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Biblical Prophecy


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The Virgin Shall Conceive...

By Carol Brooks

The very controversial Isaiah 7:14

Isaiah and Ahaz

The Context

The Prophet Confronts The King

The Sign of the Pregnant 'Virgin'

'A' Virgin or 'The' Virgin

Perhaps more on point than we realize


Few passages have provoked such controversy as Isaiah 7:14, generally held by Christians to be one of the greatest Messianic prophecies ever. So much so that English Bibles that do not use the word "virgin" are viewed with distrust - suspected of trying to undermine the prophetic value of the passage. On the other hand, critics often claim that this verse was never meant to be a messianic prophecy, but was merely a promise made to Ahaz, king of Judah. The verse in question reads...

    Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin (Heb. almah) will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14 NASB)

It was Matthew who first indicated that Isaiah's prophecy was fulfilled when Christ was born of the virgin Mary. In his account of the events leading up to Christs birth, Matthew said that when Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant he, being a righteous man but not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. However, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him not to be afraid to marry Mary, as the Child conceived in her was of the Holy Spirit. The angel went on to say

    (21) "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." (22) Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:  (23)  "behold, the virgin (Gk. parthenos) 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 NASB)

We tend to assume that the Isaiah passage was solely a prediction of Christ's birth. However, this view fails to take the textual and historical context into account. Quite simply, Isaiah didn't just wake up one morning and out of the blue prophesy that the Messiah would be born of a virgin some seven centuries later. Much to the contrary, anyone who reads the text without preconceived ideas would take for granted that the prophet was referring to a young woman living at the time, not one that would appear 600 plus years in the future.

   The immediate fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy was a 'type' - an actual historical thing or event that was a rough draft or glimpse of one or more actual events yet to come (the antitype). In other words, Isaiah's prophecy had more than one fulfillment. In this case he was speaking about a young woman alive at the time but the prophecy would be finally fulfilled many centuries in the future when the Messiah was born. See The Fascinating Subject of Biblical Typology

It should be noted that the significance of the original type was rarely apparent when it originally occurred. Throughout the ages God's plan has only been revealed bit by bit as it unfolded - the final culmination only understood in the light of hindsight. Thus when he spoke, Isaiah probably only knew what the rest of the Jews did - that eventually a Messiah would come. He did not foresee Jesus' actual birth, much less the exact circumstances such as He would be born of a virgin. All the ancient prophet probably knew of the matter was that the Lord was giving Ahaz, one of the worst kings of the southern kingdom of Judah, a sign.  See Footnote I)

In order to show that Isaiah's words were not spoken in a vacuum, but were originally directed at a Judean king, we need to examine the circumstances that led up to the prophecy and take a brief look at the people involved, beginning with the prophet himself.

Isaiah and Ahaz - The Prophet and The King
Tradition holds that the prophet Isaiah was possibly of noble blood and connected with the royal family. This may very well be true based on the fact that the prophet seemed to have open access to king Hezekiah (See 37:21, 38:1 39:3 etc.) and approached king Ahaz rather boldly (7:3).

Regardless, what we do know is that Isaiah's ministry began in the year that King Uzziah died (740 B.C.) and lasted some 50-60 years during the reign of four successive Judean kings - Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (1:1), which would have made him a contemporary of Hosea and Micah. Isaiah prophesied during an extremely critical period... the last few years before the northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians in 722 B.C.

However, his mission was to the southern kingdom of Judah that, at the time we are concerned with, was under threat.

Ahaz (about 735-715 BC)
Ahaz, son of Jotham, was twenty years old when came to the throne of Judea. His sixteen year reign proved him to be a weak, irresolute, and idolatrous king who burned incense in the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree. "It was bad enough that Ahaz was involved in idol worship, but he also has the distinction of being the first Jewish king to offer his own sons as a living sacrifice to the god Moloch. This sacrifice, in which the children were burned alive, took place in the Valley of Ben-hinnom (known as Gehenna in the NT writings)." [01]

    But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and even made his son pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had driven out from before the sons of Israel. (2 Kings 16:2-4 NASB)

This terrible practice was learned from the pagan nations whom the Lord had told Israel to destroy. Unfortunately for them, they did not do as the Lord commanded and wound up intermingling with these nations from whom they learned some horrendous practices. Therefore as Psalm 106 says "the anger of the Lord was kindled against His people and He abhorred His inheritance. Then He gave them into the hand of the nations, and those who hated them ruled over them". (Psalms 106:40-41 NASB)

Also See Gehenna
What is really perplexing is the fact that this very same place Gehenna (Ge-Hinnom) that English Bibles correctly render "the valley of Benhinnom" in the Old Testament, is always translated Hell in the New. This does not make a whit of sense since both sections of the Bible are talking about exactly the same place. Ge-Hinnom was the name of the valley in Old Testament times, so how did its name mysteriously change to hell in the new???

The Context
In other to properly understand Isaiah 7:14 one has to understand how it fits into the context, that begins in the very first verse of that chapter.

    Now it came about in the days of Ahaz, the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Aram and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but could not conquer it.  (Isaiah 7:1 NASB)

Rezin King of Syria, and Pekah King of Israel
Chapter 16 of the second book of kings tells us that Rezin - king of Syria, and Pekah - king of Israel, came up to Jerusalem to war. However, they did not simply wake up one morning and decide to invade Judea. As said by Dennis Bratcher, a retired professor of the Old Testament, the coalition was in fact....

    an attempt to forge alliances among the nations of the area to withstand an impending invasion from Assyria to the north. Pekah, king of the northern Kingdom of Israel, had tried to get Jotham, Ahaz's father, to join the alliance against Assyria. Pekah stood in the immediate path of the Assyrian invasion if they marched south. However Jotham had refused to join and so Pekah, with the help of Rezin king of Aram (Syria), had decided to send an army to Jerusalem to replace King Jotham with a puppet king who would agree to their demands to join the coalition (Isahiah 7:6). However, before the plan could succeed, Jotham died and left his son Ahaz to face the crisis. [02]

When king Ahaz also stood his ground and refused to ally himself with Rezin and Pekah, they attacked Judah in 734 B.C., intending to depose King Ahaz and replacing him with a more malleable king.

There is no question that these two marauding kings inflicted some serious damage, carrying away thousands of prisoners and much spoil. They even slew the king's son, the governor of the house, and the king's tight hand man (2 Chronicles 28:5-7). Verses 6 and 19 make it clear why the Lord allowed these two kings to come down as hard as they did on the southern kingdom -

    For Pekah the son of Remaliah slew in Judah 120,000 in one day, all valiant men, because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers. (2 Chronicles 28:6 NASB)

    For the Lord humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had brought about a lack of restraint in Judah and was very unfaithful to the Lord. (NASB)

However, Ahaz himself (2 Kings 16:5-6), was to be given the opportunity to redeem himself, which is where Isaiah came in.

The Prophet Confronts The King
In Isaiah 7, verses 3-7, we are told that the Lord sent Isaiah to King Ahaz to tell him not to fear "the two tails of these smoking firebrands" for their plans to defeat Judah would not come to pass.

    Then the Lord said to Isaiah, "Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway to the fuller's field, and say to him, 'Take care and be calm, have no fear and do not be fainthearted because of these two stubs of smoldering fire brands, on account of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and the son of Remaliah. 'Because Aram, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah (Pekah), has planned evil against you, saying, "Let us go up against Judah and terrorize it, and make for ourselves a breach in its walls and set up the son of Tabeel as king in the midst of it," thus says the Lord God: "It shall not stand nor shall it come to pass. (Isaiah 7:3-7 NASB)

Isaiah's message was one that reverberates throughout the Bible. For example... "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31) and "greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4). However, the prophet also delivered a solemn warning to Ahaz -  the Lord would protect Jerusalem only if Ahaz placed his faith in Him...  "If you will not believe, you surely shall not last" (Vs. 9).

Ahaz's Choice
However, it is painfully evident that the prophet's words made no impression whatsoever on Ahaz. He had, apparently, already chosen to place his hope in an alliance with a pagan monarch rather than in the God of Israel. As David Guzik writes in his commentary

    "Why was it so hard for Ahaz to do this? Because he didn't see the situation the way the Lord did. Ahaz looked at Israel and Syria and saw a terrible threat. God looked at Israel and Syria and saw two stubs of smoking fire brands. To the Lord, they were all smoke and no fire!

God then proposed that the king ask for a sign of his choice that would confirm the truth of the prophet's words. The king, however, declined the offer. (Ahaz's reluctance to make such a request would certainly be understandable if he had already asked Tilgath-pilneser for help).

    "Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God; make it deep as Sheol or high as heaven." But Ahaz said, "I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord!" (Isaiah 7:11-12 NASB)

Ahaz's response certainly sounded very pious, especially since the Lord had commanded the Israelites to never again put Him to the test (Deuteronomy 6:16) - words that were quoted by Jesus when Satan tempted Him in the wilderness (Matthew 4:7)

However, the fact that God had Himself instructed Ahaz to ask for a sign, made the kings reply a monumental piece of hypocrisy. The probable reality is that Ahaz, apparently feared the armies of Aram and Israel more than he trusted the Lord, had already sent (or planned to send) messages to Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria, beseeching him to help save him from Rezin and Pekah. And in an apparent effort to bribe the Assyrian king, Ahaz

    "took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king's house, and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria" (2 Kings 16:8 NASB)

And that was not all. As 2 Chronicles 28:22 says ... in the time of his distress King Ahaz became yet more unfaithful to the Lord. See Footnote II

Isaiah Reproaches The King
Isaiah's subsequent reproach was directed at the king and all his house.

    Then he said, "Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well? (Isaiah 7:13 NASB)

And it certainly isn't a good idea to test God's patience, as Ahaz would soon discover. In a two part prophecy, Isaiah told the king that since he would not ask for a sign as he was told to, the Lord Himself would give him one anyway. The prophecy consisted of two parts,

    Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin (Heb. almah) will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. "He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. "For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken. (Vs. 14-16)

    "The Lord will bring on you, on your people, and on your father's house such days as have never come since the day that Ephraim separated from Judah, the king of Assyria." In that day the Lord will whistle for the fly that is in the remotest part of the rivers of Egypt and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.  They will all come and settle on the steep ravines, on the ledges of the cliffs, on all the thorn bushes and on all the watering places. (Vs. 17-19)

The first part of Isaiah's prophecy came to pass in less than three years when Tiglath Pileser of Assyrian slew Rezin - king of Syria (2 Kings 16:9). Pekah - king of Israel, was slain by Hoshea who succeeded him to the throne. Hoshea was however, the last king of the Northern Kingdom that also fell to the Assyrians. (2 Kings 17:3, 6)

The two kings Ahaz dreaded came to an untimely end.

However, this was not the end of the story. Tilgath-pilneser was not someone who could be trusted. Ahaz had simply replaced one threat by another more dangerous one. 

    So Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria came against him and afflicted him instead of strengthening him. Although Ahaz took a portion out of the house of the Lord and out of the palace of the king and of the princes, and gave it to the king of Assyria, it did not help him. (2 Chronicles 28:20-21 NASB)

By The Way Later on, when the Assyrian king Sennacherib besieged Jerusalem, Ahaz's son Hezekiah built a tunnel to channel water from the Gihon Springs (the city's only source of fresh water) into the Jerusalem itself. However, had it not been for Divine intervention, the whole nation would eventually have been utterly destroyed. (See 2 Chronicles 32 and Isaiah 37). Note, The Azekah Inscription now in the British Museum, was discovered in the mid-nineteenth century in the Library of Ashurbanipal. The inscription on a tablet describes a campaign by the Assyrian king Sennacherib (705 to 681 B.C.) against Hezekiah, King of Judah. (See The Bible's Archaeological and Scientific Accuracy)

Which brings us back to Isaiah 7:14-16.. the first part of the prophecy.

The Sign of the Pregnant 'Virgin'
Just How Many Miraculous Conceptions Are We Talking About?
When God told Ahaz not to fear the fierce anger of Rezin and Pekah as their plans to conquer Judah would not come to pass, He told Ahaz to ask for a sign that would confirm His words. When Ahaz hypocritically declined to do so, the Lord gave him one anyway.

    (14) "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin (Heb. almah) will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. (15) "He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. (16) "For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken. (Isaiah 7:14-16 NASB)

Although we now know that this prophecy ultimately pointed to the birth of Christ, its immediate meaning was that the land of the two enemy kings that Ahaz so greatly feared would be forsaken.

Almah... 'Virgin' or 'Young Woman'?
A significant part of the problem swirls around the Hebrew word almah

If we insist that almah can only be translated 'virgin', we are faced with the fact that the Bible records two virgin births, which means the virgin birth of Christ was not a unique, one time happening. Since two miraculous conceptions never happened, Isaiah could not have been speaking of a virgin that lived in his time..

When I looked this verse up in multiple Bible versions (http://biblehub.com/multi/isaiah/7-14.htm), virtually every one of them translated almah into 'virgin. Unfortunately, the translators of the New King James (NKJV) went a step further and decided to do some interpreting as well as translating - capitalizing the words 'son' and 'his', thereby subtly enforcing the idea that the child spoken of is the Messiah.

The sole exceptions that I know of are the NET Bible and the Revised Standard Bible that both render almah as "young woman".. Also the Concordant Literal Version (CLV) says "damsel.

    Note: Although, in the final fulfillment of this prophecy the verse does refer to Christ, translators are supposed to translate, not impose any beliefs (correct or otherwise) onto the text. Sadly, they do it all the time and are rarely challenged because, unfortunately, too many modern Christians prefer Bible versions that are biased in favor of their own ideology. Thus, myths are perpetuated from generation to generation. See Footnote III

    Thus what we need to do (unfortunately so much of the time) is not always rely on what English translations say, but investigate the original languages says - in this case the Hebrew word almah, and how it is used in the Old Testament

    Also See The Deity of Christ www.inplainsite.org/html/Jesus_Lord_liar_or_lunatic.html

    And Elem

    Almah is the feminine form of the noun elem, which, according to Strong's, means a 'lad' or a 'young man'.

      Now when Saul saw David going out against the Philistine, he said to Abner the commander of the army, "Abner, whose son is this young man (Heb. na'ar)?" And Abner said, "By your life, O king, I do not know." The king said, "You inquire whose son the youth (Heb. elem) is." (1 Samuel 17:55-56 NASB)

      "And behold, I will send the lad (Heb. na'ar), saying, 'Go, find the arrows.' If I specifically say to the lad (Heb. na'ar), 'Behold, the arrows are on this side of you, get them,' then come; for there is safety for you and no harm, as the Lord lives. "But if I say to the youth (Heb. elem), 'Behold, the arrows are beyond you,' go, for the Lord has sent you away. (1 Samuel 20:21-22 NASB)

    Some consider an accurate assessment of elem cannot be made because it is used only twice in the Old Testament. However, in both examples (above) the same person referred to as elem, is also called a na'ar, which means a boy from the age of infancy to adolescence. In the examples below Na'ar was used

    1) Of Ishmael when he was very young:

      God heard the lad (Heb. na'ar) crying; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What is the matter with you, Hagar? Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the lad (Heb. na'ar) where he is. (Genesis 21:17 NASB)

    2) In contrast with "old" in Joshua 6:21:

      They utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young (Heb na'ar) and old (Heb zqn), and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword. (Joshua 6:21 NASB)

    3) In 1 Samuel 17:33 that clearly implies that David was quite young when he wanted to fight Goliath.

      Then Saul said to David, "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth (Heb. na'ar) while he has been a warrior from his youth (Heb. na'ar) ." (1 Samuel 17:33 NASB)

    Therefore if elem so clearly means a young many, equally clearly almah means a young woman. Consider the following...

    Almah in The Old Testament
    Besides Isaiah 7:14, almah has only been used six times in the Old Testament.

    The first example, is when Abraham sent his servant to Nahor to find a bride for Isaac. When the servant told Rebekah's brother Laban what had transpired at the well earlier that day, how likely was it that he was rude enough to refer to Rebekah's physical state, ie. that she was a "virgin". Undoubtedly, Abraham's servant was simply speaking of Rebekah as a 'young woman'.

      behold, I am standing by the spring, and may it be that the maiden (Heb. almah) who comes out to draw, and to whom I say, "Please let me drink a little water from your jar";  (Genesis 24:43 NASB)

    Although an almah, or young woman of marriageable age would have been assumed to be a virgin, it is extremely unlikely that the authors particularly had 'virgin' in mind in the next two examples. The physical condition of Moses' sister had absolutely no bearing on the story, which is why almah was translated "girl" in Exodus 2:8.

      a) Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Go ahead." So the girl (Heb. almah) went and called the child's mother.  (Exodus 2:8 NASB)

      b) The singers went on, the musicians after them, In the midst of the maidens (Heb. almah) beating tambourines. (Psalms 68:25 NASB)

    The last three are ambiguous. All three can, but do not necessarily mean 'virgin'.

      a) The way of an eagle in the sky, The way of a serpent on a rock, The way of a ship in the middle of the sea, And the way of a man with a maid (Heb. almah) . (Proverbs 30:19 NASB)

      b) Your oils have a pleasing fragrance, Your name is like purified oil; Therefore the maidens (Heb. almah) love you.  (Song of Solomon 1:3 NASB)

      c) There are sixty queens and eighty concubines, and maidens (Heb. almah) without number;  (Song of Solomon 6:8 NASB)

    'A' Virgin or 'The' Virgin

    Which brings us to the heart of the debate... who was the woman, spoken of by Isaiah, who would conceive and bear this child? Also was the child really to be named Immanuel (literally "God with us") or did it simply mean the child would be "God with us".

    There is little question that the text of Isaiah 7:14 says the maiden, not a maiden. The Hebrew uses the definite article (ha'almah) a fact that has been ignored by many translations (Here, at least, the NKJV renders it correctly). Isaiah clearly had a specific young woman in mind. Although, one cannot be dogmatic, it is entirely possible that the prophet was referring to a woman who was known to him and, quite possibly, also to king Ahaz.

    Some believe that the woman Isaiah spoke of was Ahaz's wife -Abi, and the child was their son Hezekiah who was one of the most faithful kings of Judah. Others are of the opinion that Isaiah spoke of a young woman known to both him and Ahaz but not to us. However, I am not at all sure why we even bother to speculate when, just a few verses later (8:1), the Lord instructed Isaiah to take for himself a large tablet and write on it in ordinary letters: "Swift is the booty, speedy is the prey", which was the name the Lord directed the prophet to call his second son, conceived a very short time later.

      So I approached the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. Then the Lord said to me, "Name him Maher-shalal-hash-baz; for before the boy knows how to cry out 'My father' or 'My mother,' the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away before the king of Assyria." (Isaiah 8:3-4 NASB)

    Although Isaiah's son was not literally named Immanuel, children usually learn to call their parents 'father' or 'mother' by the time they are two - three years old which is approximately how long it took before the prophecy was fulfilled and the king of Assyria carried carry away the spoils of Damascus and Samaria. In other words God was on their side. Note: 'Samaria' is not a reference to the city itself. Tilgath-pilneser, captured Galilee and northern Israel in 740 BC. However, the capital, Samaria, fell to Shalmaneser in 722 B.C ... some eighteen years later).

    Added to all of which is Isaiah's own testimony, that the children the Lord gave him were for signs from the Lord.

      Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion. (Isaiah 8:18 NASB)

    Isaiah's older son whom he took with him when he first went to meet king Ahaz, was called Shear-jashub (7: 3) which means "a remnant returns". Again this has a double meaning - it refers to the remnant that returned from captivity in Babylon and the remnant that will, in future, be saved. In Hosea 1:4-9 the Lord told the prophet (a contemporary of Isaiah) what to name three of his children. All three names were prophetic messages.

      And the Lord said to him, "Name him Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. "On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel." Then she conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. And the LORD said to him, "Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel, that I would ever forgive them. "But I will have compassion on the house of Judah and deliver them by the Lord their God, and will not deliver them by bow, sword, battle, horses or horsemen." When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and gave birth to a son. And the Lord said, "Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not My people and I am not your God." (Hosea 1:4-9 NASB)

    All of which brings us back to Matthew and how and why he read the birth of Christ into Isaiah's prophecy to king Ahaz. Did he, as critics often claim, quote the prophet's words completely out of context?

      Now all this took place to fulfill (Gk. pleroo) what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "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 1:22-23 NASB)

    The problem doesn't lie with Matthew, but with us inasmuch as when it comes to prophecy, we tend to to think 'fulfill' strictly means 'come to pass'. However, the Greek word used in Matthew 1:22 is pleroo, which can also mean 'complete', 'fill to the brim' or 'make replete', or even 'satisfy'. Note how the word is used in various verses in the New Testament...

      And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled (Gk. pleroo) the whole house where they were sitting. (Acts 2:2 NASB)

      But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled (Gk. pleroo) your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?  (Acts 5:3 NASB)

      After forty years had passed (Gk. pleroo), an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of mount sinai, in the flame of a burning thorn bush.  (Acts 7:30 NASB)

      being filled (Gk. pleroo) with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, (Romans 1:29 NASB)

      For the whole Law is fulfilled (Gk. pleroo) in one word, in the statement, "you shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Galatians 5:14 NASB)

    One can say that, in a sense, the birth of Christ completely fulfilled the original prophecy that in Scripture is often a pattern that is repeated (sometimes more than once) until the ultimate fulfillment. Matthew who was quite aware, as we are not, that Isaiah's prophecy was not necessarily fulfilled by a single occurrence, looked back at that historical event and saw in it a foreshadowing of the birth of Christ. See Typology

    Matthew actually made a very apt comparison..

    They Shall Call His Name Immanuel
    Both Matthew and Luke recorded the exact same instructions the angel gave Mary... she would call her son "Jesus".

      And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. (Luke 1:28-31 NASB)

      But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." (Matthew 1:20-21 NASB)

    However, Matthew then went on to quote Isaiah

      Now all this took place to fulfill (Gk. pleroo) what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call (Gk. kaleo) his name Immanuel," which translated means, "God with us." (Matthew 1:22-23 NASB)

    Neither child was supposed to be literally named Immanuel. In both cases, salvation was the focus of the message "God with us".

    In Isaiah 7 the prophet announced the birth of a child who would be referred to as Immanuel which signified that God was with them, and they would soon be delivered from the danger that threatened them. In Matthew 1:20-23, an angel announces the birth of another child who would also be referred to as Immanuel , which again signified that God is with us and would (if we chose to accept), save us from the consequences of our sins.

    Note: If Jesus had not been conceived by the Holy Spirit, which action made God His Father, He could never have been called "Immanuel" (God with us).

    Also See Differences and Discrepancies in the Old and The New Testaments

    The Greek word used by Matthew and translated 'virgin' is parthenos. While it is commonly believed that parthenos exclusively means 'virgin', this is not necessarily so. For example, the Septuagint twice calls Dinah a parthenos (Genesis 34:3, Genesis 34:4), although she had just been raped. Which tells us that the translators of the Septuagint did not understand parthenos to mean virgin.

    Being dogmatic about this one word is a waste of time. Other verses make it abundantly clear that Mary was a virgin, and that the child conceived in her was by the Holy Spirit, not a man.

    The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end." Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:30-35 NASB)

    In fact, as far back as Genesis 3:15 the Bible speaks of the future Redeemer being the "seed" of a woman... a man not mentioned at all. In a highly patriarchal society, this would have been extremely strange.

    Footnote I

    Peter tells us the prophets of old did not fully understand the prophecies they themselves made. They prophesied about and thus knew something of the grace to come - the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow, but they had no idea what person or time was being indicated. They carefully studied their own predictions, in order to try and understand to ascertain what they meant, in regard to the times and the exact circumstances.

      As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things into which angels long to look. (1 Peter 1:10-12 NASB)

    In other words, they knew much, but much was hidden.

    Verse 12 says that it was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but their prophecies were for the benefit of people of the future.  [PLACE IN TEXT]

    Footnote II
    2 Kings 16:10-18 and 2 Chronicles 28:22-25 tell us how far Ahaz's apostasy went.

    After Tiglath-pileser captured Damascus and put king Rezin to death, Ahaz went to Damascus to meet him, which is when he saw a pagan altar in that city. He promptly sent the pattern of the altar to Urijah the priest, presumably with the instructions to construct one exactly like it, which Urijah did. On his return from Damascus, Ahaz, "burned his burnt offering and his meal offering, and poured his drink offering and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings on the altar" (Vs. 13). He then commanded that all sacrifices would be made on the new altar. (Vs 15)

    Ahaz also had the bronze altar removed from its place and "put it on the north side of his altar" (Vs. 14). Also see verses 16 and 17 which tell of other changes Ahaz made to the original temple.

      Now in the time of his distress this same King Ahaz became yet more unfaithful to the Lord. For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus which had defeated him, and said, "Because the gods of the kings of Aram helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me." But they became the downfall of him and all Israel. Moreover, when Ahaz gathered together the utensils of the house of God, he cut the utensils of the house of God in pieces; and he closed the doors of the house of the Lord and made altars for himself in every corner of Jerusalem. In every city of Judah he made high places to burn incense to other gods, and provoked the Lord , the God of his fathers, to anger. (2 Chronicles 28:22-25 NASB) [PLACE IN TEXT]

    Footnote III
    A classic example of imposing pre-conceived biases onto Biblical text is when is when the translators decided to refer to the Holy Spirit with masculine rather than neuter pronouns which, by the way, is often used by many evangelicals as the first line of defense against any challenges to the doctrine.

    The problem is that the grammar cannot legitimately be used to support the idea that the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity. For example, in John 4:25 the NASB translates the Greek word ekeinos into "that one", in spite of the fact that the verses are clearly speaking about Christ... Yet, in John 14:26, and 16:13, the NASB translates ekeinos into "He" when referring to the Holy Spirit. [See Is God a Trinity... Part IV.  The Grammar

    A second example is in the New Testament word Gehenna - the Greek transliteration of g-ben-hinnom (the valley of the sons of Hinnom), that is an actual geographical site- a deep and narrow ravine on the South West side of Jerusalem. What is really perplexing is the fact that this very same place Gehenna (Ge-Hinnom) that English Bibles correctly render "the valley of Benhinnom" in the Old Testament, is always translated Hell in the New. This does not make a whit of sense since both sections of the Bible are talking about exactly the same place.
    Ge-Hinnom was the name of the valley in Old Testament times, so how did its name mysteriously change to hell in the new??? And there is more - plenty more. See Gehenna [PLACE IN TEXT]


    [01] The Virgin Shall Conceive... A Reflective Analysis of Isaiah 7:14. by Al Maxey

    [02] Dennis Bratcher. Immanuel in Isaiah and Matthew. "Copyright © 2013 CRI/Voice, Institute". http://www.crivoice.org/immanuel.html