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  #1  
Old Sep 7, '13, 11:20 pm
javid javid is offline
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Default Does Alma exactly mean Virgin?(Isaiah 7:14)

Jews say Alma does not exactly mean Virgin:

http://www.outreachjudaism.org/artic...ma-virgin.html

How can we prove it exactly mean Virgin?
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  #2  
Old Sep 8, '13, 1:10 am
Cathoholic Cathoholic is offline
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Default Re: Does Alma exactly mean Virgin?(Isaiah 7:14)

The word Almah (alma) is somewhat ambiguous and can mean "virgin" or it can mean "young woman".

The objection from your link is partly correct, but only partly.

Rabbi Singer (from the link you cited) said:

Quote:
“every place the word alma appears in the Bible it is always referring to a virgin” is incorrect and misleading.
But the Pastor did not ask it this way (at least according to Rabbi Singer's own question posed earlier).

Quote:
"He asked that if the Hebrew word alma only meant "young woman" and not "virgin," . . .
But the questioner to Rabbi Singer apparently did state the question to Rabbi Singer this way . . .

Quote:
. . . why is it that in every place the word alma appears in the Bible it is always referring to a virgin?
Bold and underline above (and below) mine.

The word Almah (alma) is somewhat ambiguous and can mean "virgin" or it can mean "young woman".

When you look at Isaiah 7:14, think layers of prophetic fulfillment.

Isaiah 7:14, possibly and even probably has an immediate fulfillment and certainly has a later fuller and deeper fulfillment.

The "young woman" aspect would apply to the immediate fulfillment . . .
. . . . and the "virgin" aspect would apply to the later deeper fulfillment.

Both "young woman" and "virgin" are correct. Christians do not deny this.

That's WHY the RSV translation would read . . .
ISAIAH 7:14 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanu-el.

. . . .and the DRV translation would read . . .

ISAIAH 7:10-14 (DRV)
14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.

Which one is correct? Both can be.
  • The "young woman" aspect refers to somebody's wife (we don't know for sure who: Some say it is Isaiah's wife, others try to assert it is one of Ahaz's wives) who was likely a contemporary of the Prophet Isaiah.
  • The corporate aspect of "young woman" has its early fulfillment in the Israelites (Judah and Israel).
  • The later FULFILLED "virgin" aspect refers to the Blessed Virgin Mary on an individual scale.
  • The later fulfilled aspect of "virgin" in the larger sense refers to the Church (in the New Testament sense) - its corporate aspect (see St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians 5:25-27, CCC 813, CCC 828, and CCC 967) in the sense of Holy Mother Church (see for example CCC 1141,1163, and CCC 1203).

  • Old Testament Almah = a young woman + Israel
  • New Testament Almah Fulfillment = The Blessed Virgin Mary + the Church


How does St. Matthew see the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 in an ultimate sense?

Fortunately he tells us. Talking about the Blessed Virgin Mary the Jewish St. Matthew (inspired by the Holy Spirit) states . . .

MATTHEW 1:22-23
22 All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means, God with us).

The word “almah” is ambiguous concerning “virgin” and/or “young woman”. Almah can be translated either way.

The ultimate fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 is in Jesus and Mary.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by Cathoholic; Sep 8, '13 at 1:23 am.
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Old Sep 8, '13, 1:27 am
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Default Re: Does Alma exactly mean Virgin?(Isaiah 7:14)

It means, generally, "maiden", and can conceivably mean "young woman of marriageable age" (although there is no clear example in the Bible of it meaning this, it was given this meaning in later rabbinical literature, possibly as a redefinition specifically to contradict the Christian understanding), but is forced by context to mean "virgin", as the context is that of asking for a miraculous sign "as high as heaven or as deep as the pit", and a young woman of marriageable age giving birth is not miraculous in the least, nor is it a sign for Isaiah to have predicted what he would be named (Immanuel, "God with us"), as some Jews claim the intended miracle or sign is supposed to be.

See, when the Jews translated the Septuagint, of which LXX Isaiah is from probably 100 years before Christ, it was translated by Jews and for Jews: and at that time, the LXX translators translated "almah" to the Greek "parthenos", which unequivocally means "virgin", having the same semantic range as the English word "virgin" (e.g. "parthenos" can never be used of a sexually-experienced woman or girl): at the time, before Christ, the Jews, at least in Alexandria (which was the center of Jewish scholarship), believed that "almah" meant "virgin"; a later redefinition blurred this to "maiden" or "young woman", and modern redefinition even further redefined it to exclude the original understanding of "virgin" altogether: but, when Isaiah was written, and when the Septuagint was translated, both centuries before Christ, the original audience and translators both understood the word to mean "virgin". Contrary evidence, even amongst other Jewish writings, is virtually non-existent until Christians began using said passage to as a proof-text against Judaism, leading (understandably) to a desire to change the definition of the word that they were being beaten over the head with in to a softer shape (to mix metaphors).

Think of the development of the English word "prevent": in the King James Bible, it means generally "to come before", with the implication of a coming-before to prepare the way for what follows, so that either Rome or the man of sin could be spoken of as "prevent the coming of antichrist". Today, in the same context, "prevent" has the diametrically-opposite meaning. Instead of the man of sin "preventing" (coming before and preparing the way for) antichrist, we would understand it as the man of sin "preventing" (blocking the appearance of) antichrist - and this is the development of language with no especial guidance behind it, as one may posit at least a basic guidance (in Jews wishing to make the Scriptures less able to support the Christian claim) in the redefinition of "almah". Once "prevent" meant to prepare; now it means to oppose. "Almah", in Biblical times and at least through the times of the LXX translation, was understood to mean "virgin": only later, with this being used as a prophecy and proof of Christ and Christianity, did it come to be redefined, at first to mean "maiden", and then "young woman" generally.

But this meaning is foreign to the Bible, even if it is at home in the later rabbinical writings and especially mediaeval texts, and became ever-more-prominent on the Christian side to the point of going mainstream with the publication of the RSV, rooted in modern anti-supernaturalist liberal religion and higher criticism in the 19th century. It became more prominent on the Jewish side with the growing acceptance of Jews and the decline of anti-Semitism (so that Jews could propagate their new understanding of the word): understand that (sadly) through most of Christian history, a Jew would have been liable to penalties up to and including death, and possibly inciting a wave of anti-Semitic violence, if he were to publish a book (assuming he could even arrange for a printer, which was rare until the "Enlightenment") amongst Christians attacking Christian orthodoxy in any way. Even in the Enlightenment, when the heretical Jew Spinoza attacked Christianity (and Judaism, for that matter), he didn't attack it as a Jew: he attacked it as an "Enlightened" philosopher (i.e. atheist, which was just as bad then, and still got him exiled, etc.).

The word which liberals and Jews say should have been used in Isaiah if God had wanted to communicate the idea that it was a virgin who would give birth is "bethulah", and, unlike "almah", there are clear examples in the Bible of the word "bethulah" being used of women who have had sexual intercourse, thus proving that it could not possibly have "virgin" as a primary meaning. In the Bible, there are no clear-cut examples of "almah" being used of non-virgins, so, on the balance of evidence, it appears that God used the right word in inspiring Isaiah to prophesy, just as he is always found to do on closer inspection.
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Last edited by Khalid; Sep 8, '13 at 1:42 am.
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Old Sep 8, '13, 3:23 am
javid javid is offline
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Default Re: Does Alma exactly mean Virgin?(Isaiah 7:14)

I mean, when Matthew translated it to "virgin" in his gosple, doesn't the word have any other meaning & and didn't he deny other meanings?
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Old Sep 8, '13, 6:23 am
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Default Re: Does Alma exactly mean Virgin?(Isaiah 7:14)

"Isaiah tells of the mystery of our faith and hope: Isaiah 7:14 "Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel." I know that the Jews are accustomed to meet us with the objection that in Hebrew the word Almah does not mean a virgin, but a young woman. And, to speak truth, a virgin is properly called Bethulah, but a young woman, or a girl, is not Almah, but Naarah! What then is the meaning of Almah? A hidden virgin, that is, not merely virgin, but a virgin and something more, because not every virgin is hidden, shut off from the occasional sight of men."

St Jerome - Against Jovinianus Book 1 ch 32
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Old Sep 8, '13, 7:47 am
Todd977 Todd977 is offline
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Default Re: Does Alma exactly mean Virgin?(Isaiah 7:14)

St. Justin Martyr, writing about A.D. 155, discusses this virgin/young woman translation controversy in his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, chapters 43, 67, 71, and 84.

St. Irenaeus of Lyons, writing about A.D. 189, also discusses it in his Against Heresies, book 3, chapter 21.
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Old Sep 8, '13, 10:02 am
porthos11 porthos11 is offline
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Default Re: Does Alma exactly mean Virgin?(Isaiah 7:14)

Quote:
Originally Posted by javid View Post
I mean, when Matthew translated it to "virgin" in his gosple, doesn't the word have any other meaning & and didn't he deny other meanings?
Matthew quoted the passage from the LXX, which has the word "parthenos" in it, which means uambiguously, "virgin."
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Old Sep 8, '13, 11:18 am
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Default Re: Does Alma exactly mean Virgin?(Isaiah 7:14)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chesster View Post
"Isaiah tells of the mystery of our faith and hope: Isaiah 7:14 "Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel." I know that the Jews are accustomed to meet us with the objection that in Hebrew the word Almah does not mean a virgin, but a young woman. And, to speak truth, a virgin is properly called Bethulah, but a young woman, or a girl, is not Almah, but Naarah! What then is the meaning of Almah? A hidden virgin, that is, not merely virgin, but a virgin and something more, because not every virgin is hidden, shut off from the occasional sight of men."

St Jerome - Against Jovinianus Book 1 ch 32
I was reading an article in on the Greek Orthodox website which gives a similar definition and etymology, contending that "concealed" is the primary definition of almah.

Available at http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/isaiah7.14
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Old Sep 8, '13, 11:25 am
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dronald dronald is offline
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Default Re: Does Alma exactly mean Virgin?(Isaiah 7:14)

Tertullian's argument is my favorite which I also use when discussing this with the Jews:

(160-225ad)"You have the audacity to lie, as if the Scripture contained (the announcement), that not a virgin, but a young female, was to conceive and bring forth; you are refuted even by this fact, that a daily occurrence— the pregnancy and parturition of a young female, namely— cannot possibly seem anything of a sign. And the setting before us, then, of a virgin-mother is deservedly believed to be a sign; but not equally so a warrior-infant. For there would not in this case again be involved the question of a sign; but, the sign of a novel birth having been awarded, the next step after the sign is, that there is enunciated a different ensuing ordering of the infant, who is to eat honey and butter. Nor is this, of course, for a sign. It is natural to infancy. " (-Tertullian, "An answer to the Jews" Chapter 9)
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Old Sep 8, '13, 12:56 pm
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Default Re: Does Alma exactly mean Virgin?(Isaiah 7:14)

the word 'alma refers to a young woman of marrying age, but not yet married. The word is based on the societal and religious norm that a woman would marry at a certain age (mid to late teens) and also that she would remain a virgin until marriage. So in Jewish religion and culture, an 'alma would be a virgin, not any virgin, but one of marrying age.
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