Isaiah 7:14 – Did Isaiah Prophesy the Virgin Birth of Christ?

By Wayne Jackson

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14).

Of whom speaketh the prophet? Some, of liberal persuasion, argue that the Hebrew term almah does not mean a virgin, and that this passage refers to some “young married woman known to Isaiah” (Willis, 161).

This theory is patently false for the following reasons.

Old Testament usage

The word almah is employed of females seven times in the Old Testament (Gen. 24:43; Ex. 2:8; Psa. 68:25; Prov. 30:19; Song of Sol. 1:3; 6:8; Isa. 7:14). A study of these contexts reveals that almah is used only of one who is a virgin. Wilson noted that almah never meant “young married woman” (316).

A sign

The conception was to be a “sign” to the house of David. The normal conception of a “young married woman” would hardly be considered a “sign” (cf. Niessen, 143).

Inspired commentary

The apostle Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14 and affirms that the prophecy is “fulfilled” in the virginal conception of Mary. Moreover, both Matthew and Luke go to great lengths to explain precisely the significance of the term “virgin” (Grk. parthenos) —see Flesh and Blood Did Not Reveal It.

Parthenos is found fifteen times in the New Testament. It never denotes a “young married woman,” but refers to a sexually pure person. Those who set aside Matthew’s inspired commentary on Isaiah 7:14, in deference to their own theories (which ultimately find their roots in modernism), are guilty of arrogance to an extraordinary degree.

Brackett Isaiah 7:14, and in your margin note: Fulfilled only in the virgin birth of Christ; see Matthew 1:22, 23.

Sources/Footnotes
  • Niessen, Richard. 1980. Bibliotheca Sacra. April-June.
  • Willis, John. 1984. Isaiah. Abilene, TX: ACU Press.
  • Wilson, Robert Dick. 1926. The Princeton Theological Review. 24. XXIV.
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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.