The Virgin Birth in the Old Testament and Isaiah 7:14 -- By: Charles Lee Feinberg

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 119:475 (Jul 1962)
Article: The Virgin Birth in the Old Testament and Isaiah 7:14
Author: Charles Lee Feinberg


The Virgin Birth in the Old Testament and Isaiah 7:14

Charles Lee Feinberg

[Charles L. Feinberg is Dean of Talbot Theological, La Mirada, California, and Professor of Semitics and Old Testament Literature.]

No student of the Old Testament need apologize for a treatment of Isaiah 7:14 in relation to the doctrine of the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. From earliest times to the present the discussions which have centered about this theme have been both interesting, varied, and at times even heated. Lindblom characterizes Isaiah 7:14 as “the endlessly discussed passage of the Immanuel sign.”1 Rawlinson maintains: “Few prophecies have been the subject of so much controversy, or called forth such a variety of exegesis, as this prophecy of Immanuel. Rosenmueller gives a list of twenty-eight authors who have written dissertations on it, and himself adds a twenty-ninth. Yet the subject is far from being exhausted.”2 Barnes emphasizes the obscurity of the passage: “Who this virgin was, and what is the precise meaning of this prediction, has given, perhaps, more perplexity to commentators than almost any other portion of the Bible.”3 Again, he insists, “Perhaps there is no prophecy in the Old Testament on which more has been written, and which has produced more perplexity among commentators than this. And after all, it still remains, in many respects, very obscure.”4 Skinner seeks in a general way to pinpoint the source of the difficulties. He states: “Probably no single passage of the Old Testament has been so variously interpreted or has given rise to so much controversy as the prophecy contained in these verses. The difficulties arise mainly from the fact that while the terms of the prediction are so indefinite as to

admit a wide range of possibilities, we have no record of its actual fulfillment in any contemporary event.”5 In view of these statements concerning the difficulties in the passage, one may scarcely expect unanimity among either liberals or conservatives in theology.

The logical point at which the investigation should be initiated is a careful treatment of the immediate context. It was in the reign of Ahaz, king of Judah,6 that a coalition was formed between Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, king of Israel, against Ahaz. Their avowed objective (You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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