The Trinity Delusion An examination of the doctrine of the Trinity

Isaiah 9:6

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."


Trinitarian Claim

Trinitarians claim the name given to the child-son Messiah in this verse is also descriptive of that child and therefore this verse is prophetically identifying Jesus as "Mighty God."


Examination of the Claim

Many Issues

There are several issues in this verse, most of them related to the Hebrew grammar, which are debated between Christians and also between Jews and sometimes between Jew and Christians. The following list shows some of the issues which are discussed.

  • The tense of the Hebrew verbs (sometimes an issue among Christians)
  • The lack of a definite article before the name (sometimes an issue among Christians)
  • How the entire name should be understood and translated (usually not an issue among Christians)
  • The translation of the Hebrew word Gibbor (sometimes an issue but only among Christians)
  • The translation of the Hebrew word EL (an issue mainly among Christians)
  • How the Jewish Septuagint (LXX) translation bears upon the intended meaning of this verse.
  • How the ancient Jews understood this verse (i.e. Targums).
  • Whether this verse is only about Hezekiah, only about Jesus, or whether it should apply to Hezekiah as well as Jesus.
  • This verse is not mentioned anywhere in the New Testament although Matthew quotes the verses immediately preceding Isaiah 9:6 and he also quoted Isaiah 7:14.
  • Who does the name describe? (1) God (not the child-son Messiah), or (2) the child-son Messiah? (an issue among Christians as well as between Christians and Jews).

Non-Trinitarians have commonly interpreted this verse in one of two ways:

1. The same as the Trinitarian translation where the word "God" is used of Jesus in the sense of agency.

2. The Hebrew word EL means "Mighty one" or "Power" or some similar term.

I personally believe that both of these interpretations are incorrect. However, the details of the second one above are discussed below.

The two issues discussed in this article are:

(A) Translation: The meaning and translation of the Hebrew word EL

(B) Interpretation: The intent of the name given to the child-son.



A. Translation: The Meaning of the Hebrew word EL

The usual Hebrew word which we translated as "God" or "gods" in the Hebrew Scriptures is the word Elohim.. However, God is also called EL and Eloah. The word used at Isaiah 9:6 is the Hebrew word EL. Theis Hebrew word, EL, is used to refer to God for the majority of occurrences where we find this word in the Hebrew Scriptures. This is not surprising since God is the most mentioned character in the Bible and one of his names is "EL." However there are some facts that Trinitarian apologists usually do not disclose. This word is not always used to refer to God. El is used to refer to other gods, men, mountains, and trees. We would certainly not use the English word "God" to refer to men, mountains, and trees. This fact demonstrates that the Hebrew word EL is not equivalent in meaning to the English word "God."


1. How EL is used in the Scriptures.

A review of pertinent Scriptures illustrates how the Hebrew word EL is used in the Hebrew Scriptures to refer to the might, power, or strength of men, mountains, and trees.

"And Laban said to Jacob... It is in my power/might to do you harm."
(Genesis 31:29).

"Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, while your eyes look on and fail with longing for them all the day; and it shall not be in the power/might of your hand to prevent it" (Deuteronomy 28:32).

"Now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children are as their children; yet we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have already been enslaved; but it is not in our power/might to help it, for other men have our fields and our vineyards" (Nehemiah 5:5).

"A Psalm of David. Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones, Give unto the LORD glory and strength" (Psalm 29:1).

"Your righteousness [is] like the mighty mountains" (Psalm 36:6).

"The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches" (Psalm 80:10).

"God (elohim) has taken stands in the assembly of the mighty ones (el); he judges in the midst of the gods (elohim)" (Psalm 82:1).

"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power/might to do it" (Proverbs 2:27).

"I will give it into the hand of a mighty one of the nations" (Ezekiel 31:11).

"The strong/mighty (el) among the mighty (gibbor) shall speak of them."
(Ezekiel 32:21).

"Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil upon their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power/might of their hand" (Micah 2:1).

Notice very carefully how the Hebrew word EL is used to describe a man's great strength as his "might" or "power," or to refer to other gods as "mighty ones" or "powers" or to refer to a cedar tree or mountain as "mighty." A similar thing occurs with the word elohim which Trinitarian translators have sometimes translated as "mighty ones" in reference to other gods. We can see clearly that el was used to refer to anything which is mighty or strong or powerful including God. Now if we are honest with ourselves here, we can see plainly that EL is not equivalent to the English word "God" nor does the word itself imply deity. Otherwise, we would need to conclude that men, mountains and trees are "God" or "deity." This Hebrew word does not have the same field of intended meaning as the more specific English word "God" and the two words "El" and "God" are therefore not equivalent terms. The English word "God" is not used to refer to men, mountains and trees and cannot be used to refer to men, mountains and trees. The Hebrew word EL can indeed be used to refer to men, mountains, and trees. The English word "God" is a much more restrictive word and has a much more specific intention than the Hebrew word el.

The Hebrew words ELOHIM and EL are believed by scholars to mean, "strength," "might," or "power." Where the English word "God" can only be used with the intention of referring to God or gods with the specific intention of indicating divinity, the Hebrew word EL does not itself imply deity otherwise we would have to say that men, mountains and trees are deity. It has a much wider field of intended use and is something similar to our English word "power."





Figure 1



While we can ascribe the word "power" to many people and things, we can also understand that God is "The Power" and "The Power of powers" (see Daniel 11:36). Or we can understand God is "the Mighty One" and other gods which people may wrongly worship are "mighty ones." The Greek word for "power" is "dynamis" (or dunamis) from which we get our English word "dynamite." Mary refers to God as "The Power" at Luke 1:49 (dynatos) and a cognate of that word is used at 1 Timothy 6:15 (dynastes) which alludes to the idea of God as the "Power." To the Jews, God was "the Power" and Jesus was to sit at the right hand of "Power" (Matthew 26:64) which is a reference to sitting at the right hand of God the Father. In the mind of the Hebrew speaking Jews, their Creator was "the Mighty One" or "the Power", that is, EL.

Dunamis is the Greek word for "Power." The following show New Testament statements using derivatives of this same word.

For the Mighty One (dunatos) has done great things to me. Luke 1:49.
For the Power (dunatos) has done great things to me. Luke 1:49.

The Blessed and Only Power (dunastes). 1 Timothy 6:15.
The Blessed and Only Potentate (dunastes). 1 Timothy 6:15
The Blessed and Only Mighty One (dunastes). 1 Timothy 6:15

You will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of the Power (dunamis). Matthew 26:64.

The reason we often translate the Hebrew word EL as "God" is not because the Hebrew word EL is equivalent to the English word "God," or because this word itself means "God," but because this Hebrew word was often used in the Old Testament as an appellation to refer to God, and when we know by the context that it is a reference to the Supreme Being, we translate it as "God." In other words, we can use the word "God" in place of EL when God is obviously the "el" in question. However, this does not thereby mean that el means "God." "God" is not a literal translation of the word el since we cannot use the word "God" to describe men, mountains, and trees. A literal translation of el when it refers to God is "Mighty One." and this term would be a more literal and factual translation of the word EL. This fact is also clearly shown below where Trinitarian scholars themselves are translating the Hebrew word el as "Mighty One" when it is referring to God himself (see below).

In the same way, we could take a book written in German that was about Adolf Hitler and translate it into English. Whenever we seen the word "Dictator" we could translate this into English as "Hitler." It is perfectly appropriate to do so as long as the context makes it absolutely clear the dictator in view is indeed Adolf Hitler. We do not have a license to translate the word "dictator" as "Hitler" when a text is actually referring to "Mussolini." He is not Hitler and the word "dictator" does not mean "Hitler." And this is precisely what happens when you translate the Hebrew word el. As long as it is referring to God it is appropriate to replace the Hebrew word el with "God." However, this does not thereby mean the Hebrew word el means God. Other things are el too. EL was an appellation the Jews used to refer to their Creator as "the Mighty One." If we translated the Hebrew word el into English as "mighty" every single time it occurs in the Bible it would be perfectly literal and perfectly accurate. The English word "God" does not accomplish this feat.



2. EL and GIBBOR

The Hebrew words translated as "Mighty God" at Isaiah 9:6 are the words el gibbor. One must be careful not to be confused about which word is being translated as "Mighty" in various translations. You will find that BOTH the Hebrew word EL and the Hebrew word GIBBOR are translated as "Mighty." In the "Mighty God" translation it is GIBBOR which is being translated as "Mighty" not EL. However, the word EL is also translated as "Mighty" and one must not confuse the issue. For example, some such as Martin Luther, have translated the words here as "Mighty Hero" or "Mighty Champion" or some similar idea. Many people assume that these translations are exchanging the word "God", Hebrew EL, for "Hero" or "Champion." However, this is an incorrect assumption and that is not what is happening. The word order is what confuses people here because the "Mighty God" translation and the "Mighty Hero" translation are reversing the order of the Hebrew words being translated. In other words, the word being translated as "Hero" or "Champion" is the Hebrew word gibbor and the Hebrew word el is being translated as "Mighty" as Trinitarians do in several other places. The words may also be translated as "Mighty Power" where EL is translated as "Power." The chart below illustrates how this occurs:



ELGIBBOR
GODMIGHTY
MIGHTYHERO
MIGHTYCHAMPION
POWERMIGHTY


3. Construct Forms and the Hebrew word EL

Because this word is used of other gods, men, mountains, and threes, in the Scriptures when the Hebrew word EL is used of the one God, this word is not used alone to refer to God and is almost always accompanyied by additional qualifying terms which makes it clear that the one God of Israel is in view. The nature of these construct forms can be seen in the chart below.

NOTE: One must be careful not to be confused concerning which word is being translated as "Mighty" in various translations. You will find that BOTH the Hebrew word EL and the Hebrew word GIBBOR are translated as "Mighty." In the "Mighty God" translation it is GIBBOR which is being translated as "Mighty" not EL. However, the word EL is also translated as "Mighty" and one must not confuse the issue.



4. EL translated as "Mighty One" by Trinitarians when this word IS referring to God.

Trinitarian translations are very inconsistent and sometimes translate el as "the Mighty One" instead of "God" even when it is referring to God Himself. This clearly proves the word el carries the primary meaning "might" or "power" and not "God." As proof of that fact, note the differences in the following Trinitarian translations of Joshua 22:22 and Psalm 50:1.

Joshua 22:22
The Mighty One, God, the LORD, the Mighty One, God, the LORD ! (NASB) The LORD God of gods, the LORD God of gods (KJV)

The Mighty One, God, the Lord! The Mighty One, God. (RSV).

The God of gods--Jehovah, the God of gods--Jehovah (Young's Literal)
The Mighty One, God, Jehovah, the Mighty One, God, Jehovah. (ASV). The God of gods, Jehovah, the God of gods, Jehovah. (Darby)
The Mighty One, God, the LORD! The Mighty One, God, the LORD! (NIV) The LORD, the God of gods. (NASB)
Psalm 50:1
The Mighty One, God, the LORD, has spoken (NASB) The God of gods, the Lord hath spoken (Douay-Rheims))

The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks (RSV).

The God of gods--Jehovah--hath spoken (Young's Literal)
The Mighty One, God, Jehovah, hath spoken (ASV). God, Elohim-Jehovah, hath spoken (Darby)
The Mighty One, God, the LORD , speaks (NIV) The LORD, the God of gods has spoken. (NASB)

Now here is a very critical question. If indeed Trinitarians have seen fit to translate the word el as "Mighty" when it is a direct reference to Yahweh God, why do they refuse to translate this word in the very same manner at Isaiah 9:6?


4. EL - The Babylonian King Nebuchanezzar

At Ezekiel 31:11, we are told God will deliver Israel over to the "EL" of the nations. Here Trinitarians refuse to consistently translate the Hebrew word el as "God" because the word el is clearly referring to the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. Note how Trinitarians translate this selfsame word el in this particular passage:

I have therefore delivered him into the hand of the mighty one of the heathen (KJV).

I will give it into the hand of a mighty one of the nation (RSV)

therefore I will give it into the hand of a despot of the nations (NASB)

I handed it over to the ruler of the nations (NIV).

We must ask ourself why Trinitarians are so conveniently inconsistent. They demand that el should be translated as "God" at Isaiah 9:6 but will also refuse to translate the very same word as "God" at Ezekiel 31:11. Or put another way, they have no problem translating this word as "mighty" at Ezekiel 31:11 but refuse to do the very same at Isaiah 9:6. Carefully consider why.


6. EL GIBBOR

The two words translated by Trinitarians as "Mighty God" at Isaiah 9:6 are the words "EL GIBBOR" where they translate the word GIBBOR as "Mighty." In the very next chapter of Ezekiel (32:21), the words el gibbor are used in plural form of earthly men. Here again the term is a reference to men and Trinitarians are quite careful to make sure they do not translate the passage as "Mighty Gods will say" but have instead something like "the leaders will say" or "the strong among the mighty ones" or some similar concoction. The English words which translate Hebrew EL are underlined below in the following translations.

The strong among the mighty shall speak to him. KJV

The strong among the mighty ones shall speak of him. NASB

The mighty chiefs shall speak of them. RSV

The strong among the mighty shall speak to him. ASV

The mighty chiefs shall speak of them. ESV

the mighty leaders will say. NIV

the mighty warriors shall speak. NAB

EL GIBBOR shall speak/say to/of him.

Carefully observe how Trinitarian scholars translated the same words differently in Ezekiel 21 than they did at Isaiah 9:6. Also compare the following:

Isaiah 9:6 - Wonderful, Counsellor, MIGHTY GOD, Eternal Father.

Isaiah 9:6 - Wonderful, Counsellor, EL GIBBOR, Eternal Father.

Ezekiel 32:21 - EL GIBBOR shall speak to/of him.

Ezekiel 32:21 - THE MIGHTY LEADERS shall speak to/of him.

Note the difference in translation of the same two Hebrew words:

Ezekiel 32:21 - THE MIGHTY LEADERS shall speak to/of him.

Isaiah 9:6 - Wonderful, Counsellor, MIGHTY GOD, Eternal Father.

The fact that Trinitarians translate the Hebrew word el to be convenient to their doctrine illustrates their so-called evidence is not evidence at all but a personal desire to promote their doctrine by dishonest means wherever they think they can get away with it.


7. Gabriel

Notice carefully how Isaiah 9:6 says "His name shall be called." Gabriel was an angel. His name is formed from the same two root words forming the two words we have in Isaiah 9:6, "gibbor" and "el." Elijah is formed from EL and a shortened form of YAHWEH that also appears in the book of Revelation. Samuel means "the name of EL." Jerusalem was named YAHWEH our Righteousness at Jeremiah 33:16. We must be extremely careful with ascriptions applied to persons in the Old Testamenta and not jump to conclusions. Names or titles containing the word el, and the like, do not necessarily identify that individual as the Supreme Creator Deity, or that the person bearing the name is deity, and so we must ask ourselves if this is the case, or not, in Isaiah 9:6.


8. The Septuagint Witness

Jewish Greek scholars translated this passage from Hebrew into Greek before the time of Christ and this translation is called "the Septuagint."

"For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us, whose government is upon his shoulder: and his name is called the Angel/Messenger of great counsel: for I will bring peace upon the princes, and health to him" (LXX).

These Jewish scholars did not see this verse describing anyone as "God" in any respect. Rather they saw the verse describing an angel/messenger. The Greek Septuagint was a translation held in high esteem among Greek speaking Jews before the time of Christ. We know for certain this Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament was also heavily quoted by Jesus and his apostles who wrote the books of our New Testament. It was also the version used by the early Christians. We must also remember these Jewish scholars translated this passage before the time of Christ and so we can be sure they did not have an anti-Christian agenda. And very obviously, these Jewish scholars did not have any notion this passage was ascribing deity to anyone.

Now it is granted that the Septuagint translation does not attempt to translate the Hebrew text as literally as possible. Their translation of Isaiah 9:6 does not attempt to be a word for word translation. The Jewish scholars of that time were more concerned about presenting the intended concept and meaning of the verse rather than providing a word for word translation. And these unbiased ancient Jewish scholars did not perceive the Hebrew text to be describing someone as "God."


9. The Testimony of the New Testament Writers

Trinitarians would like us to all believe the New Testament writers wanted to indicate "Jesus is God" to their readers. If that is the case, one has to wonder why we cannot find even one of these writers ever mentioning Isaiah 9:6. If indeed these writers wanted us to know that "Jesus is God," and if indeed Isaiah 9:6 said the Messiah was "God," this verse more than any other would reinforce such a teaching. But we find not one single quotation of this verse in the New Testament.

Trinitarian apologists also conveniently forget that Matthew quotes the verses immediately preceding Isaiah 9:6:

"He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen."
(Matthew 4:13-16; see Isaiah 9:1-2).

Trinitarians like to claim that Matthew was promoting the deity of Jesus at Matthew 1:23 and Matthew 2:2. So then why did he not quote Isaiah 9:6? I think we all know that if Matthew had been working with the same mindset as one of today's Trinitarians he would have definitely not stopped short of quoting Isaiah 9:6. If anything he would have quoted Isaiah 9:6 and not the passage he did quote. However, he didn't because he wasn't promoting the idea that Jesus was God because he had never conceived of such an idea nor did he ever think Isaiah 9:6 asribed deity to the Messiah.


10. Eternal Father

Another glaring inconistency in Trinitarian claims concerns their interpretation of the words they translate as "Eternal Father" in this same verse. In Trinitarianism, Jesus is not the Father. We must ask ourselves why Trinitarians would demand that Isaiah is promoting the theological idea that Jesus is "Mighty God" but they do not also consistently demand that Isaiah is promoting the theological idea that Jesus is the "Eternal Father." In order to try and escape the implications of this problem, Trinitarians spin an interpretation that Jesus is the Eternal Father, not as a person, but in a metaphorical or positional sense. Again we see that Trinitarian translations and interpretations are by design rather than by objective fact and a desire to know the writer's intention. While it is quite true that Isaiah did not intend to convey that Jesus is God the Father, Trinitarians do not approach the words el gibbor with the same consistency as they do the words "eternal Father" and they intentionally interpret these words from a different perspective. In other words, they insist that this verse intends to tell us that the Messiah is "the Mighty God" but do not wish to insist that this verse intends to tell us that this verse them consistently says the Messiah is another God the Father, the Eternal Father, in the same pattern of thinking.


11. Lack of Scholarly Evidence

It is quite traditional for Trinitarians to appeal to "THE scholars" (i.e. Trinitarian scholars) when such a problem is in view as if they are an infallible and unified voice when neither is the case. We must remember that most major Bible translations are Trinitarian translations. Indeed, most major translations have "Mighty God" in this passage. Trinitarian apologists would like it very much if we simply accepted this "scholarship" as if it were an unquestionable fact and inquire into this matter no further. However, scholarship does not mean translating words as one desires but conveying the intended meaning of the writer, who in this case is Isaiah. Anyone can translate a verse to say what they would desire it to say. But to be true scholarship means they must have a reason for translating the verse as they do especially if they translate the very same word differently in other places.

While Trinitarian scholars translate this word el as "God" here in this passage, they do not translate this very same word el as "God" in several other passages of Scripture. We must ask ourselves "Why?" Any appeals to their scholars is rather worthless without also providing a scholar's justification for translating it as they do. The mere will of a scholar to translate it as such does not amount to viable evidence. They must demonstrate what Isaiah intended. They must also demonstrate their choice of translation is the only possible translation of the word el in this verse. If they cannot demonstrate this fact, this verse becomes entirely worthless as evidence for the Trinity since another possible translation would remain outstanding. This writer has never seen such evidence from Trinitarian scholars.

These scholars must also explain why they have translated this word el as "the Mighty One," or some similar term, in other verses where it is a direct reference to God but refuse to do so at Isaiah 9:6. Such evidence shows quite clearly that el can be translated in this way. What proof exists that el should not be translated as "mighty" or "power" or some similar term, in Isaiah 9:6 as they themselves translate it in several other passages? If scholars can present no reason for refusing to translate el as "Mighty", they have nothing but their own desire to translate it as they wish.

These are questions Trinitarians will want to avoid. Obviously, the evidence shows they translate el in a way that is convenient to their needs. When they want it to be a reference to deity they translate it as "God." And when they don't want it to be a reference to deity, they refuse to do so. When they want this word to be referring to God himself as "the Mighty One" they will translate el as such. And when el refers to men, mountains and trees, it would be far too inconvenient and revealing to consistently translate the word el as "God." And most importantly, it would be far to inconvenient for them to translate this word as "mighty" at Isaiah 9:6 as they have done in several other places of the Scriptures.


12. The Ancient Hebrew Writer and Readers

A good perspective to use on such an issue is to put yourself in the shoes of an ancient Hebrew reader and ask yourself what he would see when he reads the Scriptures. Would you know anything about the English word "God"? No you wouldn't. But you are quite familiar with the Hebrew term el. And you are not surprised when this term is used of men, mountains, and trees, in addition to Yahweh your God.

Think about this very carefully. A Hebrew reader who sees the word el in reference to a tree and understands this word to be the very same word he identifies his Creator. He is reading along through the Scriptures and finds this very same word used to describe other gods, men, mountains, and trees. What happens when he comes to these verses? Does he pause and change definitions for the word el from one verse to the next? Does he stop and think "God" in one context but think "might" or "power" in another? Of course not. He would have absolutely no reason to do so. Or does he simply know the Hebrew word el means "might" or "power" when it refers to God and when it refers to anything else? Intelligent and reasonable people can see the truth of this matter.


Analysis of the Evidence

1. Possible Translations

When we review all the evidence it is quite clear that the Hebrew word EL can be translated as "mighty" or "strong" or "power(ful)." Trinitarian scholars are doing it themselves when el refers to other gods, men, mountains, trees, and King Nebuchadnezzar. And indeed, they even translate EL as "the Mighty One" when we know for certain it is referring to the one God of Israel. Even further, they translate the plural form of the whole term, el gibbor as "Mighty Leaders" or some similar idea at Ezekiel 32:21. We have also seen the God is called "the Power" in the Scriptures. Hence, it is quite clear that the words in question could be honestly translated as "Mighty Power" (gibbor el) or "Mighty Mighty One" (gibbor el) or "Mighty Hero" (el gibbor) or "Mighty Champion" (el gibbor) or some similar idea.


2. How Isaiah used the word EL

However, we must also look at another factor. How did Isaiah use this word? He does not once use the Hebrew word el to refer to anything but his one God. It is possible that he could have done otherwise at Isaiah 9:6 but this fact compels us to inquire farther.


3. How Isaiah used the term EL GIBBOR

At Isaiah 10:21, the same context, the term is clearly used to refer to the one God of Israel.



The Intent of the Name Given at Isaiah 9:6

The next question at hand is whether or not Trinitarians are making a mistaken assumption. Since the name is given to this child-son, Trinitarians simply assume that the words in this name are describing who and what he is. But is that the case? It is to this question we must turn.


(1) Isaiah and His Sons: Names in the Book of Isaiah

In the book of Isaiah, names are given to Isaiahs sons as prophetic signs concerning what the God of Israel is doing.

Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion. (Isaiah 8:18).

(2) The Name Given at Isaiah 7:3

The name of Isaiah's son at Isaiah 7:3 is "A remnant shall return."

Then the LORD said to Isaiah, "Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub. (Isaiah 7:3).

Now in that day the remnant of Israel, and those of the house of Jacob who have escaped, will never again rely on the one who struck them, but will truly rely on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel. A remnant shall return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. (Isaiah 10:21-22; see 2 Chronicles 30:1,6; 10-11; 31:1).

Here the name given is obviously not intended to describe the child but given as a sign concerning what the God of Israel is doing.


(3) The Name Given at Isaiah 8:3

The name of Isaiah's son at Isaiah 8:3 is "swifty booty speedy plunder."

So I approached the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. Then the LORD said to me, "Name him Maher-shalal-hash-baz (Isaiah 8:3).

So as to deprive the needy of justice And rob the poor of My people of their rights, So that widows may be their booty And that they may plunder the orphans...I send it against a godless nation And commission it against the people of My fury To capture booty and to seize plunder (Isaiah 10:2-6; see 2 Kings 15:29; 17:3-6.).

Here also the name given is obviously not intended to describe the child but given as a sign concerning what the God of Israel is doing.


(4) The Name Given at Isaiah 7:14

The name given at Isaiah 7:14 is Immanuel or "God (El) with us."

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. He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.
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 God with us. He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken. (Isaiah 7:14).
Then it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass through, It will reach even to the neck; And the spread of its wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel. Be broken, O peoples, and be shattered; And give ear, all remote places of the earth. Gird yourselves, yet be shattered; Gird yourselves, yet be shattered. Devise a plan, but it will be thwarted; State a proposal, but it will not stand, For Immanuel."
Then it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass through, It will reach even to the neck; And the spread of its wings will fill the breadth of your land, O God with us. Be broken, O peoples, and be shattered; And give ear, all remote places of the earth. Gird yourselves, yet be shattered; Gird yourselves, yet be shattered. Devise a plan, but it will be thwarted; State a proposal, but it will not stand, For God is with us. (Isaiah 8:8-10).

Here again the name given is obviously not intended to describe the child but given as a sign concerning what the God of Israel is doing. Even further, we find that the words "God with us" do not mean "God with us in the same space as us" but "God with us in plan and purpose" as opposed to "God against us."


(5) Names of People and Places in Ancient Israel

In ancient Israel, children were commonly given theophoric names which had nothing to do with describing the child but were names which honored, glorified, and described their God in some manner. For example, the name Isaac, means "He laughs" meaning "God laughs."

Lemuel - belongs to God (EL)

Elijah - Yah is my God (EL)

Elisha - God (EL) is salvation

Joshua - God (Yah) saves.

Yeshua (Jesus) - God (Yah) saves. see Luke 2:30.

Samuel - God (EL) has heard.

(Angel) Gabriel - Strength of God (EL).

(Angel) Michael - Who is like God (EL).

Notice that none of these names points to the child but to the God of Israel.

The same thing occurs with respect to place names.

22:14 Abraham called the name of that place 'YAHWEH Will Provide," as it is said to this day, "In the mount of YAHWEH it will be provided. (Genesis 22:14).

Moses built an altar and named it 'YAHWEH is My Banner."(Exodus 17:15).

In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: YAHWEH is our righteousness. (Jeremiah 33:16).

We would of course assume that because the above places are called by these names that these places are God. Rather, we understand that such names either signifying what God has done, is doing, or will do.


(6) YAHWEH Our Righteousness: Jeremiah 23:6 & 33:16

Behold, the days are coming," declares YAHWEH, "When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell securely and this is His name by which He will be called, 'YAHWEH our righteousness.'" (Jeremiah 23:5-6.

Behold, days are coming,' declares YAHWEH, "when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety and this is the name by which she will be called: 'YAHWEH our righteousness.'" (Jeremiah 33:16).

Carefully observe how Jeremiah 23:6 is the type of verse that would have been construed as identifying Jesus as "Yahweh" if it had not been for Jeremiah 33:16 where the city of Jerusalem is given the very same name. Jerusalem is not God. Hence, by the same token, one cannot claim the Messiah is God either at Jeremiah 23:6 because it is virtually the very same language being used.

We must therefore adopt a serious inquiry into Isaiah 9:6 and ask whether this name is intended to describe the Messiah at all or whether it is a name which is intended to descriptively honor and glorify the God of Israel

The Intention of the Name at Isaiah 9:6

Given all the facts, and that names given to children commonly and customarily do not describe the child, but descriptively honor and glorify the God of Israel, we must inquire into the intention at Isaiah 9:6. Is it intended to describe the child or intended to describe the God and Father of this child-son Messiah?


The Context: A Name which is describing what YAHWEH is doing through this child-son.

Let us now carefully regard the context:

The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them. You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; They will be glad in Your presence As with the gladness of harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, The rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian. For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, And cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire. 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 will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of YAHWEH of hosts will accomplish this.

The name in question is not intended to describe the Messiah but what God is doing and accomplishing through His Messiah, His Christ. By giving Israel this child-son, God is a Wonderful in Counsel, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Ruler of Peace. The name represents what God will be doing by raising up this Messiah. Indeed, this is exactly what we read in Acts on the day of Pentecost where Peter declares that the promise to David was fulfilled when God raised Jesus from the dead.

God's Christ: God's Messiah

And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Messiah. And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, "Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word for mine eyes have seen Your salvation. (Luke 2:26-30).

And He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" And Peter answered and said, "God's Messiah." (Luke 9:29).

And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, "He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is God's Messiah, His Chosen One. (Luke 23:35).

Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ--this Jesus whom you crucified. (Acts 2:36).

But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Messiah would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. (Acts 3:18).

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you. (Acts 3:19-20).

The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against YAHWEH and against His Messiah.'(Acts 4:26).

Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah and He will reign forever and ever." (Revelation 11:15.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Messiah have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. (Revelation 12:10).

Indeed, we also find heavy evidence that the Israelites were intepreting Isaiah 9:6 to mean that the Messiah of God would be a son of God.

"Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?"

"A child will be born, a son will be given."


My Conclusion

Based on ancient Israelite customs, the overall context of Scripture, and the immediate context, there is no doubt in my mind that "Mighty EL" is a direct reference to the God of Israel and the name given here to this child-son is intended not to describe the Messiah but to describe what the God of Israel is accomplishing through his Messiah son and the son is given this name because it is in him and through him that YAHWEH accomplishes these things just as Scripture repeatedly testifies.

Last Updated: March 10, 2011

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