(Con't From Part 1 Of this Mini-series)
Almah: This word occurs 7 times in the OT scriptures. Although it is difficult to follow this word, we find that it never means anything that “bethulah” does not mean. In fact we find that the use of Almah is a more specific term than “bethulah”
Almah appears to deal more with “childbearing age or ability” rather than physical condition of the person. Further, the LXX (Greek Old Testament) translates this word in Isaiah 7:14 as “Parthenos”, which is a further and more specific way in which to say “virgin” in the Greek.
Parthenos is a Greek word that applies in nearly every instance and context, to the marriageable age, or qualification for marriage by maturity. The word applies to both male and females.
For example we find that it applies to men in Revelation 14:4:
“These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. (Parthenoi) These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.”
1- The use of this word by Isaiah was more specific than Bethulah would have been. Almah appears to pin down the specified detail of the context. It suggests more strongly than bethulah the following things:
a- The woman or person was young
b- The woman or person was of marriageable age
c- The woman or person was always single and never married
d- The woman had not been “defiled” through previous or prior sexual activity
In short, this word is NEVER applied to anyone BUT an unmarried person and for specifics of our examination and unmarried woman. The NIDOTTE (New International Dictionary Of Old Testament Theology) explains the difference between Bethulah and Almah as follows:
"The lexical relationship between (bethulah) and (almah) is that the former is a social status indicating that a young girl is under the guardianship of her father, with all the age and sexual inferences that accompany that status. The latter is to be understood with regard to fertility and childbearing potential. Obviously there are many occasions where both terms apply to the same girl. A girl ceases to be a (bethulah) when she becomes a wife; she ceases to be an (almah) when she becomes a mother."
From the aforementioned, it should be clear that based on textual evidence and current studies of the words involved, that “Almah” was the best word to more comprehensively convey what the text was spelling out…that
1- “The Lord (Adoni) himself”
2- “Will give you (plural indicates that this is more than to Ahaz) “a sign” (oth ~ pledge or standard that bears witness)
3- “Behold” (take a good look, because this is a wonder, not an ordinary event)
4- “a virgin” (almah- young woman or marriageable age, who has never been married, neither has been defiled through prior sexual activity)
5- “shall conceive (harah- be found to be pregnant)
6- “and bear” (Yalad – to bring forth or beget)
7- “ a son and his name” (shem- renowned, repute, path, or what he is known for)
8- “shall be called Immanuel” (with US is God)
This could not have possibly referred to Ahaz’s seed Hezekiah. Although Hezekiah was a pretype of this Messiah bringing God’s presence back to Israel with his reforms, he was approximately 13 years old when the prophecy was given if dating schemes are correct.
Secondly, this could not have referred to Isaiah’s son Mahershalalhashbaz. Why? Isaiah’s wife was not a virgin and neither do we record that he did anything to deserve the appellation that God was “with us” through him or his life.
The prophecy was beyond Ahaz and beyond Isaiah and was a conditional one that was futuristic to the nation.
Michah 5:3 ~ Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.
From this study, we can observe that Matthew’s rendition of Is. 7:14 as found in Mt. 1:23 as the fulfillment of the Messiah, has a sound and solid basis for Christian tradition and belief. In other words, from all available evidence, Mt. was NOT simply grasping at straws to try to make the prophecy fit, but he had a sound basis for pouncing a teaching that existed in his day, and further was not incorrect in his assumptions based on a supposed faulty or flawed Greek OT (LXX)
Of 1071 verses contained within Matthew’s writing, 31% or approximately 310 verses are direct quotations or allusions to the OT. In fact, within the NT writings themselves, the book of Isaiah is the most frequently cited book. Isaiah is cited some 419 times by NT authors. Interestingly enough, Isaiah 7:14 does not make the top 10 list of verses cited by NT authors. So it can hardly be said that the NT writers have an agenda or that Isaiah 7:14 is the only essential truth to the NT, but yet, it IS a truth and it pronounces an essential part of the NT truth in Jesus.
It is worth noting that similar to Peter, Matthew was inspired by God, his eyes opened and was first to point out the parallel and fulfillment of the prophecy not only through diligent research, but also by the Holy Ghost and further by personal experience with the source which cannot be discounted.
If Jesus was not born of God, then he cannot possibly be the “monogenes” of God or the “only begotten” of the Father as John 1:14, 18. He cannot have the same nature or essence of God as the scriptures teach. In addition, he cannot be “ginomai” (having emerged or come into being or manifestation in the physical world) as Paul taught (Gal. 4:4) and continued to speak of Christ.
If Jesus is not born of a virgin then he is simply a man like any and all others. In fact he is more of a mystic and by that his own testimony is not true and he is found to be a false witness and therefore unworthy and unable to save anyone from anything, not to mention sin, death and hell.
Conclusion & What Did The Jews Think?
I will conclude this with this, it is interesting that early on, prior to NT teachings, and the teachings of early Christian fathers, that the Jews also held that the Messiah would be born of a virgin as well. It was only a later and a more recent development that the Jews reject that “almay” refers to a virgin or woman who did not have sexual relations with a man.
Clearly the Jews thought that Jesus father was certainly an earthly one. We see that from scripture (John 8) and we also see the Jewish apologists creating the myth that Jesus was illegitimate (without a father) or that he was the product of an immoral sexual relationship of his mother Mary. Under the latter scenario, Panthera, thought to be a Roman soldier, could be Jesus father for example. Currently, so called biblical scholars who also and most certainly discount the supernatural, conclude that if Joseph was not Jesus’s father or some other person, then we can’t know who Jesus father was or is…there is simply not enough information and it is lost on history.
To me conclusions such as those are complete poppycock and confusion and are certainly unworthy to be called scholarship, because they deny the obvious. Such conclusions deny the straight forward accounting of the works of a man, named Jesus, who does the works of God, receives the worship of God, remits sins that only God can, displays his power over nature, sickness, illness and disease, and finally death, by raising himself up after 3 days.
If it is called “scholarship” to look past and reject all those things then THANK GOD I am NOT a scholar!
Special Thanks to our friends at Christian Think Tank for their diligent work and service to the Body of Christ. I know of NONE better!