[b-hebrew] Definite Article 7:14

Bryant J. Williams III bjwvmw at com-pair.net
Sun Jul 15 17:02:00 EDT 2007

Dear Tony,

You said,
"Thus the  very nonpartisan view expressed in the footnote to Isa. vii 14 in
 JPS study Bible: "All modern scholars, however, agree ....

First, again, Just because it is Christian does NOT mean that the person is
necessarily misusing the evidence. Second, as to the quote above, especially
"All modern scholars, however, agree...." That quote is incorrect because of
the use of "All" and because NOT all "modern scholars agree with the
assessment of the JPS footnote due to the fact that the context would
mitigate it. This quote IMPLIES that unless one agrees with the modern
scholars that one is NOT a scholar. There are other areas that "modern
scholars" will disagree with even among themselves. I will not go into what
these scholars are referring to except to remind myself, and you, that the
B-Hebrew and B-Greek (probably B-Translation also) archives have gone over
this quite thoroughly.

Finally, I did give what I thought to be the use of the article with the
probable implications based on the context. This does not mean that I gave
all the implications since some of those implications would not be allowed
to be listed per our list guidelines. Furthermore, the quote is from a
larger section that I deemed not to be allowable per list guidelines. Also I
quoted what was necessary for "intellectual honesty" by quoting the person,
both before and after the specific quote, to ensure that I quoted the person
in context and NOT out of context.

Regarding the rest of the e-mail based upon your exegesis, I find that the
idea that it could be a wife of Isaiah could very well fit the context, but
without further information as to who that person is, then it behooves us to
just state that the article is referring to some ALMAH who is known.

En Xristwi,

Rev. Bryant J. Williams III

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Tory Thorpe" <torythrp at yahoo.com>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Cc: "Bryant J. Williams III" <bjwvmw at com-pair.net>
Sent: Sunday, July 15, 2007 8:48 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Definite Article 7:14

> On Jul 15, 2007, at 3:11 AM, Bryant J. Williams III wrote:
> > Dear Tony,
> >
> > Just because it is from a Christian commentary does not necessarily
> > make it incorrect or even against list guidelines.
> I was under the impression that promoting one's theological views was
> a (scholarly) no-no here. The portion of the commentary you quoted, I
> actually agree with some of it, pushes for the definition of "almah"
> from a distinctly christian theological standpoint: "the term
> 'ha'mah' (sic!) denotes 'a girl of marriageable age,' but not
> married, and therefore a 'virgin' by implication." This is wrong.
> It's not wrong simply because it comes from a christian commentary.
> It's not wrong because I disagree with it. It's wrong (a) because it
> is an assumption that promotes a particular theology (perfectly
> suitable for the commentary but against list guidelines?) and (b)
> does not take into account the importance of Eigenbegrifflichkeit
> when studying cultures and languages.
> The assumption that physical virginity is implied in almah may seem
> reasonable from a christian point of view; but it is not an
> assumption that any scholar familiar with (b) would make. Thus the
> very nonpartisan view expressed in the footnote to Isa. vii 14 in the
> JPS study Bible: "All modern scholars, however, agree that the Heb
> [almah] merely denotes a young woman of marriageable age, whether
> married or unmarried, whether a virgin or not." This sense is already
> in archaic BH where we see that the plural of almah may denote a
> separate category of young wives in the royal harem among queens and
> concubines (Song of Sol. vi 8; cf. BDB s.v. almah, "maid or newly
> married"). The semantic range is the same in the MH; in later
> rabbinic vocabulary and idiom; in later medieval vocabulary; and in
> modern Hebrew. Basically, there is no reason whatsoever to believe
> that almah, by itself, was ever a term restricted to unmarried
> physical virgins in the Hebrew speech community.
> Since list members appear to be doing exegesis in order to explicate
> the definite article, it seems to me that "the young woman" in Isa.
> vii 14 is an expression similar to the way a man may refer to his
> wife in BH as in Gen. iii 12 and Jdg. xiii 11. In both of these
> examples the woman has already been introduced and is present when
> her husband is speaking, but in Isa. viii 3 "the prophetess" has not
> been introduced. Clearly Isaiah's wife is meant, and the motif
> connecting "the prophetess" and "the almah" suggests to me that the
> two women (assuming they are not the same) were Isaiah's wives. Both
> gave birth to children who served as signs for the impending doom of
> the Syro-Ephramite coalition, but the almah before the prophetess:
> "the almah is with child (HRH) and is bearing (the Masoretic
> participle YLDT) a son" (vii 14); "she [the prophetess] conceived and
> bore a son" (viii 3). This birthing order makes sense since the name
> of the child in viii 3 indicates that Samaria and Damascus are to be
> pillaged immediately, even before Maher-shalal-hash-baz learns to say
> "abi" and "imi", whereas the fall of the two cities relative to the
> birth of Immanuel in vii 14 occurs before the child learns to choose
> good over bad.
> Having switched to the first-person in ch. viii, Isaiah refers to
> "children whom YHWH gave me for signs..." (Isa. viii 18).  But ch.
> viii only mentions one child. Though the meaning of the name Shear-
> yashub in vii 3 suggests that that child too was a sign to Israel,
> the only other child in Isa. chs. vii-viii actually associated with a
> sign similar to Maher-shalal-hash-baz (who seems to have been born to
> Isaiah after Immanuel) is Immanuel. So if the definite article
> implies anything in Isa. vii 14 it is probably that the almah in this
> case was a/the young wife of Isaiah (a young woman absolutely well
> known to the writer!); Immanuel was another of Isaiah's children, the
> second born, and Maher-shalal-hash-baz the third. These two children
> in particular were significant in terms of the recent crisis with
> respect to Samaria and Damascus. Both nations were to be defeated by
> the Assyrians while Immanuel and Maher-shalal-hash-baz were still
> very young.
> Tory Thorpe
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