a virgin. Genesis 24:43 uses the term to describe the potential bride for Isaac. Exodus 2:8 describes Moses’ sister. She was unmarried and still a virgin. Song of Solomon refers to three types of women: queens (i.e., married women) concubines (i.e., women having sexual relations with the monarch) and maidens (i.e., virgins).
Interestingly, the translators of the Septuagint understood the meaning of this term. When translating, they consistently rendered the Hebrew term ʿalmâ with the Greek term parthénos, which strictly refers to a woman who has not had sexual relations with a man (i.e., a virgin). As well, when the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy is quoted in Matthew 1:23, it translates the term ʿalmâ with parthénos.
- Behold, the virgin (parthénos) shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means, God with us. - Matthew 1:23