Recently there was an article questioning the interpretation and translation of the biblical texts regarding the "virgin" birth of Christ (specifically Isaiah 7:14). Unfortunately the article was poorly researched and requires a rebuttal with the facts surrounding the claims in the article.
Firstly, The Hebrew word rendered “virgin” is almah. It is the only biblical word that truly signifies a virgin. Prof. William Beck, who researched this matter with great precision, declared: “I have searched exhaustively for instances in which almah might mean a non-virgin or a married woman. There is no passage where almah is not a virgin. Nowhere in the Bible or elsewhere does almah mean anything but a virgin."
Robert Dick Wilson, the incomparable Hebrew scholar who was proficient in forty-five biblically-related languages, declared that almah “never meant ‘young married woman,’” and that the presumption of common law is that every almah is virtuous, unless she can be proved not to be.
Even the Jewish scholar, Cyrus H. Gordon, who made some of the archaeological discoveries at Ras Shamra, conceded that recent archaeological evidence confirms that almah means “virgin.”
The notion that almah merely signifies a “young woman” was first argued by the anti-Christian Jew, Trypho, in the mid-second century A.D.
According to John Walton, one of the translations of ‘almah is “young woman,” but not in the bible as there are certain nuances to the Hebrew term. After examining all occurrences of the word, and looking briefly at its etymology, Walton gave the lexigraphical definition of ‘almah as “one who has not yet borne a child and as an abstraction refers to the adolescent expectation of motherhood.” In application to Isaiah 7:14, he admitted that virginity seemed to be implied (1997a, 3:415-418). As to the claim that, if Isaiah had meant virgin, he would have used betula, Walton refutes that as well. He says that betula 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” (1997b, 1:783). If the passage was a prophecy of the virgin birth of Jesus, then betula would not apply since Mary, while not yet married per se to Joseph, was nonetheless no longer under the guardianship of her father.
So Isaiah’s prophecy plainly says “the virgin shall conceive” with the definite article denoting a specific virgin (as opposed to “a” virgin). Matthew’s inspired interpretation of the passage clearly establishes the miraculous nature of the prediction (Mt. 1:22-23). There is no evidence at all that there was a miraculous birth to a virgin in the days of Isaiah.
Secondly, the early church didn't reject the virgin birth as some have claimed; all the church fathers agreed that Jesus was born of a Virgin and Isaiah 7 was referenced as a prophetic text.
For example: Irenaeus (AD 120-202) wrote: “Wherefore also the Lord Himself gave us a sign, in the depth below, and in the height above, which man did not ask for, because he never expected that a virgin could conceive, or that it was possible that one remaining a virgin could bring forth a son, and that what was thus born should be “God with us”?”
The earlier scholars of Christendom (e.g., Calvin, Lowth, Gill, Henry, Clarke, Alexander, Hengstenberg, etc.,) also argued that Isaiah 7:14 was exclusively messianic in its import.
So the claims that the word virgin has been improperly translated and that Jesus being born of a virgin was not a fulfillment of those prophecies made over 700 years before His birth are mistaken at best; and at worst an attempt to deceive people and falsely undermine the bible.
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