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Therefore the Lord himself will give you* a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son,

and* will call him Immanuel.* Isaiah 7:14 (NIV)


Skeptics often claim that the word translated virgin in Isaiah 7:14 (Hebrew ‘almah) refers to a “young woman.” Technically they are correct, but there is more to the translation of this word. Almah actually refers specifically to a “maiden”—that is, to a young girl, who is on the cusp of becoming a woman, hence a virgin (see Gen. 24: 43; Ex. 2:8, “girl”). Thus when the Septuagint translators, 200 years before the birth of Christ, rendered ‘almah with the Greek parthenos (a specific term for “virgin”) they rightly perceived the meaning of the Hebrew term; and when Matthew applied this prophecy to the virgin birth of Christ (see Matt. 1:23), it was in accord with this well-established understanding of parthenos (“virgin”) as used in the Septuagint and in other Greek writers. The very fact that Christianity was unknown at the time, and the translators were not followers of Jesus, mitigates against any bias on their part as favoring the word virgin.