At the very outset let me alert you that even Christian scholars who believe in miracles prefer to speak of the virginal conception rather than the ‘virgin birth’of our Lord. The miracle focus they argue is on ‘becoming pregnant minus sexual intercourse’. We shan’t quibble on that nicety here.
Matthew declares in 1:22-23, which reads in the NASB thus:
22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 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.”
Here Matthew clearly cites Is. 7:14 but the bone of contention is that whereas the female depicted in the Hebrew text is an almah, in the Greek Old Testament called the Septuagint (LXX) and in the Greek of Matthew the female is depicted as a parthenos. So what you may be asking.
Well, almah in Hebrew is not exactly synonymous with parthenos in Greek. As the Roman Catholic heavyweight scholar Raymond Brown advises: An almah is “a young girl who has reached the age of puberty and is thus marriageable. It puts no stress on her virginity…” (In his The Birth of the Messiah, 1979, 147)
A parthenos in Greek is a virgin, a girl who has had no sexual experience at all. So did Matthew and the LXX misread the Hebrew text of Is. 7:14?
Here’s the thing, though in Hebrew the word for a sexually inexperienced girl would more naturally be bethulah, it is instructive to note the advice of the late linguist and biblical scholar Gleason Archer who, while conceding that bethulah is a more precise word for virgin than almah, says: “Yet it is also true that in the seven occurrences of ‘almāh in the singular throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, the word never refers to a maiden who has lost her virginity but only to one who is in fact unmarried and chaste—as in Genesis 24:43, where Rebekah the virgin [bethulah] is also referred to as an ‘almāh. By Hebrew usage, then, this word is about equivalent to the idea of ‘virgin’ even though it is less precise than [bethulah].” ( In his Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, 1982, 267-268).The seven texts are Gen. 24:43; Ex. 2:8; Ps. 68:25; Prov. 30:19; Song of Solomon 1:3, 6:8 and Is. 7:14. Those familiar with Hebrew will note that Song of Solomon 6:8 has the plural form of virgin!
Though I don’t believe that the primary emphasis of Isaiah was the virginity of the girl in question in his day yet when Matthew uses the text and when Luke recounts the events surrounding Jesus’ birth the miracle of virginal conception is the central issue. Mary is puzzled at the angelic annunciation that she will become pregnant and questions in her bewilderment in Lk. 1:34: “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” = since I am a virgin, sexually untouched?
The virginal conception of our Lord may not be a salvation issue, but it is a doctrine of Scripture and as such demands the belief-respect of every Christian. So too does the reality of miracles demand our belief-respect.
By the way, a virginal conception is not so far-fetched as Astronomer/Mathematician Dr. Michael Guillen contends: “…It’s pretty clear that the God of the Bible, if you believe he exists, has the power to do whatever he wishes. If he spoke an entire universe into existence, certainly he can speak life into a virgin’s womb.” (In his 2021 book Believing is Seeing, p. 167) Further, the Greek-derived process in biology parthenogenesis (literally ‘virgin birth’, popularly called asexual reproduction) known in certain animals (certain sharks, honeybees, pythons and even domesticated turkeys) except in mammals has even now been reported in a mouse (see Sylvia Pagan Westphal “’Virgin Birth’ Mammal Rewrites Rules of Biology,” New Scientist, April 21, 2004).I trust you appreciated this apologetic tidbit. Your bible-based faith is defensible.