Bible Articles on the Topic of Virginity

The following articles have been compiled and indexed by inWORD Bible software.

Jephthah’s Vow

As [Jephthah] approached his home [following his great victory] the maidens of the town came forth, according to the custom of the time, to greet the mighty man of valour with songs and dances. In this way, Miriam and the women of Israel had celebrated the destruction of Pharaoh’s host in the Red Sea (Exodus 15:20); and later, David’s victories over the Philistines were acclaimed in the same fashion (1 Samuel 18:6).

The Fate of Jephthah’s Daughter

Did Jephthah actually sacrifice his only daughter, or did here merely dedicate her to a celibate service, perhaps at the Tabernacle? What are the arguments, pro and con? The following is a summary of the more cogent points in favor of each side:

Jephthah’s Daughter

Question: What really happened to Jephthah’s daughter in response to the vow that Jephthah made to Yahweh?

Stone A Woman For Not Being A Virgin?

“But if this charge is true, that the girl was not found a virgin, then they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death because she has committed an act of folly in Israel, by playing the harlot in her father’s house; thus you shall purge the evil from among you.” (Deuteronomy 21:20-21)

Mistranslated Passages In Our Bible: Jephthah’s Daughter

Our recent notes on this subject have moved several readers to press upon us the opposing view that Jephthah’s daughter was not offered up as a burnt-offering, but was only dedicated, or consecrated, to the service of God.

James Moffatt and Jephthah’s Vow

A Canadian reader sends us the following contribution to the examination of this subject, and we are glad to have this further view-point. He writes:—

Did Jephthah Revere the Law of Moses?

Our recent comments on this difficult subject have aroused considerable interest, especially from readers who disagree with what we suggested was the most reasonable interpretation of the Scripture record. Here is a typical exposition of the opposing view of the fate of the girl:—

Rethinking Jephthah’s Foolish Vow

Most Christians struggle to understand the narratives recorded in the book of Judges. Consider the opening account where Adonai Bezek is captured by the tribe of Judah, humiliated by having his thumbs and big toes cut off, and then dies in Jerusalem. What about Gideon’s fleece in Judges 6, or Samson’s repeated relationships with illicit women in Judges 14–16? How do we understand and explain such difficult texts? Do we ask, “Who are the Adonai Bezek’s in your life?” or “What would Samson do?” Maybe it would be better to “dare to be a Gideon,” but I don’t think so.

Virgin; Virginity

vûr ́jin; vûr-jin ́i-ti: (1) בּתוּלה, bethūlāh, from a root meaning “separated,” is “a woman living apart,” i.e. “in her father’s house,” and hence “a virgin.” Bethūlāh seems to have been the technical term for “virgin,” as appears from such a combination as na‛ărāh bhethūlāh, “a damsel, a virgin,” in Deuteronomy 22:23, 22:28, etc. An apparent exception is Joel 1:8, “Lament like a virgin (bethūlāh)...for the husband of her youth,” but the word is probably due to a wish to allude to the title “virgin daughter of Zion” (the translation “a betrothed maiden” is untrue to Hebrew sentiment). and the use of “virgin” for a city (Isaiah 37:22, etc.; compare Isaiah 23:12; 47:1) probably means “unsubdued,” though, as often, a title may persist after its meaning is gone (Jeremiah 31:4). The King James Version and the English Revised Version frequently render bethūlāh by “maiden” or “maid” (Judges 19:24, etc.), but the American Standard Revised Version has used “virgin” throughout, despite the awkwardness of such a phrase as “young men and virgins” (Psalms 148:12). For “tokens of virginity” (“proofs of chastity”) see the commentary on Deuteronomy 22:15 ff. (2) עלמה, ‛almāh, rendered in the Revised Version by either “damsel” (Psalms 68:25), “maiden” (so usually, Exodus 2:8, etc.), or “virgin” with margin “maiden” (Song of Solomon 1:3; 6:8; Isaiah 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 Song of Solomon 6:8, but in 1:3 “virgin” throws the accent in the wrong place. The controversies regarding Isaiah 7:14 are endless, but Septuagint took ‛almāh as meaning “virgin” (parthénos). 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) παρθέυς, parthénos, the usual Greek word for “virgin” (Judith 16:5, etc.; Matthew 1:23, etc.). In Revelation 14:4 the word is masculine. In 1 Corinthians 7:25 ff the Revised Version has explained “virgin” by writing “virgin daughter” in 1 Corinthians 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) νεᾶνις, neánis, “young woman” (Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 20:4). (5) Latin virgo (2 Esdras 16:33).


Virgin is the rendering, in the A. V., of two Heb. terms, concerning the distinctive use of which some exegetical and theological controversy has arisen. The word בּתוּלָה, bethulah (from בָּתִל, to separate), occurs forty-nine times in the Old Test., and is translated by παρθένος in the Sept., except in two instances. It is rendered once by νεᾶνις (1 Kings 1:2), and once by νύμφη (Joel 1:8). See Exodus 22:15-17; Leviticus 21; Deuteronomy 22; 23; Judges 21, etc. It properly denotes a virgin, maiden (Genesis 24:16; Leviticus 21:13; Deuteronomy 22:14,23,28; Judges 11:37; 1 Kings 1:2); the passage in Joel 1:8 is not an exception, as it refers to the loss of one betrothed, not married עִלמָה, almah (from עָלִם, to conceal), also properly signifies a virgin, a maiden, a young woman unmarried, but of marriageable age. It occurs seven times, in four of which it is rendered νεᾶ νις, puella (Exodus 2:8; Psalms 68:25; Song of Solomon 1:3; 6:8), in one (Proverbs 30:19) νεότης and in two (Genesis 24:43; Isaiah 7:14) παρθενος. The same word mi also rendered virgo in the Vulg. in these two passages in Exodus 2:8, puella; in Psalms 68:26, juvencula; in Song of Solomon 1:3; 6:8, adolescentula; and in Proverbs 30:19 adolescentia, after the Sept. The Syriac follows the, Sept. in Isaiah 7:14, but in all the other passages agrees with Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, who translate עלמה by νεᾶνις, not only in Psalms 68:25; Genesis 34:31; Exodus 2:8; Proverbs 30:19 (in which, they agree with the Sept.), but also in Isaiah 7:14. Justin Martyr (Dial. c. Tryph.) complains of the partiality of the Greek translators in rendering עלמה here by νεᾶνις (a term which does not necessarily include the idea of virginity), accusing these Jewish writers of wishing to neutralize the application to the Messiah of this passage, which the Jews of his time referred to Hezekiah. Jerome says that the Punic for virgo is alma, although the word עלמה is but twice so rendered in the Vulg. Gesenius (Com. in Isaiah) maintains, notwithstanding, that νεᾶνις, not παρθένος, is the correct rendering in Isaiah 7:14, while he at the same time agrees with Justin that the prediction cannot possibly refer to Hezekiah, who was born nine years before its. delivery. Fürst (Concordance) explains עלמה by “puella, virgo, nubilis illa vel nupta, tenera et florens setate, valens ac vegeta;” but Hengstenberg (Christology), although admitting that עלמה does not necessarily mean: a virgin (which he conceives is plain from Proverbs 30:19), maintains that it is always applied in Scripture to an unmarried woman. Matthew (Matthew 1:23), who cites from the Sept., applies the passage Isaiah 7:14 to the miraculous birth of Jesus from the Blessed Virgin. Prof. Robinson (Gr. and Eng. Lexicon) considers παρθένος here to signify a bride, or newly married woman, as in Homer (11. 2, 514):

Virginity, Tokens of

Tokens Of Virginity, (בַּתוּלַים, bethulim, masc. plur. of בּתוּלָה, a virgin; Sept. τὰ παρθένεια; Vulg. signa virginitatis; Deuteronomy 22:14-15,17,20; elsewhere “virginity” simply). The Mosaic laws concerning “virginity” are recorded in Deuteronomy 22:13-29; comp. Matthew 1:18-20. The proofs of maidenhood there referred to are thought to have been the bed clothing stained with blood on the wedding-night. SEE MARRIAGE.


Virginity in an ecclesiastical sense, is the unmarried or celibate state, voluntarily accepted as a means of holiness. The pre-eminence of the virgin state is very generally taught by the Christian fathers from the apostolic age. Virginity was from the first a lifelong profession; but virgins did not, at first, live in community, but with parents or relatives. In some cases they adopted a peculiar dress; but such was not the general usage. The vow was in many instances secretly made, and did not require ecclesiastical sanction. Early in the 3rd century, however, the Church gave direct sanction to the vow of virginity, and made regulations for the conduct of those who took the vow. It was during the same century that community life among celibates originated, by the association of those under the vow in one home for prayer and works of charity. Since that time, in the churches which encourage the monastic life, numerous orders of celibates have sprung up, and are today exercising a considerable influence in the world. SEE MONASTICISM; SEE NUN; SEE SISTERHOODS.


Jephthah (pronounced /ˈdʒɛfθə/; Hebrew: יפתח Yip̄tāḥ), appears in the Book of Judges as a judge over Israel for a period of six years (Judges 12:7). Among biblical scholars, there is disagreement as to whether any part of the Jephthah stories is historical. According to Judges, he lived in Gilead and was a member either of the tribe of Manasseh or of the tribe of Gad. His father’s name is also given as Gilead and, as his mother is described as a prostitute, this may mean that his father may have been any of the men of that area. Jephthah led the Israelites in battle against Ammon and, after defeating the Ammonites, fulfilled a rash vow of his, by sacrificing his daughter. Traditionally, Jephthah is listed among major judges on the ground of the length of the biblical narrative referring to him, but his story also shares commonalities with the minor judges, for instance only six years duration of his office as judge.