Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Isaiah 7:14 And The Virgin Birth

Isa 7:14. Therefore (Heb laken) is a connective word often used by the prophets to introduce a divine declaration. In this context it is a transitory word used to unify verse Isa 7:14 with the preceding statements. The Lord here is Adonai. It was common to interchange this term Lord for the tetragrammaton (four-consonant spelling of Yahweh). (See the references in E. Wurthwein, The Text of the Old Testament, p. 146.) Since Jehovah (Yahweh) was the personal name of God as revealed to His covenant people, it is likely here that the reference to Him as Adonai was to emphasize that He was, in fact, not the personal God of the unbelieving Ahaz. Behold (hineh) is always used to arrest the attention. When used with a participle, it is an interjection, introducing either a present or future action. Delitzsch (p. 216) argues that it always introduces a future occurrence, whereas Young (Studies, p. 161) argues that it should be taken as a verbal adjective expressing present conditions. The real significance of the term is in its calling attention to an important birth (see similar forms of announcements in Gen 16:11 Jude 13:5). Thus, we are to look with anticipation to the virgin and her son who are announced as the central figures of this prophecy. The real questions in this passage are, "Who is the virgin, and who is Immanuel?" A virgin should better be read the virgin." The use of the Hebrew definite article ha in connection with the woman in the passage indicates that a definite woman is in view to the mind of the prophet (see Lindbolm, A Survey of the Immanuel Section of Isaiah, p. 19). Hengstenberg (Christology, II, p. 44) emphasizes that the relationship of hineh to the article in ha'almah is best explained by the present tense of the context, so that the girl is present to the inward perception of the prophet. That she is definitely a specific girl is obvious. When he refers to her specifically as "the" virgin, it is highly unlikely that he meant to refer to any woman who might bear a child in the next few months. The word virgin is the unique and uncommon Hebrew word 'almah. The more commonly used word for virgin is bethulah, but in spite of its frequent usage to denote a virgin, it is in at least two passages (Deut 22:19; Joel 1:8) used to refer to a married woman. Therefore, Isaiah's choice of the rare word 'almah better signifies virginity than the more common term bethulah. While it is true that 'almah can be translated "young woman," it is never intended in the Hebrew language to deny the legitimacy of that young woman's virginity! Even the prominent Jewish scholar, Cynis Gordon, notes that the LXX translates 'almah by the Greek word parthenos, which always means "virgin." It should be remembered that the LXX is a Jewish translation made in pre-Christian Alexandria, Egypt. It represents a Jewish interpretation of Isaiah 7:14 that is much earlier than Matthew's use of the same word parthenos when referring hack to the liah 7:14 passage (Mt 1:23). Had Isaiah chosen to use the word bethulut instead of almah, the liberals, who seem determined to deny the messianic predictive element of this verse, could just have easily argued that Isaiah did not intend to predict the virgin birth of the coming Messiah, or else he would have used the more scarce, yet technically COITCT, termalah! No one has done a better job of evaluating the meaning of this word than Young, Studies, pp. 143-198; he should be consulted for further information. Shall conceive (Heb harah) should actually be translated is pregnant." It is neither a verb nor a participle, but a feminine adjective connected with an active participle (hearing): and it denotes that the scene is present to the prophet's view. Alexander (p. 121) discusses this point at length with conclusive evidence to show that the virgin is already pregnant and bearing a son. Thus, we can not escape the conclusion that this is a picture of the virgin birth of Christ Himsell. The context makes it clear that the virgin is pregnant and is still a virgin! Immanuel is the symbolic name of the child, meaning "God with us." Smith (1, p. 131) argues that it is impossible to disassociate the Immanuel of this passage from that who is mentioned in connection with the land in chapter Isa 8 and the Prince of four names in chapter Isa 9. It is obvious that Matthew regarded this Immanuel to be none other than Jesus Christ Himself. He thus quotes this prophecy as being fulfilled in the virgin birth of Christ (Mt 1:23). He considers it to be of divine origin, stating that it was "spoken of the Lord by the prophet" (Mt 1:22). He therefore recognized that the sign given in Isaiah 7.14 was authored by God and delivered to Ahaz through the prophet. Even if one attempts to argue that Matthew merely followed the LXX in using parthenos, he followed the source that represented the oldest available interpretation of Isaiah 7:14. His contextual usage of hina plorotha is certainly indicative of his understanding the passage to contain a definitely predictive element. There can be no doubt that until the rise of so-called "modern" scholarship, those closest historically to the actual statement by the prophet Isaiah have always taken it to be a prediction of the miraculous virgin birth of the coming Messiah. (For a thorough study of this entire prophecy see E. Hindson, Isaiah's Immanuel.)

King James Version Bible Commentary, p. 780-781

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