MIRACLE OF THE VIRGIN BIRTH
By the Late Rabbi Michael Short of Blessed Memory

 

 

A few years ago in a meeting with a group of Jewish people in Leisure World, the meeting was called an educational exchange. This group is called the Shalom Group with about 90 members. But on this night we only talked to about 25 of the leaders. Let me explain educational exchange; at Leisure World in order to use the common club house there are rules against religious meetings of any kind; no Bible studies, no preaching or teaching. As we talked, it got around to them asking us if we would start a synagogue near Leisure World so they could attend. At this point, one of the ladies asked, "If I come to your synagogue do I have to believe in the virgin birth?" I told her yes she could come and not believe in the Virgin Birth, hold on before you get the stones! Please understand that scores of people go on the Shabbat or on Sunday to a Church or Synagogue and not believe in the work of the Holy Spirit or in the death and resurrection of the Messiah or have any real concept of the Triune God. But after they get there the Holy Spirit starts to woo them and all of a sudden they believe! How else can we convert sinners to saints? Now I will say this I believe that once you have accepted the Messiah, you have no other choice but to believe the Virgin Birth and all of the prophecies about the Messiah.
After this meeting this issue was burning in me and I have wanted to do a teaching on the subject of the Virgin Birth, as this was not the first encounter with this thought. The thing that I couldn't understand is that these very people (Hebrews/Jews) would not have existed without miracles from God. We will go into the miracles a little later, but for now it will suffice to note the miracles started in Egypt. Why is it so hard for them to believe that God cannot perform a miracle and cause a virgin to conceive?
I studied up on the points but there was something missing in what I needed to make this teaching come to fruitation. Then a dear friend, Rev Barbara Di Gilio, handed me some books that she had
"accidentally" come across in the free bin in a bookstore.

These books were transcriptions of a radio program that Rabbi Dr. Lawrence Duff-Forbes of Whittier, California had done. Doctor Duff-Forbes is Messianic Rabbi from the late fifties and early sixties and he made these transcriptions available to the public. In an effort to locate Dr. Duff-Forbes I discovered that Dr.Duff-Forbes has gone to be with the Messiah, his King. Now this wonderful Aussie is walking the streets of glory with his Saviour Yeshua, oh how would you like to listen in on the conversation of these two Jews!! At any rate Dr. Duff-Forbes gave me the key to unlock the door to this teaching. I just love the phraseology he uses, some of them make me smile and some I can't help from laughing! I'll give you a couple quotes before I go on to the rest of the story.
"To mix that which is Holy Writ with that which is wholly rot may produce a potpourri piquant enough to tickle the tongue of intellectual incredulity, but swallowing such a fatal concoction must indubitably result in spiritual ill health." And how about this one, "What a dismal dame is Doubt! Doubt, drab-draped in dowdy dress and clutching, with fear-forked fingers, her unattractive brood about her skirts. Distrust, Dismay, Despair, Discouragement, Dejection- these are among her many doleful daughters." And "The smoldering unveiled sun hangs like a bloody medal, breast-bestowed upon a red-robed west."

Now one last one and one of my favorites
"Faith is a vine that climbs up to God and twines around Him; and trust, patience and hope are the luscious life-packed fruit-clusters that grow upon its sturdy branches." He has tons more of these wonderful little tongue twisters in his books, but it was not one of these quotes that got my attention. No, it was, "In tracing the Biblical line of this promised seed we made a interesting discovery that all four of Israel's famous Matriarchs - Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel - were sterile ." Leah! I cried, she had six sons and a daughter Dinah. And I had forgotten about Rebecca, but at this point I placed a marker in the book ran to the computer and looked up Genesis 29:30-32
"And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years. And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.
And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me." KJV


He opened her womb; this is the similar term that is used through out the Tenach when God allows barren women to conceive! So I went back to the book and Dr. Duff-Forbes where he was quoting Rabbi Obadiah Ben Jacob Sforno stating that the Rabbi declares of Leah,
"The inference is that by nature she was barren." Well it looked to me that was right on the mark, as when I read the scripture I could see that was implied by the phrase used, I have high-lighted the reference. But what does Christian commentaries say about this? Gen 29:31-35 "And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren."

[At first neither Rachel nor Leah bore Jacob children. In those days, to be barren was regarded as a pathetic situation. However, in time, Jehovah came to Leah's rescue and healed her barrenness, and she became a mother. One after another her sons came, until she had borne six of them. A daughter, Dinah, was added for extra measure. With heart-rending regularity, Leah held out a son with the words: Now my husband will love me. But no word of recognition or appreciation came from Jacob. The word for hatred ('sane) indicates "less affection," or "less devotion." It does not indicate positive hatred.]

(from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press)

So now we see that both Jew and Christian say that Leah was barren, so now lets go back to Rebekah and see what scriptures has to say, Gen 25:21 And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. KJV
But let's not put the cart before the horse; let us go to the first mention of an unusual birth. We find that in
Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.KJV
Here we find the reference to HER seed and this is the only reference in the whole Tenach where the seed is associated with a woman, everywhere else it is masculine. Here we have the first announcement of a supernatural birth, HER SEED, the woman's seed. In Strong's the number used is the same, however, the words are different. For the woman's seed it is spelled
"zar'aah" and for the serpents it is "zar'kaa".

It was prophetically foretold that the One who would save us should enter this world in a unique manner. But before we go on I need to digress a bit, one of the things I have found during this life is that you cannot educate bigotry or prejudice out of a person. You probably know some very educated people that you have made a comment like this about, "with all their education, you would think they know better." Whenever I'm researching for an article I try to get the best information and of course accurate information because I do not want to knowingly write down something that could cause a person to fall or even stumble. What's all this to do with the virgin birth, well when I was researching Genesis 3:15 I came across something that made me back up and make sure that what I had learned and knew about the "woman's seed" was really true. Just prior I have already used a comment by Wycliffe about Leah, Dr. Wycliffe is world renown for his many translation of the Bible; however, he is one of the educated ones I was speaking of above, he was very bigoted towards the Catholic Church. This is part of the comment he makes about "her seed", Gen 3:15
An unfortunate translation in the Vulgate changes the pronoun his (v. 15 c) from the masculine to the feminine, providing spurious support for unfounded claims concerning "the Blessed Virgin Mary."

(from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press)

Boy did that ever throw this little article into a tailspin! So it was back to the drawing board and more research. That is when I came up with conclusion about education and bigotry because when I went back I found that over three hundred years before the Messiah was born seventy Jews had translated the Hebrew scriptures into Greek, it was called the Septuagint (you will find references to two hundred years and three hundred years but I think they are or should be consider the same as it took over a hundred years to complete and be accepted). In the Septuagint Genesis 3: 15 reads "her seed", well in the Septuagint it is verse 16. Also I have a copy of the Masoretic Text, which is supposed to be the oldest text available, yep you guessed it, it says "her seed". In the interest of being fair and to make sure that I was correct I looked up the history of the Vulgate.
This is what I found,
"The Sixtine-Clementine edition of the Latin Bible, also known as the Clementine Bible, was for centuries the standard edition of the Bible in that language. It was first published in 1592 at Rome by Aldus Manutius the Younger. After the Council of Trent had declared the Vulgate Bible the official Bible of the church, Pope Sixtus V had labored long and carefully to produce his Sixtine Bible in 1590. This version aroused antagonism among both clergy and laity, however, who resented the order that their missals and other materials be corrected to agree with the Sixtine edition. Therefore, it came as little surprise that just a few days after the death of Sixtus (August 27, 1590) the cardinals quickly issued a decree forbidding the further sale of this Bible. Within months the next official Vulgate version, the Clementine edition, was published at Rome by Aldus the Younger, who headed the papal press. Although it corrected many of the errors in the Sixtine edition, because it was printed so quickly (in just four months) it contained numerous errors itself."

I do not make a practice of saying bad things about anyone living or dead, as in this case with Dr. Wycliffe, however I put it in to show that you must be careful taking anything for granted, you need to check out everything for yourself and that includes yours truly. The reason I made such a big deal about this I have a lot of respect for Dr. Wycliffe and the things he has done and was shocked when I read this.
The Septuagint was written over three hundred years before Messiah and the Vulgate was accepted fifteen hundred years after the resurrection of Messiah, almost two thousands years, he allowed his prejudice to get in the way of his understanding.
Now let's get back to the issue at hand and that is Genesis 3:15 and the woman's seed. As I have stated before it was prophetically foretold that the One who would save us should enter this world in a unique manner. Also there is another important issue in Genesis 3:15
"it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" we know that a 'bruised heel" isn't a lethal blow but a "bruise to the head can be deadly". We know from scriptures that the blow to HaSatan will be deadly Rev 20:2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. - About the "bruising" of the Messiah it says in Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Before we get too far away from the central point of Genesis 3:15, let's look at some Jewish writings on it in the Jerusalem Targum, which is the Aramaic paraphrase of the Scriptures (remember Ezra who created a targum for the people when they came back from Babylon and couldn't speak Hebrew). The Rabbi's recognized the Messianic view of Genesis 3:15 let's quote
"but there shall be a remedy for the children of the woman, but for thee, O Serpent, there shall be no remedy, for hereafter they shall to each other perform a healing in the heel in the latter end of the days, in the days of King Messiah."
We can clearly see that the Rabbi's agree that this is a Messianic prophesies and of course numerous Christians agree. But did Adam and Eve understand all of this, for the answer we need to advance to Genesis 4:1
And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.

Eve knew very well what the Lord had told her, she said,
"I have gotten the man!" In the Hebrew it could probably be better stated, "I have gotten or acquired a man," 'et (OT:854) Yahweh (OT:3068), the LORD."

Here is a little nugget for you, this word
'et used here is the very same word used in the first seven words of Genesis 1:1. We have already discussed this in an article that can be found on www.mayimhayim.org by the title "Sign in the Forehead" it is in part 2 of the article. In Genesis 1:1 the word is never translated as it is here, but the word in Hebrew is the we know that the Messiah stated he was the Alef and the Tav, it is quoted in the New Testament as Alpha and Omega but Yeshua was a Hebrew speaking Jewish Rabbi so I don't think he would be speaking in Greek. Maybe Eve didn't understand the importance of this but the Rauch Ha Kodesh surly did!
Although Eve's instincts were correct about the Messiah, her timing was a little off. She understood that the "seed of the woman" would be someone Divine and would be called
Immanuel or "God with us" let's look at Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Matthew Henry has this to say about Genesis 4:1-2 "Many suppose that Eve had a conceit that this son was the promised seed, and that therefore she thus triumphed in him, as her words may be read, I have gotten a man, the Lord, God-man." Unfortunately he does or should I say did not believe it.
There are several aspects to this birth that we need to cover, it appears that Cain and Abel were twins and that comes from Genesis 4:2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
[And she again bare his brother Abel.] Literally, "She added to bear,"
watocep (OT:3254) laaledet (OT:3205) his brother. From the very face of this account it appears evident that Cain and Abel were twins. In most cases where a subject of this kind is introduced in the Holy Scriptures, and the successive births of children of the same parents are noted, the acts of conceiving and bringing forth are mentioned in reference to each child; here it is not said that "she conceived and brought forth Abel" but simply "she added to bring forth Abel his brother," that is, as I understand it, Cain was the first-born, Abel, his twin brother, came next. (from Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Biblesoft)

What is interesting here is that there are mentioned in Genesis 3:15, two seeds, one corrupt and one who is "holy" or should we say one is natural man and one is spiritual man. Cain who came first is "natural man" and Abel is the "spiritual man" and Abel has been referenced as a type of Messiah. Andrew Jukes (1815-1901) wrote in his book "Types in Genesis" has this to say,
"We have then here in Adam's sons, (that is, if we trace the story in its inward application,) the ways and works of the carnal and spiritual mind, which spring from the conjunction of the understanding and will, the inward man and woman. That is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterwards that is spiritual. What is first developed out of man is carnal, that 'carnal mind' which is enmity against God; which is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be. This is Cain. But there is a second birth; another life is born, which by grace springs out of the old Adam; and this second birth, this 'spiritual mind,' is Abel, who so lives that he obtains witness from God that he is righteous."
Is it any wonder that Yeshua told Nicodemus in John 3:4-6 Nicodemus saith unto him, "
How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."

Also there is said to be a reference to the Red Heifer in the birth of Cain and Abel. The following quotes are from Jim Long with the Vendyl Jones Research Institute from his article dealing with Ashes of The Red Heifer.
"The ritual of purification using the Ashes of the Red Heifer is one of the least understood of HaShem's commandments. Though these ashes were necessary to cleanse anyone entering the Temple, even the wise Solomon confessed that this was a riddle far from him."

[According to the Midrash (Numbers Rabba 19:3), when King Solomon wrote, "Amarti achakhema vehi rechokah mimeni -- I said I would acquire wisdom, but it is far from me" (Ecclesiastes 7:23), he was alluding to his inability to comprehend some of the profound paradoxes involved in the commandment of the Red Heifer. This connection is verified in his use of the words vehi rechokah, which have the same gematria (441) as the words parah adumah, red heifer!]

The Hebrew text reveals why the practice is so shrouded in mystery. More than a commandment, this is a chukah, an ordinance that is to be followed without question or understanding. From the Talmudic commentaries we can glean that only Moses fathomed the physical and spiritual properties of the process.

T
he Jewish Sages do offer a hint to this puzzle by linking the Red Heifer with the sin of the Golden Calf. The idol was burned and pulverized. This powder was poured into water and the Israelites were forced to drink it. Also of note are the continual references to burning the red cow, since the Golden Calf was not sacrificed but burned. It is the powdered form of the Red Heifer, the ashes, that is mixed with water to purify the children of Israel. And red is the color of sin is as alluded to in Isaiah 1:18, "Though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be white as snow..."
There may be another intriguing clue in the apocryphal Book of Enoch. In chapter 84, section 17, he tells his son Methushela of a dream. Its prophetic imagery portrays the key figures of biblical history as animals:
"I saw a vision in my bed; and behold, a cow sprung forth from the earth; and this cow was white. Afterwards a female heifer sprung forth; and with it another heifer: one of them was black, and one was red. The black heifer then struck the red one, and pursued it over the earth. From that period, I could see nothing more of the red heifer."


In Enoch's dream the black cow symbolizes Cain and the red cow represents Abel. After the elder slays the younger, we read in Genesis how the blood of Abel cried out from the ground. Apparently Cain had also buried the body of his brother.


Not only does the Torah detail the first homicide in history, but it also records the first ritual defilement. And that's the initial purpose of the purification process: to cleanse one after coming in contact with the dead. Could this first murder of an innocent be the origin of a perplexing but sacred rite? "

It seems that I start out to do a teaching on one thing and end up covering the whole Bible, but as we go along and reach these wonderful nuggets of truth and all the scriptures start to point to the Messiah and the fulfillment in the New Testament. I feel I must put it into the teaching.

Now it's time to turn back to the original thoughts that got this all started and Dr. Duff-Forbes key statement. Remember we got here when we found out about Leah and Rebekah. We already know about Sarah and Rachel so there is no need to apply scriptures for them. Quoting Dr. Duff-Forbes, " I am also convinced that their consistent sterility calling for Divine biological intervention, was part of the selection to impregnate the consciousness of Israel with doctrine and fact of Miraculous Birth." The reason I quoted him here instead of me saying basically the same thing is because he was the one that said it best. We know that today it is a miracle of God that Israel exists in the land and now we know that it was a miracle of God that Israel ever came into being! Just think all four of the Matriarchs were barren and two of the Patriarchs came from the wombs of barren women. Judah who is the line in which the Messiah was to come, came from the womb of a barren woman (Leah). Joseph who is a type and shadow of the Messiah came from a barren woman (Rachel). Isaac (which means laughter in Hebrew) the first of Patriarchs born of a barren woman was involved in another miracle, lets look a Genesis 22:1-13 1
And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. 2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. 3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. 4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. 5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you, 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? 8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. 9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. 11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. 12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

I have read that in rabbinic writings that Isaac was burned along with the ram and was resurrected after three years! This comes from the Encyclopaedia Judaica, Ibn Ezra (commentary on Gen. 22:19)
also quotes an opinion that Abraham actually did kill Isaac (hence there is no reference to Isaac returning home with his father), and he was later resurrected from the dead. If that were a fact then the miracle of Isaac would be even greater. Now let us go on to more miracles involving God and Israel. We know that by a miracle of God the Hebrew children were freed from Egypt. It took a miracle for Pharaoh to let the people go at that first Passover And it was a miracle of God that opened the Red Sea to deliver the Hebrew children from the pursuit of Pharaoh, I know some say the reed sea and that was only a few inches deep, well my answer is that would have been a greater miracle to drown all the men and horses in only a few inches of water! Then we have the miracle of Sinai and the miracle of the cloud by day the fire by night. It was miracle of God that overshadowed them with clouds during the day and a miracle of God to protect and warm them at night by the pillar of fire. It was a miracle of God that fed them with manna and it was a miracle of God that gave them water from a rock. We know that Jews believe in some of these miracles if not all. Jews are constantly saying, "The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob", two of these are direct results of miracles. We know that every year millions of Jews the world over remember the miracles of Egypt when they celebrate Pesach (Passover). If they can believe that God by a miracle opened four dead wombs so that the Patriarchs could be born, why is it that they and countless gentiles can't believe that by a miracle of God, He opened a live womb and gave the world the miracle of the Messiah! Why can't the world believe the prophet Isaiah in his book chapter 7 and verse 14. Isaiah 7:14
14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Once again we have problems with a word, the word "virgin" but this time it is far more wide spread than "woman's seed", as this is probably the most controversial of the Messianic prophecies because the meaning of the word "virgin',
"almah" in the Hebrew is disputed by Rabbis, along with both Liberal and Evangelical theologians. The major debate is over the exact meaning of the Hebrew word "almah" which is translated here as virgin, The Jewish writers, who lived much closer to Isaiah than we do today had no argument when they translated 'almah' as "virgin" in the Septuagint and remember this was over three hundred years before the birth of Messiah. The word in Greek is parthenos, Strong's number 3933 this word clearly means virgin. There are three words that Isaiah could have used describing a young woman

1) Na'a'rah this means damsel and can be either a virgin or non-virgin.

2) Betulah this word is most commonly considered to mean virgin, however, that is not always the case.

3) Almah this word means a virgin, a young virgin of marriageable age,
Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum states "This word is used seven times in the Hebrew Scriptures
and not once is it used to describe a married woman; this point is not debated."


Dr. Fruchtenbaum has done a fantastic job in explaining all the above words and of course the entire Isaiah 7:13-14 controversy in his article
"Born of a Virgin" which can be located www.ariel.org.

Dear friends I submit to you what Dr. Duff-Forbes said earlier quoted, that God was preparing Israel with
Miracle Births so that when the Messiah came into being that all mankind would accept The Miraculous Birth. Lets look at Matthew Chapter 1 verse 18 thru 23 of the Stern's Jewish New Testament


18 Here is how the birth of Yeshua the Messiah took place. When his mother Miryam was engaged to Yosef, before they were married, she was found to be pregnant from the Ruach HaKodesh. 19 Her husband-to-be, Yosef, was a man who did what was right; so he made plans to break the engagement quietly, rather than put her to public shame. 20 But while he was thinking about this, an angel of Adonai appeared to him in a dream and said, "Yosef, son of David, do not be afraid to take Miryam home with you as your wife; for what has been conceived in her is from the Ruach HaKodesh. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means 'Adonai saves', ] because he will save his people from their sins." 22 All this happened in order to fulfill what Adonai had said through the prophet, 23 "The virgin will conceive and bear a son,
and they will call him Immanu'el."


And in Luke 1:34 it says 34 "How can this be," asked Miryam of the angel, "since I am a virgin?" 35 The angel answered her, "The Ruach HaKodesh will come over you, the power of HaElyon will cover you. Therefore the holy child born to you will be called the Son of God

Just as sure as God opened the four dead wombs in order for Israel to exist, He also opened the live womb of Mary so that through Israel all mankind can exist forever. It was God's plan from the beginning to give enough clues as to His intentions of the Messiah and His Holy works that even if you know nothing about art you can easily see this picture.

B'Shem Yeshua HaMashiach!

If you would like to write Rabbi Mike Short with your comments,
click the Torah Scroll to email him:

Once again I like to thank Rabbi Mike for this great article. I love Rabbi Mike so much because he is so full of the Word, and it always spills over to all who are hungry and thirsty for the much more from Lord. I urge you to email him with your comments or questions. He will try and answer your Biblical questions for you as his time allows, and we thank him for doing that as well.

--Shalom Rev. Barbara A. Di Gilio

Back to - Why I believe Yeshua is God

Back to - Citation Reference Section 1

Back to - Citation Reference Section 2

Back to - Citation Reference Section 3

Back to - Citation Reference Section 4 - Proved by Shemology


Mayim's Logo
Mayim's Endnote