Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14
It seems modern critics make a great deal about this verse in Isaiah. They are quick to point out that the Hebrew word used here can mean young woman so it does not mean a virgin. What seems to get lost is that during Isaiah’s time a young woman who was not yet married would have been a virgin. This would also have been true when Jesus was born. This happens quiet often when people criticize the Bible. In fact this is done with much of history; we tend to put modern sensibilities and mores on the past.
We feel superior in our modern beliefs and look down on those held in the past. But just because today we take for granite young people being sexually active does not mean they were in the past. In fact the culture back then was such that young people were most likely to remain chaste until marriage. So why the word used does not mean virgin it does connote a virgin. Think of a more modern work maiden which we take to mean a young unmarried and chaste lady.
I feel one can reasonably take from what Isaiah wrote that he was referring to a virgin when he was talking about the birth of the Messiah. What this verse also tells us is that in order to understand God’s Word we need some understanding of the culture at the time the various books were written. When we insist overlaying modern sensibilities over ancient writings we can lose some or all of the meaning. Now this does not mean we cannot understand the Bible without an advanced degree in ancient Middle East history but it does mean that when the Bible is questioned we need to look at the criticism with an eye to how it would have been understood at the time of the writing.
Fortunately for us most of the Bible and all of God’s Word concerning our salvation does not need this historical lens. Still it never hurts us to have some understanding of how people lived and felt during biblical times. That can only increase our understanding.
Have a blessed day,