The Prophecy - The Virgin Birth Of Our Messiah
Old Testament Prophecy
New Testament Fulfillment
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us"
This prophecy seems to bring up interesting conversations. From a traditional rabbinical context, the woman who is giving birth to this child named Immanuel is unclear.
Here, God is giving a sign through Isaiah for not just King Ahaz but the entire House Of David.
There seems to be no good answer for the short term fulfillment of this prophecy. Traditional Jewish commentators have suggested the wife of Isaiah, or a wife of King Ahaz. Chronological considerations exclude the mother of Hezekiah. Some look to Maher-ShalalHash-Baz found in Isaiah Chapter 8 as the child in this prophecy.
If there is a short term fulfillment of this prophecy it may not be a matter of immediate fulfillment or even just a few years. In Isaiah 7:8 we see that it spans a minimum of 65 years in the broader context.
One suggestion might be the most likely women to have been present with the king would have been the queen and her escort. If this is true, the son that is to be born would be the heir apparent to the throne, i.e. the Anointed One.(1)
It is also possible that since King Ahaz refused a sign from the Lord that now the intended audience of the sign would be much bigger. The scope would be broadened from just King Ahaz to the entire "House Of David." Notice how the offer of a sign changes from just to King Ahaz in verse 11 "ask for yourself" to the sign now being for the entire house of David v:13.
Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God; make it deep as Sheol or high as heaven. But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord!” Then he said, “Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well? “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:11-14). (Nasb)
Sometimes with prophecy there is a short term and a longer term fulfillment with the same prophecy. This is often referred to as the doctrine of duel fulfillment and might be the case concerning Isaiah 7:14. Since there is no agreement on its short term fulfillment, JewishRoots.Net will focus on its long term fulfillment which is found in the virgin birth of our Messiah Jesus Christ.
New Testament Fulfillment of this exact passage involving the virgin birth of Jesus Christ is clearly seen in Matthew 1:18-23. (See scripture passage at the top of the page).
= Almah: There has been a considerable amount of debate concerning the Hebrew word "Almah" translated here as virgin. This word has other meanings depending on the context it is used. Other interpretations of this word include young women (old enough to marry), an unmarried women and maiden. It is important to note here that in most cases the young, unmarried maiden was also a virgin.
There is reason to believe that the interpretation of virgin is correct here. Matthew 1:22-23 makes it clear that regardless of the interpretation of the Hebrew word, weather virgin or young woman, that this prophecy from Isaiah 7:14 was tied to the birth of Jesus who was also God, as reflected in His name Emanuel (God with us) and His nature. The New Testament authors were simply following and reconfirming the pre-established Jewish interpretation of this passage. See the Septuagint notes below.
For more on this word please read The Meaning Of The Word Almah.
Interestingly enough when the Septuagint was written by the 72 elders of Israel (six from each tribe) the writers specifically chose the Greek word "parthenos," for virgin. This clearly demonstrates the common Jewish understanding of this passage at that time. There is no doubt that Jewish leaders looked at this passage as a messianic passage with the expectation of some type of supernatural birth.
The Septuagint translation of the Torah was done between 285 and 244 B.C.E. Septuagint is the oldest Greek translation of the Bible...the legend contained in the apocryphal letter of Aristeas, according to which 72 elders of Israel, six from each tribe, translated the LAW [Torah] into Greek in Alexandria, during the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-244 B.C.E.)...The designation Septuagint was EXTENDED to the rest of the Bible and non-canonical books that were translated to Greek during the following two centuries."(2)
Since this translation was completed in pre-Christian Alexandria 200 years before Jesus was even born, the position that Christian scholars have intentionally misinterpreted this word holds no merit.
However the question does arise as to why this passage that was originally understood and taught as messianic during the days of the Second Temple and the time of Christ, but is now not viewed that way anymore by most Rabbinical commentaries in modern day Judaism.
The author Isaiah, inspired by the Holy Spirit, has written at least one other prophecy that does not follow a normal pattern.
Isaiah writes "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on his shoulders; and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of his government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forever more” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
According to the rules of Hebrew grammar and spelling, a closed mem can appear only at the end of a word. A closed mem is a final mem, and can be used only as the final letter of a word. There is one place in the Hebrew Bible, however, where a closed mem occurs inside a word. This entry, which defies the rules of Hebrew grammar and spelling, is found in Isaiah’s famous prophecy of the coming Messiah:
The closed mem appears within the word (l’marbeh), which is translated by the phrase “to the increase.” The reader can see that the second letter of this word (reading from right to left) is a closed mem. The first letter, (L), is a prefix translated “to the.” The main part of the word, (marbeh = “increase”), is spelled with a closed mem. This word, marbeh, is found several other places in the Hebrew Bible, always in the form the reader expects it to be, with an open mem at the beginning. The only place where marbeh appears with the closed mem is in Isaiah’s passage about the birth of this very special Child, a Son who is given Divine titles and who will rule as Messiah Ben David.
Rabbis associated the letter mem with the womb (Sefer Yetzira 3:4, Bahir 85, Etz Chaim, Shaar HaYereach 3, p. 176). A closed mem is a closed womb; an open mem is the womb opening to give birth (Bahir 84). What does this tell us about the child in Isaiah’s prophecy? It tells us that this child will be concealed inside a closed womb, i.e., the womb of the Virgin spoken of in Isaiah 7:14: For a more in depth look at this part of the prophecy please read The Mystery Of The Closed Mem.
For more on the Isaiah 9:6 prophecy in general please read For Unto Us A Child Is Born.
JewishRoots.Net recognizes that sometimes there are objections raised for this verse being considered a messianic prophecy or/and relating to the birth of a virgin. A separate page has been prepared to answer some of the more common questions or objections concerning this prophecy. To read about some of these objections along with their answers please read Common Objections To Isaiah 7:14.
Matthew may have been quoting from the Septuagint in Matthew 1:23.
Joel 1:8 uses the word bethulah to describe a widow lamenting over the husband of her youth. So it is inaccurate to say that bethulah would be the indisputable way for the Hebrew language to refer to someone as a virgin.
True biblical prophecy works together with other areas of scripture. This child's birthplace can be found in Micah 5:2 A Ruler Out Of Bethlehem), the child's name can be found here in Isaiah 7:14 (Immanuel). His divine attributes are found in Isaiah 9:6 and Isaiah 43:11. The time of his death is found in Daniel 9:24-27. His resurrection is found in Psalm 16. His return to earth (second coming) is found in Zechariah 12:10 where Israel will look upon the one that is pierced which is further supported in Zechariah 14:1-7 which brings Daniel's 70th week (see Daniel 9:24-27) prophecy to an end. All of these prophecies work together and no one prophecy needs to stand alone. This prophecy is only quoted once in the entire New Testament (Matthew 1:18-23). The name Immanuel is unique, found only here (Isa. 7:14) in scripture.
Articles related to Isaiah 7:14 include:
Articles related to the birth of our Messiah include:
1). John D. Watts, Isaiah 1-33 p.102 - Answering Jewish Objections To Jesus - Isaiah 7:14 Volume 3- 4:3.
2). Encyclopedia Judaica, Volume 14, p1178.
Jews for Jesus 12/2004 News letter.
Daniel Botkin, The Mystery Of The Closed Mem from Gates of Eden May-June 2003. Used with permission.