There are a number of alleged messianic prophecies about Yeshua's birth: prophecies about the location, manner, and time of his birth, about his genealogy, and about events which were to occur at the time of his birth. Probably the most famous of these prophecies is the prophecy that Yeshua would be born of a virgin.
The virgin shall conceive idea (Matthew 1:23) comes from the Septuagint, the Ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament. The Hebrew original is now translated as "young woman" (Isaiah 7:14, Revised Standard Version, New English Bible, Good News Bible). Isaiah 7:10 - 8:4, the passage it comes from, is about Isaiah conceiving a child by the young woman, apparently in front of witnesses, as part of a prophecy about Assyria (Isaiah 8:1-4). Little wonder that there is scepticism about the idea of the virgin birth of Yeshua.
The gospels of Matthew (1:18-25) and Luke (1:26-35) both claim that Yeshua was born of a virgin, but only Matthew (1:23) appeals to the Hebrew scriptures as an explanation for why this should be the case. The verse appealed to, in the Hebrew Scriptures, is Isaiah 7:14, which reads:
"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: Behold, a young woman [NOT VIRGIN] will be with child and bear a son, and she will call his name Immanuel."
There are a number of difficulties with this passage. As many have noted, the Hebrew word translated as "virgin" in this verse is "almah," which is more accurately translated simply as "young woman." The Hebrew word "bethulah" means "virgin," and this word is not used in Isa. 7:14. In the book of Isaiah, "bethulah" appears four times (23:12, 37:22, 47:1, 62:5), so its author was aware of the word and could have used it in Isa 7:14 if he so desired to convey the idea of a virgin birth.. In the New American Standard translation of the Bible, all other appearances of "almah" are translated simply as "girl," "maid," or "maiden" (viz: Genesis 24:43, Exodus 2:8, Psalms 68:25, Proverbs 30:19, Song of Solomon 1:3, 6:8). Thus the claimed fulfillment, as found in the New Testament, adds a biologically impossible condition which is not even present in the original prophecy.
Answer for yourself: What does all these Christian translations of the Bible have in common?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Because you do, the Lord of his own accord will give you a sign; it is this: A young woman is with child, and she win give birth to a son and call him Immanuel.
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign: A young woman is with child, and she will bear a son, and win can him Immanuel.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.
He will give you a sign. A young woman shall bear a son who shall truly represent the hopes we have inherited from the days of David. His very name, 'God-is-with-us,' shall express the secret of his power.
Well then, the Lord himself will give you a sign: a young woman who is pregnant will have a son and will name him 'Immanuel.'
New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Jehovah Witnesses)
Therefore Jehovah himself will give you men a sign: Look! The maiden herself win actually become pregnant, and she is giving birth to a son, and she will certainly call his name Immanuel.
The Lord himself, therefore, will give you a sign. It is this: the maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel.
An omen you shall have, and that from the Eternal himself. There is a young woman with child, who shall bear a son and call his name
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a damsel is with child, and shall bring forth a son, and call his name Immanuel.
In reply, Isaiah says that the Lord will provide a sign. It will be a most unusual and remarkable event. A young woman shall bear a son and name him "Immanuel," meaning "God is with us."
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: Behold! a young woman is with child, and is about to bear a son; and she will call him 'God is with us.'
The Lord will give you a sign in any case: It is this: the young woman is with child and will give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel.
Therefore my Lord himself will give you (pi)a sign. Behold, the woman shall conceive and bearing a son -she shall call his name Immanuel."
Well I hope you got it, but if you didn't let me help you. None of these translations render the word almah [young woman in Hebrew] as virgin. Each of these translations translated Isa. 7:14 CORRECTLY!
Answer for yourself: Then why does the quote from this passage in Matthew 1:20-23 not say young woman and says virgin instead?
If you don't have access to one of these translations, and are not familiar with Hebrew of the original passage from which the New Testament quotes from, then this is what you would read in the New Testament which is based off a faulty interpretation of Isa. 7:14:
(20) But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying Joseph, thou son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. (21) And she will bear a son; and you shall call his name Yeshua, for it is he who will save his people from their sins." (22) Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, (23) Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a son, a they shall call his name Immanuel, which translated means, God is with us.
Answer for yourself: Did you notice a difference; namely that the quote of Isa. 7:14 as taken from the Old Testament and the Masoretic Text, does not say the same in the New Testament as it does in the Old Testament? Why not?
Answer for yourself: What is the Masoretic Text of OT?
This is the Hebrew text of the Old Testament as it was translated by the Masoretes who lived around 750-1000 C.E. The Masoretes were Jewish scholars. They had two different schools, Tiberian and Babylonian, and the Tiberian translation of the Old Testament is used in today's Hebrew Bibles.
You should be very curious at this point as you try to understand how young woman in the Hebrew as defined by almah in Hebrew came to mean virgin in the Greek as defined by parthenos and later in the English translations of the New Testament since the original from which it was taken does not covey such an idea.
1. And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin, king of Aram, and Pekah son of Remaliah, king of Israel, marched on Jerusalem to wage war against it, and he could not war against it. 2. And it was told to the House of David, saying, Aram has allied itself with Ephraim," and his heart and the heart of his people trembled as the trees of the forest tread because of the wind. 3. And the Lord said to Isaiah, "Now go out toward Ahaz, you and Shear-Yasb your son to the edge of the conduit of the upper pool, to the road of the washer's field. 4. And you sin say to him, "Feel secure and calm yourself, do not fear, and let your heart not be faint because of the two smoking stubs of firebrands, because of the raging anger of Rizin and Aram and the son of Remalia 5. Since Aram planned harm to you, Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, saying: C. 'Let us go up again Judah and provoke it, and annex it to us; and let us crown a king in its midst, one who is good for us.' 7.So said the Lord God, 'Neither shall it succeed, nor shall it come to pass..."' 10. And the Lord continue to speak to Ahaz, saying, 11. "Ask for yourself a sign from the Lord, your God; ask it either in the depth or in the heights above." 12. And Ahaz said, "I will not ask and I will not test the Lord." 13. And he said, "Listen now, O House of David, is it little for you to weary men, that you weary my God as well? 14 Therefore the Lord, of His own, shall give you a sign; behold the young woman is [PRESENT TENSE IN THEIR DAY NO LESS] with child, and she shall bear a son, and she shall call his name Immanuel. 15. Cream and hone he shall eat when he knows to reject bad and choose good. 16. For, when the lad does not yet know to reject bad and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread, shall be abandoned."
Answer for yourself: Did you notice the "present tense of the verb" used in the passage as well as that the Masoretic Text of Isaiah 7:14 agreed with the Christian versions of the same passage given at the beginning of this article?
Answer for yourself: So How Did We Go From Young Woman in the Old Testament to Virgin in the New Testament in quoting the same verse?
Simply the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures chose another word in place of almah-young woman which conveyed a completely different idea...parthenos-virgin.
Answer for yourself: But does parthenos always convey the idea of a virgin birth every time it is used?
An example of the word Parthenos as used in the Greek Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures...called the Septuagint.. where the person it is referring to is clearly not a virgin:
Genesis 34:2-4 (King James)
And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her. And his soul cave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel (Septuagint..parthenon) and spake kindly unto the damsel (Sept...parthenon). And Shechem spake unto his father Hamor, saying, Get me this damsel to wife.
As you can see for yourself, after Dinah had slept with Shechem and was no longer a virgin, she is referred to as parthenon in the Greek translation of the Hebrew passage. Yet at this time she is no longer a virgin. Since describing her as parthenon and since she is definitely in a non-virginious condition, to force the meaning of the word parthenon to mean virgin as it is done in translating Isa. 7:14 is wrong and can be easily shown to be a arbitrary decision of the Gentile Greek translators based upon their existing theology and religious belief system at the time.
Thus, but its own admission in the Genesis 34:2-4 passage, the Greek Translation of the Hebrew Bible (the Septuagint LXX) uses the same word used in translating Isaiah 7:14 (which is correctly recorded for us as a young woman in Isa. 7:14) in a way in Genesis 34:2-4 which does not mean virgin at all, but rather meaning one who has previously had intercourse. Thus to use the same word to mean non-virgin in Gen. 34:2-4 and later to mean virgin in Isa. 7:14 breaks the laws of Biblical Interpretation. Clearly the decision to used a definition foreign to the original interpretation of the word as seen in its first use in Genesis 34:2-4 is nothing but an arbitrary decision on the part of the translators due to their religious bias and previously head religious belief system. Such an interpretation on their part does injustice to the original concept from which they translated, because ha almah in Hebrew meant a young women and not necessarily a virgin as we are erroneously led to believe by the translators of the Greek Scriptures.
Isaiah's intent in discussing this child is clearly to set a time frame for the destruction of Israel. There is nothing miraculous about the mother or the conception process. The Hebrew word used alma, means simply "young woman," without any implication of virginity. The Greek word parthenos used to translate alma can mean either a young woman or a virgin. What we as Christians need to understand is that Matthew (or the writer of Gospel of Matthew who was other than the Apostle) used a Greek Bible, so he naturally reinterpreted Isaiah 7:14 as a prophecy referring to the virgin birth of Yeshua. For the evangelist, Isaiah's original meaning was superseded by the identification of Yeshua as Immanuel (Grk. Emmanuouel). [Daniel N. Schowalter, The Oxford Companion To The Bible. Excerpt from Virgin Birth of Christ,' New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, pg. 790].
I found, therefore, that the second of the Ptolemies was a king who was extraordinarily diligent in what concerned learning and the collection of books; that he was also peculiarly ambitious to procure a translation of our law...into the Greek tongue...for he did not obtain all our writings at that time; but those who were sent to Alexandria as interpreters gave him only the books of the law, while there were a vast number of other matters in our sacred books. [Josephus, Preface To Antiquities, Section 3].
You may have not noticed, but this often overlooked piece of information is of tremendous importance. For years in debates with other Christians, they have reasoned that the Rabbis translated the whole of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, thus meaning that they were responsible for the Isaiah translation of virgin as in the Septuagint. Now we see for sure that they only translated the first five books of Moses, and were not responsible for the rest. Now it is rather easy to see how the translation was corrupted and how the translators in Alexandria, Egypt, altered the word as indicated previously.