by Gary MacNutt
Christianity has a basic set of beliefs. The fundamentalists all believe in the inerrancy of the Bible and all but the King James version are looked at as suspect by them. To successfully defeat them in debate, and have a chance to deconvert them, you must be armed with a good understanding of the Bible and use it to make your points with them. There is no other authority they will respect or listen to.
They believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that he was born of a virgin, that he was the Messiah as foretold in the Old Testament. The combination of the following arguments clearly dismantles all of these basic beliefs and at the same time shows the Bible to be, not only errant, but to contain out right deceit.
The prophecy referenced in Matthew 1:22-23 "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.", which can be found in Isaiah 7:14 is: [A] Not a prophecy of Jesus, and [B] not translated correctly from Hebrew.
[A] Matthew wants his readers to believe that this passage is a prophecy of Jesus Christ. I contend that it is not, and I will attempt to prove that it isn't.
To do this I must first give the context of Isaiah 7:14. If you are a seeker of truth and able to reason, you too will see that this scripture is not a prophecy of Jesus Christ, that it does not have a thing to do with Jesus, nor to anything that could happen in the time that Jesus was born and lived, which was about seven hundred years after the time of Isaiah.
Here is the context: On the death of Solomon the Jewish nation split into two monarchies: one called the kingdom of Judah, the capital of which was Jerusalem, the other the kingdom of Israel, the capital of which was Samaria. The kingdom of Judah was of the line of David, and the kingdom of Israel that of Saul and these two rival monarchies
frequently warred against each other.
At the time of Isaiah, Ahaz was King of Judah, and Pekah was King of Israel. Pekah allied himself to Rezin, King of Syria, to war against Ahaz. These two kings joined their powerful armies and marched against Jerusalem. Ahaz and his people became alarmed at their danger, and "their hearts were moved as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind." Isaiah 7:3.
In this very bad situation, Isaiah comes to Ahaz, and assures him in the name of the Lord, that these two kings will not win against him and to assure Ahaz, tells him to ask a sign of God. Ahaz declined doing it, giving as a reason, that he would not tempt the Lord, so Isaiah says in verses 14 - 16 "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign, behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son , and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil and choose the good - for before the child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land which thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings" - meaning the Kings of Israel and the King of Syria who were marching toward him.
Here was the sign: the birth of a child by a virgin or young woman depending upon your take, and that child a male would be named Immanuel and there was also a the time limit for this sign, namely, before the child should know to refuse the evil and choose the good (0 -5 years).
So to be a sign of success to Ahaz, it must be something that would take place before the battle then pending between him and the two kings. A thing to be a sign must precede the thing signified. To take this otherwise one must throw logic, reason and very straight forward scripture out the window.
It would make no sense for Isaiah to have assured Ahaz with a sign that these two Kings would not prevail against him, with a child being born seven hundred years after he was dead, and that before the child born should know to refuse the evil and choose the good, Ahaz, would be delivered from the danger facing he and his kingdom. This is not at all a prophecy of a far away event.
Reality is, that the child that Isaiah speaks of was his own child, with which his wife or other young woman was then pregnant, for he says in the next chapter, verse 8:2 "And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah; and I went unto the prophetess, and she conceived and bear a son;" and he says, in verse 18 of the same chapter, "Behold I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel."
I will go into why the term "a virgin" in Isaiah, does not signify a virgin in Hebrew, but merely a young woman in the follwing section. Should you hold to your contention that Virgin is correct, then the child born at the time of Isaiah was also born of a virgin. You can't have it both ways. Since the scripture clearly states that, "...and I went unto the prophetess, and she conceived and bear a son..." the woman at the time, was not a virgin when conception took place. I will follow up more of this in the second section.
While here, lets look deeper into this prophecy Isaiah made. Did it come true? Did Ahaz triumph over the two kings marching toward him? No, Ahaz and his people were killed (120,000) and the rest taken into slavery. II Chronicles 28:5-8. This of course makes Isaiah a false prophet if we believe what the Bible says in Deuteronomy 18:22 on how to know a false
A couple other points to make regarding the prophecy of Isaiah and it's non-fulfilment, at that time, or 700 years later: The child was to be named Immanuel and of course Jesus was not named Immanuel, nor was the child born at the time of Isaiah. In 8:1 "..Maher-shalal-has-baz" was the name given the child. Secondly, in verse 7:15 "Butter and honey shall he eat....." This meant the child prophesied would be raised in royalty or wealth and of course Jesus was not raised in such a manor, just the opposite, but Maher-shalal-has-baz was, being born of a prophetess. Isaiah 7:14-16 is not a prophecy of the birth of Jesus, but is in fact a false prophecy plain and simple.
[B] The Hebrew word translated as "virgin" in this verse (Isaiah 7:14) is "almah," which is more accurately translated simply as "young woman." The Hebrew word "bethulah" means "virgin." In the book of Isaiah, "bethulah" appears four times (23:12, 37:22, 47:1, 62:5), so Isaiah was aware of the two words and their meanings. He did not use "bethulah" in verse 7:14 for this reason. In the New American Standard translation of the Bible, all other appearances of "almah" are translated simply as "girl," "maid," or "maiden" (Genesis 24:43, Exodus 2:8, Psalms 68:25, Proverbs 30:19, Song of Solomon 1:3, 6:8). So Matthew's claimed fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14, is called into question when it was not a virgin but only a young woman.
Some Christian apologists claim that "virgin" is meant because the Jewish translators of the Old Testament into its Greek form (the Septuagint) used the Greek word "parthenos" ("virgin") for "almah" in translating this verse. This most likely indicates, rather, that Matthew used the Septuagint, an inferior translation, thus getting it wrong. Gerald Sigal  points out a case (Genesis 34:3) where the Septuagint uses "parthenos" for the Hebrew word "na'arah" ("girl") when the woman in question is most definitely not a virgin (see Genesis 34:2). Nahigian  also points out that later Greek translations of Isaiah, by Lucian, Theodocion, Aquila, and others did not use "parthenos" to translate "almah" in Isaiah 7:14.
The tense is also incorrect in the translation. Levi gives the Hebrew text of Isaiah 7:14, and the translation in English with it - "Behold a young woman is with child and beareth a son." The statement is in the present tense not the future tense. This "IS" translation agrees with the other events related to the birth of this boy which was to be a sign to Ahaz, not one to be born seven hundred years later. The Christian translators have falsified the original and instead of making Isaiah say, behold a young woman IS with child and beareth a son, they have made him to say, "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son."
 Sigal, Gerald (1981) The Jew and the Christian Missionary: A Jewish Response To Missionary Christianity. N.Y.: Ktav Publishing House, Inc. (p. 24)
 Nahigian, Kenneth E. (1993) "A Virgin-Birth Prophecy?" The Skeptical Review 4 (2, Spring):13-14, 16. (p. 13)
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)