Was Jesus Really Born of a Virgin?

Question from a Site Viewer
The Prophecy spoken of here was for King Ahaz. Read the Scripture in the whole, not parts that seem to fit what you want it too. This was a sign for King Ahaz that was fullfilled 700 years before Jesus. Why would God promise them a sign and them give it to them after they are dead. That makes no sense whatsoever. Also, the word that was found wrongly translated was virgin; it does not mean that! It means young woman. This is something that was laced in with Jesus trying to prove who he was. Remember, the book of Matthews was written 45-50 years after Jesus had died. Nonetheless, this had been fullfilled years before Jesus and had nothing to do with Jesus.

Prophecy in Question

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14 (NKJ)


“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.
Matthew 1:23-25 (NKJ)

And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:7 (NKJ)

Tim’s Answer
The argument that the Hebrew word we translate as “virgin” means “young woman” simply does not fly. Here are the Scriptures that use the word: Genesis 24:43 where Abraham’s servant is certainly looking for a virgin; Exodus 2:8, where Miriam, a young girl and undoubtedly a virgin at this time, is sent to get Moses’ mother; Proverbs 30:19 where one of the four things too wonderful for the author was the way of a man with a “almah” (here either a “virgin” or a “young woman” would make perfect sense in the translation although virgin is much preferred given the culture and the law); Psalm 68:25 likewise is ambiguous as to what the word should be; Song of Solomon 1:3 says the “almahs” love the bridegroom; and Song of Solomon 6:8 where there are stated to be “almahs” without number, given the practice of the ancient world these would have been virgins. These are the seven places the word is used. In no place does it refer to a married woman. The Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament that existed before the birth of Christ, translates this word in Isaiah 7:14 by the Greek word “parthenos.” This Greek word always means “a chaste girl,” that is, a “virgin.” Thus, it is not simply Matthew, but the Jews before the time of Jesus that thought the prophesy referenced a virgin.

And, no, a careful reading of Isaiah 7 and 8 does not lead to a conclusion that the prophesy was fully fulfilled in Ahaz’ time. There is an undoubted linkage to Assyria. But in no sense was there a Son born who was “Immanuel.” Some have sought to link the birth in Isaiah 8:3 to the prophesy of Isaiah 7:14. The problem is that the context sets forth this as a different prophesy with a different name given to the son. There is a linkage, as the word “Immanuel” is used twice, once in 8:8 and once in 8:10. But the name given to the son of Isaiah is not “Immanuel” nor is he ever given that name. Rather, the prophesy remains unfulfilled by any recorded event until we come to Jesus.

Perhaps, part of the problem is the failure to see that sometimes the prophets wrote about events far in the future in the same context of events soon to take place. There are many examples of this. In Daniel 2, there is a great prophesy of world empires that culminate in the coming of the Messiah. Likewise, in Daniel 7, there are the four great empires culminating in the coming of the Messiah. Yet, we know that the four empires (Babylon, Medes and Persians, Greeks, and Romans) have all passed and the Messiah has not yet come to rule the world as described. There is a jump in these prophesies. Likewise, in Isaiah, there is a great prophesy against Babylon in Isaiah 13 that talks about God destroying Babylon, but also speaks of the sun being darkened and the moon not shining and God punishing the world and leaving few who remain. God proclaims judgment on Egypt in Isaiah 19 and then speaks of the land of Judah being a terror to Egypt. At no time in history after Isaiah did Judah become a terror to Egypt, that we know, unless it was in 1967. There seems to be an intermixing of the near and the far that occurs often in prophecy. Such also seems to be the case in Isaiah 7:14. The “virgin” had not yet given us a Son who rightly held the name “Immanuel.”

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One thought on “Was Jesus Really Born of a Virgin?”

  1. Irenaeus in the 2nd century (Against Heresies III, Chapter XXI) defended the proper translation of “virgin” in Isaiah 7:14. First he notes (as does Tim) that the Jewish authors of the Septuagint translated almah into the greek word for “virgin” — this was over 100 years before the time of Christ! He also points out the obvious: what kind of sign would it be for a young woman to have a baby? — that is exceedingly common. Furthermore, he points out that Ahaz blew his chance for a sign and so the Lord game him a sign “unlooked for.” Ahaz couldn’t even look a few years into the future and see his folly of forming an alliance with Assyria — let alone look into the ages to come. In fact, Christ was the sign from “the heaven above” and descended into “Sheol below” (Isaiah 7:11) and was indeed “God with us.”

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