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My understanding is that adding "Ha-" at the beginning of a noun in Hebrew is the same as adding "The" to the beginning of a noun in English. In other words, it means you're pointing to the noun and the noun is specific and known as opposed to being generic and unknown. If that is the case, then who is "The Almah" in Isaiah 7:14? Who is Isaiah pointing to?

To clarify, for the sake of this question, I'm looking for "The Almah" pointed out explicitly somewhere in Isaiah's scroll with evidence suggesting why she's "The Almah". To give an example, I believe "Ha-Na'ar" in verse 16, same chapter, refers to Isaiah's son whereas verse 15, refers to the son "The Almah" is going to conceive. Isaiah's son is explicitly mentioned in verse 3 and my reasoning for this is why else would God ask Isaiah to take his son with him? However, I cannot find "The Almah" anywhere in Isaiah's scroll. The prophetess in verse 3, the next chapter doesn't really fit the criteria because firstly, the son there is called "Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz" not "Immanuel"; secondly, Isaiah is explicitly asked to take his son in 7:3 and he's pointed at in verse 16 while he's not asked to take his wife with him to point at her in verse 14. And there's no explicit mention of the wife of Ahaz in this context so I can't see how it could be her either. The reason I believe explicit mention is necessary is because of the "Ha" emphasis. Surely the author of Isaiah knew that the scripture must have an explicit pointer somewhere for future readers to be able to identify "The Almah". Otherwise, it is my opinion that it opens the door to all sorts of interpretation. If you disagree, I'm open to hear your reasoning.

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  • I believe your first premise is incorrect. "Ha-" doesn't always denote a specific person or object.
    – ezra
    Oct 15 '21 at 3:22
  • @ezra Oh really? What else can it mean or denote and what are the more clear examples in the Tanakh if any?
    – Mordecai
    Oct 15 '21 at 3:23
  • @MartínMills It may take me longer to find a more concrete example, but the first thing that comes to mind is Psalms 1:1 "Praiseworthy is the man..." האיש (the man) in this case certainly does not apply to one specific person but is a more general statement.
    – ezra
    Oct 15 '21 at 3:26
  • @ezra Thanks but from what I see in examples like this, though Ha-Ish the man is neither known nor identified by name but is certainly known and identified by his characteristics. It immediately says Asher אֲשֶׁ֤ר meaning who or that and then continues to describe the man's characteristics.
    – Mordecai
    Oct 15 '21 at 3:30
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Since there appears to be no explicit mention of which particular woman the navi is pointing to, the meforshim state that it would be a woman who would normally accompany navi or the king. Thus it is either the queen or the wife of the navi. Any other woman would be referred to specifically. It could theoretically be one of the servants who would normally be found in the "washing place", but it is not likely. The king would not normally go there unless it is some sort of official inspection, which is why I think his wife would be with him.

Isaiah 7:14

Therefore, the Lord, of His own, shall give you a sign; behold, the young woman is with child, and she shall bear a son, and she shall call his name Immanuel.

Rashi

the young woman: My wife will conceive this year. This was the fourth year of Ahaz.

Metzudas David says:

העלמה. היא אשת אחז:

This is the wife of Ahaz (the king)

Radak says it can either be the wife of the navi or the wife of the king.

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  • Maybe my question wasn't clear but I'm looking for the Almah in the book of Isaiah since Isaiah is saying Ha-Almah so he must be referring to a woman in his writings ideally somewhere close to chapter 7. If he's referring to an Almah that is not found in his own writings, then her characteristics must at least be found somewhere in the Tanakh, ideally somewhere in the Torah, otherwise it makes no sense to say Ha-Almah if the Almah is unknown at the time.
    – Mordecai
    Oct 11 '21 at 16:35
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    @MartínMills it has to be someone who the people in the room at the time would know who he was referring to. Not to exclude other options, but it's very reasonable for that to refer to the queen or the prophet's wife. Maybe she was in the room at the time and he indicated that he was referring to her.
    – Heshy
    Oct 11 '21 at 18:44
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    @MartínMills my point is not about the appropriateness of the discourse; its all very civil. My point is more about question clarity; apparently the question and the answerers are misaligned, answering peripheral points without touching upon the core of the question. If the question is as intended, than that suffices in my view; but than maybe some more explanation is needed of what you are missing to complete the puzzle, such as in you example just now. It might be worthwhile to explain why a presence that is heavily implied by context is less probable than a presence that is implicit.
    – RonP
    Oct 14 '21 at 7:58
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    @MartínMills I added a paragraph stating why meforshim would explain it as being the queen or the wife of the navi without an explicit reference. Oct 14 '21 at 23:22
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    @MartínMills thx for the clarification of the question, it is definitely an improvement!
    – RonP
    Oct 15 '21 at 9:13

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