Concordia Theological Monthly

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hebrew, almah, young woman, maiden, virgin, puberty, rebekah

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Bible Study; Lecture; Sermon Prep


The almah translation in Is. 7:14 is not merely a question of Hebrew philology; it also has very important theological implications. To arrive at a satisfactory interpretation of this passage, it is necessary not only to define the term almah, but also to be very clear in regard to the nature and scope of Hebrew prophecy. The exegete who regards the Hebrew prophet the merely as an interpreter of history, as a seer who reads a prediction of the future in the events of the present and the past, will translate almah in one way. The exegete, on the other hand, for whom the prophets were divine messengers sent to announce the coming of a future Deliverer may have quite a different concept of almah. More specifically, the student who regards Is. 7:14 as a prophecy of the birth of Christ, finds in this passage Old Testament support for the doctrine of the virgin birth. But a student who sees no reference to the birth of Christ in Is. 7:14 will challenge the fact that almah, means anything but a young woman. The viewpoint of this paper is that of St. Matthew (1:23), who looked upon the virgin birth as the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy in Is. 7:14. The decisive question will therefore be this: Is a translation of almah that suggests maidenhood (without emphasizing it) admissible in this passage or not?


Biblical Studies

Scripture References in this Resource (separated by semi-colons)

Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Psalm 68:25; 1 Chronicles 15:20; Exodus 2:7-8; Genesis 24:16; Proverbs 30:18-20; 1 Samuel 20:21-22; Genesis 24:43; Luke 1:26-27;

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Laity; Ministers; Scholars