"Daughter" in Hebrew is בת (bat) which is used 587 times in the Old Testament. In its narrow sense, the word is used to denote female offspring from a common father (אב) and mother (אם).
Occurring significantly less than her counterpart, "brother," occurring almost ten times as much (4,850 times), daughters are still valued in the Hebrew culture of the Old Testament.
The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament helps describe the value of daughters:
"The love of a father for an only daughter is illustrated by Jephthah's sorrow at the loss of his daughter (Jud 11:34-40; cf. 2Sam 12:3). If there were no sons, a man's daughters inherited his property, provided they married within the same tribe (Num 27:1-11; Num 36:1-12)."
An important term used in prophetic Old Testament books, starting with Isiah, is the "daughter of Zion," referring to a part of Israel or Israel as a whole.
Noteworthy Usage In Old Testament
Some interesting usages of this word and its derivatives:
- First Occurrence: Genesis 11:29 "Then Abram and Nahor took wives: the name of Abram's wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and the father of Iscah."
- Laban deceives Jacob to work an additional seven years for his daughter Rachel, Genesis 29:18 "Now Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, "I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter."
- The first usage of the "daughter of Zion" is in Isaiah 1:8 "So the daughter of Zion is left as a booth in a vineyard, As a hut in a garden of cucumbers, As a besieged city."
- The "daughter of Zion" and "daughter of Jerusalem" are to rejoice as her salvation is coming, Zephaniah 3:14-15 "Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; You shall see disaster no more."
- Last Occurrence: Malachi 2:11 "Judah has dealt treacherously, And an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem, For Judah has profaned The LORD's holy institution which He loves: He has married the daughter of a foreign god."
Mnemonics to Remember "Daughter" in Hebrew
Find a "sound-alike" for the word בת. For me an English "sound-alike" is "bat!" So I picture in my imagination my daughter who looks like a bat (either the flying kind or a baseball bat). Find your own unique "sound-alike" for this word and then associate the English "sound-alike" to the Hebrew definition.
Biblical Hebrew Vocabulary Helps
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