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This is part 2 of a series on the relationship between Yeshua and YHWH Almighty. If you have not read part 1, please click here to do so.
In this part we will examine two massively controversial issues: the preexistence and the virgin birth. I know that many books have been written that address the "proofs" of both sides. Though this writing may simply fall among their ranks, I hope it offers some insight and, Yah willing, some clarity.
To begin, let's recap what we established in part 1. Simply put, we looked at verses that show that sometimes humans are called "elohim" (gods), which simply means "mighty ones." We also looked at the places that show Yeshua is called "Elohim" as well. Now just because Yeshua is referred to as "Elohim" does not necessarily prove He preexisted His earthly, physical birth. Many may be reading this not even knowing this issue is contested. However, I assure you that it is. Namely, many people (and anti-missionaries) will point out the comparison between Matthew 1 and Isaiah 7.
23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which translated means, "God with us." – Mattithyahu / Matthew 1:23 (NASB)
This alone provides more evidence that Yeshua is called "El" or "Elohim." But let's examine Isaiah 7:14 as well, which is what this verse is actually quoting.
14 Therefore יהוה Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the maiden will conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His Name Immanuel. – Yeshayahu / Isaiah 7:14 (SQV)
Right off the bat, we find that Isaiah refers to a "maiden" and not necessarily a "virgin." Now if you look this verse up in most Bibles, it will read "virgin" instead of "maiden." However, the Hebrew word in question is עלמה (almah) and not בתולה (bethulah). Alma means "maiden" or "young woman." It derives from the word עלם (elem) which means "youthful" and "young." Thus, defined literally, almah simply means "young woman" or "maiden" and does not necessarily mean that woman is a virgin, neither does it mean she is unmarried. It merely means she is youthful. Bethulah however comes from the unused root word בתל (batal) meaning "to separate" in the sense of a virgin being separated and not yet "joined" to a man.
All of this to say, Isaiah refers to a "maiden" or "youthful woman" giving birth, not necessarily a virgin (though she could be). When the book of Matthew quotes this verse, it uses the Greek word παρθενος (parthenos) which can mean virgin or maiden, depending on context. This is the equivalent of almah. For the Aramaic Primacists out there, the word used in the Syriac Aramaic Peshitta is בתולתא (b'tulta), which does not technically mean "virgin" but rather simply "a woman who has never given birth."
So, this is the basis for the "virgin birth" argument. They say that Isaiah never said the woman had to be a virgin, whereas the 'New Testament' does. Well, that is only partially true. Isaiah never said the woman had to be a virgin, but merely youthful. However, it is never stated that she COULDN'T be a virgin. Thus, we have a statement that she will be youthful, and that's it. We certainly know that Miryam (Mary) was youthful, and she was engaged but not yet married. We also know from Matthew 1:25 (and Luke 1:34 for a second witness) that her husband did not "know her" (have relations with her) until after Yeshua was born. So then we know that Miryam WAS a virgin after all. She was a bethulah (virgin) as well as an almah (maiden / youthful woman), thus fulfilling the prophetic requirement.
Anti-Missionaries will then point out the context of Isaiah 7:14, saying that it was about an actual human child born during the time of Isaiah that it was referring to (probably Ahaz), and not to Messiah. They will even quote Isaiah 7:15,16:
15 He shall eat butter and honey when He knows to refuse the evil, and choose the good. 16 For before the child knows to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land whose two kings you abhor shall be forsaken. – Yeshayahu / Isaiah 7:15,16 (SQV)
Here, they say, shows that this cannot refer to a sinless Messiah (which they do not even believe in), and thus none of this applies to Yeshua. Yet this is a strawman.
They will tell you that since a prophecy cannot apply to more than one situation, then this verse cannot be applied to Yeshua since it was applied to a child born during the time of Isaiah. However, the strawman here is the statement that one prophecy cannot apply to more than one person or event. We know that YHWH works in cycles, and He is not linear. Consider the promise given to David in 2 Sam. 7.
12 When your days are fulfilled, and you shall sleep with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who shall proceed out of your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. – Shemuel Bet / 2 Samuel 7:12,13 (SQV)
Who is this prophecy about? Solomon, right? Of course. Yet WAS Solomon's throne established forever? No. He lived, he reigned, he died. But where else do we find fulfillment of this?
31 Behold, you will conceive in your womb, and give birth to a son, and will call His name Yeshua. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of Elyon . יהוה Elohim will give Him the throne of His father, David, 33 and He will reign over the house of Ya'aqov to the ages. There will be no end to His Kingdom." – Loukas / Luke 1:31-33
Yeshua is the second (and greater) fulfillment of the prophecy given to Solomon. We see this type of thing throughout Scripture. The physical Passover lamb was a type and shadow of the eventual Passover Lamb of Yeshua. And so it goes throughout Scripture in many ways.
But consider this: though Miryam was not required (by the Isaiah prophecy) to be a virgin, she still was. And also, there is a second prophecy to go alongside this that is generally overlooked in the area of the virgin birth debate, and that goes all the way back to Genesis.
15 "And I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel." – Bereshiyt / Genesis 3:15
The phrase here is quite peculiar, "her seed." Biologically speaking, women do not have "seed." Nor does Scripture, throughout the Bible, refer to them having 'seed' aside from that of their husband (because this is not [naturally] physically possible). Children are always referred to as the "seed" of their father, born of their mother. So here is a very profound statement that the "seed of the woman" would crush the "seed of the serpent." And what is more, is that it does not refer to the seed of the man, but to the seed of the woman. Yeshua, having no earthly father, was therefore only the "seed of the woman" and not man.
So to wrap this bit up, we have established that Isaiah gave a prophecy saying a sign would be given, and that sign would be a "maiden" giving birth. Now we must ask: how is that miraculous? Young women give birth all the time. What WOULD be miraculous, however, is if that woman had not "known" a man. Thus, we can conclude, that the virgin birth DID happen, and that Yeshua is the "seed of the woman" that was prophesied to "crush the head" of the serpent.
The rest of this article I will give my explanation and "proof" of what I believe Scripture says regarding the preexistence of Messiah.
To begin, let's look at the most often quoted verses.
"1 In beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Elohim, and the Word was Elohim. 2 The same was in the beginning with Elohim. 3 All things were made through it. Without it was not anything made that has been made. 4 In it was life, and the life was the light of men." – Yochanan / John 1:1-4 (SQV)
12 giving thanks to the Father, who made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the set-apart ones in light; 13 who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the Kingdom of the Son of His love; 14 in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins; 15 who is the image of the invisible Elohim, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For in Him all things were created, in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through Him, and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things are held together. – Kolosaeis / Colossians 1:12-17 (SQV)
"13 No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended out of heaven, the Son of Man." – Yochanan / John 3:13 (SQV)
Tying these verses together (there are others, but I think these prove the point), we see a few things:
1. Yeshua descended out of Heaven.
2. Yeshua is the "image of Elohim."
3. Yeshua is the "firstborn of all creation."
4. All things were created through Yeshua.
5. All things were created for Yeshua.
This is part of why I believe Yeshua was more than "just a man." Has any other man descended out of heaven? Not according to John 3:13. Has anyone else been called the "firstborn of all creation"? Nope. So, let's look at what I believe Yeshua IS in regards to preexistence.
Given the verses above, I believe Yeshua existed as the Word (which existed from the beginning). This "word" in both Greek (λογος / logos) and Aramaic (מלתא / meltha) being spoken of in John 1 refers to word either "thought" or "spoken." Thus, Elohim created everything by "speaking" words. "And Elohim said…and it was so" are the words that describe the forming of our entire universe. I believe Yeshua existed from this point, when "Elohim" spoke. We'll look more at that in part 3 when we examine the relationship of Yeshua to His Father, but for now, I'll explain this a little more.
If Yeshua existed as long as the Father (outside of time completely), then how could He be the "firstborn of creation"? How could He be referred to in John 3:16 as the "only-begotten Son" of Elohim, if He was not "begotten" at all? However, if He had a point of "genesis" (a time when He came into existence) then He could be called the "firstborn" because He was born first. He could be called the "begotten" because He was begat. He was "born" or "came forth from the bosom of the Father" (see John 1:18) prior to Genesis 1:1's record of creation, as we know from multiple other Scriptures that it was Yeshua who created everything.
I hope you'll stick around a little bit longer and read the third and fourth parts of this article series. The culmination of everything we've looked at will come into play in the next two articles.
Be Berean. Shalom.