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The “Pete Ruins Christmas” Collection: The Virgin Shall Conceive

All people simply relax. However right here’s the deal…

Matthew 1:23 famously cites Isaiah 7:14, “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, they usually shall identify him Emmanuel,” which implies “God with us.” That is understood to be an indication of biblical prophecy throughout the ages that predicts the miraculous conception of Jesus.

Luke additionally refers to Mary conceiving a baby by miraculous means (“The Holy Spirit shall stumble upon you. . . “ Luke 1:35), however he doesn’t tie it to the Previous Testomony as Matthew does. That tells us that the circumstances of Jesus’s conception usually are not depending on whether or not Matthew’s attraction to Isaiah is convincing.

So everyone relax.

Because the prediction of Jesus, Matthew’s use of Isaiah 7:14 isn’t very convincing. Or higher, it isconvincing—it simply is determined by what you’re searching for.

The Greek phrase for “virgin” in Matthew 1:23 is parthénos(impress your pals), which implies roughly a younger girl past puberty however who will not be but married, and so one can assume a virgin. No downside to date.

Matthew is citing right here the Greek translation of the Previous Testomony, generally known as the Septuagint (nerd click on right here). And the Septuagint’s parthénos is a translation of the Hebrew phrase `almah. And right here is the place issues get attention-grabbing.

`Almah doesn’t imply “virgin” however a younger girl who could or will not be married. It might embody virginity, however it doesn’t need to. In truth, it will be uncommon, since Hebrew has a superbly good, and customary, phrase for virgin, betulah.

However nonetheless, from a linguistic perspective, `almah in Isaiah 7:14 might imply “virgin.” However contextually it doesn’t. It most positively doesn’t.

The context of this prophecy in Isaiah (and it is a prophecy—however maintain that thought) is the upcoming invasion of the Assyrian warfare machine led by King Tiglath-pileser III within the mid 730s BCE. In a determined effort to not be annihilated, the king of the northern kingdom of Israel, Pekah, and his northern neighbor Aram (Syria), dominated by King Rezin, determined to kind a coalition in opposition to the Assyrians—sometimes called the Syro-Ephraimite Coalition.

Pekah and Rezin actually needed the southern kingdom of Judah, dominated by King Ahaz, to affix them however he was reluctant. So that they thought they’d assault the southern capital of Jerusalem first to drive him to conform.

Anyway, Ahaz is freaking out on the considered this assault, and, to make a protracted story quick, Isaiah provides Ahaz an indication, which has to do with the delivery of a son to an `almah, which most English translations render (accurately) as “younger girl.” Some refuse to budge and say “virgin” (in order to not upset Bible readers who is perhaps cross-referencing Matthew 1:23) however then bury in a footnote “or ‘younger girl.’”

The purpose right here is that “younger girl” is appropriate.

The miracle right here doesn’t concern the character of the kid’s conception, however that the kid might be an indication of what is going to quickly come to move.

And for this reason we have to maintain studying previous verse 14.

Verses 15-16 tells us that the kid

. . . shall eat curds and honey by the point he is aware of how you can refuse the evil and select good. For earlier thanthe kid is aware of how you can refuse evil and select the great, the land earlier than whose two kings you might be in dread might be abandoned.

So what does that imply? Curds (one thing dairy) and honey (one thing nectar) are peacetime meals, not the sort of belongings you’d eat throughout a siege. And the way outdated would a baby need to be to have the capability to decide on good over evil? Good query. If it’s my children I’d say 30, however usually let’s say a couple of years.

The purpose is that earlier than the kid is sufficiently old to make ethical selections, the Syro-Ephraimite siege could have come to an finish. There might be peace. That is the miracle of the story, not the character of the delivery. If it helps, Start studying at Isaiah 7:1 and once you get to verse 14 say “younger girl” after which maintain studying. It makes good sense.

You may ask—and also you in all probability ought to—what concerning the little one’s identify? Emmanuel. “God with us.” Doesn’t that talk to the miraculous nature of this delivery?


The Hebrew is Im-manu-el—actually with-us-God. However consider how many individuals within the Previous Testomony have “sentence names” ending with “El” (God).

Daniel means, “God is my decide,” however that doesn’t imply that the person bearing that identify is God. There are dozens and dozens of sentence names within the Bible that comprise “El” however they don’t establish the bearer of the identify as God. Moderately, these names say one thing about God.

So naming the kid Immanuel (Emmanuel is reflecting later Latin spelling) is saying one thing about God, that God is with Ahaz and has nothing to concern. The kid’s delivery to a younger girl and his youth is the signal of what God will do.The kid isn’t the miracle within the story. The deliverance of outnumbered Judah from the coalition is.

So is Matthew silly? Can’t he learn the context in addition to we will? Certain he might. However Matthew is participating right here (as he usually does—simply observe his use of the Previous Testomony in chapters 1-2 alone) within the inventive interpretation of his Bible (the Greek Septuagint) and tying that story in Isaiah to the delivery of Jesus via a “hook phrase.”

Such inventive dealing with of texts (usually referred to as “midrash”) was a standard Jewish methodology of interpretation on the time, and we have to take into account that Matthew’s Gospel is probably going aimed toward a Jewish readership.

We’d suppose—and I hear this objection usually—that such inventive interpretation would by no means have satisfied anybody. However that’s pondering like a contemporary westerner, and never like an historic Jew. They wouldn’t have batted an eyelash. However extra possible, Matthew wasn’t attempting to persuade anybody that Isaiah 7 “proves” Jesus. He’s writing to those that already believed, which included Jews, and such inventive connections to Israel’s story would have been seen as captivatingly ingenious.

[If you want to read more about the New Testament’s use of the Old, search this blog or check out The Bible Tells Me So and Inspiration and Incarnation.]

Extra from this sequence:

The Pete Ruins Christmas Collection, Half 1: The “Pete Ruins Christmas” Collection, Half 1: Christmas in America and the Previous Testomony

The Pete Ruins Christmas Collection, Half 2: For Unto Us a Little one is Born

Podcast Episode 230: Pete & Jared Smash Christmas

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