|Chapter 7 verse 14 reads "The maiden will become pregnant (2030) and bear a son (3205), and she will name him Immanuel."||While chapter 8 verse 3 is "I approached the prophetess, and she conceived (2030) and bore (3205) a son."|
In 7:16, "For before the child knows to abhor evil and choose good, the land of the two kings you fear will be abandoned." The two kings they feared being kings Pekach and Rezin from Israel and Aram (see 7:1, 2).
|Then compare 8:4, "For before the child knows how to say ‘My father’ and ‘My mother’ the wealth of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria will be carried off before the king of Assyria."|
Damascus was the capital of Aram, and we mentioned earlier that Samaria was the capital of the northern kingdom, Israel. In 8:4 we see that before Isaiah’s son would mature that Aram and Israel would be fall, just as was said concerning the child of 7:14 in slightly different language, but with the same meaning.
7:14 "and she will name him Immanuel."
|Then 8 "and its wingspan will be the full breadth of your land, O Immanuel."|
These two verses are the only two verses in T’nakh which use this contraction.
Secondly, the word is used rather infrequently in the T'nakh, and none of the other passages use it in such a way that demands that it means "virgin" as opposed to young woman. "The word is used nine times in the Old Testament, five times in the plural, and four times in the singular. Without dispute the word refers to an unmarried woman. No one has ever produced a test either in Hebrew or in the closely related Ugaritic language where "almah" is used in reference to a married woman." 11
There are three that are beyond me and a fourth that I do not know; the way of an eagle in the heavens; the way of a snake upon a rock; the way of a ship in the heart of the sea; and the way of a man with a young woman (almah). Such is the way of the adulterous woman: She wipes her mouth and says, ‘I have done no wrong.’
The fact that the word almah means "a virgin" is proven by the Septuagint. During the intertestamental period, seventy-two Hebrew scholars, six from each of the twelve tribes, worked down in Alexandria, Egypt, on the translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into the Greek language. When they came to this "sign" in Isaiah, those seventy-two men understood that it meant "virgin," and they translated it into the Greek word parthenos 14
Though we should admit what they say, that עלמה (gnalmah) sometimes denotes a young woman, and that the name refers, as they would have it, to the age, (yet it is frequently used in Scripture when the subject relates to a virgin,) the nature of the case sufficiently refutes all their slanders. For what wonderful thing did the Prophet say, if he spoke of a young woman who conceived through intercourse with a man? It would certainly have been absurd to hold out this as a sign or a miracle. (John Calvin on Isaiah 7:14, ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom13.xiv.i.html).
Now, there are two kinds of signs; for some are extraordinary, and may be called supernatural; such as that which the Prophet will immediately add, and that which, we shall afterwards see, was offered to Hezekiah. (Isaiah 38:7.) Some are ordinary, and in daily use among believers, such as Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which contain no miracle, or at least may be perceived by the eye or by some of the senses. (John Calvin on Isaiah 7:12, ibid).
"This much is obvious from the context: The sign must clearly bear the marks of divine activity and intervention, since Ahaz grieved the Lord by refusing to ask for a sign, ‘whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights,’ as a result of which the Lord said that [H]e [H]imself would give Ahaz. What a sign it needed to be!" (Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, vol. 3, page 20.)
Brown, in Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus vol. 3 provides a more comprehensive argument for this position, with varying degrees of strength. Yet in doing so he overstates his case stating "All this is of great importance when we remember that anti-missionaries commonly tell us that if Isaiah had intended to prophesy a virgin birth clearly, he would have used betulah rather than ’almah/ Not so! Rather neither word in and of itself would clearly and unequivocally convey the meaning of virgin." (ibid page 23). Brown himself notes (205, footnote 57) that in legal contexts, i.e. when the actual status of the woman vis a vi intercourse is relevant, bethulah is used to indicate virginity.
...Justin's Dialog with Trypho shows that even in his day Jews were not known to have so interpreted it. For Justin is endeavoring to prove to Jews that the "prophecy had been spoken not with reference to Hezekiah as ye were taught, but to this my Christ." (Dial. C. 71) If Jewish interpreters had changed its application, or if any school among them had held the Messianic view, he would certainly, judging by the charges he brings in many cases, have made the most of the fact. ( The Jewish and The Christian Messiah, page 377)