Old Testament Echoes

 The Virgin Birth is supposedly predicted by the Prophet Isaiah:
  behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.  (Isaiah Chapter 7

  Isaiah may have been rather surprised if someone had told him about  this interpretation; most (but not all) Biblical scholars agree that he was talking about something else entirely. The word virgin is, to say the least, controversial. The Hebrew word almah has been debated at length, but the weight of modern scholarship is behind the  translation as 'young woman' rather than 'virgin'.  Perhaps more telling is that a virgin birth is a significant element in other stories of great men: Romulus and Remus, and Buddha,  for example.

  There are other echoes from the earliest parts of the bible: an Annunciation to a prospective mother is a familiar biblical type scene. Familiar examples are the Annunciation to Sarah, wife of Abraham, in Genesis Chapter 21. 'And the Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age'. Not a virgin birth, but certainly a miraculous one - Sarah was ninety years old. 
  Two further examples are the Annunciation to the wife of Manoah (Judges 13)  Shown below left in the version by Saraceni, and the Annunciation of the Angel to Hagar, mother of Ishmael, in the wilderness, (Genesis 16) below right in the version by Giovanni Lanfranco, now in the Louvre.

Öffentliche Kunstsammlung, Basel

  The second theme is that of the well as a meeting place, a location shown mainly in early versions of the Annunciation. Interestingly, the Annunciation to Hagar took place at a 'fountain of water'.
   Old Testament Patriarchs such as Abraham, Jacob and Isaac found wells very useful places to find wives. As with Mary, they were busily engaged in drawing water when their future spouses - or in the case of Isaac, a servant - popped the question. 
This mosaic of Rebekah at the well comes from the Cathedral at Monreale, Sicily.

Annunciation page 1

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