Part II Isaiah 7; 14
Sampson Iroabuchi Onwuka
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, a Virgin (Almah) will be with child and bear a son, and shall be called Immanuel”
The word ‘Almah’ – according many sources such as Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic, etc, refers to a Virgin, refers to a Maiden. It also refers to a young female of a marriable age or at least capable of conceiving a child. The issue is whether the verse refers to a Virgin or the Virgin, and from that position we mean to choose between the present continues language of the Virgin and the promise of a child, or the futuristic conception of a Child who will be called Immanuel.
We shall begin by looking at the Greek interpretation of these said words and have it placed along side Igbo language or any similar language to help our understanding of how some of the words such as ‘almah’ and eventually ‘immanuel’ is arrived at.
When we read about the Greek saying, ‘pneuma’ of the prophet – that in terms of Christ, he will come in ‘form’ of a prophet, we can also arrive at the same statement in Igbo for instance, uma – as if to say ‘f-orma’ – , uma as if manner of Christ. The inserting of the Igbo term ‘uma’ which means manner and form, is to introduce the Greek ‘eumenal’>’things are they are’ or as they are donem, and the second Greek word ‘pheumenal’ ‘things became the norm’ or simply ‘things which became the way they are. The latter translation is my inserting. We compare this Igbo word ‘omenala’ meaning ‘things are they are done’; the tradition and iso-omenala, to ‘follow tradition’. In essence, Christ was a ‘p-neumal’ of the prophets, that as in the form and tradition of the prophets, but seem to have become the form or seem to have become the author of the ‘new man’ where as he was a new and different sort of prophets.
We may use the Igbo language to show that all of the above premise may in fact be accurate, that the main crux of the problem is with the very structure of the verse and the second important word in the sentence called Immanuel. To be clear, we must note that in Igbo, the term young girl refers to the word ‘nma’ and is very close to the word ‘Almah’ and probable root to the pronunciation ‘Almah’ in the very Hebrew and Aramaic dialectic. In essence, the word Almah may simply also mean ‘nma’ meaning beauty in Igbo – that is referring to a ‘young girl’ (or ‘nwa nma’; young beautiful girl) and not necessarily a virgin.
But why will anyone use the Igbo language in context of Hebrew to draw some conclusion on these matters. Enough connection between Igbo and Hebrew does exist, and in fact, several Hebrew words spoken at the time of Christ can be redeemed by certain languages, particularly Igbo. An argument concerning these things may in fact come down to the connection between Igbo and say Greek language at the time of Christ and sometime later. These languages are very related to the Igbo language and we can still infer from these two languages what these words do mean….For instance, what is the similarity between Greek words such as ‘neumenal’ meaning ‘things are they are’ and the Igbo word ‘omenala’, ‘things in the way they are done’. Omenala or Omenana/Omenani is Igbo word referring to tradition or ordinance, which is same as the English word ‘ordinance’.
We can cross check ‘odinani’ in Igbo with the word ‘ordinance’ in English meaning the best laid tradition, and compare them in light of form and tradition of the prophets, which Christ came as Paraclete These words are alike in meaning, alike in sound, but spoken by two different languages and two different people>Igbo and English.
As we have stated in previous article that in terms of the meaning of some of the Greek words via Igbo, much need to be appreciated. Some of these words defy common meaning and as such a second coming of the words concerned may inject additional meaning to the exercise.
But in terms of pneumenal or phenomenom, the term may in fact be same with the Igbo words such ‘Ihie unu mere’ or ‘ihie unu n’eme’. The saying, ‘ihie unu n’eme’ is also similar to another Igbo saying ‘ife/fe unu n’eme’, lliterally meaning, ‘things you do’. The saying is quite different from another Igbo saying, ‘ife neme’ – perhaps relevant to this type of writing ‘Iphe neme’ meaning in Igbo, ‘things that are happening’, like a phenomenom, saving that the English word ‘phenomenom’ if broken in bits will resolves itself as ‘phe-no-me-nom’, which will be closer to Greek ‘phenumenal’ and in terms of Igbo may yet resolve itself as ‘i-phe-(u)nu-neme’ >phe-nu-neme’ > meaning ‘the- things- ‘you’ – are doing’ > ‘things-‘you’- do’. Apparently, ifeneme is close to the context of ‘what happening’ – present continues events, e.g,’ …things as they unfold’. So Christ was ipheneme (ifeneme>ihie neme) of his time, and they were other things which Paul have allude to regarding the events as they were unfolding.
As such, Hebrew word such as Almah and Bethulah cannot be that far from Igbo words ‘nma’ or ada-nma for young woman. In spirit of the Igbohebrew dialectics, we look at the word ‘Bethula’ as Hebrew for Virgin and its Greek counterpart ‘pethula’ (the p-b or b-p ballad), as a word that is not far from the Igbo word for Virgin, ‘ebeghi-ugwu’ ‘uncircumcised’, for both male and female. Where as, the word ‘virgin’ for a woman is really ‘nwayi or nwa-aghogho na amaghi nwoke’, meaning, a ‘woman that has not been with a man’, which is properly short of the meaning virgin in direct sense of the word. Virginity in Igbo is not the same as ‘chastity’, but that virtue is primary to the meaning of chastity. A good woman is well trained and well brought up, and a woman with proper sense and mind is of higher importance – her virginity is secondary, a form of insurance or whatever!
The Igbo word that is close in sound to the ‘bethula’ is ‘otula’ (othula) or in some Igbo dialect ‘otele’ (othele), yet in some other Igbo dialect ‘otule’ (othule), meaning the ‘ass’ or the rear or just below the bottom. For instance, othele-maako is an Igbo saying literally meaning ‘wise ass’, ‘smart ass’ or ‘clever fool’. We can only reduce this term to Hebrew ‘Bethula’ to a profusion of two Igbo words >ebeghi otula; where ‘ebeghi’ meaning ‘uncut’ or not ‘yet to be cut’ and ‘otele’ or ‘otula’ meaning the rear, resulting to a near meaning ‘uncut rear’ and better said as ‘uncut bottom’. This may look like the word Bethulah, but sure it ain’t. The other term that is not quite close to this terms is ‘ebere Otula’ one whose ‘rear is cut open’ which should literarily mean nothing saving for the joke on a ass that was slashed or a cut buttocks, the other meaning which may not be useful is the term ‘ebeghi otu’, which is closer to uncircumcised and nothing more. These terms may yet reveal the meaning of the word ‘bethula’ may probably refer to a form of circumcision – although some Jewish sources force the argument that it renders its meaning to a woman and a virgin.
Second bunch of a example on why Igbo words are relevant to the discuss and to Hebrew is the word ‘Shammah’ referring to the ‘place of God’ or ‘holy place’ and the Igbo translation of a lord’s place or God’s place will respectively mean ‘ulo chi’ or ulo chukwu’ and stretching the dialects we may insert that the word chi and shi relate to some degree, and above all, the set of words that is the right Igbo word for public place is ‘ama’. In the circumstance, we may read ‘Chi-ama’ or ‘shi-ama’, referring to the public house or general place of God, a kind of Shilo, where in Igbo, ulo is a for house. The difference here is a public platform ‘amah’ and a house which may or may not be a public place ‘ulo’; hence, shi-amah for platform of God or shi-ulo (shilo) house of God. These terms are Igbo and may spell a bad dialect to people familiar with Igbo language but if these terms are pronounced from the right as old Hebrew is read from right to left, we may read ama-chi or ama-shi, or ulo-chi or ulo-shi, all of which is root of the Hebrew word ‘Sha’lo ‘m’ – all of the above correct –, including the said Igbo words > if only we add the second Igbo word ‘oma’ meaning ‘well being’ ‘peace’ (Shalom, by Igbo will mean, ‘peace of God to this house’) if not in Hebrew in Igbo nonetheless.
Apparently these Hebrew terms such as ‘shilo’ ‘shammah’ and ‘shalom’, may sound correct but are probably if not actually wrong. With Igbo language, it is possibly to arrive that the meaning of these Hebrew words are correct but how it was pronounced are only possibly if we proceed from the right of these words.
Arbitrarily speaking, we can still project that Chi-amah (chamah) or Shammah are terms within the meaning of the word ‘charm’ – a definite drive through of the word ‘shama’, word/s and meaning dislocated from more older language but now given a new and realized meaning in the another language and in another age.
The Virgin version of the word ‘Almah’ like the Igbo ‘nma’ is primary to a ‘young girl’ and the addition of Virgin is a second possible meaning, a derivative and not the direct meaning. The new perspective on this view is that another Igbo word exist that we can also refer to the above sentence and that word is ‘oma’, meaning ‘well behaved, mannered’ ‘well being’ ‘well born’, as such the incident of the Igbo word ‘nma’ (beauty) and the indicative Igbo word ‘oma’ (good, well born, fitting, and deserving), often if not always apply to a ‘young woman’ in Igbo language.
The real Igbo word that may throw addition meaning to the sentence is the term ‘Ada’ meaning daughter or a beautiful daughter. Ada in Igbo can also mean a young girl, but when we bind this Igbo word ‘ada’ (daughter) to the Igbo word ‘nma’ (beauty) and the Igbo word ‘oma’ (well born, well behaved, et al), we arrive another word ‘ada-nma’ or ‘ada-oma’, which in context of Hebrew Almah, chime, to the more common meaning that ‘almah’ or in Igbo ‘adanma’ speaks of a woman>perhaps a beautiful, well behaved, young girl or woman in present tense of worthy characters. She may or may not necessarily be a Virgin.
We can borrow a leaf from a common example, for instance, madam, refers to a woman, or Ada-nma for Igbo, refers to a woman, a young woman, hardly a Virgin – but well be – but of a person who manners are well and already known. Another instance is the issue of ‘Dama Eche’ which is supposedly Latin for ‘beautiful woman or Elche’. This word ‘dama’ or ‘adanma’ means a lot to Igbos. It is in fact close to Igbo language word for word. It means in Igbo, ‘beautiful girl of Elche or Eche’- just alike other languages, and in this case, Indo-European languages.
It does mean that an ‘Adanma’ >that is well born woman will not suffice as a prototype for mother of Christ.