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Jesus ~ Born of a Virgin or a Young Girl?

14 Dec
c. 1560-1565
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I have heard a great deal of talk denying the virgin birth of Jesus. One of the most interesting points made says the New Testament draws the validity of its doctrine from an Old Testament text that does not support the idea that a virgin would both conceive and give birth. If the foundation for the doctrine of the Virgin Birth isn’t there, then how could its substance be true? Wouldn’t it be mere opinion, if it were not fulfilling an actual Scripture in the older Testament?

Matthew says an angel told Joseph to name the child Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). He based this saying upon what was written by the prophet Isaiah who foretold that a virgin would both conceive and give birth to a child whose name would be Emmanuel or God with us! The controversy lies in the fact that the Scripture which Matthew has in mind, Isaiah 7:14, uses the Hebrew almah (H5959) for the maiden who would conceive. Hebrew scholars claim that the word almah refers to a young maiden of marriageable age, but not necessarily a virgin. The better word, if one wished to refer to a virgin, would have been bethulah (H1330), but since Isaiah used almah, he apparently was not referring to a virgin!

As I see it, the problem with the wording of Isaiah was not a controversy, until sometime after Jesus was crucified, and when the Gospel was being preached. The Septuagint (Greek Old Testament), compiled by Hebrew scholars long before the birth of Jesus, translated Isaiah 7:14 to indicate virgin in the Greek. They used the word parthenos (G3933), the same word used by Matthew. The fact is that almah, the Hebrew word used in Isaiah 7:14, is used seven times in the Old Testament: Genesis 24:43, Exodus 2:8, Psalms 68:25, Proverbs 30:19, Song of Solomon 1:3 & 6:8 and Isaiah 7:14. Of these Genesis 24:43 and Exodus 2:8 are definitely virgins; while the others imply the young women are virgins, and Isaiah 7:14 seems to say a virgin shall not only conceive, but a virgin shall also bear or give birth to the babe as well. There simply doesn’t seem to be a Jewish problem with “virgin” in Isaiah 7:14 until after Jesus’ time.

On the other hand, if we look at the word bethulah, the Hebrew word scholars seem to unanimously claim does mean virgin, the compilers of the Septuagint have translated it 43 times into parthenos (G3933), the Greek for virgin, but the remaining 7 are either skipped or translated into korasion (G2877), meaning “girl.” However, what I find surprising is that one of those 50 occurrences of the Hebrew word for “virgin”, the bethulah (H1330) is mourning for the husband of her youth (Joel 1:8). Now how could that be, if bethulah is the Hebrew word for ‘virgin’?

Another point to consider is, in two places where bethulah is used in the Hebrew Scriptures it is defined as a young girl who has never known a man (Genesis 24:16 and Judges 21:12). If bethulah always means virgin (except for Joel 1:8) why would it need to be defined to a Jewish reader? Still another matter to consider is that in the surrounding context of one of those Scriptures, Genesis 24:16, almah is used as a synonym for bethulah. Rebecca is described in Genesis 24:16 using bethulah with the additional information that she had never known a man. Immediately before v.16 Abraham’s servant is praying, and Rebecca came in answer to that prayer. But when Abraham’s servant recalled the incident with Rebecca’s family in Genesis 24:43 he used the word almah instead of bethulah. It seems to me, in light of what the Septuagint translators have shown us and in this comparison of both words in context of the same incident, that both mean about the same thing—“a young woman of marriageable age.” In the context of the Jewish society where harlotry was disdained and even punishable with death, it is presumed these words indicate virginity.

Therefore, Matthew has it correct and there should really be no controversy at all among Biblical scholars. After all, no controversy even existed until at least a century or two after the Gospel had been preached. Moreover, the ancient Jewish scholars who wrote the Septuagint agree with Matthew’s interpretation (the word means virgin), and a comparison of the two Hebrew words used to describe a young woman of marriageable age shows they are synonyms, and, in the context of ancient Jewish society, that means virgin!

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10 Comments

Posted by on December 14, 2010 in Christianity, Christmas, Religion

 

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10 responses to “Jesus ~ Born of a Virgin or a Young Girl?

  1. Vlad

    December 16, 2010 at 18:17

    • So Moses, talking to the Lord in Ex33:18, was really asking to see Him as He really is and not as He usually appears to us?
    • Difference between the Lord and an angel is that human can’t look at the Lord and be alive, but we can see angels as they are (it’s just going to be ‘terrific’).
    • Previously you said that the Lord isn’t an angelic being, and I understood that He is a human from the time He was “born” (Col1:15) only with uncorrupted by Adams sin flesh. Later He was reborn from Marry and reclaimed us to God being a human with corrupted body (just like the rest of us). After resurrection He acquired new body, just like the one He used to have. Presumably this kind of body awaits our spirits in the new heavens and Earth.
    • I also was trying to understand who cherubims are. It looks like they are intelligent creatures that designed for specific purposes. So when God called Adam a cherubim in Ezek28:12-17 He is actually referring to Adams purpose in the Garden (Ps8:6-8).

    Sorry Eddie, I’m asking so many questions. It’s just overwhelming to keep everything in mind.

     
    • Eddie

      December 16, 2010 at 20:24

      So Moses, talking to the Lord in Ex33:18, was really asking to see Him as He really is and not as He usually appears to us?

      That is correct.

      Difference between the Lord and an angel is that human can’t look at the Lord and be alive, but we can see angels as they are (it’s just going to be ‘terrific’).

      As far as “appearance” is concerned, yes.

      Previously you said that the Lord isn’t an angelic being, and I understood that He is a human from the time He was “born” (Col1:15) only with uncorrupted by Adams sin flesh. Later He was reborn from Marry and reclaimed us to God being a human with corrupted body (just like the rest of us). After resurrection He acquired new body, just like the one He used to have. Presumably this kind of body awaits our spirits in the new heavens and Earth.

      I’m not certain what you mean by Jesus being “reborn”. He was born for the first time through Mary. He became the “firstborn” from the dead at his resurrection. After his resurrection he retained his human body in order to show himself alive to the disciples. While he can and does appear in other forms, he retains his human body. Nevertheless, his appearance to Paul on the way to Damascus shows that he has reclaimed his former divine appearance as well, just as you say above. Also (just as you say above), we shall appear like him according to 1John 3, because then we shall see him as he is, just as Moses desired back in Exodus.

      I also was trying to understand who cherubims are. It looks like they are intelligent creatures that designed for specific purposes. So when God called Adam a cherubim in Ezek28:12-17 He is actually referring to Adams purpose in the Garden (Ps8:6-8).

      Cherubims are spirit beings, if I understand the Scriptures properly, they have the appearance of an ox (at least their face). I see this by comparing Ezekiel 10:14 and Revelation 4:7. They also have what appears to be hands like that of men (Ezekiel 10:8), and of course they have wings. The text doesn’t say if they are akin to angels or whether they are beings of a class by themselves. However, concerning Ezekiel 28:14, there is a problem with the text in Hebrew. The pronoun “you” in the clause “you are the anointed cherub” is feminine, but elsewhere the ruler of Tyre is referred to in the masculine gender. It is thought that this is a corruption in the text and should actually be written as the preposition “with” as is the case in the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament. It appears as:

      Ezekiel 28:14 LXX (14) From the day that you were created you were with the cherub; I set you on the holy mount of God; you were in the midst of the stones of fire.

      Other modern translations correct it so:

      Ezekiel 28:14 NET. I placed you there with an anointed guardian cherub; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked about amidst fiery stones.

      I usually like the KJV, but it does have its problems.

      Sorry Eddie, I’m asking so many questions. It’s just overwhelming to keep everything in mind.

      Vlad, your questions are not a problem. I don’t know how long you have been studying God’s word, but you appear to have an insatiable appetite, and this is a good thing. God will bless your hunger for him. Be patient; it won’t always seem so overwhelming. The fact is, I was a bit stumped by your last question, concerning the cherub and Ezekiel 28. I prayed and God showed me how the text should read, at least that the King of Tyre (which many view as Satan) is not a cherub. He is a man whom God originally placed with a cherub.

      Lord bless my friend,

      Eddie

       
  2. Vlad

    December 16, 2010 at 13:02

    • I made a list of verses where angels (04397) are not the Lord nor they are messengers:
    Job38:4-7 (they are created before man)
    Job1:6 (they are angels in the context of Job38:7)
    Dan3:92 (I assume it was Lord but there are no direct indication)
    Gen19 (probably most descriptive part concerning angels appearance)
    Gen28:12
    Gen32:1-2
    2Sam24:16
    Ps78:49 (even though it appears like it is evil angels, but I assume that they are evil in relationship to jews)
    Ps91:11
    Ps103:20
    Ps104:4
    Ps148:2
    Prov17:11
    Zach1:14
    2King22:19
    Mt18:10
    Mt22:30
    Heb1-2
    I didn’t include Revelation since it is almost impossible to tell which angel is Jesus, which are actual angels and who satans angels are.
    • Could it be that Mt22:30 not an indication of angels sexless form (compare to Gen19 where they look like guys) but state of their relations with each other? We, humans, do have a need for a marriage (contract) since we have a sinful nature and require formal limitations. But in glorified state, after resurrection, in eternal house, we wouldn’t be able to lust after another person, kind of like most animals do today (not the best comparison). Also Gen2:24 says nothing about contract of any form.
    I’m not even sure what positive or negative answer will give me, I think I’m just being curious now.

     
    • Eddie

      December 16, 2010 at 17:38

      Vlad, hello again,

      Concerning Matthew 22:30 and Genesis 19, at times spirit beings (angels) appear in the form of men. This is probably so men would not be terrified by their presence, such as was the case of Zechariah in Luke 1:12. In Daniel 10 we see that Daniel couldn’t even stand on his feet before the angel that appeared to him, because he was so terrified. In Genesis 18 we are told three men came to visit Abraham. One was the Lord. Abraham entertained them and while two went off to Sodom, the Lord (in the form of a man) spoke with Abraham, telling him of the fate of Sodom. Abraham was concerned, knowing that Lot, his nephew, was living in Sodom. The Lord promised to save the righteous.

      The two angels that Lot entertained in Genesis 19 were in the form of men, as was the One with whom Lot spoke on the plane (Genesis 19:17-22), but when the city was destroyed it was the Lord who called down fire and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven (Genesis 19:24). God is Spirit, yet he appears from time to time as a man. He became a man in Jesus, born of Mary, but his original form is not physical, nor does his appearance resemble that of mankind. He is Light dwelling in LIGHT to which no man in his present condition can approach (1Timothy 6:16).

      If God does not look like a man, but at times appears to us in the form of a man, it stands to reason that angels, who are described as spirits and flames of fire in parts of Scripture (Psalm 104:4), do not really look like men in their real form either. They appear to us in this way from time to time so as not to alarm us.

      Lord bless,

      Eddie

       
  3. Vlad

    December 16, 2010 at 10:18

    *No one can show that that which is spirit could reproduce anything through intercourse with mankind.*
    – I had impression that angels (heavenly beings, those that rejoiced when God created foundation of the Earth) are not simply spirits but do have bodies like we do. I’m not saying that it proves their ability to reproduce, I just want to figure out more about their appearance.

     
    • Eddie

      December 16, 2010 at 10:51

      Greetings Vlad,

      I didn’t mean to imply the angels have no bodies. They have a spiritual body. To have no body at all is to be naked. Paul speaks of this in 2Corinthians 5:1-4. In 1Corinthians 15:44 he speaks of our one day having a spiritual body. I assume from this that when the Lord claimed we would be like angels (Matthew 22:30) that they also have a spiritual body. The implication in the incident with the Lord and the Sadducees had to do with marrying and reproducing. Jesus claimed such a thing would not occur in the Kingdom. If this is true, then angels have no means of reproducing, but even if they did, according to Genesis 1, they could never reproduce through intercourse with mankind, because we are two different kinds of the creation of God. Just as a duck cannot have offspring from a dog, neither could an angel have offspring with a man or a woman. Moreover, the Bible never attaches gender to angels, so this also implies they are non-productive with regards to their kind. They are individually created.

      Lord bless,

      Eddie

       
  4. Vlad

    December 16, 2010 at 01:56

    • I noticed another place where archangel is mentioned: 1Th4:16. Does it say that archangel is another being than Lord or simply that Lord will descend having voice of archangel?
    • If kingdom of God can not be divided and if there are no fallen angels than who are sons of God in Genesis if in Job and Psalms they are angels? Could they be prophets which described in 2Pet2:4 and Jud1:6? In which case sons of God has different meaning in different books.

     
    • Eddie

      December 16, 2010 at 09:44

      Hi Vlad,

      1Thessalonians 4:16 concerns the 2nd coming of Jesus. He descends with the shout of the Archangel, also called the Trump of God in the same verse. If shout answers to trump then Archangell answers to God! Matthew 25:31 speaks of the same incident where Jesus comes with all his holy angels. Arch = Leader and angel = angel; he is the Leader or Lord of all the angels, just as he is Lord over you and me.

      Concerning “fallen angels”, there is no record of a war in heaven whereby angels rebelled against God. Revelation 12 is referring to the rebellion of man and has a reference to Jesus’ ministry as I referred to in an earlier comment. The “sons of God” or “sons of god” in Genesis 6 cannot refer to angels, because Genesis 1 reveals the truth that kind reproduces kind . No one can show that that which is spirit could reproduce anything through intercourse with mankind. No one can even show that angels are equipped bodily to reproduce at all. In fact, Jesus, himself, claims that angels do not reproduce or marry. We shall be like them according to our Lord and Savior. Therefore, Genesis 6:2 cannot be referring to angels. They are either the sons of God (meaning men of God’s righteous line through Seth), or they are sons of god (meaning men who were descended from the unrighteous line of Cain, called sons of the god – Adam) who took wives (plural) cp. Genesis 4:19 where Lamech, the 7th from Adam, had more than one wife.

      Lord bless,

      Eddie

       
  5. Vlad

    December 14, 2010 at 17:50

    Hello again, I have more questions concerning… well… everything. Hope you can help me.
    • When I read many places in OT (like Gen3:2-4) I often see that where ‘Angel of the Lord’ is mentioned, He is also called ‘Lord’ (Jehovah). I assume that in other places of OT where He isn’t directly called Lord He still is Lord and not just any created angel. If so does it mean that ‘Angel of the Lord’ in NT means the same (did translation preserve meaning)? Or in NT ‘Angel of the Lord’ could be any angels?
    • I realized (by referencing Dan12:1 and Rev12:7) that Michael could be an ‘Angel of the Lord’ (Michael in Dan, Jesus in Rev). The question is this, if Michael was Lord, Who was born as a man and got resurrected, He couldn’t be archangel Michael anymore since men in resurrected form should be higher then angels (Heb2:9, Psalm 8:4-5). Maybe it is silly question, but what happened to the actual body of archangel Michael?
    • As you explained in other topics, Adam’s actions were ‘snakelike’. Does Bible has any other such comparisons of ‘actions of man’ and ‘animal form’? Does Bible uses the same technique of comparisons as with Adam someplace else?
    • It is not question, it’s just comment: as I look through the Bible with understanding of who satan really is I see more and more support for this theory. In OT I nowhere see fallen angels. Besides, as Jesus said in Mt12:25 “very kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation”. So Gods kingdom can not have division and so fallen angels.

     
    • Eddie

      December 14, 2010 at 19:00

      Vlad, Hi, I am glad to hear from you again.

      Concerning the Angel of the Lord, clearly in the Old Testament he was a particular Messenger whose name was YHWH and there is good reason to believe he is the very one who became Jesus. I have written a blog on this and can be found HERE.

      Nevertheless, the New Testament is not so clear when it uses “angel of the Lord.” For example, An angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah in Luke 1:11, but his name is Gabriel Luke 1:19, not YHWH. If Jesus is the Angel of the Lord spoken of in the Old Testament, how could this angel be appearing to and speaking with Joseph? In the Old Testament “Angel of the Lord” referred to one called YHWH who is called God, Almighty God and appeared Abraham, Jacob, and to Moses in the bush. It is he who thundered from Mt. Sinai and led the children of Israel in the wilderness. In the New Testament, the “angel of the Lord” appears to be just that—a messenger of the Lord. He is never once called God, nor can it be implied from anywhere in the New Testament. I have to believe the two phrases do not refer to the same being.

      Concerning Jesus and Michael, simply because Michael is called “Archangel” does not make him an angelic being. All “arch-angel” means is “leader” or “one in authority over” the angels. What happened to Michael’s “body” is the same as what occurred to Jesus’ divine “body” before he became man (Philippians 2:6-7). When Scripture says Jesus was equal with God (the Father) it is referring to his bodily form. The Scripture says he “emptied himself” of his divine “form” and took to himself the “form” of a man. He existed as Spirit, but became physical. What occurred to Jesus before he became man, occurred to Michael, because Michael and Jesus are one and the same. Jesus/Michael was/is God; he is not and never had been an angelic being.
      Concerning referring to Adam as an animal (snake), yes, the Scriptures do refer to men as animals from time to time. Jesus is the Lamb of God (John 1:29); Jesus referred to Herod Antipas as “that fox” (Luke 13:32); he also referred to men as dogs and swine (Matthew 7:6); Paul also warned the brethren to beware of dogs (Philippians 3:2), meaning unclean men who have no spiritual understanding. Of course God’s people are often called his sheep and leaders are at times referred to as goats (Zechariah 10:3). Alexander the Great, the king of Greece is referred to as a goat (Daniel 8:21).
      Concerning your studies on God’s Kingdom, you are absolutely correct. I acknowledge the Spirit of God in you leading your studies.

       

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