That prophecy in Isaiah 7

The Pixie

Active member
As Christmas approaches it is interesting to look at the supposed prophecy of a virgin birth in Isaiah 7.

Isaiah 7:1 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 [a]conquer it. 2 When it was reported to the house of David, saying, “The Arameans have camped in Ephraim,” his heart and the hearts of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake [c]with the wind.
3 Then the Lord said to Isaiah, “Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and your son [d]Shear-jashub, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway to the [e]fuller’s field, 4 and say to him, ‘Take care and be calm, have no fear and do not be fainthearted because of these two stubs of smoldering firebrands, on account of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and the son of Remaliah. 5 Because Aram, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has planned evil against you, saying, 6 “Let us go up against Judah and [f]terrorize it, and make for ourselves a breach in [g]its walls and set up the son of Tabeel as king in the midst of it,” 7 thus says the Lord [h]God: “It shall not stand nor shall it come to pass. 8 For the head of Aram is Damascus and the head of Damascus is Rezin (now within another 65 years Ephraim will be shattered, so that it is no longer a people), 9 and the head of Ephraim is Samaria and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you will not believe, you surely shall not last.”’”
10 Then the Lord spoke again to Ahaz, saying, 11 “Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God; [j]make it deep as Sheol or high as [k]heaven.” 12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord!” 13 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? 14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a [l]virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name [m]Immanuel. 15 He will eat curds and honey [n]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.

First off, the "virgin" issue. The word used in the original Hebrew can indicate any young woman (though the LXX says virgin). But okay, let us suppose it says virgin... The prophesy is that a virgin will become pregnant and have a baby. This happens a lot. Your own mother was a virgin, and she got pregnant and had a baby. There is nothing miraculous suggested here.

So what makes this noteworthy?

What is important is the context. Verses 1 to 9 are explaining that the nation of Judah was ruled by King Ahaz from Jerusalem, and was threatened by two enemies, Israel (aka Ephraim) and Syria (aka Aram aka Damascus). God has Isaiah tell the king that all will be okay. God then gives a sign to reassure Ahaz: A boy will be born to a young woman, and before that boy has learnt to choose good (i.e., just a few years), the two enemies of Judah will have fallen.

The prophecy is not that the boy would be born, but that the two nations would fall. The only significance of the boy is that it gives a timeframe for the prophecy.

If the author of Matthew is to be believed, this boy was born some 700 years later. If we believe Matthew, then God's reassurance to the king is: Don't worry Ahaz, within 700 years the two nations you fear so much will have fallen.

Which is no reassurance at all!

Israel and Syria did indeed fall, soon after the prophesy was supposedly made. They fell to Assyria, from whose control they had just rebelled. The "prophecy" was written a generation later as a warning to Ahaz's son, Hezekiah, advising him not to join other nations rebelling against the Assyrian overlords - advise that was ignored, with unfortunate consequences.

This supposed prophecy has nothing to do with Jesus; it was made and fulfilled centuries before.[/I][/B]
 

Gus Bovona

Active member
As Christmas approaches it is interesting to look at the supposed prophecy of a virgin birth in Isaiah 7.

Isaiah 7:1 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 [a]conquer it. 2 When it was reported to the house of David, saying, “The Arameans have camped in Ephraim,” his heart and the hearts of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake [c]with the wind.
3 Then the Lord said to Isaiah, “Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and your son [d]Shear-jashub, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway to the [e]fuller’s field, 4 and say to him, ‘Take care and be calm, have no fear and do not be fainthearted because of these two stubs of smoldering firebrands, on account of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and the son of Remaliah. 5 Because Aram, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has planned evil against you, saying, 6 “Let us go up against Judah and [f]terrorize it, and make for ourselves a breach in [g]its walls and set up the son of Tabeel as king in the midst of it,” 7 thus says the Lord [h]God: “It shall not stand nor shall it come to pass. 8 For the head of Aram is Damascus and the head of Damascus is Rezin (now within another 65 years Ephraim will be shattered, so that it is no longer a people), 9 and the head of Ephraim is Samaria and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you will not believe, you surely shall not last.”’”
10 Then the Lord spoke again to Ahaz, saying, 11 “Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God; [j]make it deep as Sheol or high as [k]heaven.” 12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord!” 13 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? 14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a [l]virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name [m]Immanuel. 15 He will eat curds and honey [n]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.

First off, the "virgin" issue. The word used in the original Hebrew can indicate any young woman (though the LXX says virgin). But okay, let us suppose it says virgin... The prophesy is that a virgin will become pregnant and have a baby. This happens a lot. Your own mother was a virgin, and she got pregnant and had a baby. There is nothing miraculous suggested here.

So what makes this noteworthy?

What is important is the context. Verses 1 to 9 are explaining that the nation of Judah was ruled by King Ahaz from Jerusalem, and was threatened by two enemies, Israel (aka Ephraim) and Syria (aka Aram aka Damascus). God has Isaiah tell the king that all will be okay. God then gives a sign to reassure Ahaz: A boy will be born to a young woman, and before that boy has learnt to choose good (i.e., just a few years), the two enemies of Judah will have fallen.

The prophecy is not that the boy would be born, but that the two nations would fall. The only significance of the boy is that it gives a timeframe for the prophecy.

If the author of Matthew is to be believed, this boy was born some 700 years later. If we believe Matthew, then God's reassurance to the king is: Don't worry Ahaz, within 700 years the two nations you fear so much will have fallen.

Which is no reassurance at all!

Israel and Syria did indeed fall, soon after the prophesy was supposedly made. They fell to Assyria, from whose control they had just rebelled. The "prophecy" was written a generation later as a warning to Ahaz's son, Hezekiah, advising him not to join other nations rebelling against the Assyrian overlords - advise that was ignored, with unfortunate consequences.

This supposed prophecy has nothing to do with Jesus; it was made and fulfilled centuries before.[/I][/B]
Makes sense, but I'd like to hear a challenge to this interpretation.
 

The Pixie

Active member
Makes sense, but I'd like to hear a challenge to this interpretation.
Seems no one wants to challenge it. I suspect this is something taken on blind faith, and no one wants to think about it too much in case I turn out to be right. It is a major part of the Christmas narrative.
 

Komodo

Active member
As Christmas approaches it is interesting to look at the supposed prophecy of a virgin birth in Isaiah 7. [. . .]
14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a [l]virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name [m]Immanuel. 15 He will eat curds and honey [n]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.

First off, the "virgin" issue. The word used in the original Hebrew can indicate any young woman (though the LXX says virgin). But okay, let us suppose it says virgin... The prophesy is that a virgin will become pregnant and have a baby. This happens a lot. Your own mother was a virgin, and she got pregnant and had a baby. There is nothing miraculous suggested here.
Have to disagree with this part. It says "a virgin will be with child," not "a former virgin." If you heard somebody say, "children are fighting in this war" (or if you heard the prediction, "children will be fighting in this war"), I'm pretty sure you'd assume it meant "people who are still children," not "people who were once children." Since everybody in human history was once a virgin (and was once a child), specifying "a virgin (or child) will do this or that" is entirely pointless, unless it's referring to somebody who's still a virgin/child.
 

Temujin

Well-known member
Have to disagree with this part. It says "a virgin will be with child," not "a former virgin." If you heard somebody say, "children are fighting in this war" (or if you heard the prediction, "children will be fighting in this war"), I'm pretty sure you'd assume it meant "people who are still children," not "people who were once children." Since everybody in human history was once a virgin (and was once a child), specifying "a virgin (or child) will do this or that" is entirely pointless, unless it's referring to somebody who's still a virgin/child.
That's not how I read it at all. It is similar to the playground teenage myth "You can't get pregnant if you are a virgin." which really means "You can't get pregnant the first time you have sex". This is of course, untrue as the story of Mary illustrates.
 

Komodo

Active member
That's not how I read it at all. It is similar to the playground teenage myth "You can't get pregnant if you are a virgin." which really means "You can't get pregnant the first time you have sex". This is of course, untrue as the story of Mary illustrates.
I don't know enough Hebrew for my commentary here to be worth too much, but if that was the implication, wouldn't they have said "a woman who only knew man once will become pregnant," or something similar?
 

The Pixie

Active member
I don't know enough Hebrew for my commentary here to be worth too much, but if that was the implication, wouldn't they have said "a woman who only knew man once will become pregnant," or something similar?
But that is not the point of the prophecy. The pregnancy is only an issue because it provides a timeframe. The kingdoms will fall before this woman's as-yet-unborn son can tell right from wrong. Whether the woman was a virgin or, say, a prostitute does not actually impact the prophecy at all.
 

Komodo

Active member
But that is not the point of the prophecy. The pregnancy is only an issue because it provides a timeframe. The kingdoms will fall before this woman's as-yet-unborn son can tell right from wrong. Whether the woman was a virgin or, say, a prostitute does not actually impact the prophecy at all.
I get that, but you did say you thought it might mean something like "a young woman who was a virgin, but wasn't one anymore before becoming pregnant," and I didn't find that reading plausible. You could remove it without at all affecting the point you make here.
 
Top