Thank you for your interest in the information I have gathered concerning the Immanuel prophecy. This introduction will give you a checklist of what to expect.
This part contains the Abstract of my entire thesis so that the chapter you receive can be put into the entire context of what I was trying to prove with my thesis. It also contains acknowledgments and a list of abbreviations.
The main part of this document is chapter three of my thesis. It examines the use of Isaiah 7:14 in Matthew 1:23.
This part contains the information which sets the OT context of the Immanuel prophecy.
This part is an examination of the Immanuel prophecy.
This part is an examination of the Immanuel prophecy in its NT context.
This part contains the endnotes to the entire third chapter.
This part contains the entire bibliography I used for my thesis.
Again, thank you for your interest. If you have any additional insights, questions, remarks, corrections to be made, etc., please let me know. Some of you, I realize, are probably not familiar with the Hebrew language, Ugaritic, the Septuagint, etc. If you would like to find resources about these, please ask and I will try to point you in the direction of good materials.
Again, thank you. If something does not get to you, let me know and I will resend it.
My Master of Theology thesis was approved by my thesis readers - Dr. James De Young (Professor of Greek) and Dr. Ronald Allen (Professor of Hebrew) - at Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, OR in March, 1993.
The thesis is not copyrighted. I trust the integrity of the recipient to give credit where it is due.
In Support of an Incarnational Christology: An Examination of Selected Passages from Isaiah 6:1-9:7
The purpose of the thesis is to lend further support for a three-staged incarnational Christology which consists of Jesus Christ possessing preexistence, incarnated life and exaltation. While the usual material to support this position is the New Testament, this thesis seeks to move the discussion to the pages of the Old Testament. In so doing, this thesis examines three selected passages from Isaiah 6:1-9:7.
Chapter one introduces the thesis by delineating the differences between the adoptional and incarnational schools of Christology. The historical presence of adoptionalism from the Shepherd of Hermas to the twentieth century is briefly sketched. In addition, the thesis statement and the proposed development of the subject are stated.
Chapter two analyzes the use of Isaiah 6:10 in John 12:40. Isaiah 6:8-13 is viewed as Yahweh's ironic judgment on Judah for their idolatry. This conclusion is reached by an examination of the verbal and thematic parallels to Psalms 115:5-6 and 135:15-17; particular words; the "not seeing, not hearing" motif in Isaiah and other passages from the Prophets. The Triumphal Entry is the beginning point for the New Testament context of the quotation. Despite the seemingly positive reception of Christ, the Pharisees and the multitude reject Christ. John used the situation to comment on the nation's unbelief. In his presentation, John used Isaiah 6:10 to state that they could not believe because God Himself had hardened their hearts. John's comment in 12:41 on the quotation suggests that Isaiah saw and was commissioned by Jesus Christ in His preincarnate, eternally preexistent state. This conclusion is reached by an examination of parallel imagery that exists between Isaiah 6 and the presentation of Christ in the Johannine literature. This chapter concludes, therefore, that the quotation of Isaiah 6:10 in John 12:40 reveals Jesus Christ in His eternal preexistence.
Chapter three examines the use of Isaiah 7:14 in Matthew 1:23. The thesis regards Isaiah 7:14-17 as the prophecy of Immanuel. The conclusion is that Immanuel will be virginally conceived and delivered, and will experience suffering and pain to be able to make mature moral decisions. While the fulfillment is seen only in Jesus Christ, verse 17 made the prophecy have contemporaneous application: the time period, twelve years, marked the span when Aram and Israel would be forsaken. These conclusions are reached after an examination of eight vital elements: (1) the meaning of 'ot ("sign" in verse 11); (2) The meaning of 'almah ("virgin, young woman"); (3) the meaning of the Ugaritic glmt, the etymological equivalent 'almah, (4) other possible terms at Isaiah's disposal other than 'almah; (5) the syntax of the birth announcement; (6) the significance of His diet of "curds and honey"; (7) the meaning of the prefixed le on the infinitive of yrh ("to know") and (8) the meaning of the word pair tob/r' ("good/evil"). Verse 17 is seen to have contemporary significance as the time frame of the demise of Israel and Aram. Special attention is given to the interpretation that Mahershalalhashbaz is the typical fulfillment of the Immanuel prophecy. Isaiah 7:14 is regarded as a direct fulfillment of predictive prophecy in Matthew 1:23. The fulfillment of the remainder of the Immanuel prophecy (Isa. 7:15-16) in Jesus' life is also presented. This chapter concludes, therefore, that the quotation of Isaiah 7:14 in Matthew 1:23 shows that Jesus Christ began His incarnated life through a human mother.
Chapter four examines Isaiah 9:6-7. The analysis of the Child's four names--pel'e yo'ets ("Divinely-Wonderful Planner"); 'el gibbor ("Mighty God"); 'aby'ad ("Eternal Father") and sarshalom ("Prince of Peace")--coupled with the yalad ("child") and ben ("son") language reveals that the Child is divinity in human form. Two conclusions are reached concerning His mission: (1) the time of the passage (Isa. 9:1-7) is in the eschatological future and (2) the emphasis of the Child's mission is to establish visibly the Davidic throne, hence the Kingdom of God, on earth. The theological significance of Isaiah :6-7 is seen within the Kingdom of God motif, especially as He establishes the Eternal throne on earth. Special attention is drawn to His fulfilling the character of the four names during this time.
Chapter five concludes the thesis. It is shown that the results of the thesis yields the conclusion that Isaiah 6:1-9:7 lends support to a three-staged incarnational Christology.
The Use of Isaiah 7:14 in Matthew 1:23
The silent time gap between Isaiah 6:13 and 7:1 represented the six year sole regency of King Jotham. In his national policies, "[Jotham] simply trod in the footsteps of his father." He continued to improve the defensive posture of Judah by further fortifying the Jerusalem wall and building fortresses in the wilderness. In 735, a pro-Assyrian faction in Judah staged a bloodless coup that brought Ahaz, Jotham's son, to the throne. Throughout his reign, Jotham did right in Yahweh's sight and he was, therefore, prosperous and strong. The idolatrous practices of the nation continued, however, and Judah's moral and spiritual climate spiraled downward.
The events in Isaiah 7 revolve around the Syro-Ephramite invasion of Judah by King Pekah of Israel and King Rezin of Aram. Inherent to the understanding of this chapter is knowing the political situation of the time.
The fourteen years following the death of Jeroboam II of Israel saw the nation experience national and political turmoil as her royal court was marred by conspiracy and murder. During these years (753-739), Israel was governed by five different kings. Zechariah (753-752) was murdered by the usurper Shallum. Shallum's short, one month reign ended when he was assassinated by Menachem (752-742/1). Upon Menachem's death, his son, Pekahiah (742/1-740/39), became king. The time for change was ripe when Pekahiah took the throne. Under Menachem, Israel was subjected to a yearly 1000 talent (about 93,750 lbs.) tribute of silver to Assyria. This drain on the national economy produced deep animosity toward the Assyrians and "demanded a change in policy, even if it required deposition of the present king."
Pekah was the shly ("third man") in King Pekahiah's court. The shly was a close aide and adjunct to the king; the title seems to indicate that Pekah was third in the line of governmental authority. Frustrated with Pekahiah's ineffectiveness, Pekah, with fifty men from Gilead, instigated a murderous coup against the king. Pekah's life and reign were evil in Yahweh's sight.
As ruler of Israel, "Pekah's stormy beginning was to characterize his short independent rule." Having experienced the oppressive policies of the Assyrians beginning with Menachem and seeing the specter of Tiglath-Pilesar on his horizon, he realized that in order for Israel and the surrounding nations to survive as sovereign entities a coalition of forces needed to be formed. Pekah "therefore set himself to work to induce the principal Palestinian states to join together and form a confederacy, or league, whereby the Assyrian arms might be resisted, and the subjugation of the country prevented, or at any rate deferred." A coalition was formed which included the nations of Israel, Aram, Tyre, Sidon and some Arabs. The only holdout in the area was Ahaz of Judah. Soon after Ahaz's coup, around 734, coalition forces headed by Israel and Aram invaded Judah to attempt to bring forcibly the nation into its fold by placing a puppet king, ben-Tabeel, upon her throne.
Ahaz was twenty years old when he and his pro-Assyrian party gained the throne. Concerning his character: "He had neither courage, nor patriotism, nor energy, nor prudence, nor piety, nor even a decent regard for the traditions of his house and nation." Ahaz became the first Judean monarch since Solomon to be directly associated with idolatrous practices. In the vast amount of Scripture dedicated to Ahaz, nothing good is said of him.
The kingdom that was so carefully crafted and administered under Uzziah and Jotham began to unravel under the auspices of Ahaz as this twenty-one year old king faced enemies on all sides. Almost simultaneously, Rezin and Pekah attacked from the north, the Philistines from the west and Edom from the south. And, too, Ahaz had to concern himself about Assyria. The nation shook with fear at the prospect of being led by this young, inexperienced king who was thrown into the throes of national disaster. While several reasons may be given for the Syro-Ephramite invasion, Scripture makes it clear that the primary cause was due to Ahaz's idolatry, apostasy and failure to trust Yahweh.
Into this milieu of confusion, fear and turmoil, Yahweh sent His prophet Isaiah and his son, Shear-jashub, to steady the nerves of Ahaz and the nation. Isaiah contemptuously likened Pekah and Rezin to "two stumps of smoking firebrands." Their plans included overthrowing the Davidic throne by setting ben-Tabeel as ruler. In a solemn, divine pronouncement, Yahweh declares lo' taqum welo' tiheyeh ("it shall not stand and it shall not be"). Indeed, within sixty-five years these two nations would be shattered. Vasholz comments: "How empty those words sounded to the unbelieving Ahaz in such dire circumstances with the enemy approaching the gates."
The promise was before Ahaz but also was the dire warning: 'im lo' ta'amiynu ki lo' te'amenu ("if you do not believe, then you shall not be established"). The dynastic interest of this passage is seen in the plural verbs, ta'amiynu and te'amenu; they referred to the entire royal house with Ahaz as its present representative. His decision would have ramifications on the future history of the royal family: unbelief and disobedience would result in judgment on the Davidic dynasty. Dynastic interest is also seen in the use of 'mn ("to establish"). The term is used in Yahweh's promise to David in 2 Samuel 7:16: wa'eman beyteka ("and shall be established your house"). The message to Ahaz was clear: deliverance would come from Yahweh, the coalition would not succeed in its intended aim, Ahaz was to trust Yahweh and not follow his pro-Assyria leanings.
A chronological break occurs between vv. 9 and 10. It was probably during this time that Ahaz officially requested for Assyrian military assistance. This "appeal fitted exactly the plans of Tiglath-Pilesar" in that Assyria had reached well-nigh the zenith of her power. She was under the strong rule of a single energetic and war-like prince. No enemy of any importance threatened her. She had a large disciplined army ready for any service, and just at this time it was her special desire to extend her influence towards the south-west, and round off her domination in that quarter, by absorbing into it the Palestinian region.
Although Ahaz rejected Yahweh, another opportunity was given him to trust Him as his protector and deliverer. Isaiah brings the message in verse 11:
Ask for yourself a sign from Yahweh your God! Make it deep as Sheol or make it as high as the heights!
Ahaz's seemingly pious answer, an allusion to Deuteronomy 6:16, belies the fact that he was an enthusiastic Baal worshiper. This, then was mockery's finest hour: the utilization of God's Word by one who had no intention to obey it and who never made a pretense to believe it. . . . Ahaz said he would not tempt the Lord when he was doing just that. Not only did he not believe that the Lord could save him from a real threat, he would rather rely upon a heathen Assyrian for his deliverance. Trusting in the Lord had no meaning for him.
Just as Ahaz alluded to Deuteronomy, so did Isaiah in his reply. His use of shime'u-na' harkened back to the great shema in Deuteronomy 6:4-contrary to Ahaz's proclivity the covenant people of God, especially the king, were to put their trust in God alone. But a note of warning was seen as well. The phrase shime'u-na in nearly all instances in MT, . . ., is hostile, minacious." The shift from 'eloheyka ("your God") in verse 11 to 'elohay ("my God") in verse 13 was ominous for it showed that Yahweh was disassociating Himself from Ahaz. In essence, Ahaz's decision was the final straw for the royal family. The sign Yahweh would give was for their notice; David's house-the kings of Judah-was about to receive communication from Yahweh.
14. Therefore, the Lord Himself shall give to you a sign: Behold, the virgin is pregnant and she is about to bear a son and she shall call his name `Immanuel.' 15. He shall eat curds and honey in order that he may know to reject evil and choose good. 16. For before the boy knows to reject evil and choose good, the land which you loathe shall be forsaken from her two kings. 17. Yahweh shall bring upon you and upon your fathers days which have not come from the day Ephraim turned away from Judah-the king of Assyria.
Nearly every point in this passage is debated. The interpretation of the text revolves around the answers given to several significant questions: Who is the almah? Who is Immanuel? Is the fulfillment contemporaneous only, dual or only in Christ? If it does somehow refer to Christ, how do verses 15-17 apply to Him? In order to answer these questions, some resort to text manipulation. For example, Walter Kaiser believes Immanuel is Hezekiah, but in order to maintain this position he places 7:10-17 chronologically prior to 7:1-9. Others emend the text by claiming editorial intrusion. The writer of this thesis assumes the integrity of the biblical text and the exegesis of the passage will be accomplished without employing emendation.
In light of Ahaz's refusal, the introductory laken suggests a meaning of "since this is so" or "for this reason." It introduces a sign ('ot) of a different kind than what was offered to Ahaz. In order to understand the intent of 'ot, v. 11 must be revisited.
Ask for yourself a sign ('ot) from Yahweh your God! Make it as deep as Sheol or as high as the heights!
Yahweh placed no restrictions on what Ahaz could or could not ask. While 'ot did not necessarily demand the miraculous, it is obvious that the miraculous was not ruled out and was probably, encouraged. The same expectation should be carried over to verse 14.
Therefore, the Lord Himself shall give to you a sign: Behold, the virgin is pregnant and she is about to bear a son and she shall call his name `Immanuel.'
While Yahweh's sign did not strictly need to be miraculous, neither did it need to be simply ordinary and the possibility of the miraculous should not be disregarded.
Much of the controversy surrounding Isaiah 7:14 revolves around the meaning of almah: specifically as to her virginity and marital status. The derivation of the noun almah is not known. It is suggested that it originates from either the Hebrew verb 'lm ("to conceal or hide") or from the Aramaic 'lm ("to be strong"). In sexual connotations, the former verb suggests "virgin" because "literally and physically, . . . as a woman she had not been uncovered - she had not known man." The latter verb leads to the meaning of sexual maturity and youthful vigor.
In addition to Isaiah 7:14, almah was used eight other times in the Old Testament. In 1 Chronicles 15:20 and Psalm 46:1 (BHS), the plural was used as a technical musical term; Psalm 68:26 gives no indication of the moral character or marital status of the almaoth. The plural was again used in Canticles 1:3 and 6:8. In both, almaoth referred to women who are unmarried. Proverbs 30:19 seems to have referred to the pre-marriage courting of a young man toward his prospective bride.
The remaining two passages shed considerable light on the meaning of almah. In Exodus 2:8, Moses' sister, Miriam, was called an almah. Not only is it assumed she was sexually chaste, "it is [also] very difficult to think that at this time she was a married woman." Rebekah was called an almah in Genesis 24:43. Scripture took great effort to give a full picture of her character: not only was she unmarried, she was also, in Genesis 24:16, given the threefold description of nahar ("girl"), betulah ("virgin") and w'sh lo' ydh ("and not knowing a man"). In recounting to Laban the details of this well-known story, the servant, in 24:43, summed up Rebekah's moral and marital status with one word: almah. After his detailed examination of almah in the Old Testament, Niessen concludes:
There is no etymological evidence to support the frequently aired claim that almah can refer to a young married woman or an unmarried woman who has had intercourse. The [Hebrew] root 'lm suggests quite the opposite view and supports the traditional understanding of "young virgin" as a suitable rendering of the term.
The cognate language Ugaritic also aids in shedding light on the meaning of almah as its etymological equivalent, lmt, is used in several significant texts. Text 77, a poem recounting the marriage between the lunar goddess and god Nikkal and Yarah, predicts in vv. 5-7:
[lk]trt lbnt hll [snnt]
hl lmt tld b[n]
The virgin bears,
O Katirat O Song Mistress, Swallow,
Behold, the lmt shall bear a son.
Here btlt ("virgin;" equivalent to betulah) and lmt are parallel to one another and are "virtual synonyms." At this point in the story the young god and goddess were not yet married.
The Ugaritic text relating the marriage of King Keret to Hry also sheds light on the meaning of lmt. Before the marriage ceremony it was announced to Keret:
a[tt tq]h ykrt att
tqh btk lmt ts'rb
hzrk tld sb' bnm lk
The woman you take, O Keret, the woman
You take to your house, the lmt you cause to enter
Your court shall bear seven sons to you.
Significantly, after the marriage ceremony Hry is no longer designated as a lmt but as mtt hry ("lady Hry") and attk ("your wife"). Young contends that the "evidence from Ras Shamra, . . ., lends no support to those who claim that [lmt] may be used of a married woman."
While the terms lmt and almah consistently referred to unmarried women and sometimes - as in the case of Rebekah, Nikkal and Hry - to women who were on the verge of marriage, the moral character of the biblical almah needs to be addressed. Does parthenos adequately translate almah or is it merely "an interpretational preference rather than a linguistic necessity"? The LXX ignored almaoth in Psalm 46:1; transliterated it as alaimoth in 1 Chronicles 15:20; used neates ("young woman") in Exodus 2:8; Psalm 68:26; Canticles 1:3; 6:8; and neotes ("youthful girl") in Proverbs 30:19. Other than Isaiah 7:14, the only other instance of parthenos translating almah was in Genesis 24:43 of Rebekah. The translation of almah in Isaiah 7:14 by parthenos, then, "was surely not by accident" but was a conscious choice of the translator. In the biblical world, chaste behavior was expected, indeed demanded, of an unmarried woman. Deuteronomy 22:13-21 detailed two scenarios for a newly married couple. If the husband falsely charged his new wife with premarital sexual activity, he was to pay a fine to his father-in-law for the trouble he caused (22:13-19). If, however, the charge proved to be true, the woman was to be stoned to death in order to "purge the evil from Israel" (22:20-21, NASB). Although almah was not a technical term for virginity, "the presumption in common law was and is, that every `alma is virgin and virtuous, until she is proven not to be, we have a right to assume that Rebecca and the `alma of Is. vii 14 and all other `almas were virgin, until and unless it shall be proven that they were not."
Gray, who demurs that almah naturally incorporates the notion of virginity, expresses an often stated criticism: "Where stress needed to be laid on a woman's virginity even more unambiguous phraseology was employed." Other words and expressions were available for Isaiah's use but none would have succinctly conveyed the same meaning as almah. Yldh was used to refer to a very young girl of unmarriageable age. N'rh was the generic word for a female and referred to young girls, unmarried women, concubines and evil women - its range of meaning was too broad and indefinite. Btlh was the usual and technical term for virgin. The words n'rh and btlh were used to qualify one another four times in the Old Testament. The former word referred to a young woman whose chastity was unknown, the latter to a virgin whose age was unknown. Niessen observes:
When the two terms are used together, the meaning is the girl is a "young virgin." However, though these two words are used as qualifiers for each other, neither word is ever used to qualify almah. Rather, the word almah incorporates the common element of the other two terms, which are youth and virginity. 
This survey, which establishes the intended meaning of almah as a young, unmarried virgin of marriageable age, avers with Young: "one is tempted to wish that those who repeat the old assertion that [almah] may be used of a woman, whether married or not [and whether virgin or not], would produce some evidence for their statement."
Syntactically, the clause that announced Immanuel's birth is verbless with hrh ("pregnant") as a predicate adjective. As such, a suitable form of the copula verb "to be" should be supplied. In addition, hnh with the qal participle, yld, formed a future instans and conveys the nuance that the action was about to occur or was presently in progress. This brings about a startling conclusion: the almah - a young, unmarried virgin - is "a virgin . . . at the time of her . . . conception and her delivery." Since there is nothing in either the context or the syntax suggesting a change in marital and/or physical status of the almah, an interpreter has no liberty to make her a married woman simply because she is found to be pregnant. This conclusion, then, rules out any variation of the dual fulfillment view and finds its realization in the only biblical character who was the offspring of an unmarried virgin - Jesus Christ.
Several suggestions are posited for the contemporary fulfillment of Immanuel by those who hold to a dual fulfillment view: Hezekiah, the remnant, the second of Isaiah's three sons, or some boy to be born. The leading candidate, however, is Mahershalalhashbaz, Isaiah's son in 8:1-4. Gleason Archer expresses this viewpoint in the Wycliffe Biblical Commentary:
This [almah referring to a chaste and unmarried woman] well fits the prospective mother alluded to in this situation. Judging from 8:1-4, the typical mother was the prophetess who became Isaiah's wife within a short time after this prophecy was spoken. Therefore she was a virgin at the time this prophecy was given.
This view supposes that Isaiah's first wife, the mother of Shear-jashub, had died and that he was engaged to the virgin prophetess at the time of the prophecy. Not only is this sheer speculation with no biblical evidence, it also contradicts several points: (1) almah referred to a woman who was both unmarried and virgin. According to Isaiah 7:14, the unmarried virgin who conceived the child also gave birth to the child in the same state. The actions of 8:3 makes it obvious that Isaiah's wife was neither unmarried nor virgin at the birth of Mahershalalhashbaz. "The `alma of 7:14 either was a virgin or was not and cannot simultaneously predict these two opposing meanings." (2) It is probable that Isaiah's wife was an almah before their marriage. Contrary to Archer's view, the most natural supposition is to assume that the prophetess was the wife of Isaiah and the mother of both Shearjashub and Mahershalhashbaz. As such, she would no longer be designated as an almah. The syntactical structure of 7:14 shows the woman called an almah before and after the birth. (3) Immanuel's conception and birth was for dynastic interests, Mahershalalhashbaz's was not. (4) As will be shown below, the seemingly parallel time frame expressed in 7:15-17 and 8:4 are not the same.
The next verse (15) gives added insight into Immanuel's life and how he affected Ahaz.
He shall eat curds and honey in order that he may know to reject evil and choose good.
The phrase hm'h wdbsh ("curds and honey") was oftentimes an expression of plenty and blessing. But the apparent blessing should be regarded here as a statement of "caustic irony." Isaiah 7:18-25 rhetorically used the phrase byom hhn' ("in that day") to describe the havoc that the Assyrian hordes would bring to the nation. One of the results, 7:21-22, foretold the consumption of curds and honey by those who remained. Since it is found in the context of judgment, it should itself be regarded as a judgment. Rice comments: "A land that is so devastated that it makes an excellent pasture and those who survive are so few that they will have an abundance is not a picture of plenty and felicity but its opposite." Albeit real, curds and honey here graphically symbolized suffering - the fruit of sin, disobedience and judgment.
The meaning of the prefixed preposition le on the infinitive has led to two interpretations. Those in the dual fulfillment camp tend to take it as temporal ("when he knows"), others as final ("in order that he may know"). Duncker, in his study of le prefixed to the infinitive of yl', concluded that this construction always carries with it a final, and never a temporal, sense.
The pairing tob/r' ("evil/good") is crucial to the understanding of this passage. It always carried with it the connotation of moral right and wrong. Isaiah used the phrase in 1:16-17 to admonish the nation to make correct moral decisions and again in 5:20 to chastise them for moral dyslexia. Immanuel would eat curds and honey - i.e., experience suffering - not merely to distinguish between right and wrong, but to be able to make "a proper choice - to reject evil and choose good" and thus "come to a disciplined maturity." The time frame, then, referred to "Immanuel's maturity rather than his infancy" and suggested a chronological age of twelve years.
The next two verses (16-17) shift attention back to the contemporaneous situation.
16. For before the boy knows to reject evil and choose good, the land which you loathe shall be forsaken from her two kings. 17. Yahweh shall bring upon you and upon your fathers days which have not come from the day Ephraim turned away from Judah - the king of Assyria.
The evidence for this includes: (1) the use of btrm ("before"), a temporal term; (2) the use of second person, singular pronouns; (3) the oblique reference to Pekah and Rezin and (4) the reference to Assyria. Isaiah indicated to Ahaz that the twelve year span of Immanuel's maturing process is also the time frame for Aram's and Israel's fall. This prophecy was made around 734: Damascus fell in 732, Samaria in 722 - twelve years from the Immanuel prophecy.
It is best to pause and summarize the findings of this study of Isaiah 7:14-17. In contradistinction to what Yahweh commanded Ahaz to ask, He set forth His own sign - indeed a miraculous sign - for the entire nation, especially to her royal house. A young, unmarried virgin would both conceive and, while still an unmarried virgin, give birth to a son whom she would name `Immanuel.' This son, being virginally conceived and delivered would, by logical necessity, have no earthly father - He would be a unique child. Immanuel, through his experiences of suffering and pain, would reach maturity and be able to reject evil and choose good. Although this was future, and Isaiah and Ahaz do not know how far in the future it was, the sign of the child Immanuel also had contemporaneous importance. The age of His moral maturity, twelve years, also serveds as a chronometer to Ahaz: the twelve year period marked when Aram and Israel would be forsaken. Over the nation of Judah, however, will blow the grim cloud of divine judgment. Ahaz rejected Yahweh and approached Assyria for military salvation but, instead, the Assyrian hordes would bring devastation, affliction and misery (2 Chr. 28:20; Isa. 7:18-25).
Matthew 1:1-17: The Son of David
Matthew 1:23 is in the first major division of the Gospel (1:1-4:16). In this section, Matthew presented Jesus' credentials as Israel's Messiah by demonstrating that He was the fulfillment of numerous Old Testament prophecies. He fulfilled the prophecies concerning Messiah's unique conception (1:23), the place of birth (2:5), the circumstances surrounding His early life (2:15, 18), His forerunner (3:3) and the beginning of His ministry in Galilee (4:15-16).
The dark judgment of Isaiah 7:9 against the royal house has happened. Ahaz chose not to believe God and, consequently, the Davidic dynasty did not last. The Babylonian captivity effectively squelched the last remnants of the Judean monarchy. Matthew 1:6-11 chronicled the familiar names of Judah's power elite; verses 12-16 recorded those who carried on the Davidic line but were not part of the nation's power structure. In verse 16, a direct descendant of David, Joseph, was not a member of the royal court but was simply a carpenter. Instead, a child of Esau, King Herod, sat on the throne of Israel.
Matthew 1:18-25: The Son of God
Matthew 1:1-17 established Jesus' legal right to the Davidic throne, the next paragraph, verses 18-25, revealed Jesus to be the divine Son. Mary was betrothed to Joseph. In Israel, betrothal was enacted by the payment of a bride's price and coming to a binding agreement regarding future marriage. During the six to twelve month betrothal, the future husband would prepare a home for his bride. Betrothal was much more binding than modern engagements. A formal "divorce" (1:19) was necessary to break such a contract. The application of the term "husband" (1:19) to Joseph illustrates the binding nature of the betrothal relationship.
But a surprising development happened: before sunelthein ("they come together") Mary was discovered to be pregnant. Joseph was a dikaios ("a righteous man"), meaning that he had a strong commitment to follow the Torah. Naturally, he thought Mary was guilty of adultery, which was punishable by death (Deut. 22:20-21). Since Rome had removed Israel's autonomy to carry out capital punishment, Joseph had two options: to accuse Mary publicly and disgrace her (deigmatizo) or to draw up divorce papers and serve them quietly (lathrapolusai). He chose the latter.
Jospeh's resolve to carry this out prompted an angelic visit in a dream. He is informed that the circumstances were not as they appear: Mary was still a virgin, the Child inside her womb was the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit. The news of a virginal conception was very startling, but also very comforting for now Joseph knew what Mary and the reader already knew (Lk. 1:26-38). Furthermore, he is told:
And she shall bear a son, and you shall call His name `Jesus,' because He shall save His people from their sins.
There is a question of whether or not the angel's speech continued through verses 22-23 or not. There are reasons for believing it did: (1) The syntactical construction, de followed by a perfect, finds parallels in Matthew 2:5-6 and 26:56. In these passages, the scene was in obvious continuation. (2) If it was not a continuation, then the narrative was abruptly interrupted; verses 22-23 would more naturally appear after verse 25. (3) "Quotations in Matthew with parallels in Mark and/or Luke keep near to the LXX, while the formula quotations, which are all without Synoptic parallel, have a text differing noticeably from the LXX." The quotation of Isaiah 7:14 was unique to Matthew and it was a virtual quotation of the LXX. This exactitude was contrary to his usual practice and suggests that it was not original with him. (4) Until verse 21, the angel gave no support for his claim. The quotation gave "the strongest kind of support by citing to him the very promise now being fulfilled."
The angel proceeded to quote Isaiah 7:14 to substantiate his claim:
Behold, the virgin shall be pregnant and she shall call His name Emmanuel, which translated is `God with us.'
Joseph awoke and obeyed the command: the marriage was not abandoned; Joseph kept Mary a virgin until after the birth of Jesus.
The following are the pertinent texts:
laken yiten 'edonay hiu' lakem 'ot hineh ha'almah harah weyoledet ben waqara't shemo 'imanu 'el
Behold, the virgin is pregnant and she is about to bear a son and she shall call his name `Immanuel.'
idou he parthenos en gastri exei kai texetai huion kai [kalesei] to onoma autou Emmanouel.
Behold, the virgin shall be pregnant and she shall bear a son and [she shall call] his name `Emmanuel.'
idou he parthenos en gastri exei kai texetai huion, kai kalesousin to ovoma autou Emmanouel.
Behold, the virgin is pregnant and she shall bear a son and they shall call him `Emmanuel.'
Confusion arose within the LXX concerning which form of the verb kaleo should be used to translate qr't. The different variations are: kaleseis (second person singular, LXX-A, B, C); kalesei (third person singular, LXX-S); kalesete (second person plural, LXX-L, Q) and kalesousin (third person plural, one-fourth to one-half of all known minuscules).
Qrt, without vowel pointing, appears to be either a qal second person singular, masculine or feminine. It is, however, according to Gesenius and supported by BDB, a rare archaic form of the qal, third person, feminine of qrt. LXX-A, B, C reflect the second person appearance of the verb. Kalesete probably arose to conform itself with humin in the first clause of this verse. The minuscules are late texts which date from the ninth to fifteenth centuries A.D. While they may have preserved an older reading, it appears that they have been deliberately altered to kalesousin in order to agree with Matthew. Although the textual support is scanty, LXX-S is alone in correctly reproducing the person and number of qrt and is, therefore, the preferred reading.
Another variant arose in the translation of hrh by the idiomatic phrase en gastri lempsetai (LXXB, C, L) or en gastriexei (LXX-A, S). Although the usual translation of hrh used the verb lambano, the use of exei was not unknown. Two of the best texts support exei and it is the more difficult reading. Therefore, it should remain as the preferred choice.
Comparison of the LXX to the MT
The LXX translation of Isaiah 7:14 was fairly straightforward. The tense of the verbs exei, texetai and all the variations of kaleo placed the clause in the future tense rather than the present.
Comparison of Matthew 1:23 to Isaiah 7:14
The quote of Isaiah 7:14 in Matthew was a near reflection of the LXX translation. Unique to Matthew, however, was his use of kalesousin. Various opinions have been offered to account for this: (1) kaleseis (from LXXA, B, C) was inappropriate for the context and was deliberately changed. (2) It reflected a common Semiticism that actually meant "he shall be called." (3) It represented an impersonal plural and means "one shall call him." (4) It referred to the members of the future Church, those who would have their sins forgiven by Him.
The use of the verb pleroo indicated that the quotation of Isaiah 7:14 in Matthew 1:23 was a direct fulfillment of predictive prophecy. Disagreeing statements, of which Wolf's is typical, contend that "the language was perfectly suited to Matthew's purpose; and where he went beyond the normal interpretation, he clearly explained the circumstances." Such a view, then, makes the quotation illustrative of the virgin birth rather than predictive and does gross injustice to the phrase: hina plerothe to rhethen hupo kuriou ("in order to fulfill the word of the Lord").
Portions of the quotation are found in the preceding verses of the paragraph. In verse 18 is found en gastri echousa and in verse 21 is texetai de huion, kai kaleseis to ovoma tou Iesous. Almost all of the prophecy was anticipated so that "the passage in its present form has been built around the quotation."
Although the virgin birth of Christ is a foundational doctrine to Christian theology, it was not a dominant thought in Scripture. The prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 seemed to undergird Luke's presentation of Jesus' conception and birth (1:26-38). The passage was hinted at in verse 27 by the use of parthenos, almost quoted in verse 31 and influenced the phrasing in 2:21. Paul apparently was familiar with Jesus' earthly life (2 Cor. 5:16) but he made no direct statements regarding His birth. Matthew was alone in recording Scriptural authority for the virgin birth of Christ.
Beyond the virgin birth, the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14-16, as detailed above, was fulfilled with precision. The natural, logical deduction of a virginal birth is that the Child would have no earthly father. Jesus never called Joseph His father but regularly referred to God as His Father. The dynastic interests of Isaiah 7 were carried on in Jesus' life as He is given the epithet "Son of David." While there was a flurry of biblical activity surrounding His birth, it is interesting that the next snapshot of Jesus in the New Testament was as a twelve year old boy in the Temple (Lk. 2:41-49). In this episode, it is obvious that He had matured into an intelligent and wise young man who was conscious of His uniqueness. Perhaps too much may be made of the point, but Isaiah focused on the twelve year old Immanuel, as He reached moral maturity, as the contemporary sign to Ahaz.
Isaiah foretold that Immanuel would experience pain and suffering so that He may reach moral maturity. This theme is visited again as he says of Yahweh's Servant in Isaiah 50:4 (NASB):
The Lord Yahweh has given Me the tongue of disciples,
That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word,
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple,
The Lord Yahweh has opened My ear;
And I was not disobedient,
Nor did I turn back.
In some mysterious manner, Jesus developed in His understanding (Lk. 2:52) and, since He was fully human, experienced the range of human emotions. Hebrews 5:8 said of Christ: "Although being a Son, He learned, by means of what He suffered, obedience." Wells states: "He had to grow through obedience to the point where he could stand fully possessed of a sinless but mature nature before God."
In Jesus of Nazareth, the finite and the eternal met in His incarnation. The virgin birth "did not itself guarantee Jesus' divinity, . . .; what it affirmed was that Jesus' humanity had a supernatural origin." An incarnational Christology demands that the eternal, preexistent Son of God became a man. Matthew's use of Isaiah 7:14 as fulfilled prophecy shows that Jesus Christ began His incarnated life through a human mother.
. Jotham's story is related in 2 Chr. 27 and 2 Ki. 15.
. George Rawlison, Men of the Bible: The Kings of Israel and Judah (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, nd.), 166.
. Information for this section is garnered from 2 Ki. 15.
. Merrill F. Unger, Israel and the Arameans of Damascus (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1957), 99.
. This is based upon Nadav Na'aman, "Historical and Chronological Notes on the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah in the Eighth Century B.C.," VT 36 (January 1986): 76 and Roland de Vaux, Ancient Israel: Social Institutions, vol. 2, (McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1961), 129-30.
. Pekah's ascension date and the length of his reign is problematical and the solution is beyond the scope of this thesis. H. J. Cook, "Pekah," VT 14 (April 1964): 134-35; Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, 76 and Na'aman, "Historical and Chronological Notes on the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah in the Eighth Century B.C.," 78-80 all assume the integrity of the text and offer solutions, although they differ on the details.
. Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1, 2 Kings, by Richard D. Patterson and Herman J. Austel (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1988), 239.
. Rawlison, Men of the Bible: The Kings of Israel and Judah, 162.
. Aram was headed by Rezin. The nation had been under the control of Israel during Jeroboam's II reign (2 Ki. 14:28). As Israelite power slipped due to political instability, Aram was able to shake off Israel's domination which allowed Rezin to rise to the Aramean throne.
. Unger, Israel and the Arameans of Damascus, 99.
. The identity of ben-Tabeel is unknown. The invasion mentioned in 2 Ki. 15:37 and Isa. 7:1 are the same event.
. Ahaz's story is told in 2 Ki. 16; 2 Chr. 28 and Isa. 7.
. Rawlison, Men of the Bible: The Kings of Israel and Judah, 169. Ahaz was given the most vile condemnations that could be given a Judean monarch: he not only "walked in the way of the kings of Israel" (2 Ki. 16:3; 2 Chr. 28:2), he is also called "Ahaz king of Israel" (2 Chr. 28:19).
. Following Ahaz, several of the kings of Judah would be associated with idolatry: Manasseh, Amon, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah. The only two to escape would be Hezekiah and Josiah.
. In 2 Ki. 16:5-7 the reason for Ahaz's appeal to Assyria was due to the Syro-Ephramite invasion; in 2 Chr. 28:16-18 it was due to a Philistine-Edomite uprising.
. Patterson and Austel give four reasons for the invasion: (1) politically, Pekah and Rezin needed Judah's aid in the anti-Assyrian coalition; (2) Pekah and Rezin may have had a personal vendetta against Ahaz; (3) it was a satanic effort to end the Davidic line and (4) Yahweh was superintending the whole affair to judge Israel and chastise Judah (1, 2 Kings, 243).
. Shear-jashub is made up of two Hebrew words: sh'r ("a remnant") and yashub ("shall return"). Hasel concludes that the syntactical structure of sh'r yashub is a subject-predication formation that results in a verbal sentence and should be translated "a remnant shall return." This construction places emphasis on the word remnant (Gerhard F. Hasel, "Linguistic Considerations Regarding the Translation of Shear-Jashub: A Remnant," Andrews University Seminary Studies 9 [January 1971]: 36-46). The presence of the boy was a bittersweet reminder to Judah. On the one hand, judgment was coming that would sweep the nation from the land and the surviving remnant would likewise be judged; on the other hand, Judah would not completely die out but would be preserved in a remnant.
. A modern equivalent would liken these kings as "smoking cigarette butts." The word 'sn is used here to mean "transitoriness;" see Ps. 102:3; Isa. 51:6; Hos. 13:3. Interestingly, the same word is used in Isa. 6:4 to refer to Yahweh's judgment (TWOT, vol. 2, s.v. 'sn, by Ronald B. Allen).
. The sixty-five year period would end in 669. In 732, two years after this pronouncement, Assyria sacked Damascus; eleven years after the prophecy, 723, Samaria fell to Assyria. Ahaz stayed on the throne until he was thirty-six years old (716/15) and saw the prophecy fulfilled. Perhaps the reason Yahweh set the time well into the future was to test Ahaz. Sixty-five years would mean Ahaz would be eighty-six years old and probably dead by that time. From Ahaz's view, deliverance would probably not come in his lifetime. Therefore the choice was his: would he trust Yahweh for eventual deliverance or would he do the expedient thing and call for Assyrian help? He chose the latter and, ironically, that decision helped fulfill the prophecy.
. Robert I. Vasholz, "Isaiah and Ahaz: A Brief History of Crisis in Isaiah 7 and 8," Presbyterion: Covenant Seminary Review 13 (Fall 1987): 81.
. Scullin cautions: "One should not press too far this verbal resemblance. One might say that the use of 'mn in both cases is quite normal-what other word should have been used? Yet resemblance there is, and both passages are in the context of the pronouncement of the dynasty" (John J. Scullin, "An Approach to the Understanding of Isaiah 7:10-17," JBL 87 [September 1968]: 289). . Another view of Isaiah's perspective is found in Jesper Hogenhaven, "The Prophet Isaiah and Judean Foreign Policy Under Ahaz and Hezekiah," Journal of Near Eastern Studies 49 (October 1990): 351-54. Hogenhaven contends that "the text contains no warnings against the Assyrian alliance concluded by [Ahaz] and no sign of opposition to his policy" (352-53). Rather, he concludes "that Isaiah was an adherent of the cautious foreign policy of Ahaz and an opponent of the active, anti-Assyrian policy adopted by Hezekiah" (354). In order to support this view, he has Isaiah 7-8 "[pass] through several redactional stages" (352) and puts 8:11-18 at the time of Hezekiah.
. This interpretation is debated.
. A. T. Olmstead, History of Assyria (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1951), 197.
. Rawlison, Men of the Bible: The Kings of Israel and Judah, 171.
. Vasholz, "Isaiah and Ahaz: A Brief History of Crisis in Isaiah 7 and 8," 81.
. Gene Rice, "The Interpretation of Isaiah 7:15-17," JBL 96 (1977), 366.
. Notice that shm'n, mkm, tl'n (v. 13) and lchm (v. 14) are all plural for they refer to the collective house of David. This cannot be attributed to the "plural of majesty" due to Isaiah addressing the King. In 7:5, for example, Isaiah used 'aleyika ("against you")--a second person singular.
. The paragraph marker (pe) in the BHS occurs at the end of v. 17. Therefore, v. 17 is attached to the previous verses and does not begin a new paragraph.
. Walter C. Kaiser, "The Promise of Isaiah 7:14 and the Single-Meaning Hermeneutic," Evangelical Journal 6 (Fall 1988): 55-70. If, as it appears, 7:10-17 follows shortly after the invasion in 734, Hezekiah would then be 18 years old when he assumed the throne in 716/15. This contradicts 1 Ki. 18:2 which states that he was 25 years old at his ascension. Rather than emending the text in 1 Ki., Kaiser puts a date of 736-738 on Isa. 7:10-17 to account for Hezekiah's age.
. The usual practice to view either v. 15 or v. 16 as an inclusion from a later editor. McKane, who believes v. 15 should be deleted from the original text, is at least honest with his method: "I acknowledge that this proposal to delete v. 15 is to some extent a confession of failure in the face of the difficulties presented by vv. 14-17 and I admit that there is no textual support for it" (William McKane, "The Interpretation of Isaiah 7:14-25," VT 17 [April 1967]: 212).
. Edward J. Young, "The Immanuel Prophecy," Westminister Theological Journal 15 (May 1953): 110.
. In Isa. 7:14, ha-almah is translated by he parthenos ("virgin") in the LXX. Young believes the definite article is its generic use, to designate this almah from some other kind of woman, i.e., old, widowed, etc. (Ibid., 118). Van Gronigan, on the other hand, thinks it refers to a specific woman who was known to both Ahaz and Isaiah (Gerhard von Gronigan, Messianic Revelation in the Old Testament[Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990], 530).
. BDB, s.v. alam and elam and TWOT, vol. 2, s.v. elam by R. Laird Harris and alam, by Allan A. Macrae.
. Richard Niessen, "The Virginity of the almah in Isaiah 7:14," BS 137 (April-June 1980): 134. This meaning is also derived from studying its antonym, glh ("to uncover, remove"). Within sexual connotations it means to "uncover nakedness," a euphemism for illegal sexual intercourse. E.g., Lev. 20:11, 17-21.
. As in 1 Sam. 17:42, 56; 16:12; Isa. 54:4-5.
. Edward J. Young, "The Immanuel Prophecy: Second Article," Westminister Theological Journal 16 (November 1953): 26 and Niessen, "The Virginity of the almah in Isaiah 7:14," 14041.
. Niessen, "The Virginity of the almah in Isaiah 7:14," 140. But c.f. Young, "The Immanuel Prophecy: Second Article," 27-28 who inclines toward seeing the woman as evil, albeit unmarried.
. Young, "The Immanuel Prophecy: Second Article," 27.
. Niessen, "The Virginity of the alma in Isaiah 7:14," 135.
. The script for this text is found in Cyrus H. Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1965), 343; the transliteration is on p. 183. Since the tablet is damaged at a crucial juncture, noted by the brackets, opinion varies as to its correct reconstruction. Albrecht Goetze, "The Nikkal Poem from Ras Shamra," JBL 60 (December 1941): 373-4 reconstructs and translates this portion of text as follows:
tld bn l[n]h
[lk]trt lbnt hll [snnt]
hl lmt tld b[n]
She finally bore him a son.
Listen, O Katirat, daughters of Hilal, swallows!
Surely the girl gave birth to a son.
Prevailing opinion supports Gordon's reconstruction. The similarities between Isa. 7:14 and this Ugaritic text has drawn much attention. A fairly common interpretation, as expressed by Lacheman, believes that this biblical text is borrowed directly from Canaanite mythology. The assertion then becomes: "Thus the meaning of this Ugaritic parallel would be that we should stop looking for an historical parallel in either Isaiah's wife or Ahaz's queen, or any other possible human person. Isaiah 7 becomes a mythological scene" (Ernest R. Lacheman, "Apropos of Isaiah 7:14," Journal of the Bible and Religion 22 [January 1954]: 43). The similarity is probably best seen as reflecting a common Near Eastern custom of important birth announcements. See Gen. 16:11; 17:19; Jdg. 13:5-7; Lk. 1:13.
. Young, "The Immanuel Prophecy," 121.
. Text 128:II:21-23; script in Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook, 331; transliteration on p. 195.
. Text 128:V:9, 23 respectively.
. Young, "The Immanuel Prophecy," 123.
. John H. Walton, "Isa. 7:14: What's in a Name?" JETS 30 (September 1987): 293. In the LXX, parthenos translates betulah (45 times); na'ar (5 times) and almah (twice).
. Bruce Vawter, "The Ugaritic Use of lmt," CBQ 14 (October 1952): 322.
. In the introduction to the Old Testament section of the RSV in 1952, Harry Orlinsky wrote: Early in the second century A.D. Aquila, a convert to Judaism, made an independent and unique Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. He incorporated the kind of Jewish interpretation which was current in his day, and he avoided the Christological elements which had been introduced in the Septuagint text. Thus Aquila rendered the Hebrew word ha-almah in Isaiah 7.14 literally, `the young woman' in place of the word `virgin' which the Christians had substituted for it. (quoted from Young, "The Immanuel Prophecy," 29 fn. 20).
Cyrus Gordon, a Jewish linguistic scholar, corrects such thinking: The commonly held view that "virgin" is Christian, whereas "young woman" is Jewish is not quite true. The fact is that the Septuagint, which is the Jewish translation made in pre-Christian Alexandria, takes `almah to mean "virgin" here (Cyrus H. Gordon, "The Patriarchal Age," Journal of Bible and Religion 21 [January 1953]: 106).
The Orlinskian misunderstanding has wormed its way into popular literature. See, e.g., James Michener, The Source (New York: Random House, 1965), 159-60.
. R. Dick Wilson, "The Meaning of `Alma (A.V. `virgin') in Isaiah VII. 14," Princeton Theological Review 24 (1926): 316, quoted in Young, "The Immanuel Prophecy: Second Article," 123-4.
. Gray, The Book of Isaiah, 127.
. The following discussion is based on materials from Niessen, "The Virginity of the almah in Isaiah 7:14," 144-47; Young, "The Immanuel Prophecy: Second Article," 30-37 and the appropriate words in BDB and TWOT.
. Gen. 34:4; Joel 3:3; Zech. 8:4-5.
. But see Joel 1:8 where betulah refers to a woman who is mourning the death of her longtime husband. This anomaly where "virgin" may refer to one who is obviously not a virgin is found in other cognate languages. Although the copulations of Ba`al and Anat are frequently mentioned, Anat is given the epithet btlt `nt. The Aramaic btolt' may refer to a woman who is experiencing difficulty in conception; the Egyptian hwnt may refer to a girl, young marriageable woman or to a woman who has already had sexual relations; batulu from Akkadian refers to a general age group and means virgin in only specific contexts (TWOT, s.v.btl, by Bruce K. Waltke). Gordon states that "there is no word in the Near Eastern languages that by itself means virgo intacta" (Ugaritic Textbook, 378).
. Deut. 22:23; Jdg. 21:12; 1 Ki. 1:2 and Est. 2:23.
. Niessen, "The Virginity of the almah in Isaiah 7:14," 146. He goes on to state that an almah was probably in her teens (141).
. Young, "The Immanuel Prophecy: Second Article," 35.
. Bruce K. Waltke and M. O'Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1990), 72. Young, "The Immanuel Prophecy," 115-17 also sees the clause as present.
. There are two other passages that have the verbless clause hnh hrh: Gen. 16:11 and Jdg. 13:3. In both instances, however, a waw-consecutive perfect, not a participle, is found within the context which puts the clause into the future, not the present. See E. Kautzsch, ed., Hebrew Grammar, by Friedrich Heinrich Wilhem Gesenius, 2d English ed., trans. by A. E. Cowley, (Oxford: The Claredon Press, 1957), 36.
. Robert L. Reymond, "Who is the 'almah of Isaiah 7:14?" Presbyterion: Covenant Seminary Review 15 (Spring 1989): 10. Although he believes almah conveys virginity, Wolf states: "This does not mean, however, that the mother was a virgin at childbirth" (Herbert M. Wolf, "A Solution to the Immanuel Prophecy in Isaiah 7:14-8:22," JBL [December 1972]: 455). He offers no explanation for this statement other than his presupposition that Immanuel refers to Mahershalalhashbaz.
. A caveat needs to be stated. Although the conclusion is that Jesus Christ is the only fulfillment of this prophecy, if it proves to be in error and the dual fulfillment interpretation is correct, the theological significance of the passage is not jeopardized. In either case, His birth is a fulfillment of this prophecy as recorded in Matthew. See William Hendrickson, The Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1973), 135-40 who gives a good overview of the arguments posited by the dual and single fulfillment camps.
. Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison, eds., The Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1962), s.v. "Isaiah" by Gleason Archer.
. Reymond, "Who is the 'almah of Isaiah 7:14?" 10.
. Gen. 18:8; Deut. 32:13-14; Jdg. 5:25; 2 Sam. 17:27-29; Joel 4:18; Amos 9:13.
. Gene Rice, "The Interpretation of Isaiah 7:15-17," 365. . Ibid. Joseph Jensen, "The Age of Immanuel," CBQ 41 (April 1979): 229-30 and Young, "The Immanuel Prophecy: Second Article," 47 also view this as a judgment. But see Scullin, "An Approach to the Understanding of Isaiah 7:10-17," 295-96 who regards curds and honey as a sign of blessing. To support this conclusion, he believes 7:18-25 was a collection of sayings artificially brought together by a later editor.
. P. G. Duncker, "`ut sciat reprobare malum et eligere bonum,' Is VII 15b," Sacra Pagina 1 (1959): 408f. from Jensen, "The Age of Immanuel," 228.
. E.g., Gen. 2:17; 3:5, 22; Deut. 1:39; 2 Sam. 14:17; 1 Ki. 3:9.
. Jensen, "The Age of Immanuel," 225.
. Ibid., 227.
. Ibid., 239.
. The age of legal accountability came at thirteen years: one year for gestation plus twelve years chronological age.
. Mahershalalhashbaz may now be revisited. As mentioned above, the time frame, although seemingly similar, does not refer to the same period. Since 8:4 obviously refers to Mahershalalhashbaz's infancy so must 7:15-16 if he is the near fulfillment of this prophecy. Two problems are associated with this: (1) Those who take 7:15-16 to refer to Immanuel's infancy must make his choosing good and evil not to mean moral maturity but the ability to distinguish between pleasant and unpleasant or good and bad. As mentioned above, the phrase always carries the idea of mature moral choice, not infantile distinguishing. (2) Curds and honey, "are the food of a devastated land and the devastation is associated with the Assyrian invasion, how are these Immanuel's diet even before the end of Aram and Israel?" (Ibid., 221 fn. 4).
. Significant are the number of Old Testament fulfillments in this section. Although it comprises about fourteen percent of the book, it contains forty percent of the "fulfillment" passages.
. This is the first of three short infancy stories in Matthew: 1:18-25; 2:1-12; 2:13-23.
. Robert B. Hughes and J. Carl Laney, New Bible Companion (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishing, Inc., 1990), 445. See also J. A. Emerton, C. E. B. Cranfield and G. N. Stanton, eds., The International Critical Commentary, The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, vol 1, by W. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison, (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1988), 199.
. A euphemism for sexual intercourse (1 Cor. 7:5). During the betrothal period, the "wife" remained with her parents until consummation. Sunerchomai here probably refers to both domestic and marital relations (Davies and Allison, The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, 199).
. BAG, s.v. dikaiosune. The word is used in Matthew seventeen other times, always in a positive sense.
. The Holy Spirit is the Agent of creation and life-giving (Gen. 1:2; Ezek. 37:1-14); the Power behind miracles (Jdg. 13:25; 14:6; 15:14) and the Heralder of the Messianic Age (Isa. 11:2; 42:1; 61:1; Joel 2:28).
. This, too, must have been startling, for in the Old Testament it was the work of Yahweh alone to save (Gen. 49:18; 2 Ki. 19:15-19; 2 Chr. 14:11; Pss. 3:8; 25:5; 62:1; Isa. 12:2; Jer. 3:23; Lam. 3:26; Dan. 4:35; Mic. 7:7; Hab. 3:18 Zech. 4:6). The statement that Jesus will save from sin "warns the reader not to expect this Messiah to conform to the more popular hope of a national liberator, and set the scene for the unfolding understanding of Jesus' mission in the Gospel" (Leon Morris, ed., Tyndale Bible Commentaries, Matthew, by R. T. France, [Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1985]), 78).
. Norman Hillyer, "Matthew's Use of the Old Testament," Evangelical Quarterly 36 (JanuaryMarch 1964): 20.
. R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel (Minneapolis: Augsbury Publishing House, 1943), 51-52. The above reasons were adapted from Ibid., Davies and Allison, The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, 211; Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 8, Matthew, by D. A. Carson, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986), 76 and Alfred Plummer, 2d ed., An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. Matthew (London: Elliot Stock, 1910), 8-9.
. Gesenius, Hebrew Grammar, 206; BDB, s.v. qr'. The usual ending for a qtl, third person, feminine verb in Ugaritic is t (equivilent to Hebrew tav).
. Krister Stendahl, The School of St. Matthew and its Use of the Old Testament (Uppsala: Almquist and Wiksells, 1954), 98.
. Gen. 16:4, 5; 38:25, 42; Jdg. 13:5, 7.
. Charles Augustus Briggs, Sammuel Rolles Driver and Alfred Plummer, eds., The International Critical Commentary, The Gospel of St. Matthew, by Willoughby C. Allen, (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1907), 10.
. Alan Hugh M'Neile, The Gospel According to St. Matthew (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1961), 9 and R. V. G. Tasker, ed., Tyndale Bible Commentaries, The Gospel According to St. Matthew, by R. V. G. Tasker, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1961), 36.
. R. H. Gundry, The Use of the Old Testament in St. Matthew's Gospel (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1975), 90.
. D. A. Carson and H. G. M. Williamson, eds., It is Written: Scripture Citing Scripture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 215 and Carson, Matthew, 80-81.
. Wolf, "A Solution to the Immanuel Prophecy," 456.
. Barnabas Lindars, New Testament Apologetic: The Doctrinal Significance of the Old Testament Quotations (Alva: SCM Press Limited, 1961), 214.
. Ibid. . Matt. 7:21; Lk. 2:49; Jn. 2:16; 5:17; 14:2; 1 Pet. 1:3.
. Matt. 1:1; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30, 31; 21:9, 15; 22:42; Mk. 10:47, 48; 12:35; Lk. 18:38, 39; 20:41.
. Pity (Mk. 1:41), distress (Mk. 7:34; 8:12; Lk. 22:15), anger (Mk. 3:5), annoyance (Mk. 10:4), disappointment (Mk. 8:17; 9:19), hunger (Mk. 11:12) and temptation (Lk. 4:2, 13; 22:28). And, of course, He suffered the physical and spiritual agony of the Cross.
. Wells, The Person of Christ, 54.
. Ibid., 42.
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