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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

Widow

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'Almânâh (אַלְמָנָה, Strong's #490), “widow.” Cognates of this word appear in Aramaic, Arabic, Akkadian, Phoenician, and Ugaritic. Biblical Hebrew attests it 55 times and in all periods.

The word represents a woman who, because of the death of her husband, has lost her social and economic position. The gravity of her situation was increased if she had no children. In such a circumstance she returned to her father’s home and was subjected to the Levirate rule whereby a close male relative surviving her husband was to produce a child through her in her husband’s behalf: “Then said Judah to Tamar his daughter-inlaw, Remain a widow at thy father’s house, till Shelah my son be grown …” (Gen. 38:11 the first occurrence of the word). These words constitute a promise to Tamar that the disgrace of being without both husband and child would be removed when Shelah was old enough to marry. Even if children had been born before her husband’s death, a widow’s lot was not a happy one (2 Sam. 14:5). Israel was admonished to treat “widows” and other socially disadvantaged people with justice, God Himself standing as their protector (Exod. 22:21-24).

Wives whose husbands shut them away from themselves are sometimes called “widows”: “And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten women his concubines, whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in ward, and fed them, but went not in unto them. So they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in widowhood” (2 Sam. 20:3).

Destroyed, plundered Jerusalem is called a “widow” (Lam. 1:1).

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Widow'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/vot/w/widow.html. 1940.

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