[b-hebrew] Isaiah 7

Jerry Shepherd jerry.shepherd at taylor-edu.ca
Mon Apr 4 11:09:29 EDT 2005

Good morning,

I'm confused about something I've come across now in two different posts
on this thread.  In an earlier post, George Somsel stated the sign was
that " BEFORE THE CHILD IS WEANED the Assyrians will no longer be a
power."  And now Yigal has said that the sign means that " by the time
the child was grown, the Assyrians would be gone."  My confusion is that
I don't see anything at all in the text that indicates a weakening of,
or departure of, the Assyrians.  The sign, as I have always understood
it, taught it, etc., is that Israel and Aram will be devastated by the
Assyrians.  Assyria is very much a force and very much still around.
What have I missed?  Thanks in advance for any replies.

Jerry Shepherd

Dr. Jerry E. Shepherd
Associate Professor of Old Testament
Taylor Seminary
11525 - 23 Avenue
Edmonton, AB T6J 4T3
Office: (780)431-5250
Home: (780)434-1164
Fax: (780)436-9416
Email: Jerry.Shepherd at taylor-edu.ca
Internet: http://www.taylor-edu.ca 

-----Original Message-----
From: Yigal Levin [mailto:leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il] 
Sent: Sunday, April 03, 2005 3:02 AM
To: b-hebrew
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Isaiah 7 

----- Original Message -----

> I dare say my point was missed completely by everyone who
> commented.
> I was trying to make some points about how to translate the
> word almah from Hebrew into English in the context of
> Isaiah.  I was not trying to make any theological points
> about prophecy, short or long term.

Not about prophecy, but yes about miracles, as you do below.

> My point was that almah, by itself, out of context, can be
> translated as either virgin or young woman.  The only way
> to determine the authors point is to look at the context.

The word "almah" means "young woman". The assumption that a particular
woman, if unmarried, would be a virgin, depends on the social context.
Whether or not this particular young woman was unmarried depends on who
was, which, of course, is the crux of the prophecy.

> 1) If Isaiah were using the word almah to mean the mother
> of Immanuel was a virgin at the time of either conception
> and/or birth, Isaiah would be describing an unexpected,
> unprecedented, and miraculous event, an event the which
> would be result of devine intervention. Isaiah however
> treats the birth of Immanual in an off-handed fashion.  The
> conception and birth are only mentioned once.  No effort
> was made to draw any signicanse from the birth of Immanuel
> from an almah.  If Isaiah had meant that Immanuels birth
> was a miracle, it does not seem clear.
> 2) In contrast, Matthew (and Luke) say that Jesus was born
> to a parthanos.  They view this fact as a miracle.  They
> draw great attention to this fact and draw great
> significanse from.  It seems quite clear that Matthew means
> parthanos to mean virgin and that that was a miracle.

As several respondents have already written, there is no indication in
text of Isaiah that ISAIAH meant any young woman, other than one who was
present, alive, young and preganant at the time, be she Isaiah's wife,
Ahaz's wife or a local prostitute. The sign was that by the time the
was grown, the Assyrians would be gone.
It was Matthew (or his source-traditions) who chose to understand the
woman as referring to Mary. Whether the pre-Christian LXX did or did not
"parthenos" to translate "almah" is moot. since we have no pre-Christian
manuscripts of the LXX.


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