The Prophecy of Isaiah 7:14
Virgin or Young Woman?
Immanuel– Jesus or Someone Else?
Years ago, I went to a Jewish synagogue to observe, for the first time, the
Hebrew’s form of worship. After the service, I had a lengthy conversation with
Rabbi Horowitz. He was kind, gentle and jovial. Before long we had an interesting
conversation about the coming Messiah (in my view, we were talking about His
second coming). In due time, I wanted to see if I could talk to the rabbi about
Isaiah 7:14, so I quoted it aloud,
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:
Behold, a virgin will be with child
and bear a son,
and she will call His name Immanuel.”
The rabbi immediately became quite disturbed and said, “You Christians
always recite that verse with the word, “virgin!” The Hebrew word in Isaiah 7:14 is
‘almah. It means, “young woman,” not “virgin! And, I know what you are
getting at. I’ll tell you right now, this Immanuel.... does not refer to Jesus Christ!
Why can’t you Christians see that?!
Rabbi Horowitz shook his head in disgust and said, “You Christians have this
all wrong! This verse is about King Ahaz’s wife, and His son, Hezekiah!”
The rabbi’s remarks didn’t surprise me. I was expecting them, and hoped to
talk to him about them, along with talking a bit about the messianic possibilities of
the verse. But, that wasn’t to be. He quickly walked away. In the rabbi’s defense,
there are Christian scholars, such as Walter Kaiser, the late Gleason Archer, Ray
Ortlund, Robert Chisholm, and others, who hold their own views. Like the rabbi,
Walter Kaiser believes that Isaiah 7:14 speak of Hezekiah.1 Gleason Archer,2 Ray
Ortlund,3 Robert Chisholm, 4 John Joseph Owens 5 and others believe that Isaiah
7:14 speaks of Maher-shalal-hash-baz.6
There are Christians who believe that Isaiah 7:14 was only “near term” (just
like the rabbi), and others who believe the passage has both a present and a future
meaning--a meaning for the time of Ahaz and a meaning for the time to come
(messianic).7 In other words–they believe Isaiah 7:14 has a dual-meaning. Some
Christians don’t even believe that Isaiah 7:14 is messianic whatsoever.
For obvious reasons then, Isaiah 7:14 has become quite controversial and
heated debates have indeed surfaced. The late theologian, Dr. Charles Feinberg,
had seen how emotional his own colleagues could get over opposing views and thus
remarked, “Many Christian scholars have refused to admit any other interpretation
for Isaiah 7:14: 'almah must mean "virgin," and Immanuel, "God with us," and
Matthew clinches the identification with Mary and Jesus.” 8
Dr. Feinberg may have a point. So many Christians are very set in their own
presuppositions that they are unwilling to look at opposing views, perhaps out of
fear that their views could possibly be challenged. Challenge is good, in that it can
actually strengthen the viewpoints we have, or, eliminate viewpoints we may have
that aren’t consistent with Scripture. So, let’s now take a look at some of the
viewpoints regarding Isaiah 7:14, starting with the
controversial view of ‘alma.
Who Is ‘Alma?
Young Woman or Virgin?
Isaiah’s Wife....or someone Else?
In the year 1953 the Revised Standard Version Bible hit the bookstores.
William Irwin and others who had put together the RSV translation were quite proud
that their labors were finished and their translation was now getting into the hands
of the people. Little did they know of the heated debate they had before them over
their translation of one little verse, Isaiah 7:14. The committee had decided to use
in their translation the words “young woman” rather than virgin.9 This caused such
an uproar that in the years ahead, Irwin and others on the RSV committee would
have to defend themselves with the following question, “why didn’t you use the
word virgin”? 10
Reasons Why Some Believe
‘Alma Means ‘Young Woman’
In the days and years that followed, Irwin gave the following reason for why
the RSV committee did not use the word “virgin” in the RSV Bible: “the primary idea
is that ‘alma does not mean “unspotted virginity.” 11 He further explained, that
the Hebrews have a special word for the word virgin: bethulah , which would be
found in Song of Songs 6:8 and Proverbs 30:19. 12
Irwin went on to say that, “those whose faith in Christ hangs precariously on
the rendering of a Hebrew word in a single passage are surely in a sad
plight....Actually,....Isaiah 7:14 in it's original intent could have referred only to
some event between 734 and 732 B.C.; it's application to doctrines of Christology is
a totally different matter, having only the most tenuous connection with the issue of
whether the 'almah was a virgin or not." 13
During this same time, John Joseph Owens defended the committee’s use of
the word and said that ‘alma in Isaiah 7:14 means “a girl, maiden, young woman,
sc. Of marriageable age.” 14 Owens added that many interpreters have
disregarded the actual text of Isaiah 7:14 in their haste to prove the virgin Birth of
Jesus Christ. The virgin Birth of Jesus is a fact whether Isaiah said bethulah or
Owens wanted others to understand him further, by pointing out that the
famous lexiconist William Gesenius (1888), also referred to alma as simply “young
woman” 16 and included that if the birth of Isaiah 7:14 was to be a virgin birth, then
the word used would have been bethulah rather than ‘almah. 17
To further defend his view he exclaimed, “if the translator uses the word,
“virgin” in the text of 7:14, he would be including his own implications and biases
into the translation which any Hebrew scholar would tell you is simply not in the
While we’ve heard from the “young woman” side, what about those who
believe ‘almah means “virgin.” Do they have any intellectual weight on their side?
Scholar John H. Walton doesn’t think so. He simply says, “the upshot of all of this
is the conclusion that there is no defensible linguistic logic for suggesting the
meaning “virgin” for the Hebrew ‘alma.”19 Is Walton accurate on this point? Or are
there some valid points for claiming that ‘alma could actually mean “virgin?”
Reasons Why ‘Alma Means “Virgin”
The late Dr. Charles Lee Feinberg, at the time this emotional debate
surfaced, was a professor at Talbot Seminary, and had written an article about this
issue. He basically said that there are reputable scholars that have held “and do
hold” that the Hebrew term ‘almah in the Isaiah 7:14 context means “virgin.” 20
He also included in his article some interesting facts from a Jewish Semitic scholar
by the name of C.H. Gordon. Here is his surprising ‘alma view:
“The commonly held view that “virgin” is Christian, whereas “young woman”
is Jewish is not quite true. The fact is that the Septuagint, which is the
Jewish translation made in pre-Christian Alexandria, takes ‘almah to mean
‘virgin’ here. Accordingly, the New Testament follows Jewish interpretation in
Isaiah 7:14. Little purpose would be served in repeating the learned
expositions that Hebraists have already contributed in their attempt to clarify
the point at issue. It all boils down to this: the distinctive Hebrew word for
‘virgin’ is betulah, whereas ‘almah means a ‘young woman’ who may be a
virgin, but is not necessary so. The aim of this note is rather to call attention
to a source that has not yet been brought into the discussion. From Ugarit of
around 1400 B.C. comes a text celebrating the marriage of the male and
female lunar deities. It is there predicted that the goddess will bear a
son....The terminology is remarkably close to that in Isaiah 7:14. However,
the Ugaritic statement that the bride will bear a son is fortunately given in
parallelistic form; in 77:7 she is called by the exact etymological counterpart
of Hebrew ‘almah ‘young woman’; in 77:5 she is called by the exact
etymological counterpart of Hebrew betulah ‘virgin.’ Therefore, the New
Testament rendering of ‘almah as ‘virgin’ for Isaiah 7:14 rests on the older
Jewish interpretation, which in turn is now borne out for precisely this
annunciation formula by a text that is not only pre-Isaianic but is pre-Mosaic
in the form that we now have it on a clay tablet.21
The above lengthy paragraph is one that every rabbi and Jewish person
should read. Since C.H. Gordon’s article, other’s too have indeed written about
Maarten J.J. Menken writes that “the Hebrew word, ‘almah means
“marriageable girl”, young woman”, and “virginity is not a semantic component of
the word although an ‘almah can of course be a virgin.” 22
Scholar Adam Clarke concludes, “A virgin was not called ‘almah because she
was concealed by being kept at home in her father’s house, which is not true; but
literally and physically, because as a woman she had not been uncovered—she had
not known man.”23
Professor of Wheaton College, Herbert Wolf wrote, “The ‘marriage’ solution to
the relationship between chs 7 and 8 clarifies two vigorously debated points about
7:14. One is the meaning of ‘almah. It must mean ‘virgin,’ as Ugaritic text 77 has
proved by its parallelism of 'glmt and btlt, equivalents to Hebrew ‘young woman’
and ‘virgin’" 24
Professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, Elliot Johnson made an interesting
comment. He said, “Some seek to limit the range by specifying the trait of
virginity. Since bethulah is used many times in the Old Testament as a specific
word for virgin, it seems reasonable to consider that the feminine form of ‘alma is
not a technical word for virgin but represents a young woman, one of whose
characteristics is virginity.” 25
Scholar Richard Niessen sums up this entire controversy: “the evidence
supports both the traditional translation of “virgin” and the modern translation of
“young woman,” but each must be qualified.26 He concludes that “a more accurate
translation would be “young virgin.” 27
Let’s now transition to, who exactly is this ‘alma? Ahaz’ wife or his harem?
Isaiah’s fiance or wife? Or, is it Mary, Christ’s mother?
Ahaz’s Wife & Harem?
The rabbi along with theologian Walter Kaiser believe the woman is Ahaz’s wife.28
(Due to the fact that Waltar Kaiser believes that Hezekiah is the son, my deduction
concludes he believes that ‘alma is the woman).
Researcher John Walter believes that alma is a woman from Ahaz’s harem.
He wrote, “my speculation is that Isaiah is verifying that the ‘alma’ of Ahaz’ harem,
which he suspects to be pregnant, actually is. Furthermore she will bear a son,
and, by the time she does, hope will characterize the political climate rather than
despair. So the name of the woman would be unknown to us.29
No where, scripturally can this view be backed up. Ahaz’s wife, nor an
unknown woman in his harem would have been a virgin. Therefore, we must move
The late Gleason Archer contended that the woman was Isaiah’s fiance’30 He
gives his reason: “This [almah referring to a chaste an unmarried woman] well fits
the prospective mother alluded to in this situation. Judging from 8:1-4, the typical
mother was the prophetess who became Isaiah’s wife within a short time after this
prophecy was spoken. Therefore she was a virgin at the time this prophecy was
The problem with this view is that, we don’t have any record of Isaiah’s first
wife being dead. Even so, the scripture verse says, “So I approached the
prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son” (Isaiah 8:3). Clearly, this
fails the prophecy of alma. This prophetess is not a virgin.
There are many who have a natural supposition to assume that the
prophetess was the wife of Isaiah and the mother of both Shearjashub and Maher-shalal-hash-baz., which indeed is true. Since Christians such as Gleason Archer, 32
Robert Chisholm, 33 and John Joseph Owens 34 believe that Maher-shalal-hash-baz
is the son...they must then believe that Isaiah’s wife is the alma. While this is
simply my own assumption based upon their writings about Maher-shalal-hash-baz,
we must eliminate Isaiah’s wife on the same premise as the other women—she
wasn’t the almah. Just in my own personal study of the word, Strongs concordance
shows almah to mean “damsel, maid and virgin.” 35
We can clearly conclude that there is no one in the context of Isaiah 7:14 in
the present context to fit the meaning of the context, neither Ahaz’s wife, harem,
Isaiah’s fiance’ or wife. If these women were virgins at the beginning of their
relationships, they certainly weren’t by the time they gave birth to children.
Therefore we must rule out the above women as candidates.
Isaiah 7:11-14 clearly reveals the birth must be a supernatural birth, and a
supernatural child, “God with us” (7:14) . Married women, conceiving in the
ordinary way isn’t much of a sign. John Calvin’s statement confirms this,
What wonderful thing did the prophet say, if he spoke of a young woman who
conceived through intercourse with a man? It would certainly have been
absurd to hold this out as a sign or a miracle. Let us suppose that it denotes
a young woman who should become pregnant in the ordinary course of
nature; everybody sees that it would have been silly and contemptible for the
prophet, after having said that he was about to speak about something
strange and uncommon to add “a young woman shall conceive.” It is,
therefore, plain enough that he speaks of a virgin who should conceive, not
by the ordinary course of nature, but by the gracious influence of the Holy
Yes, the Holy Spirit.....a true miraculous conception! As Richard Niessen puts
it, “the hardest sign God could give that was relevant to the occasion was a true
biological impossibility–the miraculous conception of a son by a woman who was a
virgin in the biological sense of the word.” 37 The only one that each one of us can
think of, that stands out in our minds is the Virgin Mary.
The Virgin Mary
Theologian Charles Ryrie said that “the virgin of Isaiah’s prophecy is a type of
the virgin Mary, who, by the Holy Spirit, miraculously conceived Jesus Christ
(Matthew 1:23).” Ryrie says that the word “virgin” is found elsewhere in the Old
Testament (Gen. 24:43; Psalm 68:25; Proverbs 30:19; Song of Solomon 1:3; 6:8
38 ). As we shall see, in the section on messianic interpretation, the Virgin Mary
stands out clearly as the ‘alma of Isaiah 7:14.
Who Is the Child Immanuel?
Some people have viewed this child Immanuel as a collective name for all
children born from Judahite women who were pregnant at the time of the Isaiah
7:14 prophecy. The problem with this view is that 7:14-16 refers to an individual
Some have supposed that Immanuel to be a younger son of Ahaz by a
second marriage. Since, there are fewer opinions on this, there won’t be any
discussions on this view.
Is this Child Hezekiah?
As mentioned earlier, along with Rabbi Horowitz, Christian theologian, Walter
Kaiser also believes that Isaiah 7:14 speaks of Hezekiah as being the child
Immanuel.39 I suspect his reason for this is because he believes in what is called
“single meaning.” Here are his thoughts on “single meaning” (many evangelicals,
by the way, hold onto a view of “single meaning”) “1) God’s meaning and
revelatory-intention in any passage of Scripture (not simply the passage of Isaiah
7:14) may be accurately and confidently ascertained only by studying the verbal
meanings of the divinely delegated and inspired writers....2) that single, original
verbal meaning of the human author may be ascertained by heeding the usual
literary conventions of history, culture, grammar, syntax, and accumulated
It’s understandable as to why many Jewish people believe that Isaiah 7:14
prophecy was meant for Hezekiah. After all, the oracle was given to Ahaz, and the
Jewish people know that Ahaz had a son Hezekiah. Yet, what the Jewish people
need to realize are a few things, historically.
First, at the time the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 was given, King Ahaz lived in
his unbelief, trusting in Assyria (2 Kings 16:7-9). The Lord, through Isaiah, told
Ahaz to “ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God; make it deep as Sheol or
high as heaven” (7:10-11). Ahaz replied, “I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord!”
(7:12). King Ahaz, while responding in a “pious” manner, was camouflaging his
unbelief by refusing to ask for a sign. Despite his refusal for one, God gave him
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:
Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son,
and she will call His name Immanuel.”
Little did the evil King Ahaz realize, that the above sign would be a Divine
sign (it wouldn’t be much of a sign if it was simply a pregnant woman. What kind of sign would that be? It had to be a woman who would still be a virgin while pregnant!)
At the time the sign had been given Hezekiah had been at least nine years
old, so this child could not have been about Hezekiah! As well, his father had
reigned only sixteen years, and then Hezekiah succeeded him at the age of twenty-five (see 2 Kings 16:2; 18:2).
Chronologically, this sign just doesn’t work out for the ‘alma being Ahaz’ wife
(there are others issues too concerning the wife), and the Immanuel child, being
There’s another thing to think about in regard to Ahaz. In biblical birth
oracles, the person who receives the oracle is the one who has to name the child.
Could you imagine, the very evil King Ahaz naming the son Immanuel—“God With
Us?” 41 Never would King Ahaz name his son Immanuel!
Is this Child Maher-shalal-hash-baz?
As mentioned earlier, the late Gleason Archer believed that Isaiah 7:14
speaks of Maher-shalal-hash-baz. 42 So too does Ray Ortlund and Robert
Chisholm, both whom believe in the future meaning of 7:14, as well. Ray Ortlund
says he believes 7:14 points to the “prefigured the birth of Christ, but also through
the birth of Maher-shalal-hashbaz, Isaiah’s own son (parallel 8:4 with 7:16).” 43
Chisholm said that while he believes in the present meaning of Isaiah 7:14 he
believes it “certainly does point ultimately to Jesus.” 44
There are a number of Christians who believe in a present and a future
meaning for Isaiah 7:14. Their thinking is that the Immanuel child could be Maher-shalal-hash-baz (whose birth is recorded in 8:3) simply because, there is a close
relationship between the birth announcement (7:14-25) and the birth report
narrative (8:1-8). Note in Isaiah 8:1 how the Lord tells Ahaz to write “swift is the
booty, speedy is the prey” (the meaning of Maher-shalal-hash-baz’s name 45) for
everyone to see. Not only was the coming attack on Syria and Israel to be made
public, but also the birth of Isaiah’s son to be made public.. They believe that two
events were predicted: (1) the deliverance of Judah at the birth of the child; (2)
desolation of Syria and Israel before this child should be able to distinguish good
and evil (7:14-16). “For God is with us” (8:10).
Some Christians also believe in a present meaning based upon the pattern of
events (followed by punitive judgment) associated with the growth pattern of the
child is the same in both chapters. There are also comparisons such as in Isaiah
7:14-16, and in 8:4 where the removal of Judah’s enemies would take place before
the child reached a specified age. Both 7:17 and 8:7-8 speak of an Assyrian
invasion of Judah following the defeat of the Syrian-Israelite alliance. Lastly, those
who hold the Maher-shalal-hash-baz view believe that if Immanuel were another
individual as spoken of in 8:8, then his birth would have been recorded in previous
Chisholm does point out that the major objection to the Maher-shalal-hash-baz view, is the use of different names. Dual naming is attested elsewhere in the
Old Testament (see Genesis
35:18). Chisholm also points out that Jesus was not actually named Immanuel, nor
is there any
evidence that he was ever called by this name. 46 The mother gives this child the
name “Immanuel” (7:14), which again, means “God is with us.” The father Isaiah
gives his child the name Maher-shalal-hash-baz, (8:3) which means ‘one hastens to
the plunder, one hurries to the loot,” meaning God would be present in judgment.47
For this one reason alone, we can say that Immanuel is not Maher-shalal-hash-baz.
There are others who believe there is a double meaning of the Immanuel
sign, which they believe not only appears in the New Testament with the birth of
Christ, but also in Isaiah 8:8. The Assyrian army would flood the land, until Judah
was up to its neck in trouble and could only cry out, 'O Immanuel'; (8:8) a cry
confessing that God is with us in His destructive rage but at the same time a
prayer, hoping for divine intervention. Isaiah followed this with a call to the nations
to lose in battle because of Immanuel, God with us (Isaiah 8:10).
One issue that some Christians may have wondered is, “is there a problem if I
don’t believe in the present sign of Isaiah 7:14 like others do?” The answer is, “no.”
As a matter of fact, over a 100 years ago, the famous theologian J.A. Alexander was
a bit frustrated with people who were taking on double or even multiple fulfilment
views and made the following statement,
It seems to be a feeling common to learned and unlearned readers that
although a double sense is not impossible, and must be certain cases be
assumed, it is unreasonable to assume it when any other explanation is
admissible. The improbability in this case is increased by the want of
similarity between the two events, supposed to be predicted in the very same
words, the one miraculous, the other not only natural, but common, and of
everyday occurrence. 48
Regardless of whether a person believes in present fulfilment or not, it
matters very little. What matters most is future fulfillment. There are fine scholars
that have believed there was no initial fulfillment of the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy in
Isaiah’s day–that there was no child born to serve as a sign. Christians in this group
believe that the only sign fulfilled was the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. The problem
with this view is the lack of a sign in Isaiah’s day. One response to this problem has
also been given by Alexander. He said,
...the assurance that Christ was to be born in Judah, of its royal family, might
be a sign to Ahaz, that the kingdom should not perish in his day; and so far
was the remoteness of the sign in this case from making it absurd or
inappropriate, that the further off it was, the stronger the promise of
continuance to Judah, which it guaranteed. 49
Therefore, the last view we must look at is the messianic interpretation of
Isaiah 7:14. I would hope that any Jewish person who considers Hezekiah, or even
perhaps Maher-shalal-hash-baz as being the person Isaiah 7:14 speaks of, would
take a closer look at this verse in light of messianic interpretation. Perhaps they just
might be convinced that there’s more to this verse than they were led to believe.
The few minutes of investment is well worth it.
Immanuel—Could It Be...Jesus?
Our story, historically, begins not in a manger in Bethlehem, but way before
that--starting with the Davidic line, which could be traced all the way back to the
time of Abraham (Matthew 1:1). Sadly this line, which was assumed to go on
forever, was given the most horrible shock. God placed a curse upon it, specifically
upon Jehoiachin and his descendants. God told the family of Jehoiachin that none
of his physical descendants would ever rule on the throne of David ever again:Thus says the Lord,
Write this man down childless,
A man who will not prosper in his days;
For no man of his descendants will prosper
Sitting on the throne of David
Or ruling again in Judah.
Why would God give such a curse? Because Jehoiachin (a.k.a. Jeconiah and
Coniah) rebelled terribly against the Lord (Jeremiah 22:20-23). Jehoiachin, his
wives, mother, military, soldiers, and craftsmen were all carried off to Babylon (the
second deportation, 597 B.C.).
Consider. According to Numbers 1:18, the tribal lineage is traced through
the father. Joseph, the husband of Mary, came through the blood line of Jehoiachin
(Matthew 1:11-16), the Davidic blood line that had been cursed! Therefore, had
Joseph been the natural father of Jesus, Jesus would not have been able to claim the
throne of David. Two thoughts follow: (1) Had there never been a curse placed
upon the Davidic line, perhaps one of Joseph’s sons would have been in line for the
position other than Jesus. (2) With the curse in place, God worked through that
curse by providing a virgin birth—a child born of Mary. Of course, while Matthew
traces the descent of Jesus through Solomon and Jehoiachin (Matthew 1:12), we
can also look at this through the eyes of Luke. He traces Jesus’ physical descent
back through Mary and Nathan to David (Luke 3:31), which, according to theologian
Charles Ryrie, bypasses Jehoiachin’s line and fulfills the prophecy.50 While this is a
good point Ryrie makes, this leaves out what Numbers 1:18 says about lineage
being traced through the father. I believe that the virgin birth is not only miraculous
just on it’s own, but it shows that no other could come into the Davidic line other
than one from a virgin birth. Here’s the proof of the virgin birth:
Now the birth of Jesus was as follows.
When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph,
before they came together
she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.
(Matthew 1:18). Matthew not only stressed that the Lord used a virgin, but also stressed
virginity throughout the entire pregnancy: Joseph kept Mary “a virgin until she gave
birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus” (Matthew 1:25). This affirms Isaiah’s
prophecy of Isaiah 7:14, no question about it–the mother would indeed be a virgin.
No other person in history fits the Immanuel concept other than Jesus.
I once read in an article that Jesus couldn’t be Immanuel because he’s never
called “by that name” anywhere in the Bible. The point that person is missing is the
fact that Immanuel is a title, just like the title, “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17); or
President or Captain is a title. I certainly wouldn’t name my son, President, or
Captain. Again, simply because these are titles. So, we wouldn’t see a person’s
name called Immanuel, even in the Bible, because, as we’ve seen, it’s a special
title. We do see Jesus living out the meaning of that name simply because it means,
“God with us.” With that meaning, Isaiah 7:14 is telling us that God, Himself, was
coming to us. Yet, how will the people recognize Him? Along with the proof of being
born of a virgin, He would be of Divine nature by not having a human father--He’ll
be born of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20). He will also prove His Divinity by saving
His people from their sins, and as we know, only God can forgive sin (Matthew
1:20). Another proof of the sign will be of early maturity: “”He will eat curds and
honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good” (Isaiah 7:15)
As we can recall, it was in the temple, when Christ was only twelve years old that he
reached maturity: And it came about that after three days
they found Him in the temple,
sitting in the midst of the teachers,
both listening to them, and asking them questions.
And all who heard Him were amazed
at His understanding and His answers
The Immanuel concept of a Child continues from Isaiah 7:14 to
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called
Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
This Immanuel has sprung forth from the stem of Jesse, and the Spirit of the
Lord that has rested upon Him” (Isaiah 11:1-2). He will, as the Messiah, deliver the
Israelite nation (7:14, 9:6, 11:1-2; 49:5) and especially His own (53:1-12).
Isaiah had foretold that Immanuel would experience pain and suffering as a
way of reaching maturity. This then would be seen not only as the Suffering Servant
(Isaiah 50) but as the Son in the New Testament, “although He was a Son, He
learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8); “and being
found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the
point of death, even death on a cross.
He would also live out the meaning of His name on earth, and even in Heaven
with this everlasting promise: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age
(Matthew 28:20). It is clear that Jesus, the Immanuel is the fulfilment of 7:14.
While there are many other proofs that point to Jesus Christ as the Immanuel
51 (such as his birth prophesied in Micah 5:2 and fulfilled in Matthew 2:4-6), the
bottom line is the Old and New Testament clearly show that Jesus is Immanuel
spoken of in Isaiah 7:14. So adamant is this truth that Matthew repeats himself,
first speaking of Jesus, then of and Immanuel interchangeably:
“And she will bear a Son; and you will call His name Jesus, for it is He who will
save His people from their sins....Behold, the Virgin Shall be with Child, and
shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated
means, “God With Us” (Matthew 1:21, 23).
Dr. Charles Feinberg tells us that the conclusion of the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy
is inescapable, “
...there is no ground, grammatical, historical, or logical, for doubt as to
the main point, that the Church in all ages has been right in regarding
this passage as a signal and explicit prediction of the miraculous
conception and nativity of Jesus Christ. 52
Truly, Jesus Christ is not just some reminder of God’s presence, but He is
“God with us.”
Selected Bibliography on Isaiah 7:14
Alexander, J.A. Commentary on the Prophecies of Isaiah, (Grand Rapids,
MI;Zondervan, 1875, reprint, 1978), Volume 1.
Benson, G.P. “Virgin Birth, Virgin Conception.” Expository Times.” 98:5 F (1987):
Brooks, William. “Isaiah 7:14-17: The Prophecy of Immanuel.” Internet Christian
Library: Journal of Christian Higher Education. (7/27/06) 1-30.
Chisholm, Robert B. Handbook on the Prophets. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker
Academic 2002), Isaiah,13-151.
Gromacki, Robert. “The Virgin Birth.” Fundamentalist Journal 1:4 D (1982): 17-19.
Feinberg, Charles. “The Virgin Birth in the Old Testament and Isaiah 7:14. Bibliotheca Sacra 119 Jl-S (1962): 251-258.
Irwin, William Andrew. “That Troublesome ‘Almah and Other Matters.” Review &
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