Answering 2 Isaiah Passages on ‘Messiah’

(1) Isaiah 9:5 – the names of the Messiah question

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government is upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called “wonderful counselor of the mighty God, of the everlasting Father, of the Prince of peace.”

I was asked whether this was the correct translation of this passage since most bibles do not translate this passage this way. Here it is in New American Standard language:

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

There is a bias one will notice ASAP – his and His and all the other capitals. The first translation comes from Jeffrey Spitzer (a Jewish translation of the passage) and the second comes from Christian sources. I guess it depends on what one believes that passage says about the messiah.

However, that passage is most definitely about Hezekiah. Here is why.

Hezekiah (or Ezekias) means “YHWH Mighty God, or The Might of God“” (Wikipedia – Hezekiah)

Someone called me on this as to being a misrepresentation of his name…so I took Wikipedia’s advice and compared it with Ezekiel (almost the same name).

Ezekiel, “God will strengthen”, from חזק, hazak, [ħa’zaq], literally “to fasten upon”, figuratively “strong”, and אל, el, [ʔel], literally “strength, figuratively “Almighty“” (Wikipedia – Ezekiel)

The names are basically the same – might and strength are of the same definition. One can say ‘God will strengthen’ which is basically the same as ‘to fasten upon the might of God’.

But even if we used the messiah – which has been known to happen with this passage. Are we saying this child is a counselor, Mighty God, the Eternal Father, and the prince of peace? Or are we saying this person is a counselor ‘of’ the Mighty God, the Eternal Father, the Prince of Peace. I lean towards the latter. Only because Hezekiah as a king/ruler (and even the messianic Davidic King would fall in this category) is someone that counsels and rules on counsel effecting the people.

(2) Isaiah 7:14 – virgin?

Therefore the L-rd Himself shall give you a sign: behold, the young woman shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Jewish translation)

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (NASB)

“Almah, despite a two-millennium misunderstanding of Isaiah 7:14, “Behold a young woman shall conceive and bear a son,” indicates nothing concerning the chastity of the woman in question. The only way that the term “virgin” can be unambiguously expressed is in the negative: thus, Sumerian and Akkadian, “undeflowered,” and Akkadian, “not experienced,” “unopened,” and “who has not known a male.” (Jewish Virtual Library – term ‘almah’)

“The Jewish response is based on the general understanding that the noun (almah) represents an age group and not a state of sexual purity.  As noted earlier, the term (almah) means a young woman of marriageable age, i.e. of child-bearing age [the male equivalent of which is (elem)], irrelevant of the status of her sexual experience, i.e., whether or not the young woman is a virgin is not at issue, as its usage in the Hebrew Bible suggests.  For example, when one would say in English, “A young woman went to the store.“, nothing in this sentence contains any information about her virginity – it is a non sequitur.  When the term (almah) is used in a sentence in spoken Hebrew, or in a verse in Biblical Hebrew, there is no implicit reference to the young woman’s virginity.  Those who are fluent in the Hebrew language know this.  Other more accurate vocabulary was available to Isaiah had he desired to specifically refer here to a virgin – the Hebrew term (betulah) means a virgin.” (http://www.messiahtruth.com/isa714b.html)

In essence, why the term virgin is even used is puzzling to say the least. What needs to be strongly noted is that any change to the meaning of ‘almah’ was made by non-Jewish sources who may not have fully understood or compared these terms in Hebrew properly.

The only argument that can be made for the ‘virgin’ aspect of that verse is the person is a ‘young woman’ – pretty likely she is a virgin – but that’s neither here nor there as important to that verse in any single way. Again this verse is about Hezekiah.

My Point: Not everything you read in Christian circles is neccesarily interpreted correctly.

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5 thoughts on “Answering 2 Isaiah Passages on ‘Messiah’

  1. It took me about 2 hours to get this whole spiel to where I was comfortable with what I was saying – meanwhile back in 1994 Jay Bird’s life – it took him about 2 seconds to swallow it without any questions of validity.

  2. Yeah, me too. Well, I used to at least. I don’t look at “Christian”scripture from the same perspective anymore. The problem is that it is so full of contradictions that it’s impossible to gain a solid perspective on any theological idea. Inevitably it will be challanged. I actually ran across a book claiming that it could prove the bible was scientifically accurate. What the hell!

  3. “The problem is that it is so full of contradictions that it’s impossible to gain a solid perspective on any theological idea” (Chris)

    I see quite a few of these problems – from differences in the Tanakh and the NT to difference amongst the apostles themselves. It is not a 100% sound theological pattern – and wasn’t meant to be – people, when they wrote the NT, were just figuring this faith out more or less.

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