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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


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fē´māl : Two Hebrew words are thus translated:

(1) נקבה , neḳēbhāh , which is merely a physiological description of the sexual characteristic (from נקב , nāḳabh , "to perforate"), and which corresponds to זכר , zākhār , "male" (see under the word).

(2) אשּה , 'ishshāh , with the irregular plural נשׁים , nāshı̄m (only Genesis 7:2 , in all other places "wife," "woman"), the feminine form of אישׁ , 'ı̄sh , "man."

The Greek word is θῆλυς , thḗlus , literally, "the nursing one," "the one giving suck" (from θηλάζω , thēlázō , "to suckle").

Israelitic law seems frequently guilty of unjust partiality in favor of the male sex, but we have to consider that most of these legal and religious disabilities of women can be explained from the social conditions prevailing at the time of legislation. They are therefore found also in contemporaneous Gentile religions. Though traces of this prejudice against the weaker sex are found in the New Testament, the religious discrimination between the sexes has practically ceased, as is evident from Galatians 3:28 : "There can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus"; compare also 1 Peter 3:7 .

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Female'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. 1915.

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