Continued from Chapter 24

(Jeremiah 31:22)

A woman encompasses a man

Christians offer a tendentious interpretation of the verse: “For the Lord has created a new thing on the earth: a woman encompasses a man” (Jeremiah 31:22).

The noun neqevah (“woman”) does not mean virgin per se and the verse says nothing of conception, pregnancy, or birth. Neqevah is used in the Bible in reference to any woman, virgin or not (Leviticus 27:4-7; Numbers 5:3, 31:15; Deuteronomy 4:16). Any discussion that suggests this verse is speaking of conception by a virgin has no biblical support; and more specifically that this verse predicts the birth of Jesus from a virgin is completely fallacious.

In both instances neither context nor language usage justifies a connection with the birth of Jesus. The metaphorical language found in verse 22 reverses the roles of a man and woman during courtship. It is customary for a man to go after and court a woman. Now, the woman shall go after the man, that is to say, that previously God courted Israel calling upon the nation to love Him. Israel (depicted here as a woman) will now court God (depicted here as a man). Thus, the verse exclaims that the children of Israel shall return to the Lord, their God, and He will redeem them. The claim that this verse alludes to the birth of Jesus from a virgin is completely unfounded. The story of the virgin conception was an unknown and alien concept to the proto-Christian community. Even Paul, known for his overzealous imagination never mentions a miraculous birth for Jesus. Mark, the earliest of the canonical Gospels, also makes no mention of a virgin conception. Christians assign meanings and interpretations to words that have absolutely no basis in fact. A study of the relevant texts shows that neither context nor language usage justifies the Christian position.

The biological process by which the Messiah will be born will not differ from the natural method of human reproduction; he will not be born of a woman without a man’s intervention.

In what way will the Messiah differ?

He will descend paternally from a valid regal line of the house of David and Solomon respectively. No one else will have a right to the throne. He will differ biologically, not through manner of conception, but through a specific Davidic ancestry.

© Gerald Sigal