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I have another question from my studies involving Isaiah:

"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14).

How is it that Jesus was not named Immanuel?  Is this a contradiction?

Also, I've heard that virgin is a mistranslation and it is actually maiden.


It would be a rare individual who is only known by one name. To my children I'm known as "Dad." The children in the congregation call me "Mr. Jeff," but my college students will call me "Mr. Hamilton" or "Professor Hamilton." Some names are given, some are based on a person's role, while others are descriptive. As an example, Esau was given his name because he was born hairy and Esau means "hairy" in Hebrew. However, later he was know as Edom (Red) because he sold his inheritance for a bowl of red bean soup. Both Esau and Edom are proper names for the same man.

According to Matthew, "But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins." So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us"" (Matthew 1:20-23). Matthew states that the fact that Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit means the passage in Isaiah 7:14 was fulfilled.

The reason is simple. Immanuel is a descriptive name. It states that God took on human form. It is the same as stated by John. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. ... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:1-4, 14). Jesus was his given name, which means Savior. Immanuel was a descriptive name because it tells us of his nature. Christ is another of his names, which tells us of his role, the Anointed of God. All of these names are accurate and proper.

Yes, there are groups out there who try to find ways to deny the obvious, that biblical prophecy existed and was fulfilled. They can't stand that a prophecy made 700 years before Christ could accurately record an "impossible" detail. The Hebrew word is 'almah, which means a young, marriagable woman. In usage in the Old Testament it consistently refers to a young woman who has not had sexual relations with a man.

"behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass that when the virgin comes out to draw water, and I say to her, "Please give me a little water from your pitcher to drink" (Genesis 24:43).

"And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Go." So the maiden went and called the child's mother" (Exodus 2:8).

"The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after; Among them were the maidens playing timbrels" (Psalm 68:25).

"The way of an eagle in the air, The way of a serpent on a rock, The way of a ship in the midst of the sea, And the way of a man with a virgin" (Proverbs 30:19).

"Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, Your name is ointment poured forth; Therefore the virgins love you" (Song of Solomon 1:3).

"There are sixty queens And eighty concubines, And virgins without number" (Song of Solomon 6:8).

The problem is that there is no evidence in any of the passages to prove that the Hebrew at the time of its writing did not refer to a woman who did not have sexual relations with a man.

In Isaiah 7:14, notice that the emphasis is on the mother, a virigin, but no mention is may of the father. This is unusual in Israelite culture.

When the Old Testament was translated to Greek by the Jewish scholars 200 years before Christ, they chose the Greek word parthenos to translate 'almah in Isaiah 7:14. Parthenos is the Greek word for virgin, a young woman who has not had sexual relations.

But the best evidence comes from Matthew 1:23. Matthew is inspired by the Holy Spirit, and those his words were chosen by the Spirit (I Corinthians 2:12-13). The Holy Spirit translated Isaiah 7:14 into Greek using the word parthenos. Therefore, while a few men object, God has indicated that the correct translation is virgin.


See also:

Questions and Answers regarding the Old Testament
Questions and Answers regarding Jesus
Questions and Answers regarding Terminology in the Bible