Friday, October 14, 2011

Isaiah 9:6 - He Doth Call His Name

For a Child hath been born to us, A Son hath been given to us, And the princely power is on his shoulder, And He doth call his name Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace. -- Isaiah 9:6, Young's Literal Translation.

As given in Young's translation, it shows that the titles are anarthrous, without the definite article "the" before each title. Of course, the capitalization of these "titles" are also added be the translators. In the Hebrew, the phrase rendered "Mighty God" is usually transliterated as "EL GIBBOR".

If "mighty God" should be understood as being a title of Jesus in this verse, we should note how such a title would apply to one who is not Yahweh, rather than to assume that Jesus is here being referred to as Yahweh. Since it is Yahweh, the only true God who, in context (Isaiah 9:7), is performing these things, the default assumption should be that child being given by Yahweh is not Yahweh. The scriptures present to us the fact that it is Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who anoints the Messiah -- thus making the one sent by Yahweh into the Messiah. (Isaiah 61:1; Acts 2:36; 10:38) Again, the default reasoning should be that Yahweh is not the Messiah who was sent by Yahweh.

But, how could the title "mighty god" be applied to the Messiah, if the Messiah is not Yahweh? What many do not realize is that there is a Hebraic usage of the words that are often rendered as "God" wherein the words are used in more general sense of "might", "strength", or "power." Form of the word "EL", as can be seen by consulting any good Hebrew concordance, is often translated by various words of general designation of might, power, etc. Such a usage is shown in the King James rendering of the same phrase (EL GIBBOR, only in a plural form) in Ezekiel 32:21. We do not know of any translation that renders the expression in Ezekiel 32:21 as "Mighty Gods", but it usually rendered similar to the King James Version, which renders it as "The strong (a form of the Hebrew EL) among the mighty (a form of the Hebrew Gibbor)." Thus, in Isaiah 9:6, if this expression as "mighty god" is assumed to be a title for the Messiah, the anointed of Yahweh, who, by default, should be assumed to therefore not be Yahweh, then it should also be understood as in Ezekiel 32:21, "a strong one among the mighty." Jesus is indeed a strong one among the mighty, but he is not his Supreme Being.

Likewise, if the title "everlasting father," is to be understood as being applied to the Messiah, it should be understood in light of what Messiah became after his resurrection, the "last Adam," who "became the life-giving spirit," who, in effect, is takes Adam's place as the life-giver to the world. Unlike Adam, who disobeyed and became father only to a dying race (1 Corinthians 15:21,22), Jesus becomes father forever, thus "everlasting father."

However, the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6 depicts a singular name; it does not depict a series of names or titles as is given by most translations of this verse. That singular name is usually transliterated as Pelejoezelgibborabiaadarshalom. Often such a "name" given to a human or a thing is describing attributes of God/Yahweh, and the application of such a name does not designate the human or thing as being God/Yahweh. Thus, for instance, when Jacob called a certain altar by the name, El-Elohe-Israel, which could be read as a series of titles: God, The God, Israel, we realize that this is not what Jacob meant by this. Rather, we understand that he was not saying that the altar was "God," or that the altar was "the God," nor that the altar was Israel, but rather that the name of the altar was meant to say something about Jacob's (Israel's) God. Thus, this name is usually given a meaning something like: "God is the God of Israel," or probably more likely, the first EL should be understood with the general meaning of might, strength, power, etc., thus: "Poweful is the God of Israel." Likewise in Isaiah 9:6, since it is directly stated in the singular as a name, not plural, as "names", we believe it more correctly to be understood as describing Yahweh, not the Messiah who comes in the name of Yahweh. Some editions of the JPS give this name the following meaning: "Wonderful in counsel is God the Mighty, the everlasting Father, the Ruler of peace." From this perspective, this singular name that is given to Messiah would be describing the God and Father of Messiah, not the Messiah himself.

Nevertheless, as I have shown above, even if Isaiah 9:6 should be viewed as a series of titles describing the Messiah himself, it still does not mean that Jesus is Yahweh who sent Jesus. There is definitely nothing in the verse about three persons in one God, the trinity.

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