[b-hebrew] Definite Article 7:14

Bryant J. Williams III bjwvmw at com-pair.net
Sun Jul 15 02:12:39 EDT 2007

Dear Joe,

See the following quote from Jamieson-Fausset-Brown, Volume II, Job-Isaiah,
Jer.-Mal., page 586:

"a virgin - from the root, to lie hid, virgins being closely kept from men's
gaze in their parent's custody in the East. The Hebrew [ha'almah] and the
LXX. here, and the Greek [hH PARQENOS], Matt. i.23, have the article, 'the'
virgin, some definite one known to the speaker and his hearers; primarily,
the woman, then a virgin, about immediately to become the prophet's second
wife,, and to bear a child, whose attainment of the age of discrimination
(about three years) should be preceded by the deliverance of Judah from its
two invaders. The term 'ha'mah' denotes 'a girl of marriageable age,' but
not married, and therefore a 'virgin' by implication. Bethulah is the term
more directly expressing virginity of a bride or betrothed wife (Joel 1.8).
Its fullest significancy is realized in " 'the' woman (Gen. iii.15) whose
'seed should bruise the serpent's head,' and deliver captive man (Jer.
xxxi.21,22, "O virgin of Israel, turn again...for the Lord hath created a
new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man;" ..."

It should be noted that the discussion is not the meaning of "virgin" which
has been covered in previous sessions (see archives on B-Hebrew and B-Greek
and respective passages), but on the use of the article being definite. It
appears that way in Genesis 3:15, "THE woman," et al. It is clear that God,
through Isaiah, wants to make it quite clear to Ahaz that a "definite
virgin" is clearly in mind and is known. Who that "virgin" is or whether I
agree with the above quote that it refers to "Isaiah's second wife" is not
the issue. That is a speculative thought, albeit may fit the context of
8:1ff. What is the issue is that the "article" is definite regardless
whether it refers to Isaiah's wife/betrothed or another's wife/betrothed who
is a virgin, of marriageable age and presumed to be a virgin unless
otherwise indicated. It is not used in a generic and indefinite sense in
this passage.

Furthermore, the actual sign given to Ahaz is prove to him, even in his
unbelief as a descendant of David that the promise of II Samuel 7 is an
unconditional promise to have a descendant on the throne of David regardless
of the two kings who were trying to force is hand. Therefore, the article is
used to point in that direction.

En Xristwi,

Rev. Bryant J. Williams III
----- Original Message ----- 
From: <JoeWallack at aol.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Saturday, July 14, 2007 5:25 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Definite Article 7:14

> In a message dated 7/10/2007 2:52:30 PM Central Daylight Time,
> hholmyard3 at earthlink.net writes:
> Dear  Joseph,
> > HH: I  should have been clearer. If the context lacked a  specific
> > that the  hearer could identify, he might have  been able to understand
> > that the  reference was generic and  indefinite.
> >
> > JW:
> > Genesis  14:13 is Narrative, not Dialogue.
> HH: What difference does that make to  the discussion one way or the
> JW:
> Because 7:14 is Dialogue and in Dialogue there is a clear Hearer. A better
> question for you is why is it so hard to find an example of a speaker in
> Dialogue using the definite article and the Hebrew Hearer not knowing the
> >JW:  "If the context" lacked a specific
> >  person
> > that the hearer could identify". The most likely explanation is  that
> > identity is known to the speaker and not the hearer and  the hearer
> understands
> > this.
> HH: It would be good if you  identified exactly what you meant by the
> terms "speaker" and "hearer"  because there is no direct speech in Gen
> 14:13. The speaker could be the  narrator; the hearer could be the one
> who hears the words read.
> JW:
> I'm using Hebrew Hearer in connection with Explicit Dialogue.
> > JW: You want the possibility that the identity is known  to the  Speaker
> and
> > the Hearer does not know that the identity is  known to the speaker.
> if
> > this is possible, isn't it  unlikely? And considering that the same
> is
> > writing the  part for Speaker and Hearer isn't it more than unlikely
> there
> > would be this type of misunderstanding? Still waiting for an  example
> this
> > in the Hebrew Bible.
> >
> HH:  If I accept that the escapee is the speaker and Abraham is the
> hearer in Gen 14:13, since the author is writing the part for them, what
> difference does it make whether or not Abraham the hearer knows the
> identity of the person speaking, beyond the fact that he is an escapee?
> And of course, the escapee knew his own identity as the speaker. And
> Abraham would know that the speaker knew his own identity. I think I am
> misunderstanding what you are saying. Are you perhaps ambiguously giving
> two different meanings to the term speaker (narrator and escapee).
> JW:
> My point (remains) is that 14:13 is not very relevant to our issue of
> In addition to its lack of
> Dialogue, you youself have pointed out that the Speaker (escapee) is not
> identifying any third party.
> When I say "Narrator" I mean author.
> >
> >JW: I'm beginning to fear that at the present rate  of discussion the
> Messiah
> > could actually arrive before we  determine his/her identity.
> HH: Are you trying to identify whether the  person in Isa 7:14 is or is
> not the Messiah? I think you can have it both  ways, given the structure
> of the Book of Isaiah and the possibility for a  double use of the words.
> I believe Isaiah uses Immanuel to speak about near  events and also about
> far events. His appearance in chapter 8 (8:8, 10), a  transition chapter
> between 7 and 9, points in this direction to me, since  the historical
> Immanuel is an otherwise unknown person, yet the Immanuel in  chapter 8
> may be an important person, like the child in chapter 9. There is  a lot
> of reuse of elements from 7:14 in 9:6, which also suggests a relation
> between the two children.
> JW:
> Peter, this is Exegesis.
> >JW:  In order to try and
> > avoid this contingency  let me try to speed things up here. Regarding
> > offending word  of 7:14 and with Apologies to Isaac Fried, you and I
> that
> >  the Hebrew Definite article is used. My position is that for starters
> > indicates a defnite and therefore, known person to the Hebrew speaker,
> Isaiah.
> HH: But you haven't proved that the definite article implies that  the
> person is known to Isaiah in the sense that he knows the name of the
> person.
> JW:
> If the person is known to Isaiah this Implies that Isaiah knows the  name.
> HH:
> Isaiah could simply know the person as a woman within God's
> prophecy.  Even if the definite article clearly indicates definiteness,
> there is no  requirement that Isaiah personally knew or could identify
> the person when he  conveyed a prophecy that had a general application.
> JW:
> The definite article Implies (as opposed to "proves") that Isaiah knows
> who and the name.
> >JW:   At
> > this point, whether or not this  known person is known to the Hebrew
> hearer, I
> >  say that "the" is  the likely English translation. I'm guessing that
> > current   position is that you agree with me that this known person is
> likely
> >  known to  Isaiah. Yes or no?
> HH: This is a complex question,  especially because this prophecy seems
> to involve a double fulfillment. I  believe it had a fulfillment in
> Isaiah's time, and I don't think he knew  what virgin he was speaking
> about there, since the term "the virgin" could  be generic, one who is in
> the status of virginity.
> JW:
> Do you think Isaiah knew it was a double prophecy?
> HH:
> The generic use could become more specific as
> details pile up. Or it  could have been a specific woman God informed him
> about in prophecy without  his having any idea who in particular it was:
> someone in Israel. I think  Isaiah associated Immanuel with the child
> described in chapter 9. However,  how much Isaiah knew or did not know
> about the mother of the child in  chapter 9 is unclear. All mothers are
> virgins at some point in their lives.  The virgin in Isa 7:14 did not
> have to give birth while she was still a  virgin. The understood verbs
> could be future: one who is a virgin (now) will  in the future be
> pregnant and will be bearing a child.
> JW:
> You keep answering "possible" when I ask "probable". When you do that are
> you refusing to give a "probable" or conceding my "probable"?
> > JW: I understand you think it possible that this person
> > is  unknown to the Hebrew hearer. Do you think that likely?  Finally, if
> you
> > agree  that the person is known to Isaiah but  think this person is
> to the
> >  Hebrew hearer, do you think  "a" is a possible translation or should be
> >  probable?
> >
> HH: If by hearer you mean the person  Isaiah was speaking to, of course I
> think it is possible that the virgin was  unknown to him.
> JW:
> You again answer a question I didn't ask.
> HH: No woman is
> mentioned in the context. It would probably be  poor writing to speak so
> significantly about a specific person in the  context and not even
> identify the person or even indicate that she was in  the context. It is
> a bit doubtful that there was some particular person  identified to all
> Israel as "the virgin." But this book was written for the  nation of
> Israel. Not only that, it was written for future generations, as  Isaiah
> elsewhere speaks of events in the future and of people who will live  in
> the future. He addresses generations that go into exile to Babylon and
> later return to Israel.
> JW:
> See my previous comment.
> HH: If you believe in the NT, then it was written
> for future  generations for many centuries to come (1 Pet 1:10-12). So it
> would seem to  be poor writing, if the woman was well-known, not to
> identify her for all  these people, who were not there in Isaiah's time
> and would perhaps not  otherwise know who he was talking about,
> JW:
> Now you are using 1 Pet 1:10-12 to help translate 7:14?
> HH: I can only go by what the text says, and there is no indication in
> the text that Isaiah knew the person he was talking about or that the
> readers did. The generic use of the definite article seems to make
> assumptions about Isaiah or his audience knowing the person  unnecessary.
> JW:
> "I can only go by what the text says". First consider what preceded.
> Brown would
> find your "no indication" above "fantastic". Is your position now that
> definite article in
> 7:14 is probably used generically?
> Joseph Wallack
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