virgin: _BETHULAH_ and/or _(ALMAH_

Dan Wagner Dan.Wagner at
Thu Feb 1 23:23:54 EST 2001

This has been an interesting discussion--i finally had a chance to catch up
in reading today!

I want to clarify a couple points. Most of the response has been related to
the terms _BETHULAH_ and _(ALMAH_ in Hebrew, Ugaritic, etc., with some
comments about _)OT_. These are significant issues, but not the crux of my
argument (probably my own fault, resulting from the polysyndetic rhetoric of
my original post, as if all my arguments were on the same level). Ian
Hutchesson pointed out what should have already been obvious to all of us
concerning _(ALMAH_, that the idea of "virgin" cannot be *proven* from its
usage (though he left out some e.g.'s: Gen. 24:43, Exod. 2:8, Ps. 68:26,
Prov. 30:19, Cant. 1:3, 6:8, Isa. 7:14). (He conveniently failed to mention
that the idea of "virgin" is always consistent with its usage, however, and
that one cannot *disprove* that it means virgin on that basis either; i also
disagree with his etymological assumptions and other miscellania.) Saul
Davis demonstrated something also well-known to those who have looked at
_)OT_: that it does not *necessarily* mean a miraculous sign (though he also
failed to emphasize that in many contexts it *does* reference a miracle).

In any case, my key argument remains that:
1. the *context* of Isaiah 7:1-14 necessitates that Isaiah intended that the
sign be a miraculous one.
2. that miraculous sign was the birth of a unique child named "God-With-Us"
to a virgin (which does not necessitate divine-human intercourse as the
Greek and some ANE myths--as one post confused the issue--but is simply a
miraculous conception; surely the male "seed" was created for the occasion,
nothing really special for Isaiah's theology, cf. 4:5; 40:26-28; 42:5; 45:7)
3. that this sign-birth was not for Ahaz but for the Davidic line beyond him
in the future.

Jonathan Safren responded to my post with the stated attempt to deal with it
in context (philologically). He did so concerning the following verses
(15ff) but ignored the preceding ones completely, except to say (in his
revision) that the miracle required by them was something other than the
sign-birth, which notion i comfortably reject as philologically impossible.
I'll admit that he does deserve are response concerning 7:15ff if my
interpretation is correct, but he certainly has not dealt with the first
half of the chapter up to verse 14. In fact, no one has.

Rather than repeating what i've said before, i want to clarify my position
by making a comparison/contrast of the _)OTH_ (sign) given to Ahaz with that
of the one given to Hezekiah in Isa. 38 in their context (as i suggested
earlier). For sake of clarity i will do it in a separate post.

Dan Wagner

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