Mary Not Really a Virgin?

We find that both Matthew & Luke think that Jesus was born from a virgin (that is, she hadn’t had sexual intercourse) and that this is the sign that was prophesied in Isaiah.  The child is said to be from the Holy Spirit of God, so God’s seed and not seed of a human.

  • 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ[e] took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed[f] to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).”  Matthew 1:18-23
  • 26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[b] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[c] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”[d] 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[e] will be called holy—the Son of God.”  Luke 1:26-35

These verses are suppose to be the fulfillment of the prophet Isaiah:

  • 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” ”  Matthew 1:23
  • 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.[h] ”  Isaiah 7:14 (ESV)
  • Hebrew Scriptures: 14Therefore, the Lord, of His own, shall give you a sign; behold, the young woman is with child, and she shall bear a son, and she shall call his name Immanuel.”  Isaiah 7:14

What is the basic difference between these verses?

  • The “virgin” is a mistranslation of the Hebrew word, b’alma, which is not “virgin” (Hebrew word, betulah), but rather just “young woman”  Some Christian Bibles have actually fixed this as they realized their error, but many have not fixed it.
  • Matthew uses the future “shall conceive” but in Isaiah the kid was “already conceived”
  • Matthew says that “they shall name him Immanuel”, but Isaiah says “the woman shall call him Immanuel”

What name is given to Jesus by Mary?  Does anyone then call him Immanuel?

  • 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” ”  Matthew 1:21

Now, what is the context of Isaiah 7?  Is it a prophecy of the virgin birth of Jesus or about a kid named Immanuel?

  • 14Therefore, the Lord, of His own, shall give you a sign; behold, the young woman is with child, and she shall bear a son, and she shall call his name Immanuel. 15Cream and honey he shall eat when he knows to reject bad and choose good. 16For, when the lad does not yet know to reject bad and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread, shall be abandoned.”  Isaiah 7:14-16

God gave King Ahaz a sign to prove to him that God was truly with him and would defeat his enemies, even though King Ahaz said he really didn’t need a sign.   God told Isaiah that this lifesaving event would happen when Isaiah’s soon-to-be-son was yet still an infant.  The kid’s name was given by God as a reminder to King Ahaz that every time he saw this kid, he would remember the message from Isaiah and not worry, but rather put his worries aside and be at peace.  This kid, Immanuel, was not a foretelling of Jesus, but rather, just the son of a prophet.  God mostly uses things of the natural as a sign.  No one in that room thought that Isaiah’s wife was pregnant by God with this son, Immanuel, who’s name means “God with us.”  Was this kid, Immanuel, God?  No.

Isaiah even plainly tells us later that his kids were actually signs to the people;

  • 18Behold, I and the children whom the Lord gave me for signs and for tokens in Israel, from the Lord of Hosts, Who dwells on Mount Zion.”  Isaiah 8:18

Did you know that it was common for God to tell His prophets to name their own children with very odd names.  The names of these kids was reminders to those who saw these kids playing in the streets.  We don’t think names mean much today, but back then, names were HIGHLY significant.

Isaiah’s name is actually “Yishayahu” which means “The Salvation of God.”  Is Isaiah, literally God’s Salvation on earth?  No.

Isaiah’s first son’s name was Shar-Yahuv, which meant “The remnant will remain” and when King Ahaz saw Shar-Yuhuv standing with his dad prior to Immanuel being born, it was another message to confirm with him that there will be a remnant of Israel to remain, even though it may not have seemed like it to him.

The prophet, Hosea, was told to name his kids names that seemed like they were walking prophecies of doom, predicting the fall of the 10 tribes.  For example, one of Hosea’s daughters, “Lo-ruhammah” was translated as “not pitied.”  Boy, what a name to walk around with.  Hosea’s son was named, “Lo-ammi” which means “not my people.”  Both of these names were directed by God to Hosea so that when these kids ran around in the streets and played that they were constant reminders to these corrupt people that God was not happy with them, to put it mildly.

So, is a virgin birth an actual sign?  No.  A virgin birth cannot be verified by anyone.  In order for a sign to be truly a sign (like the rainbow in the sky), it must be able to be seen and verified.  Virgin birth = no provable sign.

In summary

  • Matthew and Luke mistranslated the Hebrew to state that the mother of Jesus will be a virgin.   Was this intentional or just ignorant of Hebrew, their supposed native tongue?
  • Jesus was never given the name Immanuel, nor called this name by anyone in the Bible
  • The prophecy quoted by Matthew in Isaiah 7 was manipulated to make it seem that this was a future prophecy of Jesus, when in fact, it was not.
  • Isaiah 7 is about Isaiah’s own son, called Immanuel, named by Isaiah’s non-virgin mom as this was at least her second son.

Why a virgin then, if it’s not true?

In the original Hebrew Scriptures, there is absolutely no prophecy of the last Mashiach being born of a virgin, but in opposite, this man was to be 100% born from the line of David (through Solomon), otherwise, he would not qualify as this future king.  It is preposterous for an Israelite to think that the final king would be born from the seed of God and not of a man.   So, this prophecy is 100% false.

The writings of the book of Matthew were written after the letters of Paul, and after the writings of Mark.  They were written approximately 35 years after Paul’s first letters (50 CE Thessalonians), in about the year 85 CE (along with Luke’s about the same time).  The virgin birth was not referenced in any of Paul’s letters, nor in the first gospel, Mark, but added by Matthew and then Luke much later.  (John’s gospel was written last in about the year 90 CE and neither referenced this “key” event).

The impregnation of a virgin woman by a god is a common fantasy in the pagen world and has been going on since way, way back in the Tanach days.

Here’s a few of the virgin birth stories that were circulating around before the days of Jesus:

The virgin birth of Jesus became well established and spread by 90 CE and emerged as full-fledged orthodoxy of Christianity, whereby, if as a Christian you rejected this idea, you were regarded as a heretic.  It evolved further to state that not only was Jesus born of a virgin, but that Mary was born partially divine, the “Immaculate Conception.”

Jews never did believe in the virgin birth, as one of the points of contention, and so this was one of the reasons why the NT was and is still rejected.  In contrast, this notion spread like wildflowers among the nations who already believed in the impregnation of women by the gods.

So, if you are a Christian, is this a make or break doctrine that you must believe or not?  It doesn’t seem like even Jesus talked about it his whole life, nor Paul, nor Mark, nor John, so obviously none of them thought it was that important.

If you don’t believe in the virgin birth, then you can still be a Bible believer as there are no prophecies of a virgin birth.  Look it up yourself.