It’s amazing how words used in the past may not have a denotation that matches with how they are used today. For biblical context, we often conclude that the word “virgin” means a woman that has not known man.
Can we change that sentence to say “virgin” means a girl that has not known man?
Can we change that sentence to say “virgin” means a female child that not known man?
As I can probably guess, that last one has crossed some serious cultural and decency boundaries. Unfortunately we know that the barbaric practice of “child brides” is still being practiced today. Girlsnotbrides.org posts the statistic that there are 12 million girls wed as child brides each year.
Obviously, the culture in which these children live sees this as normal, if not tradition. I know, appalling and I agree.
When I was studying Deuteronomy 22, I had to raise the question each time the word “virgin” appeared…. “Just how old are these girls/women being called virgins? Are we talking 20-somethings? Teens? CHILDREN?” I shuddered at the thought in my western mind and eyes that the text could be referring to children especially when it comes to rape and full grown men “knowing” or “going inside” them, but I know that factually there was a very good chance that, because child-brides are practiced today, it could very well have been practiced in the time the Old Testament and Deuteronomy was written in the culture of those who wrote the texts.
Rebekah (the child?) and Isaac (the man?)
In retrospect, analyzing the story of Rebekah and Isaac was very discomforting. After analyzing Deuteronomy 22 I had to flash back to Genesis, and then I had to wonder: JUST HOW OLD WAS REBEKAH WHEN SHE MET AND/OR MARRIED HER FIRST COUSIN ISAAC?
A quick internet search unveils some very disturbing information: She could have been a child bride. Why was Rebekah unable to produce children for so long? Why was she “barren”? Was it because SHE WAS TOO YOUNG TO PRODUCE CHILDREN AT THE TIME OF HER MARRIAGE?!
Early Jewish Rabbi’s have claimed her age to be 10 and as young as THREE. In this study, we find that very influential Rabbi’s have made the claim that Rebekah was 3 and Isaac was in his late 30’s. Before you close this window, be rational and use the bible for more information and context.
Unfortunately there is a somewhat disturbing verse that lays credence to this possibility. When the servants of Abraham courted Rebekah on behalf of Isaac, they asked Rebekah if she would go with the servants to meet Isaac:
Genesis 24:59 – And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go. And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her NURSE, and Abraham’s servant, and his men.
Following up on this verse, the word for “NURSE” in the above verse has root in a word found in the original Hebrew Interlinear as “yanaq” which means “to suckle”. Why would Rebekah need a nurse/suckle to travel with her?!
Of course in the rest of the story we find that Rebekah was veiled, carrying pitchers of water, and carrying on conversation like an adult. So the question for modern minds is “How could a 3 year old do such things?”
My question to you is: “How could Sarah who admittedly was well past birthing age give birth to children?”
Answer: All is possible with God.
SO, if Sarah could give birth to children well past her birthing years and accepted as truth, then it’s completely acceptable that Rebekah was a 3 year old living as an adult.
I know, ridiculous in our eyes, but the logic is there. If Sarah could give birth, breaking the laws of biology at the time, THEN ANYTHING WAS POSSIBLE.
And that includes that Rebekah was a 3 or 10 year old interacting as an adult.
This was a rough one to write but I need to make a certain point. In modern times, 100+ year old women giving birth would be considered paranormal. So would 3 year old girls acting as adults. Why accept one as truth (as Christians do) and not the other? Is it because it doesn’t fit our modern cultural norms? How romantic for a 100 year old lady to give birth again. A 10 year old girl? Unfortunately we are finding female children birthing younger and younger. If it’s not out of the realm of possibility now then it was not back then. 3 years old? Then you are stepping into the paranormal world and again, if you accept Sarah giving birth to twins at 100+ years then you should be able to accept a 3 year old doing likewise miraculous things.
This study has bothered me so I will be retreating for a bit to clear the mind. The potential here has disturbing overtones and I will have to deal with them before moving on in my biblical journey.