[b-hebrew] Definite Article 7:14

JoeWallack at aol.com JoeWallack at aol.com
Sun Jul 15 13:09:09 EDT 2007

In a message dated 7/14/2007 10:25:47 PM Central Daylight Time,  
hholmyard3 at earthlink.net writes:

Dear  Joseph,
> HH: What difference does that make to  the discussion one  way or the other?
> 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  

HH: I don't fully accept your logic. A  writer is still trying to 
communicate to his readers, or in those days,  his hearers. But trying to 
respond to your request for a text like Isa  7:14 where there is dialogue 
and a use of the definite article to refer to  a somewhat unidentified 
person or thing, how about "the lion" in 1 Kings  20:36. You see, this is 
not just the genus lion. This is a specific  lion:

1Kings 20:36 Then said he unto him, Because thou hast not obeyed  the 
voice of the LORD, behold, as soon as thou art departed from me, "a  
lion" shall slay thee. And as soon as he was departed from him, a lion  
found him, and slew him.
I'm asking for an example where the identity is definite to the speaker and  
indefinite to the hearer. If I understand you correctly here you are saying 
the  lion is definite to the speaker and indefinite to the hearer. Is my  
understanding correct?

HH: Or  "the servant girl" below, who is not previously identified in the 
context  but is a specific person. We don't even know whose servant she  was:

2Sam. 17:17  Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at En Rogel.  "A servant 
girl" was to go and inform them, and they were to go and tell  King 
David, for they could not risk being seen entering the  city.

There's no context of identification of a 3rd party here.

HH:  Or how about "the young man" who spoke to Moses. He is unidentified 
in the  previous context:

Num. 11:27 A young man ran and told Moses,   "Eldad and Medad are 
prophesying in the camp.

There's no context of identification of a 3rd party here.

>> 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.

HH: Joseph, this is Harold. Secondly, exegesis is the way to  answer many 
questions about meaning.
My comment was intended for Peter Kirk

> JW:
> If the person is known to Isaiah this Implies that  Isaiah knows the  name.

HH: No, it doesn't. The person can be known  as an abstraction, as a 
quantum of revelation from God. And your reasoning  may ignore the 
difference between the Hebrew use of the definite article and  that of 

Once again you seem to me to refuse to distinguish between "probable" and  

HH: I've already said that it is not crucial which way it's  translated: 
"the" or "and." It's the interpretation that matters. I think  it's best 
that we translate it as "a," since English doesn't use the  definite 
article exactly like the Hebrew.
But English generally uses the definite article like Hebrew does
so shouldn't this mean we should tranlate as "the"?

> 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?

HH: There is nothing in  the preceding context that singles out any woman 
at all who is a virgin. 
I suppose it was inevitable that we would finally agree.
I don't know what Raymond Brown would say, but 
you aren't quoting him.  What is his theory, please? I believe Isaiah was 
saying to the king that the  virgin will conceive. The class of virgins 
will conceive. It includes at  least one who will conceive a child. 
Sufficient time will pass for someone  who is now a virgin to conceive. 
Isaiah is speaking broadly, referring to  the people in Israel called 
virgin. The prophecy gets more specific as it  goes along but is general. 
That class of people will have some of its  members who conceive, and 
some who bear a child, and one or more who names  her son Immanuel. This 
prophecy concerns the latter. One of the class now  called virgin will 
give this name to a son she will have, a not unnatural  name to give in 
Israel, God's chosen people.

None of this is indicated by the text. If you think it is you need to give  
the specific text and specific reasons for your specific conclusions.
Joseph Wallack


************************************** Get a sneak peak of the all-new AOL at 

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list