Matthew 1:23

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Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, And they shall call his name Immanuel; which is, being interpreted, God with us. (ASV)

Contents

Pro

Edit this section if you suspect error.

Mistranslation of "Virgin"

Meaning of "Almah"

JW:

Everyone agrees that the underlying Hebrew word in Isaiah 7:14 is "almah". Here are the other 6 uses of "almah" in the Jewish Bible:

Genesis 24:43

Behold, I am standing by the fountain of water. And let it come to pass, that the maiden that cometh forth to draw, to whom I shall say, Give me, I pray thee, a little water from thy pitcher to drink.

Exodus 2:8

And Pharaoh`s daughter said to her, Go. And the maiden went and called the child`s mother.

Psalms 68:25

The singers went before, the minstrels followed after, In the midst of the damsels playing with timbrels.

Proverbs 30:19

The way of an eagle in the air; The way of a serpent upon a rock; The way of a ship in the midst of the sea; And the way of a man with a maiden.

Song of Solomon 1:3

Thine oils have a goodly fragrance; Thy name is [as] oil poured forth; Therefore do the virgins love thee.

Song of Solomon 6:8

There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, And virgins without number.


JW:

Note that none of these uses give a technical definition of "virgin" or by context even a preferential meaning of "virgin" over "young woman"/"maiden". Compare to the uses of "betulah" in the Jewish Bible and specifically, as Pro points out below, the technical definition of "betulah" as "virgin" at:

Deuteronomy 22:14

and lay shameful things to her charge, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came nigh to her, I found not in her the tokens of virginity;

Deuteronomy 22:15

then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel`s virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate;

Deuteronomy 22:19

and they shall fine him a hundred [shekels] of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.

--JoeWallack 16:20, 27 Jan 2007 (CST)


JW:

Brown-Driver-Briggs is generally the Christian Lexicon of choice for Christian Bible scholarship. This is the Standard for the Seminary. Brown, Driver, and Briggs were all early 20th century Christian clergy and Jewish Bible scholarship would consider them biased. Here is their entry for "almah":

"?*??????? S5959 TWOT1630b GK6625 n.f. young woman (ripe sexually; maid or newly married);—?? Gn 24:43 (J), Ex 2:8 (E), Pr 30:19 Is 7:14; pl. ???????? ? 68:26 Ct 1:3; 6:8; ???????????? to (the voice of) young women, either lit., or of soprano or falsetto of boys: 1 Ch 15:20 ? 9:1 (read ???????????? ?????? [for ???????? ??????, ‘voce virgines a pueris decantandum,’ Thes), 46:1; 48:15 (read ???????????? [for ????????]; tr. prob. to 49:1)."

Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. 2000. Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Strong's, TWOT, and GK references Copyright 2000 by Logos Research Systems, Inc. (electronic ed.) . Logos Research Systems: Oak Harbor, WA


JW:

From the above we can see that:

1) Isaiah 7:14 is specifically categorized as "young woman".

2) Every Jewish Bible usage is categorized as "young woman".

3) There is no meaning of "virgin" given.

--JoeWallack 16:26, 27 Jan 2007 (CST)


The problem is that "Matthew" here relies on the LXX (parthenos), whereas the Hebrew of Isaiah 7:14 reads `almah (young woman), not virgin (betulah). In context, the sign is that before this child grows old enough to discern good from evil, Israel and Syria will be destroyed by the Assyrians. For other examples see Matthew 21:16, Matthew 3:3.

Editted by: Ichabod Crane.

Response to Con piece:

That `almah does not specifically mean virgin, can be confirmed by checking virtually any Hebrew lexicon. Indeed, even the "highly valued Hebrew encyclopedia of Even Shushan", that the author of the con piece below cited, confirms this - it says the term "denotes a maiden or a young woman, especially before marriage". Now "especially before marriage", obviously, implies that it can, and is, used after marriage. It simply denotes a young woman.

As for the six other occurrences of `almah, it is untrue to claim as fact that they all refer to virgins; a couple of them unambiguously do, but several of the texts are ambiguous and could refer either to virgins or young married women. At least one suggests that a virgin is not in view (Prov 30:9).

That betulah, a word which occurs 50 times in the Old Testament, does specifically mean a virgin, is also acknowledged by the vast majority of Hebrew scholars, and should be clear to anyone who wishes to investigate its usage. In fact the masculine plural cognate noun, betulim, means "virginity" in the abstract sense. See for example Deut 22:14,15,19, where the issue of virginity itself is specifically in view for legal reasons, and proof of the maiden's "betulim" (i.e. virginity) is required. Specific rebuttals of the claims to the contrary made in the con piece are included below. However, even in the article which is linked in the con piece, entries from some of the major lexicons quoted explicitly state that betulah means virgin:

HAL: grown-up girl without any sexual experience with men

Louw-Nida: virgin, i.e., a mature young woman that has never had sexual intercourse

BDB: virgin — one living apart in her father’s house as a virgin

This simply is not an issue about which there is any serious scholarly debate. However, it is also not merely the opinion of modern scholars. We know from Justin Martyr's "Dialogue with Trypho" that the Jews were raising this objection to Christian interpretations of Isaiah 7:14 from the 2nd century. In fact in the 4th century, Jerome, a Christian, and probably the greatest linguist of his times, wrote:

"Isaiah tells of the mystery of our faith and hope: “Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel.” 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..."

A specific rebuttal of some points in the con piece below:

CON: "The maiden was very fair to look upon, a betulah, whom no man had known (slept with)." (Gen. 24:16)

CON: If the word betulah would alone be sufficient to connote virginity, why would the writer need to emphasize that this betulah had notbeen touched by a man? What kind of a virgin would she be if a man had touched her, anyway? Isn't it rather apparent that the word betulah was not enough to convince the reader about Rebekah's virginity?

ANSWER: This is simply an example of Semitic parallelism, and actually provides additional evidence that betulah does mean virgin. In the most frequent form of Semitic parallelism, which is absolutely ubiquitous in the Old Testament, the same idea is repeated twice in succession in two different ways. It seems to have been a habitual manner of expression. Such parallelism is found in every book in the Old Testament, in all genres of literature without exception (although it is most common in poetry). Some examples from Genesis similar to this case, selected on a purely random basis:

"Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time" (Gen 6:9 NASB) - Being righteous (tzadiq) in Hebrew terms entailed being blameless or perfect (tamim). You could not be blameworthy and also righteous. So why the added phrase, which provides no extra information?

"Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the LORD." (Gen 13:13 NASB) - Does being "wicked exceedingly" (ra`im ... me'od) not adequately state their condition, without adding the redundant "and sinners against the Lord" (vechatta'im laYHWH)? Could a person be "wicked exceedingly", but not a "sinner against the Lord"? Note: the placement of the word exceedingly (me'od) in English translation is arguable, but doesn't affect the argument.

In the article linked in the con piece, a limited set of examples of redundant repetition are examined. But even if we accept the examples given in the article as the only such cases, which they certainly aren't, the main point is that to treat strictly redundant repetitions as distinct from other instances of parallel repetition involves, from the point of view of Hebrew discourse, making a distinction without a difference. Whether the added phrase is strictly redundant, or almost redundant, or partially redundant, has little to do with the reason for its addition. The added phrase is there because of a Hebrew literary convention, not because the author thought that added information was required. Genesis 6:9, 13:13, 24:16 and numerous others all show the same phenomena: they are employing a standard Hebrew literary structure. The additional phrase was added for reasons of convention, not reasons of logic. To distinguish parallelisms where the second phrase is strictly redundant, as in the article linked in the con piece, from parallelisms where it isn't precisely redundant, is to erect an entirely artificial distinction from the point of view of Hebrew discourse, even if it is possible from a strictly logical perspective.

CON: Esther 2:17.

This just states that the king loved Esther more than all the other virgins that were brought before the king (verse 8), some of whom he had since slept with. That hardly affects the meaning. It's referring to the original group - who were virgins in the literal sense.

CON: Ezekiel 23:3.

ANSWER: The noun betulah doesn't even occur here; it is the cognate masculine noun betulim meanining "virginity" in the abstract. And, as is plain as day, that is what it means. The "breasts of their virginity" were fondled; obviously they were no longer breasts of virginity afterwards, but they were up to that point.

CON: Joel 1:8.

ANSWER: The word ba'al can mean either husband or betrothed. Betrothal was a highly formalized rite in Hebrew culture that bestowed major obligations on both parties. This refers to a girl who has lost her betrothed groom prior to the marriage. That is why it adds the phrase ne`ureha ("of her youth"). For example, the NASB reads:

"Wail like a virgin girded with sackcloth For the bridegroom of her youth".

CON: Thirdly, there is nothing special in a young woman becoming pregnant. However, in Isaiah 7:14, the incident is supposed to be a sign; the same word ('ot) denotes a miracle. "Behold, a young woman becomes pregnang and gives birth to a son." What kind of a sign is that supposed to be to anyone?

ANSWER: As stated in the original post, the sign was the destruction of Israel and Syria by the Assyrians before the time the child had grown to know good and evil. Remember the context: Ahaz, the King of Judah, is afraid of the Kings of Israel and Syria forming an alliance against him. The prophet asks him to specify a sign from God, but he refuses. The whole statement the prophet makes in response, which runs from verse 14 to verse 16, reads as follows (NRSV):

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted.

CON: Fourthly, the original recipients of the Hebrew Bible understood this 'almah to be a virgin. Else why would they translate the word as parthenos, a virgin? There was available a perfectly suitable Greek word, neanis, to denote a maiden. Is there any justification for us, over two thousand years later, to suppose that we understand the nuances of the words better than they and therefore can translate the word more accurately?

ANSWER: The Hellenistic, native Greek-speaking Jews of Alexandria were hardly "the original recipients of the Hebrew Bible". There are many thousands of errors of translation well documented in the LXX, especially outside the Pentateuch (the translators took most care with the Torah). As for the comment about us, "over two thousand years later", raising this issue, the Jews were protesting that this was a mistranslation from as soon as they became aware of what Christians were saying about it, from the 2nd century onwards, as noted above. Surely 2nd century Palestinian Jews would have to be at the top of the list of people who would be best placed for a correct understanding of the "nuances of the words".

CON: The writer notes that at the time of the writing of Isaiah, the word betulah had become rather fixed at meaning poetically Israel herself. There would have been an additional possibility of misunderstanding with using the word for a "real" woman in a prophecy.

ANSWER: The word betulah could only be used for Israel precisely because it did mean virgin, and Israel was supposed to be the virgin of YHWH. But its metaphorical use depends on its literal meaning, and it is hardly likely that it might lead to some confusion on the part of the reader to apply it to a real virgin.


It's probably worth noting here that apologists have a tendency to focus on the almah/betulah issue rather than addressing the larger problem: the mangling of the historical context. The birth is to be a sign to Ahaz, some seven centuries before the birth of Jesus. It is more consistent with the subsequent birth of Isaiah's own son, Maher-shalal-hash-baz, in the following chapter (Isaiah 8:3): who wasn't named "Immanuel", but neither was Jesus.

The Jews had a literary tradition known as "midrash", where a story would deliberately incorporate elements of an earlier one. But this should not be confused with the later Christian apologetic concept of "dual fulfilment". More than any other Biblical author, the author of Matthew blatantly raided the Old Testament on several occasions for out-of-context passages that could be applied to Jesus (e.g. Matthew 2:15, Matthew 2:18). --Robert Stevens 09:40, 24 Oct 2005 (CDT)


JW:

Authority For Translation of "Young Woman":

1) All Jewish Bible scholars & most Christian Bible scholars.

2) All non-Christian Hebrew/English dictionaries and most Christian Hebrew/English dictionaries.

3) A majority of modern Christian Bible translations.

When the RSV first translated Isaiah 7:14 as "young woman" it was burned in several parts of the country by Christian fundamentalists. On a humorous note, even though the Catholic translators of the NAB had decided to translate Isaiah 7:14 as "young woman", the American Bishops voted to use "virgin" instead. I guess they thought "it was the Christian thing to do."

--JoeWallack 08:36, 25 Jan 2007 (CST)

Mistranslation of "Parthenos"

JW:

Apologists claim that the Jewish "Septuagint" use of "parthenos" supports "Matthew's" interpretation of a meaning of a virgin birth in Isaiah 7:14. This claim has the following problems:

1) It's unlikely that there ever was an official Jewish Greek translation which included Isaiah that was known as "The Septuagint".

2) The definition of "parthenos" at the time "Matthew" was written was equivocal as to virginity as BDAG confirms: (emphasis mine saith the Lord)

""????????, ??, ? (s. prec. entry; Hom.+, gener. of a young woman of marriageable age, w. or without focus on virginity; s. esp. PKöln VI, 245, 12 and ASP 31, ’91 p. 39) and ? (s. reff. in b) in our lit. one who has never engaged in sexual intercourse, virgin, chaste person ? female of marriageable age w. focus on virginity ? ???????? Mt 25:1, 7, 11; 1 Cor 7:25 (FStrobel, NovT 2, ’58, 199–227), 28, 34; Pol 5:3; Hv 4, 2, 1; s 9, 1, 2; 9, 2, 3; 5; 9, 3, 2; 4f; 9, 4, 3; 5f; 8 al.; AcPl Ox 6, 16 (cp. Aa I 241, 15); GJs 13:1. After Is 7:14 (????????? ?????; on this ASchulz, BZ 23, ’35, 229–41; WBrownlee, The Mng. of Qumran for the Bible, esp. Is, ’64, 274–81) Mt 1:23 (cp. Menand., Sicyonius 372f ???????? ?? ???, ??????? ??????). Of Mary also Lk 1:27ab; GJs 9:1; 10:1; 15:2; 16:1; 19:3; ISm 1:1 and prob. Dg 12:8 (the idea that the spirit of a god could father a child by a woman, specifically a virgin, was not foreign to Egyptian religion: Plut. Numa 62 [4, 6], Mor. 718ab; Philo, Cher. 43–50 [on this ENorden, D. Geburt des Kindes 78–90; ELeach, Genesis as Myth, and Other Essays ’69, 85–112; RBrown, The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus ’73, 62, esp. n. 104; idem, The Birth of the Messiah ’77, 522f, esp. n. 17]. S. further the lit. on ????? 4 and OBardenhewer, Mariä Verkündigung 1905; EPetersen, Die wunderbare Geburt des Heilandes 1909; HUsener, Das Weihnachtsfest2 1911; ASteinmann, D. jungfräul. Geburt des Herrn3 1926, D. Jungfrauengeburt u. die vergl. Religionsgeschichte 1919; GBox, The Virgin Birth of Jesus 1916; OCrain, The Credibility of the Virgin Birth 1925; JMachen, The Virgin Birth of Christ2 ’32 [on this FKattenbusch, StKr 102, 1930, 454–74]; EWorcester, Studies in the Birth of Our Lord ’32; KSchmidt, D. jungfrl. Geb. J. Chr.: ThBl 14, ’35, 289–97; FSteinmetzer, Empfangen v. Hl. Geist ’38; RBratcher, Bible Translator 9, ’58, 98–125 [Heb., LXX, Mt]; TBoslooper, The Virg. Birth ’62; HvCampenhausen, D. Jungfrauengeburt in d. Theol. d. alten Kirche ’62; JMeier, A Marginal Jew I, ’91, 205–52 [lit.].—RCooke, Did Paul Know the Virg. Birth? 1927; PBotz, D. Jungfrausch. Mariens im NT u. in der nachap. Zeit, diss. Tüb. ’34; DEdwards, The Virg. Birth in History and Faith ’43.—Clemen2 114–21; ENorden, D. Geburt des Kindes2 ’31; MDibelius, Jungfrauensohn u. Krippenkind ’32; HMerklein, Studien zu Jesus und Paulus [WUNT 105] ’98; in gener., RBrown, The Birth of the Messiah ’77, 133–63, esp. 147–49. As a contrast to Dibelius’ Hellenistic emphasis s. OMichel and OBetz, Beih., ZNW 26, ’60, 3–23, on Qumran parallels.). Of the daughters of Philip ???????? ????????????? Ac 21:9. Of virgins who were admitted to the church office of ‘widows’ ISm 13:1 (s. AJülicher, PM 22, 1918, 111f. Differently LZscharnack, Der Dienst der Frau 1902, 105 ff).—On 1 Cor 7:36–38 s. ?????? 1 and s. also PKetter, Trierer Theol. Ztschr. 56, ’47, 175–82 (????. often means [virgin] daughter: Apollon. Rhod. 3, 86 ????. ?????? and the scholion on this has the following note: ???????? ???? ??? ????????; Lycophron vss. 1141, 1175; Diod. S. 8, 6, 2; 16, 55, 3; 20, 84, 3 [pl. beside ????]. Likewise Theod. Prodr. 1, 293 H. ??? ??? ????????=‘your virgin daughter’; in 3, 332 ?. ?????? ???????? refers to one’s ‘sweetheart’; likew. 6, 466, as well as the fact that ????. can mean simply ‘girl’ [e.g. Paus. 8, 20, 4]). On Jewish gravestones ‘of age, but not yet married’ CIJ I, 117. RSeeboldt, Spiritual Marriage in the Early Church, CTM 30, ’59, 103–19; 176–86.—In imagery: the Corinthian congregation as ???????? ???? (????? a) 2 Cor 11:2 (on this subj. s. FConybeare, Die jungfräul. Kirche u. die jungfräul. Mutter: ARW 8, 1905, 373ff; 9, 1906, 73ff; Cumont3 283, 33).—? ??????? ???????? AcPl Ox 6, 15f (of Thecla; cp. Aa I 241, 15 ? ??????? ????? ??? ????????). ? male virgin ? ???????? virgin, chaste man (CIG IV, 8784b; JosAs 8:1 uses ?. of Joseph; Pel.-Leg. 27, 1 uses it of Abel; Suda of Abel and Melchizedek; Nonnus of the apostle John, who is also called ‘virgo’ in the Monarchian Prologues [Kl. T. 12 1908, p. 13, 13]) Rv 14:4 (on topical relation to 1 En 15:2–7 al., s. DOlson, CBQ 59, ’97, 492–510).—JFord, The Mng. of ‘Virgin’, NTS 12, ’66, 293–99.—B. 90. New Docs 4, 224–27. DELG. M-M. EDNT. TW. Spicq. Sv."

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. 2000. A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature. "Based on Walter Bauer's Griechisch-deutsches Wr?terbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der frhüchristlichen [sic] Literatur, sixth edition, ed. Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, with Viktor Reichmann and on previous English editions by W.F. Arndt, F.W. Gingrich, and F.W. Danker." (3rd ed.) . University of Chicago Press: Chicago


JW:

The non-virgin meaning is given first here and has more examples which normally means it's the primary meaning, however, BDAG gives a disclaimer that order of listing is not necessarily indicative of strength of meaning. Raymond Brown, in his classic, The Birth of the Messiah, confirms to us that it is because of the usage by "Matthew" that "parthenos" acquired a primary meaning of "virgin".

Hebrew society, having strict sexual morals, required a word with a clear technical meaning of virgin ("betulah"). Greek society, lacking such morals, did not. In order to translate the Hebrew "almah" (young woman) into Greek, there was no clearly superior word to "parthenos". "Neanis" would be the closest but the problem with that word is a primary connotation of "youth". Thus "parthenos" would have been the proper translation at the time. Whether it was intended to mean "young woman" or "virgin" would be determined by the context and not verse-vice. Thus "Matthew's" interpretation of "virgin" for the "parthenos" of Isaiah 7:14 is still a mistranslation as for the reasons above there is no context in Isaiah 7:14 to support a "virgin" translation.

Note that "Luke" whose Greek is superior to "Matthew's" makes no reference to Isaiah 7:14 for her virgin birth story.

--JoeWallack 09:01, 26 Jan 2007 (CST)


Ignoring the Context of Isaiah

JW:

The related narrative within Isaiah shows that to the extent 7:14 was intended by Isaiah to be any type of future prediction the same author shows its fulfillment contemporary to him:

Isaiah 7:

1 "And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.

2 And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart trembled, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the forest tremble with the wind.

3 Then said Jehovah unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shear-jashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, in the highway of the fuller`s field;

4 and say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither let thy heart be faint, because of these two tails of smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria, and of the son of Remaliah.

5 Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have purposed evil against thee, saying,

6 Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set up a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeel;

7 thus saith the Lord Jehovah, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.

8 For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken in pieces, so that is shall not be a people:

9 and the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah`s son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.

10 And Jehovah spake again unto Ahaz, saying,

11 Ask thee a sign of Jehovah thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.

12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt Jehovah.

13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David: Is it a small thing for you to weary men, that ye will weary my God also?

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

15 Butter and honey shall he eat, when he knoweth to refuse the evil, and choose the good.

16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land whose two kings thou abhorrest shall be forsaken.

17 Jehovah will bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father`s house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah-[even] the king of Assyria."


JW:

Here the author describes a military and political problem contemporary to himself. He also predicts that the prophecy of 7:14 will be fulfilled contemporary to himself. The solution to the military threat of Syria and Ephraim against Judah is Assyria which will consume Syria and Ephraim.

Isaiah 8:18:

"Behold, I and the children whom Jehovah hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from Jehovah of hosts, who dwelleth in mount Zion."

JW:

Here the author indicates that the sign of 7:14, a son, has already been given. Note the contrasting use of "sons" here. The enemies of Judah threaten to make it choose their son, "even the son of Tabeel", while Isaiah offers a choice of a son of Judah. Understand Dear Reader?

Isaiah 20:1:

"In the year that Tartan came unto Ashdod, when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him, and he fought against Ashdod and took it;"

JW:

And now Assyria has come calling on Judah with the implication that Assyria has already defeated Syria and Ephraim. Therefore, the solution of 7:14, the defeat of Syria and Ephraim by Assyria, has been fulfilled.

--JoeWallack 09:53, 27 Jan 2007 (CST)


Ignoring the Prophesied Name "Immanuel"

JW:

Isaiah 7:14

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."

JW:

The prophecy Explicitly says that the name of this son will be Immanuel. Jerry?

Jerry:

What's up with that?

--JoeWallack 08:42, 30 Jan 2007 (CST)

Ignoring the Meaning of the Definite Article "The"

JW:

It's undisputed that the Hebrew text has the definite article "the" instead of "a" before "young woman" (KJV's "virgin"). A slim majority of major Christian translations now have "the" here instead of "a". The use of the definite article "the" means that the woman in question was known to the speaker of the prophecy, Isaiah, and could not be referring to someone who lived about 700 years later.

--JoeWallack 07:49, 24 Jan 2007 (CST)

Ignoring the Perfect Tense

JW:

In the Hebrew, the verb for "shall be with child", "harah", is in the perfect tense. The proper translation of Isaiah 7:14 from Hebrew should be, "Look, the young woman is with child". In Hebrew Bible prophecy the prediction is occasionally presented in the perfect tense so it's possible (but unlikely) that Isaiah was referring to a future pregnancy.

--JoeWallack 09:02, 25 Jan 2007 (CST)

Misquote Of Isaiah

JW:

Matthew 1:23

"Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, And they shall call his name Immanuel; which is, being interpreted, God with us." (ASV)

Isaiah 7:14

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."

JW:

The phrase above in "Matthew", "they shall call", in the Hebrew is in the third person feminine form and should be translated, "she will call". It's likely that "Matthew" intentionally changed the phrase because in verse 21 Joseph was instructed to "call his name Jesus".

Matthew 1:21

"And she shall bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name JESUS; for it is he that shall save his people from their sins."

--JoeWallack 08:23, 29 Jan 2007 (CST)

Con

Neutral

Edit this section to note miscellaneous facts.

JW:

Movement of Con Argument to Neutral

"It is commonly assumed (and declared) that 'almah singularly denotes a young woman, whereas betulah denotes a virgin. This is hardly credible, however, when textual evidence is considered.

First off, there are only six other verses in the Hebrew Bible where the word 'almah is used (Gen. 24:43, Ex. 2:8, Ps. 68:25, Prov. 30:19, Song of Sol. 1:3, Song of Sol. 6:8). In each instance, the word is used to denote a virgin.

The Finnish scholar, Risto Santala, who has done his life's work in Hebrew, points out, in addition, that the highly valued Hebrew encyclopedia of Even Shushan says the term almah "denotes a maiden or a young woman, especially before marriage". Since virginity was the condition of marriability, any girl called almah would naturally be understood to be a virgin.

Secondly, the word betulah hardly denotes only a virgin. There are several cases in the Hebrew Bible where a betulah is quite far from being a virgin. In Esther 2:17, betulah is a girl who has spent the night with the King Ahasuerus. In Ezek. 23:3, a betulah has committed fornication, and in Joel 1:8 a betulah has been married and lost his husband.

In addition, the word betulah is used of Rebekah, the girl whom Abraham's servant went to get as a wife for his son Isaac. Why does the word betulah need additional words for explaining the notion of virginity?

"The maiden was very fair to look upon, a betulah, whom no man had known (slept with)." (Gen. 24:16)

If the word betulah would alone be sufficient to connote virginity, why would the writer need to emphasize that this betulah had notbeen touched by a man? What kind of a virgin would she be if a man had touched her, anyway? Isn't it rather apparent that the word betulah was not enough to convince the reader about Rebekah's virginity?

The same girl is called 'almah in Gen. 24:43, but in this case no further description is necessary. The servant tells that he has been searching for an almah to marry him to his master's son, which again hints at the fact that an 'almah is an undefiled and thus marriagable girl. If almah meant only a young woman, why would the servant need to mention it at all? Whom else would he be searching for his master's son? A young man, perhaps?

Thirdly, there is nothing special in a young woman becoming pregnant. However, in Isaiah 7:14, the incident is supposed to be a sign; the same word ('ot) denotes a miracle. "Behold, a young woman becomes pregnang and gives birth to a son." What kind of a sign is that supposed to be to anyone?

Fourthly, the original recipients of the Hebrew Bible understood this 'almah to be a virgin. Else why would they translate the word as parthenos, a virgin? There was available a perfectly suitable Greek word, neanis, to denote a maiden. Is there any justification for us, over two thousand years later, to suppose that we understand the nuances of the words better than they and therefore can translate the word more accurately?

The subject is thoroughly discussed in an article here. The writer notes that at the time of the writing of Isaiah, the word betulah had become rather fixed at meaning poetically Israel herself. There would have been an additional possibility of misunderstanding with using the word for a "real" woman in a prophecy.

--jjmarkka 13:41, 21 Oct 2005 (CDT)"

--JoeWallack 08:37, 24 Jan 2007 (CST)


Reason for Move

The claimed error is that regarding the Hebrew "almah" of Isaiah 7:14, which means "young woman", "Matthew" treats the meaning as "virgin". The attempted Defense here tries to argue that "almah" has a stronger meaning of "virgin" than "betulah". Everything about the Context of Isaiah 7:14 is indicative of "young woman":

1) "Virgin births" would be unknown in the Jewish Bible.

2) There is no reaction in Isaiah consistent with an understanding of a virgin birth.

3) The definite article is used indicating the woman was known to Isaiah.

4) The perfect tense is used indicating the woman is already pregnant.

5) There is no Jewish commentary discussing a Virgin Birth.

Since there is no Context in Isaiah supporting a meaning of "virgin", an understanding of "virgin" must be based solely on the specific word used by Isaiah. Pro has pointed out that in the Jewish Bible "betulah" is used as a definition of "virgin" and "almah" is not. Therefore, the presumption is that "betulah" has a stronger meaning of "virgin" than "almah". In order to undo this presumption and regain "Con" status, the Defense must:

1) Demonstrate here by Specific verses that the overall use of "almah" in the Jewish Bible has a stronger meaning of "virgin" than "young woman" as opposed to just asserting it.

2) Than demonstrate that "almah" has a stronger meaning of "virgin" than "betulah" in the Jewish Bible.

Alternatively, the Defense can simply change its primary argument of "almah" having a stronger meaning of "virgin" than "betulah" to just arguing that "almah" has a primary meaning of "virgin". Again, the Defense will need to Demonstrate here by Specific verses that the overall use of "almah" in the Jewish Bible has a stronger meaning of "virgin" than "young woman" as opposed to just asserting it.

--JoeWallack 09:24, 24 Jan 2007 (CST)


Immanuel

JW:

A commonly claimed error here is that the verses:

Matthew 1:

20 "But when he thought on these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

21 And she shall bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name JESUS; for it is he that shall save his people from their sins.

22 Now all this is come to pass, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying,

23 Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, And they shall call his name Immanuel; which is, being interpreted, God with us.

24 And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took unto him his wife;

25 and knew her not till she had brought forth a son: and he called his name JESUS."

JW:

show "Matthew" claiming (in part) that the naming of Jesus fulfilled a prophecy of the naming of Immanuel. The above can reasonably be read though to understand "Now all this is come to pass" to refer priMarily to the supposed virgin conception and not to the naming of Immanuel. This is probably why "Matthew" claims prophecy fulfillment in the narrative after the supposed virgin conception but before the naming of Jesus. "Matthew" had to concede that "Jesus" is a different name than "Immanuel".

--JoeWallack 08:32, 30 Jan 2007 (CST)

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