THE SEPTUAGINT AND THE VIRGIN BIRTH
"Why Study Hebrew" is the subject of a lengthy article in "Congress Weekly," official organ of the American Jewish Congress, from the pen of Rabbi Samuel M. Blumenfield, President of the College of Jewish Studies, Chicago. It contains a repudiation of a Christian doctrinal belief of import worth analyzing, considering that it plays a vital part in establishing the reasonableness of passing from the Synagogue to the Church.
In so far as the article stressing the importance of the Hebrew language as a spiritual solidifying influence among Jews is concerned, the Rabbi is no doubt on unquestionable ground. But he moved to plainly questionable ground by holding with "some Jewish scholars that Christianity might never have come into being had it not been that the Bible was translated into Greek, and through this translation were imparted ideas, images and attitudes which were never intended by the original authors in Hebrew."
This misconception, common among Rabbis, is due to failure to realize that Christianity existed potentially and prophetically in the Hebrew version of the Old Testament: That from it there blossomed forth the Christianity recorded in the New Testament, just as the majestic oak tree emanated from the acorn, which embodied its design. Therefore Christian claims are not dependent upon the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament.
Yet the Greek text does contain additional matter to sustain Christian claims, for instance, the sacredness of the Altar of God that the holy Maccabees admirably defended, for which they are remembered annually by Catholics as well as Jews, though in different ways.
In an endeavor to sustain his contention, Rabbi Blumenfield presented "the interesting example of far-reaching effects of such translation (into Greek), the rendering of the word 'Almah,' which means 'lass' and which in translation became 'virgin' with all the connotations of the virgin-birth dogma of Christianity." This is of import, as it deals with the prophesy in Isaiah 7:14, enlarged upon in Isaiah 9:16, one of the vital prophesies which warrants the belief that Jesus is the Messiah for Whose coming the Holy in Israel prayed and suffered.
The term almah may and may not signify virgin. Isaac Lesser, a Jewish translator, says in his "translated Holy Scriptures according to the Massoretic text," that "it does not necessarily signify virgin, but a young marriageable woman in general." Hence the term almah must be judged within, and not in disregard of the text. Isaiah 7:14 says (part disregarded emphasized)---"THE LORD HIMSELF SHALL GIVE A SIGN, behold almah (woman, virgin) shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel (God with us)"; Who is called the Wonderful, Counselor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace," in Isaiah 9:6.
What was that "sign," the unusual, significant event to be? Surely it never was an unusual thing for a woman to "conceive." A "sign" from God is a miracle. For instance, the miracles that God enabled Aaron, the High Priest, to perform with his "rod", are called "signs" in Exodus 4:17. The fact that a God-given "sign" is a miracle is paralleled in the case of Hezekiah, in which a "sign" to thee in the Lord" is promised (Isaiah 38:7). Moses used the term almah to signify a virgin, when telling about the servant of Abraham expected at the well, who was to become the wife of his son Isaac, "a most beautiful virgin" (Gen. 24:16).
The fact that a virgin was to conceive and bring forth the Messiah was first proclaimed by God, through Moses. It is implied in the declaration that the "seed" of a woman would crush the serpent's head. (Gen. 3:15).
This is the only Bible-recorded instance of conception through the "seed" of a woman instead of a man. There is only one descendant of Adam Who had no earthly father, that is the Man Jesus. He is the "seed of a woman" that was promised to come, and did come, to make amends for the sin of Adam.
The Bible was translated into Aramaic during pre-Christian times. It was the language spoken by the Jews in Palestine, as Hebrew had been "driven out." (Jewish Ency., Vol. 3, p. 195). In it the word almah was translated into "bethulah," a virgin, and not a "lass" nor a woman. The Greek translation is still more definite. Therein almah is set forth as "parthenos," which means an inviolate virgin, as was Mary, the mother of Jesus Messiah.
Weak indeed is denial of the virgin birth recorded in Isaiah 7:14, when it is based upon a repudiation of the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which was "greeted with enthusiasm everywhere" in the Jewish world during two centuries before the Christian era, as Vallentine's Jewish Encyclopedia says (p. 593). This translation was made during the era when Judaism was the authoritative religion of Almighty God, which it ceased to be when it ceased to have a priesthood, a new priesthood having been instituted. The rejection of the Greek, Septuagint translation by Rabbi Blumenfield, who caused the translation to be made, in which Isaiah says that a virgin ("parthanos") would conceive, as did Mary, the Mother of the Messiah, Jesus.
The Catholic Bible contains the Septuagint, Greek translation of Old Testament Scripture, made by the 72 adepts in Hebrew, who were selected by High Priest Eleazar, who was, as were all the Jewish High Priests, "the supreme ecclesiastical authority and chief representative of the people before God," as Vallentine's Jewish Encyclopedia says (p. 284). On the other hand, the Rabbis of our day accept the canon which was "definitely fixed" by Rabbi Akiba, as the Jewish Encyclopedia says (Vol. 1, p. 305), who, like the Rabbis of our day, had "no sacred power" whatsoever.
Rabbi Akiba, who refused to accept Jesus as the predicted Messiah, born of a Virgin as Isaiah said He would be born, rallied to the banner of a fake Messiah, Simeon, whom he crowned Bar Cochba, "Son of the Star," predicted in Numbers 24:17 to come "out of Jacob." Akiba took part in the three year battle of Bar Cochba to establish a Messianic Kingdom in Palestine, that cost the lives of 580,000 Jews.
Converts from the Synagogue to the Church line up scripturally with High Priest Eleazar instead of Akiba. The misconceptions of the Rabbis cause converts from Judaism to cry out with their Messianic Lord: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."