The virgin Mary (Lk 1:27-1:27)

“The angel Gabriel

Went

To a virgin

Engaged to a man,

Whose name was Joseph,

Of the house of David.

The virgin’s name

Was Mary.”

 

πρὸς παρθένον ἐμνηστευμένην ἀνδρὶ ᾧ ὄνομα Ἰωσὴφ, ἐξ οἴκου Δαυείδ, καὶ τὸ ὄνομα τῆς παρθένου Μαριάμ.

 

Luke has the angel Gabriel appear to Mary, as opposed to Matthew, chapter 1:20, who had an unnamed angel appear to Joseph in a dream.  This angel Gabriel went to a virgin (πρὸς παρθένον), who was engaged (ἐμνηστευμένην) to a man named Joseph (ἀνδρὶ ᾧ ὄνομα Ἰωσὴφ) from the house of David (ἐξ οἴκου Δαυείδ).  The name of this virgin was Mary (καὶ τὸ ὄνομα τῆς παρθένου Μαριάμ).  Thus, both stories from these 2 gospels concur that Mary and Joseph were the parents of Jesus.  Matthew said that Joseph had resolved to get rid of Mary, instead of taking her as his wife until the angel of the Lord appeared to him.  This unnamed angel reassured Joseph that he should not be afraid to take Mary as his wife.  Thus, God, via his angel, was trying to show Joseph that everything would be alright.  Here the emphasis is on Mary, a common name in first century Judaism based on the name of Mariam, the sister of Moses.  Mary was a virgin (παρθένου), someone who did not have sexual relations with the opposite sex, which would have been normal at this time for young girls before they were married.  However, she was engaged or betrothed to Joseph, who had Davidic ancestry.  In other words, the wedding contact had not been signed.  Thus, they were still involved with prenuptial arrangements.

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The fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah (Mt 1:22-1:23)

“All this took place

To fulfil

What had been spoken

By the Lord

Through the prophet.

‘Look!

The virgin young woman

Shall conceive.

She shall bear a son.

They shall name him

Emmanuel.’

This translated means.

‘God with us.’”

 

Τοῦτο δὲ ὅλον γέγονεν ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ Κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος

Ἰδοὺ ἡ παρθένος ἐν γαστρὶ ἕξει καὶ τέξεται υἱόν, καὶ καλέσουσιν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἐμμανουήλ, ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον Μεθ’ ἡμῶν ὁ Θεός.

 

This dream with the angelic message took place (Τοῦτο δὲ ὅλον γέγονεν), so that the prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 7, would be fulfilled (πληρωθῇ). Matthew said that these were the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet (τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ Κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος), without explicitly naming Isaiah. When you look at the context of this saying in Isaiah, he was talking to King Ahaz and the whole house of David. He said that Yahweh was going to give them a sign that a young woman, who is presumed to be a virgin, would have a child. This child would be called Emmanuel that meant “God is with us.” Christians have used this passage as a prophecy about the virgin birth of Jesus, as here in Matthew. However, the original context in Isaiah seems to indicate that King Ahaz would have a son to carry on his royal name. That son of Ahaz turned out to be the great holy King Hezekiah who ruled Judah from 716-687 BCE. A key to understanding this interpretation of Isaiah is the Greek word ἡ παρθένος. Does this mean a young woman or a virgin? The assumption was that all young women who were not married were virgins, without explicitly saying that this Greek word meant virgin. This young virgin girl had a child in her womb (ἐν γαστρὶ ἕξει). She was going to have a son (καὶ τέξεται υἱόν). They were going to name this son Emmanuel (καλέσουσιν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἐμμανουήλ,). Matthew seems to imply that this Hebrew word Emmanuel needed to be translated (ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον) into Greek for his readers. Thus, he explained that it meant “God is with us.” This actually was in the original Isaiah statement, but Isaiah never used the word translated (μεθερμηνευόμενον). Thus, God will be with us in the person of Jesus, the Savior, Emmanuel. There is no mention of an anointed one or Christ here.

The cleansing fountain (Zech 13:1-13:1)

“On that day,

A fountain

Shall be opened

For the house of David,

For the inhabitants of Jerusalem,

To cleanse them

From sin,

From impurity.”

On that special day, there was the wish to have an open fountain for the house of David and the people of Jerusalem, so that they would be able to cleanse their sins and impurities.  This is a rare mention of a cleansing fountain that would become a mainstay of Christianity.

Compassion (Zech 12:10-12:10)

“I will pour out

A spirit of compassion,

A spirit of supplication

On the house of David,

On the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Thus,

When they look on the one

Whom they have pierced,

They shall mourn for him,

Like for an only child.

They shall weep bitterly

Over him,

Like one weeps

Over a first-born.”

The house of David and the people of Jerusalem would have a spirit of compassion and supplication that came from Yahweh.  When they killed anyone with the sword, they would mourn for them, as if they were their own first born only child.  Unlike most warriors, Yahweh’s people would have compassion and mourn for their dead enemies.

Destroy those against Jerusalem (Zech 12:8-12:9)

“On that day,

Yahweh will shield

The inhabitants

Of Jerusalem.

Thus,

The feeblest among them,

On that day,

Shall be like David.

The house of David

Shall be like God.

The house of David

Shall be like the angel of Yahweh,

At their head.

On that day,

I will seek to destroy

All the nations

That come against Jerusalem.”

On this coming day, Yahweh was going to shield Jerusalem from all attacks.  The weakest among them would be like King David.  The house of David would be like God, with the angel of Yahweh leading it.  Yahweh was going to destroy every country that tried to go against Jerusalem.  This was a very strong defense of the city of Jerusalem and the Davidic royalty, on the day of Yahweh.

Isaiah and the sign of Immanuel (Isa 7:13-7:16)

“Then Isaiah said.

‘Hear then!

O house of David!

Is it too little for you to weary mortals?

Do you weary my God also?

Therefore Yahweh himself

Will give you a sign.

Look!

The virgin young woman

Is with child.

She shall bear a son.

You shall name him Immanuel.

God is with us.

He shall eat curds.

He shall eat honey,

By the time

He knows how to refuse the evil

And choose the good.

Before the child knows

How to refuse the evil,

Before the child knows

How to choose the good,

The land before whose two kings

You are in dread

Will be deserted.”

This time it is Isaiah who is speaking to King Ahaz and the whole house of David, not Yahweh. They should not weary each other or God. Yahweh was going to give them a sign. The young woman, who is presumed to be a virgin, will have a child. He will be called Immanuel that means God is with us. Quite often Christians have used this passage as a prophecy about the birth of Jesus. However, the context seems to indicate that King Ahaz will have a son to carry on his royal name. That son of Ahaz will be the great holy King Hezekiah who ruled Judah from 716-687 BCE. This young child would do good and refuse evil by the time he was able to eat the basic foods of curds and honey. Even before he learns how to choose good over evil, the 2 invading countries of these 2 kings will lay desolate and deserted.

King David’s praise of Yahweh (1 Chr 17:23-17:27)

“Now, O Yahweh God,

As for the word that you have spoken

Concerning your servant and concerning his house,

Let it be established forever.

Do as you have promised.

Thus your name will be established and magnified forever.

In the saying,

Yahweh of hosts is Israel’s God.

The house of your servant David will be established in your presence.

For you, my God, have revealed to your servant,

That you will build a house for him.

Therefore your servant has found it possible to pray before you.

Now, O Yahweh, you are God.

You have promised this good thing to your servant.

Therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant,

So that it may continue forever before you!

You, O Yahweh have blessed and are blessed forever.”

This is once again a long stirring prayer ascribed to King David based on 2 Samuel, chapter 7. All he asked for was the continued blessing of Yahweh on him and his household that it might continue forever. The house of David may refer to his palace house or more precisely to the Davidic dynasty. At the same time he was talking about building a house or temple to Yahweh. I am personally surprised that this prayer is not more widely used since it is a great hymn of praise and humility.