THE VIRGIN BIRTH: MESSIANIC PROPHECY or MISTRANSLATION?

Comments from “Goldenberg” on my last post, “Equal Weights and Measures” and “Arnie” on my post “Rejoicing in The Word” raise questions about the virgin birth of Jesus. Both of them raise questions concerning Isaiah 7:14, quoted in the Gospel of Matthew.

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

In reference to this, “Arnie” had this to say,

“in the tanach is 14;7 the word is not virgin. the word almah is used which means young girl who may or may not be a virgin. if the word betulah had been used it absolutely means virgin. seeing that the christian translation in matthew is virgin that is 100% wrong.one would think thatis such an important verse the word betulah would have been used.”


While “Goldenberg” commented,

“Nowhere in the Tanakh it’s sad that a virgin will give birth to a child. If you translate properly from Hebrew you’ll note that it’s about a young girl but not necessarily a virgin. How do you deal with this major issue?”

Both of them are articulating a very common Jewish objection to Jesus, so it seems right to ask: is there any truth to what Arnie and Goldenberg claim? Is Isaiah 7:14 really a messianic prophecy regarding the virgin birth of Jesus, or is it merely a mistranslation? Let’s take a look at the meanings of the Hebrew words in question: almah and betulah.

The word almah is not a common one in the Hebrew Scriptures. In fact, it appears only 10 times. In six of these instances, the plural alamot is used, and the singular almah appears in the remaining four. In the ten places in which almah appears it is usually translated as “maiden,” and describes a young woman who is of age to marry, yet is not married. All of this would seem to support Jewish objections that Christian translators have botched it, but closer examination will reveal that this is not the case.

It is true that almah does not explicitly refer to virginity. Yet in none of the 10 passages from the Hebrew Scriptures which contain almah does it refer to a young woman who is married at that time. Consider that in the Biblical period, a young Jewish woman of age to marry would have been presumed to be virginal. Let’s examine some of the other verses of Scripture in which almah appears.

“Behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass, that when the virgin cometh forth to draw water, and I say to her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water of thy pitcher to drink;” Genesis 24:43

In reference to Rebekah, the Hebrew almah is translated as “virgin.”

“Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Go ahead." So the girl went and called the child's mother.” Exodus 2:8

“The girl” in this passage is Miriam, the sister of Moses. She is referred to with the Hebrew almah, and both Jewish commentators and the historian Josephus speak of her as being only 10 or 12 years of age. Although women did marry early in the Biblical period, it doesn't seem logical to believe she was anything but a virgin at this point in the narrative.

“Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, your name is ointment poured forth; therefore the virgins love you.” Song of Solomon 1:3

This passage uses the plural alamot, which Jewish commentators often translate as “virgins.” Consistency of usage argues that the use of almah in Isaiah 7:14 means "virgin." Some Jewish objectors – such as Arnie and Goldenberg – like to claim that this is a Christian mistranslation, while the correct (and Jewish) translation is “young woman.” The ancient rabbis who translated the Septuagint (a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek) certainly did not seem to think this, since when they translated Isaiah 7:14 they rendered almah as parthenos, a Greek word which unequivocally means “virgin” -- NOT "young woman." Dr. Cyrus Gordon, a scholar of semitics, argues that the Christian translation rests on this Jewish translation.


“The commonly held view that "virgin" is Christian, whereas "young woman" is Jewish is not quite true. The fact is that the Septuagint, which is the Jewish translation made in pre-Christian Alexandria, takes almah to mean "virgin" here. Accordingly, the New Testament follows Jewish interpretation in Isaiah 7:14. Therefore, the New Testament rendering of almah as "virgin" for Isaiah 7:14 rests on the older Jewish interpretation, which in turn is now borne out for precisely this annunciation formula by a text that is not only pre-Isaianic but is pre-Mosaic in the form that we now have it on a clay tablet.”

Gordon, Cyrus H., Almah in Isaiah 7:14, The Journal of Bible & Religion, Vol. 21(April 1953), p. 106.


When objectors argue against Isaiah 7:14 as a Messianic prophecy that refers to the virgin birth of Jesus, they often do so by claiming that if Isaiah had meant “virgin” instead of “young woman,” then the prophet would have used a different Hebrew word meaning virgin: betulah.

How well does this argument hold up? Let’s examine some of the usage of betulah to find out. The Hebrew scriptures speak of two types of betulot (virgins). One is the sense of the true virgin. The other is what is called the betulah m'orashah, or the “betrothed virgin.” We see an example of this in Deuteronomy 22, where the virgin in a state of betrothal is referred to as the man’s isha, or wife. This would seem to argue against betulah having the singular meaning of “virgin.”

Let’s take a look at some other passages of Scripture which use the term betulah, and see if they uphold the argument that Arnie and Goldenberg present.

"And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder. And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up." Genesis 24:15-16

In this passage, Rebekah is referred to with the term betulah, but note carefully that this is immediately qualified with the phrase, “neither had any man known her.” If betulah unquestionably was understood to mean “virgin,” why would it have been necessary to add, “neither had any man known her?”

"Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth." Joel 1:8

In this verse, the prophet uses betulah in a highly unusual context, which one would not expect to associate with virginity. It’s been suggested by some commentators that this refers to a virgin who was betrothed to be married, but that her betrothed died before the union could be consummated. However, the verse uses the Hebrew ba’al in reference to the husband, and in the Hebrew Scriptures ba’al never refers to a betrothed man, only a married man. Context therefore argues that betulah was referring to a married woman.

It would seem that there are problems defending the accusation that the rendering of almah as “virgin” is a Christian mistranslation. It would also seem that the argument that the prophet Isaiah would have used betulah if he was referring to a virgin does not hold up well to scrutiny. In fact, one could argue that had Isaiah done so, critics might have had much more ammunition to argue that he is not referring to a miraculous, virgin birth.

I would imagine that the translators of the Septuagint had good reason to translate almah as parthenos, sending the clear message that Isaiah meant a virgin would give birth. Those translators didn’t have a theological stance they were trying to defend, they were just trying to be faithful to the text and to translate it as accurately as they were able.

The objection that critics such as Arnie and Goldenberg raise, on the other hand, is based on a pre-determined stance: that Christian scholars have purposefully mistranslated the words of Isaiah, and that the miraculous virgin birth of Jesus was never even foretold. In my opinion, it’s a shame that it’s not an objection based on an honest examination of the Scriptures.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi chad,read what you wrote about IS. 7;14.Interesting, but the facts say otherwise.Christianity has been trying for 2000 years to prove the impossible. the hebrew bible does not prophecy the birth of jesus.the hebrew bible belongs to the jews. Christianity cannot exist without the hebrew bible. the christians have deliberately mistranslated hundreds of verses to prove the coming of Jesus.The last time I looked the name of Jesus could not be found in the Hebrew bible.Funny isnt it. The christians have even gone so far as to put the hebrew bible books in a different order than found in the tanach. That is really nerve isnt it? Even calling the hebrew bible the old testament is a deliberate act. i am sure you know why that was done. that also took some nerve.There were a number of errors in your article, but I will only touch on one. The word of parthenos you said meant virgin. what you also forgot to include was that it also means maiden.The most colossal of the blunders of the Septuagint translators, supplemented by the most insidious, persistent and purposeful falsification of text in The King James Bibles, is instanced in the false translation of the Notoriously false pretended "prophecy" of Isaiah 7:14, -- frauds which have had the most disastrous and fatal consequences for Christianity.
In the "Gospel according to St. Matthew KJV," the Septuagint translation of Isaiah, the Jewish Mary yielding to the embraces of the Angel Gabriel to engender Jesus, and backs it up by appeal to the Septuagint translation of Isaiah 7:14:
"Behold, a Virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel." (Matt. 1:23.)
"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (Isa. 7:14)
Isaiah's original Hebrew, with the mistranslated words underscored, reads: "Hinneh ha-almah harah ve-yeldeth ben ve-karath shem-o immanuel"; -- which, falsely translated by the false pen of the pious translators, runs thus in the English: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isa. vii, 14.)
The Hebrew words ha-almah mean simply the young woman; and harah is the Hebrew past or perfect tense, "conceived," which in Hebrew, as in English, represents past and completed action. Honestly translated, the verse reads: "Behold, the young woman has conceived -- (is with child) -- and beareth a son and calleth his name Immanuel."
The actual Hebrew words, read from right to left, and transliterated, so that the reader who knows no Hebrew may at least catch some words already become familiar, are:
"laken yittan adonai hu lakem oth hinneh ha-almah harah ve-yeldeth ben ve-karath shem-o immanuel."
Literally translated into English, in the exact order of the Hebrew words, the "prophecy" reads:
"Therefore shall-give my-lord he [himself] to you sign behold the-maid conceived (is pregnant) and-beareth son and- calleth name-his immanuel."
Here the word harah (conceived) is the Hebrew perfect tense, which, as in English, represents past and completed action; there is not the remotest hint of future tense or time. Being the Young Woman is pregnant she is surely not a Virgin.
Almah means simply a young woman, of marriageable age, whether married or not, or a virgin or not; in a broad general sense exactly like girl or maid in English, when we say shop-girl, parlor-maid, bar-maid, without reference to or vouching for her technical virginity, which, in Hebrew, is always expressed by the word bethulah. But in the Septuagint translation into Greek, the Hebrew almah was erroneously rendered into the Greek parthenos, Virgin.
"As early as the second century B.C.," says the distinguished Hebrew scholar and critic, Salomon Reinach, "the Jews perceived the error and pointed it out to the Greeks; but the Church knowingly persisted in the false reading, and for over fifteen centuries she has clung to her error." (Orpheus, p, 197.) The truth of this accusation of conscious persistence in known error through the centuries is proved by confession of St. Jerome, who made the celebrated Vulgate translation from the Hebrew into Latin, and intentionally "clung to the error," though Jerome well knew that it was an error and false; and thus he perpetuated through fifteen hundred years the myth of the "Prophetic Virgin Birth" of Jesus called Christ.
Being criticized by many for this falsification, St. Jerome thus replies to one of his critics, Juvianus: "I know that the Jews are accustomed to meet us with the objection that in Hebrew the word Almah does not mean a Virgin, but a young woman. And, to speak truth, a virgin is properly called Bethulah, but a young woman, or a girl, is not Almah, but Naarah"! (Jerome, Adv. Javianum I, 32; N&PNF, vi, 370.)
So insistent was the criticism, that he was driven to write a book on the subject, in which he makes a very notable confession of the inherent incredibility of the Holy Ghost paternity-story "For who at that time would have believed the Virgin's word that she had conceived of the Holy Ghost, and that the angel Gabriel had come and announced the purpose of God? and would not all have given their opinion against her as an adulteress, like Susanna? For at the present day, now that the whole world has embraced the faith, the Jews argue, that when Isaiah says, 'Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son,' the Hebrew word denotes a young woman, not a Virgin, that is to say, the word is ALMAH, not BETHULAH"! (St. Jerome, The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary).
So it is not some indefinite "a virgin" who 750 years in the future "shall conceive" and "shall bear" a son whose name she "shall call" Immanuel, Jesus; but it was some known and definite young female, married or un-married -- but not a "virgin" -- who had already conceived and was already pregnant, and who beareth a son and calleth his name Immanuel, ...who should be the "sign" which "my lord" should give to Ahaz of the truth of Isaiah's prophecy regarding the pending war with Israel and Syria, as related in Isaiah Chapter 7, and of which the total context is proven in 2 Chronicles 28, as all may read.
"Modern Christian Theologians does not grant that Isaiah 7:14, contains a real prophecy fulfilled in the Virgin Birth of Christ; it must maintain, therefore, that St. Matthew misunderstood the passage when he said: 'Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bring forth a son, etc."! (CE. xv, 451.)
Thus is apparent, and confessed, the dishonesty of "Matthew" and of the Church of Christ in perverting this idle, false and falsified text of Isaiah into a "Prophecy of the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ," and in persisting in retaining this falsity in their dishonest Bibles as the basis of their own Universities Of Theology unto this day of the Twentieth Century. The Church, full knowing its falsity, yet, clings to this precious lie of The Virgin Birth and all the concatenated consequences. Thus it declares its own condemnation as false.

Why do Jews Reject the Christian dogma of the
Virgin Birth?
(The Second Jewish Book Of Why)
(By Alfred Kolatch 1985)

Based on Isaiah 7:14, Christians claim that the birth of Jesus was predicted long before the event. The verse reads, “Behold, the alma shall conceive and bear a son and shall call him Immanuel [literally, ‘God is with us’].” Although the Hebrew word alma literally means “young woman,” when the Gospel of Matthew (1:23) cites the verse from Isaiah, it translates Alma as “Virgin.” This translation is useful in supporting the contention that the miraculous birth of Jesus was predicted in the Old Testament.
Jewish scholars reject the idea of the Virgin Birth because, they point out, in Isaiah 7:14 the word Alma is part of the Hebrew phrase ha-alma hara, meaning “the alma is pregnant.” Since the present tense is used, it is clear that the young woman was already pregnant and hence not a virgin. This being the case, the verse cannot be cited as a prediction of the future.
Jewish scholars, supported by many Christian scholars, have also noted that the word alma in Isaiah 7:14 cannot mean “virgin” because elsewhere when the Bible wants to specify “virgin,” it uses the Hebrew word betula.
When the Revised Standard Version of the Bible was issued in 1952, the words “young woman,” not the word “Virgin, were used for alma in its translation of Isaiah 7:14. This upset the Fundamentalist Christian community, which maintains that alma in Isaiah refers to the mother of Jesus, who conceived miraculously, without cohabitation with a man. These Fundamentalists expressed their vehement opposition to the new translation by holding burnings of the Revised Edition of the Bible.

arnie said...

hi chad i am sorry that my name was displayed as anonymous. it should have read arnie. thank you. arnie

Kenneth said...

I think the past tense "she" form of the verb is spelled hay resh tav hay, and not hay resh hay. I think this is the present tense.

Kenneth Greifer

R. M. said...

Arnie,

Forget all about the terms "Almah" and "Bethulah"--the distinction doesn't really matter because we have the testimony of Mary herself and of Joseph that Mary was indeed a bona fide "virgin."

Here's Mary's testimony:

Luke 1:26-35
26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,
27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary.
28 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.
31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.
32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,
33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. (NIV)

Look at verse 34 above where Mary's questions how she can be pregnant when she hasn't been with a man. Then look at Gabriel's answer in verse 35.

Now here is Joseph's testimony:

Matt 1:18-2:1
18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"-- which means, "God with us."
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.
25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Now Ernie, look at verse 20 and see the angel's testimony: "what is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit."

Now, you can choose to disregard Mary's and Joseph's testimony about Mary's virginity and that won't have an eternal impact on you.

BUT please don't disregard Jesus' claims: that He is the Son of God and that He offers eternal life to those who come to Him and ask Him for it. Try it Ernie. Today is the day of salvation.

Be blessed!

Chad said...

Arnie,

Although you say you have read the post, it seems you either didn't read or chose to ignore the arguments I presented. You haven't really engaged with what I've written; it's difficult to dialogue with someone who doesn't really seem to be listening to what's been "said" by the opposite side.

You're not addressing the arguments I've presented, you're simply regurgitating and repackaging what you've previously claimed regarding Isaiah 7:14. With the exception of one item in your post, I'll respond to your comments once you've engaged with what I presented. The exception is this statement of yours:

In the "Gospel according to St. Matthew KJV," the Septuagint translation of Isaiah, the Jewish Mary yielding to the embraces of the Angel Gabriel to engender Jesus

This is a complete falsehood. Nowhere does the New Testament indicate that the angel Gabriel had intercourse with Mary, or that Jesus was the offspring of such a union. If you're planning to continue to try and build a case against the Christian faith using such blatant lies, I will probably not bother to respond to you in the future.

Chad said...

R.M.,

Well said! Thanks for your comments.

Anonymous said...

Chad, Your arguments regarding the famous Isaiah 7:14 seem clever, focusing on the question of whether the word Almah means virgin or maiden. It's really irrelevant. The passage is simply referring to the future child's status as the first born who will open the womb of his mother. The idea of a woman conceiving with the “Holy Spirit” descending upon her is an add-on belief that originates from Greek mythology with the story of Zeus placing his phallus in the River Styx and impregnating 100 females from whom Hercules and other super heroes were born. And, it is certainly not the litmus test to prove whether Yeshu was the real Messiah or not. Additionally, we've had miraculous births throughout our history starting with Isaac who was born of Sarah and Abraham when they were 90 and 100 years old respectively. Was that not a miracle outside of nature?

Moreover, the concept of spermless conception, whether you believe it or not, doesn't define the Messiah. The Messiah, or "Mashiach" [Hebrew word] as told to us by the sages including the Rambam (Maimonides) is defined by his actions. In other words how do we know when someone who claims to be Mashiach is the real deal? There are specific criteria for us to know beyond all doubt as follows:

1. he is a Torah scholar with knowledge unequalled in history;
2. he will have built the third Holy Temple;
3. complete and total world peace;
4. G-dliness will be revealed in the world;
5. All Jews will return to the land of Israel;
6. All of Israel’s enemies will be defeated;
7. Everyone left in the world will be prosperous;
8. disease and famine will be gone;
9. death will be gone from the world.

So let’s take a look at what your so-called Messiah accomplished. During the last 2,000 years there has never been on minute without a war somewhere on this planet, the Jews are still in exile, the temple mount is occupied by a mosque and there are about 100 million Arabs threatening to kill every Jew on the planet, you included, because they don’t care that you believe in Jesus. Also, millions of people have and continue to die by starvation and disease.

Furthermore, when Jesus was walking around it was not possible for him to be the Messiah because, how can he build the third Temple when the second one was still standing? Oops, he must have stepped into the wrong time zone. When confronted with this basic challenge, the Christian scholars say, “Oh but it wasn’t time for him to do his Messianic thing then. He said he was coming back to finish the job.” In the words of Rabbi Ariye Kaplan, “How convenient!”

Then this exalted “Messiah” was executed by the Romans in the same manner that they dealt with thieves and murders. If that were not enough, the Christian followers relentlessly pursued and mass murdered Jews all over Europe in the name of Jesus accusing us of being his murderers. As an aside, I always wondered about that because Christian believers say that he is alive because he rose from the dead after spending three days in Hell. So if he ain’t dead, how does anyone explain the accusation of killing him?

Then there some other problems with “finding Jesus”. First there is the question of paternal lineage from King David, followed by King Solomon. How does Jesus have a paternal lineage if he had no human father? If he had no paternal lineage, then he can’t possibly be the Messiah.

You see Chad, I was like you once, I believed in all this Bubbamiser for 15 years until I started to learn some Torah. After the first fifteen minutes, the faith I had for 15 years unraveled and I could see that there is no truth but Torah. Why don't you come home out of the cold?

Moshe Sharon

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote:
"For who at that time would have believed the Virgin's word that she had conceived of the Holy Ghost, and that the angel Gabriel had come and announced the purpose of God? and would not all have given their opinion against her as an adulteress, like Susanna? For at the present day, now that the whole world has embraced the faith, the Jews argue, that when Isaiah says, 'Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son,' the Hebrew word denotes a young woman, not a Virgin, that is to say, the word is ALMAH, not BETHULAH"! (St. Jerome, The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary).

Interesting that he interrupted the sentence midstream to put in an exclamation point!

Here is the rest of that sentence by Jerome:
"the Jews argue that when Isaiah says,[1] "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son," the Hebrew word denotes a young woman, not a virgin, that is to say, the word is ALMAH, not BETHULAH, a position which, farther on, we shall dispute more in detail." - The Perpetual Virginity of Mary

Wow! Missed a rather important detail there...

Chad said...

Moshe Sharon's response is a wonderful example of someone seeming to respond in a sincere way, while actually presenting a number of falsehoods and/or misdirections. I'm going to address only the first paragraph, since to be honest I neither have the time nor the inclination to debate this anti-missionary. I've presented my evidence concerning Isaiah 7:14. Others have presented theirs. I leave it to readers to examine the evidence and draw their own conclusions. Moshe's comments are in italics.

Your arguments regarding the famous Isaiah 7:14 seem clever, focusing on the question of whether the word Almah means virgin or maiden. It's really irrelevant.

If it was really irrelevant, it doesn't seem likely that anti-missionaries such as Moshe would be spending so much time visiting this blog to wrangle about it.

The idea of a woman conceiving with the “Holy Spirit” descending upon her is an add-on belief that originates from Greek mythology with the story of Zeus placing his phallus in the River Styx and impregnating 100 females from whom Hercules and other super heroes were born.

Moshe repeats a familiar anti-missionary falsehood: that the story of Jesus was taken from pagan myths. While I don't pretend to be an authority on Greek mythology, a simple Google search on Hercules quickly revealed that Greek mythology attributes Zeus as the father of Hercules, by Alcmene. No mention of the River Styx, and absolutely no mention of the Holy Spirit. None. Nada. Zilch. Which is exactly how much truth this allegation contains.

And, it is certainly not the litmus test to prove whether Yeshu was the real Messiah or not.

Look carefully at my original post, then read all the comments. You won't find anyone claiming this to be "the litmus test." So why does Moshe bring it up? To make it seem like he has disproved an argument that no has made. Classic misdirection.

Additionally, you'll note that Moshe has referred to Jesus as "Yeshu." As I am sure Moshe knows well, "Yeshu" is not the Hebrew name of Jesus. "Y'shua" is His Hebrew name. "Yeshu," on the other hand is a Hebrew acronym for expression yemach shemo vezichro, which means "may his name and memory be obliterated." Not just false representation, but a curse to boot.

Additionally, we've had miraculous births throughout our history starting with Isaac who was born of Sarah and Abraham when they were 90 and 100 years old respectively. Was that not a miracle outside of nature?

Note that no one has suggested that the Bible does not contain any other miraculous births. Note also that the birth of Isaac to Sarah at the age of 90 does NOT involve any promise of birth to either a young woman or a virgin. Like others who argue against Isaiah 7:14, Moshe chooses to disregard the context of the verse. There is nothing at all miraculous about a young woman giving birth. They've been doing it for thousands of years. The miracles was precisely because it was a virgin, not a young woman.

Chris said...

My Jewish brethren, I am a gentile who has an active and personal relationship with your Messiah, Jesus. It is out of the reality of that relationship that I find it difficult to believe anti-Christian interpretations. Biased? Yes. But biased due to reality, not because I just want it to be true.

Anyway, my pastor this Sunday discussed the promises of God to Abraham fulfilled in the Messiah, and his entire text was on Isaiah 7. He said he actually doesn't think the correct translation of "virgin"/"young woman" really matters, given the whole context of the chapter. You can listen to what he has to say at the website below. Listen to December 16th.
http://gccjax.org/pages/index.php?pID=66

Hope that helps.

C.L.Tan said...

Thank you, Chris. Your pastor's message was really wonderful. Great Sermon! It really helps. I have been bothered by the virgin/young woman translation. Now I understand. It doesn't really matter.

VirginsRus said...

Virgins... MmMmM GOD loves them. With such emphasis on not murdering your enemies virgins, its almost as if the bible is an operating manual of a pedophile.

I would have thought all women, old, young, virgin, or non virgin would be loved by God.

He existed for an eternity before he "created" us and he actually gives a damn about some ones sexual experience? I have a hunch this 2000 year old book was written by man for mans misuse.

Alan Ray said...

I think that the addition of Mary's own dialogue with the angel that announced her pregnancy to her can give us enough fuel to assume that Isaiah was talking about a virgin. She was the one who said, "How can it be, seeing I have not known a man?" (Luke 1:34) While that doesn't legitimize anything, one cannot even enter this argument without assuming that the interpreters knew what Luke knew when they put down what they wrote in the Septuagint, (which was interpretted before Christ came by the way).

Also, to assume that the Christian church has misinterpretted Jewish history, and distorted truth to prove Jesus is to misinterpret Church history. There are documented and easily proven meetings among church leaders who put great thought and hours of prayer and supplication into organizing the Bible as we know it today. It was not put together by one man, but by the working hand of God. If you as a skeptic would dare look into all the attempts to squelch the Bible, both Old Testament and New, then you would know that only a God who used men and history to write it, could have preserved it to this point. It takes faith, and if you don't have it, then your opinions as to things such as the virgin birth are irrelevant.

Al said...

I am getting more and more confused. A baptized Christian, I was fine until I started learning about all this. If one can argue that the New Testament is not accurate and has been selectively edited and has translation problems , who can assure that the old one is accurate? Yet, on the other hand, why did Mary's contemporaries and her husband believe this story about the virgin birth if it was not true? It a hard-to-believe "story"! The more I think the worse it gets... the latest scary though is: what if Moses was just a good man with good intentions?

Wade said...

I wanted to respond to Moshe Sharon's bringing up the old notion that New Testament ideas were borrowed from Pagan myth. I'm pretty sure that idea is dead in scriptural debates. Whatever you believe Christianity and the New Testament are, they were born out of Judaism, which saw Pagan beliefs as accursed. No early A.D. Jew would have borrowed from myths about Zeus. It doesn't hold up.

In general:

Now, my Jewish friends may want to disagree with us Christians, and I respect that. However, in light that at least certain quarters of the Christian church represent the only friends Israel currently enjoys, we might all treat each other with common courtesy and respect.

Anonymous said...

I hope this article was intended as a joke, because your arguments are lame beyond belief.

You argue that betula does not always mean virgin, and then for proof offer the word as used in an irrelevant *phrase* that does not appearin the passage under discussion!

What's funny is that even in that phrase, the word betula still means virigin; it is just modified by the other (irrelevant, to this case) words in the phrase!

And your argument that the Bible states that Rebekah was a virgin and neither had any man touched her is also quite lame. Anyone who has studied the Old Testament knows that it often repeats itself for emphasis--often to the point of absurdity. This was the style of both the Hebrew poetry and narrative of the day.

These kinds of arguments are extremely ignorant, at best.

Jeff Fordable said...

Curious as to how the Jews will be able to qualify their Messiah when He comes, considering:

A) The prophet Jeremiah put a curse on Jehoiachin, the last surviving Davidic king, in Jeremiah 22:30, "Record this man as if childless, a man who will not prosper in his lifetime, for none of his offspring will prosper, none will sit on the throne of David or rule anymore in Judah." How will your coming Messiah qualify himself as such when he's supposed to be in the line of David yet the line of David has been forever cursed by YHWH?

B) All of Israel's official genealogical records were destroyed when Titus Vespasian sacked and burned the temple at Jerusalem in AD 70, so how would he prove he's in the line of David anyhow?

Whether Jews like it or not, the virgin birth solves both of the above problems, Jesus being the last qualified King of Judah, bypassing the curse of Jehoaichin as a legal heir to the throne through Joseph and maintaining His Jewish blood through Mary, who was of the house of David.

Deuteronomy 32:21
1 Corinthians 1:23

Anonymous said...

Jeff your points are well thought out. About the Curse on Jeconiah, I read an article about how God actually removed the curse several generations down. http://www.jewsforjesus.org/answers/prophecy/jeconiah

Anonymous said...

i like the text to explain itself but in the case of isaiah 7:14 i can't find anyone from the house of david fathering a son named emmanuel in the tanach. if a creative miracle is impossible then samson didn't exist because i find the same hebrew grammar in judges 13:5...in verse 3 the angel tells manoah's wife now she is barren and not given birth in verse 5 the angel tells her she is pregnant and will give birth to a son/henak harah v'yoladt ben. unless you alter the grammar you have an example of a creative miracle in manoahs wife...janice

Beloved- Photo by Graur Codrin said...

Wow, Awesome entry. Thank you for posting, it was very clear and well-supported.

Anonymous said...

What I find most interesting about the argument over this messianic prophecy is that those who support the translation of the word almah being only a young girl and not a virgin is that the passage loses its meaning if translated as a "young girl". How can a young girl giving birth to a son and calling his name "Immanuel" be a sign? Isaiah clearly states in the preface to the verse, "This will be a sign to you..." or "YHWH Himself will give you a sign..." No one disputes the claim that this verse is referring to the Messiah, but prophetic signs were given to identify their own fulfillment. It would seem the essence of this verse in Isaiah is lost completely when you take what should be an exclusive claim and make it inclusive as I'm sure there have been many "young women" who have given birth to sons whom they called Immanuel.

pilgrim said...

In Genesis 24 two different words are used to describe Rebekah, betulah and almah. The chapter makes it clear that Rebekah was a virgin at the time of the event described in chp. 24. So if the Hebrew author used either of the two words to describe Rebekah's "state" then it is fair to use almah in other places of scripture to refer to a virgin. So Isaiah 7 uses almah, so translating it as "virgin" has precedence due to it use in Genesis 24. Seems pretty straight forward to me--betulah and almah can be synonyms.

gypsy said...

I'm just wondering how many of you theologists actually have any personal experience with the Christ nature? Actual experience?

Anonymous said...

I think both Jews and Christians make objections because our understanding was not complete in times past because certain words were sealed up until the time of the end (Book of Daniel). The Bible also states that in the "last days" knowledge would abound. Therefore, there were stumbling blocks on each side. Until now, that the two are united as one new man and G-d has blessed our unity in this time of the end of the age. I think the answer to the mystery is that it is not one covenant people over the other, it's BOTH. Duel convenants, one redemption. One is not more right than the other. Certain prophecies were revealed to each faith community. Only together in the midst of unity, where the LORD commands the blessing, will the complete picture of G-d's redemptive plan be realized. We need each other. Daniel's writings indicate that at the time of the end, the wise will understand. This is that time. We are at the end of the age. I believe this is the Jewish hour.

Jay Williams said...

I would have to argue that all this debate about the correct word is moot anyway. Its not a messianic prophecy. Why would Isaiah, when asked about a sign for a current problem, offer a prophecy to be fulfilled some 750 years in the future? He is more likely referring to his own wife and son, for he tells Ahaz, in ch7v16, "...Before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.."..., that the problem will resolve itself. He is speaking of something that will occur shortly after the time they are speaking. A few verses later, he says pretty much the same thing, but the childs name is to be Maher-shalal-hash-baz, which means "haste-spoil speed-booty", and says that before the child can say mama and dada, that Assyria will lay waste to Damascus and Samaria. Besides, the 'messiah' of the NT is not named 'Emmanuel', but rather Yahushuah. The whole 'virgin birth' fallacy can be discounted as fiction designed to either a)convince gentiles of the Messiah-hood of Jesus, or b)allow 'Matthew' to engage in his game of mis-applying OT verses as messianic prophecy.
thanx
jay

Anonymous said...

Can't we all, just get along?

Anonymous said...

Immanuel prophecy is sealed. It is not a birth. The two signs given to king Ahaz or rather the house of David is a coronation. The two non biological sons given to the prophet Isaiah are Gods two signs. These two signs are the two olive trees seen in Zechariah visions. Two anointed servants of God. God gave away the two signs which are as high as the sky or as deep as sheol. Sheol represents darkness and sky represents light. The two great lights of creation. Awaiting fulfillment.

Milton Almeida said...

Then the whole story in which the word appears is a total fabrication! Matthew, the N.T. writer, a Jewish tax collector, used to taking notes, apparent believes the story to be true. The story of the whole chapter.
If it is then what kind of sign it would be if the word merely means "young girl"? Young girls give birth every day! No sign there. Nothing extraordinary! But, if a virgin gives birth, in this double prophecy (Both Jewish and Messianic) then, a virgin birth is a sign!
So, let's get over and look at context; if you believe the Jewish Bible, and the whole prophecy is true, the sign must be a "virgin giving birth". No other translation appears to indicate a sign!
Milton Almeida

Anonymous said...

Just put it in context, read Isaiah 8:1, it was fulfilled right there.

Jose Montalvo said...

Today’s scientist are able to fertilize a woman's egg using DNA.If the creator of all that exist can create man out of the dust of the ground.He is able to take King David's DNA and fertilize Miriam's egg and create the Messiah,with out having intercourse with a man.That is how I believe the birth of the messiah came about. the holy spirit implanting DNA in the egg.

Christian Hart said...

Well I find this whole argument funning...I was actually looking for some other info when I ran across this. Yeshua (Jesus) by himself is only half of the equation, much of your argument and misunderstandings are based on half and equation, so to speak. The reason that you can't solve these problems is because the prophecy doesn't make sense until the Messiah is viewed as a whole person (male and female). The prophecy of mankind Gen 2 clearly states that Yeshua would come on the fourth day but that his wife would come on the sixth day. They are like bookends to each other or mirror images. Why do you think that Paul hated women? Its because he knew that the female counterpart to Christ was going to come and destroy his institution...she appears everywhere and nowhere because she has been systematically edited out of both the old and new testament. See massorah...Satan has been working for 5000+ years to erase her. So, your confusion all stems from the fact that you have mingled the two people into one and can't figure out how to separate them. Messiah ben Joseph is the High King, Yashua...messiah ben David is his wife. Or are you thinking that God is going to reverse his stance on homosexuality and Christ is going to marry the Pope when he returns...you can wear a white dress, but it is never going to make you a woman...certainly not a bride. Or that Ezekiel's two stick prophecy applies to God 'joining' two men, uh gross! And how is it that none of you know the difference between the parousia (presence or representative of the king) and the exerchomi (actual coming) in Matthew 24? Or will you always maintain that God doesn't know how to speak, with the serpent, Adam and Eve right there, standing there, he gave the promise to Eve...if the promise, not of rulership, but of crushing the serpent belonged to a man, he would have addressed it to Adam and the son of man. Indeed a woman with the strength of a man, a Lambkin, which you yourselves were responsible for instructing as at the end of John, Yeshua's instructions explicitly told Peter and through him to you to feed or pasture the Lambkin and it is not done. Revelation is about the Lambkin (little lamb), not the Arnion (King Yeshua). Or for that matter, how can Christ reveal himself in Revelations? Is He not already revealed? Why did he promise not to leave you orphans? Or what is the meaning to Nicodemus that you must be born of a woman, aka the Lambkin's teaching? Or that Yeshua would be sending you one in his name who would be with you for the eon? Or that Joseph used Benjamin to 'test' his brothers to see if they had murder in their hearts still. You have been set up to fail, so much so that you hate peace and kindness and goodness...and when you do fail, the King is going to come back and he is going to be pissed as Hell that you killed his sister/bride, just as Moses hit the second rock in the wilderness and could not enter the promised land, neither will you. Not only are your teachers abysmal but it requires a certain amount of self deception on your own part that is indicative of your own blindness...I ask the same question that Yeshua asked Nicodemus, How is it that you are a teacher in Israel and you don't know these things? That a man may have the seed but the woman bears the fruit...unless you all are thinking you are seahorses or something.