(The bull, a Jewish symbol of Moshiach Ben Yosef, and donkey, a symbol of Moshiach Ben Dovid, are prominently featured in many Nativity depictions, such as the one above)
Far from being a pagan, idolatrous concept or one foreign to Judaism, the notion of a virgin birth is found in popular Jewish sources contemporary with the New Testament.
Virgin Birth In Talmud
“… They also asked ben Zoma: A woman considered to be a virgin who became pregnant, what is the halakha?”
In this passage of the Talmud, it discusses the case of a woman who became pregnant while still being a virgin.
Virgin Birth In Torah and Philo
Philo Judaeus (Philo of Alexandria) was one of the most important Jewish authors of the Second Temple period and was a contemporary of both Yeshu and Paul. In one of his commentaries on the Torah, he wrote,
“And Adam knew his wife, and she conceived and brought forth Cain; and she said I have gotten a man by means of the Lord; and he caused her also to bring forth Abel his brother:” These men, to whose virtue the Jewish legislation bears testimony, he does not represent as knowing their wives, such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and if there are any others of like zeal with them…
Who, then, is it who sows good seed in them, except the Father of the universe, the uncreated God, he who is the parent of all things? This, therefore, is the being who sows, and presently he bestows his own offspring which he himself did sow: for God creates nothing for himself, inasmuch as he is in need of nothing, but he creates every thing for him who is able to take it.
And I will bring forward as a competent witness in proof of what I have said, the most holy Moses, For he introduces Sarah as conceiving a son when God beheld her by himself; but he represents her as bringing forth her son, not to him who beheld her then, but to him who was eager to attain to wisdom, and his name is called Abraham.
And he teaches the same lesson more plainly in the case of Leah, where he says that “God opened her womb.” But to open the womb is the especial business of the husband. And she having conceived, brought forth, not to God, for he alone is sufficient and all-abundant for himself, but to him who underwent labour for the sake of that which is good, namely, for Jacob; so that in this instance virtue received the divine seed from the great Cause of all things, but brought forth her offspring to one of her lovers, who deserved to be preferred to all her other suitors.
Again, when the all-wise Isaac addressed his supplications to God, Rebecca, who is perseverance, became pregnant by the agency of him who received the supplication; but Moses, who received Zipporah, that is to say, winged and sublime virtue, without any supplication or entreaty on his part, found that she conceived by no mortal man.
Now I bid ye, initiated men, who are purified, as to your ears, to receive these things, as mysteries which are really sacred, in your inmost souls; and reveal them not to any one who is of the number of the uninitiated, but guard them as a sacred treasure, laying them up in your own hearts, not in a storehouse in which are gold and silver, perishable substances, but in that treasure-house in which the most excellent of all the possessions in the world does lie, the knowledge namely of the great first Cause, and of virtue, and in the third place, of the generation of them both. And if ever you meet with any one who has been properly initiated, cling to that man affectionately and adhere to him, that if he has learnt any more recent mystery he may not conceal it from you before you have learnt to comprehend it thoroughly…
And he [Jeremiah the prophet], like a man very much under the influence of inspiration, uttered an oracle in the character of God, speaking in this manner to most peaceful virtue: “Hast thou not called me as thy house, and thy father, and the husband of thy virginity?” showing by this expression most manifestly that God is both a house, the incorporeal abode of incorporeal ideas, and the Father of all things, inasmuch as it is he who has created them; and the husband of wisdom, sowing for the race of mankind the seed of happiness in good and virgin soil. For it is fitting for God to converse with an unpolluted and untouched and pure nature, in truth and reality virgin, in a different manner from that in which we converse with such.
For the association of men, with a view to the procreation of children, makes virgins women. But when God begins to associate with the soul, he makes that which was previously woman now again virgin therefore, he will not converse with Sarah before all the habits, such as other women have, have left her, and till she has returned into the class of pure virgins.“-Philo, On the Cherubim Pt. 2, 40, 44-48, 49b-50
In this passage, Philo says that “Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and if there are any others of like zeal with them” did not “know their wives” when they conceived, like “Adam knew his wife” and she conceived Cain, but all their wives conceived as virgins, bringing as evidence from the Torah that it was G-d who directly made their wives conceive and by no act of “knowing” on the part of the righteous husbands.
“And the L-rd visited Sarah as He had said, and the L-rd did for Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which G-d had spoken to him.”-Genesis 21:1-2
“When the L-rd saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren. So Leah conceived and bore a son…”-Genesis 29:31-32a
“Now Isaac pleaded with the L-rd for his wife, because she was barren; and the L-rd granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived.”
Philo not only shares in common the concept of the virgin birth with the New Testament, but also other concepts such as, the firstborn ‘Word’ (‘Logos’) who is not to be confused with the only true G-d…
“Because like archers shooting at random at many objects, and not aiming skillfully or successfully at any one mark, so these men, putting forward ten thousand principles and causes for the creation of the universe, every one of which is false, display a perfect ignorance of the one Creator and Father of all things; but they who have real knowledge, are properly addressed as the sons of the one God, as Moses also entitles them where he says, “Ye are the sons of the Lord God.” And again, “God who begot thee;” and in another place, “Is not he thy father?”
Accordingly, it is natural for those who have this disposition of soul to look upon nothing beautiful except what is good, which is the citadel erected by those who are experienced in this kind of warfare as a defence against the end of pleasure, and as a means of defeating and destroying it. And even if there be not as yet any one who is worthy to be called a son of God, nevertheless let him labour earnestly to be adorned according to his first-born word, the eldest of his angels, as the great archangel of many names; for he is called, the authority, and the name of God, and the Word, and man according to God’s image, and he who sees Israel. For which reason I was induced a little while ago to praise the principles of those who said, “We are all one man’s Sons” [בני איש אחד = ישוע = 386]. For even if we are not yet suitable to be called the sons of God, still we may deserve to be called the children of his eternal image, of his ancient most sacred word; for the image of God is his most ancient word.”-Philo, On the Confusion of Tongues, 144b-147
“The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of G-d, and if children, then heirs—heirs of G-d and joint heirs with the Messiah, if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of G-d… For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”-Paul, Romans 8:16-19, 29
“… Examine it accurately, and see whether there are really two Gods. For it is said: “I am the God who was seen by thee;” not in my place, but in the place of God, as if he meant of some other God. What then ought we to say? There is one true God only: but they who are called Gods, by an abuse of language, are numerous; on which account the holy scripture on the present occasion indicates that it is the true God that is meant by the use of the article, the expression being, “I am the God (ho Theos);” but when the word is used incorrectly, it is put without the article, the expression being, “He who was seen by thee in the place,” not of the God (tou Theou), but simply “of God” (Theou); and what he here calls God is his most ancient word (Logos), not having any superstitious regard to the position of the names, but only proposing one end to himself, namely, to give a true account of the matter; for in other passages the sacred historian [Moses], when he considered whether there really was any name belonging to the living God, showed that he knew that there was none properly belonging to him; but that whatever appellation any one may give him, will be an abuse of terms; for the living God is not of a nature to be described, but only to be” (See “Yeshua ≠ G-D”).–On Dreams 1, 228b-230
“In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with the God (tou Theou), and the Word was (a) god (Theou). He was in the beginning with the God (tou Theou).”-John 1:1-2
These and many more passages of Philo bear a striking resemblance to the language found in the New Testament, especially that of John and Paul, and likewise, not at all promoting an anachronistic, Trinitarian theology, but a truly Jewish belief in one G-d – the Father.
From the above sources, we can see clearly that in Judaism, a virgin birth is by no means evidence of the infinite G-d incarnating into a single, fleshly body, but rather, it was thought that all of the righteous in the Torah were miraculously born of virgins, though still being biological sons and heirs to their fathers. In this ancient Jewish lens, it is only consistent that the righteous Messiah also be born of a virgin.
Melchizedek’s Virgin Birth
There is an ancient Jewish story, recorded in the Second Book of Enoch, about the virgin birth of Melchizedek to Noah’s brother, Nir, which bears a striking resemblance to the story of Yeshu’s birth.
“Behold, the wife of Nir, whose name was Tzofanimah, being sterile and never having at any time given birth to a child by Nir –
Tzofanimah was in the time of her old age and in the day of her death. She conceived in her womb, but Nir the priest had not slept with her. From the day that that The L-rd had appointed him to conduct the liturgy in front of the face of the people.
When Tzofanimah saw her pregnancy, she was ashamed and embarrassed, and she hid herself during all the days until she gave birth. Not one of the people knew about it. When 282 days had been completed, and the day of birth had begun to approach, Nir remembered his wife, he called her to himself in his house, so that he might converse with her.
Tzofanimah came to Nir, her husband; and, behold, she was pregnant, and the day appointed for giving birth was drawing near. Nir saw her and became very ashamed. He said to her, “What is this that you have done, O wife? Why have you disgraced me in front of the face of these people? Now, depart from me and go where you began the disgrace of your womb, so that I might not defile my hand on account of you, and sin in front of The Face of The L-rd.”
Tzofanimah spoke to her husband, Nir, saying, “O my lord! Behold, it is the time of my old age, the day of my death has arrived. I do not understand how my menopause and the barrenness of my womb have been reversed.” . Nir did not believe his wife, and for the second time he said to her, “Depart from me, or else I might assault you, and commit a sin in front of the face of The L-rd.”
And it came to pass, when Nir had spoken to his wife, Tzofanimah, that Tzofanimah fell down at Nir’s feet and died. Nir was extremely distressed and said in his heart, “Could this have happened because of my word? And now, merciful is The Eternal L-rd, because my hand was not upon her.”
The archangel Gabriel appeared to Nir, and said to him, “Do not think that your wife Tzofanimah has died because of your error, but this child, which is to be born of her is a righteous fruit, and one whom I shall receive into paradise, so that you will not be the father of a gift of G-d.”
Nir hurried and shut the door of his house. He went to Noah, his brother, and he reported to him everything that had happened in connection with his wife. Noah hurried to the room of his brother. The appearance of his brother’s wife was in death and her womb was at the time of giving birth.
Noah said to Nir, “Don’t let yourself be sorrowful, Nir, my brother! For The L-rd today has covered up our scandal, in that nobody from the people knows this. Now let us go quickly and bury her, and The L-rd will cover up the scandal of our shame.” They placed Tzofanimah on the bed, wrapped her around with black garments, and shut the door. They dug a grave in secret.
When they had gone out toward the grave, a child came out from the dead Tzofanimah and sat on the bed at her side. Noah and Nir came in to bury Tzofanimah and they saw the child sitting beside the dead Tzofanimah, wiping his clothing. Noah and Nir were very terrified with a great fear, because the child was fully developed physically, he spoke with his lips and blessed The L-rd.
Noah and Nir looked at him closely, saying, “This is from The L-rd, my brother.” And behold the badge of priesthood was on his chest, and it was glorious in appearance. Noah said to Nir, “Behold, G-d is renewing the priesthood from blood related to us, just as He pleases..”
Noah and Nir hurried and washed the child, they dressed him in the garments of the priesthood, and they gave him bread to eat and he ate it. And they called him Melchizedek.”
-2 Enoch 71
According to Ariel Cohen Alloro, if you write the Hebrew names of Melchizedek’s parents together, ‘Nir Tzofanimah’ (ניר צופנימה), the first five letters share the same letters as, ‘Nazarene/Christian’ (נוצרי), leaving the remaining letters, which perfectly spell the Hebrew word for, ‘on the inside’ (פנימה). The Gematria (Hebrew numerical value) of these two names together, as well as this phrase, ‘Nazarene on the inside,’ equals, ‘Yisrael’ (541).
“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by G-d to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Miriam.”-Luke 1:26-27
“Now the birth of Yeshu the Messiah was as follows: After his mother Miriam was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the L-rd appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Miriam your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a son, and you shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins.”
So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the L-rd through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel,” which is translated, “G-d with us.”
Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the L-rd commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn son. And he called his name Yeshua.”-Matthew 1:18-25
Virgin Birth In Isaiah
As mentioned above, this famous prophecy in the book of Isaiah is seen by Christianity to foretell the birth of the Messiah by a virgin…
“Assuredly, my L-rd will give you a sign of His own accord! Look, the young woman (עלמה) is with child and about to give birth to a son. Let her name him Immanuel.”-Isaiah 7:14
While ‘almah’ (עלמה) doesn’t strictly mean, ‘virgin,’ but rather a ‘young woman,’ who is likely a virgin, it is translated and seen to mean exclusively that by Christianity to support its own theology.
In the Torah, we see that only twice is a woman called, ‘almah.’ The first is Rivkah in Genesis 24:43. The second is Miriam, Moses’ sister in Exodus 2:8. Ariel Cohen Alloro discovered that the Gematria of two times ‘almah’ (145) is ‘Miriam’ (290), also the name of Yeshu’s mother. Not only that, but the Gematria of ‘Miriam’ (290) plus G-d’s four letter Name (26) is, ‘Yeshu’ (316), clearly alluding to his miraculous birth by virgin Miriam.