This is completely different from what I usually write about..and many of my regular visitors will probaly not like this entry..but I am doing this to make a point. When looking at the things that critics use against the Bible and against christianity, I am amazed at the amount of intense “picking” that goes on. I find it comical because the claims that are blasted across the internet always state these damning claims as to why one should not believe the bible..but they never state any of the background or relate anything other than their side and the cut and dry biblical contradiction that, “is the reason you should not be a christian.” Now, dont get me wrong..I am not a naive fool who believes in something just “because”..no, when I read these things I search to find out some background information… and like the example I will use today, I am always so outraged by the end of my search because the contradiction in question can easily be understood if you just do some dang research. I do research because I am a christian..but what about people who are not christians and who have no idea of the bible or who that “Jesus guy” is..they probably will not do any research on the matter but just say, “ok..well just one more reason why I think all that bible stuff is just crap.” I wonder if the authors of these claims have done any background research for themselves..if so, I dont see how any of them could go thru with publishing the article.. unless it be for one reason – they dont like Jesus and they dont want anyone else to like him either.
I am going to state the problem and then give the research i did..and at the end, I’ll let you decide how you feel.
PROBLEM: (and I am typing this word for word from an article I found online)
Another false, or at best misleading, translation is that of “virgin” in Isaiah 7 14. The Hebrew word used by Isaiah and translated “virgin” is almah, which does not at all signify “virgin” in the sense in which we understand it, of an unmarried woman who, in the often-repeated biblical phrase, “hath not known man by lying with him.” The exegetes of the Biblical Encyclopedia thus correctly define it: “Virgin, Heb., almah; i.e., a young woman of marriageable age” (Vol. III, p. 117) — not necessarily, or even presumptively, of intact virginity. The Hebrew word for a woman actually a virgin is bethulah..
ok, so what is he saying here? Well lets start with the verse he is speaking of in Isaiah –
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin (almah) will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. – Isaiah 7:14
wow, ok..so any christian would recognize this verse. This verse is HUGE! It is this verse that the book of Matthew speaks of when it says-
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 conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”). – Matthew 1: 21-23
so.. he is saying that the bible uses the hebrew word that means young woman (almah) when if Mary had been a true virgin they would have used the hebrew word for virgin which is bethulah. So, by pointing this out the author is basically saying that one of the building blocks of christianity is based on a lie..he is saying that the virgin birth of Jesus is nothing but a concept made up by the early christians to make Jesus seem like he was the messiah. He is calling Jesus a fake. He is calling my saviour a lie. He is not making some light accusation here..His words could cause deep damage to someone who is not interested in doing the research to see what this is all about.
almah– a lass (as veiled or private):–damsel, maid, virgin. (strong’s hebrew concordance)
verb root of almah: alam- to veil from sight, i.e. conceal
bethulah: a virgin (strong’s hebrew concordance)
verb root of bethula: bathal- to seperate
first off..may I please just say something here..COMMON SENSE PEOPLE. I guess no one cares about that when it comes to proving the bible wrong. In those days a young unmarried woman would have been considered a virgin..unlike today..back then, in the ancient hebrew world being unmarried (not widowed) and being a virgin pretty much meant the same thing. ok, but anyways..let us go further with some actual reasons.
The word almah is used 7 times in the old testament. (gen 24:43, exodus 2:8, psalm 68:25, proverbs 30:19, song of solomon 1:3 and 6:8, and Isaiah 7:14) There is no instance where it can be used to show a non-virgin. Lets go through a few of these..see what you think after reading these.. do they, “not at all signify ‘virgin'” as what the author of the article that I shared above said? I’ll let you be the judge..
GENESIS 24: 43 – before we look at the first time almah appears in the bible, Genesis 24:43, first lets get some background to the story. This is the story of how Isaac met his wife rebekah. Isaac’s servant prayed that God would send a woman to the well who would not only give him water but would also offer water to his camels..and if this happened the woman would be who God wanted Isaac to marry. Here in Genesis 24: 13-14 we read his prayer:
Behold, here I stand by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your pitcher that I may drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’—let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. And by this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master.”
after he has prayed this..here Rebekah makes her entrance. keep in mind that in verse 16 the orginal word used in the hebrew bible was bethula.
15 And it happened, before he had finished speaking, that behold, Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, came out with her pitcher on her shoulder. 16 Now the young woman was very beautiful to behold, a virgin (bethula); no man had known her. And she went down to the well, filled her pitcher, and came up. 17 And the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please let me drink a little water from your pitcher.” 18 So she said, “Drink, my lord.” Then she quickly let her pitcher down to her hand, and gave him a drink. 19 And when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.”
next, we are going to skip down to the first time that almah is used in the bible, Genesis 24 : 43. Isaac’s servant is explaining to Rebekah’s brother why Rebekah is going to marry Isaac –
“And this day I came to the well and said, ‘O Lord God of my master Abraham, if You will now prosper the way in which I go, 43 behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass that when the virgin (almah) comes out to draw water, and I say to her, “Please give me a little water from your pitcher to drink,” 44 and she says to me, “Drink, and I will draw for your camels also,”—let her be the woman whom the Lord has appointed for my master’s son.’
next we hear from Rebekah’s brother:
“The thing comes from the Lord; we cannot speak to you either bad or good. 51 Here is Rebekah before you; take her and go, and let her be your master’s son’s wife, as the Lord has spoken.”
so why did I go through ALL of that? To show how much actually doing some research will show truth. The funny thing about this all is that the author of the article above actually uses Genesis 24:16 as an example to show that bethulah means a true virgin. Of course he didnt mention that just a few verses down the bible would call the exact same woman an almah. Here we can obviously see that almah can also mean virgin.
PROVERBS 30:19– in this verse Agur is describing things that he cannot understand-
The way of an eagle in the air, The way of a serpent on a rock, The way of a ship in the midst of the sea, And the way of a man with a virgin (almah).
really? almah never means virgin? What would be so significant about the way of a man with a young woman..umm nothing. it is the way of a man with a virgin that is something significant. Almah obviously means virgin here.
SONG OF SOLOMON 6:8 In this verse the maiden who is the object of this love poem is favorably being compared to a harem..
There are sixty queens And eighty concubines, And virgins (almah) without number.
that’s right..60 queens, or legal wifes of the king..80 women who the king is not married to but still gets to have sex with..and countless young women? Once his queens and concubines get old..he’s not gonna want just some regular girl whose innocence has already been “plucked” by another man..no, the king is going to want virgins.
EXODUS 2:8– here the word almah was translated as maid. Pharoh’s daughter is speaking to moses’ sister who scholars estimate to have been somewhere between 8 and 10 years old. would you assume that an 8 year old is a virgin? even with how corrupt our world has become, I would hope so.
8 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the maiden went and called the child’s mother.
the word bethulah is used over 50 times in the old testament, and yes it does describe a virgin but just because of this how can one say that almah could not have also meant virgin. There are actually a few examples of where bethulah obviously doesn’t mean virgin –
Lament like a virgin (bethulah) girded with sackcloth For the husband of her youth. – Joel 1:8
THE KICKER – THE SEPTUAGINT
In 132 BC (over a century before the birth of Jesus) a group of jewish scholars completed translating the Torah (the jewish scriptures) into Greek. This translated Torah was called the Septuagint. The jewish translators were the ones who translated Isaiah 7:14 from almah to the greek word parthenos. Parthenos is the greek word that specifically means… VIRGIN! Why would these jewish scholars who would have been well aware of any nuances surrounding these two words have chosen the greek word for virgin instead of the greek word for young woman or maiden. ummm..let me think.. BECAUSE IT WAS MEANT TO MEAN VIRGIN. When Matthew was written Greek was the primary language..so dont you think that they would have refered to the Torah that was written in Greek? This is also pretty funny.. the early pre-Christian Jewish versions of the Septuagint were held in great respect in ancient times; Philo, the Hellenistic Jewish philosopher, and Josephus, the 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian, ascribed divine inspiration to the Jewish translators..but for some reason the jewish community has now rejected the Sepruagint..wonder why? Ill let you figure that one out.
My conclusion is pretty simple..yes almah can also mean virgin, hopefully anyone with a lick of common sense would be able to figure that one out. I have come to conclude that Isaiah 7:14 is one of the most defiled verses in the bible because of one thing – this verse refers to the prophecy in Matthew that shows Jesus as the one to fulfill prophecy through his conception and through his birth. That is why Jewish “anti-missionaries” and others who wish to specifically attack the New Testament make such a big deal about something that takes little sense to figure out. When it comes down to it..there is something pretty special about this “Jesus guy”..if not, really think about this.. then why has his name and the bible been attacked since the beginning of christianity. What about him makes people hate him so much? Why did i just have to waste my time writing about a problem that has such an easy answer? Why has christianity grown and endured through the hardest of times? From the early christians who were torn to shreds by lions in Rome to the modern christians who are slowly beheaded in the middle east..why do they not recant? It is because Jesus is real.. the blood he shed on Calvary is real. No matter how many arrows are thrown..christianity will not die out..because it is real. So bring it..
for a more in depth look at this and an article that actually has citations (i have kids I dont have time for all that mess) see http://www.studytoanswer.net/doctrine/almah.html