What about the Virgin Birth of Jesus?
What Bible believers miss!
In this post I’ll examine whether it’s possible in the text of the Hebrew scriptures to confirm whether or not Jesus’ virgin birth is tenable.
Thanks for reading Question Truth!! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Well after the Hebrew scriptures, the Greek New Testament book of Matthew reads like this:
Now the birth of Jesus Christ happened this way. While his mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.
Because Joseph, her husband to be, was a righteous man, and because he did not want to disgrace her, he intended to divorce her privately.
When he had contemplated this, an angel of YHWH appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
She will give birth to a son and you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
This all happened so that what was spoken by YHWH through the prophet would be fulfilled:
“Look! The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call him Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.”
Matthew 1:18-23 NET
If you check for a cross reference for verse 23, you’ll generally find Isaiah 7:14 listed:
Therefore YHWH himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14 KJV
Sounds like an accurate cross reference, right? Let’s look at the full context though, since the New Testament writers sometime employ poetic license.
YHWH again spoke to Ahaz:
“Ask for a confirming sign from YHWH your God. You can even ask for something miraculous.”
But Ahaz responded, “I don’t want to ask; I don’t want to put YHWH to a test.”
So Isaiah replied, “Pay attention, family of David. Do you consider it too insignificant to try the patience of men? Is that why you are also trying the patience of my God?
For this reason the sovereign master himself will give you a confirming sign. Look, this young woman is about to conceive and will give birth to a son. You, young woman, will name him Immanuel.
He will eat sour milk and honey, which will help him know how to reject evil and choose what is right.
Here is why this will be so: Before the child knows how to reject evil and choose what is right, the land whose two kings you fear will be desolate.
Isaiah 7:10-16 NET
Let’s break this down
This is the story of Isaiah delivering a sign to King Ahaz that he will not be defeated by the armies arrayed against him at the time, which was roughly 700 years before the birth of Jesus. Jerusalem is under siege, but Isaiah is delivering YHWH’s assurance to King Ahaz that he will not be defeated.
What is the actual sign given to Ahaz, that a virgin will conceive? No! The sign is that the siege will be over by the time the young child is old enough to know good from evil. The pregnancy is simply pointed out as a means to identify who that child will be. The pregnancy is not the sign.
Is the pregnant woman a virgin? No! The Hebrew word “alma”, which means young woman/maiden, is used. Isaiah uses the proper term for virgin, “betulah”, in Isaiah 23:12, 37:22 and 47:1. Had he intended to mean virgin in this passage, he would have used the same word “betulah”. For this reason, many modern English translations do not translate the word virgin in this passage, because it is inappropriate to do so.
Frequently it is argued that the rabbis who translated the Septuagint translated the word alma as virgin in Isaiah 7:14. However, that is incorrect. Tradition says Ptolemy II sponsored the translation of the Torah into Greek, which was performed by 70 rabbis. Tradition also says that all 70 rabbis translated the entire Torah while individually sequestered, and all 70 copies matched word for word. Whether either is true is difficult to ascertain.
We do know, however, that only the Torah was translated initially. The remainder of the Septuagint was translated and assembled 200-300 years later, and by whom we do not know. Further, we do not have the originals, so further redaction is possible in the manuscripts we do have. What scholars do generally agree on is that the Torah of the Septuagint was translated well, while the remainder was of a decidedly inferior quality, with Isaiah being among the worst.
(For details see Wikipedia’s article on the Septuagint.)
Final nail in the proverbial coffin?
Finally, let’s apply some simple logic to this situation. New Testament authorities have long claimed Isaiah 7:14 as a dual prophecy, i.e. a prophecy which was fulfilled in its time but also applies to a future event as well. Think about what that means if you are a New Testament believer who accepts this premise.
The clear implication missed by most is that this original young woman from Isaiah’s time, who predated Jesus by 7 centuries and which New Testament believers claim was a virgin just as Mary was means this: Jesus was at least the second such virgin birth!
This destroys the idea of Jesus being God’s “only begotten son”, as his alleged virgin birth was not original! Why don’t New Testament adherents consider the first virgin-born child as “the messiah”?