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Johan D Nel
 
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Was the virgin birth a prophecy?

11 February 2014, 08:47
The following passage is a controversy generating quotation from the bible : 
“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Is 7:14)
The controversies are about the translation of the Hebrew word used by Isaiah. It refers  to   “ young women”    and  is translated as “virgin” in all older Bible translations..  Many scholars regard virgin as a mistranslation  and would prefer “alma” to be translated as “young woman” , “young maiden”, “maiden” etc. According to the critics “betula” would have been be the more appropriate word, if Isaiah meant a virgin. I also came across scholars arguing about the real meaning of these  two words in the  ancient Hebrew language .
All the controversies make the virgin part of the passage the big issue. Reading  the passage and the exceeding verses carefully indicate that the pregnancy Isaiah referred was to be regarded as a very special pregnancy. It was a sign given by God.
 King Ahaz was  a worried man. His kingdom was on the verge of destruction..  He refused to request a sign that would indicate the survival of  his kingdom . Then Isaiah gave him the sign of the virgin birth.  If I were Ahaz, I would have laughed in spite of my worries.   It didn’t matter if Isaiah referred to one or many   young women, pregnancy is a natural phenomenon in young women.   It is an absolute  meaningless sign if it refers to ordinary  pregnancies..  To be regarded a sign it had to refer to a very special, out of the ordinary,  pregnancy.  I doubt it  if Ahaz ever regarded  it as sign, even when his kingdom was eventually  saved.
Did Isaiah write a lot of garbage or is  the following  prophetic meaning applicable :” The dynasty of David was at risk( and would be at risk in the future) and  the sign Isaiah referred to was the permanent restoration of David’s dynasty at a future date, through  a miraculous event ,  an unlikely special pregnancy ” .   
Like the rest of the Bible it is either nonsense or it   should be judged according to the following message :  “ Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?”
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