Isaiah 7:14 - "a VIRGIN shall conceive" or "a young woman"?
Dan Wallace's NET version = the liberal RSV
KJB - "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; Behold, A VIRGIN shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."
To say that "a young woman" will give birth to a child is not much of "a sign". It happens hundreds of times a day all over the earth. But for a VIRGIN to conceive and bear a son is indeed a miracle and a sign, and this sign was to be given to the house of David, as Isaiah 7:13 tells us.
Matthew 1:22-23 - "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, A VIRGIN shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."
Daniel Wallace's NET version O.T. prophesy in Isaiah 7:14 is just like the liberal RSV - instead of a virgin Wallace's NET reads this way: "7:14 For this reason the sovereign master himself will give you a confirming sign. Look, this YOUNG WOMAN is about to conceive and will give birth to a son. You, YOUNG WOMAN, will name him Immanuel."
Try to defend this blunder as you will, but the word "virgin" is correct. Just read the New Testament Matthew 1:22-23 "Now all this was done, THAT IT MIGHT BE FULFILLED WHICH WAS SPOKEN OF THE LORD BY THE PROPHET, saying, Behold, A VIRGIN shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."
The Hebrew word in Isaiah 7:14 - almah - was always a young woman who was a virgin. Matthew 1:23 says this is what was written by the prophet Isaiah. The Hebrew word almah is found only 7 times in the Hebrew O.T., and every time it is used, the context is speaking about a young woman who was not married and was in the Jewish culture, a virgin.
The KJB translates this single Hebrew word as virgin 4 times, damsel once and maid twice. (See Genesis 24:43, Exodus 2:8, Psalm 68:25, Proverbs 30:19, Song of Solomon 1:3; 6:8 and Isaiah 7:14)
We can clearly see the full meaning of this word by the way God uses it the first time it is found - in Genesis 24:43. In this chapter Abraham sends out his unnamed servant to seek a wife for his son Isaac. The whole chapter is a spiritual "type" or picture of God the Father sending the Holy Ghost to seek out a bride (the church) for His Son.
The servant rehearses his previous prayer to God in verses 42-44 where he says: "And I came this day unto the well, and said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, if now thou do prosper my way which I go: Behold I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass, that when THE VIRGIN (almah) cometh forth to draw water, and I say unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water of thy pitcher to drink; And she say to me, Both drink thou, and I will also draw for thy camels: LET THE SAME BE THE WOMAN WHOM THE LORD HATH APPOINTED OUT FOR MY MASTER'S SON."
When the servant first sees the future wife of Isaac, Rebekah, this is how she is described in verses 15-16 of this same chapter. "And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, (his prayer to God) that, behold, Rebekah came out...with her pitcher upon her shoulder. And the damsel was very fair to look upon, A VIRGIN (Bethulah), NEITHER HAD ANY MAN KNOWN HER; and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up." In every case recorded in the Bible, a young woman called almah was also a virgin.
Bible translations that correctly have "VIRGIN" in the Isaiah 7:14 passage are the Latin Vulgate, Wycliffe 1395, Coverdale 1535, Bishops' bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1599, Douay-Rheims 1610, the KJB 1611, the Bill Bible 1671, the Thomson Bible 1808, The Boothroyd Bible 1853, The Smith Bible 1876, The Revised English Bible 1877, the Revised Version 1885, Darby 1890, Young's 1898, the ASV 1901, Rotherham's Emphasized bible 1902, Lamsa's 1933 translation of the Syriac, The Living Bible 1971, the Modern Greek translation, the NKJV 1982, The Word of Yah 1993, the NASB 1995, God's Word Translation 1995, The Sacred Scriptures Family of Yah 2001, The Message 2002, NIV 2011, the Apostolic Bible Polyglot Greek 2003, A Conservative Version 2005, the Complete Apostle's Bible 2005, The New Century Version 2005, The Mebust Bible 2007, the Holman Standard 2009, the Jubilee Bible 2010, the New Heart English Bible 2010, the New European Version 2010, The Work of God's Children bible 2011, Names of God Bible 2011, The New Brenton Translation 2012, The World English Bible 2012, the Lexham English Bible 2012, the World English Bible 2012, The Biblos Bible 2013, The International Standard Version 2014, the New International Readers Version 2014, The Modern English Version 2014, The Far Above All Translation 2104, The New Living Translation 2015, Tree of Life Version 2015, the International Children's Bible 2015, The Hebraic Roots Bible 2015 and the ESV 2016 - "Behold, the VIRGIN shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel."
Lamsa's 1933 translation of the Syriac (Aramaic) Peshitta - "“Therefore the LORD himself shall give you a sign; Behold, A VIRGIN shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
And this Online Interlinear Hebrew Old Testament - "a VIRGIN will bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel"
The Jewish Virtual Library Complete Tanach 1994 -“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, A VIRGIN shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
The Orthodox Jewish Bible 2011 - “Therefore Hashem Himself shall give you an ot (sign); Hinei, HaAlmah (the unmarried young VIRGIN) shall conceive, and bear Ben, and shall call Shmo Immanu El (G-d is with us)”
It was the liberal RSV that first translated it as "a young woman", but now even the revision of the revision of the revision - the ESV - has gone back to reading "virgin".
Many Jewish versions translate this verse as "Behold, A YOUNG WOMAN (or, A MAIDEN) will have a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." But this is not much of a sign, is it? It happens every day.
Perhaps the worst of the lot is one called the Ancient Roots Translinear Bible 2009. It actually says: "So the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, A PREGNANT ADOLESCENT-GIRL will beget a son, and call his name Immanuel."
However The Orthodox Jewish Version 2011 says: "the unmarried young VIRGIN shall conceive"
The Catholic Connection
The previous Catholic versions like the Douay-Rheims bible 1610, The Douay 1950 and the St. Joseph New American bible 1970 all read: "the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold, A VIRGIN shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel."
But the latest Catholic version, The New Jerusalem bible 1985 says: "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."
Among foreign language translations that have "virgin" in Isaiah 7:14 are the Spanish Reina Valera, the Portuguese Almeida, the Russian Synodal, the Italian Diodati, the French Martin and Ostervald, and Luther's German bible, to name but a few.
Notes about the Hebrew word "gal-mah" (or, almah)
The Hebrew word gal-mah # 5959 is only used 7 times in the Hebrew Bible. In the King James Bible we read:
“the VIRGIN cometh forth to draw water” Genesis 24:43 speaking of Rebekah, who became Isaac’s wife.
And we are clearly told in this same chapter that she was a virgin. "And the damsel was very fair to look upon, A VIRGIN, neither had any man known her" (Genesis 24:16) and "...and it shall come to pass, that when the VIRGIN cometh forth to draw water..." (Genesis 24:43)
“the MAID went and called the child’s mother.” Exodus 2:8
“the DAMSELS playing with timbrels” Psalm 68:25 speaking of the young maidens in Israel.
“and the way of a man with a MAID.” Proverbs 30:19
“therefore do THE VIRGINS love thee” Song of Solomon 1:3
“and VIRGINS without number” Song of Solomon 6:8
“Behold, a VIRGIN shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
In Jewish culture, all "maids" were virgins. If a woman was not a virgin when she married, then, under Jewish law, she was to be stoned to death. See Deuteronomy chapter 22.13-29 for a full description of these events.
ALL of grace, believing the Book - the King James Bible.
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