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The Prophecy of Isaiah 7:14

Virgin or Young Woman?

Immanuel– Jesus or Someone Else?


Donna Morley

 

       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 ‘almah.” 15

         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 word!” 18

         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 almah.  

         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 on.

Isaiah’s Fiance’?

         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 given.” 31

         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.

Isaiah’s Wife?

         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 Spirit.” 36

 

         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 child.

         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 theological context.40

         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 one anyway,

 

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 Hezekiah.

         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 verses.

         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.

(Jeremiah 22:30)

         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

(Luke 2:46-47)

 

         The Immanuel concept of a Child continues from Isaiah 7:14 to Isaiah 9:6.

“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

Wonderful Counselor,

Mighty God,

Eternal Father,

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 literally,

“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): 139-140.

 

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 & Expositor: A Baptist Theological Journal 50 (July 1953): 337-360.

 

Johnson, Elliott E. “Dual Authorship and the Single Intended Meaning of Scripture.” Bibliotheca Sacra 143 JI-S (1986)

 

Kaiser, Walter C. “The Promise of Isaiah 7:14 and the Single-Meaning Hermeneutic.” The EvangelicalJournal 6 (Fall 1988): 55-70.

 

Kamesar, Adam. “The Virgin of Isaiah 7:14: The Philological Argument From the Second to the Fifth Century.” Journal of Theological Studies 41 (April 1990): 51-75.

 

Mcknight, Scot with Johnson, R. Boaz. “From Tel Aviv To Nazareth: Why Jews Become Messianic  Jews.” Journal of the Evangelica Theological Society. 48:4 (December 2005):771-800.

 

Moody, Dale. “Isaiah 7:14 in the Revised Standard Version.” Review & Expositor : A Baptist Theological Journal 50 (January 1953): 61-68.

 

Niessen, Richard. “The Virginity of the ‘Almah in Isaiah 7:14.” Bibliotheca Sacra 137 (April-June 1980):    133-150.

 

Menken, Martinus JJ. “The Textual form of the Quotation from Isaiah 7:14    in Matthew 1:23.”     Novum Testamentum 43:2 (2001):144-160.

 

Owens, John J. “The Meaning of ‘Almah in the Old Testament.” Review &   Expositor : A Baptist Theological Journal 50 (January 1953): 337-360.

 

Ortlund, Jr., Raymond. C. Isaiah: God Saves Sinners (Wheaton, IL:Crossway Books, 2005).

 

Reymond, Robert L. “Who is the ‘LMH of Isaiah 7:14.” Presbyterion 15 (Spring 1989): 1-15.

 

Ryrie, Charles Caldwell, The Ryrie Study Bible (Chicago, Moody Press, 1976, 1978).

 

Strong, James. The Exhaustive Concordance of The Bible. (McLean, VA: MacDonald Publish Co, N.D.)

 

Walton, John H. “Isaiah 7:14: What’s in a Name?” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 30 S (1987), 289-306.

 

Wolf, Herbert Martin. “Solution to the Immanuel Prophecy in Isaiah 7:14-8:22.” Journal of Biblical Literature 91:4 (1972): 449-456.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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