HOUSMAIL HM#081 - BEHOLD A VIRGIN SHALL CONCEIVE (Isaiah 7:14)                                          22 Sept 2001

Matthew quotes from Isaiah 7:14 to point us to Isaiah's 700 year old prophecy as being fulfilled by the miraculous conception and virgin birth of Jesus.

Bible critics have often challenged this, by claiming Matthew got it wrong! They say that the Hebrew word used by Isaiah (almah) does not mean «virgin» but merely «a young woman», who may not necessarily be a virgin. It is further claimed that if Isaiah had really meant to say «virgin», he would have used the Hebrew word «Bethulah» which does always mean «virgin».

Where then does the truth lie in the selective uses of «Almah» and Bethulah»? Can there be any doubt about what Isaiah intended to say?

1. There is no doubt at all that when Matthew quotes Isaiah in Greek he uses the word parthenos which is never used to mean anything else but « virgin».

2. There is equally no doubt that when the Septuagint Greek translation was made, the word used in Isaiah 7:14, was «parthenos». The Jews who translated the LXX meant to say «virgin» -- not something else.

3. In Gen 24:14 Abraham's servant prays for God to identify the «damsel» (Heb. «naarah») who will become Isaaac's wife. But in the same chapter in verse 43, the word used to describe this «damsel» when referring to the very same prayer, is "virgin" ("almah"). And, given the importance which the Old Testament gives to virginity in selection of a wife, there should be no doubt at all, that Abraham's servant had nothing less than a true virgin in mind, when asking God's help to choose a wife for Isaac.

4. Add to this the fact that, although we cannot argue positively from absence, there is no Old Testament occurrence of the word "almah", where it can be shown that this word designates a young woman who is NOT a virgin. (See footnote)




Young's Analytical Concordance says that the word "Almah" is used only 7 times, as follows:

virgin 4, Gen 24:43; Song 1:3, 6:8; Isaiah 7:14.

maid 2, Exod 2:8; Prov 30:19.

damsels 1; Psalm 68:25.


PS     There is still more to discuss about what Isaiah meant to say to the King in his own time.

         That can wait till another time.