In general, the theology and history of Mary the Mother of God follow the chronological order of their respective sources, i. Jerome  maintains that the Hebrew verb has the meaning of "crushing" or "bruising" rather than of "lying in wait", "guarding". Still in his own work, which became the Latin Vulgate , the saint employs the verb "to crush" conterere in the first place, and "to lie in wait" insidiari in the second.
Hence the punishment inflicted on the serpent and the serpent's retaliation are expressed by the same verb: According to our version, and the Vulgate reading, the woman herself will win the victory; according to the Hebrew text , she will be victorious through her seed. The reading "she" ipsa is neither an intentional corruption of the original text, nor is it an accidental error ; it is rather an explanatory version expressing explicitly the fact of Our Lady's part in the victory over the serpent , which is contained implicitly in the Hebrew original.
The strength of the Christian tradition as to Mary's share in this victory may be inferred from the retention of "she" in St. Jerome's version in spite of his acquaintance with the original text and with the reading "he" ipse in the old Latin version. As it is quite commonly admitted that the Divine judgment is directed not so much against the serpent as against the originator of sin , the seed of the serpent denotes the followers of the serpent , the "brood of vipers", the "generation of vipers", those whose father is the Devil , the children of evil , imitando, non nascendo Augustine.
But seed not only may denote a particular person , but has such a meaning usually, if the context allows it. He saith not, and to his seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to his seed, which is Christ ". Finally the expression "the woman " in the clause "I will put enmities between thee and the woman " is a literal version of the Hebrew text.
The Hebrew Grammar of Gesenius-Kautzsch  establishes the rule: Peculiar to the Hebrew is the use of the article in order to indicate a person or thing, not yet known and not yet to be more clearly described, either as present or as to be taken into account under the contextual conditions.
Since our indefinite article serves this purpose, we may translate: Hence the prophecy promises a woman , Our Blessed Lady, who will be the enemy of the serpent to a marked degree; besides, the same woman will be victorious over the Devil , at least through her offspring. The completeness of the victory is emphasized by the contextual phrase "earth shall thou eat", which is according to Winckler  a common old-oriental expression denoting the deepest humiliation .
Critics have endeavoured to represent this passage as a combination of occurrences and sayings from the life of the prophet written down by an unknown hand . The credibility of the contents is not necessarily affected by this theory, since prophetic traditions may be recorded by any writer without losing their credibility. But even Duhm considers the theory as an apparent attempt on the part of the critics to find out what the readers are willing to bear patiently; he believes it is a real misfortune for criticism itself that it has found a mere compilation in a passage which so graphically describes the birth-hour of faith.
According to 2 Kings It appears that an alliance had been concluded between Phacee, King of Israel , and Rasin, King of Damascus , for the purpose of opposing a barrier to the Assyrian aggressions. Achaz , who cherished Assyrian proclivities, did not join the coalition; the allies invaded his territory, intending to substitute for Achaz a more subservient ruler, a certain son of Tabeel.
While Rasin was occupied in reconquering the maritime city Elath, Phacee alone proceeded against Juda , "but they could not prevail". After Elath had fallen, Rasin joined his forces with those of Phacee; " Syria hath rested upon Ephraim", whereupon "his Achaz' heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the woods are moved with the wind".
Immediate preparations must be made for a protracted siege, and Achaz is busily engaged near the upper pool from which the city received the greater part of its water supply.
Hence the Lord says to Isaias: The prophet's commission is of an extremely consoling nature: The scheme of the enemies shall not succeed: Syria will gain nothing, it will remain as it has been in the past: Ephraim too will remain in the immediate future as it has been hitherto: Achaz had abandoned the Lord for Moloch , and put his trust in an alliance with Assyria ; hence the conditional prophecy concerning Juda , "if you will not believe , you shall not continue".
The test of belief follows immediately: The king prefers Assyria to God , and Assyria will come: Still the general Messianic promises made to the house of David cannot be frustrated: Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.
He shall eat butter and honey, that he may know to refuse the evil and to choose the good. For before the child know to refuse the evil , and to choose the good , the land which thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of the face of her two kings.
The argument is based on the premises that the prophet's virgin is the mother of Emmanuel , and that Emmanuel is Christ. The relation of the virgin to Emmanuel is clearly expressed in the inspired words; the same indicate also the identity of Emmanuel with the Christ. The connection of Emmanuel with the extraordinary Divine sign which was to be given to Achaz predisposes one to see in the child more than a common boy.
Finally, the prophet calls Emmanuel "a rod out of the root of Jesse" endowed with "the spirit of the Lord. Whatever obscurity or ambiguity there may be in the prophetic text itself is removed by St. After narrating the doubt of St.
Joseph and the angel's assurance, "that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost ", the Evangelist proceeds: Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel. We may infer from all this that Mary is mentioned in the prophecy of Isaias as mother of Jesus Christ ; in the light of St. Matthew's reference to the prophecy , we may add that the prophecy predicted also Mary's virginity untarnished by the conception of the Emmanuel .
Therefore will he give them up till the time wherein she that travaileth shall bring forth, and the remnant of his brethren shall be converted to the children of Israel. There can be no doubt that the Jews regarded the foregoing prediction as referring to the Messias. The very words of the prophecy admit of hardly any other explanation; for "his going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity ".
But how does the prophecy refer to the Virgin Mary? Our Blessed Lady is denoted by the phrase, "till the time wherein she that travaileth shall bring forth". It is true that "she that travaileth" has been referred to the Church St.
Jerome , Theodoret , or to the collection of the Gentiles united with Christ Ribera , Mariana , or again to Babylon Calmet ; but, on the one hand, there is hardly a sufficient connection between any of these events and the promised redeemer , on the other hand, the passage ought to read "till the time wherein she that is barren shall bring forth" if any of these events were referred to by the prophet. Nor can "she that travaileth" be referred to Sion: Sion is spoken of without figure before and after the present passage so that we cannot expect the prophet to lapse suddenly into figurative language.
Moreover, the prophecy thus explained would not give a satisfactory sense. The contextual phrases "the ruler in Israel ", "his going forth", which in Hebrew implies birth, and "his brethren" denote an individual, not a nation; hence we infer that the bringing forth must refer to the same person. It has been shown that the person of the ruler is the Messias ; hence "she that travaileth" must denote the mother of Christ , or Our Blessed Lady. Thus explained the whole passage becomes clear: A woman shall compass a man".
The text of the prophet Jeremias offers no small difficulties for the scientific interpreter; we shall follow the Vulgate version of the Hebrew original. But even this rendering has been explained in several different ways: Rosenmuller and several conservative Protestant interpreters defend the meaning, "a woman shall protect a man"; but such a motive would hardly induce the men of Israel to return to God.
The explanation "a woman shall seek a man" hardly agrees with the text; besides, such an inversion of the natural order is presented in Isaias 4: Ewald's rendering, "a woman shall change into a man", is hardly faithful to the original text.
Other commentators see in the woman a type of the Synagogue or of the Church , in man the type of God , so that they explain the prophecy as meaning, " God will dwell again in the midst of the Synagogue of the people of Israel " or "the Church will protect the earth with its valiant men ".
But the Hebrew text hardly suggests such a meaning; besides, such an explanation renders the passage tautological: Some recent writers render the Hebrew original: According to the old law Deuteronomy This explanation rests upon a conjectural correction of the text; besides, it does not necessarily bear the Messianic meaning which we expect in the passage. The Greek Fathers generally follow the Septuagint version , "The Lord has created salvation in a new plantation, men shall go about in safety"; but St.
Athanasius twice  combines Aquila's version " God has created a new thing in woman " with that of the Septuagint , saying that the new plantation is Jesus Christ , and that the new thing created in woman is the body of the Lord , conceived within the virgin without the co-operation of man. Jerome too  understands the prophetic text of the virgin conceiving the Messias.
This meaning of the passage satisfies the text and the context. As the Word Incarnate possessed from the first moment of His conception all His perfections excepting those connected with His bodily development, His mother is rightly said to "compass a man". No need to point out that such a condition of a newly conceived child is rightly called "a new thing upon earth". The context of the prophecy describes after a short general introduction The fourth stanza, too, must be expected to have a similar ending.
Moreover, the prophecy of Jeremias , uttered about B. According to Jeremias , the mother of Christ is to differ from other mothers in this, that her child, even while within her womb, shall possess all those properties which constitute real manhood . Old Testament types and figures of Mary In order to be sure of the typical sense, it must be revealed , i.
Individual pious writers have developed copious analogies between certain data of the Old Testament and corresponding data of the New ; however ingenious these developments may be, they do not prove that God really intended to convey the corresponding truths in the inspired text of the Old Testament.
On the other hand, it must be kept in mind that not all truths contained in either Scripture or tradition have been explicitly proposed to the faithful as matters of belief by the explicit definition of the Church.
According to the principle "Lex orandi est lex credenti" we must treat at least with reverence the numberless suggestions contained in the official prayers and liturgies of the Church. In this sense we must regard many of the titles bestowed on Our Blessed Lady in her litany and in the "Ave maris stella". The Antiphons and Responses found in the Offices recited on the various feasts of Our Blessed Lady suggest a number of types of Mary that hardly could have been brought so vividly to the notice of the Church's ministers in any other way.
The third antiphon of Lauds of the Feast of the Circumcision sees in "the bush that was not burnt" Exodus 3: The second antiphon of Lauds of the same Office sees in Gideon's fleece wet with dew while all the ground beside had remained dry Judges 6: The Office of the Blessed Virgin applies to Mary many passages concerning the spouse in the Canticle of Canticles  and also concerning Wisdom in the Book of Proverbs 8: The application to Mary of a "garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up" mentioned in Canticles 4: But especially Eve , the mother of all the living Genesis 3: Mary in the gospels The reader of the Gospels is at first surprised to find so little about Mary; but this obscurity of Mary in the Gospels has been studied at length by Blessed Peter Canisius , Auguste Nicolas , Cardinal Newman , and Very Rev.
In the commentary on the "Magnificat" , published , even Luther expresses the belief that the Gospels praise Mary sufficiently by calling her eight times the Mother of Jesus.
In the following paragraphs we shall briefly group together what we know of Our Blessed Lady's life before the birth of her Divine Son , during the hidden life of Our Lord , during His public life and after His resurrection.
Mary's Davidic ancestry St. Joseph went from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be enrolled, "because he was of the house and family of David ". As if to exclude all doubt concerning the Davidic descent of Mary, the Evangelist 1: