GakuseiDon wrote: ↑
Wed Dec 23, 2020 5:12 pm
To be clear, I don't really have an opinion. My curiosity was sparked by JoeWallack's claim that translating "almah" as "virgin" was dishonest. Now, translating the word "tree" as "virgin" would be dishonest. But given how "girl" implies "virgin" in Japanese, I wondered if the same thing was true in ancient times. Then I wondered how Isaiah 7:14 factored into the virgin birth narrative itself. I have no knowledge of ancient Hebrew and Greek, so no opinion on how they should be translated outside the mainstream.
Okay, then it could be useful to know the following
The word עַלְמָה (almah) occurs seven times in the Hebrew bible. The Septuagint translated five text passages close to the Hebrew text. The text passages with the other two occurrences are rather retellings with slight changes, additions and omissions.
The Septuagint used in four of the five close translated passages the Greek word „νεᾶνις“ (neanis) for עַלְמָה (almah). Only in Isaiah 7:14 παρθένος (parthenos) is used.
||Psalm 68:25 = LXX Psalm 67:26
|Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” The maiden (hā-‘al-māh - νεᾶνις) went and called the child’s mother.
||The singers went before, the minstrels followed after, in the midst of the ladies (ă-lā-mō-wṯ - νεανίδων) playing with tambourines,
||Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the young women (‘ă-lā-mō-wṯ – νεάνιδες) love you!
||There are sixty queens and eighty concubines, and maidens (wa-‘ă-lā-mō-wṯ – νεάνιδες) without number,
||Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin (hā-‘al-māh, - παρθενος) shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.|
The later Greek translations of the first and second century (Aquila, Theodotion and Symmachus) used also in Isaiah 7:14 „νεᾶνις
“ (neanis) for עַלְמָה (almah). Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book III, Ch. 25, wrote:
1. God, then, was made man, and the Lord did Himself save us, giving us the token of the Virgin. But not as some allege, among those now presuming to expound the Scripture, [thus: ] "Behold, a young woman shall conceive, and bring forth a son," as Theodotion the Ephesian has interpreted, and Aquila of Pontus, both Jewish proselytes.
In the Hebrew text of Isaiah 7:14, the young woman is already pregnant
. It‘s the same wording and the same temporal situation as in Genesis 16:11 while a future conception is mentioned in Judges 13:3.
The angel of the LORD also said to her: "You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery
The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, "You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son.
||Judges 13:3 |
||וְהָרִ֖י hā-rîṯ |
||(verb in future) |
||to become pregnant|
The word hārāh means “pregnant.” The word is used by the Angel of the Lord to describe Hagar’s condition: “You are now with child (hārāh) and you will have a son” (Genesis 16:11). The same word was used when Tamar’s condition was reported to Judah: “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has played the whore; moreover she is pregnant (hārāh) as a result of whoredom” (Genesis 38:24).
The word weyōledet in Hebrew is a verb, a qal participle feminine singular. Hebrew language does not have a present tense form, thus, it uses the participle to express a verbal action in the present time. The word weyōledet bēn should be translated “is giving birth to a son.”
What Isaiah is saying to King Ahaz is that the young woman is already pregnant and will give birth to a son. The reality of the woman’s pregnancy is clearly expressed in the NRSV: “Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son” (Isaiah 7:14). It is also expressed in the NET Bible: “Look, this young woman is about to conceive and will give birth to a son” (Isaiah 7:14 NET).
In the Hebrew text, the event being announced is present and not future. If the Hebrew indicates that the woman is already pregnant, why do the NIV and the KJV say that the event will be in the future?: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son” (Isaiah 7:14 NIV). The answer again is found in the Septuagint.
In the Septuagint the verb is a future tense, indicating that the pregnancy will occur in the future. Although the Greek text does not say how long in the future the birth will occur, the future pregnancy of the woman contradicts the message of Isaiah who proclaimed that the young woman was already pregnant when he confronted Ahaz and gave him God’s message.