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The Birth of Jesus - Virgin Birth

Attis was a son of the virgin Nana. His birth was celebrated on DEC-25. Buddah was born of the virgin Maya after a Holy Ghost descended upon her. The Egyptian God Horus was born of the virgin Isis; as an infant, he was visited by three kings. A Roman savior Quirrnus was born of a virgin In Tibet, Indra was born of a virgin. He ascended into heaven after death The Greek deity Adonis was born of the virgin Myrrha, many centuries before the birth of Jesus. He was born "at Bethlehem, in the same sacred cave that Christians later claimed as the birthplace of Jesus." In Persia, the god Mithra was born of a virgin on DEC-25. Zoroaster was also born of a virgin In India, the god Krishna was born of the virgin Devaki Virgin births were claimed for many Egyptian pharaohs, Greek emperors and for Alexander the Great of Greece. One source is quoted as saying that there were many mythological figures: Hercules, Osiris, Bacchus, Mithra, Hermes, Prometheus, Perseus and Horus who share a number of factors. All were believed to have:

  • been male
  • lived in pre-Christian times
  • had a god for a father
  • human virgin for a mother
  • had their birth announced by a heavenly display
  • had their birth announced by celestial music
  • been born about DEC-25
  • had an attempt on their life by a tyrant while they were still an infant
  • met with a violent death
  • rose again from the dead

Almost all were believed to have:

  • been visited by "wise men" during infancy
  • fasted for 40 days

The author of the Gospel of Matthew (or someone who supplied the writer with source material) scanned an unknown ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. He found what he believed to be a reference to Jesus' birth. It was in Isaiah 7:14 (listed above). This has since become a famous passage. He copied it into Matthew (1:23) as a method of showing that prophecies in the Hebrew Testament were fulfilled in Jesus' life.

As it happens, the Greek translators had made a mistake. When they were translating the Hebrew writings into the Greek Septuagint and similar translations, they converted the Hebrew word " 'almah " as the Greek equivalent of our English word for virgin. " 'Almah" appears 9 other times in the Hebrew Scriptures; in each case it means "young woman". When the scriptures referred to a virgin (and they do over 50 times) they always used the Hebrew word "betulah". So, Isaiah appears to have referred to a young woman becoming pregnant (a rather ordinary event).

Some English translators are accurate to the original Hebrew:

Revised English Bible: "...a young woman is with child..."
Revised Standard Version: "...a young woman shall conceive..."
James Moffatt Translation: "...a young woman with child..."
New Revised Standard Version: "...the young woman is with child..."

Others completely mistranslate the Hebrew and refer to the woman as both pregnant and a virgin; implying a miracle. This neatly settles the conflict that would otherwise occur between Isaiah and Matthew 1:22-23. (The author of Matthew quoted Isaiah as describing a virgin who was pregnant before becoming sexually active):

New International Version: "...the virgin will be with child..."
The Living Bible: "...a child shall be born to a virgin..."
Contemporary English Version: "...a virgin is pregnant...". In a footnote, they say that the "Hebrew word did not imply a virgin birth". They give "young woman" as an alternate.

Others went part way. They mistranslated the Hebrew and said that the woman had been a virgin. However, they imply that the woman might have been a virgin, who engaged in sexual intercourse and then became pregnant:

American Standard Version: "...a virgin shall conceive..."
Amplified Bible: "...the young woman who is unmarried and a virgin shall conceive..."
King James Version: "...a virgin shall conceive..."
New Living Translation: "...the virgin shall conceive a child..."
New Century Version: "...the virgin will be pregnant...". They also admit in a footnote that the original Hebrew word really means "a young woman".

Some versions are vague and can be interpreted in many ways:
New World Translation: "...the maiden herself will actually become pregnant..."
The Jerusalem Bible: "...the maiden is with child..."
Young's Literal Translation: "...the virgin is conceiving"

The story in Isaiah 7:14 appears to be unrelated to the birth of Jesus. It describes a siege of Jerusalem by the Syrians about 715 BCE. The child that was born to the young woman at the time was a sign from God that the siege would be lifted and that Jerusalem would continue as before. The prophecy was completely fulfilled more than 700 years before the birth of Jesus.