Much controversy has surrounded the passage in the prophet Isaiah’s record contained in the seventh chapter of his prophecy. Verse fourteen states:
Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
The New Testament records the fulfillment of this prophecy regarding the Messiah Jesus’ birth through the Virgin Mary (Matthew 1: 18-25, Luke 1:26-37).
Those who are eager to discredit the miracle of Jesus’ birth and the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, point to the fact that the word that is translated into “virgin” in the prophecy is not the Hebrew word for virgin which is bethulah. The word that is used instead in the Hebrew is “almah.” This word means, “a young woman of marriageable age” - or child bearing age. In Biblical times it was basically understood to mean an unmarried virgin. The word almah is derived from a root word that means vigor or puberty.
In the Aramaic, the word almah and the word that is used to describe Rebecca, na’arah (Genesis 24:14), are translated as the same word meaning. In the context of the story the “girl,” na’arah, in verse 14, represents an unmarried virgin that would be chosen for Isaac’s wife.
The Septuagint, also known as the LXX, is the Greek translation of the entire Old Testament that was used by the New Testament writers. It was translated by Jewish scholars in Alexandria, Egypt and was completed approximately around 285 B.C., long before Jesus’ arrival. These scholars who were also familiar with the meaning and usage of the word almah, also translated that word as “virgin” in Isaiah 7:14.
While some modern scholars choose to translate almah as a young woman, or girl, the early Jews understood at that time in their culture, that that a young woman who was not yet married - “a young woman of marriageable age,” would mean a virgin.
The validity of Jesus’ prophesied miracle birth cannot be disputed unless the facts regarding the usage of the word almah, are blatantly ignored or contorted, as some have done in order to discredit another one of God’s miracles that testify of the uniqueness of the Messiah Jesus.
Copyright 2021 by H.D. Shively
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