It is claimed by fundamentalist Christian apologists that there are over 300 prophecies about Jesus Christ in the Old Testament that are fulfilled in the New Testament. One Church-of-Christ preacher even had this as his number one reason that one should consider the Bible the inspired word of God. But when one critically examines this extraordinary claim one finds that it, like all other miraculous claims by these fundamentalist Christian apologists, is all wishful thinking. The following post is taken from chapter 13 of Joseph Wheeless's, *Is It God's Word?*:
THE "PROPHECIES" OF JESUS CHRIST
The Miraculous "Virgin Birth" of Jesus
Matthew, whose gospel was written later, comes first in the order of gospels in our printed collections, for the reason that he gives a detailed "revelation" of the manner of miraculous conception and virgin birth of the Subject of his biography. He begins his book with the genealogy of Jesus, which we elsewhere take notice of. He then proceeds with inspired pen to record:
"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of Yahveh appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." (Matt. i, 18-21)
The foregoing is pure fiction; here follows the crowning instance wherein "the false pen of the scribes hath wrought falsely":
"Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord [Heb., Yahveh] by the prophet, saying, 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."
For this "prophecy" of the virgin birth of the Child Jesus, the marginal reference is to the Old Testament, Isaiah vii, 14, as the inspired "source" of the assertion made by Matthew. True, it says nothing of any miraculous pregnancy of any woman by the Holy Ghost, who was wholly unknown in the Old Testament; but this we do find, as rendered by the "false pen of the scribes" who translated Isaiah:
"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (Isa. vii, 14)
The King James, or Authorized Version, or translation, puts into the margin opposite this verse the words "Or, thou, O virgin, shalt call." Nothing like this is in the Hebrew text.
We turn to the Hebrew text of this most wonderful of the "prophecies," and may well be amazed to find that it is falsely translated. The actual Hebrew words, read from right to left, and transliterated, so that the reader who knows no Hebrew may at least catch some words already become familiar, are:
"laken yittan adonai hu lakem oth hinneh ha-almah harah ve-yeldeth ben ve-karath shem-o immanuel."
Literally translated into English, in the exact order of the Hebrew words, the "prophecy" reads:
"Therefore shall-give my-lord he [himself] to you sign behold the-maid conceived [is pregnant] and-beareth son and- calleth name-his immanuel."
Here the word harah (conceived) is the Hebrew perfect tense which, as in English, represents past and completed action; there is not the remotest hint of future tense or time. No doctor of divinity or scholar in Hebrew can or will deny this.
Moreover, this is confirmed by the more honest, yet deceptive, Revised Version. In its text of Isaiah vii, 14, it copies word for word the false translation of the King James Version; but it inserts figures in the text after the words "a virgin" and "shall conceive," and puts into the margin opposite, in small type, which not one in many thousands ever reads or would understand the significance of, the true reading: "the virgin" and "is with child." It was thus not some indefinite "a virgin," who 750 years in the future "shall conceive" and "Shall bear a son," and "shall call" his name Immanuel; but it was some known and designated maiden to whom the "prophecy" referred, who had already conceived, or was already pregnant, and whose offspring should be the "sign" which "my lord" would give to Ahaz. The dishonesty of Matthew and of the translators in perverting this text of Isaiah into a "prophecy" of Jesus Christ is apparent.
"VIRGIN" OR "YOUNG WOMAN"
Another false, or at best misleading, translation is that of "virgin" in Isaiah. The Hebrew word used by Isaiah and translated "virgin" is almah, which does not at all signify "virgin" in the sense in which we understand it, of an unmarried woman who, in the often-repeated biblical phrase, "hath not known man by lying with him." The exegetes of the Biblical Encyclopedia thus correctly define it: "Virgin, Heb., almah; i.e., a young woman of marriageable age" (Vol. III, p. 117) -- not necessarily, or even presumptively, of intact virginity. The Hebrew word for a woman actually a virgin is bethulah; and throughout the Hebrew Bible the two words almah and bethulah are used with a fair degree of discrimination of sense, as shown by the instances which I think it pertinent to cite, for a clear understanding of this important point.
In the Hebrew texts the word almah is used seven times, always simply in the sense of a young female, and is rendered "damsel" once, "maid" twice, and "virgin" four times. The word bethulah occurs fifty times, rendered "maid" seven times, "maiden" eight times, and "virgin" thirty-five times. All fifty times it has the technical sense of virginity. For example, Rebekah was a "bethulah, neither had any man known her" (Gen. xxiv, 16). "He shall take a wife in her virginity [bethulah]. A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or a harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin [bethulah]" (Lev. xxi, 13, 14). "If a damsel [naarah] that is a virgin [bethulah] be betrothed," etc. (Deut. xxii, 23). If a husband find his new wife "not a maid [bethulah]," then on his complaint her parents must "bring forth the tokens of the virginity [bethulah] of the maid [naarah]" (Deut. xxii, 14, 15). Jephthah's daughter, doomed to be a living sacrifice to Yahveh, asked time to "bewail my virginity [bethulah]" (Judges xi, 37, 38). These instances suffice to make clear the correctness of the definitions: "Bethulah conveys the idea of virginity, of a young unmarried woman; almah is used simply of a young woman of marriageable age" (New Standard Bible Dictionary, p. 939); and they show the befuddled folly of all the labored fictions invented by Matthew, Luke, and the dogma-forgers to make out the wife of Joseph the carpenter a perpetual virgin-mother of Jesus and half a dozen other offspring. Isaiah's ha-almah need not have been, and the term did not signify that she was, strictly a virgin. Again "the false pen of the scribes hath wrought falsely." The gospels are all priestly forgeries over a century after their pretended dates.
THE "SIGN" OF A FALSE PROPHECY
What really was Isaiah "prophesying" about and whereof was the "sign" which he persisted in thrusting upon Ahaz after the king had flatly refused to listen to it and had piously protested: "I will not ask [for a sign], neither will I tempt Yahveh"?
No lawyer or other intelligent person would for a moment jump at the meaning of a document from an isolated paragraph; he would stultify himself if he should pretend to form an opinion without a careful study of the whole document. The passage on which the opinion is sought must be taken with all its context. As this of the "prophecy" of the alleged "virgin birth of Jesus Christ" is the keystone of the whole scheme of Christianity, it is of the highest importance to clearly understand, from the context, what Isaiah is recorded as so oracularly delivering himself about. The whole of chapter vii, or at least the verses bearing upon the subject-matter of his "prophecy," must be presented to the reader.
In a word, Isaiah was speaking of a then pending war waged against Ahaz, King of Judah, by the kings of Israel and Syria, who were besieging Jerusalem; Isaiah volunteered his "sign of virgin birth" in proof of his "prophecy," -- shown false by the sequel -- that the siege and the war would fail by the defeat of the allied kings. Here is the inspired text:
"1. And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah, ... king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it. ... Then said Yahveh unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz; ... And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be faint-hearted. ... Thus saith Yahveh Elohim, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass. ...
"Moreover Yahveh spake again unto Ahaz [here Isaiah is not the medium], saying, Ask thee a sign of Yahveh thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt Yahveh. And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; It is a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? [here apparently Isaiah or some unknown medium is again speaking].
"Therefore my Lord [Heb., adonai, my lord] himself shall give you a sign.; [honestly translated]: Behold, the maid is with child, and beareth a son, and called his name Immanuel.
"Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, [that is, soon after its birth] the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings." (Isa. vii, 1-16)
This about eating butter and honey so that the child should know good from evil is none too lucid of meaning; and the assurance that before this should come about, "the land which thou abhorest shall be forsaken of both her kings," is hardly more intelligible.
But if meaning it has, it means -- as elucidated in chapter viii -- that very soon after the promised "sign," Samaria, the land of Israel and its king Pekah, under the suzerainty of Rezin King of Syria, should be overthrown; and that the two kings should not prevail in their war against Judah. "It will not succeed. Notice the positive tone of the prophet," says the Biblical Encyclopedia (Vol. III, p. 116), commenting on verse 7.
Verses 17 to 25, completing chapter vii, which give the unique information that "Yahveh shall hiss for the fly that is in ... Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria" (vii, 18), and that Yahveh shall "shave with a razor that is hired" (vii, 20), are altogether too oracular and cabalistic for modern understanding; but they are recommended as a rare bit of inspiration.
Isaiah carries his peculiar line of "prophecy" over into chapter viii, and after several utterly unintelligible verses, strikes the trail of his war prophecy again, thus:
"Yahveh spake also unto me again, saying, Forasmuch as this people ... rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son [Pekah]; Now therefore, behold, Yahveh bringeth ... upon them ... the king of Assyria, and all his glory: ... And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over; ... and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel." (Isa. viii, 5-8)
No clearer proof could be that Isaiah, whatever he was trying to say, was not speaking of Jesus. In chapter vii, he spoke of the war of the kings Rezin and Pekah, son of Remaliah, and offered a "sign" that their expedition would fail, this sign being the virgin-born child Immanuel. Immediately afterwards he predicts a further war upon Judah by the King of Assyria, and addresses his allocution to this same infant Immanuel, and says that Assyria will overrun "thy land, O Immanuel." Isaiah spoke simply, and falsely, of a "sign" to King Ahaz regarding the then pending war. Yet Matthew says that this Immanuel was a prophecy of Jesus; but how Jesus could be Immanuel and a "sign" of the result of a war 750 years previously, or the subject of the remarks of Isaiah about the Assyrian war of the same period, is not explained in any revelation I have yet come across. Such a postmortem "sign" would be of no use to Ahaz anyhow. This pretense by Matthew is clearly unfounded and false.
Moreover, as this "sign" of the virgin-born child Immanuel was proclaimed by Isaiah as a proof of the truth of his prophecy as to the outcome of the pending war, I call special attention to the historical record of the result of this expedition of the Kings of Syria and Israel against Jerusalem and Ahaz. This is from the Second Book of the Chronicles of Israel and Judah:
"Ahaz ... reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem: but he did not that which was right in the sight of Yahveh. ... Wherefore Yahveh his God delivered him into the land of the king of Syria; and they smote him, and carried away a great multitude of them captives, and brought them to Damascus. And he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote him with a great slaughter. For Pekah the son of Remaliah slew in Judah an hundred and twenty thousand in one day, which were all valiant men; because they had forsaken Yahveh Elohim of their fathers. ... And the children of Israel carried away captive of their brethren two hundred thousand, women, sons, and daughters, and took also away much spoil from them, and brought the spoil to Samaria." (2 Chron. xxviii, 1, 5, 6, 8)
So the "prophecy" is seen to be false, though the history is contradictorily recorded in 2 Kings vi, 1-9.