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Virgin birth prophecy in the old testament


I have viewed Rabbi Singer's notes listed at
OutreachJudaism.org. Maybe you should go to is website and view his
notes (2 are posted)? After viewing both, I have to say that I am much
more impressed with Rabbi Singer's notes. I am not Jewish, but what he
says makes way more sense and supports itself. They are listed below,
can you tell me how he is wrong?

Rabbi Singer's notes: if the Hebrew word alma means virgin then
each usage in the Bible must be either a clear reference to a
virgin or at least be ambiguous. The word alma appears in the
Jewish scriptures seven times. If even one reference clearly refers
to a woman who is not a virgin, then Matthew's rendition of Isaiah
7:14 becomes untenable.

One of the places where the uncommon Hebrew word alma appears
in the Bible is in Proverbs 30:18-20 which reads,

There are three things which are too wonderful for me, four
which I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the
way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship in the middle of
the sea, and the way of a man with a young woman [b'alma]. This
is the way of an adulterous woman: she eats and wipes her mouth,
and says, "I have done no wrong."

In the above three verses, King Solomon compares a man with
an alma to three other things: an eagle in the sky, a serpent
on a rock, and a ship in the sea. What do these three things all
have in common? They leave no trace. After the eagle has flown
across the sky, determining that the eagle had ever flown there
is impossible. Once a snake has slithered over a rock, there is
no way to discern that the snake had ever crossed there (as opposed
to a snake slithering over sand or grass, where it leaves a trail).
After a ship has moved across the sea, the water comes together
behind it and there is no way to tell that a ship had ever passed
through there. Similarly, King Solomon informs us that once a
man has been with an alma there is also no trace of the fornication
that had occurred between them. Therefore, in the following verse
(verse 20) King Solomon explains that once this adulterous woman
has eaten (a metaphor for her fornication), she removes the trace
of her sexual activity by exclaiming, "I have done no wrong."
The word alma clearly does not mean virgin.

In the same way that in the English language the words "young
woman" have no bearing on whether virginity is present or
not, in the Hebrew language there is no relationship between the
words alma and virgin. On the contrary, it is usually a young
woman who bears children. Had Isaiah wished to speak about a virgin
birth, he would have used the word betulah1 not alma. Betulah
is a common word in the Jewish scriptures, and can only mean "virgin."
(Isaiah 7:14):

When missionaries are confronted with the glaring problem that
the context of Isaiah 7:14 does not support Matthew's claim that
Isaiah is referring to Jesus' virgin birth, they often argue that
Isaiah 7:14 is a dual prophecy. In order to fully understand what
missionaries mean by a dual prophecy, let me first explain why
the context of Isaiah 7:14 does not support Matthew's use of this
verse as a proof-text of his virgin-birth story.

It should be said at the outset that the word "virgin"
does not appear in the seventh chapter of Isaiah. The author of
the first Gospel deliberately mistranslated the Hebrew word ha'almah
as "a virgin." This Hebrew word ha'almah does not mean
"a virgin." It means "the young woman," with
no implication of virginity. Most modern Christian Bibles1 have
corrected this erroneous translation, and their Bibles now correctly
translate this Hebrew word as "the young woman." Let's
now examine the context of Isaiah 7:14.

The seventh chapter of the Book of Isaiah begins by describing
the military crisis that was confronting King Ahaz of the Kingdom
of Judah. In about the year 732 B.C.E. the House of David was
facing imminent destruction at the hands of two warring kingdoms:
the northern Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Syria. These
two armies had laid siege to Jerusalem. The Bible relates that
the House of David and King Ahaz were gripped with fear. Chapter
seven relates how God sent the prophet Isaiah to reassure King
Ahaz that divine protection was at hand -- the Almighty would
protect him, their deliverance was assured, and these two hostile
armies would fail in their attempt to subjugate Jerusalem. In
Isaiah 7:1-16 we read,

And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz son of Jotham, son
of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin, king of Aram, and Pekah
son of Remaliah, king of Israel, marched on Jerusalem to wage
war against it, and he could not wage war against it. It was told
to the House of David, saying, "Aram has allied itself with
Ephraim," and his heart and the heart of his people trembled
as the trees of the forest tremble because of the wind. The Lord
said to Isaiah, "Now go out toward Ahaz, you and Shear-Yashuv
your son to the edge of the conduit of the upper pool, to the
road of the washer's field, and you shall say to him, 'Feel secure
and calm yourself, do not fear, and let your heart not be faint
because of these two smoking stubs of firebrands, because of the
raging anger of Rezin and Aram and the son of Remaliah. Since
Aram planned harm to you, Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, saying:
"Let us go up against Judah and provoke it, and annex it
to us; and let us crown a king in its midst, one who is good for
us." So said the Lord God, "Neither shall it succeed,
nor shall it come to pass . . . ." ' " The Lord continued
to speak to Ahaz, saying, "Ask for yourself a sign from the
Lord, your God; ask it either in the depths, or in the heights
above." Ahaz said, "I will not ask, and I will not test
the Lord." Then he said, "Listen now, O House of David,
is it little for you to weary men, that you weary my God as well?
Therefore the Lord, of His own, shall give you a sign: Behold
the young woman is with child, and she shall bear a son, and she
shall call his name Immanuel. Cream and honey he shall eat when
he knows to reject bad and choose good; for, when the lad does
not yet know to reject bad and choose good, the land whose two
kings you dread, shall be abandoned."

It is clear from this chapter that Isaiah's declaration was
a prophecy of the unsuccessful siege of Jerusalem by the two armies
of the Kingdoms of Israel and Syria, not a virgin birth more than
700 years later. If we interpret this chapter as referring to
Jesus' birth, what possible comfort and assurance would Ahaz,
who was surrounded by to overwhelming military enemies, have found
in the birth of a child seven centuries later? Both he and his
people would have been long dead and buried. Such a sign would
make no sense.

Verses 15-16 state that by the time this child reaches the
age of maturity ("he knows to reject bad and choose good"),
the two warring kings, Pekah and Rezin, will have been removed.
We see, in II Kings 15-16, that this prophecy was fulfilled when
these two kings were suddenly assassinated. With an understanding
of the context of Isaiah 7:14 alone, it is evident that the child
born in Isaiah 7:14 is not referring to Jesus or to any future
virgin birth. Rather, it is referring to the divine protection
that Ahaz and his people would enjoy from their impending destruction
at the hands of these two enemies, the northern Kingdom of Israel
and Syria.

This is where the Christian response of a dual prophecy comes
in. Missionaries attempt to explain away this stunning problem
of Matthew's complete indifference to the biblical context of
Isaiah 7:14 by claiming that Isaiah's words to Ahaz had two different
applications. They concede that the first application of Isaiah's
prophecy must have been addressed to Ahaz and his immediate crisis.
That child that was born contemporaneously and the first leg of
this dual prophesy was fulfilled at the time of Ahaz, 2,700 years

Missionaries insist, however, that the second leg of this dual
prophecy applied to Jesus' virgin birth less than 2,000 years
ago. With this elaborate explanation, missionaries maintain that
Matthew's use of Isaiah 7:14 is entirely appropriate. In short,
these Christians claim that Isaiah's prophecy was fulfilled twice:
once in 732 B.C.E., and a second time in the year 1 C.E. Problem
solved. Or is it?

The troubles created by this explanation are manifold. To begin
with, the proposal of dual prophecy is entirely contrived and
has no basis in the Bible. Nowhere in the seventh chapter of Isaiah
does the text even hint of a second fulfillment.2 The notion of
a dual prophecy is thoroughly unbiblical and was fashioned in
order to explain away a stunning theological problem.

Moreover, if, as missionaries argue, the word ha'almah means
a "virgin," and, as they insist, Isaiah 7:14 was fulfilled
twice, who was the first virgin to conceive in Ahaz's time? Were
there two virgin births? That is to say, if these Christians claim
that the virgin birth of Isaiah 7:14 was fulfilled twice, who
then was the first virgin having a baby boy in 732 B.C.E.? Bear
in mind that these missionaries insist that the word ha'almah
can only mean virgin. Are they claiming that Mary was not the
first and only virgin to conceive and give birth to a child?

Furthermore, if they claim the seventh chapter of Isaiah is
a dual prophecy, how does Isaiah 7:15-16 apply to Jesus when these
verses continue to speak of this lad? Remember, Isaiah 7:14-16

Therefore the Lord, of His own, shall give you a sign, "Behold
the young woman is with child, and she shall bear a son, and she
shall call his name Immanuel. Cream and honey he shall eat when
he knows to reject bad and choose good; for, when the lad does
not yet know to reject bad and choose good, the land whose two
kings you dread, shall be abandoned."

If Isaiah's words are the substance of a dual prophecy, at
what age did the baby Jesus mature? Which were the two kingdoms
during Jesus' lifetime that were abandoned? Who dreaded the Kingdom
of Israel during the first century when there had not been a Kingdom
of Israel in existence since the seventh century B.C.E.? When
did Jesus eat cream and honey? Does any of this make any sense?
It doesn't because this argument of a dual prophecy was born out
of the desperation of Christian missionaries and essentially makes
a mockery out of the Book of Isaiah.

This makes way more sense and comes together like fabric. It
supports itself and does not ask me to really stretch my imagination
inorder to believe in what I am being told.


An interesting and little known verse assuring us that Jesus was
virgin born is Matthew 1:16, "and Jacob the father of Joseph the
husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ." The
pronoun "of whom" is feminine singular in Greek. Jesus was the
biological son of Mary but not of Joseph.

Regarding Isaiah 7:The prophet was instructed by God to meet
King Ahaz (a man quite indifferent to God).

"Go forth to meet Ahaz, you and Shearjashub ( = "a
remnant shall return") your son, at the end of the conduit
of the upper pool on the highway to the Fuller's Field, and say
to Ahaz, `Take heed, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your
heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands,
at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the Pekah the son of

The message was to the effect that Syria in league with the
Ten Northern Tribes would not prevail in their siege of Jerusalem.

Isaiah offered to give the King a sign, Ahaz refused, the prophet
said he would get a sign anyhow:

Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, "Ask a sign of the LORD
your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven." But
Ahaz said, "I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to
the test."

Isaiah now addresses the nation rather than merely the King.
The sign to be given was to Jerusalem and Judah:

And Isaiah said, "Hear then, O house of David! Is it too
little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore
the Lord himself will give you [plural, i.e., the house of David]
a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and
shall call his name Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey when
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, (i.e., reaches
the age of accountability) the land before whose two kings you are in
dread will be deserted. The LORD will bring upon you and upon your
people and upon your father's house such days as have not come since
the day that Ephraim departed from Judah--the king of Assyria."

Almah can mean "young woman" or "virgin."
Notice, however I strongly believe that this is a prophecy with
a double fulfillment. The prophet's wife is to have a son shortly,
and before that son grows up the two threatening kings will be
destroyed. (verses 15-16). Sure enough, within 12 years the King
of Assyria did indeed capture Damascus fulfilling the promise that the
Syrians were not a threat to Jerusalem (v17ff). 

Isaiah's wife was already married so she could not be called
a virgin in the first fulfillment of this prophecy in the near

Isaiah's wife bore a son and the immediate threat to Jerusalem
from the North ended within 12 years. 

When the Hebrew text was translated into Greek by the 70 scholars
in Alexandria (c150-300 BC), the Greek "parthenos" was
used in place of "almah." Parthenos does always mean
"virgin." Isaiah and family were long since gone from
the scene, the first fulfillment of the prophecy was finished,
only the second was waiting to happen. 

Many, many prophecies in the OT have a double fulfillment!
The son born in the second fulfillment was to be named "Immanuel"
("God with us")-- a rather strong hint that the virgin
born son of David was to be no ordinary man.

Jewish rabbis love to argue in circles, and lacking the discernment
the Holy Spirit gives to us believers, they never see the real
truth of the Scriptures. The OT is bountifully full of references
to Yeshua the Messiah, but the Jews continue to stumble over the
stumbling stone. Arguing does not accomplish anything useful in
most cases. I am not impressed by Rabbi Singer's unbelief. We
who know Yeshua personally and recognize that He is indeed the
God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob need not be intimidated by the
erudite arguments of men who do not know God. As you probably
know, the Apostle Paul agonizes over Israel's unbelief and it's
final end in Romans 9-11. It won't be long now. The stage is all set
in the Middle East for Messiah's second coming. Then no doubt will
remain. (January 2, 2001)