For the ancient world, a garden, a house, a city or a temple was like a woman. An invading army, after storming through the gates of a city, would rape the virgins. It was a brutal reminder that, like the women, the conquered city was not impregnable.
“In order to understand this, we have to think like ancient Hebrews, and not like modern people… Adam was supposed to guard the garden, and he was also supposed to guard his wife.
The Song of Solomon compares the woman to a garden several times in the course of the book. In all languages, the words for city, garden, and the like are feminine, and we speak of a city as “she” in English today.
Let us take a look at the city in the Bible, remembering that what is said of the city is also true of the house, tent, Temple, Tabernacle, and other enclosed homes for humanity. The city has walls and gates. The purpose of these walls and gates is to keep the enemy out. The goal is that the city be impregnable, and note that English word – it directly connects the city with the woman. Thus, the city has to be a virgin, sealed against attack. Jerusalem is referred to as an impregnable virgin repeatedly in Scripture (2 Kings 19:21; Is. 37:22; Jer. 14:17; 18:13; Jer. 31:21; Amos 5:2). The attack on Jerusalem is thus the rape of a city (Lam. 1:15; 2:13)… Just as Eve was “built” from Adam (using an architectural term, Gen. 2:22), so Jerusalem would be rebuilt as a virgin (Jer. 31:4)… Thus, the safety and security of the virgin daughters of Israel was a symbol of the safety and security of the whole land. Their inviolability corresponded to the inviolability of the whole culture (Lam. 1:4; 2:10).”
In the case of Babylon, its walls and gates were impregnable. The city was built on the Euphrates river, which ebbed into the city under the wall. Even the banks of the river were protected by metal gates from any invaders who could hold their breath long enough. Under Belshazzar, Babylon lost her virginity (Isaiah 47:1-3), and during the feast her river gates had been left open.
In a brilliant military manoeuvre, Cyrus the Great gave the signal for his troops upstream to divert the river. The invading army marched into the city dryshod and took it with little resistance. There were hints of this in the prophecies of both Isaiah (44:27) and Jeremiah (50:38, 51:36). The waters of the bringer of the “flood” were dried up. The Land was rising from the deep.
James B. Jordan (concerning the virginity of Jephthah’s daughter), Judges: God’s War Against Humanism, p. 211-212. Download from www.biblicalhorizons.com