Is ΠΑΠΘΕΝΟΣ The Correct Rendering Of עלמה In Isaiah 7:14? -- By: Henry Ferguson

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 034:136 (Oct 1877)
Article: Is ΠΑΠΘΕΝΟΣ The Correct Rendering Of עלמה In Isaiah 7:14?
Author: Henry Ferguson


Is ΠΑΠΘΕΝΟΣ The Correct Rendering Of עלמה In Isaiah 7:14?

Rev. Henry Ferguson

The answer to this question must depend upon the usage of the Hebrew language and upon the etymology of the word itself. We also need to inquire what is the necessary meaning of παρθένος. The importance of the question lies, of course, in its connection with the prophetic sign given by the prophet to Ahaz, and which is applied by Matthew to the conception of our Lord in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary.

The Septuagint in this passage translates the Hebrew word עַלְמָה by παρθένος, and it is repeated by Matthew. It is not our purpose to enter at all into the general argument, or into the question as to exactly what the prophetic sign consisted of, but simply to investigate the meaning and usage of the Hebrew word, as a purely philological question.

עלְמָה is derived, according to its form, from the root עלם, and is the most simple derivative form, corresponding to the Arabic nomen actionis, and usually known as a Segholate. This root when pointed עָלַם has the signification of hiding, concealing, and occurs very frequently in the Hebrew literature. From it are derived the words עוֹלָם (עלָם), ילוֹם, תַּעֲלֻמָה, Chald. עָלַם. But there is another class of derivatives which cannot be ascribed to this verb, and which accordingly are attributed to a root עָם, which, though not appearing in its verbal form in Hebrew, does exist in the cognate languages, while these do not possess the verb עָלַם with the sense of to hide (though the Chald., Sam., Syriac, and Ethiopic have derivatives from it, with the senses of aeternitas or mundus). Such words עֶלֶם are a young man (1 Sam. 17:56; 20:22), עַלוּמִים youth (Job 20:11; 33:25; Ps. 89:45; Isa. 54:4). עַלְמָה, the word in question, the general meaning of which is young woman (Gen. 24:43; You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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