From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [1]

One of the unique features concerning the birth of Jesus was his conception in the womb of his mother while she was still a virgin. Yet the Bible gives no detailed reasons for this. The Gospel writers clearly taught it, but, without attempting to explain its mysteries, they pointed to the goal God had in view. Through Jesus Christ, God became a human being for the purpose of saving human beings ( Matthew 1:21-23;  Luke 2:11;  Luke 2:29-32; cf.  Hebrews 2:14-15).

Words translated ‘virgin’

In the Old Testament there are two Hebrew words translated ‘virgin’. In the New Testament only one Greek word is translated ‘virgin’, though that Greek word is used as the equivalent of either of the Hebrew words.

Of the two Hebrew words, the more commonly used is the one that refers to a young woman who had never had sexual intercourse ( Genesis 24:16;  Leviticus 21:14;  Judges 21:12;  2 Samuel 13:2;  2 Samuel 13:18; cf.  2 Corinthians 11:2). Israelites considered it important that a woman be a virgin at the time of her marriage, and their law set out penalties for the loss of virginity before marriage ( Exodus 22:16-17;  Deuteronomy 22:13-19; see Adultery ; Fornication ). Prophets sometimes used the word poetically, particularly in relation to nations and cities. The word indicated a variety of qualities such as purity, honour, privilege and safety against attack ( Isaiah 37:22;  Isaiah 47:1;  Jeremiah 14:17;  Jeremiah 31:4;  Jeremiah 46:11).

The other Hebrew word is less specific and has been translated by such words as virgin, maiden, girl and young woman. It refers to any young woman of marriageable age. In some contexts the word may imply virginity, but in other contexts the question of virginity is irrelevant ( Genesis 24:43;  Exodus 2:8;  Psalms 68:25;  Proverbs 30:19; Song of  Song of Solomon 1:3; cf.  Matthew 25:1;  Acts 21:9;  1 Corinthians 7:25-38).

Isaiah used this latter word when giving the Judean king Ahaz a sign of promise at the time of a combined Israelite-Syrian attack on Judah. He promised Ahaz that God would be with Judah. This divine protection would become so evident over the following months, that in thanks to God one of the Judean young women would name her new-born child Immanuel, meaning ‘God with us’. Not only would this be a sign to reassure the royal household, but before the child was three years old Israel and Syria would be powerless to trouble Judah further ( Isaiah 7:10-16).

When the virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus, Matthew saw this as a greater fulfilment of the words that Isaiah spoke to Ahaz. But the word translated ‘young woman’ in the promise to Ahaz was ambiguous. Isaiah used the word with its broader meaning of ‘young woman’, but Matthew used it with its narrower meaning of ‘virgin’. In the time of Ahaz, God promised to be with his people and protect them; but with the birth of Jesus, God came physically to live with human beings in their world ( Matthew 1:23;  John 1:14).

Miraculous conception of Jesus

God is the source of all life. Usually he begins the process of human life in the womb of a woman through using a human father, but when he himself entered the stream of human life he began the process miraculously, by the work of his Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary ( Matthew 1:18;  Matthew 1:20;  Luke 1:26-35; see Miracle ). However, the development of the child in Mary’s womb and the birth of the child at the appointed time seem to have been normal. The child, though without a human father, was fully human ( Luke 1:42;  Luke 2:6-7;  Galatians 4:4).

The virgin conception of Jesus shows that Jesus was not some ordinary person to whom God added deity, but a unique person whose existence came about through God’s direct activity. God did not make a human being into God; he became a human being. Jesus was not someone whom God adopted as his Son; he was actually God’s Son. He had existed eternally as the Son of God, and his coming into the world without the function of an earthly father was a clear demonstration of his divine origin ( Luke 1:35;  John 1:14; see Son Of God ).

Moreover, the direct activity of God in the conception of Jesus ensured that the child would be holy. There could be no chance that sin, which affects everything that people do, could affect him ( Luke 1:35;  1 John 3:5). Jesus was the beginning of a new creation, separate from and unspoiled by sin. He was not under the curse of sin, but in the end he bore the sin of others, so that they through him might be part of God’s new creation ( 2 Corinthians 5:17;  2 Corinthians 5:21;  Colossians 3:9-10;  Titus 3:4-7).

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

Virgin usually represents ( a ) Heb. bÄ•thûlâh , an unmarried maiden. The word is frequently applied to countries, often with the addition of ‘daughter,’ e.g . Israel (  Jeremiah 18:13 ,   Amos 5:2 ), Zion (  2 Kings 19:21 ,   Lamentations 2:13 ), Babylon (  Isaiah 47:1 ), Egypt (  Jeremiah 46:11 ). In   Joel 1:8 it is used of a young widow.   Deuteronomy 22:23 ff. has laws for the protection of virgins;   Deuteronomy 22:13 insists on the importance of virginity in a bride. ( b ) In   Isaiah 7:14 a rare word ‘almâh is used (RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ‘ maiden ’). The OT usage is indecisive as to whether it is confined to the unmarried ( e.g .   Exodus 2:8 ,   Song of Solomon 1:3;   Song of Solomon 6:8; masc.   1 Samuel 17:56;   1 Samuel 20:22 ). The Arab. [Note: Arabic.] root means ‘to be mature,’ and the Aram. [Note: Aramaic.] does not connote virginity. The word apparently means ‘one of marriageable age,’ and is certainly not the word which would naturally be used if ‘virginity’ were the point to be emphasized. LXX [Note: Septuagint.] has parthenos (‘virgin’); so   Matthew 1:23; but the complaints of Justin and Irenæus against the later Jewish tr. [Note: translate or translation.] neânis (‘damsel’) are hardly justifiable. A modern view holds that Isaiah was adopting the language of a current mythological tradition, and intended the word to convey the idea of a divine mother (note ‘ the virgin,’ RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ). ( c )   Revelation 14:4 uses the word of men, probably metaphorically, implying chastity, not celibacy; cf.   2 Corinthians 11:2 .  Acts 21:9  Acts 21:9 is probably the germ of the later ‘order’ of virgins. For ‘ Virgin-birth ’ see pp. 589 b , 705 a .

C. W. Emmet.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words [3]

‛Almâh ( עַלְמָה , Strong'S #5959), “virgin; maiden.” This noun has an Ugaritic cognate, although the masculine form also appears in Aramaic, Syriac, and Arabic. The feminine form of the root appears 9 times; the only 2 appearances of the masculine form ( ‘elem ) are in First Samuel. This suggests that this word was used rarely, perhaps because other words bore a similar meaning.

That ‛almâh can mean “virgin” is quite clear in Song of Sol. 6:8: “There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins [NASB, “maidens”] without number.” Thus all the women in the court are described. The word ‛almâh represents those who are eligible for marriage but are neither wives (queens) nor concubines. These “virgins” all loved the king and longed to be chosen to be with him (to be his bride), even as did the Shulamite who became his bride (1:3-4). In Gen. 24:43 the word describes Rebekah, of whom it is said in Gen. 24:16 that she was a “maiden” with whom no man had had relations. Solomon wrote that the process of wooing a woman was mysterious to him (Prov. 30:19). Certainly in that day a man ordinarily wooed one whom he considered to be a “virgin.” There are several contexts, therefore, in which a young girl’s virginity is expressly in view.

Thus ‛almâh appears to be used more of the concept “virgin” than that of “maiden,” yet always of a woman who had not borne a child. This makes it the ideal word to be used in Isa. 7:14, since the word betulah emphasizes virility more than virginity (although it is used with both emphases, too). The reader of Isa. 7:14 in the days preceding the birth of Jesus would read that a “virgin who is a maiden” would conceive a child. This was a possible, but irregular, use of the word since the word can refer merely to the unmarried status of the one so described. The child immediately in view was the son of the prophet and his wife (cf. Isa. 8:3) who served as a sign to Ahaz that his enemies would be defeated by God. On the other hand, the reader of that day must have been extremely uncomfortable with this use of the word, since its primary connotation is “virgin” rather than “maiden.” Thus the clear translation of the Greek in Matt. 1:23 whereby this word is rendered “virgin” satisfies its fullest implication. Therefore, there was no embarrassment to Isaiah when his wife conceived a son by him, since the word ‛almâh allowed for this. Neither is there any embarrassment in Matthew’s understanding of the word.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [4]

1: Παρθένος (Strong'S #3933 — Noun Feminine — parthenos — par-then'-os )

is used (a) of "the Virgin Mary,"  Matthew 1:23;  Luke 1:27; (b) of the ten "virgins" in the parable,  Matthew 25:1,7,11; (c) of the "daughters" of Philip the evangelist,  Acts 21:9; (d) those concerning whom the Apostle Paul gives instructions regarding marriage,  1—Corinthians 7:25,28,34; in  1—Corinthians 7:36-38 , the subject passes to that of "virgin daughters" (RV), which almost certainly formed one of the subjects upon which the church at Corinth sent for instructions from the Apostle; one difficulty was relative to the discredit which might be brought upon a father (or guardian), if he allowed his daughter or ward to grow old unmarried. The interpretation that this passage refers to a man and woman already in some kind of relation by way of a spiritual marriage and living together in a vow of virginity and celibacy, is untenable if only in view of the phraseology of the passage; (e) figuratively, of "a local church" in its relation to Christ,  2—Corinthians 11:2; (f) metaphorically of "chaste persons,"  Revelation 14:4 .

Webster's Dictionary [5]

(1): ( n.) A person of the male sex who has not known sexual indulgence.

(2): ( n.) A woman who has had no carnal knowledge of man; a maid.

(3): ( a.) Not yet pregnant; impregnant.

(4): ( n.) See Virgo.

(5): ( n.) Any one of several species of gossamer-winged butterflies of the family Lycaenidae.

(6): ( n.) A female insect producing eggs from which young are hatched, though there has been no fecundation by a male; a parthenogenetic insect.

(7): ( a.) Being a virgin; chaste; of or pertaining to a virgin; becoming a virgin; maidenly; modest; indicating modesty; as, a virgin blush.

(8): ( a.) Pure; undefiled; unmixed; fresh; new; as, virgin soil; virgin gold.

(9): ( v. i.) To act the virgin; to be or keep chaste; - followed by it. See It, 5.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [6]

 2 Kings 19:21 (a) Our Lord uses this expression to describe the duty, the sweetness and the loveliness of the children of Israel in His sight. It was used to show the enemy how He despised them, and loved Israel. (See also  Isaiah 37:22;  Jeremiah 14:17;  Jeremiah 18:13;  Jeremiah 31:4).

 Isaiah 47:1 (a) In derision our Lord calls this wicked city by that beautiful name of virgin. He knew and they knew how wicked the city was, and He used this name in derision.

 Jeremiah 46:11 (a) Again our Lord speaks in derision of the evil nation of Egypt which was living in wickedness and sin, and was held up to ridicule by the GOD of Israel.

 Matthew 25:1 (b) Probably these women are called virgins to represent that they are professing Christians. It is generally thought by Bible students that five of these represent true Christians, who are real believers, and the other represent professing Christians, who are not really saved.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [7]

The Jews had certainly a distinction in the meaning of this word. When they spoke of a young woman simply as such, they contented themselves with the expression of youth; but when they meant to speak of a virgin, they called her Almah, and generally subjoined, as in the instance of Rebekah, "neither had any man known her," ( Genesis 24:16) and the Hebrew word Almah, at once expresseth this, for it means concealed. Hence the Virgin Mary, by way of distinction is thus spoken of, implying that she was after, as well as before, the birth of Christ, the Almah. See Mary.

King James Dictionary [8]

VIR'GIN, n. nearly vur'gin. L. virgo.

1. A woman who has had no carnal knowledge of man. 2. A woman not a mother. Unusual. 3. The sign Virgo. See Virgo.


1. Pure untouched as virgin gold. 2. Fresh new unused as virgin soil.

VIR'GIN, To play the virgin a cant word.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [9]

 Isaiah 7:14 Luke 1:31-35 Isaiah 23:12 Jeremiah 18:13

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [10]

is the rendering, in the A. V., of two Heb. terms, concerning the distinctive use of which some exegetical and theological controversy has arisen. The word בְּתוּלָה , Bethulah (from בָּתִל , To Separate ) , occurs forty-nine times in the Old Test., and is translated by Παρθένος in the Sept., except in two instances. It is rendered once by Νεᾶνις ( 1 Kings 1:2), and once by Νύμφη ( Joel 1:8). See  Exodus 22:15-17; Leviticus 21; Deuteronomy 22, 23; Judges 21, etc. It properly denotes A Virgin, Maiden ( Genesis 24:16;  Leviticus 21:13;  Deuteronomy 22:14;  Deuteronomy 22:23;  Deuteronomy 22:28;  Judges 11:37;  1 Kings 1:2); the passage in  Joel 1:8 is not an exception, as it refers to the loss of one betrothed, not married עִלְמָה , Almah (from עָלִם , To Conceal ) , also properly signifies A Virgin, A Maiden, a young woman unmarried, but of marriageable age. It occurs seven times, in four of which it is rendered Νεᾶ Νις , puella ( Exodus 2:8;  Psalms 68:25;  Song of Solomon 1:3;  Song of Solomon 6:8), in one ( Proverbs 30:19) Νεότης and in two ( Genesis 24:43;  Isaiah 7:14) Παρθενος .

The same word mi also rendered Virgo in the Vulg. in these two passages in  Exodus 2:8, puella; in  Psalms 68:26, Juvencula ; in  Song of Solomon 1:3;  Song of Solomon 6:8, adolescentula; and in  Proverbs 30:19adolescentia, after the Sept. The Syriac follows the, Sept. in  Isaiah 7:14, but in all the other passages agrees with Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, who translate עלמה by Νεᾶνις , not only in  Psalms 68:25;  Exodus 2:8;  Proverbs 30:19 (in which, they agree with the Sept.), but also in  Isaiah 7:14. Justin Martyr ( Dial. C. Tryph. ) complains of the partiality of the Greek translators in rendering עלמה here by Νεᾶνις (a term which does not necessarily include the idea of virginity), accusing these Jewish writers of wishing to neutralize the application to the Messiah of this passage, which the Jews of his time referred to Hezekiah. Jerome says that the Punic for virgo is alma, although the word עלמה is but twice so rendered in the Vulg. Gesenius ( Com. In Isaiah ) maintains, notwithstanding, that Νεᾶνις , not Παρθένος , is the correct rendering. in  Isaiah 7:14, while he at the same time agrees with Justin that the prediction cannot possibly refer to Hezekiah, who was born nine years before its. delivery. F Ü rst (Concordance) explains עלמה by "puella, virgo, nubilis illa vel nupta, tenera et florens setate, valens ac vegeta; " but Hengstenberg (Christology ) , although admitting that עלמה does not necessarily mean: a virgin (which he conceives is plain from  Proverbs 30:19), maintains that it is always applied in Scripture to an unmarried woman. Matthew ( Matthew 1:23), who cites from the Sept., applies the passage  Isaiah 7:14 to the miraculous birth of Jesus from the Blessed Virgin. Prof. Robinson ( Gr. And Eng. Lexicon ) considers Παρθένος here to signify a bride, or newly married woman, as in Homer (11. 2, 514):

'''''Ο''''' '''''Þ''''' '''''Σ''''' Τέκεν Ἀστυόχη ... Παρθένος Αἰδοίη

("Them-bore Astyoche, a virgin pure" Cowper);

and considering it to refer apparently to the youthful spouse of the prophet (see  Isaiah 8:3-4;  Isaiah 7:3;  Isaiah 7:10;  Isaiah 7:21), holds that the sense in  Matthew 1:23 would then be: Thus was fulfilled in a strict and literal sense that which the prophet spoke in a wider sense and on a different occasion. Though the prophet already had a son, it is by no means improbable that his former wife was dead, and that he was about to be united in marriage to another who was a virgin. The prophet predicted the birth of a male child which should occur within the appointed period from one who Was Then a virgin, an; event which could be, known only to God; and this event should constitute a sign, a proof or demonstration, to Ahaz of the truth of his prediction concerning Syria and Israel. In this remarkable event the prophet directed the minds of the king and people onward to the birth of the Messiah from a virgin, and to him the name "Immanuel" should be more appropriately given. Hence the evangelist Matthew, considering the former event as the predicted type of the latter event, applies the passage to the miraculous birth of Jesus from the Virgin. (See Immanuel); (See Isaiah).

The early Christians contended also for the perpetual virginity of Mary against the Jews, who objected to the use of the term Ἕως ( Until,  Matthew 1:25) as implying, the contrary; but the fathers triumphantly appealed" against the Jewish interpretation to Scripture usage, according to which this term frequently included the notion of perpetuity (comp.  Genesis 8:7;  Psalms 61:7;  Psalms 110:1;  Isaiah 46:4;  Matthew 28:20; and see Suicer, Thesaur., and Pearson, On The Creed, art. 3). Although, there is no proof from Scripture that Marry had other children, (See James); (See Jude), the Christian fathers did not consider that there was any impiety in the supposition that she had (Suicer, ut Sup. ) . But, although not an article of faith, the perpetual virginity of Mary was a constant tradition of both the Eastern and the Western Church. The most distinguished Protestant theologians have also adopted this belief, and Dr. Lardner ( Credibility ) considered the evidence in its favor so strong as to deserve that assent which he himself yielded to it. (See [[Perpetual Virginity Of Mary]]).

The word Παρθένος , Virgin, occurs in  Matthew 1:25; Luke 1; Acts 21;  1 Corinthians 7:2;  1 Corinthians 11:2; and  Revelation 14:14. In 1 Corinthians and Apoc. it is applied to both sexes, as it frequently is by the fathers, who use it in the sense of coelebs. It is sometimes metaphorically used in the New Test. to denote a high state of moral purity. Kitto. So also, among the Hebrews, the population of a place or city was sometimes personified as a female and called virgin; thus the inhabitants of Tyre ( Isaiah 23:12), of Babylon ( Isaiah 47:1), of Egypt ( Jeremiah 46:11), and of Judah and Israel, i.e. the Hebrews ( Lamentations 1:15;  Jeremiah 14:17;  Jeremiah 18:13;  Jeremiah 31:4;  Jeremiah 31:21;  Amos 5:2). (See Daughter).