by Esther Lehman

from her upcoming book "Women of the Bible"

The name Alma represents the femininity and puberty of all the women in the Bible. The translation of Alma in the Bible means young maiden and can also be used when talking about nations or worlds. Alma is described as enterprising, courageous, forceful and wise. Women such as Sarah, Rivka, Rachel, Leah our fore mothers as well as Naomi, Ruth and Miriam, Moshe’s sister and many other women mentioned in the Bible are such characters.

A wife would be brought in to a husband’s household to contribute with her fertility. She is a young woman of childbearing age and ready for marriage, Alma, the name representing all young Jewish girls metamorphizing into beautiful young women will now be noticed by men looking for wives able to bear children.

“A good name is referred to by the expression, “good oil.” Song of Songs 1:2

“Because of the fragrance of your goodly oils, your name is 'oil poured forth.' Therefore, the maidens loved you. “Song of Songs 1:3

In these verses of King Solomon’s love song, Alma is written in the plural referring to many Alma’s (maidens) and their desire for him. A good name is referred to by the expression, “a good oil.” As a nostalgia of sophistication of men living at the ends of the earth famed to smell, of lavish from oils that is constantly being poured so the fragrant scent wafts forth is the nature of fragrant oil.

It is said that Jethro came at the sound of this news of beautiful maidens desiring men and he converted to Judaism.  Oil is a symbol of wealth, in those days it was used as a currency and bartering. Oils were imported from a distance even from as far as Egypt.

Remember this is a love song, every man’s fantasy, where beautiful young maidens beg that they do not leave her behind, “draw me to you and we will run after you, because I know that you are drawn to me.” So, they say, “We will run after you to be your wife.”  

Even older women who are no longer desirable are said to sing this song with longing, either in her exile or in her widowhood. If only King Solomon would kiss me with the kisses of his mouth as of old, and not to kiss me as he does now, on the back of my hand or on the shoulder. I desire and wish that he behaves toward me as he behaved toward me when we were bride and bridegroom, and kiss me on my mouth.

God compares the word maiden, or virgins to God Himself as a “youth” with a beloved hold on what is dear, and according to the symbolism, “Almot” the maidens are the nations.

Another reference to Alma is the confusion of a husband who suspects his wife of cheating on him. His thoughts are tearing at him and he is confused. I do not understand how an eagle navigates its way through the sky, how a snake navigates its way onto a flint, how a ship navigates its way through the sea, and how a man navigates his way into the heart of Alma.

“The way of the eagle in the heavens, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship in the heart of the sea, and the way of a man with a young woman.” Mishlei 30:19

The most famous occurrence of the name Alma in the Bible is in the prophecy of Isaiah, revealing to Ahaz, the king of Judah, a sign to be given in demonstration that the prophet's promise of God's protection from his enemies is a true one. The sign is that an Alma is pregnant and will give birth to a son who will still be very young when these enemies will be destroyed.

“Therefore, the Lord, of His own, shall give you a sign; behold, the young woman is with child, and she shall bear a son, and she shall call his name Immanuel.” Yeshayahu 7:14

The last verse is referring to Isaac’s instant attraction to Rivka, when he caught sight of her at the well filling her pail with water. He clarified and made it known that he loved her, and likewise gave every expression and demonstrating that he wanted to marry her.

“Behold, I am standing by the water fountain. When a maiden comes out to draw water, I will say to her, 'Please, give me a little water to drink from your pitcher.” Genesis 24:43