Isaiah 7:14 in the New King James Version, which is based on the Hebrew, Masoretic Text, reads, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”
Jewish scholars argue that the word “virgin” was translated from the Hebrew word “almah,” which means “young woman.” They add that if Isaiah had intended to prophesy a true virgin birth, he would have used the word “betulah.” Of course, if the Hebrew, Masoretic Text were the near-perfect copy of the original Old Testament text as most religious Jews believe, they would have a good argument. However, this is a myth.
The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran in 1949, dating from 150 BC to 75 AD, shows that the Qumran community, were in possession of various source texts of the Old Testament Scriptures. These source texts include: the Hebrew, Masoretic Text, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Greek Septuagint, and significantly, non-aligned manuscripts.
In the past, Jewish scholars attributed the lack of there being a greater alignment between the Masoretic Text and the Greek Septuagint to the Septuagint being a poor translation of what they believed to be the Hebrew original. Other Jewish scholars went so far as to claim that the Septuagint is fraudulent. However, after the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, many of the Septuagint’s variant readings proved to be aligned with other source texts.
Joseph Fitzmyer noted the following regarding the findings at Qumran Cave 4 in particular: “Such ancient recensional forms of Old Testament books bear witness to an unsuspected textual diversity that once existed; these texts merit far greater study and attention than they have been accorded till now. Thus, the differences in the Septuagint are no longer considered the result of a poor or tendentious attempt to translate the Hebrew into the Greek; rather they testify to a different pre-Christian form of the Hebrew text.” (For more on this topic, read the article: The Idea of the Sanctity of the Biblical Text and the Science of Textual Criticism).
The fact that the New Testament Scriptures are at times aligned with the Masoretic Text, other times with the Septuagint, and still other times with variant readings of the Dead Sea Scrolls, proves that the various source texts that existed at the time were all descended from the Hebrew prototype that no longer exists.
The readings of Isaiah 7:14 in the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Masoretic Text and the Aramaic Targum suggest that the word for the woman in the Hebrew prototype was almah. In contrast, the readings in the Septuagint, the Syriac Peshitta and the Latin Vulgate suggest that the word for the woman in the Hebrew prototype was betulah. This discrepancy is either the result of a scribal error, or the the Jews purposely altering their text by replacing the word betulah, which means virgin, with the word almah, which means young woman, in order to discredit Yeshua as being the Messiah.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Matthew quoted Isaiah 7:14. He wrote, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son…” (Matt. 1:23). Clearly, Matthew considered Isaiah 7:14 to be a Messianic prophecy with a clear expectation of a supernatural birth. This strongly suggests that the source text from which he quoted contained the Hebrew word betulah.
Thus, Isaiah 7:14 is correctly rendered: “Therefore, יהוה Himself shall give you a sign: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and you shall call His name Immanuel.” This is how it is rendered in this version.
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