The Immanuel Prophecy Isaiah 7:14-16 Second Article -- By: Edward J. Young

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 16:1 (Nov 1953)
Article: The Immanuel Prophecy Isaiah 7:14-16 Second Article
Author: Edward J. Young

The Immanuel Prophecy
Isaiah 7:14-16
Second Article

Edward J. Young


IN the Hebrew Old Testament the word עַלְמָה appears rather infrequently; namely, five times in the plural and four in the singular. We may begin our consideration with the occurrences of the word in the plural. In the Song of Solomon 1:3 we read, “For the savor of thy good ointments, oil poured out is thy name, therefore ALAMOTH they have loved thee”.1 It is the bride who speaks. In this third verse she is praising her beloved; “his name”, she says, “is as oil that has been poured out”. For this reason the ALAMOTH have loved him. He, however, has passed them by and chosen her. It is therefore not a present situation which she describes by her reference to the ALAMOTH, but rather one that is past. As Thilo and Aalders have stressed, the past form of the verb must be noted.2 It may also be, as Aalders has suggested, that these words do not present so much an objective statement of what has taken place, as merely the subjective impression of the bride.3 Be that as it may, that which would appear to be in the fore is the fact that the ALAMOTH in this passage are not married women. Rather, they are maidens who have loved and desired a husband.

In Song of Solomon 6:8 we read, “Sixty are the queens, eighty the concubines, and maidens without number”.4 The

purpose of giving these three categories would seem to be to obtain a completeness of statement. Hence, those designated as ALAMOTH would be of a different category from the queens and the concubines. The queens of course were married; the concubines were probably married, and the maidens were not married. In Song of Solomon 1:3, those who had loved the bridegroom were maidens who sought a husband. In that passage, therefore, the connotation “virgin” is definitely applicable. May it not also be possible that the author of the Song intended the word in the same sense in the present passage? What is of particular importance is to note that in one instance he did regard the word עַלְמָה as definitely suitable to designate an unmarried girl, a virgin, and, since he employed the word only twice, it is likely that he used it in the same sense in both instances.

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