Why is the Virgin Birth Not Accepted by Jews

Dear Rabbi Fried,

Why is it that the Jewish people…who believe that God created the earth and everything in it (from nothing), flooded the earth, talked to Moses through a burning bush (that did not burn up), delivered the plagues in Egypt (except protected the Israelites), parted the Red Sea (which defies the laws of physics), and countless other miracles (which no one can explain naturally), find it impossible to believe for God to have a virgin woman impregnated without a man?

Jack

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Dear Jack,

Our issue with the doctrine of the incarnation is not that God is not capable of causing a woman to become pregnant if He so desired. Of course He could, as He performed all the miracles you mentioned and more! We, rather, have other issues with this doctrine.

Firstly, is our view of miracles. God, in general, prefers not to change the natural course of the world and perform miracles when not necessary. This is implicit in a verse discussing the creation of the heavens and earth and all within, and the laws of nature, declaring, “…He established them forever and ever, He issued a decree (laws of nature) that does not change”. God desires for the world, with its laws of nature, to remain intact as an important ingredient in the makeup of His Kingdom in this world.

There are two exceptions to this rule, which could warrant a justification for transcending the laws of nature to perform a miracle: 

  • At certain times in history God chose to perform an open miracle to show mankind His mastery over the world and foster the belief in God. In such cases, in order to maximize the exposure and lesson, He first informed someone, (i.e. Moses), of the miracle to be performed prophetically, and then performed it at a time that a multitude was observing, such as the plagues and splitting of the Sea which were witness by the entire Jewish people, all of Egypt and a good part of the world. 
  • At other times, it is vital that a certain outcome be carried out, and the only way to accomplish the desired result would be to change the course of nature. This would be a different category of miracles – miracles performed out of necessity.

An example of the second category would be the need for the Jews to enter the Land of Israel from the desert. With the Jordan River in their path and no other recourse for entering the land, God found it necessary to split the Jordan to get them there. 

That miracle was performed without the Torah making such a “big deal” about it, as its primary purpose was not to publicize God’s mastery over the world, rather out of necessity to allow them to enter Israel. 

In the case of the alleged “virgin birth,” we need to ask what would be the point or the need to change nature? If God desired to create a godly man ex nihilo – from nothing – then why do so through a woman at all? If He needed, for some reason, for him to come through the natural means of a woman, than why not from a normal union of a man and woman? Since this was not (allegedly) a public miracle, why deviate more from the laws of nature?

An even more basic problem is not the ability to perform that miracle, which He could if He so desired. It is that they are not only claiming He made a virgin pregnant, they are claiming that the child born to that woman became a physical incarnation of God. In the words of Bishop Athanasias (De Incarnatia), “he was 100 percent man and 100 percent god” (a contradiction and an impossibility, which the bishop labels a “divine mystery”). 

Furthermore, this belief is a limitation of God to human, physical, finite form, which defies the core Jewish belief of God. Our belief is that God is infinite; any corporeality whatsoever is a limitation.

Another issue, raised by many Christian scholars as well, is an inherent contradiction in doctrines. The claim that the Jesus is Messiah is predicated upon the assumption that he descends from Davidian blood, a scion of the dynasty of King David, as is outlined in the “new testament.” It is also common knowledge that this dynasty is transferred only through patrilineal descent, i.e. through the father. By the same token, they’re claiming he had no father! This is one reason some Christian scholars have rejected the concept of virgin birth.

Our unshaken belief in the oneness of God, as outlined in our timeless Torah, has been unchanged for over 3,300 years, and has endured all attempts to refute it. We need to be ever so proud to be members of the nation that introduced, and continues to represent, the true concept of one God to the world.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Yerachmiel Fried

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