Matthew 1:23
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.
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(23) Behold, a virgin shall be with child.—It is not so easy for us, as it seemed to St. Matthew, to trace in Isaiah’s words the meaning which he assigns to them. As we find them in a literal translation from the Hebrew, the words of Isaiah 7:14 run thus:—“Behold, the maiden conceives and bears a son, and calls his name Immanuel.” If we read these words in connection with the facts recorded in that chapter—the alliance of the kings of Syria and Israel against Judah, Isaiah’s promise of deliverance, and his offer of a sign in attestation of his promise, the hypocritical refusal of that offer by Ahaz, who preferred resting on his plan of an alliance with Assyria—their natural meaning seems to be this:—The prophet either points to some maiden of marriageable years, or speaks as if he saw one in his vision of the future, and says that the sign shall be that she shall conceive and bear a son (the fulfilment of this prediction constituting the sign, without assuming a supernatural conception), and that she should give to that son a name which would embody the true hope of Israel—“God is with us.” The early years of that child should be nourished, not on the ordinary food of a civilised and settled population, but on the clotted milk and wild honey, which were (as we see in the case of the Baptist) the food of the dwellers in the wilderness, and which appear in Matthew 1:21-22, as part of the picture of the desolation to which the country would be reduced by the Assyrian invasion. But in spite of that misery, even before the child should attain to the age at which he could refuse the evil and choose the good, the land of those whom Ahaz and his people were then dreading should be “forsaken of both her kings.” So understood, all is natural and coherent. It must be added, however, that this child was associated by Isaiah with no common hopes. The land of Israel was to be his land (8:8). It is hardly possible not to connect his name with “the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father “of Isaiah 9:6; with the Rod and Branch of the Stem of Jesse that was to grow up and present the picture of an ideal king (Isaiah 11:1-9). All that we speak of as the Messianic hopes of the prophet clustered round the child Immanuel. Those hopes were, as we know, not fulfilled as he had expected. They remained for a later generation to feed on with yearning desire. But, so far as we know, they did not suggest to any Jewish interpreter the thought of a birth altogether supernatural. That thought did not enter into the popular expectations of the Messiah. It was indeed foreign to the prevailing feeling of the Jews as to the holiness of marriage and all that it involved, and would have commended itself to none but a small section of the more austere Essenes. St. Matthew, however, having to record the facts of our Lord’s birth, and reading Isaiah with a mind full of the new truths which rested on the Incarnation, could not fail to be struck with the correspondence between the facts and the words which he here quotes, and which in the Greek translation were even more emphatic than in the Hebrew, and saw in them a prophecy that had at last been fulfilled. He does not say whether he looked on it as a conscious or unconscious prophecy. He was sure that the coincidence was not casual.

The view thus given deals, it is believed fairly, with both parts of the problem. If to some extent it modifies what till lately was the current view as to the meaning of Isaiah’s prediction, it meets by anticipation the objection that the narrative was a mythical outgrowth of the prophecy as popularly received. It would be truer to say that it was the facts narrated that first gave occasion to this interpretation of the prophecy. St. Luke, who narrates the facts with far greater fulness than St. Matthew, does so without any reference to the words of the prophet.

Emmanuel.—As spoken by Isaiah, the name, like that of The Lord our Righteousness, applied by Jeremiah not only to the future Christ (Jeremiah 23:6), but to Jerusalem (Jeremiah 33:16), did not necessarily mean more than that “God was with His people,” protecting, guiding, ruling them. The Church of Christ has, however, rightly followed the Evangelist in seeing in it the witness to a Presence more direct, personal, immediate than any that had been known before. It was more than a watchword and a hope—more than a “nomen et omen”—and had become a divine reality.

Matthew 1:23. Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth, &c. — Some have unhappily supposed that this famous prophecy immediately related to the birth of a child of Isaiah’s in a natural way, and that it only referred to Christ in a secondary sense. But surely a son’s being born of one then a virgin, when she was married, was no such extraordinary event as to answer such a pompous introduction as we meet with in the viith of Isaiah. Had this been all, what need was there of these words, The Lord himself shall give you a sign? What need of that solemn notice, Behold! there being nothing new or strange in all this. Besides, the promise, A virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel, is made as a sign or miracle, to confirm the house of David in God’s promise made to him, respecting the perpetuity of his kingdom. But what sign or miracle could it be, that a woman should be with child after the ordinary manner? what wonder was there in this? As to Isaiah 7:16, Before the child (or, as it is in the Hebrew, this child,) shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings, it seems most reasonable to interpret it as referring to Shear-jashub, whom Isaiah was ordered to take in his hand for no other imaginable reason but that something remarkable was to be said of him. So that their deliverance from the two kings of Syria and Israel, before Isaiah’s son, (whom he had taken in his hand,) should be able to distinguish between good and evil, was to be considered by them as typical of a much greater deliverance by the Messiah, in due time to be born of a future virgin. See notes on Isaiah 7:11-16. Thus, according to the usual manner of the prophets, the people of God, in their present distress, are comforted with the promise of the Messiah hereafter to appear. They shall call his name — That is, his name shall be called; a personal verb being put for an impersonal, as is frequently the case; or, as some copies read it, Thou shalt call, or, he shall be owned and accounted; Emmanuel, God with us — God in our nature, by whose incarnation, God is united to our nature; and by whose mediation, God is reconciled to us and is present with us. The names of Christ, it must be observed, are of two kinds: 1st, proper and distinguishing, pointing out his person; 2dly, descriptive, either of his person or offices, such as there are many in Scripture, as David, the Branch, Wonderful, Counsellor. It is to be observed, that in the Scripture language, to be called, and to be, are the same thing. It is, therefore, no objection against the application of these words to Christ, that he did not bear the name Emmanuel, if he really was God with us, which is the import of it. And that he was, is sufficiently proved from his being entitled the mighty God by Isaiah, ch. Matthew 9:6. Now, he who is properly called El, God, and is also emmanu, with us, must infallibly be that Emmanuel, who is God with us.

1:18-25 Let us look to the circumstances under which the Son of God entered into this lower world, till we learn to despise the vain honours of this world, when compared with piety and holiness. The mystery of Christ's becoming man is to be adored, not curiously inquired into. It was so ordered that Christ should partake of our nature, yet that he should be pure from the defilement of original sin, which has been communicated to all the race of Adam. Observe, it is the thoughtful, not the unthinking, whom God will guide. God's time to come with instruction to his people, is when they are at a loss. Divine comforts most delight the soul when under the pressure of perplexed thoughts. Joseph is told that Mary should bring forth the Saviour of the world. He was to call his name Jesus, a Saviour. Jesus is the same name with Joshua. And the reason of that name is clear, for those whom Christ saves, he saves from their sins; from the guilt of sin by the merit of his death, and from the power of sin by the Spirit of his grace. In saving them from sin, he saves them from wrath and the curse, and all misery, here and hereafter. Christ came to save his people, not in their sins, but from their sins; and so to redeem them from among men, to himself, who is separate from sinners. Joseph did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, speedily, without delay, and cheerfully, without dispute. By applying the general rules of the written word, we should in all the steps of our lives, particularly the great turns of them, take direction from God, and we shall find this safe and comfortable.Behold, a virgin shall be with child - Matthew clearly understands this as applying literally to a virgin. Compare Luke 1:34. It thus implies that the conception of Christ was miraculous, or that the body of the Messiah was created directly by the power of God, agreeably to the declaration in Hebrews 10:5; "Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me."

And they shall call his name Emmanuel - That is, his name shall be so called. See the notes at Isaiah 7:14. The word "Immanuel" is a Hebrew word, צמנוּאל ‛immânû'êl; cf. Ἐμμανουήλ Emmanouēl, and literally means "God with us." Matthew doubtless understands it as denoting that the Messiah was really "God with us," or that the divine nature was united with the human. He does not affirm that this was its meaning when used in reference to the child to whom it was first applied, but this is its signification as applicable to the Messiah. It was suitably expressive of his character; and in this sense it was fulfilled. When first used by Isaiah, it denoted simply that the birth of the child was a sign that God was with the Jews to deliver them. The Hebrews often incorporated the name of Yahweh, or God, into their proper names. Thus, Isaiah means "the salvation of Yah;" Eleazer, "help of God:" Eli, "my God," etc. But Matthew evidently intends more than was denoted by the simple use of such names. He had just given an account of the miraculous conception of Jesus: of his being begotten by the Holy Spirit. God was therefore his Father. He was divine as well as human. His appropriate name, therefore, was "God with us." And though the mere use of such a name would not prove that he had a divine nature, yet as Matthew uses it, and meant evidently to apply it, it does prove that Jesus was more than a man; that he was God as well as man. And it is this which gives glory to the plan of redemption. It is this which is the wonder of angels. It is this which makes the plan so vast, so grand, so full of instruction and comfort to Christians. See Philippians 2:6-8. It is this which sheds such peace and joy into the sinner's heart; which gives him such security of salvation, and which renders the condescension of God in the work of redemption so great and his character so lovely.

"Till God in human flesh Isee,

My thoughts no comfort find,

The holy, just, and sacred Three

Are terror to my mind.

But if immanuel's face appears,

My hope, my joy, begins.

His grace removes my slavish fears.

His blood removes my sins."

For a full examination of the passage, see Barnes' notes at Isaiah 7:14.

23. Behold, a virgin—It should be "the virgin" meaning that particular virgin destined to this unparalleled distinction.

shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which, being interpreted, is, God with us—Not that He was to have this for a proper name (like "Jesus"), but that He should come to be known in this character, as God manifested in the flesh, and the living bond of holy and most intimate fellowship between God and men from henceforth and for ever.

Ver. 22,23. By these great acts of Divine Providence, that which was spoken and prophesied of by Isaiah, Isaiah 7:14, speaking by inspiration from God, was fulfilled. Though things are said in the evangelists to be fulfilled when the types have had their accomplishment in the antitype, and when something cometh to pass much like, or bearing some proportion to, something which before happened in the world, (as I shall show hereafter), yet I take the sense of being fulfilled here to be literally fulfilled; believing so much of that prophecy as is here quoted did literally concern Christ, and none but him. But we must take heed of interpreting the particle that as signifying the end of God’s action in this great work of Providence; for the end for which God sent his Son into the world was before expressed, to save his people from their sins, not to fulfil a prophecy.

That here only signifies the consequent of that act of Divine Providence, and the sense is but only this, By all this which was done, was fulfilled that which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, &c. But the Jews have so much clamouring against the application of that text Isaiah 7:14 to Christ, and some learned interpreters thinking the fulfilling mentioned to be no more than the fulfilling of a type in the antitype, it will be necessary that we make it appear that it was literally fulfilled. To which I know of but two prejudices:

1. That it could be no relief to Ahaz, nor to the Jews, against their sense and fear of their present danger, to tell them that Christ should be born of a virgin eight hundred years after.

2. That whereas it is added, Isaiah 7:16, Before the child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

Supposing those two kings to be Pekah king of Israel and Rezin king of Syria, who were at that time joined in a siege against Jerusalem, or at least preparing for it, and the child mentioned Isaiah 7:16 to be the son of a virgin promised Isaiah 7:14, it could be no relief to Ahaz, nor any great news for the prophet to have told Ahaz, that they should both leave the country before eight hundred years were elapsed. Let us therefore first consider the history to which that prophecy related. Isaiah 7:1,2 we are told, that in the time of Ahaz, Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the Song of Solomon of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it. And it was told the house of David, ( that is, Ahaz), saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind. The expedient which Ahaz thought upon in this distress, was to get Tiglathpileser, the king of Assyria, to join with and help him; which he afterward did, hiring him with the silver and gold found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king’s house, as we find 2 Kings 16:7,8. This conjunction with idolaters was what the Lord had forbidden, and had often declared his abhorrence of. To prevent it, he sends his prophet Isaiah to him: Isaiah 7:3,4, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shear-jashub thy son, at the end of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field; and say unto him, fear not, neither be faint hearted, & c. In short, he assures him in the name of the Lord, that the counsel of these two kings should not stand, nor come to pass, that within threescore and five years Israel should not be a people, &c., Isaiah 7:7,8. Ahaz knew not how to believe this. Isaiah offereth him from God to ask a sign for the confirmation of his word, either in the depth, or in the height. Ahaz refuseth it under pretence that he would not tempt the Lord, as if it had been a tempting God to have asked a sign at his command. At this the Lord was angry, as appeareth by the prophet’s reply, Isaiah 7:13; And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? Then he goeth on, Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin, & c. There was nothing more ordinary in the prophets than to comfort the people of God amongst the Jews in their distresses with the promise of the Messias; this we find they often did with reference to the captivity of Babylon, and in other causes of distress and trouble. And certainly that is the design of the prophet here, in these words: Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name Emmanuel. Ahaz had refused to believe the promise God gave him, to defeat the counsel of these two kings; he had refused to ask a sign, for the confirmation of God’s word. Well, (saith the prophet), God shall give you that fear him a sign, he shall in his own time send you the Messias, whose name shall be called Emmanuel, and he shall be born of a virgin. Nor yet doth he leave Ahaz and his people comfortless, as to their present distress, for saith he, Isaiah 7:16, Before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings. The Hebrew is rekh which I think were better translated this child, than the child, for h seems not to be a relative, (referring to the child, mentioned in Isaiah 7:14), but a demonstrative, referring to the son of Isaiah, Shearjashub, whom God, Isaiah 7:3, commanded the prophet, going to meet Ahaz, to carry with him, who probably was a very young child. Saith the prophet: Here is a little child whom God hath commanded me to bring with me; before this child be much older, this land which thou art so much afraid of shall be quitted of both those kings who have now some possession of it; for at this time Rezin had taken Elath, a city of Judah, 2 Kings 16:6; and doubtless he and Pekah had taken divers places, for they were come up to Jerusalem itself. And indeed, if this be not the sense, it is very hard to conceive to what purpose God commanded Isaiah to take Shearjashub with him when he went upon this errand. Isaiah 7:3. So that Isaiah 7:14 remains as a prophecy respecting the Messiah only, and given not for any relief of unbelieving Ahaz as to his present distress, but for some relief to God’s people among the Jews, with reference to their posterity. This will appear a much more probable sense than theirs, who think that Mahershalalhashbaz is the son mentioned Isaiah 7:14, whom we read of Isaiah 8:3, who was born to Isaiah of the prophetess, (who some think was at this time a virgin), and was a type of Christ; for the Scripture doth not tell us whether that prophetess was a virgin or a widow, neither was it any great wonder that a virgin being married should conceive, and bear a son. Nor had this been any relief to Ahaz, as to his present distress, for this virgin (if she were such) was yet to be married, to conceive, and bear a son; so that, according to that notion, we must allow three or four years before Ahaz could have expected relief. This is further advantaged by that passage, Isaiah 8:18, Behold, I and the children which the Lord hath given me are for signs: not the child, but the children. Shearjashub was for a sign of God’s deliverance of the Jews from those two kings; Mahershalalhashbaz was for a sign of the destruction of the Israelites within five years, and also of Syria, which fell out afterward. Thus Isaiah 8:14 remains a literal prophecy of Christ. For the Jewish interpretation of it concerning Hezekiah, (born fifteen years after), it is too ridiculous to be mentioned.

Behold, a virgin shall be with child,.... These words are rightly applied to the virgin Mary and her son Jesus, for of no other can they be understood; not of Ahaz's wife and his son Hezekiah, who was already born, and must be eleven or twelve years of age when these words were spoken; nor of any other son of Ahaz by her or any other person since no other was Lord of Judea; nor of the wife of Isaiah, and any son of his, who never had any that was king of Judah. The prophecy is introduced here as in Isaiah with a "behold!" not only to raise and fix the attention, but to denote that it was something wonderful and extraordinary which was about to be related; and is therefore called a "sign", wonder, or miracle; which lay not, as some Jewish writers (g) affirm, in this, that the person spoken of was unfit for conception at the time of the prophecy, since no such thing is intimated; or in this, that it should be a son and not a daughter (h), which is foretold; for the wonder lies not in the truth of the prediction, but in the extraordinariness of the thing predicted; much less in this (i), that the child should eat butter and honey as soon as born; since nothing is more natural and common with new born infants, than to take in any sort of liquids which are sweet and pleasant. But the sign or wonder lay in this, that a "virgin" should "conceive" or "be with child"; for the Evangelist is to be justified in rendering, by "a virgin"; by the Septuagint having so rendered it some hundreds of years before him, by the sense of the word, which comes from and which signifies to "hide" or "cover"; virgins being such who are unknown to, and not uncovered by men, and in the Eastern countries were kept recluse from the company and conversation of men; and by the use of the word in all other places, Genesis 24:43. The last of these texts the Jews triumph in, as making for them, and against us, but without any reason; since it does not appear that the "maid" and the "adulterous woman" are one and the same person; and if they were, the vitiated woman might be called a maid or virgin, according to her own account of herself, or in the esteem of others who knew her not, or as antecedent to her defilement; see Deuteronomy 22:28. Besides, could this be understood of any young woman married or unmarried, that had known a man, it would be no wonder, no surprising thing that she should "conceive" or "be with child", and "bring forth a son". It is added,

and they shall call his name Emmanuel. The difference between Isaiah and Matthew is very inconsiderable, it being in the one "thou shalt call", that is, thou virgin shalt call him by this name; and in the other "they shall call", that is, Joseph, Mary, and others; for, besides that some copies read the text in Matthew "thou shalt call", the words both in the one and the other may be rendered impersonally, "and shall be called"; and the meaning is, not that he should be commonly known and called by such a name, any more than by any, or all of those mentioned in Isaiah 9:6, but only that he should be so, which is a frequent use of the word; or he should be that, and so accounted by others, which answers to the signification of this name, which the Evangelist says,

being interpreted is God with us: for it is a compound word of "God" and "with us", and well agrees with Jesus, who is God in our nature, the word that was made flesh and dwelt among us. John 1:14, and is the one and only Mediator between God and us, 1 Timothy 2:5 (k). So the Septuagint interpret the word in Isaiah 8:8.

(g) Jarchi. in Isaiah 7.14. (h) Gaon. in Aben Ezra, in ib. (i) Kimchi & Aben Ezra in ib. R. Isaac Chizuk. Emun. p. 1. c. 21. (k) See more of this in a book of mine, called "The Prophecies of the Old Testament concerning the Messiah, literally fulfilled in Jesus", ch. 5. p. 92, 93, &c.

Behold, a {k} 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.

(k) There is an article added in the Hebrew and Greek text, to point out the woman and set her forth plainly: as we would say, the virgin, or a certain virgin.

23. a virgin shall be with child] Properly, according to the Greek text and to the original Hebrew, “The virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they (Hebr. she) shall call his name God with us;” see Isaiah 7:14. The historical crisis was this, Ahaz is alarmed by the threatened invasion of Pekah and Rezin—the confederate kings of Samaria and Damascus. Isaiah reassures Ahaz, who hypocritically refuses to ask for a sign. Yet a sign is given. She, who is now unmarried, shall bear a son, probably a scion of the royal house of David; he shall be called Emmanuel, and before he arrives at years of discretion the deliverance shall come, though a heavier distress is at hand.

The prophecy is distinctly Messianic, but the sign in Isaiah is not concerned with the manner of the child’s birth, but with the name and the deliverance which should happen in his infancy. Therefore, the weight of the reference is to the name “Emmanuel” and to the true Son of David, whose birth was the sign of His people’s deliverance.

Matthew 1:23. Ἰδοὺ ἡ παρθένος ἐν γαστρὶ ἕξει καὶ τέξεται Υἱὸν, καὶ καλέσουσι τὸ ὄνομα Αὐτοῦ ἘμμανουὴλBehold the virgin shall have in her womb [or conceive], and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel.—The LXX. render Isaiah 7:14, thus—Ἰδοὺ ἡ παρθένος ἐν γαστρὶ λήψεται Υἱὸν, καὶ καλέσεις κ.τ.λ.—Behold the virgin shall conceive in her womb a Son, and thou shalt call, etc.—ἰδοὺ, Behold!)—a particle especially adapted for pointing out a Sign.—See Isaiah 7:14.—ἡ παρθένος, the virgin) In the original Hebrew, the word employed is העלמה;[63] and עלמה denotes a virgin;[64] whether you derive it from עלם,[65] so that it may be one who has escaped the notice of man,[66] who has not been known by man (cf. Matthew 1:25, and Luke 1:34), for נעלם (to be hidden, to lie hid, to escape the notice of), and ירע (to know, etc.), are opposed to each other, both in their general signification, as in Leviticus 5:3-4, and also in this special one: or whether עלמה (the verb cognate with which the Syriac translator has employed to represent ἨΚΜΑΣΕΝ[67] in Revelation 14:18), signify ἀκμάια, in the flower of her age. The Hebrew article ה (the), prefixed in the original to the word under consideration (concerning which article cf. Gnomon on ch. Matthew 18:17), points out a particular individual visible on the mirror of Divine prescience. For the prophet is speaking of a Sign, and introduces it by the word “Behold,” and then immediately addresses the Virgin herself, with the words, THOU shalt call, etc. Isaiah indicates, in the first instance, some woman who lived at the time, and whose natural fecundity was considered doubtful, who, from a virgin, was to become a mother, and that of a son: she, however, as the sublimity of the prophet’s words clearly show, was a type of that Virgin, who, still a virgin, brought forth the Messiah; so that the force of the Sign was twofold, applying to that which was close at hand, and to that which was far distant in the future.—See Alexander More.[68] The virginity of our Lord’s Mother is not fully proved by the words of the prophet taken alone; but the manifestation of its fulfilment casts a radiance back on the prophecy, and discloses its full meaning.—ΥἹῸΝ, a Son) sc. the Messiah, to whom the land of Israel belongs.—See Isaiah 8:8.—καλέσουσι, THEY shall call) Both the Hebrew and the LXX. have “Thou shalt call,” i.e., “THOU Virgin-Mother”—“THOU shalt call,” occurs also in Matthew 1:21, addressed to Joseph: whence is now substituted “THEY shall call,” i.e., all, thenceforth. The angel says to Mary, in Luke 1:28, The Lord is with THEE. Not one or the other of His parents however, but all who call upon His name, say, “with us.”—Cf. Luke 1:54.—Those words deserve particular attention in which the writers of the New Testament differ from the LXX., or even from the Hebrew.—τὸ ὄνομα, the name) This does not mean the name actually given at circumcision, but yet the true name (cf. Isaiah 9:5), aye, the proper name too, by which he is called, even by his parents (cf. Isaiah 8:8), and which is even especially proper to Him, inasmuch as it is synonymous with the name Jesus.—See an example of synonymous names in the note on Matthew 1:8. Many of the faithful actually address the Saviour by the name of EMMANUEL, as a proper name, though it would have been less suitable in Jesus to call Himself God-with-us.—ὅ ἐστι μεθερμηνευόμενον, Μεθʼ ἡμῶν ὁ Θεόςwhich is, being interpreted, God with us). This interpretation of a Hebrew name shows, that St Matthew wrote in Greek. Such interpretations subjoined to Hebrew words show that, the writers of the New Testament do not absolutely require that the reader of Holy Scripture should be acquainted with Hebrew. The Son of Sirach also uses the word μεθερμενεῦσαι (to interpret) in his preface. The name God-with-us, in itself, so far as it involves an entire assertion, is not necessarily a Divine name (See Hiller Onomasticon Sacrum, p. 848); and it was, therefore, given also to a boy who was born in the time of Isaiah; and the same is the case with the name Jesus: but in the sense in which each of them applies exclusively to Christ, it signifies Θεάνθρωπος or God-Man. For the union of the Divine and human natures in Christ is the foundation of the union of God with men, nor can any one consider the latter apart from the former, especially when treating of the birth of Christ.

[63] העלמח is עלמה with the article prefixed.—(I. B.)

[64] “The ancient version, which gave a different rendering, did so for party purposes, while the LXX., who could have no such motive, render it virgin in the very passage where it must, to their minds, have occasioned a difficulty.” S. P. TREGELLES.—(I. B.)

[65] עָלַם to hide, to conceal: the Niphal of which is נֶעְלַם—to be hidden, to lie hid.—(I. B.)

[66] “Quæ latuit virum.”—(I. B.)

[67] ἠκμασεν, is fully ripe.—(I. B.)

[68] ALEXANDER MORE (or MORUS) was born A.D. 1616, at Castres, in the south of France, where his father, a Scotchman by birth, was Principal of a Protestant college. He was a man of considerable talents and great attainments. He became professor of Greek at Geneva when only twenty years of age, and successively occupied other professorial chairs there and else where. He died at Paris in 1670.—(I. B.)

Verse 23. - Behold, a virgin ( the virgin, Revised Version) shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son. The difficulty of this quotation from Isaiah 7:14 is well known.

(1) If the word translated "virgin" ('almah) properly means this, and

(2) if it be also implied in the promise that the virginity was to be maintained until the birth of the son, then


(a) the fulfilment can have been only in the case of our Lord, and

(b) the promise was no real sign to Ahaz, and

(c) the context of the promise (according to which Rezin and Pekah were to perish in the lad's early childhood, vers. 15, 16) has no apparent reference to the promise itself.

(4) If, on 'the other hand, 'almah means only "young woman," the promise might easily be a sign to Ahaz; but, then, how is it that St. Matthew, or rather the angel, apparently lays so much stress on "virgin "? The answer is, as it seems, that

(1) 'almah, by derivation, means "young woman" (vide Cheyne). but in ordinary usage, "virgin."

(2) When the promise was uttered by Isaiah, the word suggested" virgin," but not (for who would have supposed such a thing?) maintenance of the virginity.

(3) The child, thus naturally born, should be called "Immanuel," in sign of God's presence with his people to deliver them from Rezin and Pekah, and, while he was still in childhood, this deliverance should come. The definite article prefixed to "virgin" (ha-'almah) either designated a person who was known to the prophet and perhaps also to Ahaz, or, as "the article of species" (Cheyne), pictured the person more definitely to the mind, though in herself unknown. Thus the promise meant to Ahaz and Isaiah that a woman, at that time a virgin, should bear a son, synchronous with whose childhood should be the Lord's deliverance of his people. It is possible that Isaiah further saw in this child' the hoped-for Messiah, identifying it with that of Matthew 9:6, the long time that was yet to intervene being hidden from him.

(4) The angel sees a further meaning in the promise than either Ahaz or Isaiah saw, and perceives that, in the providence of God, the words were so chosen as to form a promise of a virgin-birth, the son being of suck origin that, in the highest sense, he could be truly called "Immanuel." "It seems not unwise to suppose that God, who designed to send his Son to be the Deliverer of mankind, so ordered the course of the world in his Divine providence that many things should tell of the coming Saviour, so that when he appeared those who had studied God's revelation should tirol that the scheme of salvation had been one and the same throughout all time. Thus by past events, which had specific meaning in their own time, are found to have further con-rained a prefiguration of greater things in time to come; and to have been promises, ready to receive their highest accomplish-merit as soon as the fitness of time should appear" (Dr. Lumby). And they shall call. Men generally, in virtue of his true nature. His name Emmanuel (Revised Version. Immanuel, as Isaiah 7:14), which being interpreted is, God with us. St. Matthew emphasizes the interpretation in order to, bring out the fact that this Son, now to be born to Joseph, shall not only be Jesus, Saviour, but also God with us; he is the manifestation of God in our midst. The thought is parallel to that of John 1:14. Matthew 1:23The virgin (ἡ παρθένος)

Note the demonstrative force of the article, pointing to a particular person. Not, some virgin or other.

They shall call (καλὲσουσιν)

In Matthew 1:21, it is thou shalt call. The original of Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14) has she shall call; but Matthew generalizes the singular into the plural, and quotes the prophecy in a form suited to its larger and final fulfilment: men shall call his name Immanuel, as they shall come to the practical knowledge that God will indeed dwell with men upon the earth.

Immanuel (Hebrew, God is with us)

To protect and save. A comment is furnished by Isaiah 8:10, "Devise a device, but it shall come to naught; speak a word, but it shall not stand, for with us is God." Some suppose that Isaiah embodied the purport of his message in the names of his children: Maher-shalal-hash-baz (speed-prey), a warning of the coming of the fierce Assyrians; Shear-Jashub (a remnant shall return), a reminder of God's mercy to Israel in captivity, and Immanuel (God is with us), a promise of God's presence and succor. However this may be, the promise of the name is fulfilled in Jesus (compare "Lo, I am with you alway," Matthew 28:20) by his helpful and saving presence with his people in their sorrow, their conflict with sin, and their struggle with death.

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