Isaiah 7:14,The True Meaning of Almah and Bethulahgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Ask Jesus : One Thread
I found this link from the Jewish point of view on Isaiah 7:14. The words are not mine.
[Click on the glossary It gives you many other beliefs held by Christians that Jews or Messianic Jews reject] Isaiah 7:14
Excerpt from previous link: The actual meaning of Almah In the Talmud, when speaking of marriage contracts, the term betulah is always used when speaking of a virgin where virginity is at issue. This is a woman the man has met and has offered her an item of value to be his wife. He knows her and has established a contractual agreement in front of witnesses with her.
The term haAlmah comes from the cognate to indicate a specific person of unknown or unclear status whom they typically see for the first time. (As a side note, the word haAlim means to conceal, to hide). HaAlmah as well as the masculine HaAlaym, is only used a few times in the Tanach and is not used to refer to his or her virginal status, but does speak of someone who is youthful and is most likely unmarried. (On such example of the masculine use is in 1 Samuel 17:56 when the king spied a young man he had never seen before, a young man of uncertain status, and wanted to know more about him).
In other examples, such as in Exodus 2:8, we read that Miraim is seen by the Pharoahs daughter, the pharoahs daughter considers her an almah, a slave girl seen for the first time who she knows nothing about.
Or in When Eliezer first saw Rebeccah, the Torah refers to her in Genesis 24:16 as a betulah, but when relating the story to her father in Genesis 24:43, Eliezer speaks of her first appearance to him, someone he saw for the first time who may or may not fulfill what he had hoped for, and in that relating he called her an almah. .....
In Psalm 68:26 is speaks of a celebration, and the plural form of almah is used to describe the young women who are in the processional parade playing percussion instruments. They are seen for the first time by the crowds of cheering people celebrating victory, and behind them follows the various princes of Israel. Who they are is not known.
In other words, every instance of it's use for either a man or a women relates to a person who is initally seen, where little or nothing is known of that person, and his or her actions are not evident.
Now put all of that information together and look at this verse from Isaiah 7:14
Therefore He, my Lord, shall give to you a sign. Behold! The almah shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son and she will call his name Emanu-El. In this statement, the prophet is stating something about an almah, one who is being initially seen for the first time, whose status is unknown, and who is unknown to the speaker, and who can be seen by the speaker. Each of these attributes are an important part of the the use of the word, and each of these attributes are always there when almah is used. Therefore, the important "[the stranger whom you see for the first time before you]" is the basic meaning of almah, and needs to be understood. So I'll show the phrase again, this time with the meaning of almah to make the sentence more clear.
Therefore He, my Lord, shall give to you a sign. Behold! The young female stranger before us, she shall become pregnant and bring forth a son and she will call his name Emanu-El. The term heini, or "Behold!" is used where the speaker wishes to point something out for immediacy. It can also use to speak of a furture tense. In the case of almah, she needs to be seen for the meaning to be consistant, and thus any future tense use of the word refers to what will happen to her, which, in this case is that she will become pregnant, have a little boy, and name him Emmanuel. The act of naming of the child is the culmination of this prophecy and it's manifestation in the future is being prophecied, as I will cover below.
Remember, the word almah is never applied to a woman that the speaker knows, nor would a husband apply it to his wife, although it could be used to describe a woman that is being brought into the picture to be introduced as a future wife. But once he meets her and knows something about her, her status as an almah is over. Also, the term in the Tanach has been applied to young ladies with a broad range of moral values, from the chaste to the morally corrupt.
Last part of : What are the implications of this in the non-Jewish world?
Since Isaiah is speaking of a prophecy, he is speaking of an unmarried woman. In Judaism, once a man has given a woman something of value before witnesses for the purpose of acquiring her as his wife, a process known as kiddushin, she is, according to Jewish law, his wife, and any infidelity that she does before the final stage of the marriage process would result in her arrest. So even if the wife is not living yichud with the husband, she is in a state where almah cannot be used. She is a betulah, in many cases, but not an almah. And the prophet is speaking of an almah.
Forget about the translated meaning of almah, but just go with the idea that if the prophet is speaking of an almah, he is speaking of someone he can see, an unmarried young woman, and someone he doesn't know
The Christian Yahwist
-- Elpidio Gonzalez (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 10, 2005
Do you think Almah should then be interpreted as a woman who is not known as opposed to a virgin????
The Christian Yahwist
-- Elpidio Gonzalez (email@example.com), February 10, 2005.
Ther eis no differenc ebewen " A woman not (sexually) known' and " A virgin."
-- ZAROVE (ZAROFF3@JUNO.COM), February 10, 2005.