14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
I was watching history channel, and I keep seeing a commercial claiming that Isaiah 7:14 is a mistranslation. Now the two Hebrew words we need to
look at are almah
. Now the argument is that virgin should have been translated "young woman." While it is true that the
does not necessarily imply the girl is a virgin, but remember a girl of the age to marry in biblical times would be presumed a
is used ten times in Hebrew Scripture. Six of those times are the plural form of the word, alamot
. The other four times
is the singular form of the word, and is normally translated "maiden" and describes a girl who is of age to marry, but not married. Now it would
appear at first glance, that the word should be translated betulah
if it was meant to say virgin, but lets examine a bit closer.
Lets take a look at other places in Hebrew Scripture where the two words are used:
43 Behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass, that when the virgin cometh forth to draw water, and I say to her, Give me, I pray
thee, a little water of thy pitcher to drink;
44 And she say to me, Both drink thou, and I will also draw for thy camels: let the same be the woman whom the Lord hath appointed out for my master's
This is in reference to a woman, Rebekah, and it is translated virgin as well.
8 “Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Go ahead." So the girl went and called the child's mother.”
The girl her is said to be 10-12 years of age around this time according to Josephus, and it would not be reasonable to assume she was anything other
than a virgin.
Song of Solomon 1
3 Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, your name is ointment poured forth; therefore the virgins love you.
Many Jewish commentators translate alamot
virgins in this passage as well. The consistent use of the word almah or its plural form shows that
it normally refers to a girl that is a virgin.
"And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor,
Abraham's brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder. And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she
went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up."
In this passage Rebekah(same one in Genesis 43 where almah is used), is referred to as a virgin with the betulah
, but if this word invariably
understood as virgin, why did the writer add the phrase neither had any man known her?"
Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.
In this verse the word used for husband is ba'al
, and this word is only used for a married man, therefore context would show that
was referring to a married woman.
In conclusion, I would say that virgin is definitely the most correct translation of the word almah
in Isaiah7:14. Not only is it more
consistent with the rest of Hebrew Scripture, but also the Septuagint predates the Hebrew Bible by a few centuries, and it uses the Greek word
, which unequivocally means virgin. So apparently, the ancient translators who translated the Septuagint believed it was to be a
virgin, and this is later confirmed in Matthew.
edit on 10-11-2013 by ServantOfTheLamb because: (no reason given)